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  1. #1021
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    Guns N’ Roses Fans ‘Fear’ That the Band is Setting a Piracy Trap

    This week Guns N' Roses asked its fans to share bootleg footage of the band's "Not in This Lifetime..." tour, with a chance to have it featured in the official video. While that may seem like a great idea, some dedicated fans suggest that it's an (inadvertent) trap, as many people have received strikes and bans in recent months after sharing Guns N' Roses footage.

    Over the past three decades, Guns N’ Roses has been one of the best-known bands in the world.

    When it started in the mid-eighties most music was still sold on cassettes, while the World Wide Web has yet to be invented.

    Today the web is the major driver of revenue when it comes to recorded music. However, it also poses quite a few challenges, especially when it comes to copyright.

    Guns N’ Roses’ entourage appears to be particularly concerned with these rights, up to a point where it has started to annoy fans. Over the past several months, many people have had their bootleg concert recordings removed from YouTube, Instagram and elsewhere.

    “My YouTube account I’ve had for 15 years was terminated on Thursday of last week. Roughly 20 GNR videos I’ve filmed from 2011-2016 were flagged and removed,” one fan
    wrote a few weeks ago.

    These copyright takedowns don’t just affect full-length recordings. Smaller clips were apparently removed as well. Interestingly, even Meegan Hodges, the girlfriend of guitarist Slash, had some of her clips removed.

    “I’m just putting this up to see if my video is taken down. Noticed that some are just gone. Hello Instagram I took this video. #iamwiththeband no seriously what’s up?” she
    wrote a few days ago

    The band is of course completely within its right to remove unauthorized recordings. Even from Slash’s girlfriend, if she didn’t obtain explicit permission. That said, going after short clips can do more harm than good as it usually only upsets and annoys the fanbase.

    In response to the removals, a subgroup of fans appears to have revolted. Some continued to publish concert footage on alternative outlets, such as Pornhub, for example.

    While there will always be workarounds, the whole episode clearly signaled that fans shouldn’t post any Guns N’ Roses footage online. Those who do, risk strikes and bans from YouTube, Instagram, or even Twitter.

    Just when this idea started to sink in, Guns N’ Roses posted a rather surprising request this week, as
    highlighted by Guns N’ Roses Central. On Twitter, the band asked fans to share concert footage, which may then be included in the official tour video.

    “Tag us in your videos from this tour to be part of the #NotInThisLifetime 2019 final tour video,” the band

    Needless to say, this request came as a surprise to many fans. First, they were actively hunted down for sharing concert video, and now the band wants them to share footage online?

    As a result, fans were quite reserved with their responses. Some indeed posted short clips but many others suggested that this could be some kind of trap. At the very least, it’s not a well thought out plan.

    “Yes, this will make it easier for you to demand that your fans remove their videos of you from the internet. Is your assistant getting tired of searching for copyright violations?”
    Claire replied.

    “Is this ‘let s see how stupid our fans are’ contest? We re not making music we’re deleting our fans accounts, we’re @gunsnroses,” Jaro

    “So you can block them?? Sort yourselves out and do something for the fans for once,” Jan

    While the takedown requests are not being issued by the band directly, it’s clear that some fans are not happy with the request. While it’s most likely not an intentional trap, it could be an inadvertent one when followers get flagged by automated bots or overactive takedown outfits.

    Considering the takedown outrage among many dedicated fans over the past few months, this week’s request to share footage certainly wasn’t well thought out.

  2. #1022
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    Google Play Removes Perfect Player After “Bogus” Copyright Complaint

    This week Google removed the popular IPTV software Perfect Player from its Play Store following a hard-to-fathom copyright complaint. A major pay TV provider claimed it was possible to stream pirate content in the app so it must be illegal. However, the app ships with no links to content whatsoever, so anything infringing must've been added at a later stage.

    ‘Pirate’ IPTV services make the news every week, mostly in connection with streaming movies, TV shows, and sports without obtaining permission from rightsholders.

    Enforcement actions against these entities are certainly on the increase and in most instances it’s easy to see why copyright holders have a problem with them. However, it’s clear that some companies either don’t understand what they’re dealing with or simply don’t care.

    Case in point, the popular Android app Perfect Player. This software is effectively a network-capable media player that enables users to enter a playlist from an IPTV provider and watch video, no matter what the source. In common with Windows Media Player, it doesn’t involve itself with end-user conduct and can be used to watch legitimate streams.

    This week, however, the software – which has in excess of a million downloads from Google Play – was
    removed by Google because of a copyright complaint. It was filed by a major pay-TV provider, the name of which we’ve agreed not to publish while the complaint is ongoing.

    It states that the software allows users to watch channels from unauthorized sources and is therefore illegal. However, there appears to be a considerable flaw in the pay-TV company’s arguments.

    In common with the developers behind various torrent clients, Perfect Player’s developer doesn’t dictate how the software is used because no control can be exercised over that. Just like Windows Media Player, uTorrent, or even VLC (which has similar capabilities), it can be used for entirely legal purposes – or not,
    depending on the choice of the user.

    To support its complaint, we understand that the pay-TV provider supplied screenshots showing Perfect Player playing content to which the company holds the rights. This is particularly odd because any content being played is actioned by and is the responsibility of the user.

    To have received the content in the first place, the company (or whoever they obtained the app from) must’ve actively configured Perfect Player to infringe by loading it with the playlist from an illicit IPTV provider. Perfect Player contains no playlists when supplied directly from Google Play, it’s content-neutral.

    To strike an analogy, you can’t put a bullet in a gun, shoot someone in the head, and then blame the gun manufacturer. Likewise, if you don’t want illicit streams turning up in a software player, don’t have someone load it with infringing playlists from third-parties and then blame a software developer.

    “These guys told me that they own ‘Premier’ channels and we should stop transmitting these channels. I answered that the app doesn’t contain any content or channels,” Perfect Player’s developer informs TorrentFreak.

    “They then sent another email with a screenshot, showing that they are able to watch their channels in the app.”

    TorrentFreak contacted the TV company’s anti-piracy team asking why they chose to target Perfect Player while gently pointing out the playlist issue detailed above. Unfortunately, at the time of publication, the company had not responded to our request for comment.

    Giving the TV company the benefit of the doubt for a moment, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that it acquired a ready-configured copy of Perfect Player from a third-party that already contained a URL for a ‘pirate’ service. That could give the impression it’s a dedicated pirate app.

    That being said, downloading a copy from Google Play would’ve highlighted the important differences between a non-configured player and one set up for piracy. That’s impossible now, of course, because Google has taken Perfect Player down.

    With the help of a lawyer, the developer is now filing a DMCA counter-notice with Google Play which will require the pay-TV company to either double down or back off. Unless Google chooses to restore Perfect Player in the meantime, of course.

    Earlier this month, Google also
    took down the IPTV Smarters app from its Play Store following a “false complaint”, according to its developer. The company’s lawyers are reportedly working to have the software restored but at the time of writing, it remains unavailable on copyright grounds.

  3. #1023
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    ‘Sharing is Caring’ Once Described Piracy But Things Have Probably Changed

    While people have always made money from bootleg videos and music, the very early days of file-sharing mostly embodied the "sharing is caring" ethos. Have a tune, give one away. Have a game, pass it around. However, over the past 15 years - the last 10 in particular - there has been a noticeable shift. Does anyone share or provide platforms altruistically anymore, or is money behind pretty much everything?

    For those old enough to remember, the early days of what would become mainstream Internet piracy were an enlightening time to be around.

    With few, if any, legal alternatives available, sharing music and later movies online offered an early and exciting glimpse into the future of media consumption.

    The entertainment industries hated all kinds of piracy back then and they still hate it now, that’s not up for debate. But today, almost 20 years after peer-to-peer burst onto the scene, there’s mixed opinion even among pirates as to whether things have changed for the better.

    TorrentFreak recently caught up with the former operator of a BitTorrent tracker that launched to the public in 2005. The site itself shut down before 2010, ostensibly after its operators decided family life was more important. Its founder tells us that was only part of the story – money was the real issue.

    “When we got into this we started a quiet private club where people could share (and I do mean SHARE) stuff with each other,” he explains.

    “The staff and members were squirrels gathering up nuts and whatnot and sharing them on the tracker. All of us could snatch what we wanted and didn’t even feel obliged to return the favor but we all did because we knew each other already and it just worked. Guess giving felt good as getting.”

