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  1. #21
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    Demonoid Goes Down While Owner Remains ‘Missing’

    Semi-private BitTorrent tracker Demonoid has been offline for several days. The downtime follows a series of technical issues. More concerning, however, is the fact that the site's staff haven't heard from the site's owner for more than two months.

    As one of the oldest torrent communities around,
    Demonoid has run into quite a few rough patches over the years.

    Whether it’s media industry pressure, lawsuits, blocking orders, hosting problems or police investigations, Demonoid has seen it all.

    The site has established a reputation as the “
    comeback kid,” due to its tendency to go offline for weeks or even months, and then reappear in full glory as if nothing ever happened.

    Over the past weeks, the site has hit some rough patches again. In August the site’s torrents
    mysteriously disappeared and while these eventually came back, more technical issues were around the corner.

    While technical troubles are nothing out of the ordinary, there was a reason for concern as the site’s owner, Deimos, was missing in action as well.

    Late last week things took a turn for the worse. Over the past few days, Demonoid has been completely unreachable, and its owner is still nowhere to be seen.

    Demonoid staffer Phaze1G informs TorrentFreak that it’s unclear what’s going on. The domain names work just fine, but in addition to Demonoid, the tracker’s sister site has also gone offline, which is unusual.

    “There’s nothing new, unfortunately,” Phaze1G told us yesterday, noting that all staff members are waiting in a small chat box, looking out for something positive to cling onto.

    At the moment both the site’s users and staff are completely in the dark. There has been come continued activity in the official
    Reddit forums, but other than that things have remained quiet.

    The site’s staff do want to highlight, however, that there are no proxies or other alternatives available. There are some copycats around, but these are all fake.

    “Users should be REALLY aware that there is no: .onion address, mirrors, alternative Demonoids and such. Especially to avoid,” Phaze1G says.

    The staffer believes that Deimos’ absence may be due to personal circumstances. However, the owner also made it clear that he would do his best to avoid legal issues if something concrete ever happened.

    That said, Deimos is not the kind of person to leave the site adrift without reason. He resurrected it back in 2014, hoping to rebuild the great community it was during the early days. In a way, it’s his baby.

    “In his vision, Demonoid is a place which helps the world to be just a tiny bit of a better place,” Phaze1G says.

    “For example, when a user had cancer and needed money for a surgery, the Demonoid and its members helped to pay the bills, and there were cases where users had car accidents and got all kinds of support.”

    Over the past several years, Demonoid was gradually expanding its userbase again. The current downtime is a major setback, but perhaps that’s part of the Demonoid’s spirit too. It’s the comeback kid after all.

    “Demonoid will most likely return, but for now, we have to wait,” Phaze1G concludes.


  2. #22
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    Google, Yandex Discuss Creation of Anti-Piracy Database

    Google, Yandex and other prominent Internet companies in Russia are discussing the creation of a database of infringing content including movies, TV shows, games, and software. The idea is that the companies will automatically query this database every five minutes with a view to removing such content from search results within six hours, no court order required.

    Every day, countless thousands of pieces of infringing content are uploaded to the Internet including most movies, TV shows, games, and commercial software.

    Rightsholders everywhere are struggling to the contain the influx, often having to resort to filing millions of takedown notices with Internet companies, the bulk of which target the world’s major search engines.

    While this doesn’t take down the actual content itself, there is a theory that citizens often turn to search engines to find their fix. These sites, in turn, direct users to sites hosting infringing content. To combat this facilitation, copyright holders want search companies to remove these results from their indexes.

    Takedowns like this are common in the West, with Google removing billions of links upon request. In Russia, however, search engine Yandex found itself in hot water recently after
    refusing to remove links on the basis that the law does not require it to do so. This prompted the authorities to suggest that a compromise agreement needs to be made, backed up by possible changes in the law.

    It now appears that this event, which could’ve led to Yandex being blocked by ISPs, has prompted both Internet companies and copyright holders to consider a voluntary agreement. Discussions currently underway suggest a unique and potentially ground-breaking plan.

    The initial meeting between telecoms watchdog Roskomnadzor, Internet companies Yandex, Google, and, plus representatives of the Association of Producers of Cinema and Television (APKiT), the National Media Group, and Gazprom Media Holdings, took place September 19.

    According to news outlet
    RBC, the topic of discussion was the creation of a special database holding the details of known infringing copies of content including movies, games, software and other pirated content.

    The proposals envision that once details of content are placed in the database, search engines and video hosting sites that sign up to a memorandum of understanding with rightsholders will automatically query the database every five minutes for updates.

    Once the details are fed back, search companies will remove links to pirate resources from their search results within six hours, without any need for a court process. This will run alongside the current database currently maintained by Roscomnadzor and utilized by ISPs, which contains links to sites that are blocked due to having multiple complaints filed against them at the Moscow City Court.

    If adopted, this new extrajudicial process will go some way to clearing up the problems caused by the current legal gray area, which led to Yandex removing links to content from its video portal to avoid a potential ISP blockade, even though the company believes that the law does not require it to do so.

    It’s suggested that the infringing resource database, should it go ahead, could be maintained by the Internet Video Association (IVA), which represents intellectual property rights holders. Alternatively, RBC notes, an alternative coalition of entertainment companies including legal streaming platforms could be put in charge of the project.

    Talks appear to be fairly advanced, with agreements on the framework for the database potentially being reached by the middle of this week. If that’s the case, a lawsuit recently filed by Gazprom Media against Yandex could be settled amicably. It’s understood that Yandex wants all major Internet players to become involved, including social networks.

    With the carrot comes the possibility of the stick, of course. Gazprom Media indicates that if a voluntary agreement cannot be reached, it will seek
    amendments to copyright law that will achieve the same end results.


  3. #23
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    Provider liability: First YouTube, now “uploaded” – next case before the CJEU

    Only two weeks ago, the Federal Court of Justice (BGH) referred various questions to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) concerning the liability of the video platform YouTube. There, the court’s queries focused on who is actually responsible for unlawfully uploaded content – just the uploader himself or the service provider as well? Last week, the German judges yet again sat over a case dealing with this issue. Once again they decided to initiate preliminary proceedings before the CJEU in Luxembourg (see the decision of 20 September 2018, file no.: I ZR 53/17 – uploaded).

    One might ask why the second case also had to be referred to the CJEU with fairly similar questions being asked. The answer is quite simple: one platform is not the same as another and one service does not necessarily reflect the features of the next. Since case law builds on and develops on the basis of judges handing down more than one judgment on a certain subject, it is crucial that the CJEU examines the matter and explains its views on such an important issue (the liability of service providers) on the basis of differing factual situations. In this respect, it is fair to say that these two German cases differ widely.

    It’s important to keep in mind that provider liability is currently also a major concern for the European legislator. In the course of the copyright reform pending in the legislative process, the Commission, Parliament and the Council are endeavoring to find a compromise as to the conditions under which providers could be held liable for uploaded content. Unsurprisingly, Article 13 of the current draft is one of the most controversial standards in the draft law.


    Instead of storing favorite holiday pictures, music or other files on their own private server, an increasing number of people use the services of host providers in order to store content in the cloud, i.e. on third-party servers. The advantages are obvious: no need for local space, online accessibility and easy sharing of content.

    The defendant in the current proceedings before the BGH offers such type of cloud service. The service is called “
    uploaded“. It offers storage space for the uploading of all sorts of files. For each uploaded file, a download link is automatically created and made available to the person uploading. The service does not include the compilation of a table of contents in which the links or uploaded files could be looked up, nor does uploaded offer a search function. However, users may place their own links in so-called “link collections” on pages outside uploaded. So, in the end there is a frequently used option to navigate through uploaded links on this kind of database enabling users to choose from the stored content.

    In general, the up- as well as the download of content is free. However, the free version of the service is limited in terms of storage volume and download speed. Users aiming for a higher download ratio and/or higher speed may register for a paid-for version. In addition, every user who uploads content receives a “
    download fee” from the service provider. For example 1,000 downloads are rewarded with € 40.00.

    Although, the general terms and conditions of the service prohibit users from uploading unlawful content, we see a large number of copyrighted works having been uploaded without adequate authorisation by the rights holders. This content has been illegally shared with countless other users. To give you a better impression, the parties to the main proceedings disagree as to whether more than 90% (!) of all available content was uploaded illegally onto the
    uploaded platform. This figure alone shows how substantial the potential for abuse is in the specific case at issue.

    Various publishers as well as film and music companies plus the German collecting society GEMA have taken legal action against the operator of uploaded. There are in total five court proceedings pending. The claims put forward relate to the unlawful act of making available to the public copyright-protected content within the meaning of Sec. 19a of the German Copyright Act [Urheberrechtsgesetz – UrhG]. The provision is based on Article 3(1) of the InfoSoc Directive 2001/29. uploaded is accused of being the perpetrator of a copyright infringement. The lawsuits are aimed at injunctive relief, disclosure of information and payment of damages.

