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  1. #381
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    BREIN Explains Why It’s Not going After ‘Casual’ Pirates

    Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN is continuing to gather information on BitTorrent pirates. This information will be used to go after frequentseeders of pirated material. According to BREIN director Tim Kuik, individual downloaders will stay out of range for now because not all rightsholders support this approach. Kuik himself also believes that going after the suppliers is the better strategy.

    When it comes to civil anti-piracy enforcement, BREIN is without a doubt one of the best-known players in the industry.

    Backed by Hollywood and other content industries, the group has been active for more than two decades in the Netherlands.

    Aside from shutting down sites and going after sellers of pirate streaming boxes, BREIN is also planning to go after BitTorrent users. By using in-house software that automatically gathers IP-addresses of seeders, hundreds if not thousands of copyright infringers can be easily pinpointed.

    At first sight, this practice is very similar to the “copyright trolling” efforts that are common around the world. However, the Dutch anti-piracy group is taking a more reserved approach.

    Instead of going after the IP-addresses of anyone who’s connected to a torrent swarm, BREIN is mostly interested in structural seeders who upload content for a longer period of time. In other words, the group wants to target those who frequently offer pirated content.

    This decision was brought up by BREIN director Tim Kuik in the Dutch podcast “Met Nerds om Tafel” recently. There, he explained that his organization represents a wide variety of rightsholders and not all of them support the idea of going after casual downloaders.

    “Our enforcement efforts apply to all these copyright holders. Therefore, they all have to agree on how this takes place. At the moment there is no consensus within that group on how to deal with individual end-users,” Kuik says.

    BREIN’s director believes that focusing on structural uploaders is the best approach in the case anyway.

    “Personally, I have always had my doubts about going after individual downloaders. I believe you have to focus on the supply side,” he notes.

    In theory, it’s possible for rightsholders to go after casual downloaders but that’s not something BREIN can do collectively. They work with funds that come from various parties who all have to agree on an approach.

    TorrentFreak reached out to Kuik to clarify who the main targets are. Kuik says that pirate sites and services are the prime focus and that the planned mass settlement effort will focus on the most prolific uploaders in this ecosystem.

    “We focus on early and large uploaders that function as a source of unauthorized content and we will expand that to frequent and prolonged uploaders that function as a lubricant keeping unauthorized content available over time,” Kuik tells us.

    “Hit & run end users are at the end of the chain. We think they can best be approached with measures that raise their awareness, such as blocking access to illegal sites with referral to a landing page that explains why,” he adds.

    Sending informative alert emails to users whose IP-addresses are linked to sharing pirated material is also an option. However, that’s something ISPs will have to cooperate with.

    Enforcement may eventually shift to downloaders if there’s a situation where it’s impossible to go after the suppliers, Kuik notes. Then it makes sense to target downloaders as well.

    This could also apply to torrent users. Kuik tells us that if other enforcement measures, such as site blocking or going after a hosting company, fail structurally the demand side could get more into the spotlight.

    For now, however, uploaders are the targeted only. When BREIN plans start its campaign is yet unknown. That said, Dutch torrent users have more to fear than BREIN alone.

    Movie distributor Dutch FilmWorks (DFW) also received permission from the Data Protection Authority to monitor and track BitTorrent pirates. They are expected to target downloaders as well.

    In the podcast, Kuik also provided some further insight and commentary on piracy in general. The issue of availability also came up. In particular, the fact that Game of Thrones is only available through a single telecom provider in the Netherlands, Ziggo.

    This means that some people can’t access it legally, even if they wanted to. Kuik agreed that this is “strange,” but also noted that it’s one of the exceptions.

    “That’s a particularly strange situation, in my opinion, but that’s something that should be taken up with Ziggo,” he says.

    For BREIN’s director, it was never a preconceived plan to become a public copyright enforcement figure. After his law study, he took a summer job at a joint venture between the movie studios Paramount and Universal. This is where it all started.

    “That’s when ‘E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial’ premiered in theaters, which was heavily pirated on videotapes. This also happened with other movies but E.T. made a lot of money and Steven Spielberg was extremely concerned. In a meeting, he burst into tears about it. Something had to be done,” Kuik says.

    As a young legal expert, Kuik was called in to help. That would eventually turn him into a leading figure in the copyright enforcement world who helped to found dozens of local anti-piracy outfits around the world.

    This work is appreciated by many rightsholders, but it also results in quite a few hateful comments from people who disagree with BREIN’s efforts. That doesn’t really bother Kuik much through.

    “My fans are at the copyright holders. If you don’t have any enemies then you never stood up for something,” Kuik concludes.

  2. #382
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    Kenyan Govt. Protests as National Anthem Hit With YouTube Copyright Complaint

    The Kenyan Department of Justice has aired its displeasure after a video on YouTube featuring the country's national anthem was hit by a copyright complaint. UK-based De Wolfe Music is claiming to be the owner of the track, which is actually in the public domain.

    With millions of new videos uploaded every week, YouTube is the world’s most popular platform for user-uploaded content.

    While the majority of uploaded works cause no issue, copyright holders regularly file strikes or claims against uploaders, complaining that they’ve used their content without permission.

    As reported on many occasions, this can sometimes prove controversial and today the Kenyan government waded into a dispute after a rendition of the country’s national anthem was subjected to takedown demand.

    The video was uploaded by 2nacheki, which claims to be the largest YouTube channel from Africa. It featured their take on the ‘Top 10 Best National Anthems in Africa’, with the Kenyan anthem coming out in the number one position.

    Unfortunately, however, the channel soon received notification from YouTube that their video had infringed upon the rights of UK-based music company De Wolfe Music, a claim that was made via content monetization company AdRev Publishing.

    Needless to say, the channel was pretty shocked to see this claim on their account. Not only does the Kenyan government consider the piece (titled ‘Ee Mungu Nguvu Yetu’ (‘O God, of all Creation’)) to be its property, but it was written by the Kenyan Anthem Commission in 1963 to serve as the state anthem after independence from Great Britain, where De Wolfe is based.

    Only adding to the complications is that since the anthem is more than 50 years old, it has officially fallen into the public domain. This has caused the Office of the Attorney General and Department of Justice to issue a joint press release denouncing the action against a piece of its heritage.

    “The National Anthem is over 50 years and has thus fallen into public domain. However, given the place of National Anthem in any country and the provisions of the National Flags, Emblems and Names Act (Cap 99 laws of Kenya) there is additional protection of the anthem against misuse and improper use,” the statement reads.

    “Under that Act, the use of the National Anthem, emblems, names and other similar symbols is restricted and its use shall be subject to written permission by the minister in charge of interior.”

    Further muddying the waters is that variant of the anthem uploaded to YouTube by De Wolfe is not the same version as the one playing in the video it has attempted to take down, with the former completely devoid of the lyrics usually associated with the song.

    It’s unprecedented for a national government to get so closely involved in a YouTube copyright dispute so it seems probable that the claim against the video will be resolved relatively quickly.

    However, that a third-party company can so easily claim content of others as their own is a problem that will take a while to fix, unless there is a more vigorous response when dealing with controversial takedown attempts.

  3. #383
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    Malaysia Blocks 246 Sites to Tackle Pirate Set-Top Box Epidemic

    To tackle what is increasingly seen as a piracy epidemic, authorities in Malaysia have reportedly blocked 246 sites that supply pirate movies and TV shows to set-top boxes. Additionally, the government is also set to crack down on importers and distributors of Android devices that have failed to pass the country's standards for electronics equipment.

