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    [h=2]Disney Deletes Print-on-Demand Sale Claiming Rights to Denmark’s The Little Mermaid S[/h]

    A woman who uploaded one of her own photographs to print-on-demand site RedBubble says she has been hit with a takedown notice by Disney. The photograph, which features the 107-year-old The Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen, apparently violates Disney's rights. According to a copy of the complaint, the statue depicts one of "Disney's Princesses".


    With the world in turmoil right now, today is not the ideal time for jokes, pranks, and frivolity usually associated with April 1. That being said, US-resident Dani Payson could be forgiven for thinking that someone was yanking her chain this morning.


    Payson (who uses the handle
    Andrea Marie
    on Twitter) operates a store on Australia-founded print-on-demand site RedBubble. She’s currently selling printed mugs, shower curtains and phone cases – plus t-shirts, of course. Visitors to her page today, however, will discover a notable omission – the removal of a photograph of the world-famous Copenhagen statue The Little Mermaid.


    According to Payson, she took the photograph herself with her own DSLR camera during a visit to Denmark and uploaded it to RedBubble so that people could have it printed to an item of their choice. Given the subject matter, the photograph is similar in many respects to thousands of others online, as this image of the listing shows.




    The problem for her is that the listing has now been deleted by RedBubble following a takedown request by a rightsholder.


    “We’re sorry, but we had to remove some of your artwork from the RedBubble marketplace because it may contain material that violates someone’s rights,” RedBubble told the entrepreneur. “We identified this material in your artwork based on guidance provided to us by the owner of those rights.”


    The owner of the rights in question was none other than Disney Enterprises, Inc. The basis for the movie giant’s claim is that Payson’s image depicts one of its “Disney Princesses”.


    “Because Disney likes to show how evil they can be they’re trying to remove my personal photos from the internet of this statue stating they own it,” Payson
    this morning.




    is laughable, of course. Not only is Payson the copyright holder of the image in question, but the subject matter is a statue that is 107-years-old, is not animated, and is not owned by Disney. Only adding to the ridiculous mix are several other awkward facts.


    The statue was unveiled in Copenhagen to celebrate the fairy tale ‘The Little Mermaid’ that was published in Denmark by Hans Christian Andersen on April 7, 1837 –
    almost 183 years ago. Disney’s ‘The Little Mermaid’ was released in 1989 and is actually based on the original story by the Danish author.


    It’s noteworthy that despite claiming the rights to an image that has nothing to do with them, Disney paid absolutely nothing to Hans Christian Andersen for his story because his book fell into the public domain long ago. The same is true for Disney’s ‘Frozen’, which is based on Anderson’s ‘Ice Queen’.


    These movies, based on someone else’s work, have together made hundreds of millions of dollars and will be vigorously protected, by Disney, for decades to come. This is the basis upon which Disney took down the RedBubble listing, which was probably actioned following a basic and bungled keyword search.


    April Fools…..


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    [h=2]ETTV Moves to New Domain Name After Operator Goes Missing[/h]

    TV-torrent distribution group ETTV switched to a new domain name a few days ago. While domain changes are not unusual, the background to this decision is quite worrisome. According to a top ETTV staffer, the site's main operator disappeared without a trace last December, which makes the site's future rather uncertain.


    Three years ago, the torrent community was hit hard when the popular torrent site ExtraTorrent suddenly
    shut its doors


    The site provided a safe harbor for millions of file-sharers and was also the birthing ground for several popular releasers and distribution groups. This includes ETTV, which is short for ExtraTorrent TV.


    With its home gone, ETTV decided to carry on independently by
    launching its own website
    . Over the past years, this has grown out to become a medium-sized torrent site with a dedicated and vetted group of regular uploaders.


    Although the site has operated as usual in recent months, behind the scenes staff faced a critical problem. The main ETTV operator who controlled the domains, servers, and ads, suddenly went missing.


    TorrentFreak spoke to ETTV administrator ‘sidekickbob’ who informed us that the operator last logged in December last year. Around the same time, he also sent out an email telling the staffer that he had experienced health issues.


