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  1. #721
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    Cheat Maker Shuts Down After Being Sued by Pokémon Go Creator

    Cheat creator Global++ has shut down its operations after being sued in the United States. Pokémon Go creator Niantic accused the group of infringing its intellectual property rights and spoiling the gaming experience for legitimate players. Global++ websites and social media accounts are now offline.

    Video gaming is huge business, generating billions for companies around the world. However, the way some people choose to play games doesn’t always sit well with entertainment companies.

    In order to gain advantages over regular players, some resort to using cheats created by third parties. These provide access to skills and abilities unavailable in the regular versions of games. Development group Global++ provided such cheats for Pokémon Go and other titles but that drew the ire of San Francisco-based Niantic, the game’s original developer.

    As first reported by Business Insider, on Friday Niantic filed a lawsuit in a California federal court against Global++, two individuals named as Ryan Hunt (aka ELLIOTROBOT) and Alen Hunter (aka IOS NOOB), plus 20 ‘John Does’.

    Niantic’s complaint states that the only permissible way to play its augmented reality games (Pokémon Go, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, and Ingress) is via its original apps installable on mobile devices.

    These apps, which contain protected proprietary code, have permission to access Niantic’s servers. However, Niantic says that Global++ illegally copied its work.

    “Defendants hack Niantic’s apps to access and copy Niantic’s Client Code, then modify and adulterate the Client Code to create what they call ‘tweaks’—i.e., unauthorized, hacked versions of Niantic’s apps. Defendants then market their hacked apps under the titles Potter++ (or, in some cases, Unite++), PokeGo++, and Ingress++,” the complaint reads.

    These cheats not only undermine the gaming experience for legitimate players, Niantic adds, they are also used by Global++ to “steal valuable and proprietary game-related information” which is then utilized for commercial purposes.

    These cheating programs have been reportedly distributed to hundreds of thousands of users but when Niantic asked Global++ to stop its activities, the unincorporated entity allegedly ignored the US-based developer and continued as before.

    Seeking an injunction from the court, Niantic’s complaint begins with alleged breaches of the Copyright Act, given that Global++ copied Niantic’s code in order to develop its cheats, and then distributed that infringing code to its users.

    According to the company’s analysis, up to 99% of Niantic’s original code is used in Global++ cheat software.

    Niantic further alleges breaches of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act due to Global++ and its users accessing Niantic’s servers “through unauthorized, hacked versions of Niantic’s apps.” According to the company, this illegal activity persisted even after Global++ was informed in writing that their access was unauthorized.

    Finally, Niantic notes that since Global++ are Niantic account holders bound by the company’s Terms of Service, breaches of that agreement – including copying Niantic’s code and misappropriating its code for commercial purposes – are also evident.

    With Niantic’s new Harry Potter game set for launch, the company is urgently seeking a preliminary injunction from the court to prevent Global++ from launching a new version of its Potter++ cheat within days “or possibly even hours” of that event. However, Global++ now appears to be more receptive to Niantic’s demands.

    Following claims in the complaint that Niantic has spent more than $1 million over the past year attempting to deal with Global++ cheats, Global++ took to its official Discord channel to indicate that the show is now over.

    “It is with great sadness that we will be shutting down indefinitely incompliance [sic] with our legal obligations,” the statement reads.

    “It has been a fun ride with the entire community and we have made some unbelievable memories. We will hold close to our heart all of the people that we were able to introduce Pokemon to that for various reasons could not play the game. Take care all.”

    At the time of writing, the Global++ website is down, its Discord channel is closed, its Twitter account and Facebook accounts are no more, and its Github.io address is returning errors.

    Niantic’s motion for a preliminary injunction can be found here (pdf)


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  2. #722
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    Prolific Pirate Bay User Agrees to Pay $2,900 to Movie Outfits

    A self-proclaimed prolific Pirate Bay user from Hawaii has agreed to a $2,900 consent judgment. The makers of the movies "Boyka: Undisputed IV" and "Mechanic: Resurrection" initially targeted the wrong person. However, after a follow-up investigation, they turned the case into a win.

    Every year, thousands of people are sued in the United States for allegedly sharing pirated video, mostly through BitTorrent.

    These efforts share a familiar pattern. After the film companies acquire a subpoena to obtain the personal details of an alleged pirate, they contact this person with a settlement request.

    In 2017, movie companies used this strategy to identify the then 72-year-old Mr. Harding from Hawaii, whose Internet connection was used to share more than 1,000 torrents.

    The film companies reached out to the man and offered a hefty $3,900 settlement, which would increase to $4,900 if he failed to respond in time. However, Mr. Harding denied downloading the files, describing the pay-up-or-else demand as “absolutely absurd.”

    The accusations eventually made the local press and after a careful review of the matter movie company attorney Kerry Culpepper decided to dismiss the case against the elderly man.

    However, that didn’t mean that the downloads were completely disregarded. After digging into the matter, the movie companies learned that, while the offending IP-address was linked to Mr. Harding, the home in question was used by someone else.

    The movie companies ‘ UN4 Productions ‘ and ‘Millennium Funding’ eventually found out that the resident or tenant in question was Mr. Graham. This prompted the rightsholders to file a new federal lawsuit, targeting this man, who they believed was the true ‘pirate.’

    This time the accusations were indeed lodged against a prolific downloader. In a declaration submitted to the court Mr. Graham, who is in his fifties, admits that he regularly used The Pirate Bay to download files.

    “Since approximately 2016, I have been downloading torrent files of motion pictures from websites of the Pirate Bay at my residence. I believed that it was acceptable to do so because the websites are completely open with their objective to share files,” he states.

    According to the declaration, Mr. Graham often downloaded so many files that he doesn’t remember the names of many torrents. As such, he is not confident that he downloaded the movies “Boyka: Undisputed IV” and “Mechanic: Resurrection,” which are listed in the complaint.

    The account holder of the Internet connection, who was initially accused, was not aware of this activity. Mr. Graham, meanwhile, apologized to the rightsholders and agreed not to use The Pirate Bay going forward.

    “I agree to stop using the Pirate Bay,” Mr. Graham writes.

    While the man denies liability, he does admit to downloading copyrighted movies through The Pirate Bay and in a consent judgment, submitted to the court, he agrees to a $2,900 settlement to cover costs, fees, and damages.

    In addition, the stipulated consent judgment includes a permanent injunction prohibiting Mr. Graham from infringing the copyrights of the two movie companies going forward.




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  3. #723
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    VidAngel Must Pay $62.4 Million for Ripping and ‘Pirating’ Movies

    Video streaming service VidAngel, which allows users to filter objectionable content from movies and TV-shows, has to pay $62.4 million to Disney and Warner Bros. The company is liable for copyright infringement after it streamed movies without permission of the rightsholders. In addition, it violated the DMCA's anti-circumvention provision, by ripping DVDs.

    Founded in 2013, Utah-based startup VidAngel entered the video streaming market with a rather innovative business model.

    The company allowed its users to rent popular movies and TV-shows, with the option to filter out violence, sex, profanity, and other objectionable content.

    While there was plenty of demand for the service, it operated without permission from the major movie studios. Instead, the company acquired DVDs, which it would then rip using AnyDVD, so they could be streamed online.