    With a few thousand members at its peak, the site was intentionally never big. Hosted on a free shared server with two other sites thanks to a friendly website designer, the limitations were in place right from the start. Unfortunately, the site’s users became restless. Other trackers were bigger, faster, easier to seed on, but more crucially had a wider range of content.

    “Can’t tell you when precisely (a few years later) but we started to tear ourselves apart. Some of the best uploaders found other sites and drifted off which had a big effect on the rest of the site. We managed to find a couple of people who were willing to upload but they wanted new stuff in return and we didn’t have it.

    “Someone with access to a pay dump offered to help but they wanted paying as well and I noped right out of paying for warez. Most of our rivals did and it hurt us.”

    Even when the site got fresh content, that didn’t really help things either, the former admin says. Users with access to other sites uploaded the content on those immediately and some members didn’t like it and wanted it stopped. That didn’t sit right with the admin because behind the scenes his people were doing exactly the same. What they really needed was money to improve the site to get more people in, who would hopefully bring content with them.

    “We stuck out for years not asking for donations but at the end of the day we were in limbo. You build this thing and you’re watching it die. There’s still no question in my mind that we should’ve let it die gracefully in its sleep but hindsight and all that.”

    The donations helped for a while but the former admin says that things were never the same. He says that most of the time the amount coming in exceeded the running costs of the site which then made it “morally hard” to keep asking for money. However, he said donations were still requested regularly because when people got out of the habit of giving, they were hard to get back, especially when other sites were offering bang for their buck.

    “Pay to leech. That was the beginning of the end for me and I still get emotional about it now. To keep up with [site names redacted] we had to boost [sharing] ratios. It was wrong. We’d gone from a family affair to barely more than a pay site. The older members felt they didn’t know us anymore but the newer ones seemed to want it and cultures clashed and I got the blame.”

    So-called ‘pay-to-leech’ is a term most often used to explain how a torrent site can raise revenue by manipulating sharing ratios. If a site has enough seeders and excess upload bandwidth, users can pay to be exempted from strict sharing rules. While rules on various sites differ, in general terms it means that members can download content with relative impunity without giving back, i.e not sharing.

    The former admin didn’t want to go into detail about what happened in the wake of the decision to start accepting donations but things didn’t go well. What he did reveal is that it changed the mood on the site. In exchange for their money, people flat-out demanded better service and became more and more vocal when they didn’t get it. They felt they’d paid for a service.

    “We had angry posts in the forums with people pasting details of their donations and even private conversations about them with the moderators. I had my wee baby crying downstairs, a pissed-off girlfriend who I never saw and man babies crying on the site over a pittance. I took it and took it and took it and then one day a five minute chat on IRC later with another admin and i’d gone. ‘Here’s the keys to the frontdoor.’ Best thing i’d ever done.”

    The striking thing about our discussion with the former admin is that he says that while arguments are commonplace on the Internet these days, they were the exception when his site was first launched. He says there was a sense of belonging to something special and people didn’t want to spoil it because they were not only part of it, they’d helped to create and maintain it too. These days, he complains, things are different because ‘sharing and caring’ have been forgotten.

    “Is there a file-sharing family anymore because if there is I don’t know where to find them. People still share alright but it’s pictures of them or their food on Facebook and Instagram. You can’t find people sharing files for fun as we did back in the day because the cat’s out of the bag and it’s an earner and you can’t turn back the clock. Why do you think all the kids dumped torrents for upload sites unless it was about the payback?

    “I don’t know if it’s me that’s stuck in the past and this had to happen for piracy to exist as it does now but it’s a shame because all I see now is greed. You tell me, but is sharing out of kindness almost dead?” he asked.

    With an entirely different experience, millions of users and uploaders to The Pirate Bay and similar sites would probably beg to differ.

    After more than 15 years online, people are still uploading content as they did in the early days, each with their own reason for doing so. The site is still widely accessible and people can take whatever they like for free. The site obviously makes money though, using ads and a crypto-miner, so money remains part of the loop.

    More elitist and/or discerning users will always point to professionally organized private trackers as being more community-based, more reliable, much better organized, and with greater emphasis placed on quality control. Old-style sharing can still be found on many but they are certainly not immune to change and the pressures of commerce.

    Invites, when they become available, are sometimes handed out for free but in an increasing number of cases, sites charge for the privilege. One can’t make sweeping statements about all of them because there are many and they’re secretive. However, there can be no doubt that a significant number have developed into money-making machines, both for their operators and in some cases their uploaders too.

    That raises the question: is there any way to turn back the clock? Is there a way to remove money or other financial incentives out of the equation? With streaming, the most popular form of piracy currently, apparently not.

    “You are not realistic,” the operator of a streaming site told TF.

    “You write it every day that someone is arrested or blocked or PayPal closed. I can do this for nothing then. Nobody is doing this for nothing. Servers are free so show me where I can buy?”

    The owner of a smaller public torrent site (who has operated several other piracy-focused sites in the past) was more talkative.

    “My motivation is purely money related. I would not run any piracy related sites if they didn’t earn anything. Just too much risk involved,” he explained.

    “Personal issues left me to rely on income from the sites to support my family. I would simply not run the sites if they didn’t make anything. Making money from piracy is so easy so that’s why I think people do it. Rarely you’ll see a site not using any ads. When I was younger things felt a lot different to what they do now. They don’t do it for the love now. But for the money.”

    We posed similar questions to a long-standing major site operator – what motivates people to run torrent, hosting and streaming sites these days? He told us that the latter pair make “lots of money” but in respect of torrent sites, he believes there’s no point in running one anymore. The only exception would be for small sites that might still operate for ‘fun’ or on a break-even basis.

    “[Some people might run] some small ones [for no profit] – sure – but the user base will be small because the time spent on development will be low,” he said.

    For anyone running a bigger site, making nothing or even breaking even isn’t a realistic option, he added. Costs increase every month and if you don’t keep balancing the books, “it won’t work out.”

    Ultimately, the operator insisted that going completely back to old-style “sharing is caring” won’t be possible. There’s a new type of demanding consumer out there that is very difficult and increasingly expensive to keep happy.

    “That’s never going to happen. The Netflix generation is used to content ready to use, they don’t think about what’s involved in the process of reaching them.”

    Tim Kuik of Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN says that he hasn’t seen platforms that aren’t in it for the money for a long time.

    “Even if there are uploaders or subtitlers who do it for the kudos, the platforms they post on are making money out of it. We see illegal link aggregators that are supported by platforms that make money off downloaders or streamers by selling them higher download speed,” he says.

    But for anti-piracy groups like BREIN, motivation probably doesn’t make much difference to the end result. Piracy is piracy and whatever drives it, it still means illegal content ends up online for free.

    “Even if it were for a hobby, would that make it alright to cause damage with it?” Kuik asks.

    But ultimately, in the final reckoning, do today’s consumers of pirated content even care what goes on behind the scenes financially, as long as they get it free or at least on the cheap?

    One can’t put words into the mouths of millions of individuals but given the popularity of online piracy, especially the astronomic growth of premium IPTV, the suggestion is that largely, people don’t. In fact, for newer entrants to the piracy scene, the fact that people make money is probably the accepted standard.

  4. #1024
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    Mailchimp Kicks Out TorrentFreak Because We’re ‘Too Risky’

    After years of news reporting on copyright issues, we have learned that piracy is not without risk. However, writing about it also has its challenges. A few days ago, our newsletter provider MailChimp kicked us out because our content is too risky for its business. Apparently, overactive spam filters don't really like the topics we cover.

    At TorrentFreak, we have covered the latest news surrounding piracy, file-sharing, and copyright, for almost fourteen years.

    As a news site, we strive to write as any other professional journalists would. We highlight the latest copyright enforcement efforts and press releases, but also the counteractions that pirates take, as balanced reporting prescribes.

    While we understand that some of the topics we cover are controversial, as is often the case with news, we never expected it to be risky. Apparently, however, some companies believe otherwise.

    A few months ago we moved our newsletter to
    Mailchimp, which is widely regarded as one of the best services of its kind. And indeed, setting up the account and configuring our daily mailing was a breeze. As such, we were more than happy to pay the monthly fee.