    Since their mainstream debut two decades ago, pirate websites have never been particularly inaccessible to the tech-savvy.

    Today, however, streaming pirate movies and TV shows is simplicity itself, particularly when accessed through specially-configured hardware devices such as Android-style set-top boxes. Anyone comfortable with a smartphone interface is now educated enough to gain access to a mountain of infringing content.

    As a result, these devices are now considered a major threat to entertainment industry companies all over the world and over in Asia, the situation is no different. In response to what is already an epidemic, authorities in Malaysia are now taking action to curtail the use of these devices.

    To date, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) and Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry have teamed up to block 246 sites utilized by piracy-configured set-top boxes to stream movies and TV shows to the masses.

    “Based on the details and complaints from the rights’ owners which were made to the ministry, MCMC facilitated the shutdown,” MCMC Network Security and Enforcement Sector chief officer Zulkarnain Mohd Yasin told The Star.

    While the names and details of the sites have not yet been made public, given their number it’s likely they are regularly accessible websites that are ‘scraped’ by software applications present on the Android devices. This is likely to become a game of cat-and-mouse as the sites switch domains and scrapers continue to adapt.

    “We are working closely with the ministry and only through their complaints and the details provided to us, such as their domain and URLs, World Wide Web page address, on the illegal streaming sites, can we act to block the access,” Yasin added.

    In parallel with regular blocking, Malaysian authorities are reportedly employing a secondary tactic to prevent the spread of Android-based devices that are illegal under laws other than copyright.

    Under local law, all such devices must comply with standards laid down by the government, with the Standard and Industrial Research Institute of Malaysia (SIRIM) responsible for product quality assurance and subsequent certification.

    Importers and distributors are required to submit samples of their devices to SIRIM which carries out tests to ensure they meet the standards set out by MCMC. If they do, they receive SIRIM accreditation. They do not, they are considered illegal.

    Punishments for breaching such regulations are reported to be RM100,000 (which at current rates is around US$24,500), and/or six months in prison.

    “We know who [these people] are and will act against them soon to discourage and stop these illegal boxes, which promote the illegal content streaming, which breaches copyright and intellectual property laws,” Yasin added.

    Less than an hour away south by plane, Singapore is also taking steps to deal with the pirate set-top box phenomenon.

    New legal proposals to be tabled this year will aim to prevent manufacturers, importers, distributors and retailers from knowingly selling devices that are set up to access content from infringing sources.

    There will also be an effort to prevent suppliers from providing assistance or instruction to customers on how to modify legally-supplied devices to perform infringing acts. If the law is adopted, it will also become an offense to customize a device provided by a user so that it can obtain infringing content.

  4. #384
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    GTA V Cheat Maker Has to Pay $150,000 in Copyright Damages

    Rockstar Games' parent company Take-Two Interactive has won a default judgment against the developer of the GTA V cheat "Elusive". The Florida-based man is ordered to pay the game company $150,000, which is the maximum amount of copyright infringement damages. According to the court, the cheat caused irreparable harm.

    Over the past two years, there’s 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.

    Last 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.

    The “Elusive” cheat was previously sold online at prices ranging from $10 to $30, depending on the package. Before filing the lawsuit, Take-Two attempted to find out exactly how much money was made in the process, but Perez failed to hand over detailed financial records.

    Initially, the game company was open to negotiating a settlement but, due to the lack of response, it saw no other option than to take the cheat maker to court. Perez, however, did not respond to the complaint which prompted Take-Two to file for a default judgment.

    According to the company, it’s clear that the cheat maker is guilty of both direct and contributory copyright infringement. As such, it asked the New York federal court for the maximum statutory damages amount of $150,000, plus $69,686 in attorney’s fees.

    Take-Two argued that these damages are 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.

    This week the court ordered on the motion for default judgment, siding with the game company.

    “Take-Two has been irreparably harmed by Mr. Perez’s infringing conduct and will continue to be harmed unless enjoined,” US District Court Judge Kevin Castel writes in his order.

    “Mr. Perez’s Elusive program creates new features and elements in Grand Theft Auto which can be used to harm legitimate players, causing Take-Two to lose control over its carefully balanced plan for how its video game is designed to be played,” he writes.

    In addition, the Judge notes that the cheat discouraged users from future purchases and gameplay and that the unlimited currency cheat undermined Take-Two’s pricing and sales of legitimate virtual currency.

    The Court, therefore, finds the cheat maker guilty of both willful direct and willful contributory copyright infringement, as well as breaching Take-Two’s user agreement.

    Judge Castel ordered Perez to may the maximum statutory damages of $150,000 and an additional $66,868 in attorney’s fees. To our knowledge, this is the highest damages amount that has ever been awarded in a game cheating case.

    In addition to the monetary damages, the Court also issued a permanent injunction prohibiting the cheat maker from continuing infringing activities moving forward.

    Elusive hasn’t been available for sale since last year. It was taken offline after Perez was contacted by Take-Two.

    “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.

    At the time, the cheat maker informed its users that it would donate the proceeds to a charity which Take-Two could pick. However, the default judgment makes it clear that this money should go directly to the game company instead.

  5. #385
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    Article 13 Moves Forward With French-German Deal

    After a short hiatus, discussions on the new EU copyright law proposals are moving forward again. France and Germany have reached a deal on which services should be bound to Article 13. Opponents fear that the plan will lead to broad upload filters, but the EU's copyright rapporteur notes that it's necessary to defend copyright holders from large US platforms.

    After years of discussions, the EU’s copyright reform plans are in the final stages.

    Last month there was a temporary hiccup when negotiations were canceled after member states failed to agree on various crucial elements.

    However, that was never expected to be the end of it. And indeed, following a deal between Germany and France this week, things are moving forward once again.

    Both countries previously disagreed on the scope of Article 13. This article requires service providers to license content from copyright holders or, if that’s not an option, to make sure that infringing material isn’t re-uploaded to their servers.

    France and Germany agreed on these basics, but not on which services should be bound by it. France argued that commercial companies of any size should be covered, while Germany preferred to exclude small services with less than €20 million in annual turnover.

    This week the countries came together to reach a compromise. The new deal, made available via Politico, excludes companies if they fit within a set of three clear boundaries.

    If a service is publicly available for less than three years, with fewer than 5 million monthly unique visitors, and an annual turnover of less than €10 million, it is excluded.

    Companies that are excluded will still have to do their best to obtain licenses from rightsholders. However, they will not be forced to prevent infringing content from being re-uploaded.

    While the compromise protects smaller startups, Pirate Party MEP Julia Reda warns that it’s actually worse than some of the earlier proposals. The new obligations would also apply to older forums, including those of Ars Technica and Heise.de, she warns.

    “Countless apps and sites that do not meet all these criteria would need to install upload filters, burdening their users and operators, even when copyright infringement is not at all currently a problem for them,” Reda notes.

    The Pirate Party MEP calls on the public to share these concerns with their representatives, making it clear to them that Article 13 puts the future of the Internet at stake.

    EU copyright rapporteur Axel Voss, who’s one of the driving forces behind the plans, clearly disagrees. He believes that Article 13 and other proposals are needed to make sure that copyright holders get the money they deserve.