    Users interested in a movie were able to rent it for $20, and then sell it back after a day for $19. This made rentals as cheap as $1 per streamed movie, effectively beating all legal competitors.

    VidAngel made sure that it would have physical DVDs in its archive for all movies and TV-shows that were rented out at any given time. This resulted in a rather extensive library of duplicate discs, as the massive collection of “The Revenant” DVDs below shows.

    After operating its service for a few months, VidAngel drew the attention of several major movie studios including Disney and Warner Bros. In 2016, they teamed up to file a lawsuit against VidAngel, accusing it of copyright infringement and violating the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provision.

    “VidAngel does not have permission to copy Plaintiffs’ movies and television shows or to stream them to VidAngel’s users,” the studios’ complaint read.

    “Instead, VidAngel appears to circumvent the technological protection measures on DVDs and Blu-ray discs to create unauthorized copies and then uses those copies to stream Plaintiffs’ works to the public without authorization.”

    VidAngel was convinced, however, that its business was legal. It argued that it was protected by the Family Movie Act, which allows consumers to skip objectionable movie content without committing copyright infringement.

    The movie studios disagreed and earlier this year were backed by the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. The Court granted summary judgment, ruling that VidAngel is liable for violating the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provision and committing copyright infringement.

    The only question that remained was the scale of the damages. This was determined yesterday, following a multi-day trial where the jury concluded that a $62.4 million damages award was appropriate.

    The bulk of the damages, $61.4 million, is for copyright infringement. With 819 titles mentioned in the suit, this amounts to $75,000 per infringed work, half of the maximum statutory damages.

    The additional million in damages is for circumventing the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provisions by ripping the DVDs. This cost VidAngel $1,250 per title.

    The movie studios are happy with the outcome. In a joint statement, they state that it sends a clear message to others who might consider operating a similar service.

    “The jury today found that VidAngel acted willfully, and imposed a damages award that sends a clear message to others who would attempt to profit from unlawful infringing conduct at the expense of the creative community,” the studios note.

    VidAngel, however, vows to fight on and is likely to appeal the case.

    “We find today’s ruling unfortunate, but it has not lessened our resolve to save filtering for families. VidAngel plans to appeal the District Court ruling, and explore options in the bankruptcy court.

    “Our court system has checks and balances, and we are pursuing options on that front as well,” VidAngel CEO Neal Harmon adds.

    As KSL’s excellent timeline shows, VidAngel filed for bankruptcy in 2017 to protect itself from the lawsuit. However, the company isn’t going anywhere just yet.

    VidAngel’s original video streaming operation was shut down following a permanent injunction, but it later introduced a new service that allows users to “filter” Netflix, HBO and Amazon content for a fixed monthly subscription.


    torrentfreak.com



  4. #724
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    Pirate IPTV Network Shut Down After Police Raid Cable Operators

    Cybercrime police from Bulgaria's Ministry of the Interior supported by officers from Europol have carried out an operation against five local cable operators accused of illegally intercepting broadcasts. The signals were being captured for distribution worldwide via IPTV applications. A large volume of equipment has been seized.

    With pirate IPTV services continuing to gain traction around the world, moves to undermine their businesses are on the increase.

    Many publicized enforcement actions feature IPTV providers and their resellers but news coming out of Bulgaria indicates that a player higher up the chain has been targeted by authorities.

    Cybercrime officers from an anti-organized crime unit of the Ministry of the Interior have targeted five cable operators accused of intercepting and rebroadcasting foreign and local channels without permission from the rightsholders.

    Supported by Europol’s Intellectual Property Crime Coordinated Coalition (IPC3) and the Audiovisual Anti-Piracy Alliance (AAPA), the operation is said to have taken down a pirate IPTV service with an estimated 700,000 worldwide subscribers.

    Authorities say that following the raids across eight cities in Bulgaria, all of the hardware used in the operation was seized, including the servers that were used to provide content to the IPTV provider’s mobile applications.

    According to the Ministry of the Interior, permission for the raids was obtained from several district courts. Eight teams were formed which carried out simultaneous actions on offices and other premises targeting technical equipment used by the cable operators.

    Several TV companies are reported to have suffered damage from the alleged intellectual property offenses, including private national broadcasting channel bTV, local TV network Nova, and US cable and satellite network HBO.

    The Ministry of the Interior reports that intellectual property crimes have caused damage to the country’s reputation overseas. Indeed, the USTR called out Bulgaria in its latest Special 301 Report, noting that “online and broadcast piracy remains a challenging copyright enforcement issue” in the country.

    A full investigation is underway in respect of intellectual property violations but the government says that alongside it will be looking for evidence of tax evasion.

    Moving forward, regular checks will be carried out at all cable operators, with those suspected of illegal activity treated as a priority.


    torrentfreak.com

  5. #725
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    Top 10 Most Pirated Movies of The Week on BitTorrent – 06/17/19

    The top 10 most downloaded movies on BitTorrent are in again. 'Dumbo' tops the chart this week, followed by ‘Pokémon Detective Pikachu'. 'Captain Marvel' completes the top three.

    This week we have three newcomers in our chart.

    Dumbo 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.


    This week’s most downloaded movies are:

    Most downloaded movies via torrents
    1 (…) Dumbo 6.5 / trailer
    2 (2) Pokémon Detective Pikachu 6.9 / trailer
    3 (1) Captain Marvel 7.1 / trailer
    4 (3) Us (Subbed HDRip) 7.2 / trailer
    5 (…) I Am Mother 6.9 / trailer
    6 (…) Murder Mystery 6.1 / trailer
    7 (4) Avengers: Endgame (HDCam) 9.1 / trailer
    8 (5) Hotel Mumbai 7.8 / trailer
    9 (7) Captive State 7.0 / trailer
    10 (9) Glass 6.9 / trailer

    torrentfreak.com

  6. #726
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    File-Sharing Giant Openload Has its Domain Suspended

    Openload, one of the largest file-hosting sites on the Internet, has lost control over its main domain name. The Openload.co domain is been suspended, presumably by the registrar Tucows, and is currently marked with a serverHold status code. On top of that, Openload's official status page is unreachable as well.

    With millions of regular visitors, file-hosting site
    Openload generates more traffic than popular streaming services such as Hulu or HBO Go.

    While the site has plenty of legal uses it is also a thorn in the side of many copyright holders, due to the frequent appearance of pirated content.

    This pirate stigma most recently resulted in a mention on the US Government’s list of “
    Notorious Markets”.

    While the site has been spared from any legal action, that we know of, it suffered a major setback this week. As of a few hours ago the site’s main Openload.co domain is no longer responsive.

    Instead of the regular homepage featuring the browser uploader, users see an error message in their browser, explaining that the site’s IP-address can’t be found.


    According to ICANN, the
    serverHold domain status is uncommon and “usually enacted during legal disputes, non-payment, or when your domain is subject to deletion.”

    This status is set by the domain registrar, which is Tucows in this case, and renders the domain inaccessible.


    It’s unclear why this this action was taken. We’ve reached out to Tucows but the company didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment.

    Interestingly, Malwarebytes currently blocks the Openload.co domain name because it may contain a Trojan. Whether that’s related to the broader domain issue is unknown.

    Openload hasn’t made any public statement on the issue, as far as we know. However, it is worth noting that the site’s
    official status page is unreachable as well. The status page downtime is not tied to a domain problem but appears to be server related.