    In the appeal instances, uploaded was in all cases charged with indirect liability (under the concept of the so-called “Störerhaftung” which has been developed by German courts). Accordingly, uploaded was not seen as perpetrator or participant of copyright infringement. In consequence, the judges “only” granted injunctive relief (cf. Higher Regional Court of Munich, judgment of 2 March 2017, Case Ref.: 29 U 3735/16). The claims for disclosure of information and damages were denied

    The Questions submitted

    In the oral hearing, in which all five proceedings were handled jointly, the judges already made it clear that yet again a case would be referred up to the CJEU. In the end, the BGH submitted one of the five proceedings and suspended the remaining proceedings for the time being.

    Contrary to the previous referral, when the BGH expressed its opinion that YouTube was not liable for an act of communicating to the public, the judges this time are actually considering a declaration of liability for such act in respect to uploaded’s service. The reason for this is the fact that there are indeed recognizable differences when comparing both services. Uploaded is based on a concept of hyperlinking, there is also a greater degree of structural anonymity of the user and uploaded’s remuneration scheme is a clear differentiator. Accordingly, the German court posed a number of questions pointing to those differences( see particular the
    bold print below).

    1- First, the question
    “whether the operator of a share hosting service, on which users communicate copyright-protected content to the public without the consent of the right holders, performs an act of communication to the public within the meaning of Article 3(1) of Directive 2001/29/EC if

    • the upload process takes place automatically and without prior viewing or control by the operator,
    • the operator points out in the terms of use that copyright infringing content may not be posted,
    • he earns revenue by operating the service,
    • the service is used for legal purposes, but the operator is aware that a considerable number of copyright infringing content (more than 9,500 works) are also available,
    • the operator does not offer a table of contents or a search function, but the unlimited download links provided by the operator are placed by third parties in link collections on the Internet, which contain information on the content of the files and make it possible to search for specific content,
    • he creates an incentive to upload copyrighted content that is otherwise only available to users for a fee by structuring the remuneration for downloads paid by him according to demand, and
    • the possibility of anonymously uploading files increases the likelihood that users will be held accountable for copyright infringements?”

    2- In addition, the Federal Court of Justice wants to know
    “whether the assessment of the above question changes if copyright infringing offers are made available via the share hosting service in an amount of 90 to 96% of the total use.”

    3- In essentially the same wording as the reference questions on YouTube, the BGH further asks whether – and if so, under what conditions – the liability privilege pursuant to Art. 14(1) of the E-Commerce Directive 2000/31 applies in favor of the share hosting service and what possibilities of liability exist pursuant to Art. 8 (3) of the InfoSoc Directive and Art. 11(1) and Art. 13 of the Enforcement Directive 2004/48.

    Comment and Outlook

    The BGH’s latest referral does not come as a complete surprise. The judges’ decision to address a further set of questions to the CJEU resonates. When it comes to the discussion whether or not certain hosting providers shall be held liable for illegal content being uploaded to their platforms, one has to look closely at the specifics. There is no “one fits all” approach as the individual services are simply too diverse.

    For instance, service providers can make it harder or easier for users who primarily want to place unauthorized content on the Internet. The effort made by the provider is crucial in our view and only a completely “clean” service is utopian. Therefore, the legal assessment of responsibility must be linked to the structure chosen by the service provider and his measures taken to ensure an adequate level of legal conformity as regards the uploaded content.

    What all stakeholders need most is guidance as to what is required in this context. Thus, we need clear court rulings dealing with different platform settings. We therefore welcome that the CJEU now has the opportunity to clarify its position. Against this background, combining the two cases referred up to the CJEU by the BGH would be beneficial. Thereby, a stringent continuation of
    The Pirate Bay case law could be ensured.

  4. #24
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    Sky TV taking pirate sites to court

    Sky TV is stepping up its attack on piracy. The pay-TV operator says it will start legal action against some of the biggest websites offering pirated content before the end of the year.

    Today it released research showing 30 percent of New Zealand adults regularly pirate content and 10 percent do it on a weekly basis. Mark Jennings reports.

    The bosses at Sky TV have had a feeling that pirates were costing the company serious money. Now they know it’s the case.

    Three hundred thousand New Zealanders are regularly watching illegal streams of sports. The figure comes from a major research project Sky had carried out by Research Now in May this year.

    Research Now surveyed 1009 people aged 18 and over.

    It found 50 percent had viewed pirated content at some time in the past and nearly a third of the population do it regularly or at least every six months.

    Most (81 percent) gave “it’s not available in New Zealand” as the reason for their digital piracy. Nearly 70 percent said not being able to afford to pay for the content was a key reason for illegally downloading or streaming it.

    Sophie Moloney, Sky TV’s general counsel, accepts that cost is a genuine issue.

    “We have been trying to grapple with this problem and it is one of the reasons we have created a Neon package for $11.99. Socioeconomic factors do come into it but there is also a problem with higher income earners and these are the people we really want to have a conversation with.”

    Moloney, who says her experience working in the UK and the Middle East have made her passionate about “content protection”, wants people to understand the impact piracy has on the creative industry.

    “People say it is only Hollywood, but they don’t understand that there a lot of people involved behind the scenes in producing content.”

    She cites Game of Thrones as an example of what it takes to get a series to air.

    “With GOT there were 3589 people involved in getting the first episode from page to screen. With every All Blacks game 80 of our people are involved (getting it to air).”

    Moloney says people also need to realise that there are “criminals behind these websites” and it is risky to download movies and other content.

    “The pirate sites make money in a number of ways, but they also use spyware, malware and ransomware. I saw this when I worked in the Middle East. People paid the ransom, or they were never going to see their kids’ photos that had been locked up, ever again.

    “When you get material from these sites you don’t know what else you are getting.”

    Moloney said Sky had not quantified how much money it was losing from people pirating material but thought it would be “in the millions.” It planned to do some impact analysis later this year.

    SKY knows that it is fighting what has become “normalised” behaviour for a lot of people.

    The research showed that most pirates know others who watch pirated content and feel it is an easy thing to do. Still, Moloney believes the “group behaviour” also opens up an opportunity.

    “If we can get one person in a group (of pirates) to change their thinking, that could have a significant impact.

    “For instance, people wouldn’t go into a shop stocking a New Zealand clothing brand and steal something every couple of months, so we need to interrupt their thought process when they are looking at pirated content.”

    The “conversation” Maloney says she wants to have with people will be kick-started when Sky takes legal action in the next few months.

    It has two initial targets, big international operation The Pirate Bay and a sports streaming site it declined to name.

    Moloney said Sky believes the Copyright Act is being breached and a High Court ruling in its favour would mean it could get ISPs to block the pirate websites.

    “There would certainly be significant upfront legal costs for Sky but once the precedent is established it should be straightforward for the ISPs to block these sites and that includes the proxy and mirror sites of The Pirate Bay.

    “The research shows it is time to take this forward and we are in the process of that now. We have already begun discussions with the ISPs.”

    Site blocking has been effective in many overseas countries.

    A Motion Picture Association study from 2016 revealed that 32 countries in Europe have legislation for blocking overseas websites and 15 countries have successfully had cases processed through the courts.

    In the Asia Pacific region, South Korea has blocked 403 websites, Indonesia 215 and Australia 78.

    MPA says that without piracy, box office revenue would have been 14 to 15 percent higher.

    A UK case study shows “site blocking” had led to a 22 percent decrease in piracy for all users affected by the blocks and corresponding increase in the use of legal streaming sites like Netflix and BBC.

    Moloney says Sky’s research has indicated strong support for “site blocking” in New Zealand.

    Fifty-one percent of pirates and 68 percent of non-pirates would be happy for their ISPs to block piracy websites if were a court requirement.

    Sky is also trying a softer approach to go with the legal manoeuvring. It has licensing a video game called ‘Copycat Combat’ and is piloting an education programme called Kiwa in an Auckland primary school.

  5. #25
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    Sky TV Wants The Pirate Bay Blocked in New Zealand

    New Zealand could become the next country to adopt pirate site blocking. Sky TV will take the matter to court this year, hoping to force local ISPs to block The Pirate Bay and an unnamed sports streaming site. New research released by the company shows that action is needed and also supported by the majority of the public.

    Earlier this year Hollywood’s Motion Picture Distributors’ Association stated that site-blocking was
    the only option left to beat online piracy.

    While it’s impossible to completely eradicate the phenomenon, rightsholders generally see ISP blockades as one of the most effective tools at their disposal.