    After almost four months had passed without an official word from the operator, ‘sidekickbob’ decided to step into action. The first step was to disable the ads since he had no control over them. Coincidence or not, two days later someone canceled the server.


    The admin doesn’t believe that ETTV’s operator did this. However, someone clearly was responding, as the server that hosted the torrents was also canceled. After paying the bills, Sidekickbob was able to get the site’s server back, but for the time being ETTV will use magnet links only.


    To guarantee that he retained full control, Sidekickbob then decided to switch to a new domain name, ETTVdl.com. While he has access to the registrar login of the other domains, as well as root access to the server, he wants to prevent a ‘third-party’ from taking over.


    “I redirected all traffic from ettv.to,” sidekickbob tells us, adding that the other domains are set to expire later this year.


    This domain change was also communicated in the forums, without any further background detail.




    Unless the original operator reappears, the ‘new’ admin will also reinstate some ads so he can pay the bills. However, sidekickbob has no intention of steering the ship any longer than needed. He is currently looking for a trusted person to take the lead, or else he will shut it down.


    “It’s all left to me, and if I don’t manage to ‘transfer’ it to somebody else I will eventually shut it down, most likely at the end of this year,” he says, adding that he doesn’t have enough time to manage the site himself.


    This means that ETTV’s future is highly uncertain. In any case, the new admin doesn’t simply plan to sell the site to the highest bidder. If a third-party takes over, it has to be someone with a good track record and some experience


    “Ultimately my intention is to sell it to somebody that wants to run the torrent site. Preferably somebody that has experience in running a medium traffic torrent site. I’m not going to give it to some random kids,” sidekickbob concludes.


    Shutting down ETTV will certainly have an impact. While the site is not crucial, the
    ETTV and ETHD bots
    supply torrents to a wide variety of even more popular torrent sites. If these go down as well, it will surely be noticed.


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    [h=2]Kendall Jenner Posts Video of Herself on Instagram, Gets Sued For Copyright Theft[/h]

    Model Kendall Jenner generates considerable sums from her Instagram account but according to a lawsuit filed in California, not all of that is raised legally. The complaint states that Jenner obtained a video of herself taken by a third-party and posted it on Instagram, in breach of copyright law. After gaining almost 23 million views, the owner now wants up to $150,000 in damages.


    A paper
    published back in 2007 pondered the possibility that on any given day, regular people may commit dozens of copyright infringements, without really knowing it.


    While all pitfalls are difficult to predict, the public is much better informed 13 years on and tech-savvy individuals are now more likely to spot potential pitfalls, especially when they carry out more obvious acts such as uploading copyrighted content to social media.


    But despite the millions of
    takedown notices
    every year
    thousands of lawsuits
    , even those with massive legal teams and vast resources can make costly errors. Case in point – Kendall Jenner, her Instagram account, and a video for which the model allegedly doesn’t own the copyrights.


    Titled ‘bye nyc’ and posted to Instagram on September 13, 2019, it
    features Jenner
    leaving a building and being greeted by the usual crowd of photographers aiming to get a shot of the superstar model. It lasts just a few seconds but was nevertheless gobbled up by Jenner’s army of fans who, to date, have viewed the clip almost 22.8 million times.




    While many of these kinds of clips attract no negative attention from the people who took them, that isn’t the case here. A lawsuit filed Tuesday in a California district court has New York resident Angela Ma suing Jenner (and her company Kendall Jenner, Inc.) for blatant copyright infringement.


    “This is an action for copyright infringement under Section 501 of the Copyright Act,” the complaint reads.


    “This action arises out of Defendants’ unauthorized publication and public display of a copyrighted video (the ‘Video’) of defendant Kendall Jenner. The Video and the copyright in the Video are owned and registered by Plaintiff.”


    Ma says she has registered the video with the Copyright Office (Reg. # PA 2-211-871) which is important as without an application she wouldn’t be able to sue. But sue she is.