    This isn’t the first time Openload has had a domain name suspended. The same
    happened in 2016, when domain registrar Namecheap presumably took action after “too many DMCA complaints.”

    Openload was eventually able to regain control over the domain and Namecheap publicly admitted that its legal team “was too heavy handed,” adding that Openload should be fine as long as they properly respond to DMCA notices.

    Openload is believed to have some backup domains. Oload.stream and Oload.life are working alternatives that serve the same content, it seems, but we were unable to confirm 100% that these are official.

    Torrentfreak.com

  7. #727
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    Kodi Add-On Developer Arrested On Same Day as Popular Repo Goes Down

    Police in the UK say they have arrested a man in the north of England for developing and maintaining a Kodi add-on offering illegal streams. On the same day that the arrest took place, the popular Supremacy add-on went down in mysterious circumstances. Official sources have not linked the two events but there are some coincidences.

    While overall interest in Kodi appears to be on a
    downward trend, millions of people still use the software to organize their media.

    Larger numbers still augment Kodi with software add-ons which allow them to stream movies, TV shows, and sports events, often in a way that infringes copyright. As a result, entertainment companies and their agents are keen to reduce the use of such tools.

    With little fanfare, the Covert Development and Disruption Team of the UK’s North West Regional Organised Crime Unit recently announced that there had been an arrest in connection with this kind of activity.

    According to police, a 40-year-old man was detained in Winsford, Cheshire, following a joint investigation with anti-piracy outfit Federation Against Copyright Theft. The unit said that man was arrested in connection with creating and maintaining a Kodi add-on configured to supply illegal online streams.

    “The scale of the offending was significant and affected broadcasters and rights owners in the UK and worldwide. Police searched an address, seized evidence, and interviewed the suspect has later been released on police bail pending investigation,” a statement reads.

    Typically for this kind of announcement, details are scarce. Other than location and age, no further details were made available on the alleged offender, or the add-on that had triggered the referral from FACT. As a result, it’s not currently possible to positively identify the person or the add-on in question.

    What we do know is that last Friday, on the very same day that the police say they carried out the arrest of the man in Cheshire, a very popular add-on and associated repository (repo) went down without warning or explanation.

    Supremacy is a popular Kodi add-on that provides access to a wide range of content, from movies and TV shows to live sports. The add-on works by ‘scraping’ or aggregating content from existing online sources, presenting them inside the add-on for users to select.


    While other repos have also offered the add-on, Supremacy was once available for download from the Supremacy repo, previously located at
    https://2Supremacy.uk. That domain was registered with Namecheap on March 25, 2019 and isn’t set to expire until March 25, 2021.

    However, there is an additional note in the domain’s WHOIS which suggests something is wrong.


    Other signs of changes on June 13, 2019 can be found on the repo itself.

    While no longer accessible, cached versions of the site show that the repo did indeed disappear on the same day, with the /addon and /repo directories both modified at 08:01 am. An associated Facebook page and Telegram group also disappeared in a similar fashion.

    TorrentFreak contacted several sources, none of which were able or willing to provide us with the precise location of the Supremacy developer or his exact age, so definitively connecting the dots isn’t possible. We were told that there are rumors of an arrest but that’s a common occurrence when established and thriving projects go down with no explanation.

    Returning to the confirmed arrest last week, it’s unclear why FACT chose to refer the add-on developer, whoever he is, to the police. There is yet to be a successful criminal prosecution of an add-on developer in the UK or elsewhere. Several have been threatened privately, however.

    TorrentFreak requested comment from the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit and FACT but at the time of publication neither had responded.


    Torrentfreak.com

  8. #728
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    More Kodi Add-On Repos Shut Down in Wake of UK Arrest

    Following the news that an organized crime police unit in the UK has arrested the developer of a Kodi add-on, several popular add-ons and repos have shut down. Supremacy fell last week and has now been followed by 13 Clowns, Maverick TV, Overeasy, and possibly more.

    Developers of Kodi add-ons, including those who maintain places to download them (repositories), have long been at risk of legal action, should they provide access to infringing content.

    Many have been targeted directly, having received cease-and-desist letters from groups including the massive Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE). Until recently, action through the civil courts has been the assumed course of action for rightsholders but that changed with the news that police in the UK became involved.

    As per our
    report published yesterday, the Covert Development and Disruption Team of the UK’s North West Regional Organised Crime Unit recently arrested a 40-year-old man on suspicion of developing and maintaining an add-on designed to facilitate access to infringing content.

    Nobody has yet been able to publicly verify the precise target but on the same day the arrest took place, the popular Supremacy repository (repo) went down in mysterious yet coincidental circumstances. During the past few hours, news of the arrest appears to have prompted other developers to rethink their futures.

    Given its popularity, Kodi add-on enthusiasts will be disappointed to hear that the Exodus-forked 13 Clowns add-on is one of the casualties. The end of the add-on was announced via Twitter and also in a slightly unorthodox fashion, via the Kodi software itself.

    Rather than take the
    associated repo down, the developer pushed an update which reportedly disabled the add-on and delivered a shutdown message.


    The Maverick TV add-on also disappeared last evening. No disabling ‘update’ of the add-on appears to have been pushed but the associated repository was deleted. That was followed by an announcement on Twitter which indicated the show is over.


    Another casualty is the Exodus-forked Overeasy add-on. That tool was previously available from the Eggman repo but both have gone down, with the latter currently displaying an
    empty directory.


    Some of the now-discontinued repos also contained add-ons
    in addition to their own, so the full fallout may not be known for a while. Some add-ons will find new homes but others may yet decide to throw in the towel.

    It’s important to note that none of the above cited the arrest as a reason for closure but again, in common with the disappearance of the Supremacy repo, there are a number of coincidences that appear to fit recent developments.

    Whatever the reasons for the closures, having an organized crime unit become involved in taking down a Kodi add-on developer is a massive escalation in the UK and will certainly prompt pause for thought among those in a similar position.

    Torrentfreak.com

  9. #729
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    Video Piracy Study Estimates Billions in Lost Revenue, But Misses Crucial Data

    A new study published by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Global Innovation Policy Center and NERA Economic Consulting, estimates the effect of video piracy on the U.S. economy. With a revenue loss of at least $29.2 billion the impact is significant, but this could have been worse, as a major source of video piracy isn't covered.

    Despite the growing availability of legal options, online piracy remains rampant. Every day pirate sites and services are used by millions of people worldwide.

    This is a serious problem for major content producers, Hollywood included. At the same time, it’s also seen a threat to the wider U.S. economy, which generates hundreds of billions of dollars from video entertainment.

    How copyright infringement affects the economy in actual numbers is hard to measure, especially since the piracy landscape changes rapidly. That said, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Global Innovation Policy Center, in partnership with NERA Economic Consulting, attempted an estimate.

    In a report titled “Impacts of Digital Piracy on the U.S. Economy” they combine multiple data sources, paired with a broad range of assumptions, to estimate how much revenue video piracy is costing the U.S. economy.

    In order to calculate how much piracy costs, the researchers first had to determine the global piracy volume. They did so by combining data from two known piracy tracking firms.

    Specifically, the number of pirated movies and TV-shows are estimated using data from the German BitTorrent tracking outfit Tecxipo. These are then extrapolated to estimate the volume of other piracy sources, such as streaming and direct downloads, based on data from the UK outfit MUSO.