    This is also true for
    Sky TV New Zealand. Last year the company took its first steps in this direction, and it is now pushing on. Newsroomreports that Sky hopes to file a lawsuit targeting The Pirate Bay and an unnamed sports streaming site before the end of the year.

    The company just released the results of an extensive piracy survey which shows that 29% of all New Zealanders have pirated sport and entertainment during the last month. The majority of pirates prefer streaming, but downloading and pirate boxes are popular too.

    “We’ve known that piracy is a problem for a while, but the scale is even bigger than we thought,” SKY spokesperson Sophie Moloney says.

    “If piracy remains unchecked, it risks really hurting the sports and entertainment industry in New Zealand, and our ability to create great content,” she adds.

    The lacking availability of legal viewing options is the main reason why people pirate, the research reveals. Legal content is either not available or it’s significantly delayed. Interestingly, non-pirates believe that people mainly turn to unauthorized offerings to avoid paying.

    Sky TV, however, believes that there are plenty of legal option and will push its blocking plans through.

    “Other countries are taking steps to stop piracy and encourage people not to steal content, and we want to do the same here in New Zealand, including by way of blocking pirate websites,” Sky TV’s Moloney says.

    Surprisingly, there is even support for this effort among self-proclaimed pirates.

    Just over half of all pirates agreed that they “would be happy for my ISP to block access to a piracy website if it was required by a court to do so.” This is also preferred over other options, such as tighter regulation or lawsuits against individual pirates.

    “Site-blocking is used in 42 countries around the world, including Australia and the UK. It’s good to see that many New Zealanders would prefer that these dodgy sites are blocked from view using this approach,” Moloney notes.

    Whether Internet providers feel the same way has yet to be seen. When Sky TV first announced its blocking intentions last year, local ISPs
    responded critically.

    “SKY’s call that sites be blacklisted on their say so is dinosaur behavior, something you would expect in North Korea, not in New Zealand. It isn’t our job to police the Internet and it sure as hell isn’t SKY’s either, all sites should be equal and open,” said Taryn Hamilton of local IPS
    Vocus at the time.

    ISPs instead pointed out that rightsholders should focus on improving the legal options. And with Sky TV’s research revealing ‘limited legal options’ as the main motivation to pirate, they are likely to stick with this.


  6. #26
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    Grindr Playing DMCA Whac-A-Mole With Privacy Threat ‘Fuckr’

    Back in March, it was revealed that Grindr could be exploited to expose the personal information of its users. Two months later, a further report noted that it was still possible to extract personal information from Grindr using a third-party app called "Fuckr". Following an initial takedown from Github, the problem has continued, a new DMCA notice targeting more than 90 clones reveals.

    Grindr bills itself as the “largest social networking app for gay, bi, trans and queer people.” Back in March the company faced a crisis withreports of security breaches with privacy implications.

    The first involved the use of a third-party website, which was able to extract normally hidden information from Grindr, including the email addresses and locations of people who had opted not to share that data.

    The second alleged that unencrypted location data was being sent by the Grindr app, something the company later
    denied. A third reportindicated that Grindr had been sharing users’ HIV status with outside companies.

    Then, less than two weeks ago, a
    further report criticized Grindr for the existence of a third-party app known as ‘Fuckr’. Released back in 2015, Fuckr gives users the ability to precisely locate hundreds of Grindr users to an accuracy of just a few feet, a privacy nightmare for those not looking for that kind of immediate intimacy.

    “The technique used to locate Grindr users is called ‘trilateration’. Hereby, the distance towards a certain user is measured from three (or more) virtual points nearby them,” Queer Europe reported.

    “This can be done by making a call to Grindr’s server, which is accessible via an API (Application Programming Interface). After having obtained the distance between users and the three virtual locations nearby them, it is simple to find out where they are located.”

    As revealed by
    Github, Grindr took almost immediate action. Via a DMCA notice, the dating service demanded that the entire ‘Fuckr’ repository be taken down from Github.

    “The purpose of ‘Fuckr’ is to facilitate unauthorized access to the Grindr app by circumventing Grindr’s access controls, such that ‘Fuckr’ functions as ‘an unofficial desktop Grindr client’,” the notice reads.

    “Among other things, the Grindr app contains mechanisms that prevent users from identifying the precise geographic locations of other users. ‘Fuckr’ is designed to bypass those mechanisms such that users can ‘[p]inpoint any guy’s exact location’.”

    Grindr also points out that Fuckr is able to spoof a user’s location as well as granting access to otherwise non-downloadable images. For these reasons, Grindr states that Fuckr is primarily designed for the purpose of “circumventing a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work” protected under the Copyright Act. Github responded by deleting the repository.

    But while the immediate threat appeared to be over, Fuckr wasn’t dead just yet. Plenty of forks of Fuckr remained available and now it appears Grindr is engaged in a game of Whac-a-Mole to have them taken down. In a fresh DMCA notice filed with Github yesterday, the dating platform demanded that dozens of ‘forks’ of the software be taken down.

    “As you are aware, we previously submitted a takedown notice for the ‘Fuckr’ repository ([repository disabled per previous DMCA takedown]) as it violated the Copyright Act and the anti-circumvention prohibitions of 17 U.S.C. Section 1201. The original project was taken down on or about September 13, 2018,” the notice reads.

    “The Forks of the ‘Fuckr’ repository are still active and equally violate the law, GitHub’s Terms, Grindr’s Terms, and endanger the safety of Grindr users by facilitating unauthorized access to the user’s location and exposing the user to real threats of anti-LGBT violence. Therefore, Grindr requests that these Forks be taken down for the same reasons as the original project.”
    The DMCA takedown notice targets around 90 ‘forks’ or clones of the original Fuckr desktop application, showing that the process of removing the threat is still far from over.

    Grindr says it has attempted to contact “the infringer” (presumably the people behind the original Fuckr) using the only address it was able to find, but its letters were returned as undeliverable. With that, the company seeks Github’s help to mitigate the ongoing problem.

    “[W]e are certain GitHub will appreciate the gravity of the above-described violations and will not knowingly allow its services to perpetuate such illegal and threatening activity without swift action to protect the integrity of GitHub and members of the public who use its platform,” Grindr adds.

    “Grindr respectfully requests GitHub immediately take down the Forks for the ‘Fuckr’ repository and appreciates a receipt of confirmation once the take down has been put into effect.”

    Checks carried out by TF indicate that Github acted swiftly to disable the allegedly infringing repositories yesterday.

    With so many clones of Fuckr still available online, it remains unclear why Grindr can’t make changes to its system to prevent Fuckr from gaining access to its data. Until it does, it seems likely that Fuckr will still remain a serious security threat to the company’s users.


  7. #27
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    BitTorrent Traffic is Not Dead, It’s Making a Comeback

    File-sharing traffic, BitTorrent in particular, is making a comeback. New data from Sandvine, shared exclusively with TorrentFreak, reveals that BitTorrent is still a dominant source of upstream traffic worldwide. According to Sandvine, increased fragmentation in the legal streaming market may play a role in this resurgence.

    Many Internet traffic reports have been published over the years, documenting how traffic patterns change over time.

    One of the trends that emerged in recent years, is that BitTorrent’s share of total Internet traffic decreased.

    With the growth of services such as YouTube and Netflix, streaming started to generate massive amounts of bandwidth. As a result, BitTorrent lost a significant chunk of its ‘market share.’

    This trend gradually increased, until recently. In some parts of the world file-sharing traffic, BitTorrent in particular, is growing.

    That’s what’s suggested by Canadian broadband management company
    Sandvine, which has kept a close eye on these developments for over a decade. The company will release its latest Global Internet Phenomena report next month but gave us an exclusive sneak peek.

    Globally, across both mobile and fixed access networks file-sharing accounts for 3% of downstream and 22% of upstream traffic. More than 97% of this upstream is BitTorrent, which makes it the dominant P2P force.

    In the EMEA region, which covers Europe, the Middle East, and Africa there’s a clear upward trend. BitTorrent traffic now accounts for 32% of all upstream traffic. This means that roughly a third of all uploads are torrent-related.

    Keep in mind that overall bandwidth usage per household also increased during this period, which means that the volume of BitTorrent traffic grew even more aggressively.

    BitTorrent traffic also remains the top upstream source in the Asia Pacific region with 19% of total traffic. Percentage-wise this is down compared to two years ago, but in volume, it’s relatively stable according to Sandvine.

    Other popular file-sharing upload sources in the Asia Pacific region are the Korean P2P app “K grid” (7%) and “Afreeca TV” (2%).

    In the Americas, BitTorrent is the second largest source of upstream traffic. It has a market share of little over 9% and is most popular in Latin America. BitTorrent is only a fraction behind MPEG-TS, which is used for backhauling data from video cameras and security systems.