    Although we were pleased with Mailchimp, Mailchimp wasn’t too happy with us. Out of the blue, the company decided to stop sending out the daily email campaign a few days ago. As it turned out, our account had been suspended as the result of an “acceptable use” violation.

    Apparently, one of our recent articles triggered MailChimp’s abuse prevention system, Omnivore. Since we’re a legitimate news site we asked for clarification, but we were swiftly informed that it wasn’t a false positive.

    “Our automated abuse-prevention system, Omnivore, detected account content that violates our Acceptable Use Policy,” a MailChimp employee replied.

    “We have nothing personal against you or your business, but in order to protect all of our users and ensure the deliverability of everyone’s campaigns, we have to ask that you seek a new vendor for your email marketing needs.”

    This explanation still didn’t say much about the reason for the suspension, so we asked for further clarification and the possibility of a human review. Specifically, we wanted to know what part of the acceptable use policy was violated and why.

    Although MailChimp replied, our questions remained unanswered. What we did learn, however, is that our articles are too risky for a company like MailChimp.

    “Unfortunately, the risk associated with your account is too great for us to continue to support,” MailChimp replied.

    “To give you some background, internet service providers (ISPs) and spam filters strictly monitor the content and keywords used in bulk email, and can block all mail sent through our servers if they detect a problem,” the email added.

    Unsatisfied with this answer, we decided to try again and asked whether the topics we write about are a problem, but that request remained unanswered.

    While we are baffled by the entire experience and MailChimp’s lack of specificity, we have some sympathy for their actions. They obviously don’t want to kick out a paying subscriber, unless it indeed poses some kind of threat.

    What’s really to blame here are the automated filters from ISPs and anti-spam outfits that wrongly tag certain content as problematic. Too many piracy-related keywords, which is what you would find on a piracy-related news site like ours, can apparently get entire servers blocked.

    This is the same reason why many automated filters have our site blocked under the ‘piracy’ category, or
    even hacking and criminal skills.

    Unfortunately, this means that we’re now looking for a good newsletter service, ideally, one that works with RSS feeds. If anybody has a suggestion, feel free to
    drop us a line. Meanwhile, MailChimp subscribers can use our Feedburner newsletter for now, which is still operational.

  5. #1025
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    RapidVideo Shuts Down Following Legal Pressure from Warner Bros and Netflix

    RapidVideo, a popular file-hosting service with millions of users, has thrown in the towel. The site faces legal pressure from lawyers representing the MPA and ACE, including a lawsuit from Warner Bros. and Netflix. Paired with dwindling revenues and a worsening legal climate, maintaining the site is no longer viable, according to the operator.

    RapidVideo is a popular file-hosting service that specializes in hosting videos.

    Similar to other file-hosting services, it can be used for good and bad. The bad, in this case, is people uploading pirated videos.

    Whether the site’s operators want it or not, that’s what many of RapidVideo’s users are indeed doing. Two weeks ago this resulted in yet another
    scathing report from movie industry group MPA, which branded the site as a “notorious” piracy haven.

    Behind the scenes, the website’s operator faces mounting pressure as well. RapidVideo has been targeted by lawyers from the MPA and ACE, two of the most powerful anti-piracy forces, which are demanding far-reaching copyright enforcement measures from the site.

    To back up their pressure, two MPA/ACE members, Warner Bros. Entertainment and Netflix, filed a lawsuit in Germany to stop the alleged copyright infringements the site enables. While this case remains ongoing, the site’s operator decided not to await the verdict and has shut the site down effective immediately.

    The millions of users who regularly visit the site currently see nothing more than a 404 error.

    RapidVideo not accessible

    TorrentFreak spoke to “Alex Bytes,” the operator of RapidVideo, who informed us that the shutdown is permanent. The site’s operator already considered throwing the towel after the adoption of the new EU Copyright Directive earlier this year, which may make upload filters semi-mandatory for some sites.

    “It was high time to quit, because of the upcoming law changes within the EU, due to Article 13/17, where it is a more challenging situation for service providers,” RapidVideo’s Alex tells us.

    By shutting the service down, RapidVideo also hopes to get the lawsuit from Warner Bros. and Netflix off its back. In addition, Alex points out that advertising revenues were dropping significantly, so it was hardly worth continuing anyway.

    According to RapidVideo’s operator, ACE and the MPA previously demanded far-reaching measures to prevent piracy. The rightsholders requested a thorough “take down, stay down” policy, that would go further than hash or filename filtering.

    Instead, rightsholders wanted the site to implement a system similar to YouTube’s Content-ID where more advanced fingerprinting techniques are used to match file uploads to potentially infringing content.

    This wasn’t an option for RapidVideo, likely because it would require substantial investments. The other option, shutting the entire site down, became more and more attractive instead, especially in light of the pending lawsuit.

    “By shutting down, the lawyers have no more reason to fight in the court against me,” Alex tells us.

    For now, however, the court case remains ongoing. TorrentFreak reached out to the lawyer of Warner Bros. and Netflix for a comment on RapidVideo’s decision and the future of their legal claims, but at the time of writing, we have yet to hear back.

  6. #1026
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    Top 10 Most Pirated Movies of The Week on BitTorrent – 10/21/19

    The top 10 most downloaded movies on BitTorrent are in again. 'The Lion King' tops the chart this week, followed by ‘Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw'. 'El Camino' completes the top three.

    This week we have one newcomer in our chart.

    The Lion King is the most downloaded movie.

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

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

    This week’s most downloaded movies are:

    Movie Rank Rank last week Movie name IMDb Rating / Trailer
    Most downloaded movies via torrents
    1 (1) The Lion King 7.1 / trailer
    2 (2) Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw 6.7 / trailer
    3 (…) El Camino 7.6 / trailer
    4 (3) Toy Story 4 8.1 / trailer
    5 (4) Dark Phoenix 6.0 / trailer
    6 (5) Spider-Man: Far from Home 7.8 / trailer
    7 (7) Joker (HDCam) 8.1 / trailer
    8 (6) It: Chapter Two 6.9 / trailer
    9 (8) Crawl 6.4 / trailer
    10 (…) Stuber 6.2 / trailer

  7. #1027
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    BREIN, MPA, and ACE Shut Down Massive ‘Pirate CDN’

    Anti-piracy groups BREIN, MPA and ACE have teamed up to take down Moonwalk, a system that allegedly provides back-end services for around 80% of pirate Russian streaming sites. BREIN says that Moonwalk's database contains 26,000 movies and more than 10,000 TV shows. An announcement from Moonwalk says it will "NEVER be up again."

    Earlier this year, cyber-security company Group-IB shared an interesting report with TorrentFreak.

    The company
    told us that “large monopolists” were supplying huge amounts of content to thousands of websites via dedicated ‘pirate’ Content Delivery Networks (CDNs).

    Group-IB provided specific details on a CDN called ‘Moonwalk’ which reportedly began operating in 2013. According to the company, at the time the system carried 33,490 movies and TV shows, paying out $0.60 per 1000 views.

    Group-IB complained that since most of Moonwalk’s servers were outside Russia, the Netherlands in particular, enforcement by local rightsholders was proving difficult. Several months later, it now transpires that Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN has stepped up in an effort to deal with the problem.

    BREIN chief Tim Kuik informs TorrentFreak that on Friday, bailiffs acting on its behalf served ex parte court orders on five hosting providers requiring them to disconnect streaming servers and preserve evidence in relation to Moonwalk.

    Three court orders targeted Dutch companies and two “ostensibly foreign companies” whose servers are located in the Netherlands. While the action is being headed up by BREIN, the anti-piracy group is working with both the Motion Picture Association and the global Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment.

    BREIN describes Moonwalk as a “video load balancer” which provides both the back-end and also huge volumes of pirated content to around 80% of known Russian streaming sites.

    “The top 50 of these websites entertain 395 million visits from 89.9 million unique visitors per month causing hundreds of millions of euros/dollars in losses,” BREIN says.

    BREIN’s estimates of the amount of content being provided by Moonwalk exceed the figures provided by Group-IB earlier this year. Overall, the Dutch anti-piracy outfit says that the system was recently providing more than 26,000 movies and 10,000 TV shows. That’s around 2,500 additional pieces of video entertainment which suggests growth over recent months.