    Claiming that the video was viewed “over 13 million times” (a figure that is soon set to double), Ma says that the clip wasn’t licensed to anyone for any use and therefore Jenner did not have permission to post the video on Instagram.


    “Defendants infringed Plaintiff’s copyright in the Video by reproducing and publicly displaying the Video on the Website. Defendants were not, and have never been, licensed or otherwise authorized to reproduce, publicly display, distribute and/or use the Video,” the complaint notes.


    “The acts of Defendants complained of herein constitute infringement of Plaintiff’s copyright and exclusive rights under copyright in violation of Sections 106 and 501 of the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. §§ 106 and 501.”


    The lawsuit says that Jenner’s infringement wasn’t accidental. On the contrary, it was “willful, intentional, and purposeful” and in disregard of Ma’s rights as the copyright holder. As a result, Jenner must now compensate for the damage caused in one of two ways.


    On the one hand, Jenner could pay damages and hand over all the income generated by the infringement. In that case, Ma wants Jenner to “account for all profits, income, receipts” so that can be entered into the calculation.


    On the other, Ma states that she is entitled to statutory damages of up to $150,000 for the “willful” nature of the infringement. In any event, the New York resident also wants to be compensated for attorneys’ fees and full costs.


    In addition, Ma’s attorneys want the court to order Jenner to remove the video from Instagram. Why that wasn’t actioned earlier directly with the social media company isn’t detailed.


    Angela Ma is demanding a trial by jury but it seems unlikely that the case will progress that far. Like many such actions, it will probably disappear into the ether following a private settlement.



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    [h=2]qBittorrent v4.2.3 has been released[/h]

    qBittorrent v4.2.3 was released.

    It contains various fixes from v4.2.2 regarding scaling on HiDPI monitors, some VPN issues and UNC path handling. Torrents with broken UNC paths will be fixed when you run this release.

    On Windows, Qt 5.13.2 is used because of a regression regarding VPNs that affects RSS and Search functionality. Due to this, the scaling behavior on HiDPI monitors will be the same as in v4.2.1 too.

    ATTENTION WINDOWS USERS: There's a "qBittorrent" app on the Windows Store which costs money. It isn't an official release nor it is coming from us. The person publicizing it doesn't have permission to use the qBittorrent name/logo.

    v4.2.3 changelog:


    • FEATURE: Add logging for SOCKS5 proxy errors (Chocobo1)

    • FEATURE: Add UPnP lease duration advanced option (NotTsunami)

    • BUGFIX: Allow to translate error messages (Chocobo1)

    • BUGFIX: Don't round scaling factor (Nick Korotysh)

    • BUGFIX: Save log file in UTF-8 encoding (Chocobo1)

    • BUGFIX: Avoid log file excessive flushing (Chocobo1)

    • BUGFIX: Fix regression when fastresume contains network path (Tester798)

    • BUGFIX: Fix broken UNC paths in fastresumes on Windows (sledgehammer999)

    • BUGFIX: Prevent multiple instances for the same app config (glassez)

    • BUGFIX: Fix unexpected torrent resume after app restart with libtorrent 1.1.x (glassez)

    • WEBUI: Add alt and title tags for WebUI footer (LameLemon)

    • WINDOWS: Installer: Update Finnish translation (Roope Jukkara)

    • WINDOWS: Installer: Update Japanese translation (maboroshin)

    • WINDOWS: Installer: Update Turkish translation (Burak Yavuz)

    • WINDOWS: Installer: Update Russian translation (Andrei Stepanov)


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    [h=2]‘YouTube is Not Required to Share Email and IP-Addresses of Movie Pirates’[/h]

    YouTube is not required to hand over the email and IP-addresses of pirating users, Advocate General Saugmandsgaard Øe advised in an opinion to the EU Court of Justice. The opinion concludes that EU law doesn't require providers to hand over more than the infringers' names and postal addresses. The final ruling, which has yet to be issued, will likely set a crucial precedent for similar cases.