    TorrentFreak spoke to Sandvine’s Vice President of Solutions Marketing Cam Cullen, who notes that more details will be released in the upcoming report. However, it’s clear that BitTorrent is not dead yet.

    The next question is why BitTorrent traffic is on the rise again? According to Cullen, increased fragmentation in the streaming service market may play an important role.

    “More sources than ever are producing ‘exclusive’ content available on a single streaming or broadcast service – think Game of Thrones for HBO, House of Cards for Netflix, The Handmaid’s Tale for Hulu, or Jack Ryan for Amazon. To get access to all of these services, it gets very expensive for a consumer, so they subscribe to one or two and pirate the rest.

    “Since these numbers were taken in June for this edition, there were no Game of Thrones episodes coming out, so consider these numbers depressed from peak!” Cullen

    And we haven’t even mentioned non-filesharing traffic sources such as cyberlockers and streaming sites, which are even more popular than BitTorrent…


  8. #28
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    Illuminati Kodi Repository Throws in the Towel After ACE Threats

    The Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE), the global anti-piracy coalition that counts the major Hollywood studios, Netflix, Amazon, and the BBC among its 30 members, has claimed yet another scalp. The Illuminati Kodi addon repository says that its entire team got hit with ACE letters yesterday so they have shut down with immediate effect.

    As one of the most popular media players of all time, Kodi has amassed tens of millions of users.

    While completely legal in its own right, the open source platform is often augmented with third-party addons that regularly provide access to huge amounts of infringing content. This has attracted the negative attention of copyright holders who are keen to prevent unlicensed content being exploited by the masses.

    Since last year, the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE) has been at the forefront of anti-piracy enforcement against such addons. This huge global coalition, made up of 30 of the world’s most powerful entertainment companies, have been knocking on doors (physically in many cases) with letters that order addon developers, addon repositories, and build developers, to cease their activities or face legal consequences.

    This week, ACE claimed yet another scalp.

    Team Illuminati advertised itself as a great source for the “very best addons” and “stunning” Kodi builds (pre-configured Kodi installers), all available from its own repository.

    The group built up a decent following but with hundreds of posts on its Twitter account detailing efforts to bring infringing content including movies, TV shows, plus live and recorded sports to the masses, it probably isn’t a surprise they attracted the negative attention of ACE.

    Yesterday, in a tweet to the group’s followers, Team Illuminati announced its demise after receiving a visit from the world’s most powerful anti-piracy coalition.

    “Sorry guys our entire team got hit with ACE letters today so we’re leaving twitter, this group closes tomorrow AM thanks for your support all,” Illuminati wrote.

    While it’s not completely unheard of, it is relatively unusual for Kodi addon developers and repositories to announce that they’ve had a visit from ACE. As
    recently highlighted, those entering into settlement agreements with ACE are required not to mention they’ve had any contact whatsoever.

    It’s not clear whether Illuminati intend to simply cease-and-desist, as others in a similar position have done so previously, or whether its members will eventually sign the ACE settlement agreeement. TF has seen copies of previous agreement letters which indicate that cooperation will be required moving forward, including providing information on others closely connected with the addon, build, repository, or other service.

    For now, however, it seems clear that Team Illuminati have thrown in the towel.

    Visitors to their repository URL at are simply greeted with a pentagon-shaped ‘Illuminati’ logo, rather than the addons (including the recent ‘Underdog’ addon shown below) they’ve grown accustomed to.

    Currently, Android APK (installation files) are accessible from another URL but quite how long these will remain available is yet to be seen.

    The takedown of Team Illuminati is the latest in a long line of efforts by ACE to stem the tide of allegedly-infringing Kodi addons. Earlier this month, players known as Blamo and UrbanKingz exited under similar circumstances with several other individuals and groups (
    1,2,3,4) meeting with a similar fate over the past year.


  9. #29
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    CBS Shuts Down Stage 9, a Fan-Made Recreation of the USS Enterprise

    Stage 9, a beautiful fan-made recreation of the Enterprise ship from Star Trek: The Next Generation, has been shut down following a cease-and-desist from CBS. The people behind the two-year-old project tried to reason with CBS, offering to make changes to keep their dream project alive, but the broadcasting giant wasn't interested in discussion.

    For those unfamiliar with the project, Stage 9 is a beautiful virtual recreation of the Enterprise ship from Star Trek: The Next Generation for Windows, Mac and Linux.

    More experience than game, Stage 9 was built by fans over two years in the Unreal Engine.

    “There were two things that we were always pretty careful with,” says project leader ‘Scragnog’.

    “We made it as clear as we possibly could that this was NOT an officially licensed project. We had no affiliation with CBS or Paramount and the IP we were trying our hardest to treat with respect was not our own. We were fans, just creating fan art.”

    In an announcement this week, Scragnog reminded fans that no one involved in the project was in it for any financial reason and everyone was well aware that throwing money into the mix could be a problem. However, the team says it has always known that they could be shut down at any time on the whim of a license holder because in this world, that’s what can happen.

    Unfortunately, that day has come all too soon for the impressive project. Stage 9 was hit with an intellectual property complaint from CBS just over two weeks ago and has now been shut down.

    “This letter was a cease-and-desist order,” Scragnog explains. “Over the next 13 days we did everything we possibly could to open up a dialog with CBS. The member of the CBS legal team that issued the order went on holiday for a week immediately after sending the letter through, which slowed things down considerably.”

    During this interim period, the team began to consider statements made by CBS Vice President for Product Development John Van Citters, who in 2016 indicated that Star Trek owes so much to fans and that fan creations are of value to the brand.

    “We want fans to be involved, very much so,” Van Citters said, as cited by Scragnog. “And it’s going to help us evolve and bring Star Trek to a bigger and brighter future.”

    “They’re not going to hear from us,” Citters continued. “They’re not going to get a phone call, they’re not going to get an email. They’re not going to get anything that’s going to ruin their day one way or another and make them feel bad, like they’ve done something wrong.”

    After noting Van Citter’s friendly approach, the Stage 9 team reached out to him twice to see if Stage 9 could be kept alive in some form. Sadly, the exec did not respond to the team “in any way.”

    However, thirteen days after receiving the cease-and-desist, Stage 9 was able to speak with their original contact in the CBS legal department. It proved a complete waste of time.

    “We were hoping, perhaps naively, that the elements of Stage 9 that CBS did not approve of would be highlighted to us, so we could be sure to remove these elements from the project and create something that met with, if not their approval, then at least their acceptance,” Scragnog explains.

    To keep the project alive, the team were prepared to make any changes ordered by CBS. Sadly, CBS said that the project could not continue in any form, no matter what changes were made. They provided no further details and, as noted by
    Eurogamer, did not indicate how Stage 9 had violated the fan art guidelines previously published by CBS and Paramount.

    “It’s a truly horrible situation to be in when something that tries to respect Star Trek can be eliminated without any opportunity for open dialog,” Scragnog

  10. #30
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    Cox Highlights Double Standard and Wildly Inaccurate Notices in Piracy Case

    Internet provider Cox Communications has responded to the federal complaint filed by several major record labels. The ISP refutes all copyright infringement claims and notes that DMCA notices can be wildly inaccurate. In addition, it mentions that under the "Copyright Alert System," which the labels were part of, ISPs were not required to terminate subscribers.

    Last month, Cox ended its piracy liability lawsuit with music company BMG, agreeing to a “
    substantial settlement.”

    That doesn’t mean that the ISP is now in the clear. Cox is also caught up in
    another lawsuit filed by a group of major music labels, all members of the RIAA.

    The labels argue that Cox categorically failed to terminate repeat copyright infringers and that it substantially profited from this ongoing ‘piracy’ activity. All at the expense of the record labels and other rightsholders.

    This week Cox submitted a reply to the complaint, denying all these allegations. It requests a declaratory judgment from the court stating that it’s not liable for any copyright infringements carried out by its customers.

    “Cox does not control the Internet,” the company writes, adding that it has “no ability to remove or take down infringing content from its customers’ computers” and “cannot restrict, or even detect, the specific content that its customers access or share.”

    “Cox does not spy on its customers or monitor their Internet traffic. Even if it could do so — and it cannot — it wouldn’t. Engaging in surveillance in such a fashion would violate Cox’s policies, ethics, and corporate culture.”

    The record labels are unlikely to refute any of the above. The real dispute, however, is about whether Cox should have terminated customers for whom it received many notices. The labels previously argued that 20,000 Cox subscribers can be categorized as blatant repeat infringers, some of whom have been ‘warned’ more than 100 times.

    Writing to the court, the ISP counters that these notices could not be trusted or easily verified.

    “The systems Plaintiffs used to detect infringement and send copyright infringement notices were unreliable, and were known to be unreliable,” Cox writes, adding that it “lacked the ability to verify Plaintiffs’ allegations of infringement.”