    The ex parte court orders were obtained by BREIN following a joint investigation with ACE, which counts almost three dozen of the world’s leading content and broadcasting companies as members. It’s clear the orders were intended to cause the shutdown of Moonwalk while providing evidence on its operations and presumably, its operators.

    “The fight against piracy is global and we are going after operators of these services and their hosting infrastructure as well as other intermediaries supporting these illegal services”, says BREIN chief Tim Kuik.

    Jan Van Voorn, Executive Vice President and Chief of Global Content Protection at the Motion Picture Association, stressed that cooperating internationally is crucial to dealing with today’s piracy issues.

    “Effectively fighting piracy today requires strong partnerships at global and local level,” he says.

    “This action coordinated between BREIN, ACE and the MPA is a significant win and another step towards preserving a healthy and vibrant ecosystem in which the creative community can produce, distribute and protect their content so that audiences can enjoy them.”

    What happens next in the investigation isn’t clear but a website associated with Moonwalk currently states that due to this action, the service is not only down, but down for good.

  8. #1028
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    NordVPN Had Private Keys Stolen after Server Breach

    NordVPN has confirmed that one of its servers was compromised in a hack early last year. The attacker gained access to a TLS encryption key which could be used to impersonate the site or a VPN server, using a targeted man-in-the-middle attack. The key could not be used to decrypt regular VPN traffic.

    VPN service provider
    NordVPN was the victim of a server breach early last year, the provider has confirmed.

    The news was made public following a series of tweets from hacker / web developer ‘
    undefined.’ These were picked up by Ars Technica and TechCrunch, among others.

    The hack in question targeted a single server at a third-party datacenter. The attacker reportedly compromised the server by exploiting an insecure remote management system, which NordVPN wasn’t aware existed at the time.

    By compromising the server the attacker gained access to three TLS keys that would allow this person to operate a fake site or VPN server, using a man-in-the-middle attack. NordVPN stresses that it doesn’t keep user logs and that it wasn’t possible to use the keys to decrypt regular VPN traffic or previously recorded VPN sessions.

    The server in question was compromised early 2018 but NordVPN didn’t disclose it at the time. The company now says that it chose not to do so because it had to make sure that none of its other infrastructure was prone to similar issues.

    Following the news reports, NordVPN published
    its own account of what happened and how this affected its users. The company stresses that the breached keys have since expired (they were initially active) and could never be used to decrypt VPN traffic of users.

    While the compromised TLS keys couldn’t decrypt VPN traffic, a server breach is of course always a big event of course. Especially in the VPN industry, where trust in a company is extremely important. That the effect appears to be limited here is a good thing, but that doesn’ change the fact that the server was hacked.

    While NordVPN stresses that the hack only had a minimal impact, it recognizes that security is a vital issue, and that it should do better going forward.

    “Even though only 1 of more than 3000 servers we had at the time was affected, we are not trying to undermine the severity of the issue. We failed by contracting an unreliable server provider and should have done better to ensure the security of our customers,” NordVPN says.

    “We are taking all the necessary means to enhance our security,” the company adds.

    NordVPN further informs TorrentFreak that it always treats VPN servers as the least secure part of their infrastructure, since breaches are always possible. This means that VPN endpoints do not contain any “vulnerable information,” nor do they provide access to the rest of the infrastructure or a user database.

    If anything, this episode shows that 100% security is nearly impossible. In addition to the NordVPN hack, competing services TorGuard and VikingVPN also suffered breaches, according to reports. TorGuard previously confirmed this
    a few months ago.

    Disclaimer: NordVPN is one of our sponsors. This article was written independently, as all of our articles are.

  9. #1029
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    Fox & Charter/Spectrum Agree to Clamp Down on Piracy

    Fox Corporation and Charter Communications have signed a long-term renewal of their content distribution agreement. As part of the arrangement, the companies have agreed to work together to deal with "abusive password sharing" while implementing "new business rules" to mitigate piracy.

    Once upon a time, telecoms companies, Internet service providers, and content creation companies trod their own path.

    Increasingly, however, they are becoming more reliant on each other, with the latter using the formers’ distribution capabilities to present and deliver content to the public. As a result, they are forging mutually beneficial business relationships, ones that will hopefully prove profitable for all.

    On Monday, Fox Corporation and Charter Communications announced what they describe as a long-term renewal of a distribution agreement. It will see Charter maintaining access to Fox’s “full portfolio” of news, entertainment, and sports networks. Interestingly, Fox will also get a couple of things in return.

    Password sharing has appeared in the news on several occasions in the past couple of years, with some content organizations framing the activity as a type of piracy. The new deal will see Charter, which operates under the Spectrum brand, collaborate with Fox to reduce it.

    Additionally, Charter has also signed up to cooperate with Fox to mitigate piracy in general. The information released thus far is lacking in detail but the companies have reportedly agreed to implement “business rules” to address unauthorized access to content.

    “This agreement allows continued access to all of the FOX programming for our customers and FOX viewers, but it will also amplify our mutual efforts to address piracy and abusive password sharing issues,” says Tom Montemagno, Executive Vice President, Programming Acquisition for Charter.

    “We appreciate FOX’s desire to further collaborate as the video landscape continues to evolve.”

    In August, Charter
    announced a similar-sounding deal with another entertainment industry giant.

    “Disney and Charter have also agreed to work together on piracy mitigation,” the statement read. “The two companies will work together to implement business rules and techniques to address such issues as unauthorized access and password sharing.”

    Just last week, Comcast became the first Internet service provider to join ACE, the global anti-piracy alliance comprising dozens of the world’s largest entertainment and distribution companies. The way things are moving, it probably won’t be the last.

  10. #1030
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    ‘Pirate’ App TeaTV Gets Featured on CNBC, Disappears, But Will Be Back

    Sites and social media accounts associated with TeaTV, a 'pirate' app that has gained a lot of traction in recent times, have disappeared from Internet. A few days ago, news outlet CNBC ran an article on the software, noting that it's in part funded by advertisers including Pandora, Hulu, and Yahoo Mail. Sources close to the app inform TorrentFreak that it will return but potentially in a different form.

    While ‘pirate’ sites still exist as regular web-based streaming or torrent portals accessible through a browser, recent years have seen a shift.

    Software applications, or apps as they’re more commonly known, are now seen as a more convenient option.

    Installable on phones, tablets, and a multitude of set-top devices, they often provide access to huge libraries of instantly-streamable movie and TV shows, presented in a Netflix-style interface.

    While Popcorn Time was the first to hit the mainstream, plenty of alternatives now exist. One of those is TeaTV, a popular app for Android, Windows and macOS. According to SimilarWeb stats, its download portal has been pulling in around 1.5 million visits per month a few days ago a considerable irritant presented itself.

    News outlet CNBC – which is owned by media giant NBCUniversal –
    ran a piece claiming that TeaTV was being “bankrolled” by advertising, some of it being placed by Pandora, TikTok, Hulu, Yahoo Mail, and Amazon, among others.

    There was no suggestion in the CNBC piece that any of the companies placed ads directly with Teat-TV. Instead, a network of hard-to-control resellers was handed the blame, some of which are no longer doing business with TeaTV due to the CNBC investigation. Other advertising companies approached declined to comment.

    TeaTV for Android

    Interestingly, the publication also revealed that during a “recent meeting of major industry players in New York” on the topic of ad-supported piracy, TeaTV came up as a discussion point.

    Who those players are is open to debate but ad-supported piracy is a hot topic and there can be little doubt that familiar names, including those involved in the ACE anti-piracy coalition (CNBC owner NBCUniversal is an ACE member), would’ve been privy to the conversations.

    Perhaps coincidentally but more likely not, in the hours following the publication of the CNBC piece, TeaTV began to purge itself from the web. Its main webpage, previously located at, no longer exists, meaning that downloads of the app from that portal have come to a halt.

    Furthermore, TeaTV’s social media has been blacked out too. Both its Twitter and Facebook pages have been removed or deleted, leading some to speculate that the popular software has been consigned to history following the investigation.

    After receiving unconfirmed information that TeaTV won’t ever be coming back, TorrentFreak spoke directly with a source very close to the app. That person declined to comment on the CNBC investigation specifically or whether TeaTV’s disappearance is directly connected to it.

    However, we were assured that TeaTV will be returning sometime in the future. No timescale was given for the full resurrection but at least some changes are planned, including a potential rebranding of the app.

    “Just a matter of time. We will get back to you when there is an update,” we were told.