    YouTube’s users upload millions of hours of videos every month. As with any user-generated content site, this also includes copyright-infringing content.


    This abuse is a thorn in the side of some copyright holders. Although they can send takedown requests to remove pirated content, some companies want to go after the infringers.


    This is what happened in Germany, where the local company “Constantin Film” went after three YouTube users. These account holders had uploaded copies of the movies “Scary Movie 5” or “Parker” without permission, which were then viewed thousands of times.


    The movie company demanded that Google and YouTube should share the email addresses, IP-addresses, and phone numbers that were tied to these accounts and took the matter to a local court.


    Initially, this request was turned down by the Frankfurt District Court, but the Higher Regional Court later ruled that YouTube should hand over the associated email addresses, but not the IP-addresses and phone numbers.


    Neither party was happy with this outcome and the case was sent to Germany’s Federal Court of Justice for another ruling. Before making a final judgment, the German court sent some questions to the EU Court of Justice, asking for input on how to interpret EU law in this matter.


    While both German and EU legislation grant copyright holders the right to know who the copyright infringer is, it’s not clear what information should be handed over. Article 8 of the EU Copyright Directive from 2004 doesn’t go any further than mentioning “names and addresses” without any further specification.


    To clarify the position, Germany’s Federal Court asked whether the law should be interpreted in a way that also covers email addresses, phone numbers, and IP-addresses. In
    an advisory opinion
    released by EU Advocate General Henrik Saugmandsgaard Øe, this should not be the case.


    The Advocate General believes that the ‘names’ and ‘addresses’ mentioned in Article 8 should be interpreted literally. In other words, it refers to the usual meaning in
    everyday language, which doesn’t cover email addresses, IP-addresses, and certainly not phone numbers.


    “There is little doubt that, in everyday language, the concept of a person’s ‘address’, about which the referring court asks in particular, covers only the postal address, as YouTube and Google have rightly submitted,” Saugmandsgaard Øe writes.


    The Advocate General understands that Constantin Film would like this language to be updated, so it also includes digital addresses, but he adds that this is something that lawmakers must address, not the court.


    “Article 8(2) […] must be interpreted as meaning that the concept of ‘names and addresses’ set out in that provision does not cover, in respect of a user who has uploaded files which infringe intellectual property rights, the email address, the telephone number, the IP address used to upload those files or the IP address used when the user’s account was last accessed.


    “Accordingly, the Member States are not obliged, under that provision, to provide for the possibility, for the competent judicial authorities, to order that that information be provided in the context of proceedings concerning an infringement of an intellectual property right.”


    This means that, based on this opinion, Germany’s Federal court can order YouTube and Google to hand over the names and postal addresses of the uploaders, but not the emails, IP-addresses, and phone numbers.


    The Advocate General’s advice is not binding. However, in most cases the recommendations are followed by the EU Court of Justice, which will likely issue its final verdict later this year.



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    [h=2]Bulgaria Plans to Take Down Top Torrent Sites, with U.S. Assistance[/h]

    The Bulgarian Government is actively trying to take down several top torrent sites. The country's Combat Organized Crime Unit are working together with U.S. authorities to shut down servers and seize domain names. Popular local trackers Zamunda.net and ArenaBG are mentioned as prime targets, but RarBG.to and Zelka.org are listed as well.


    Last year, Bulgarian authorities carried out several sting operations to
    take down
    key players in the IPTV piracy ecosystem. It also provided key assistance in the police action against
    Xtream Codes


    The country’s increased efforts to protect copyright holders haven’t gone unnoticed in the United States. The U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) previously removed Bulgaria from their ‘Special 301 Watch List’ and the country hopes to keep it that way.


    This week, TorrentFreak obtained a transcript from the most recent hearing on the 2020 Special 301 review. The Government of Bulgaria also sent a representative to the meeting, Ivo Konstantinov, who informed the USTR about the country’s continued progress.


    In addition to mentioning IPTV sting operations and legislative developments, Konstantinov stressed that more work has to be done. Specifically, Bulgaria is working on shutting down several major torrent sites with help from U.S. law enforcement.