    “Indeed, studies and published reports show that such notices can be wildly inaccurate,” Cox writes, pointing to an academic
    report as well as a TorrentFreak article which shows how HBO targeted its own website.

    This critique on the accuracy of DMCA notices is not new. It has repeatedly been highlighted in similar cases.

    Perhaps more novel is Cox’s mention of the “six strikes”
    Copyright Alert System. This was a partnership between US ISPs and copyright holders, including many of the labels, to forward infringing notices to pirating customers.

    This groundbreaking deal set a limit on the number of copyright notices ISPs had to process. Perhaps more crucially, it didn’t require the companies to terminate repeat infringers, even after 100+ warnings.

    This is an interesting ‘double standard’ angle, as the labels now accuse Cox of failing to terminate repeat infringers, something that was never a requirement under the Copyright Alert System.

    This deal (which Cox wasn’t part of) was still active during the time period that’s covered by the lawsuit, and apparently, the RIAA was pretty happy with it at the time.

    “In May 2014, RIAA Chairman and CEO Cary Sherman described the Center for Copyright Information as ‘a model for success,’ Cox writes, adding that he lauded program and all its accomplishments.

    Fast forward a few years and now ISPs are being sued for adhering to the same standard as set out in the groundbreaking Copyright Alert System.

    Based on these and other arguments, Cox requests a declaratory judgment stating that it’s not liable for contributory infringement, and another declaratory judgment clarifying that it’s not vicariously liable for pirating subscribers.


  11. #31
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    FrostWire Team Calls it Quits After Google Deletes Android App

    After more than 14 years developing file-sharing applications, the FrostWire team has dramatically quit following what appears to be an invalid DMCA takedown notice. The notice targeted FrostWire’s Android app, which Google deleted from its Play Store and refuses to reinstate.

    Back in 2004, when LimeWire was the file-sharing client of choice for millions of users, a new kid appeared on the block.

    FrostWire was originally an open source fork of LimeWire distributed under the GNU General Public License.

    In 2006, FrostWire added BitTorrent support and in 2011, as LimeWire drew its final breath under pressure from the RIAA, its Gnutella base was dropped completely
    in favor of BitTorrent.

    Over the years, FrostWire became available on multiple platforms including Windows, macOS, Linux, and Android. However, a huge problem with their Android variant has now caused the FrostWire team to make a rather sad announcement.

    The issues began back on September 18 when the FrostWire Android app was taken down from Google Play following a DMCA takedown request.

    “In the notice, the company claimed their content was uploaded to the FrostWire app and provided screenshots of their content being played in the FrostWire Music Player,” the FrostWire team explains.

    “Asking for reinstatement, we made it clear that it is technically impossible to upload any content to FrostWire. We explained that FrostWire is a tool, a BitTorrent client, a downloader for a distributed peer-to-peer network and that as such, it does not host, index, nor has the ability to control the content it is technically capable of downloading from third party sources.”

    But despite a DMCA counter-notice to Google, the Internet giant stood its ground. Google refused to reinstate the Android app, a surprise decision given FrostWire’s reputation for staying within the law.

    After almost eight successful years on the Google Play store, the FrostWire team says they have been left “dumbfounded” by what they say is an “unsubstantiated claim” from a single company.

    Sadly, this unfortunate situation appears to be the straw that broke the camel’s back. Heavily reliant on their Android variant, the team indicate they will now move away from FrostWire.

    “With over 80% of our user-base running on the Android platform, in a world where the majority of android installs occurs through a centralized app store monopoly, we don’t see a viable path forward. After 14 years the team is ready to move on to other passions and challenges,” they

    Thanking users past and present for their support, the FrostWire team say that users should now take the opportunity to update their clients using FrostWire’s
    Github repository or its SourceForge page.

    While this sounds like the beginning of the end for FrostWire, it isn’t the first time that the project has had a run-in with Google over its popular client.

    In April 2015, FrostWire was temporarily
    removed from Google Play in a dispute over YouTube integration. Earlier that year, Amazon removed FrostWire citing copyright concerns.

    This reliance on centralized and near monopoly app databases is clearly a big negative for applications like FrostWire. The team hopes that, moving into the future, Internet freedom will come to the forefront.

    “We hope that in the end, a free, uncensored and decentralized internet will prevail,” the team concludes.


  12. #32
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    BitTorrent and Tron Hope Other Clients Will Embrace ‘Paid’ Seeding

    BitTorrent and Tron hope to successfully integrate blockchain technology with the popular file-sharing protocol. The idea of adding rewards and 'payments' to BitTorrent is controversial, but the team stresses that all blockchain enhancements will be open source and backward compatible. They also call on third-party torrent clients to embrace their plan.

    It’s been only a few weeks since BitTorrent was officially
    aquired by Tron, a relatively new cryptocurrency.

    Both companies were built around decentralization, which makes for a good match. However, it doesn’t stop there.

    BitTorrent and Tron plan to integrate blockchain technology into future releases of their torrent clients. In short, they want to make it possible for users to
    ‘earn’ tokens by seeding. At the same time, others can ‘bid’ tokens to speed up their downloads.

    The new plan is dubbed “Project Atlas” and BitTorrent currently has seven people working on it full-time. In theory, the incentives will increase total seeding capacity, improving the health of the torrent ecosystem.

    “By adding tokens we’ll make it so that you can effectively earn per seeding and create incentives for users not only to seed longer but to dedicate more of their bandwidth and storage overall,” Project Atlas lead Justin Knoll says.

    The idea to merge the blockchain with file-sharing technology isn’t new. Joystream, previously implemented
    a similar idea and Upfiring is also working on incentivized sharing. BitTorrent itself also considered it before Tron came into the picture.

    “Even before the Tron acquisition, our R&D team was looking at ways to add blockchain based incentives to the protocol. Now with the addition of Tron’s expertise, we can accelerate that effort,” Knoll says.

    It remains unclear when the project will be ready for the public, but this week the team announced some further details. In particular, BitTorrent and Tron stress that there won’t be any need for BitTorrent users to change their current habits.

    The BitTorrent protocol will always remain open and Project Atlas will be implemented as a series of
    optional protocol extensions. These will be available for anyone to use, much like uTorrent’s previous uTP extension.

    This means that users of third-party BitTorrent clients can still download from and seed to blockchain enhanced clients, and vice versa.

    “If you want to keep using your current client, it will still work with project Atlas clients. If you don’t want to bid or earn tokens per seeding, you don’t need to,” Knoll clarifies.

    Project Atlas

    While backward compatibility is a major upside, it seems likely that new clients will prioritize each other, at least in some instances. After all, that’s a requirement to speed up torrents.

    BitTorrent says it will start implementing the technology in its desktop clients, such as uTorrent. The next step is mobile. In addition, the company encourages developers of other BitTorrent clients to follow suit.

    “We’ll release the details of our implementation and encourage third-party clients and the whole ecosystem to implement this,” Knoll says.

    The developer of the third-party torrent client Frostwire previously showed his interest in the idea
    late August. He asked BitTorrent and Tron whether the technology would be public but never received an answer.

    Speaking with TorrentFreak, developer Angel Leon confirmed his interest.

    “It’s something we were interested in and that we think is necessary to fulfill a vision of a decentralized Apple Store/Google Play/Amazon Music|Video competitor with BitTorrent as the transport mechanism,” Leon told us.

    However, the developments come too late for Frostwire, as the torrent client just shut down. Whether other client developers are also interested, remains a question for now.

    In any case, BitTorrent and Tron stress that any changes will be backwards compatible. The protocol and its extensions remain open, the clients will remain free of charge, and there is absolutely no mining involved.


  13. #33
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    Putin Told That 6,000 Pirate Sites Have Been Blocked in Three Years

    The head of Russian telecoms watchdog Roscomnadzor met with President Vladimir Putin this week to discuss the country's anti-piracy measures. Declaring Russia as no longer a safe haven for pirates, Alexander Zharov said complaints had been filed against 17,000 pirate sites, with 6,000 eventually being blocked.

    As entertainment giants and governments in the West struggle to deal with the ongoing flood of pirate content hitting the Internet, Russia has emerged from the shadows as a surprise front-runner in the anti-piracy wars.

    The country has passed several pieces of legislation over the past few years, all designed to limit the availability of pirated content. Court processes are now swift and particularly voluminous, with large numbers of sites ordered to remove illegal content or face the proposition of temporary and indeed permanent blocking.

    This week, Alexander Zharov, the head of the Federal Service for Supervision in the Sphere of Communications, Information Technologies and Mass Media (better known as Roscomnadzor), met with President Vladimir Putin to provide a one-on-one update on the situation in the country.

    Two topics were on the agenda – the protection of personal data held by millions of Russian companies and the thorny issue of intellectual property protection.