    With a full return (in some shape or form) penciled in for a future date, it appears that TeaTV as an application is still working for many of its users. Numerous reports online suggest that despite the app’s homepage and social media going dark, the software is still providing access to content.

  11. #1031
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    U.S. House Passes Copyright “Small Claims” Bill with Overwhelming Majority

    The U.S. House of Representatives has passed the CASE Act, a new bill that proposes to institute a small claims court for copyright disputes. Supporters see the legislation as the ideal tool for smaller creators to protect their works, but opponents warn that it will increase the number of damages claims against regular Internet users. The new bill, which passed with a clear 410-6 vote, will now progress to the Senate.

    In May, new legislation was tabled in the U.S. House and Senate that introduces the creation of a “small claims” process for copyright disputes.

    The CASE Act, short for “Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement,” proposes to establish a copyright claim tribunal within the United States Copyright Office.

    If adopted, the new board will provide an option to resolve copyright disputes outside the federal courts, which significantly reduces the associated costs. As such, it aims to make it easier for smaller creators, such as photographers, to address copyright infringements.

    The bill is widely supported by copyright-heavy industry groups as well as many individual creators. However, as is often the case with new copyright legislation, there’s also plenty of opposition from digital rights groups and Internet users who fear that the bill will do more harm than good.

    Supporters of the CASE Act point out that the new bill is the ‘missing piece’ in the present copyright enforcement toolbox. They believe that many creators are not taking action against copyright infringers at the moment, because filing federal lawsuits is too expensive. The new small claims tribunal will fix that, they claim.

    Opponents, for their part, fear that the new tribunal will trigger an avalanche of claims against ordinary Internet users, with potential damages of up to $30,000 per case. While targeted people have the choice to opt-out, many simply have no clue what to do, they argue.

    Thus far legislators have shown massive support for the new plan. Yesterday the bill was up for a vote at the U.S. House of Representatives where it was passed with overwhelming bipartisan support. With a
    410-6 vote, the passage of the CASE Act went smoothly.

    The news was welcomed by proponents of the bill, including the
    Recording Academy. In recent weeks the group actively rallied support from nearly 2,000 creators, who helped to lobby legislators.

    Copyright Alliance was equally delighted with the favorable vote. CEO Keith Kupferschmid notes that it further attests to the tremendous support the bill has gained so far. At the same time, it shows that legislators were not swayed by the CASE Act’s opponents.

    “Today’s vote by the House demonstrates not only the tremendous support for the bill but also the fact that members of Congress could not be bamboozled into believing the numerous falsehoods about the CASE Act,” Kupferschmid comments.

    According to the Copyright Alliance CEO, these alleged falsehoods are shared by people who “philosophically oppose any copyright legislation that will help the creative community and who will use any means to achieve their illicit goals.”

    These comments illustrate that the tensions between supporters and opponents of the CASE Act are high. In recent months, both sides have accused each other of misrepresenting the bill.

    Meredith Rose, Policy Counsel at
    Public Knowledge, is in the opposing camp. She’s not happy with the vote at all and hopes that the Senate will slam on the brakes to prevent it from progressing in its current form.

    “The CASE Act was rammed through on suspension with no hearings, no opportunity for amendment, and no opportunity for meaningful comment from public interest and consumer groups. We urge the Senate not to take up this bill as written, but to instead open the dialogue to all affected parties to craft meaningful, functional solutions,” Rose says.

    Public Knowledge and other groups, such as
    EFF and Re:Create, fear that the bill will lead to more copyright complaints against regular Internet users. Re:Create’s Executive Director Joshua Lamel hopes that the Senate will properly address these concerns.

    “The CASE Act will expose ordinary Americans to tens of thousands of dollars in damages for things most of us do everyday. We are extremely disappointed that Congress passed the CASE Act as currently written, and we hope that the Senate will do its due diligence to make much-needed amendments to this bill to protect American consumers and remove any constitutional concerns,” Lamel notes.

    The 410-6 House vote shows that, thus far, there is not much interest from lawmakers to change the proposal. However, with several weeks of lobbying ahead from both supporters and opponents of the CASE Act, the battle is not over yet.

  12. #1032
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    The Pirate Bay Suffers Extended Downtime, Tor Access is Buggy Too

    The Pirate Bay has been hard to reach over the past week. No further details have been announced. The site remains intermittently accessible over the Tor network, but it's clear that the site faces technical difficulties. TPB's moderators are in the dark about the exact cause, so it's unclear how long the problems will last.

    The Pirate Bay has been hard to reach for more than a week.

    For most people, the site currently displays a Cloudflare error across the entire site, with the CDN provider mentioning that a “bad gateway” is causing problems.

    Others see the dreaded “database maintenance” message, with a prompt to check back in 10 minutes. If they do, the exact same notification usually pops up.

    As is often the case with TPB, no further details are available to us and there is no known ETA for the site’s full return. However, judging from past experience, it’s likely some type of technical issue that needs fixing.

    Error 522

    TorrentFreak reached out to a Pirate Bay staffer who informed us that the downtime is a mystery to most staffers as well. The technical part of the site is managed by “Winston,” who hasn’t yet provided an explanation.

    We also contacted another person who managed the site in the distant past, but he had no further information on the present issues either.

    The Pirate Bay has had prolonged downtime in the past and always returned thus far. There is no indication that things are different now, but the duration of the current problems certainly is longer and more widespread than usual.

    TPB is still occasionally available via
    its .onion address on the Tor network, which is accessible using the popular Tor Browser, for example. However, as the official status page reveals, the Tor version is also experiencing some issues.

    TPB’s status page

    This isn’t the first setback for Pirate Bay visitors this year. As reported previously, new registrations to the site were
    disabled a few months agoto prevent spam floods. This remains the case today.

    The trouble has motivated some Pirate Bay users to move elsewhere for the time being. Some have switched to unofficial proxy sites, which may still be somewhat operational, while others are utilizing other torrent sites.

    For the rest, it’s just the usual waiting game. If we look at the past, the site will likely reappear eventually, and then continue as if nothing ever happened.

  13. #1033
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    Post Thanks / Like Raid Forces Another German Warez Page to Give Up

    A week ago, German authorities and piracy hunters struck a heavy blow against the illegal filesharing scene, because they could take the filehoster from the network. It was hoped for a deterrent effect and that was probably achieved.

    The actions of the authorities, in which, among other things, raids have been carried out in the file sharing or warez scene much uncertainty and probably triggered fear. So there was after the announcement of the action against the German Filehoster many times the opinion that this will have little impact, since certainly soon someone will fill the gap thus created with an alternative offer.

    "Hot Iron" Germany
    But that does not seem to be confirmed yet. Because Germany is also for many Filehoster and scene pages from abroad more and more to hot, such as. a. shows the latest uploader lock from RapidGator. More than that, especially in Germany itself there is uncertainty and sometimes even naked panic, because no one wants to target the society for the prosecution of copyright infringement (GVU).

    For example, Tarnkappe reports that has now decided to pull the plug and that voluntarily. The German-speaking Warez portal has announced that in the "foreseeable future" will go off the net. One reason for the announcement was the fact that lost the bulk of the linked content by seizing the servers of, as this was the primary address for uploads.

    The operators of explained the reasons with the end for Share-Online, "so we have also concluded that it is over now". It was said that the site is not abruptly disconnected from the network, but the server is still running, "until the rent is used up." Internet, Police, Filehoster, Filehosting, Gvu, one-click-hoster, sharehoster, 1-Click-Hoster, Confiscation,

  14. #1034
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    Masked Cheat Maker Who “Appeared on BBC” Gets Sued By Ubisoft

    A teenager who allegedly created and sold cheating software for the game Rainbow Six Siege in concert with his mother is being sued by Ubisoft. According to the complaint filed in the United States, the teenager recently appeared in disguise during a BBC interview where he acknowledged that if Ubisoft goes after cheat-makers for copyright infringement, they are in for a "tough time".

    Cheating in videogames is a popular pastime for those who don’t want to play by the rules but there are two distinct groups who detest the activity.

    While genuine players are routinely disadvantaged by those running cheat software, developers not only see their finely-tuned gaming environments disrupted but in some cases their business models too.