    “Most important of all, the elephant in our room are two of the largest torrent tracking servers that are operating in our country, whose servers are outside of the country,” Bulgaria’s representative said.


    “[O]ur National Police and Combat Organized Crime Unit is preparing requests for legal assistance from the U.S. side to deface them and take them down from their host services, which are here in the United States.”


    Konstantinov informed the USTR that “this is coming.” No concrete dates were given but the authorities are also working on indictments, which suggests that criminal prosecutions may follow as well.


    During the hearing, no websites were mentioned. However, we managed to track down several USTR filings from earlier this year which identify the two trackers as Zamunda.net and ArenaBG. Both sites are among the top 25 most-visited websites in Bulgaria.


    In one document the Bulgarian Government states that it intends to “terminate the activities of the Zamunda and Arena.bg torrent trackers,” adding that “5 pre-trial proceedings were opened” for “intellectual property and tax crimes.”


    Bulgaria states that U.S. assistance is required as the sites in question use American services. This includes their domain names. Zamunda currently has a .net domain and ArenaBG operates from a .com domain, for example. Both are maintained by Verisign, which is based in the US.


    The domains can also be targeted by going to ICANN, which oversees the entire domain name ecosystem. This route is also covered, as the Bulgarian Prosecutor’s Office and the Organized Crime Unit will request ICANN to withdraw the associated domain names.


    Yet more pieces of the puzzle fell into place when we stumbled upon another document the Bulgarian Government sent to the USTR. This shows that the U.S. Department of Justice is already actively involved and that more sites are being targeted.


    The document references a business trip Bulgarian representatives made to the US last October. These officials met with US law enforcement and businesses, discussing potential anti-piracy actions.


    These actions include domain seizures relating to four websites. The aforementioned Zamunda.net and ArenaBG.com, but also Zelka.org and RarBG.to. The latter is a major target, as it’s one of the
    most-used torrent sites


    During the trip, Matthew Lamberti from the US Department of Justice agreed to help, under the mutual legal assistance treaty, to seize the associated domain names.


    “During the meeting with Mat Lamberti an agreement was reached that an MLAT will be sent by our country, regarding initiated pre-trials concerning four torrent trackers – with the aim of seizing domains, registered in the USA,” the document reads.


    If all goes well, Bulgaria will also enlist assistance from other countries to seize any other associated domain names, including mirrors.


    “If the planned procedure is successful and the domains are seized, our country intends to send the MPP to the other countries where the mirror domains of the above are registered.”


    Bulgaria also mentioned that Cloudflare, a US-based company, is used by most of the top torrent sites in the world. The sites use the CDN provider to “conceal the actual location” of these “criminalized Internet resources.”


    During the USTR meeting in Washington, Konstantinov mentioned that Cloudflare is cooperative as it helps to identify the sites’ true hosting locations. It’s now up to Bulgaria and the US to get the paperwork sorted, so domain names and possibly servers can be seized and shut down, he added.


    The documents are remarkable, as they lay out in detail how Bulgaria and the US are working together to try and take down several top torrent sites. All the quotes and references, while not easy to find, have been made public by the USTR itself.


    In some instances, the paperwork refers to ‘Arena.bg’ and ‘Rar.bg’ instead of ArenaBG.com and RarBG.to. While that’s confusing, the latter two are the largest sites by far and likely the main targets.


    Finally, it’s interesting to note that, in this case, Bulgaria needs assistance from the US to shut target popular pirate sites. Especially, when taking into account that the US frequently points to lacking enforcement actions in other countries.


    All in all, we can say that the documents clearly lay out the playbook to target the four torrent sites, but thus far, all targets are still operating as usual.




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    [h=2]RIAA Declares “Victory” in Megaupload Case Despite Not Having a Trial[/h]

    Chairman and CEO Mitch Glazier has been oulining some of the RIAA's successes since he joined the industry group. Interestingly, he went straight to the Kim Dotcom and Megaupload case, which he described as a "huge significant victory". While the case hasn't yet gone to trial, its destruction more than eight years ago may be a good enough result for the RIAA.