    In an op-ed in Parliament Magazine, Voss argues that Internet services are using their ‘safe harbor’ protections to escape liability and profit handsomely from distributing copyrighted material, while rightsholders don’t get proper compensation.

    “This cannot continue to apply. The platforms do much more than simply providing the infrastructure, which is why they can make the profits that they do,” Voss writes.

    Interestingly, the EU’s copyright rapporteur goes on to stress that, even though European companies are directly affected by Article 13, US-based services are the real target here.

    “Do we want to protect the creative sector in Europe, or do we want to leave it defenseless against the large US platforms? What is the value of our Europe’s creative industry to us?” the op-ed reads.

    With the new deal between France and Germany in hand, the Council will try to agree on a unified negotiation position for the final trilogue negotiation. If an agreement is reached there, the EU Parliament will vote on it a few weeks later.

  6. #386
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    The Walking Dead Mid-Season Opener Already Airing on Pirate Sites

    The Walking Dead's hotly-anticipated Season 9 mid-season opener 'Adaption' is set to premiere this Sunday on AMC. However, subscribers to AMC Premiere are already enjoying early access - as are huge numbers of pirate site users, thanks to a leak.

    The Walking Dead is one of the most talked about and popular TV shows of recent times.

    The blood-and-guts zombie-fest is followed by millions of dedicated fans, who clamor to watch each new episode as soon as they air.

    The AMC show was renewed January 2018 for an impressive ninth season, which got underway early October last year. On November 28, 2018, episode eight (‘Evolution’) marked the mid-season break, with episode nine (‘Adaption’) set to air on TV this coming Sunday.

    AMC, however, dangled the carrot by offering S09E09 a week early to subscribers of its $4.99 per month AMC Premiere service. With no ads and on demand, it’s likely the offer will have tempted some Walking Dead fans to part with their cash. For everyone else, there are pirate sites.

    Visitors to torrent and streaming sites can now easily find ‘Adaption’ available to download or stream. The source for most copies is cited as WEBRIP, which means that they most probably originate from AMC’s service.

    While traffic to streaming sites for specific titles is not easy to measure, the main torrents for the latest episode of the hit show are proving to be very popular with downloaders, as they have for pretty much every episode since the show started. As it happens, last year the show reached somewhat of a peak on the pirate high seas.

    In TorrentFreak’s 2018 annual list of most-torrented TV shows, The Walking Dead took the top spot, with The Flash and The Big Bang Theory taking second and third places respectively.

    However, instead of going bananas over the revelation, AMC took to Twitter to celebrate the event, even though they chose to link to another publication reporting on our stats instead. Awww…

    Whether this leak of ‘Adaption’ will have an impact on viewing figures, either positively or negatively, will remain to be seen but AMC will have definitely figured piracy into the equation.

    The company is clearly well aware of its popularity among the pirating masses so it was always a matter of when the episode leaked, not if.

  7. #387
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    AnimeYT and Other Anime Pirate Sites Fold Facing Legal Pressure

    AnimeYT, one the most-visited websites in Latin America, period, has shut down. The website's operator took this action after several other sites faced legal troubles. AnimeMovil, another popular anime site, folded as well, with both events provoking much uproar on social media.

    Dedicated anime pirate sites are popular around the globe, but in Latin America they are huge.

    AnimeYT has been one of the main players in the area. With millions of regular visitors, it was the top pirate site in countries including Argentina Chile, Peru, and Mexico.

    The site is among the top 50 most-visited websites on the entire Internet in these countries, beating traditional streaming and torrent sites by a landslide.

    The massive reach of these sites is a thorn in the side of copyright holders, which are increasingly taking action in response. Over the past weeks, several Brazilian anime sites folded after legal threats and this weekend AnimeYT shut down as well.

    In a goodbye message, AnimeYT’s operator “TioYT” mentions the situation in Brazil as the reason for the decision. He doesn’t point a finger at a specific legal threat and chooses to end with a personal message instead.

    “I spent many years translating animes, arguing with fans, watching anime girls on this page. So much that when I look back at my life, I think that at least a quarter of my memories are linked to this site, to this community,” the operator writes.

    “Remember that behind the dude you call ‘TioYT’ there’s a common and ordinary guy who has his own problems, his family, who has other responsibilities and who is more than anything very grateful for all the love and the support they everyone has shown to the website in general,’ he adds.

    The shutdown has created a lot of uproar on social media and many of the site’s former users are taking out their anger on the legitimate anime streaming platform Crunchyroll, which is seen as the driving force behind many of the recent shutdowns.

    Crunchyroll has reportedly gone after several Brazilian anime sites but, thus far, we haven’t seen any official confirmation that it approached AnimeYT directly. It could also be that there are other rightsholders involved.

    Another popular anime site that shut down last week is AnimeMovil. This site currently redirects to Crunchyroll. The site reportedly took this decision after the Japanese studio Toei Animation went after it for publishing a copy of Dragon Ball Super Broly, shortly after it premiered.

    The shutdowns have resulted in a surge of new traffic flowing to AnimeFLV, another popular anime site in Latin America. In addition, inventive users have also started to upload Dragon Ball episodes to porn sites, hoping that they’re safe there.

    While AnimeYT and AnimeMovil could certainly be classified as pirate sites, many people relied on them to get the latest anime shows quickly.

    That anime is more than a simple pastime for kids was made clear last year when local Mexican authorities planned to premiere the 130th episode of Dragon Ball Super in football stadiums and other public places, even though they had no license to do so.

    Although several massive anime sites have now fallen, it’s expected that others will fill this gap, as is usually the case. That doesn’t mean, however, that AnimeYT and the others aren’t missed dearly; a quick search on social media makes that quite clear.

  8. #388
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    Indian Government Approves Prison Sentences For ‘Cam’ Pirates

    As envisioned earlier this year, proposals to India's Cinematograph Act to deter piracy have now been approved by the Union Cabinet. Anyone recording or transmitting movies without permission now faces a three-year prison sentence and/or a US$14,000 fine. Whether this will have any effect on the mighty TamilRockers torrent site will remain to be seen.

    While India has a thriving movie market that is loved both at home and overseas, it also has serious problems with piracy.

    With around 1,000 films produced every year, most major titles are quickly pirated and distributed on the black market, whether on physical media (for around $1 per copy) or for free via the Internet.

    One of the key problems is the swift availability of Indian movies on pirate sites, often within hours of their theatrical debut. Aside from the so-called screener copies that sometimes leak out, around 90% of ‘pirate’ releases can be tracked to unauthorized in-theater recordings, usually via camcorders or cellphones.

    To target this unlicensed copying, earlier this year the Indian government proposed amendments to the Cinematograph Act to deter people from undermining the local movie industry. On the table were three-year jail sentences for pirates and/or a maximum fine of Rs.10 Lakhs (US$14,000), with the aim of plugging a claimed $US2.7 billion hole in the market.

    As it transpires, things move quickly in India. In an announcement Wednesday by Sitanshu Kar, Principal Spokesperson for the Government of India, it was revealed that the amendments to the 1952 Act have been passed by the Union Cabinet.

    As detailed above, no one will be able to legally make audio or video recordings of a movie (or part thereof) without first obtaining permission from copyright holders.