    In addition, the researchers use academic studies to approximate the displacement rate. This is a crucial variable, as it estimates the percentage of pirated files that can be counted as a lost sale. The report settled on a lower bound of 14%, which means that roughly one in seven pirate downloads or streams are seen as lost revenue.

    All this information, paired with location data, the average price per source, and a variety of other variables, ultimately leads the researchers to conclude that in 2017 online video piracy resulted in a revenue loss of at least $29.2 billion.

    “The study shows that all of the benefits that streaming brings to our economy have been artificially capped by digital piracy. Using macroeconomic modeling of digital piracy, the study estimates that global online piracy costs the U.S. economy at least $29.2 billion in lost revenue each year,” the report reads.

    In raw numbers, the researchers put the number of pirated U.S.-produced movies at $26.6 billion, while they estimate that roughly 126.7 billion U.S.-produced TV episodes are pirated digitally each year. This piracy takes place mostly from outside the United States.

    The impact on the broader economy is even larger. According to the researchers, online video piracy costs the U.S. economy between 230,000 and 560,000 jobs and between $47.5 billion and $115.3 billion in reduced gross domestic product (GDP) each year.
    Jobs ‘lost’

    Not all types of piracy are the same of course. A pirated Netflix movie results in lower losses than a Hollywood blockbuster. Similarly, a pirated Bollywood film doesn’t impact the U.S. economy much.

    Interestingly, the report notes that piracy by U.S. citizens doesn’t necessarily have to be detrimental to the economy. The money these people ‘save’ by pirating is likely spent locally, which, depending on various factors, could even be beneficial to the economy as a whole.

    Or as the researchers put it:

    “Consumers spend the income gained from displaced legal consumption on other goods and services, many of which are produced in the U.S. Therefore, the net effect on the U.S. economy of this component of piracy could be either positive or negative, depending on the relative magnitudes of the multipliers for the revenue losses and the revenue gains.”

    The most significant impact comes from foreigners who pirate U.S. content, as the money they save is likely not being spent in America.

    Overall the report provides a detailed overview of the potential revenue losses. Displacement rates are complex, of course, as there are probably hundreds of other variables that could have been taken into account, but it looks like the researchers did a good job at factoring in the most crucial elements.

    Unfortunately, however, there is a glaring error that can’t easily be ignored.

    The report specifically set out to provide an up-to-date overview of the new piracy ecosystem, one that includes apps and illicit streaming devices. No surprise, as dedicated streaming boxes are generally seen as the biggest threat to Hollywood.

    “These rapid changes necessitate up-to-date estimates of the impact of digital piracy,” the report notes.

    The problem, however, is that most app and streaming device piracy isn’t covered by the study. The report relies on category data from MUSO, which only covers regular browser visits to pirate sites.

    This typically excludes most apps and pirate set-top boxes. Also, the boom in IPTV piracy isn’t covered by these data either.

    TorrentFreak reached out to the researchers, who informed us that they weren’t aware of this. This means that their overall estimate of the impact of video piracy is even more reserved than they initially assumed. Needless to say, that has not been left out intentionally.

    Whether it’s complete or not, these types of studies are generally welcomed by rightsholders. As such, the report will likely be mentioned frequently in future lobbying campaigns.


    torrentfreak.com

  10. #730
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    Stream-Ripping Giant Convert2MP3 Settles With Music Industry and Shuts Down

    The music industry has booked another victory in its efforts to shutter YouTube converter sites, also known as stream-rippers. Following legal action in Germany, Convert2MP3 has signed a settlement agreement with music groups IFPI and BVMI. The site will shut down immediately and pay an undisclosed amount as financial compensation.

    The music industry views stream-ripping as one of the largest piracy threats, worse than torrent sites or direct download portals.

    In 2016, the RIAA, IFPI, and BPI filed legal action against YouTube-MP3, the largest stream ripping site at the time. This case eventually resulted in a settlement in which the site
    agreed to shut down voluntarily.

    This was a clear victory for the music industry, which swiftly moved on to its
    next targets. This included Convert2MP3, which was sued in Germany with backing from the music groups IFPI and BVMI.

    With dozens of millions of monthly visitors,
    Convert2MP3 is one of the largest stream-rippers on the Internet. Thus far, its legal battle in Germany has mostly remained under the radar, but today it becomes clear that it has far-reaching consequences.

    Music group IFPI just announced that in a combined effort with the German industry group BVMI, it has reached a settlement with the stream-ripping site. The settlement requires the site to shut down immediately and hand over its domain name to IFPI.

    The settlement agreement further requires the operator to pay financial compensation but the actual amount is not mentioned.

    The agreement comes after a German court issued a preliminary injunction against Convert2MP3. The court concluded that the site circumvented technological protection measures, using software it owned or produced.


    IFPI’s Chief Executive Frances Moore is pleased with the outcome and hopes that it will motivate other stream-rippers to follow suit.

    “Stream ripping is a threat to the entire music ecosystem. Sites such as Convert2MP3 show complete disregard for the rights of artists and record companies and take money away from those creating and investing in music.

    “The successful outcome if this case sends a clear signal to other stream ripping sites that they should stop their copyright infringing activities or face legal action,” Moore adds.

    Not everyone agrees that these type of sites are by definition copyright-infringing. In a letter to the US Trade Representative, digital rights group EFF previously stressed that there are plenty of legal use cases as well.

    “[M]any audio extractions qualify as non-infringing fair uses under copyright. Providing a service that is capable of extracting audio tracks for these lawful purposes is itself lawful, even if some users infringe,” EFF
    wrote.

    That said, the music industry is determined to keep challenging these sites. There is an ongoing court case against
    FLVTO.biz and 2conv.comin the US, and in Denmark and Australia stream-rippers including Convert2MP3 are blocked by court order.

    The latter blockades are less useful now that Convert2MP3 has agreed to shut down. The domain currently displays a message from the music industry groups and the site’s Facebook and Twitter profiles have been removed.


    Torrentfreak.com

  11. #731
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    Court Orders Danish ISPs to Block Copyright-Infringing News Site

    For the first time ever, a Danish court has ordered a local ISP to block access to a news site. 'The World News' republishes hundreds of thousands of articles from third-party news sites. The website aims to combat 'fake news,' but according to publishers and the court, it infringes the publishers' copyrights in the process.

    For more than a decade, Denmark has been a testbed for pirate site blockades.

    The first blocks
    date back to 2006, when music industry group IFPI filed a complaint targeting the unlicensed Russian MP3 site AllofMP3.

    Not much later, Denmark became the
    first European country to force an ISP to block access to The Pirate Bay.

    Since then, many other pirate sites have received the same treatment. These are typically download or streaming portals, which have been targeted in other countries as well. However, this week, a Fredriksberg court issued a new order that’s more unusual.

    The verdict, handed down on Monday, requires local Internet provider
    TDC to prevent its subscribers from accessing a news portal called ‘The World News‘. Under the Danish ISP Code of Conduct, other major ISPs in Denmark will also implement a similar block.

    The news site in question doesn’t offer access to any movies, music or games, but republishes articles from news websites from all over the world, often with photos included.