    Mention the word ‘Limewire’ to today’s file-sharers, downloaders, or streamers, and you’ll probably get a vacant stare in response. After being handed a
    massive defeat
    at the hands of the RIAA in 2010, it’s now viewed as old technology, a redundant cassette tape in a brand new hi-tech world.


    But if a decade seems like a long time for a technology like Limewire, spare a thought for Megaupload. In a few months’ time, the shutdown of the site at the hands of US and New Zealand authorities (assisted by the MPAA and RIAA, of course) will be less than a year away from its own tenth anniversary.


    Only a gambling man would dare to predict when or even if the multiple cases against Dotcom will ever be concluded but for chairman and RIAA CEO Mitch Glazier, none of that seems to be as crucial as it once was.


    In an interview just published by
    Rolling Stone
    , Glazier recalls his time at the RIAA, covering a wide range of topics affecting the industry. In respect of copyright and piracy issues, he effectively declares victory over the German-born entrepreneur.


    “We have had some huge significant victories along the way,” he told Rolling Stone.


    “Going to the Supreme Court to show that music is protected online; winning that case against Kim Dotcom and the cyberlocker world to deter future Kim Dotcoms from doing the same thing.”


    The statement is interesting on a number of fronts. Firstly, it’s important to note that Kim Dotcom has yet to set foot in a US court to face not only a criminal action by the US Government but also civil suits filed by Hollywood and the music industry, headed by the RIAA.


    That, of course, is entirely down to the Megaupload founder. He’s been fighting tooth and nail to avoid extradition to the United States and with decades in prison on the table, who wouldn’t?


    Nevertheless, a court-stamped victory in any of these procedures remains on the distant horizon. As reported last week, the cases filed by the RIAA and MPAA have been on hold for years and have just been delayed for another six months.


    So, from a technical perspective at least, the RIAA hasn’t had the pleasure of “winning the case against Kim Dotcom”. However, not all victories are achieved in court. In fact, ‘gone to trial and received a verdict’ affects a tiny minority.


    If the aim of the action was to destroy Megaupload, that has been achieved in no uncertain terms. Within minutes of the launch of the operation, the file-hosting site was brought to its knees and, shortly after, there was little left but a
    mountain of servers gathering dust
    . This, of course, could be the significant victory Glazier was talking about.


    And there are other matters too. The deterrent effect of the Megaupload raid was considerable and in the wake of its demise, other large file-sharing sites closed down. No one really knows how many other developers changed course as a result but it wouldn’t be a surprise if ‘many’ was the answer.


    Nevertheless, just a year later Dotcom launched Mega, a massive file-sharing site that is still going strong today, albeit not under his control. Given the way Mega operates, it’s unlikely it could ever be tackled in the same way as Megaupload was. In many respects, its formation was guided by the case against Megaupload, which effectively handed the platform a guidebook on how not to fall foul of the law.


    As the years have ticked by since the destruction of Megaupload, the acquisition of free music hasn’t sat still. In common with many types of piracy, it continues today and presents new challenges for those seeking to mitigate its effects. While file-hosting services still provide a threat, it’s more likely these days for the RIAA to be tackling sites that help users to obtain content for free from legitimate sources like YouTube.


    “Now in the stream-ripping world, we are trying to figure out from an anti-circumvention point of view how to stop somebody hacking into YouTube’s system,” Glazier explains.


    This is a clear reference to so-called YouTube-ripping sites, that allow music fans to download rather than stream content. The RIAA is in a battle with these platforms using a mix of
    direct legal action
    and the sending of large volumes of DMCA anti-circumvention notices. The latter might be proving an
    irritant to ripping platforms
    but they are not being put out of business.


    Interestingly, Glazier hints that the anti-circumvention notice approach, which results in URLs of stream-ripping sites being permanently delisted from Google, may have in part been prompted by issues with the RIAA’s distribution platforms, the largest of which is YouTube.