    Also outlawed is the use or attempted use of a device (likely a cellphone or similar) to record or transmit any part of a movie, something which immediately rules out any type of live streaming or transfer.

    As detailed in the January 2019 proposals, punishments will indeed go ahead on the basis of a potential three-year jail sentence and/or a maximum fine of Rs.10 Lakhs (US$14,000) for infringers.

    While the new punishments will likely act as a deterrent to some, they are unlikely to tame India’s big online boogeyman.

    Despite massive court-ordered blocking by dozens of ISPs against a long list of its domains, torrent site TamilRockers looks set to continue business as usual, both with its high-profile cam-sourced leaks and regular taunting of the authorities.

  9. #389
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    UK ISPs Sent a Million Piracy Alert Emails

    For the first time, data about the UK Government-backed "Get it Right" campaign has been shared in public. Over the past two years, UK ISPs sent roughly a million email notifications to subscribers whose connections were allegedly used to pirate content. These "alerts" educate copyright infringers about legal alternatives and according to the early data, they may indeed help to decrease piracy.

    Five years ago, copyright industry groups and Internet providers teamed up to fight online piracy in the UK.

    Backed by the Government, they launched several educational campaigns under the “Get it Right” banner.

    Under the program, ISPs send out piracy warnings to subscribers whose accounts are used to share copyright-infringing material. This campaign started two years ago and has been ongoing since.

    While the piracy alerts received plenty of news coverage early on, there haven’t been any official updates since. While we and other journalists have requested information on the scope and effectiveness of the campaign, the parties involved have remained quiet.

    The silence was broken this week when Ian Moss, Director of Public Affairs at music group BPI, spoke at an anti-piracy conference in France which was live-streamed to the public. In his presentation, Moss discussed some preliminary results on the effectiveness of the UK alerts.

    According to Moss, ISPs have sent out roughly a million piracy alerts since the campaign launched. This translates to half a million emails per year, which is a rather significant number.

    Users who receive these piracy alerts are sent to a dedicated portal where they can read more information on how to prevent further alerts in the future. These emails and portal do their job, Moss said, noting that less than 1% of the recipients call for further information.

    The BPI also showed some early evidence which suggests that people who received the alerts are less likely to pirate. However, Moss stressed that these are preliminary findings which come with some caveats.

    The slide that was shown to the audience suggests that the “Get it Right” campaign, in general, led to a 26% reduction in piracy, compared to a control group of people who weren’t exposed to the campaign.

    Since these data go back to 2015, they refer to the broader educational campaign as well, as the email alerts didn’t start until 2017. Based on the slide, piracy rates among the ‘exposed’ group dropped from 57% to 42% in three years.

    While these data aren’t ready for official publication yet, the early preview suggests that the broader “Get it Right” campaign, which also includes educational videos and social media outreach, have a positive effect.

    BPI’s Director of Public Affairs noted that about one in four members of the public has seen their messaging by now, which is a pretty significant number. According to the music group, official data and other figures will follow later.

    With a fresh £2 million in funding from the UK Government, the campaign is guaranteed to continue until 2021. By then, we hope that the responsible parties will also release their findings through the official channels.

    Effective or not, the alert emails are definitely not a silver bullet since they only address BitTorrent piracy. While that was the main threat years ago, the music and movie industries are more concerned about stream-ripping and pirate boxes nowadays.

  10. #390
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    Dutch ISP Does Not Have to Expose Alleged Pirates, Court Rules

    Internet provider Ziggo doesn't have to hand over the personal details of 377 alleged pirates, a Dutch court has ruled. The information was requested by movie distributor Dutch Filmworks. The court pointed out various uncertainties, including the fact that account holders are not necessarily the ones who pirate.

    It is no secret that copyright holders are monitoring unauthorized BitTorrent downloads around the world.

    In most cases, this results in harmless takedown notices but increasingly, these warnings are triggering settlement demands or automated fines.

    Movie distributor Dutch Filmworks is planning similar action in the Netherlands. The company initially hoped to send the first settlement demands more than a year ago, but this plan was stalled.

    Without voluntary cooperation from ISPs, the movie company had to get a court order to request the personal details of account holders whose IP-addresses were caught pirating. It turns out that this is not going to happen, at least not yet.

    In a decision published today, the Central Netherlands Court denied the request from Dutch Filmworks, following an objection from local Internet provider Ziggo.

    The movie company requested the personal details connected to 377 IP-addresses which allegedly shared a copy of‘ ‘The Hitman’s Bodyguard,’ a title that has come up in so-called “copyright trolling” cases in the US as well.

    In its conclusion, the Court states that is it indeed against the law to upload or download movies without permission. As such, Dutch Filmworks is entitled to damages. And to request damages, it does indeed require the personal details of account holders.

    However, the Court adds that, in this case, Ziggo is not required to share any personal information. The verdict notes that it’s unclear how the movie company plans to approach the account holders, and whether it sees these people as the offending downloaders.

    According to the Court, an account holder who’s linked to an IP-address is not necessarily the downloader. This is an argument we’ve seen in many foreign cases as well.

    On top of that, it is unclear whether the proposed settlements, which are expected to be around €150 per infringement, do indeed match up with the actual damages the movie company suffered. That number may be a ‘fine’ to some extent, which shouldn’t be part of a settlement.

    “The amount that [Dutch Filmworks] DFW now wishes to receive, presumably € 150, – is, however, in no way substantiated and it is not excluded that in the amount of damage to be requested by DFW also elements of a fine,” the verdict reads.

    All in all, the Court sides with Ziggo. The ISP doesn’t have to expose its users and Dutch Filmworks is ordered to pay the costs for the court proceedings.

    A spokesperson for Ziggo told the Dutch news site Nu.nl that the company is “satisfied” with the result. Dutch Filmworks refrained from commenting at this time and will issue a statement next week.

    Considering the time and resources that have gone into the data collection, as well as the fact that local anti-piracy group BREIN plans to go after frequent BitTorrent uploaders, this is probably not the last we’ve heard of it.


  11. #391
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    Music Industry Asks EU to Scrap Article 13

    A powerful group of organizations in the music, broadcasting, and sports industries have called on the EU to cancel the proposed Article 13. Headed by IFPI, the worldwide voice of the music industry and formerly the most vocal supporter of the legislation, the groups say that "no directive at all" is better than a bad one.

    The road to implementing the EU’s proposed Article 13 started off relatively smoothly for the entertainment industries but during the past couple of months, serious cracks have begun to emerge.

    In fact, the proposed legislation, which was designed to prevent large Internet platforms (such as YouTube) from exploiting the so-called Value Gap, has descended into unexpected chaos.

    With large Internet platforms faced with the prospect of deploying filters to scoop up infringing content, there was outrage among huge numbers of YouTubers, who felt their livelihoods might be at stake. But somehow, in the midst of this dissent, YouTube began lobbying in favor of filtering.

    With the battle lines becoming even more blurred, rightsholders began complaining about the shifting details of the proposals as they moved through the negotiation process, apparently in YouTube’s favor.

    In December 2018, the Motion Picture Association, the International Union of Cinemas, the Premier League, and La Liga, announced that they were concerned about proposals for liability shields for large Internet services, which would gain power in the market, not lose it as planned.

    Soon after, major entertainment organizations including IFPI complained that if Article 13 passed in its current form, they would be worse off than they were before. Things were very clearly not going to plan and were about to get worse.