    In September, the BBC ran a
    video piece on the topic of game cheating. An alleged 17-year-old appeared on the show in disguise, speaking of the hacks he created for Rainbow Six Seige, and noting that if Ubisoft “decides to come after you for copyright infringement then you’re in for a tough time.”

    A month later, those tough times have arrived. In a lawsuit filed by Ubisoft in a California federal court, the videogame company is suing ‘J.V.L’, a teenager who lives in the Netherlands, allegedly developed a sophisticated Rainbow Six Seige (R6S) cheat, and reportedly appeared in the BBC interview under the alias ‘Lucas’.

    …”then you’re in for a tough time.”

    Formerly known as “CheapBoost” but now known as “Budget Edition Rainbow Six: Siege Cheat”, it’s claimed the cheat allowed people to manipulate R6S to their advantage by “increasing the damage inflicted by the player, changing the player’s perspective, and allowing the player to see areas of the battlefield that otherwise would be obscured.”

    The lawsuit targets several people, including J.V.L’s mother, Sandra Rijken, and numerous alleged support staff and resellers of the cheat. Most are only known by their online aliases but Ubisoft says it will amend its complaint when their identities are known.

    The lawsuit also lists business entities Mizusoft (which was allegedly founded by J.V.L and sold the cheat) plus Rijken’s company Simply san Webdesign, which reportedly collected, processed and transmitted payments from Mizusoft customers to one or more of the defendants.

    Ubisoft claims that Mizusoft was created for the “express purpose” of shielding J.V.L and his mother from the legal consequences of creating and distributing the R6S cheat software.

    “Ubisoft is informed and believes, and on that basis alleges, that Defendants’ entire business is dedicated to creating, producing, marketing, distributing, and supporting the Cheating Software – which can be used only to cheat in R6S. Thus, Defendants’ business is wholly parasitic in nature and is entirely dependent upon causing harm to Ubisoft and its multiplayer community,” the complaint notes.

    For those unfamiliar with this kind of cheating software, its cost will come as a surprise. According to the complaint, the cheat in question was sold on a recurring subscription fee basis of 11.99 euros per day, 29.99 euros per week, or 69.99 euros per month. Those payments, Ubisoft claims, were made to Simply San Webdesign via Stripe.

    “Defendants know that trafficking in circumvention products such as the Cheating Software is unlawful and violates Section 1201 of the DMCA. As J.V.L. admitted on a BBC news segment: ‘if Ubisoft decides to come after you because of copyright infringement then you’re in for a tough time’,” Ubisoft adds.

    The company says that the defendants’ actions have caused serious harm to its games and its online community, ruining the gaming experience for players and causing them to lose interest and stop playing R6S. On top, the company says it has spent “enormous sums of money” attempting to mitigate the cheat, including hiring people to police games for cheaters.

    Ubisoft says that by creating and distributing the cheat software, the defendants trafficked in circumvention devices that are solely designed to defeat technological measures put in place to control access to a copyrighted work.

    “As a result of the foregoing, Defendants are offering to the public, providing, importing, or otherwise trafficking in technology that violates 17 U.S.C. 1201(a)(2). Defendants’ acts constituting DMCA violations have been and continue to be performed without the permission, authorization, or consent of Ubisoft,” the complaint adds.

    In terms of damages under the DMCA, at the very least Ubisoft is demanding the profits generated by the defendants, which according to them could run to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    Alternatively, Ubisoft says it is entitled to maximum statutory damages of $25,000 for every breach of the DMCA, which run into their thousands. In any event, the company wants all of its legal fees and costs repaid.

    But the complaint doesn’t stop at claims under the DMCA. A second count claims ‘intentional interference with contractual relations’, with the defendants standing accused of encouraging and inducing their customers to breach their Terms of Use agreement with Ubisoft, which bans cheating. The company also claims unfair competition.

    “Defendants are guilty of oppression, fraud, or malice, and Ubisoft, in addition to its actual damages, by reason thereof, is entitled to recover exemplary and punitive damages against Defendants,” the company adds.

    Initially, however, Ubisoft wants the entire operation shut down and more.

    In addition to an injunction preventing the activities detailed in the complaint, Ubisoft wants the defendants to hand over everything that infringes their rights along with accounts that show all sales of cheat products and services in the United States. Ubisoft also wants to seize all domain names connected to the cheating business.

  15. #1035
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    Napster paved the way for our streaming-reliant music industry

    Daniel Ek, the co-founder and CEO of Spotify, has said that Spotify, launched in 2008, is a direct byproduct of his love for Napster, and his desire to create a similar experience for users.

    I, like many American 16-year-olds in the year 2000, had a torrid affair with Napster. I wasn’t particularly tech-savvy, but I quickly figured out the basics. First, I had to download the software to my family’s desktop. Then, I could tell Napster that I wanted to make a digital copy of a certain song. The free service would find another person’s computer that had that song, and my computer would begin downloading a copy. After the file finished downloading, I could listen on Winamp—the music software I used at the time—and the quality was generally quite good. (Its simplicity was part of the sell; other, similar software existed but felt more complicated.)

    My dad didn’t like my Napster habit. Understandably, he thought it was stealing. Most of those songs were not licensed for free distribution.

    I knew it was wrong, too. I wasn’t some anarchist, “screw capitalism!” kid, but I knew it was hurting bands I liked, some of them not yet rich.

    So my dad and I made a deal. If I downloaded three tracks off an album, I had to buy it. This way maybe Napster would actually make me spend more money on music. Napster gave me access to a larger number of albums I could sample, and if I really liked one, I would purchase the CD at the local Sam Goody music store, where I worked for a few months in high school.

    I didn’t really follow the rules. I remember buying a few albums based on our agreement, but I also cheated a lot (sorry Dad). It was too hard to deny myself the free music then, and it would probably be too much for me today.

    I was not alone in finding Napster’s music sharing irresistible. Starting around 2000, US music revenue fell off a cliff—from a peak of $21 billion in 1999 (in 2018 dollars) to about $7 billion in 2014, according to data from the Recording Industry Association of America. Few industries have ever experienced such disruption.

    Thanks in large part to Napster and its ilk, music had become a public good, and there was no putting the cat back in the bag. Although Napster would get shut down, Spotify and Apple Music did eventually capitalize on how technology changed music from a scarce resource, to one that we all expected to have for free. The repercussions for who could succeed in the music industry would be massive.

    Napster burned brightly and briefly. It was created in 1999 by the brothers Shawn and John Fanning, and founded as a business by Shawn and his friend Sean Parker, later the first president of Facebook. At the time, sharing MP3 files was challenging and the brothers thought they could make sharing a lot easier by giving people access to other users’ hard drives.

    The service only existed as a peer-to-peer file sharing service from June 1999 to July 2001, but it caught on like wildfire. The internet was far less commonly used in 2000, but at its zenith, Napster still had about 70 million users globally (by comparison, Spotify has about 220 million today, after 13 years in operation). Napster gave users access to more than 4 million songs; at some universities, traffic from Napster accounted for about half the total bandwidth. Downloaded files from Napster sometimes brought computer viruses with them, but many, like myself, were willing to take on the risk.

    Though a few artists, like Chuck D of the rap group Public Enemy, defended Napster for making music more accessible, most of the music industry hated it because its popularity meant they were losing money. The 20th century music industry was predicated on the idea of selling physical recordings of music—records, tapes, or CDs (live performances were a secondary source of income). At the time, CD album sales were at their absolute peak in the US, making up about $19 billion of the $21 billion in sales in 1999.

    Napster was a company with a popular software in search of a revenue model, one it would never get the chance to find.

    Napster was eventually shut down in 2001 due to lawsuit by the Recording Industry Association of America, the trade group for the US music industry. A US court found Napster was facilitating the illegal transfer of copyrighted music, and was told that unless it was able to stop that activity on its site, it would have to shutdown. Napster couldn’t comply. (After the shutdown, Napster’s brand and logo were acquired. They are now used by a small, but profitable, music streaming service owned by the media company RealNetworks, but the product is unrelated to the original Napster.)

    But peer-to-peer music sharing did not just disappear. Sites like Lime Wire and Kazaa continued in Napster’s footsteps, and then also eventually were shut down. The global music industry would fight the softwares through the 2000s.

    From the abyss, Spotify appeared. Daniel Ek, the co-founder and CEO of Spotify, has said that Spotify, launched in 2008, is a direct byproduct of his love for Napster, and his desire to create a similar experience for users.