    “For three years already, the law on the protection of intellectual property rights is working. Most of the complaints from copyright holders are related to movies,” Zharov told Putin.

    “More than six thousand claims over three years were filed mainly by [local] companies, and a very small percentage of Western companies, that for some reason are suing at the Moscow City Court.”

    The Moscow City Court is tasked with receiving lawsuits from copyright holders demanding that sites with infringing content either remove it, or face blocking procedures implemented by local ISPs.

    Zharov said that three entities are involved in copyright action in Russia; the copyright holders who file the complaints, the Moscow City Court which decides on what course of action to take, and telecoms watchdog Roscomnadzor, which is tasked with executing the orders of the Court. In total, complaints have been filed against 17,000 pirate sites, Zharov told the President.

    “A few years ago, the Russian Internet was absolutely a safe haven for pirates. Any premiere immediately appeared on hundreds and thousands of resources, and people watched them for free, even in poor quality, but nevertheless, that’s how it was,” he said.

    “Now the situation has changed dramatically: six thousand resources have been blocked and 11,000 have deleted such content. And the numbers speak for themselves.

    “For the first time in the history of Russian cinematography, our very good film, the premiere of 2018, ‘Move Up’, raised about three billion rubles (US$45.5m). This is comparable, perhaps, with only one American blockbuster, which raised the same amount.”

    Zharov also updated Putin on the development of legal offerings in Russia, claiming that last year legal online streaming services earned 60% more than a year earlier, to the tune of eight billion rubles (US$121.4m). Traditional cinemas are also doing well, he added, noting that 55 million people attended premieres, 40% more than a year earlier.

    “We intend to continue this work with rights holders. And, in general, all the largest pirate sites are now blocked. We will continue to clean up the Internet,” he concluded.

    The positive messages from the meeting with Putin follow hot on the heels of a rather less optimistic
    report from Group-IB.

    The cyber-security company reported that in 2016, there were ‘only’ 33 Russian cinema leaks via illegal camcording. By 2017, that had increased more than 500% to 211 but in the first eight months of 2018, 280 movies had leaked online – despite site blocking.

    “Almost every film released in 2018 has been pirated and leaked to the web. In 2017, the country’s cinemas showed 477 movies, and 211 of them were pirated, which is 6 times more than a year earlier,” Group-IB reported.


  14. #34
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    World’s Oldest Torrent Still Alive After 15 Years

    The world's oldest active torrent file turned fifteen-years-old this week, a remarkable achievement. TorrentFreak catches up with the creator of "The Fanimatrix" torrent file, who saw BitTorrent as the only affordable option to share the Matrix fan film with the world.

    In 2003 the ‘world wide web’ was an entirely different place than it is today.

    This was especially true for streaming video. YouTube had yet to be invented, while Netflix only sent out films via the postal service.

    It was at this time that a group of New Zealand friends was shooting a fan film of The Matrix, appropriately titled “
    The Fanimatrix.” With a limited budget of just $800, of which nearly half went into a leather jacket, they managed to complete the project in nine days.

    There was a problem though. As video streaming services were still non-existent, distribution was a challenge. The makers managed to reduce the filesize down to 150MB, but even that was too expensive.

    TorrentFreak spoke to the film’s ‘IT-guy’ Sebastian Kai Frost, who also had a bit part in front of the camera, in addition to being a wire-work counterweight, gopher, and light holder. According to Frost, regular centralized hosting was not an option.

    “In New Zealand this would have resulted in a completely unaffordable amount of bandwidth to be used sharing the file via traditional HTTP or FTP methods. Especially given that the entire bandwidth in and out of the country at the time was less than a modern WiFi link,” Frost tells TorrentFreak.

    With no budget left they had to find something cheap, or free. Frost, who was working as a network administrator at the time, went looking for a solution and stumbled upon a new technology that could help. Something called “BitTorrent.”

    “It looked promising because it scaled such that the more popular the file became, the more the bandwidth load was shared. It seemed like the perfect solution,” Frost says, looking back.

    After convincing the crew that BitTorrent was the right choice, Frost created a torrent on September 28, 2003. He also compiled a tracker on his own Linux box and made sure everything was running correctly.

    That was fifteen years ago. Today, this torrent is still up and running with a handful of seeders. As far as we know, it’s the oldest active torrent on the Internet. A real piece of history.

    In a way, Fanimatrix became one of the first showcases of what BitTorrent can do.

    Sure, at the time people were already sharing movies and TV-shows on sites such as,,, and, but that was mostly pirated stuff. For the Fanimatrix, BitTorrent was a necessity.

    “It turns out that using BitTorrent was a really really good idea because the file was downloaded over tens of thousands of times in the first week and then REALLY took off based off feature news articles on both New Zealand and American TV news,” Frost recalls.

    In a New Zealand Herald
    report from 2003, the film’s director Rajneel Singh noted that the torrent had been downloaded 70,000 times is just one week. An impressive statistic, even by today’s standards.

    BitTorrent was not only able to handle all the downloads, but it was also a serious cost saver. The film crew did some back-of-the-napkin calculations at the time which showed that BitTorrent saved them roughly $550,000 in bandwidth bills during the first month alone.

    Frost and the team were blown away by the experience. And while the film is dated by today’s special effect standards, it’s good to see that people are still interested. Whatever their reason may be.

    “The fact that people still seed it after all these years is a good feeling. Though I suspect a lot of people are on board now because they want to be part of keeping the world’s oldest active torrent going. Which is in itself pretty cool,” Frost says.

    Frost plans to keep a restored version of the
    original site and the torrent up and running during the decade to come. It’s a piece of Internet history, after all.

    “At the time we had no idea how popular this ‘BitTorrent’ thing would become, but being there at the beginning, and having it still operating and seeding even now is a pretty awesome thing.

    “I intend to keep it going as long as I have a seed left to give,” Frost concludes.


  15. #35
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    Anti-Piracy Group Wipes ‘Torrent9’ From Google With ‘Dubious’ Requests

    A 'carpet-bomb' of DMCA takedown requests has all but wiped Torrent9 from Google's search results. French anti-piracy outfit SACEM targeted hundreds of thousands of URLs in a few days. An effective strategy, but one that relies on several dubious reports, including takedowns targeting open source software.

    With millions of visitors per week,
    Torrent9 is a force to be reckoned with.

    The site is most popular in French-speaking countries, which hasn’t gone unnoticed to local copyright holders.

    Last year, the Paris Court of First Instance ordered French ISPs
    to block the site. However, Torrent9 was quick to take countermeasures and moved to a new domain name.

    Quite recently, it was operating from This went fine until the site’s owner started to notice that Google traffic had tanked. The torrent site used to get roughly 20% of its visitors through the search engine, but that suddenly dropped to less than 5%.

    As it turned out, the French anti-piracy outfit SACEM had sent takedown requests for hundreds of thousands of URLs in the span of a few days. Google then removed these from the search engine, adding a downranking punishment on top.

    SACEM’s ‘carpet-bomb’ of takedown requests was clearly targeted and massive in scope. In one week in August, the group asked Google to remove over
    350,000 URLs. For comparison, The Pirate Bay usually gets a tenth of that, from all copyright holders combined.

    While we were taking a closer look at the notices in question, we spotted another peculiarity.

    It almost looks like the French anti-piracy group submitted each and every URL they could find, regardless of whether it actually points to works from their music industry members.

    Some URLs do indeed point to music, but there are also plenty of others, targeting movies, TV-shows, games, and software. In some cases, the torrents are not even infringing, such as the open source copy of Ubuntu listed below.

    Google appears to have removed nearly all URLs including the ones that don’t point directly to copyright infringing content of SACEM members.

    The removals were probably automated, but they certainly warrant a closer look. There is no question that Torrent9 offers links to pirated content, but should such broad takedown requests be permitted?

    This endeavor left Torrent9 no other choice than to move to another new domain. At the time of writing the torrent site is operating from, but this could easily change again in the near future, as SACEM has already started to target the new domain with another carpet-bombing of ‘dubious’ DMCA takedown notices.

    Last edited by Amias; 30-09-2018 at 10:10 AM.

  16. #36
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    Grindr Will Now Have to Sue Fuckr to Keep Controversial Tool Down

    The company behind dating app Grindr recently filed a DMCA notice to have the allegedly-infringing Fuckr desktop application taken down from Github. With Grindr playing Whac-a-Mole with more than 90 forks of Fuckr, the company has a new and bigger problem. The creator of Fuckr has contested Grindr's copyright claim, meaning that Grindr will now have to sue to stop it reappearing.

    Released back in 2015, the Fuckr desktop application provides enhanced access to the popular Grindr dating service. However, the extra features offered by the software are controversial, to say the least.