    Last month, the MPA and other rightsholders called for a suspension of Article 13 just as the EU Parliament and Council were about to agree on the final text. Those negotiations were eventually canceled after the Member States failed to agree on a final negotiating position.

    Earlier this week, there appeared to be light at the end of the tunnel, with Article 13 proposals moving forward after France and Germany reached a deal on which services should be bound by the terms of Article 13.

    Now, however, all external support for Article 13 appears to lie in tatters.

    In an open letter, organizations including IFPI, IMPALA, Premier League, La Liga, and others in broadcasting and media, have effectively asked the EU to scrap Article 13 completely.

    Noting that the original aim of Article 13 was to create “a level playing field in the online Digital Single Market”, the groups state that as it stands, the proposed legislation will not strengthen the positions of European rightsholders.

    “Despite our constant commitment in the last two years to finding a viable solution, and having proposed many positive alternatives, the text – as currently drafted and on the table – no longer meets these objectives, not only in respect of any one article, but as a whole,” they write.

    “As rightsholders we are not able to support it or the impact it will have on the European creative sector.”

    While thanking parties for trying to reach a “good compromise” during the negotiations of recent months, the organizations state that the text contains elements which “fundamentally go against copyright principles enshrined in EU and international copyright law.”

    “Far from leveling the playing field, the proposed approach would cause serious harm by not only failing to meet its objectives, but actually risking leaving European producers, distributors and creators worse off,” they state, winding up for the following bombshell.

    “Regrettably, under these conditions we would rather have no Directive at all than a bad Directive. We therefore call on negotiators to not proceed on the basis of the latest proposals from the Council,” they conclude.

    In other words, the global music industry (and others, less affected by the Value Gap) have effectively called for Article 13 to be canceled.

    What happens next is anyone’s guess but Julia Reda, MEP for the Pirate Party, is cautioning that the EU probably won’t back away.

    “The EU_Commission will never do the politically responsible thing and withdraw #Article13,” she wrote on Twitter.

    “It is time for checks and balances to kick in. Council has to refuse the backroom deal by Macron & Merkel.”


  12. #392
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    Major Pirate Video Advertiser Allegedly Unmasked Following Court Blunder

    In 2018 it was revealed that illegal online casinos are sponsoring huge numbers of pirate videos in Russia. One of the major players, Azino777, was accused of financing camcorder piracy and embedding its logos and watermarks into thousands of videos. Now, however, a blunder by a court in Ukraine has accidentally unmasked a major suspect in a criminal investigation into Azino777.

    Last September, international cyber-security firm Group-IB revealed that almost all movies released in 2018 had been leaked online.

    While that isn’t particularly surprising, the company went on to highlight the activities of an organized group of “camcording” pirates in Russia.

    “This group is financed by online-casinos, which support online-pirates as well. Online-casinos integrate their ads in the pirated copies and TV-shows in the form of logos, captioning or even as audio tracks,” Andrey Busargin, Director of Brand Protection at Group-IB, told TorrentFreak.

    According to Group-IB, the major player utilizing this tactic is Azino777. The gambling service is unlicensed and therefore illegal in Russia. Under orders from the court, it is currently blocked by local ISPs along with hundreds of its own mirror sites. Nevertheless, the business is doing everything it can to recruit new customers.

    In 2018, Azino777 was reported to be one of Russia’s top advertisers, outspending leading search engines Yandex and Google, and even Coca Cola and Pepsi. Now, however, a crisis could be looming following a blunder by a court in neighboring Ukraine.

    Online casinos are illegal in Ukraine, so the authorities there have been taking a keen interest in Azino777. Following a criminal investigation by local police, it’s reported that the casino’s alleged offices in Kiev were raided in June 2018 and equipment seized.

    This week, Russian news outlet The Bell discovered that a court in Kiev had failed to redact the name of 33-year-old Russian IT expert Albert Valiakhmetov from documents relating to that operation. The publication’s investigation, which references Ukraine court documents, indicates that the Russian is the suspected creator of Azino777.

    While Azino777 is still operational, it’s clear that the heat is being turned up on the operation, both in Russia and Ukraine, which could have a potential impact on the piracy landscape in both countries.

    Last week, TorrentFreak reported on data provided by Group-IB, which indicated that streaming piracy in Russia is dominated by professionals operating ‘pirate’ CDNs ( Content Distribution Networks) that not only supply movies and TV shows, but also additional services that make it easy to setup and maintain a pirate site. According to Group-IB, Azino777 is deeply involved.

    “Azino777 has become an integral part of the existing ecosystem of pirated content in Russia. Azino777 closely cooperates with key pirated resources, placing advertising on such pirate CDNs as Moonwalk (the largest in Russia) and HDGO (second most popular),” says Dmitry Tyunkin, Deputy Director Anti-Piracy at Group-IB.

    “In the case of Moonwalk, most often pre-roll and mid-roll ads are bought (excluding ad inserts in the body of the video). In the case of HDGO, a unique precedent was achieved; the advertising network was built into the player. This meant that, apart from the classic pre-roll/mid-roll ads, all new content uploaded into the player is marked with a watermark and advertising within the video file itself.”

    The amount of advertising in each title depends on the popularity of the release. Tyunkin says that the number of ads can vary between one and four, and can even include audio ads that are dubbed at the request of Azino777. Given the number of releases, the scale is impressive.

    According to Group-IB data, in 2018 a total of 218 movies appeared in ‘cam’ format, with more than 90% of them containing advertising. TV shows posted with exclusive voiceovers exceeded 540 titles. Overall, the company believes that Azino777 is responsible for around 1,415 movie releases and 1,835 TV shows.

    Group-IB says it can’t put a value on the revenues generated by these activities but says that the advertising format (via pirated content) is effective. The content spreads naturally and advertising on pirate sites is cheap – four to five times less than on equivalents in the US or EU – and the number of sites is huge.

    “The estimated number of existing portals that are indirectly (through advertising networks and pirate CDNs such as HDGO) or directly linked to this casino is approximately 6,100 portals,” Tyunkin says.

    Interestingly, Azino777 isn’t the only – or indeed first – company to embark on this kind of mass marketing. Group-IB says that JoyCasino was the first to experiment with the pirate model, with 1XBet trying the same in India and English speaking countries.

    In short, there are takers around to fill the niche, even if Azino777 somehow falls.

  13. #393
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    Tech Giants Warn US Govt. Against Onerous Copyright Laws

    The CCIA, which represents global tech firms including Cloudflare, Google, and Facebook, is warning the U.S. Government against "onerous" copyright laws other countries are implementing. These laws lead to increased liability for US companies and create an increasingly hostile environment for them to operate in.

    In order to counter the ever-present threat of Internet piracy, countries all around the world are tightening their copyright laws.

    These new regulations aim to help copyright holders, often by creating new obligations and restrictions for Internet service providers that host or link to infringing material.

    Many Silicon Valley companies are not happy with these developments. This week the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA), which includes Amazon, Cloudflare, Facebook, and Google as members, sent a stark warning to the US Government.

    The submission, sent to the US Trade Representative (USTR) as input for the 2019 Special 301 Report, highlights several “onerous” copyright laws and regulations.

    “Foreign countries are increasingly prone to imposing onerous intellectual property-related regulations, aimed at U.S. Internet companies. These countries are pursuing legislation that disadvantages American Internet platforms, and online and cloud services,” CCIA writes.