    The site has an archive of millions of articles and can be tailored based on the reader’s location. The news articles all credit their source, but the link that’s included is often not clickable, so the site doesn’t send traffic back to many original publications.

    The World News positions itself as a decentralized
    anti-fake news platform, built on a blockchain, and says it provides readers with ‘verified’ news. The site’s domain is registered in Panama, it’s managed by the U.S. corporation “World News LLC,” and is reportedly operated by people from Ukraine.

    While it looks like a rather useful news aggregator, many articles on the site are republished without permission, according to rightsholders. In Denmark, this prompted the anti-piracy group
    RettighedsAlliancen (The Rights Alliance) to take the matter to court.

    Representing the Danish Media Association, RettighedsAlliancen asked the court to order local Internet provider TDC to block the site. The anti-piracy group has previously submitted similar requests, but this is the first time a news site is targeted.

    After reviewing the complaint, this week the Fredriksberg court decided that the site should indeed be blocked by TDC.

    “TDC is required to implement a technical solution, for example, DNS blocking, which is suitable to prevent TDC customers from accessing the Internet services that the website mentioned in the claim currently gives access to,” the order reads.

    The Danish Media Association is very pleased with the court’s ruling, According to Holger Rosendal, Chief Legal Officer at the industry group, it will help media outlets to protect their copyrights as well as their income.

    “It is expensive to produce credible, informative and independent journalism, and thus there is a great need to stop the illegal exploitation of media content, which undermines the media economy and thereby the possibility of continuing news production,” Rosendal says.


    At the time of writing, there are over 170,000 Danish news articles featured on The World News. The site only had a few hundred Danish readers per day in recent weeks, but the media companies believe that it had a negative impact nonetheless.

    The World News itself appears to be surprised by the blocking order and states that it will remove content when prompted to do so by rightsholders.

    “The World News is one of the biggest news aggregators in the world. We gather and analyze news from all media to detect fake news and facts manipulation,” a spokesperson form the site informed TorrentFreak.

    “If we break the law in any jurisdiction, we remove any content from our servers for the first request in a few hours. We didn’t receive any notifications about rules violation from Danish media. We are completely on the side of authors and ready to work together.”

    RettighedsAlliancen says that it tried to contact the site using the four email addresses listed on the website, as well as the domain name registrant address.

    The Danish anti-piracy organization sent the website a cease and desist notice and informed its operators about the lawsuit, giving them an opportunity to defend themselves. RettighedsAlliancen informs TorrentFreak that these emails remained unanswered.

    Technically, RettighedsAlliancen is not a media outfit, so both statements may be accurate. However, that doesn’t change the fact that the site will have to be blocked by Internet provider TDC.

    RettighedsAlliancen stresses that, in addition to enforcing the news outlets’ copyrights, the blocking order will help to make sure that these publications get the revenue they’re entitled to.

    “A blockade will also effectively prevent cash flows from ending up in the hands of criminal backers. The blocked illegal Panama-based service has, among other things, earned money from advertising revenue from visitors to the website – revenue that Danish news media misses,” the anti-piracy group notes.

    Torrentfreak.com

  12. #732
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    Video Piracy Study Estimates Billions in Lost Revenue, But Misses Crucial Data

    A new study published by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Global Innovation Policy Center and NERA Economic Consulting, estimates the effect of video piracy on the U.S. economy. With a revenue loss of at least $29.2 billion the impact is significant, but this could have been worse, as a major source of video piracy isn't covered.

    Despite the growing availability of legal options, online piracy remains rampant. Every day pirate sites and services are used by millions of people worldwide.

    This is a serious problem for major content producers, Hollywood included. At the same time, it’s also seen a threat to the wider U.S. economy, which generates hundreds of billions of dollars from video entertainment.

    How copyright infringement affects the economy in actual numbers is hard to measure, especially since the piracy landscape changes rapidly. That said, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Global Innovation Policy Center, in partnership with NERA Economic Consulting, attempted an estimate.

    In a report titled “Impacts of Digital Piracy on the U.S. Economy” they combine multiple data sources, paired with a broad range of assumptions, to estimate how much revenue video piracy is costing the U.S. economy.

    In order to calculate how much piracy costs, the researchers first had to determine the global piracy volume. They did so by combining data from two known piracy tracking firms.

    Specifically, the number of pirated movies and TV-shows are estimated using data from the German BitTorrent tracking outfit Tecxipo. These are then extrapolated to estimate the volume of other piracy sources, such as streaming and direct downloads, based on data from the UK outfit MUSO.

    In addition, the researchers use academic studies to approximate the displacement rate. This is a crucial variable, as it estimates the percentage of pirated files that can be counted as a lost sale. The report settled on a lower bound of 14%, which means that roughly one in seven pirate downloads or streams are seen as lost revenue.

    All this information, paired with location data, the average price per source, and a variety of other variables, ultimately leads the researchers to conclude that in 2017 online video piracy resulted in a revenue loss of at least $29.2 billion.

    “The study shows that all of the benefits that streaming brings to our economy have been artificially capped by digital piracy. Using macroeconomic modeling of digital piracy, the study estimates that global online piracy costs the U.S. economy at least $29.2 billion in lost revenue each year,” the report reads.

    In raw numbers, the researchers put the number of pirated U.S.-produced movies at $26.6 billion, while they estimate that roughly 126.7 billion U.S.-produced TV episodes are pirated digitally each year. This piracy takes place mostly from outside the United States.

    The impact on the broader economy is even larger. According to the researchers, online video piracy costs the U.S. economy between 230,000 and 560,000 jobs and between $47.5 billion and $115.3 billion in reduced gross domestic product (GDP) each year.
    Jobs ‘lost’

    Not all types of piracy are the same of course. A pirated Netflix movie results in lower losses than a Hollywood blockbuster. Similarly, a pirated Bollywood film doesn’t impact the U.S. economy much.

    Interestingly, the report notes that piracy by U.S. citizens doesn’t necessarily have to be detrimental to the economy. The money these people ‘save’ by pirating is likely spent locally, which, depending on various factors, could even be beneficial to the economy as a whole.

    Or as the researchers put it:

    “Consumers spend the income gained from displaced legal consumption on other goods and services, many of which are produced in the U.S. Therefore, the net effect on the U.S. economy of this component of piracy could be either positive or negative, depending on the relative magnitudes of the multipliers for the revenue losses and the revenue gains.”

    The most significant impact comes from foreigners who pirate U.S. content, as the money they save is likely not being spent in America.

    Overall the report provides a detailed overview of the potential revenue losses. Displacement rates are complex, of course, as there are probably hundreds of other variables that could have been taken into account, but it looks like the researchers did a good job at factoring in the most crucial elements.

    Unfortunately, however, there is a glaring error that can’t easily be ignored.

    The report specifically set out to provide an up-to-date overview of the new piracy ecosystem, one that includes apps and illicit streaming devices. No surprise, as dedicated streaming boxes are generally seen as the biggest threat to Hollywood.

    “These rapid changes necessitate up-to-date estimates of the impact of digital piracy,” the report notes.

    The problem, however, is that most app and streaming device piracy isn’t covered by the study. The report relies on category data from MUSO, which only covers regular browser visits to pirate sites.

    This typically excludes most apps and pirate set-top boxes. Also, the boom in IPTV piracy isn’t covered by these data either.