    “It came back to me constantly that Napster was such an amazing consumer experience, and I wanted to see if it could be a viable business,” Ek told the New Yorker in 2014. He says he thought he could create a “better product than piracy” by making streaming so fast that you wouldn’t even notice the loading time. He would avoid the trap that Napster fell into by getting music labels to agree to have their songs on his platform. To fund operations and licensing costs, he would sell advertising between songs (subscriptions were not originally part of the model), making music “free” like on Napster, but his program would be even easier to use and less likely to give you a computer virus. He thought his company would help save a declining music industry, and help people “discover better music.”

    At least this is the story Ek tells. The authors of the 2019 book Spotify Teardown, an academic examination of rise of Spotify, say something very different happened. The book, written by a group of Swedish media studies professors, historians, and programmers, contends that Spotify was simply an opportunistic application of a technology that Ek developed, rather than effort to save the music industry.

    Ek, who had been the CEO of the piracy platform uTorrent, founded Spotify with his friend, another entrepreneur named Martin Lorentzon. Both—Ek at 23 and Lorentzon 37—were already millionaires from the sales of previous businesses. The name Spotify had no particular meaning, and was not associated with music. According to Spotify Teardown, the company developed a software for improved peer-to-peer network sharing, and the founders spoke of it as a general “media distribution platform.” The initial choice to focus on music, the founders said at the time, was because audio files are smaller than video files, not because of a dream of saving music.

    In 2007, when Spotify first publicly tested its software, it allowed users to stream songs downloaded from The Pirate Bay, a service for unlicensed downloads. By late 2008, Spotify would convince music labels in Sweden to license music to the site, and unlicensed music was removed. From there, Spotify would take off across Europe and then the world.

    Today, Spotify, Apple Music, and Pandora dominate the music streaming economy. These companies‘ products are similar to Napster in that users can access nearly any song they wish. But unlike Napster, customers of these services pay for them—either directly, via a subscription (most are about $10 per month in the US), or indirectly, by listening to advertisements between songs. Users also don’t actually have physical or digital copies of the music, so they could lose access to it at any moment if streaming services were shut down or if they lost access to internet.

    Though it may not have been Ek’s intention to “save” the music industry, his company might have done so by showing the viability of streaming. Because some of the revenue from streaming companies is sent on to labels, the music industry has finally started making money again. From a nadir of about $7 billion in revenue in 2014 (in 2018 dollars), US revenue rose to almost $10 billion in 2018. That is still less than half of the money the industry was making in 1999, but it’s progress nonetheless.

    Not everyone has gained equally from streaming, though. The way streaming sites pay musicians tends to favor pop artists. Artists are paid by the stream; so a seven-minute jazz song earns an artist the same payout as a three-minute pop song (the money is funneled through record labels to the artist). Another factor that hurts less popular artists is that streaming services use “pro-rata” payment systems—all of the money generated from advertisements and subscriptions is put into a big pot and split up by the share of streams each artist gets in total. Studies suggest this model of payment hurts jazz and classical musicians compared to a “user-centric” system in which the revenue from each user is split up and given just to the artists they listen to. Spotify negotiates this payment arrangement with the large record studios, the details of which are not public.

    Streaming seems like it is here to stay. Spotify and Apple Music are increasingly popular, and the music industry is not actively seeking a new method of selling music. Although the audio quality on Spotify isn’t as high as downloads or records, it is good enough to satisfy the average listener, and is likely to improve. Of course people also thought previous technologies, such as the CD, couldn’t be beat, and then something better came along. Perhaps advances in virtual and augmented reality, or 5G, will lead to ways of consuming music we can’t even imagine.

    But for now, we have streaming, and it is almost certainly better for most artists than the wild world of Napster. Napster taught music listeners that they deserve all the world’s music at their fingertips. Creating rules for a music industry in which that is true but also serves artists well is a nearly impossible task.

  16. #1036
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    More ‘Pirate’ CDNs Shut Down Following BREIN, MPA, ACE Legal Action

    BREIN, ACE and the MPA recently teamed up to take down Moonwalk, a Content Delivery Network reportedly supplying 80% of Russian 'pirate' streaming sites with movies and TV shows. According to fresh information obtained by TorrentFreak, the shutdown has now taken other CDNs out of the market.

    Last Friday, Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN teamed up with the Motion Picture Association (MPA) and Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment to take action against a massive supplier of pirate movies and TV shows.

    Moonwalk, as the Content Delivery Network was known, supplied an estimated 80% of known Russian streaming portals. These sites were able to embed a video player which presented not only movies and TV shows from Moonwalk, but advertising too. For this service, Moonwalk reportedly paid the sites $0.60 per 1000 views.

    After bailiffs acting on BREIN’s behalf served
    ex parte court orders on five Netherlands-based hosting providers, which required them to disconnect and preserve evidence on Moonwalk’s operations, the CDN shut down, stating it would “NEVER be up again“.

    This week TorrentFreak spoke with cybersecurity company
    Group-IB. The Singapore-based firm, which is a partner of both INTERPOL and Europol, had previously supplied us with information detailing the activities of Moonwalk. It has now provided an interesting update on the fallout from last week’s legal action.

    Group-IB says that at the time of its shutdown, Moonwalk was even bigger than the conservative figures published by BREIN last week suggest. While BREIN claimed more than 26,000 movies and 10,000 TV shows were stored, Group-IB says that 28,258 movies were being distributed alongside 14,549 TV shows at the time of the shutdown.

    However, it’s the knock-on effect and the state of the market after the takedown that raises the most interest.

    Group-IB informs us that another big “pirate-powered” CDN known as HDGO has also shut down following the action by BREIN and its partners. The cybersecurity firm believes that the closures are connected because HDGO used some of the same infrastructure as Moonwalk.

    “Compared with other CDNs HDGO provided new content faster and guaranteed a higher income for pirate websites’ owners,” says Dmitry Tyunkin, Deputy Director of Anti-Piracy and Brand Protection at Group-IB.

    A second “pirate-powered” CDN, known online as Kodik, has also shut down as a result of the Moonwalk action. Again, Kodik is believed to have used the same infrastructure as Moonwalk and HDGO, suggesting that the BREIN court orders may have had an even wider effect.

    “The Kodik CDN used some of Moonwalk’s servers, especially the ones where TV show content was stored. According to our estimates, Kodik could have lost 8,000 out of 17,000 TV shows. It’s known that there was a pirated content ‘exchange agreement’ between Moonwalk and Kodik,” Tyunkin adds.

    It’s estimated that Moonwalk’s CDN player could have been built-in into thousands of websites so the removal of the players could have an even more profound effect.

    “In the short-term perspective, the shutdown of Moonwalk, HDGO and Kodik could mean a big blow to online piracy in Russia and can potentially contain pirated video content distribution for some time.”

    But Moonwalk, HDGO, and Kodik weren’t the only players in the ‘pirate CDN’ market. Group-IB says that despite the magnitude of the recent efforts and initial fallout, in the long-term the “many competitors” of Moonwalk are likely to step in to facilitate supply.

    The company believes there are 10 “pirate-powered” CDNs still supplying the market, including major players HDVB, VideoCDN, and Collaps.

    “According to Group-IB’s data, 80% of pirated movies in Russia are now streamed, a figure that increases to 90% for TV shows,” the company says.

    “The majority of Russian online pirates use CDNs because they store hundreds of thousands of files containing films and TV series, and offer a technical service that allows to automatically place this content on pirate websites.

    “Some of these technical CDN providers also offer web modules that autofill sites with film posters and descriptions, and in some cases even supply unique reviews.”

    Finally, in terms of impact on the global market, Group-IB believes the shutdowns have the potential to affect between 5 and 10 percent of worldwide supply but cautions that this is “definitely a temporary change.”

  17. #1037
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    After bust of Share-Online: warez page capitulated

    With the operators draw also the consequences from the confiscation of the Filehosters Recently, it was announced in a new post that was dead. That's it. While the operators reveal no further information, many regular readers regret the outcome of this warez blog. Monthly, the page has generated around one million pageviews. also pulls the plug

    End of terrain at After gives the next warez page. The makers have not substantiated their decision. But the available releases were only uploaded to and RapidGator. After the end of the operators (mostly the operators = the uploaders) are losing a lot of revenue. RapidGator should have received far less than half of the payments. Share-Online was together with the most popular provider in the German-speaking area. The user Loadius has put the current situation in a discussion in the scene box very well on the point:

    As long as no new OCH provider appears on the market, which is profitable for the uploader, that will not work. There are enough alternatives. If you want, you could even just take Google Drive, MEGA or Dropbox. But if the uploader does not have it, maybe it will be reuploaded once and then the links are already dead.