    The tech companies support a strong intellectual property system but note that this should reflect the needs of all participants, including those in the distribution supply chains.

    This is not what CCIA is experiencing at the moment. The European Union and individual countries including Australia, Greece, Italy, and Ukraine, are creating new rules that hurt the operations of US companies abroad. In particular when it comes to liability for copyright infringement.

    “U.S. firms operating as online intermediaries face an increasingly hostile environment in a variety of international markets. This impedes U.S. Internet companies from expanding services abroad,” CCIA writes.

    “These adverse conditions manifest through court decisions and new copyright regulations that depart from global norms on intermediary responsibility,” the group adds.

    In some cases, it is very clear that these new regulations are created to target US companies. The tech companies cite the op-ed the EU’s copyright rapporteur Axel Voss wrote earlier this week, where he framed Article 13 as a defense against “large US platforms.”

    CCIA counters this and states that Article 13 “disrupts settled law,” making Internet platforms “directly liable for the actions of Internet users,” and requiring “unworkable filtering mandates” as well as automated “notice-and-stay-down” procedures.

    “If adopted, the Directive would dramatically weaken these longstanding liability protections and exclude many modern service providers from its protections,” CCIA warns.

    Article 13 is just one of a growing number of regulatory threats the CCIA views as detrimental to its members.

    It also cautions against a new Australian law, which makes it possible to order search engines to block sites that are generally seen as facilitating piracy. This may lead to overblocking, the group warns.

    In Ukraine, a revised article of the local copyright law now imposes 24 and 48-hour “shot clocks” for Internet services. If they don’t remove reported copyright infringements within that timeframe, they can be held liable. This can be particularly problematic for small services with limited resources.

    “This deadline may be feasible at times for some larger platforms who can devote entire departments to takedown compliance, but will effectively deny market access to smaller firms and startups, and is inconsistent with the ‘expeditious’ standard under U.S. copyright law,” CCIA writes.

    The group’s submission for the USTR’s 2019 Special 301 Report provides a detailed overview of these and other liability threats around the world, as well as other issues, including ancillary copyright protections.

    Generally speaking, the USTR points out shortcomings in foreign copyright protections in their annual list, but the tech companies urge the US Government not to ignore the flip side of the coin.

    “USTR should recognize the concerns of U.S. Internet services who not only hold intellectual property and value its protection, but also rely on innovation-enabling provisions that reflect the digital age,” CCIA concludes.

  14. #394
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    TVAddons Hit With Trademark Complaint By Cricket Australia

    Leading Kodi add-on resource TVAddons has received an interesting complaint from Australian cricket governing body, Cricket Australia. While TVAddons quickly complied with its demands, the details of the takedown notice are quite unusual, given that they don't mention the word 'copyright' even once.

    TVAddons is perhaps the best well known Kodi add-on resource around today.

    Over the past couple of years, however, the site has battled lawsuits in both Canada and the United States, something that has proven a huge drain on both the site and founder Adam Lackman.

    Given the nature of some Kodi add-ons, it’s no surprise that they are regularly linked with copyright infringement. However, a takedown notice received this week by TVAddons doesn’t mention the word ‘copyright’ once.

    Sent to TVAddons by anti-piracy outfit Copyright Integrity, the notice begins by stating the company is acting on behalf of Cricket Australia (CA), the governing body for cricket in Australia. Copyright Integrity’s client page confirms the connection with CA and other cricket organizations around the world.

    The complaint targets a now-deleted page on TVAddons listing details of the Cricket Australia Kodi Addon, an add-on that scraped Cricket Australia’s free-to-air cricket streams and made them available within Kodi for convenience, but without permission from CA.

    The complaint, however, doesn’t mention the add-on at all, even in passing. Instead it majors on the unlicensed use of Cricket Australia’s trademarks and logos.

    “[P]lease note that any unlicensed commercial use and exploitation of the names ‘CA’, ‘Cricket Australia’, or any combination thereof; or CA’s proprietary trademarks, logos or images constitutes an infringement of CA’s intellectual property rights,” the complaint reads.

    “Further, any unlicensed commercial utilization of CA’s names, proprietary
    logos/trademarks or images is in violation of the exclusive rights granted to CA’s licensees, sponsors and partners. No entity is permitted to commercialize any of CA’s names, trademarks, logos or images in a manner that suggests an association between a third party and such of CA’s intellectual property rights.”

    While the use of the CA logo is clear to see, the complaint then goes off on an odd tangent, claiming that TVAddons should not only remove the page within 48 hours (the site actually deleted it within five) but also stop listing “unlicensed Cricket Australia merchandise” on TVAddons and “remove and disable access to all existing listings and classified advertisements which pertain to the sale and distribution of unlicensed CA merchandise.”

    While TVAddons quickly complied, it remains unclear whether Cricket Australia actually has a problem with the add-on itself, which is not even hosted on TVAddons but on Github. In any event, the end result is the deletion of the page and disappointment from TVAddons, who believe that users should have access to content in the most convenient manner.

    “Preventing users from viewing free and publicly accessible content through their own choice of medium signals an unfortunate trend for the state of individual rights and freedoms,” a TVAddons representative told TF.

    “The Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Privacy Badger reports that watching a video on cricket.com.au exposes a user to over 26 differenttrackers ranging from Facebook to Google, Gigya to Roy Morgan. A total of 27 cookies are downloaded to the user’s computer without consent.

    “Users should have the right to view publicly accessible content without having ‘legal’ malware downloaded to their computer, streaming through Kodi was one of many available options. We hope that the move towards decentralized technologies will put control back into the hands of the people who matter the most, away from privacy violating corporations.”

    While Cricket Australia was never specifically mentioned as the cause, development of the (unofficial) Cricket Australia Kodi Add-On was actually shelved in April 2018 by developer Aussie Add-Ons following complaints from rightsholders.

    “It’s with our greatest displeasure to announce that Aussie Add-ons will no longer be operating,” the shutdown notice read.

    “After being contacted by some content providers about copyright violations, we believe it’s best that we stop supporting all of our add-ons. Our aim was to support those users wanting to use free and Open Source software to enjoy Australian free-to-air content on their Kodi installations, which I think we managed to do.

    “Unfortunately it seems we have crossed a line, and therefore we must comply and remove all of our add-ons and code.”

    TorrentFreak reached out to Copyright Integrity for more information but at the time of publication we were yet to hear back.

  15. #395
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    Nearly 4,000 Pirate Sites Are Blocked by ISPs Around The World

    The Motion Picture Association has provided a fresh overview of worldwide pirate site blocking efforts. At the moment, close to 4,000 websites are blocked in 31 countries. The movie industry group notes that site blocking, while not perfect, has proven to be an effective enforcement tool.

    ISP blocking has become a prime measure for the entertainment industries to target pirate sites on the Internet.

    In recent years sites have been blocked throughout Europe, Asia, Latin America, and even Down Under.

    The first blocking order was issued by a Danish court in 2006 against the music download store AllOfMP3 and, after two years, local ISPs were also the first to block The Pirate Bay.

    These efforts were later followed by similar orders in the UK, Belgium and other European countries, with the rest of the world following behind. During an anti-piracy conference in France this week, Hollywood’s Motion Picture Association (MPA) provided an overview of the progress thus far.