    TorrentFreak reached out to the researchers, who informed us that they weren’t aware of this. This means that their overall estimate of the impact of video piracy is even more reserved than they initially assumed. Needless to say, that has not been left out intentionally.

    Whether it’s complete or not, these types of studies are generally welcomed by rightsholders. As such, the report will likely be mentioned frequently in future lobbying campaigns.


    torrentfreak.com

  13. #733
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    Rightsholders Want to Completely Delist ‘Pirate’ Domains From Search Results

    In a closed-door meeting this week to discuss the formation of a new anti-piracy law, rightsholders in Russia proposed that pirate sites should be completely delisted from search results, rather than just links to specified content. Internet companies are said to be against the measures, despite agreement on other fronts.

    The anti-piracy wars are fought on many fronts, from plugging leaks to issuing millions of takedown notices to both sites and search engines.

    Despite no deliberate role in piracy, the latter are often described as facilitators of piracy who could do more, by making pirate sites less visible in search results, for example.

    While companies like Google have taken such steps both voluntarily (
    UK) and in response to legal requirements (Australia 1,2), rightsholders would like more. In Russia, where new anti-piracy legislation is currently being debated, there’s an opportunity to set the standard.

    Last year, several rightsholders and Internet platforms
    signed a memorandum of understanding which set out a basic framework for cooperation moving forward. The terms of that agreement are now the subject of negotiations before being turned into law sometime in the next few months.

    During a closed-door meeting this week, held at telecoms watchdog Roscomnadzor and reported by a
    Kommersant source, rightsholders set out new tough demands. In order to limit traffic being sent to pirate sites by search engines, they want companies like Yandex (and ultimately Google) to completely delist ‘pirate’ domains from search results.

    Under the current terms of the memorandum, signatory companies delist search results (typically URLs) when they appear in a centralized database populated with links provided by content companies and their anti-piracy partners. The new proposals demand that sites considered as repeat infringers should disappear altogether.

    Alexei Byrdin, General Director of the Internet Video Association, said that his group had identified a number of measures taken by pirate sites to limit the effectiveness of current measures. This means a more aggressive approach is needed.

    “Our response is a draft rule on the removal of the entire domain of a site that systematically violates copyrights [from search results],” he told Kommersant.

    While not all sites that receive multiple complaints will be affected (social networks and video hosting platforms would be excluded, for example), Internet companies are said to be opposed to the proposals. Among them Yandex, Russia’s largest search engine.

    “It is necessary that any measures that entail inaccessibility to users of entire sites are based on a court decision. We are sure that such a solution will be found,” the company’s press office commented.

    Channel One, the National Media Group, Gazprom-Media, the Internet Video Association, the Association of Film and Television Producers, Yandex, Rambler Group, Mail.Ru Group, vKontakte, and RuTube, are all signatories of the current memorandum.

    The framework is set to expire on September 1, 2019, but could be extended if consensus isn’t reached by that date. However, aside from the deletion of entire domains from search results, it’s reported that the parties are largely in agreement, meaning that Russia is on course to expand its anti-piracy laws significantly, once again.

    Torrentfreak.com

  14. #734
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    RIAA Targets Large Polish File-Hosting Site Chomikuj

    The RIAA has obtained a subpoena from a court in the United States ordering Cloudflare to reveal the personal details of the operator of a large file-hosting site. In its native Poland, Chomikuj (hamster) is a hugely popular platform but according to Google the site is also ranked fifth in the world when it comes to DMCA complaints.

    In English-speaking countries, file-hosting sites such as the defunct Megaupload and its successor MEGA need little introduction.

    These platforms allow(ed) users to upload files into a digital storage locker, to be shared with others as they so choose.

    In Poland,
    Chomikuj is a similar household name. Translated roughly as “hamster”, the platform has been around since 2006 and is very popular. It’s currently receiving around 17 million visits per month, placing it just outside the top 50 most-popular sites in the country.

    Like many platforms operating in the same niche, Chomikuj has to deal with users uploading content to which they don’t own the rights. It’s unclear how much infringing content is present on the platform but
    according to Google’s Transparency Report, with close to 27 million URLs targeted only four domains in the world are listed with more complaints against them.

    After issuing takedowns for more than 7.7 million URLs, the BPI is the most active sender. In second place is the RIAA, having sent in excess of 4.2 million, which may be why the music industry group has gone to court in the United States to find out more about the platform.

    In common with several other actions in recent weeks, the RIAA filed for a subpoena at a Columbia federal court ordering Cloudflare to hand over whatever personal information it holds on the operators of Chomikuj.

    Citing the DMCA (
    17 U.S.C § 512(h)), the RIAA stated its case by declaring that it needs the information to protect its members’ copyrights.

    “The purpose for which this subpoena is sought is to obtain the identities of the individuals assigned to these websites who have reproduced and have offered for distribution our members’ copyrighted sound recordings without their authorization.

    “This information will only be used for the purposes of protecting the rights granted to our members, the sound recording copyright owner, under Title II of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act,” the RIAA told the Court.

    The music group then listed three musical works – Karma Kameleon by Culture Club, Chains of Love by Erasure, and Edge of Heaven by Wham! – stating that these titles had not been authorized for use on Chomikuj.

    As was the case in several previous applications, the Court clerk was happy to sign off on the request and a letter was sent to Cloudflare demanding IP and email addresses and all other identifying information. What happens next remains unclear.


    Torrentfreak.com

  15. #735
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    Rightsholders Want to Completely Delist ‘Pirate’ Domains From Search Results

    In a closed-door meeting this week to discuss the formation of a new anti-piracy law, rightsholders in Russia proposed that pirate sites should be completely delisted from search results, rather than just links to specified content. Internet companies are said to be against the measures, despite agreement on other fronts.

    The anti-piracy wars are fought on many fronts, from plugging leaks to issuing millions of takedown notices to both sites and search engines.

    Despite no deliberate role in piracy, the latter are often described as facilitators of piracy who could do more, by making pirate sites less visible in search results, for example.

    While companies like Google have taken such steps both voluntarily (
    UK) and in response to legal requirements (Australia 1,2), rightsholders would like more. In Russia, where new anti-piracy legislation is currently being debated, there’s an opportunity to set the standard.

    Last year, several rightsholders and Internet platforms
    signed a memorandum of understanding which set out a basic framework for cooperation moving forward. The terms of that agreement are now the subject of negotiations before being turned into law sometime in the next few months.

    During a closed-door meeting this week, held at telecoms watchdog Roscomnadzor and reported by a
    Kommersant source, rightsholders set out new tough demands. In order to limit traffic being sent to pirate sites by search engines, they want companies like Yandex (and ultimately Google) to completely delist ‘pirate’ domains from search results.

    Under the current terms of the memorandum, signatory companies delist search results (typically URLs) when they appear in a centralized database populated with links provided by content companies and their anti-piracy partners. The new proposals demand that sites considered as repeat infringers should disappear altogether.

    Alexei Byrdin, General Director of the Internet Video Association, said that his group had identified a number of measures taken by pirate sites to limit the effectiveness of current measures. This means a more aggressive approach is needed.

    “Our response is a draft rule on the removal of the entire domain of a site that systematically violates copyrights [from search results],” he told Kommersant.