    Now it's just a dark phase for OCH. Look at, how many links are still online. Except for recent uploads, which have recently been uploaded, you will find virtually nothing there. Except the uploader has taken free freemium services like Zippyshare or

    The GVU has achieved exactly what it wanted.

  18. #1038
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    Post Thanks / Like Bypasses Country Lock for German Downloaders

    The website forwards the traffic directly from the Sharehoster Zippyshare to the recipients. Thus one can bypass the blockade of all German Downloader existing since April also without VPN. Of course, the Spaniards and Britons can use this bypass to get to their desired files. enables what one of the popular freelance Zippyshare has denied for several months. Since mid-April this year, all downloaders with a German IP address are systematically locked out on ZippyShare. The Android site and other Webwarez portals have firmly built on this Sharehoster, but the management of ZippyShare wants the surfers from the UK, Spain and Germany no longer have. This is probably done to proactively protect against potential legal consequences. You can visit the main page of the filehoster in the normal way. If you click on a download link, you will only see the error message Error 403 Forbidden for several months without a VPN or Tor browser.

    How does the downloader work?

    Quite simply: Either the URL directly via copy & paste transfer, or after unsuccessful download attempt just with the URL for the Download enter, finished. Visitors will only see a single ad banner displayed there. Nobody gets bothered with pop-ups or links to any rip-off pages! Exactly so all sides should look in the gray area. And yet many portals of the Webwarez scene look exactly the other way around, because their makers want to squeeze the maximum out of their visitors.

    Anyway. In particular, the operators of internationally oriented Webwarez sites still often use ZippyShare as the storage location, although there are other freeheaters such as We wish all readers a lot of fun during the unrestricted transfer! Let's hope that the filehoster will not notice so fast, so as not to initiate countermeasures. But with a giant like ZippyShare, the few downloads should not stand out.

  19. #1039
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    Police Drop Criminal Investigation into Pirate Bay Co-Founder

    Nearly five years ago, Swedish police raided a datacenter which was believed to host The Pirate Bay. This marked the start of a new criminal investigation, where Pirate Bay co-founder Fredrik Neij was a prime suspect. Neij had always denied any recent involvement with the site and over the past several years the police apparently found no hard evidence to the contrary. As such, the investigation into his involvement has now been dropped.

    On December 9, 2014, The Pirate Bay went dark after Swedish police
    raided a nuclear-proof datacenter built into a mountain complex near Stockholm.

    The hosting facility reportedly offered services to The Pirate Bay, EZTV and several other torrent related sites, which were pulled offline as a result.

    The authorities later announced that 50 servers were seized during the raid. And not without success, it seemed. The raid resulted in the longest ever period of continuous downtime for The Pirate Bay, nearly two months.

    The raid also triggered a new criminal investigation into the notorious torrent site and its alleged operators. One person with alleged ties to TPBwas arrested, but the police eventually
    dropped this investigation, citing a lack of resources to properly investigate the matter.

    Meanwhile, Pirate Bay co-founder Fredrik Neij remained a suspect. He had officially cut his ties with the site years earlier, but apparently the authorities were not convinced.

    To some, the new investigation into the TPB co-founder came as a surprise, especially since Neij was in prison for his earlier Pirate Bay activities at the time of the raid. However, the enforcement authorities seemed determined and decided to dig in.

    Today, nearly five years have passed without any significant progress in the investigation. At least, none that the public is aware of. On the contrary, the entire case appears to have fallen apart.

    This week Fredrik Neij, aka TiAMO, informed TorrentFreak that the investigation into his involvement was dropped on October 18, 2019. The prosecutor and police informed Neij through his attorney, who forwarded the good news. After all these years, Neij is happy that he can finally put the issue to rest.

    “It took them long enough to realize that I’m not running The Pirate Bay anymore,” Neij tells us.

    Pirate Bay’s co-founder now hopes that he will be properly compensated for the seizure of his possessions, which resulted in no tangible claims.

    “Now that the investigation is closed, I’m looking forward to being compensated for them unnecessarily holding all my computer equipment for four years and ten months,” Neij adds.

    At this point, it is unclear if there are any remaining suspects in the 2014 raid investigation, or if the case is closed. We reached out to the police and the prosecutor’s office, but at the time of writing, we have yet to hear back.

    The information that has been made public thus far suggests that the 2014 raid has yielded no substantial results. For the TPB team, this might not come as a surprise, as someone connected to the site previously
    said that the police didn’t have much on them.

    According to the TPB team, only one of their servers was confiscated in 2014. That server was operated by the moderators and used as a communication channel for TPB matters. The team said the site was pulled offline as a precaution and took longer than expected to return as migrating to a new home proved to be a challenge.

    Regardless of the progress in the case, Fredrik Neij is no longer being investigated. He is still listed as the official registrant for the official domain, but that is obviously not enough to build a case.

  20. #1040
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    German Scenehoster Roundup

    The bust of the scene host is not without consequences. One of the remaining big players, RapidGator, has evidently moved to block larger amounts of uploaders from Germany. But the effects are felt by many providers. Not only at RapidVideo, where the CEO finally pulled the plug last night.

    Scene host in turmoil: RapidGator is increasingly blocking German uploaders

    It's good in the digital underground. In the German speaking forum, a user complains that ten out of 12 existing accounts have recently been blocked. He has uploaded just under seven TB to Warez for each individual account. From the support came per lock only the information: "Account is locked for copyright violation". You did not want to specify more specific reasons. But there were also many other uploaders on RapidGator, as he wrote. Apparently, the operators after the raid of before, to protect themselves against potential legal problems. At Wjunction, such locks were last discussed several years ago. But the uploaders come from all over the world, not especially from Germany. Nevertheless, RapidGator has always been considered a scene host.

    Go Unlimited down

    For more than six hours, Bullet Proof streaming provider Go Unlimited has been moving away from the window. But these are probably just technical problems. A connection with the bust in good old Germany is unlikely. Update: Go Unlimited is back online a few minutes ago. The break is still very unusual for this provider.

    Operator of Openload unreachable

    But the operator of the share and streaming host Openload was already no longer available before the Aachen bust, as we heard. Even his colleagues from the leading other scene hoppers, who were in regular contact with him, have not seen him online. At the moment we can not say more about the possible backgrounds.

    Is Verystream running normally again?

    Verystream is currently fixing a lot. The login was completely broken, but this works again. Also, according to several users at Wjunction after a delay, the funds were paid to the uploader. Nevertheless, some users still find the situation there a bit strange. You will see if everything has returned to normal soon. The operators obviously have their hands full, because currently several procedures are running against this huge streaming provider. As it currently stands for the sale of the shares, has not yet become known.

    At the wires are glowing

    Freehoster has lifted the block of German uploaders. Whether it stays that way, you have to wait. As Vlado tells us, there was or is going to be hell after the loss of As you can see, it works without a reward system, where the uploaders are paid only for the hottest shit. At, people are charging as a hobby and not for financial reasons. This should also have a positive effect on the legal situation of the operator, should it pop at this scene hoster once.

    RapidShare & Uploaded are waiting for final judgment

    RapidShare and Uploaded are still waiting for their verdict. Christian Schmid from RapidShare has not heard from the criminal court Zug (Switzerland) since September last year. We will report on it immediately, should something arise in this regard.

    If loses the highest marks in all contentious issues, it is likely that they will also pull the plugs. Then, at the latest, the uploaders will really run out of ideas for online storage locations.

    The market is on the move

    It is currently extremely moving, as you can see. And it is not unlikely that one or more new competitors will soon appear on the scene to fill the existing vacuum. There is a lot of money to be made, but the risk is far greater than it was five or ten years ago. If the operators then decide to live permanently in Germany, nobody can help them anymore. That at least one should learn from the Busts of Cyberbunker and Share Online that such stories are no longer allowed to control within Germany. As soon as the thing goes through the ceiling, you better go looking for the space quickly.

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