    Okke Delfos Visser, head of MPA’s legal department in the EMEA region, informed the audience that pirate sites are now blocked in 31 countries around the globe.

    Together, Internet providers in these countries block a total of 3,966 websites and 8,150 ‘actual’ domain names.

    The map above also reveals some blocking ‘holes.’ Africa, for example, is still completely blank. Similarly, the United States and Canada remain block-free as well, although there are calls to change this moving forward.

    Western Europe is the best-covered area. However, the MPA’s presentation revealed that there are significant differences in the scope of the blockades there.

    Portugal and Italy appear to be most thorough, with 944 and 855 blocked websites respectively. The Netherlands and Lithuania, meanwhile, are stuck on one site.

    Not all pirate site blockades take place through the courts. In Italy, Russia, and Portugal, for example, there are administrative procedures in place through which sites are blocked. Roughly 42% of the global blocking proceedings take place through administrative procedures, and civil (53%) and criminal court cases (5%) make up the rest.

    What’s clear though, is that site blocking is becoming more and more prevalent. During the first ten years there were less than 1,000 sites blocked, but over the past three years, more than 3,000 new sites were added to the global total.

    The burning question is whether these efforts actually help to decrease piracy rates. It is no secret that dedicated pirates have plenty of options to circumvent them, but the MPA points out that, on the whole, site blocking works.

    In his presentation, Visser cited several studies and polls that back this up. While it’s no silver bullet, site blocking leads to fewer visits to the targeted sites, it decreases overall piracy rates, and drives some casual pirates to legal options instead.

    The presentation and figures will undoubtedly be used to expand site blocking efforts even further. Canada and the United States appear to be the most high profile targets. But, history has shown that it’s a rather sensitive issue there, so it’s likely to meet some fierce resistance.

  16. #396
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    Google is ending gigabit Fiber service in Kentucky following installation gaffe

    Google Fiber is hitting the highway and leaving Louisville, Kentucky, less than a year and half since the gigabit internet service was deployed in the area. That's a tough pill for Louisville residents to swallow, but even more disappointing is the reason—poor installation.

    When Google expanded its Fiber service to Louisville, it used a method called "micro trenching" to lay down the infrastructure. This involves shallow trenches, as opposed to digging deeper into the ground or using utility poles. As such, Google was able to outpace the competition and roll out its gigabit service just five months after it was announced.

    "When we launched Fiber service in Louisville in October 2017, we noted at the time that it was the fastest we’ve ever moved from construction announcement to signing up customers. That’s because we were trialing a lot of things in Louisville, including a different type of construction method—namely, placing fiber in much shallower trenches than we’ve done elsewhere," Google stated in a blog post.

    "Innovating means learning, and sometimes, unfortunately, you learn by failing. In Louisville, we’ve encountered challenges that have been disruptive to residents and caused service issues for our customers," Google added.

    Those shallows trenches in the pavement of city streets proved problematic. WDRB reports that many issues ensued, including sealant that coming up out of the trenches and into the roads.

    Google didn't go into much detail about its problems, but did say it would have to rebuild the entire network in Louisville if it stayed.

    "That's just not the right business decision for us," Google said.

    It won't come as any consolation to Fiber subscribers in Louisville, but for what it's worth, Google says its experience in Louisville has allowed it to refine its micro trenching methods, which are showing better results elsewhere.

    What might come as consolation is that the last two months of service before Google pulls out on April 15 is free of charge.

  17. #397
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    Russia to disconnect from the internet as part of a planned test

    Russia's internet contingency plan gets closer to reality.

    Russian authorities and major internet providers are planning to disconnect the country from the internet as part of a planned experiment, Russian news agency RosBiznesKonsalting (RBK) reported last week.

    The reason for the experiment is to gather insight and provide feedback and modifications to a proposed law introduced in the Russian Parliament in December 2018.

    A first draft of the law mandated that Russian internet providers should ensure the independence of the Russian internet space (Runet) in the case of foreign aggression to disconnect the country from the rest of the internet.

    In addition, Russian telecom firms would also have to install "technical means" to re-route all Russian internet traffic to exchange points approved or managed by Roskomnazor, Russia's telecom watchdog.

    Roskomnazor will inspect the traffic to block prohibited content and make sure traffic between Russian users stays inside the country, and is not re-routed uselessly through servers abroad, where it could be intercepted.

    A date for the test has not been revealed, but it's supposed to take place before April 1, the deadline for submitting amendments to the law --known as the Digital Economy National Program.

    The test disconnect experiment has been agreed on in a session of the Information Security Working Group at the end of January. Natalya Kaspersky, Director of Russian cyber-security firm InfoWatch, and co-founder of Kaspersky Lab, presides over the group, which also includes major Russian telcos such as MegaFon, Beeline, MTS, RosTelecom, and others.

    RBK reported that all internet providers agreed with the law's goals, but disagreed with its technical implementation, which they believe will cause major disruptions to Russian internet traffic. The test disconnection would provide ISPs with data about how their networks would react.

    Finanz.ru also reported that local internet services Mail.ru and Yandex.ru were also supportive of the test disconnection.

    The Russian government has been working on this project for years. In 2017, Russian officials said they plan to route 95 percent of all internet traffic locally by 2020.

    Authorities have even built a local backup of the Domain Name System (DNS), which they first tested in 2014, and again in 2018, and which will now be a major component of the Runet when ISPs plan to disconnect the country from the rest of the world.

    Russia's response comes as NATO countries announced several times that they were mulling a stronger response to cyber attacks, of which Russia is constantly accused of carrying out.

    The proposed law, fully endorsed by President Putin, is expected to pass. Ongoing discussions are in regards to finding the proper technical methods to disconnect Russia from the internet with minimal downtime to consumers and government agencies.

    The Russian government has agreed to foot the bill and to cover the costs of ISPs modifying their infrastructure and installing new servers for redirecting traffic towards Roskomnazor's approved exchange point. The end goal is for Russian authorities to implement a web traffic filtering system like China's Great Firewall, but also have a fully working country-wide intranet in case the country needs to disconnect.

  18. #398
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    Article 13 Negotiations Move Ahead, Artists Slam Labels For Disrespecting Them

    EU governments will press ahead with Article 13 based on the deal struck by France and Germany, despite calls by music labels and other content groups for it to be scrapped. Meanwhile, representatives for artists are hitting back at their paymasters for "disregarding" their interests.

    As the saga over the EU’s controversial Article 13 continues, new fronts of agreement and countering disapproval are appearing all the time.

    As reported last week, a deal agreed between Germany and France emerged as a potential way forward for the legislation.

    The skeleton of the agreement requires Internet platforms to license content from copyright holders. If that is not possible, they should ensure that infringing content is taken down and not re-uploaded to their services.

    Previously, the size and nature of the platforms to be affected remained unclear, but the deal laid down clarified that platforms over three years old with more than five million visitors, with a turnover of more than 10 million euros would be subject to the legislation.

    Those under these thresholds would be excluded but still required to obtain content licenses. Re-upload prevention would not be required, however.

    On Friday and despite opposition from Italy, Poland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Luxembourg, Malta and Slovakia, the governments of the EU agreed that they will move forward on the basis of this France – Germany deal.

    Pirate MEP Julia Reda described the deal as “the worst version of Article 13 yet”, sentiments that appear to be broadly shared by the very people who have pushed hardest for the legislation – major music labels, broadcasters, and other content owners.