    Fuckr gives users the ability to precisely locate hundreds of Grindr users to an accuracy of just a few feet. In addition, Fuckr offers access to a trove of information about Grindr users not freely available, including photos, HIV status, and even their preferred sexual position.

    Early September, following an exposé by Queer Europe, Grindr decided to end Fuckr’s party. The company filed a DMCA notice with Github, where the application’s code was hosted. This resulted in Fuckr being taken down.

    As reported Tuesday, Grindr is still battling availability of the software. Dozens of ‘forks’ of Fuckr were still available for download from Github so, in response, Grindr filed a new notice with the coding platform. It targeted around 90 Fuckr clones, all of which were taken down by Github. Now, however, Grindr has another problem on its hands.

    When content is taken down following the filing of a DMCA notice, the target of the notice (in this case a user called ‘tomlandia’) has the right to issue a DMCA counter-notice. This is a challenge to the statement of facts in the original notice and will usually point out deficiencies therein.

    In its original complaint, Grindr claimed that Fuckr “facilitate[s] unauthorized access to the Grindr app by circumventing Grindr’s access controls,” adding that the software was primarily designed for the purpose of “circumventing a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work” protected under the Copyright Act.

    In a DMCA counter-notice filed this week, ‘tomlandia’ argues that Grindr’s claims are false. After confirming that he is indeed the creator of Fuckr, the Github user offers a short rejection of the dating app’s copyright complaint..

    “Fuckr does not bypass any technical access control mechanism and does not access any work copyrighted by Grindr LLC,” the notice reads.

    “I swear, under penalty of perjury, that I have a good-faith belief that the material was removed or disabled as a result of a mistake or misidentification of the material to be removed or disabled.”

    Fuckr DMCA counter-notice
    While DMCA takedown notices themselves can be filed at will with almost no consequences when they’re inaccurate, DMCA counter-notices open up a can of worms for those who file them, as Github explains.

    “Submitting a DMCA counter notice can have real legal consequences. If the complaining party disagrees that their takedown notice was mistaken, they might decide to file a lawsuit against you to keep the content disabled,” the code platform says.

    “You should conduct a thorough investigation into the allegations made in the takedown notice and probably talk to a lawyer before submitting a counter notice.”

    Neither Grindr or TF has been able to contact ‘tomlandia’ to ask whether he sought legal advice but by submitting the counter-notice, he opens himself up to potential legal action. Github explains that copyright complaints can prove complicated, highlighting the very reason given by Grindr for taking Fuckr down.

    “Sometimes a takedown notice might allege infringement in a way that seems odd or indirect. Copyright laws are complicated and can lead to some unexpected results,” Github notes.

    “In some cases a takedown notice might allege that your source code infringes because of what it can do after it is compiled and run. For example: The notice may claim that your software is used to circumvent access controls to copyrighted works.”

    While the argument over whether that really is the case with Fuckr probably lies with lawyers and ultimately the Court, the counter-notice from ‘tomlandia’ now sets in motion a process in which Grindr will either have to put up or shut up.

    For the next 10 to 14 days, Github will keep the Fuckr repository down and if the company doesn’t hear anything from Grindr during that period, the repository will go back up. However, if Grindr believes its claim is valid, it will be forced to take swift legal action against ‘tomlandia’ to ensure Github doesn’t reactivate the repo.

    If ‘tomlandia’ is in the United States, his counter-notice states that he consents for legal action to go ahead in the “jurisdiction of Federal District Court for the judicial district in which [his] address is located” or the Northern District of California where GitHub is located.

    Only time will tell where the battle, if one is to take place, will be fought.

  17. #37
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    Fine For Sky ‘Piracy’ Not Enough? FACT Renders Landlady Unemployed

    Copyright infringement and similar offenses are punishable under law and those who commit the crime should be prepared to do the time, as the saying goes. But when is enough, enough? A case featuring Sky and anti-piracy group FACT shows that even when justice has been served and a sentence handed down by the court, they'll then demand that people lose their jobs.

    A typical case featured here on TorrentFreak will usually feature companies, anti-piracy groups, site operators and/or members of the public fighting it out in the legal arena due to someone allegedly infringing someone else’s intellectual property rights.

    Sky TV and anti-piracy group FACT have featured on a number of occasions, as they target IPTV providers, Kodi box sellers, or others involved in facilitating access to infringing content. However, the pair also target licensed premises – mostly pubs – which are regularly accused of showing Sky’s content without an appropriate license.

    These cases are not our usual beat but one in particular is worth highlighting since it shows how far these companies are prepared to go and what infringers should expect to be confronted with when they pull out the stops.

    Sky charges commercial premises large sums of money to air content (usually Premier League football matches) so it’s perhaps no surprise that pubs that can least afford it gravitate towards securing a drastically cheaper residential subscription.

    To be clear, this is illegal and plenty of landlords have found themselves on the end of legal action and court appearances following Sky and FACT investigations. One of those is Middlesbrough pub landlady Catherine Beadnall, who should’ve been paying £820 per month to Sky but instead used a Virgin Media residential package at a fraction of that.

    Back in June the 61-year-old, who runs the Park End pub in Middlesbrough, admitted in court that she’d screened Premier League matches without a commercial Sky license. One of those matches was Middlesbrough’s home game against Sunderland last November. There were nine customers in the pub at the time. Other match screenings had between six and nine people in attendance.

    After ignoring warnings from FACT advising her to obtain a license, Beadnall was eventually fined £320 and ordered to pay costs of £210 after admitting four counts of dishonestly receiving matches with intent to avoid payment, Gazette Live

    Since Beadnall was given every chance to correct her behavior in advance, the fine and costs were to be expected. However, it transpired last week that FACT was not happy with the punishment handed down by the court and wanted even more aggressive action taken against Beadnall.

    In view of the fact that the landlady had been given a conditional discharge for a similar offense in 2009, FACT wrote to local authorities demanding that they take further action. According to an application sent by the anti-piracy outfit, FACT demanded that the pub, which Beadnall had managed for almost 16 years, have its license revoked.

    Of course, having no license would be a death sentence for the pub, one that would not only affect management and staff but would also prove damaging to the communities built around it. It was a dramatic request with the potential to negatively transform the lives of dozens of families.

    Fortunately, according to a document published recently by Middlesbrough Council Licensing Sub Committee, it appears that almost three weeks later, FACT scaled down its demands, but not by much.

    “On 21 August 2018 further correspondence was received from FACT which stated that having given the matter further consideration they would consider that the removal of Catherine Beadnall from the premises as being a satisfactory outcome for FACT,” the document reads.

    “[To] facilitate this they would consider a suitable resolution to be the canceling of Catherine Beadnall’s lease by the Premises Licence holder and an undertaking that they would not issue a new lease to her or her family members.”

    Given the detail above, it’s clear that Beadnall acted irresponsibly given her previous conviction. There’s also no doubt that she should’ve heeded the warnings of FACT and either bought an official subscription or stopped airing matches altogether. She foolishly did not, and for that error of judgment she went to court and had to pay a fine determined by local magistrates, as per the law.

    The problem here, however, is the apparent determination of a disappointed FACT to either shut down an entire pub or, alternatively, deprive Beadnall of her livelihood and presumably her main source of income. At 61-years-old, Beadnall probably doesn’t have that many options open to her, particularly after managing the pub in question for almost 16 years.

    “I’ve been to court for it [but because] I only got a £500 fine they [want] the pub shutting down they saying its criminal,” Beadnall wrote on her
    Facebook page recently, a post that drew support from her friends and customers.

    “That’s disgusting. They are trying to victimize you by trying to get you out of the premises! That is totally unjust given the ‘offense’ you committed for God’s sake!” one wrote.

    “So you played a few unlicensed football games, got caught and paid a fine! That’s no reason for them to try and now attempt to take away your livelihood. Bunch of Arseholes!”

    Another commenter noted the social importance of the pub and its positive effects on the area.

    “It’s the last pub standing in the area we grew up in,” a customer called Tracy added. “Good luck Cath it’s not just a boozer it actually does events for kids in the community at affordable prices for low income parents.”

    “They wanna look at the good things you do for our community,” added another.

    “There’s no way on this earth that any of us will stand by and let them take the pub, your livelihood away from you without a fight.”

    With words like “victimization” and “bullying” regularly appearing in Facebook responses, other commenters criticized Sky for their sky-high prices, noting that people in the council estates nearby don’t have that kind of disposable income.

    While that may be the case, the law is the law and Beadnall could’ve avoided this wretched attempt on her pub, livelihood, career, and customers if only she’d heeded the warnings. That being said, one would think that the people filing this application would’ve seen fit to put this matter into perspective.

    Ruining lives is never going to be a great advertisement for your product or your way of doing business. To Joe Public it looks bad – really bad – and is a great way to further cultivate the them-versus-us culture that’s attached to the wickedly high prices charged by Sky which have to be charged to fund the billions demanded by the Premier League.