    While not all sites that receive multiple complaints will be affected (social networks and video hosting platforms would be excluded, for example), Internet companies are said to be opposed to the proposals. Among them Yandex, Russia’s largest search engine.

    “It is necessary that any measures that entail inaccessibility to users of entire sites are based on a court decision. We are sure that such a solution will be found,” the company’s press office commented.

    Channel One, the National Media Group, Gazprom-Media, the Internet Video Association, the Association of Film and Television Producers, Yandex, Rambler Group, Mail.Ru Group, vKontakte, and RuTube, are all signatories of the current memorandum.

    The framework is set to expire on September 1, 2019, but could be extended if consensus isn’t reached by that date. However, aside from the deletion of entire domains from search results, it’s reported that the parties are largely in agreement, meaning that Russia is on course to expand its anti-piracy laws significantly, once again.

    Torrentfreak.com

  16. #736
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    Torrent Site YTS Quietly Relocates to .LT Domain Name

    Popular torrent site YTS has recently moved to a new domain name, using a Lithuanian top-level domain. The operators haven't commented on their motivation, but it seems likely that a recent lawsuit several movie companies filed in the US played a role.

    With millions of visitors, YTS is the most-visited torrent site on the Internet, beating even the legendary Pirate Bay.

    The site ‘unofficially’ took over the YTS brand when the original group threw in the towel in 2015. Since then it has amassed a rather impressive user base of millions of daily visitors.

    When the site first entered the scene it was operating from the YTS.ag domain name, which it traded in for YTS.am two years later. This month, the torrent site moved yet again to a new domain, YTS.lt, using the Lithuanian top-level domain.

    It’s unclear what prompted the sudden move. The site has made no public announcement and the old .am domain name is still operational, redirecting to the new home.

    TorrentFreak reached out to the YTS team for a comment on the sudden move but at the time of writing, we have yet to hear back.

    It is possible that the domain change was in part triggered by blocking efforts around the world. The older YTS.am and YTS.ag domains are blocked by many ISPs around the world and with the new domain it will become accessible again, at least for the time being.

    Another benefit of a new domain is that all search engine results that have been removed due to takedowns become accessible again. According to Google’s latest data, 23,106 YTS.am domains were removed in recent years.

    However, it appears that rightsholder groups have thought of this as well. In a matter of days, Google has received hundreds of takedown requests for the new domain name.

    The most likely explanation, perhaps, is the lawsuit several movie companies filed at a Hawaiian federal court last month. The complaint accuses the site’s operators of inducing massive copyright infringement and puts the domain names at risk.

    Specifically, the movie companies request an injunction to prevent third-party intermediaries, including domain registrars, from facilitating access to the YTS.ag and YTS.am domains.

    The domain name change took place a few days after we published our article about the lawsuit, so the timing certainly fits.

    Whatever the reason, YTS remains readily available for now. And since the old domain automatically redirects users, many people probably didn’t even notice that anything has changed.


    torrentfreak.com

  17. #737
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    Spain’s Pirate Site Blocklist Expands Following Hollywood Complaint

    Following a complaint from major Hollywood studios including Disney, Paramount, Sony, and Universal, a Spanish court has ordered several ISPs to block several Spanish-language pirate sites. The MPA stresses that the ISPs are not accused of any wrongdoing, but their cooperation, voluntary or through the court, is needed to help deter piracy.

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

    In recent years more than
    4,000 sites have been blocked throughout Europe, Asia, Latin America, and even Down Under.

    Spain hasn’t been spared from these blocking efforts. Historically, the country has a high piracy rate. Local pirate sites, in particular, tend to be relatively popular.

    This hasn’t gone unnoticed by Hollywood’s anti-piracy outfit, the Motion Picture Association. Representing major movie studios, the group has been active in courts around the world and a few days ago it welcomed a new blocking victory in Spain.

    Following a complaint from Disney, Columbia, Universal, Paramount, 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros, and Universal Cable, a Barcelona court ordered four major Internet providers to expand their pirate site blocklists,
    El Pais reports.

    The order directs Telefonica, Vodafone, Ono and Orange to prevent users from accessing the Spanish-language sites
    Exvagos1.com, Seriesdanko.to, Seriespapaya.com, Cinecalidad.to , Repelis.live, Pelispedia.tv, Cliver.tv, Descagasdd.com and Pepecine.me.

    Stan McCoy, president of the Motion Picture Association’s EMEA division, believes that the blockades are necessary to lower the piracy rate. However, he also stresses that ISPs themselves are not accused of any wrongdoing.

    “The companies are not accused of anything bad in and of themselves, but they are notified because they access unauthorized content through their service,” McCoy says.

    The ISPs are not fiercely protesting the orders but they are not willing to cooperate voluntarily either. They believe that website blockades require judicial oversight.

    “Our position has not changed at all. It simply does not depend on us, but in order to block access [to a site] it is necessary for a judge to rule on the matter”, Telefónica explains.

    “Any action by an Internet provider must be executed based on a court order,” a representative from ISP Orange adds.

    This isn’t the first Spanish blocking order this year. In March, ISPs were already ordered to prevent subscribers from accessing Elitetorrenz.biz, Mejortorrent1.com, Gnula.nu, Mejortorrent.org and Gnula.se

    A few weeks earlier, 1337x.to, Limetorrents.cc Torlock.com and Torrentfunk.com ExtraTorrent.cd Masquetorrent.com, and Isohunt.to
    were blocked.

    According to
    Genbeta, it’s becoming harder to circumvent such pirate site blockades. Previously people could simply change to a third-party DNS provider, such as Google of Cloudflare, but this isn’t good enough anymore. That said, a VPN service, proxy, or the Tor browser still do the trick.

    Torrentfreak.com

  18. #738
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    Pirate Bay Uploader Faces Debt Collectors After Failing to Pay Settlement

    A member of a release team that uploaded thousands of torrents to The Pirate Bay, KickassTorrents and ExtraTorrent faces new action after failing to pay a settlement agreed with BREIN. In 2016, three group members agreed to pay €67,500 between them, but only two paid. BREIN now has a court order to enforce the debt against the third, which has now doubled in size.

    Dutch anti-piracy outfit BREIN is well known for numerous actions against various players in the piracy ecosystem.

    The company’s targets have included big sites – The Pirate Bay, for example – through to various individuals and groups that facilitate access to infringing content online. In 2016, that included Netherlands-based torrent release team, 2Lions.

    2Lions uploaded thousands of torrents to several popular sites including The Pirate Bay, KickassTorrents, 1337x, ExtraTorrent, and Demonoid. This attracted the attention of BREIN which targeted several members of the group.

    In a 2016 legal process in which the individuals had no input, BREIN obtained ex parte injunctions which prohibited three members of the 2Lions team from infringing the copyrights of BREIN’s members on pain of a 2,000 euros per day fine. That led to negotiations with the team.

    In addition to removing as many of their uploaded torrents as possible, the three individuals (and two other team members) agreed to pay BREIN 15,000 euros each as part of a settlement agreement. It’s now been more than three years since that deal was made but according to BREIN, one team member hasn’t met their obligations.

    In a session before the Court of The Hague last week, BREIN sought to force the former uploader to pay up via a collection process, one that is likely to prove even more expensive for the person in question.