    Also on Friday, IFPI and several other major organizations called for Article 13 to be scrapped entirely, an indication that almost no-one wants what Article 13 has become – despite the EU now pushing ahead.

    That being said, another new front appears to have opened in what is becoming an increasingly confused confrontation.

    All along, labels, content owners, broadcasters and distributors have claimed that Article 13 is desperately needed to protect artists and other creative talent from piracy of their content. One might presume, therefore, that artists would be singing along with them in objection of Article 13, but that is simply not the case.

    In an open letter, the UK Council of Music Makers – comprising the British Academy of Songwriters , Composers & Authors (BASCA), Featured Artists Coalition (FAC), Music Managers Forum (MMF), Music Producers Guild (MPG) and the Musicians’ Union (MU) – are now calling on the EU to go ahead with Article 13, against the wishes of the labels.

    “We are the voice of UK songwriters, music producers, performing artists, musicians and music managers. We speak on behalf of thousands of makers of the music this ‘industry’ represents. We speak with one voice with all the creator-led organisations across Europe and around the world in supporting the Copyright Directive,” their letter begins.

    “While the current text could be improved and still includes some problematic provisions, it is a compromise. At every step of this process the creative community has sought compromise and been open to dialogue.”

    While labels, publishers, and distributors now want Article 13 scrapped, it is seen as a savior by the above groups, enabling them to get “fair remuneration in the online environment.”

    That their partners at the labels and publishers don’t want it now is clearly baffling to them and they air their displeasure in no uncertain terms. In fact, the open-letter tearing into the labels is scathingly unprecedented.

    “It is hugely disappointing to see the music labels and publishers disregard the interests of their creators and artists in this way. They are trying to overturn years of collaborative work at the 11th hour by killing the Copyright Directive. Like YouTube, they have lobbied negotiators hard without consulting or informing the creative community. Heavy-handed tactics of heavyweight businesses,” they write.

    “The labels and publishers have shown an unsettling disrespect for the talent that they have the privilege of representing, raising serious questions about their suitability to be the custodians of copyright.

    “We have worked in tandem with UK Music and colleagues across the industry to find compromise and solutions that enable legislation to pass. This Directive will affect future generations of creators and performers whose interests need protecting beyond the interests of current models,” they add.

    That the music industry now appears to be at war with itself over Article 13 is just another twist in what has become an extremely unorthodox process. Nevertheless, matters will press ahead.

    “The deal in Council paves the way for a final round of negotiations with the Parliament over the course of [this] week, before the entire European Parliament and the Council vote on the final agreement,” says Julia Reda MEP as she calls on everyone to reject Article 13.

    As unlikely at it seems (and even just for a moment), a pirate is in loose agreement with the record labels over Article 13, with artists in disagreement with all. Strange times indeed.

  19. #399
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    Major US Sports Leagues Identify Foreign Pirate Streaming Threats

    The Sports Coalition, which includes prominent leagues such as the NBA, NFL, and MLB, has shared its concerns over sports piracy with the US Government. The coalition identifies various threats abroad, including many streaming services and the Dutch hosting company Leaseweb. The Saudi Arabian service "beoutQ," which is also highlighted by many other rightsholders, is listed as well.

    When online piracy first hit the masses with Napster, Limewire, and later torrent sites, it wasn’t really a concern for sports leagues.

    Most sports fans want to see their favorite players or teams live, not a day later when they already know the result.

    Over the past years, live-streaming piracy has caught up with traditional media piracy. Pretty much every significant sports event can now be seen for free, through streaming websites or dedicated pirate set-top boxes.

    This means that sports leagues have also taken an interest in anti-piracy enforcement. This became apparent once again last week when the Sports Coalition, which represents MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL, and others, sent an overview of piracy threats to the US Trade Representative (USTR).

    The submission is part of the annual Special 301 Review, where the USTR uses input from various stakeholders to make a list of countries that could do more to protect the copyright industry. According to the Sports Coalition, live-streaming is one of the threats that should be highlighted.

    “Sports organizations, including Sports Coalition members, are heavily affected by live sports telecast piracy, including the unauthorized live retransmission of sports telecasts over the Internet,” the submission reads.

    Live streaming piracy is a persistent problem, according to the sports leagues, but also a global one. It involves “bad actors” in a wide variety of countries, they note.

    “Pirate services and those complicit with them (such as content distribution networks and hosting services) are believed to be located in many nations including the Netherlands, Hong Kong, Switzerland, Ukraine, Saudi Arabia, and Russia.”

    The six mentioned countries are the worst offenders, the Sports Coalition writes, urging the US Government to take appropriate action in response. The Netherlands and Saudi Arabia deserve priority, they say, due to the prevalence or severity of the piracy problem in these countries.

    The sports leagues identify several “infringing services” in the Netherlands, which contribute to the streaming piracy problem.

    These include sportshd.me, strikezone.co, wiz1.net, vip7stream.pw, livebar.ow, 9stream.pw, ucasterplayer.com, Quasi Networks, Severius Holding, Leaseweb, Server Hosting Pty, and SNEL, which either pirated or provided services contributing to the piracy of a material number of Sports Coalition game and event telecasts.

    This overview includes dedicated streaming sites and services, but also general purpose hosting providers. Leaseweb is an example of the latter. While the company may indeed have bad apples among its clients, it has many legitimate customers as well.

    We see the same pattern with other countries, where both dedicated streaming platforms as well as hosting companies are mentioned among the infringing services.

    Saudi Arabia is an outlier in this regard. The Sports Coalition mentions that the country deserves a priority mention because of BeoutQ. This service operates as a commercial venture offering “pirate “sports broadcasts through dedicated boxes.

    “During 2018, an Infringing Service, beoutQ, operating either in whole or in part in Saudi Arabia pirated Sports Coalition game and event telecasts via unauthorized IPTV streaming devices and the beoutQ.se website,” the Sports Coalition writes.

    BeoutQ is a thorn in the side of many other rightsholders as well. It launched in 2017 and for more than a year, various parties have tried to stop the infringing activity.

    The service is also mentioned in several other USTR submissions, including the one from Sky, which links it to ArabSat and the Saudi Arabian government.

    “[T]he speed of proliferation of the illegal beoutQ service is particularly alarming, as is the evidence suggesting that the Riyadh based satellite operator, ArabSat, whose main shareholder is the Saudi Arabian government, provides satellite services to enable beoutQ’s distribution,” Sky writes.

    Given the sheer volume of mentions, live-streaming piracy will likely end up in USTR’s 2019 Special 301 Review, which is expected to be released in a few weeks.

    Source: Torrent Freak

  20. #400
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    Top 10 Most Pirated Movies of The Week on BitTorrent – 02/11/19

    The top 10 most downloaded movies on BitTorrent are in again. 'Robin Hood' tops the chart this week, followed by ‘Mortal Engines'. 'Bohemian Rhapsody' completes the top three.

    This week we have two newcomers in our chart.

    Robin Hood 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.


    Most downloaded movies via torrents

    1 Robin Hood
    2 Mortal Engines
    3 Bohemian Rhapsody
    4 Overlord
    5 The Grinch
    6 A Star Is Born
    7 Aquaman
    8 Venom
    9 Bumblebee
    10 Widows

    Source: Torrent Freak

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