    On the other hand, taking down an offender in such a dramatic way could prove a great deterrent to others considering a similar course of action. There’s no doubt that figured into the equation.

    Last week, following a council hearing in Middlesbrough, FACT and Sky’s plan probably achieved both. Catherine Beadnall was stripped of her license and her career was brought to an end.

    According to a report from
    Gazette Live, FACT dug up every possible piece of negative information they could in order to achieve their aims, including mentioning that Beadnall was fined in 2007 for not having fully-functioning CCTV at the pub and that in 2013 “someone” discharged a shotgun outside.

    The anti-piracy outfit also mentioned that someone had been stabbed at the pub. However, during the meeting, it transpired that it was Beadnall’s own son who had been attacked when trying to remove a man from the premises.

    The belief all along was that FACT only targeted Beadnall’s livelihood because the earlier court fine wasn’t as heavy as they’d hoped. Statements at the meeting seemed to support that.

    When Andrew Cochrane of Stars Pubs and Bars, which owns the pub, asked FACT representative Stephen Gerrard if they’d called for a review due to being “aggrieved” by the relatively small fine handed down in earlier in the year, the response was positive.

    “I was disappointed yes,” Gerrard said, adding: “I don’t consider it to be a deterrent.”

    But despite two local councilors speaking in support of Beadnell, it wasn’t enough. The landlady and her entire family were banned from managing or being employed at the pub. The pub itself had its license suspended for three months.

    While Beadnall really should’ve acted more responsibly, the six to nine people present during the match screenings at her pub doesn’t seem like a reasonable fit for the termination of her career and the suspension of the entire pub’s license. Nevertheless, it appears the authorities think otherwise.

    Fortunately, however, Beadnall is trying to look on the bright side, noting that this Christmas, for the first time in 15 years, she’ll be able to cook her family a dinner at home. It seems unlikely that Sky TV will accompany the mince pies and coffee.


  18. #38
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    Top 10 Most Pirated Movies of The Week on BitTorrent – 10/01/18

    The top 10 most downloaded movies on BitTorrent are in again. 'The First Purge' tops the chart this week, followed by ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story'. 'Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation' completes the top three.

    This week we have two newcomers in our chart.

    The First Purge 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 (1) The First Purge 5.2 / trailer
    2 (2) Solo: A Star Wars Story 7.1 / trailer
    3 (…) Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation 6.3 / trailer
    4 (5) Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom 6.5 / trailer
    5 (4) Skyscraper 6.1 / trailer
    6 (3) Sicario: Day of the Soldado 7.3 / trailer
    7 (…) Hotel Artemis 6.2 / trailer
    8 (…) Hold The Dark 5.8 / trailer
    9 (8) Mission: Impossible – Fallout (Subbed HDRip) 8.1 / trailer
    10 (7) The Meg (Subbed HDRip) 6.0 / trailer


  19. #39
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    ‘NAFTA’ Replacement Extends Canada’s Copyright Term to Life +70 years

    After months of negotiations, Canada, the United States and Mexico have agreed on the final text of a new trade deal. The new agreement is set to replace NAFTA and comes with various copyright-related changes. Canada will have to extend its copyright term by 20 years, for example. The agreement also provides a safe harbor for ISPs who will have to help deter piracy.

    The North American Free Trade Agreement (
    NAFTA) between the United States, Canada, and Mexico was negotiated more than 25 years ago.

    Over the past quarter-century trade has changed drastically, especially online, and to accommodate these changes the three countries have been working hard to modernize the international deal.

    A few weeks ago the US and Mexico reached
    consensus on many key issues and last night Canada came along, resulting in a new version of NAFTA. Titled the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the deal covers a wide variety of trade issues including various copyright related subjects.

    “USMCA will give our workers, farmers, ranchers and businesses a high-standard trade agreement that will result in freer markets, fairer trade and robust economic growth in our region,” US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said in a
    joint statement.

    One key change for Canada is that the country’s current copyright term will be extended by 20 years. At the moment copyrighted works are protected for the term of the author’s life, plus 50 years. This will be extended to life plus 70 years, at a minimum.

    The Canadian Government has previously shown reluctance to make this change but gave in eventually.

    Another controversial subject that was widely debated by experts and stakeholders are ‘safe harbors.’ In the US, Internet services are shielded from copyright infringement liability under the safe harbor provisions of the DMCA, but in Mexico and Canada, that’s not the case.

    The new USMCA includes a safe harbor section. This means that Internet services will be shielded from direct liability for copyright-infringing users. However, this protection doesn’t come without obligations.

    The agreement specifies that ISPs should have legal incentives to work with ISPs to ensure that copyright infringements are properly dealt with.

    This framework shall include “legal incentives for Internet Service Providers to cooperate with copyright owners to deter the unauthorized storage and transmission of copyrighted materials or, in the alternative, to take other action to deter the unauthorized storage and transmission of copyrighted materials,” the agreement reads.

    ISPs that want to apply for safe harbor protection also have to take down pirated content and implement a repeat infringer policy, which the US already has. This means that ISPs will have to disconnect persistent pirates.

    This is achieved by “adopting and reasonably implementing a policy that provides for termination in appropriate circumstances of the accounts of repeat infringers,” as the agreement prescribes.

    The current text is quite vague and doesn’t define what the “appropriate circumstances” are to terminate accounts. This was also the case in the US, but after a series of lawsuits, ISPs have recently tightened their termination policies.

    Crucially, the takedown and repeat infringer termination policies don’t apply to Canada. There is an annex to the agreement stating that when a country applies to various other conditions at the time of signing (including a notice and notice scheme), these do not apply.

    It is clear, however, that the safe harbors will provide protection for ISPs against copyright claims. And with regard to the EU’s filtering plan, it’s worth noting that the agreement specifically states that “monitoring” or “affirmatively seeking facts indicating infringing activity” is not required.

    At the time of writing the agreement has only been available for a few hours, but it’s expected that further analysis from experts will provide more context during the days to come.

    While there is a final agreement, lawmakers in the three countries have yet to sign off on the new text, which isn’t a done deal yet. This means that, for now, the current NAFTA agreement remains in place.


  20. #40
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    California passes net neutrality law, is promptly sued by the Department of Justice

    California is celebrating the passing of what are considered to be the toughest net neutrality regulations in the land, even more so than the original net neutrality rules that the FCC reversed earlier this year, but they may not stand up in court. The US Department of Justice aims to find out—it has already hit California with a lawsuit in hopes of blocking the rules, and effectively raining on the state's parade.

    Led by Scott Wiener (D-California), lawmakers met with little resistance in pushing through Senate Bill 822, which prohibits internet service providers from blocking or slowing down websites or "whole classes of applications," like video. It also specifically prohibits ISPs from charging online services access fees to reach customers, otherwise known as paid prioritization.

    Last month, California's state Assembly voted 61-18 in favor of the bill, and a day later the state's Senate approved the measure in a 27-12 vote. All that remained was for California Governor Jerry Brown to sign the bill into law, which he did on Sunday.

    It was a foregone conclusion that the bill would face legal scrutiny, especially after FCC Chairman Ajit Pai lashed out at the rules two weeks ago, calling them "illegal," "radical," and "anti-consumer." What some may not have predicted, however, is how quickly the DoJ would pounce. The DoJ filed a lawsuit less than two hours after the bill was signed into law.

    "Under the Constitution, states do not regulate interstate commerce—the federal government does. Once again the California legislature has enacted an extreme and illegal state law attempting to frustrate federal policy. The Justice Department should not have to spend valuable time and resources to file this suit today, but we have a duty to defend the prerogatives of the federal government and protect our Constitutional order. We will do so with vigor. We are confident that we will prevail in this case—because the facts are on our side," Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement.

    Pai predictably is throwing his support behind the lawsuit. He doubled down on calling California's net neutrality regulation illegal, adding that "it also hurts consumers."

    "The law prohibits many free-data plans, which allow consumers to stream video, music, and the like exempt from any data limits. They have proven enormously popular in the marketplace, especially among lower-income Americans. But notwithstanding the consumer benefits, this state law bans them," Pai said.

    Pai's statement refers to a practice known as zero-rating, whereby an ISP does not count certain online content against a user's data cap. T-Mobile, for example, advertises a "Binge On" amenity to its Simple Choice customers that allows them to stream unlimited video Hulu, Netflix, YouTube, and other services. California's net neutrality law prohibits this sort of thing.

    Net neutrality rules are intended to protect consumers from paying more for certain services, and from having certain legal content blocked at the whims of ISPs. Those who support net neutrality regulation fear that ISPs will abuse their power if left unchecked, whereas the other side believes that consumers are ultimately better off if ISPs are free to regulate themselves.

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