    According to the anti-piracy group, not only will the individual have to pay the originally agreed amount, he or she will also have to pay for these proceedings and subsequent collection costs. That effectively doubles the amount to be paid to BREIN, a payment it can now enforce following the court process.

    Rather than immediately pursue most of its targets through the courts, BREIN has regularly announced that groups, platforms and companies have shut down after reaching settlement agreements. IPTV providers, music pirates, torrent sites, and Usenet indexers have all promised to pay up over the past couple of years.

    Given the volume of settlements, BREIN is clearly keen to see them honored. During 2018 alone, the Dutch anti-piracy group reached deals with 31 entities which included promises to settle via payments totaling hundreds of thousands of euros. The action last week suggests BREIN is prepared to enforce such payment, should people fail to meet their obligations.

    “BREIN has been working with bailiffs and a debt collection office for some time now to keep track of non-paying infringers,” BREIN chief Tim Kuik said in a statement.

    “This can concern payments that have been agreed in settlements or court orders. The results are satisfactory. Those who do not meet their payment obligations will be presented with an extra bill for this.”

    torrentfreak.com



  19. #739
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    Scammers Abuse Steam to Attract Would-Be Movie Pirates

    A number of scammers are abusing the Steam platform to lure would-be pirates to questionable download sites. After clicking images and links listing popular movies, many visitors are redirected to subscription portals where - despite payment - none of the promised movies are offered for viewing.

    According to an October 2018
    report, Steam has around 90 million active monthly users, making it the largest digital distribution platform for PC games.

    Steam user accounts overall are many times more numerous. In April, PCGamesN
    indicated that the platform had attracted its billionth account, noting that “a significant number of these are undoubtedly spam, scam, alt, and bot accounts.”

    Indeed, an activity that appears to have taken root on the platform over the past few months shows that accounts don’t have to be limited to just one type of the above suspicious activity. Steam is the last place one might expect to find links to pirate movies, but that’s part of the trap.

    As the image below shows, this Steam
    page is supposedly offering the movie Escape Room “for FREE online” but that certainly isn’t the case.


    Users who scroll down to the bottom find extremely lengthy hyperlinks hidden under a pair of “Watch Now” and “Download” buttons. Since this is clearly some kind of dodgy activity, we truncated those links in order to visit only their final destination.

    That led us to another site called “Daily Movie” which appeared to begin playing not Escape Room, but Avengers: Infinity War. After viewing what seemed to be a real movie intro (the lion of MGM in this case), neither movie was presented. Instead, we got the following;


    Needless to say, in the context of the offer on Steam (recent Hollywood movies) most of the claims in the above statement are a lie. The ‘continue’ link goes to a subscription content service (
    Dontra) that has none of the movies previously promised and will only leave users disappointed – after earning the Steam spammer some commission, of course.

    Another
    page, which claims to offer Aquaman for download, contains hyperlinks to what appears to be a full ‘pirate’ streaming site called Cinemago. While the links are not directly functional (and Steam helpfully warns that these go to an external site), it does send users to the Cinemago platform, as shown below.


    This site, unsurprisingly, does not offer pirate movies. Instead, when users click any of the film covers they are introduced to a similar “sign up” window and are then re-directed to a site called Funwraith. It is absolutely identical to Dontra and as such has none of the movies offered.

    This bait-and-switch subscription trap is repeated on dozens of Steam pages too numerous to outline here. However, if readers want to see more of them (not recommended), typing
    site:steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/ “full movie” into Google will bring up pages and pages of results.

    While unusual, legitimate platforms have been abused for piracy and scam schemes in the past.
    Facebook, Google, Google Maps and evenChange.org have all been repurposed in similar fashion.


    Torrentfreak.com

  20. #740
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    Operators of ‘Linking’ Sites Walk Free in Criminal Piracy Case

    A Spanish Criminal court has acquitted four men who were accused of facilitating copyright infringement through the defunct linking sites SeriesYonkis, PeliculasYonkis and VideosYonkis. The judge notes that, at the time, sites that linked to pirated content stored elsewhere were not criminally liable. The verdict is good news for the defendants but will be appealed.

    Founded in 2007, SeriesYonkis was a Spanish site where users could find links to pirated copies of the latest movies and TV-shows.

    It was particularly popular in Spanish speaking territories. This caused concern among rightsholders, including Hollywood’s major movie studios.

    At the end of 2013, the MPAA highlighted SeriesYonkis as one of the most prolific pirate sites on the Internet. This referral was taken on by the office of the US Trade Representative, which put the site on its lists of “notorious” pirate sites a few months later.

    In Spain, the pressure was also mounting. Following complaints from rightsholders, local law enforcement picked up the case. This eventually resulted in criminal charges against four men.

    All defendants were believed to have a stake in SeriesYonkis, as well as the sister sites PeliculasYonkis and VideosYonkis, at some point.

    Defendant Alberto G. S. reportedly operated the sites during the early years. He sold them in 2011 to the second defendant Alexis H., who partnered with the two remaining defendants, Jordi T. and David M., before selling the sites again in 2014.

    The case was partly built on evidence gathered by local film industry group EGEDA and the Spanish Anti-Piracy Federation (FAP), which represented the rights of MPAA members including Paramount, Sony, Universal, Walt Disney, and Warner Bros.

    The movie companies claimed massive losses of over half a billion dollars ($560m) and following a trial in Murcia earlier this year, the prosecutor requested prison sentences of up to two years for the defendants’ involvement as facilitators of copyright infringement.

    After months of relative silence, Judge Isabel María Carrillo Sáez of the Criminal Court of Murcia decided not to follow this recommendation. Instead, the Judge acquitted the four defendants, concluding that they are not liable for any of the alleged copyright infringements.

    According to the Judge, the described offenses were not considered a crime when they took place.

    “There was no explicit definition of these behaviors before. It was criminalized by the legislator in 2015,” the verdict reads, adding that the indirect financial benefits the operators received are not enough to warrant a criminal conviction.

    As the sentence suggests, linking sites were widely regarded as being legal, or at least in a grey area. That changed in 2015 when Spain updated its copyright law. However, the alleged crimes took place before the new legislation took effect. By then, the three sites had already stopped linking, following an agreement with anti-piracy group FAP.

    David Maeztu, the lawyer of defendant Alex H. informs TorrentFreak that his client was aware of the changing legal landscape.

    In fact, the updated copyright law was one of the reasons why he ultimately sold the website. The sale also included a provision that the future owner wouldn’t allow users to add links.

    The defendants are happy with the outcome, but despite the positive news, their legal battle isn’t over yet.

    The Spanish newspaper El Pais reports that movie industry group EGEDA will file an appeal at Murcia’s Provincial Court. In a statement, the disappointed group says that it hopes to have the verdict overturned.

    EGEDA cites jurisprudence from the EU Court of Justice which, based on the 2001 Copyright Directive, ruled that linking can create liability under some circumstances. In addition, the current verdict makes it clear that the sites helped to make pirated content available, the group notes.

    “The sentence recognizes that the defendants made audiovisual content, both movies and TV series, available to the public via the Internet through links, without permission, By doing so, they obtained revenues in excess of 900,000 euros through advertising,” the statement adds.

    The SeriesYonkis domain name is still around today. However, it is no longer operated by any of the defendants and doesn’t link to any copyright infringing content, as it used to.

    torrentfreak.com

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