    “[T]he resources required to stop [stream-ripping] create tension between us and our licensing partners, so we have to see if we can address the issue through search or some other means. The brainstorm has been ever-changing,” he reveals.


    But while there are always new challenges, some things never change. Pre-release leaks are a major source of distress to the record labels and Glazier says that these “emergencies” always keep him on his toes.


    “If an artist has an album coming out and it goes up on a site before that, our job is to work with the other groups around the world — 24/7, 365 days a year — to get that down so the artist can receive the benefit of the release of their product,” he says.


    Leaks apparently appear in Glazier’s email marked with a “little red flag” alongside what appears to be an action plan. Given the global reach of the labels, mitigation may start off in one time zone and then shift to another, to ensure that anti-piracy personnel are on the case around the clock. And that helps to blur the lines between Glazier’s working and social life too.


    “[E]very 20 minutes there will be another ping from the label: ‘Is it down yet? Is it down yet? Is it down yet?’ Because the artist is saying to the label: ‘Is it down yet? Is it down yet? Is it down yet?’,” he explains.


    “It’s always emergencies at the weekend. It’s just Murphy’s Law.”


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    [h=2]Russia Pirate Sites Dump 1XBET in Favor of Identical Yet Legal 1XStavka[/h]

    A study published in 2019 revealed that controversial gambling company 1XBET, known for placing adverts on pirate sites, had become the third most active online advertiser in Russia. Now, however, 1XBET has dropped to a lowly 20th position, but with a twist. Jumping straight into sixth place just behind Google and Danone is 1XStavka, a legal gambling site that's identical to 1XBET.


    Since 2018, pirates around the world have become familiarized with the term ‘1XBET’.


    Included in the titles of thousands of pirate video filenames and advertised on dozens of pirate sites, the Russia-based gambling company has been controversial, if nothing else.


    In a
    published last year by research company Mediascope, the scale of 1XBET’s advertising budget became even more apparent. While Google and PepsiCo took first and second places in a study charting online advertising spend in Russia, 1XBET came in third, ahead of food giant Danone and even Universal Pictures.


    Mediascope has just published the results of its latest research which reveals yet another interesting development. 1XBET is no longer one of the most prolific online advertisers, far from it in fact. With PepsiCo taking the top sport, gambling platform 1XBET, which is illegal in Russia, has plummeted to 20th place.



    Mediascope data (credit: RBC)


    Obtained by
    , the study reveals that despite not holding licenses with Russia’s Federal Tax Service, 1XBET sharply increased its advertising activity in early 2019. However, as the year progressed, the platform took its foot off the gas, dropping out of the top 10 and putting it at imminent risk of disappearing from the top 20.


    While this development in isolation might have been welcomed by anti-piracy groups, there is a twist to the story. Leaping into the top six online advertisers in Russia is 1XStavka, a platform that is not only legal (it has licenses from the Tax Service) but is visually identical to 1XBET.


    Only adding to the problem is that 1XStavka is now advertising on pirate sites and according to Alexei Byrdin of anti-piracy group Internet Video Association, that’s proving more profitable for them. It’s also making enforcement more difficult.


    Byrdin told RBC that dealing with 1XStavka is a safer option than dealing with 1XBET because the latter is effectively banned in Russia. When a gambling platform is unlicensed, the Tax Service and telecoms watchdog Roscomnadzor can quickly restrict access – not only to the service itself but also locations where it’s advertised.


    This means after filling out a simple form, the Internet Video Association (IVA) can get sites blocked easily, something they did to tackle 1XBET and its ads during the course of 2019. Since 1XStavka is licensed, however, the process becomes more difficult, even though by advertising on pirate content the company is still be breaking the law.


    This leaves only the standard mechanism to have pirate sites blocked, i.e through legal action in the Moscow City Court or via the search engine
    deindexing measures
    available as part of the active anti-piracy memorandum, options currently pursued by IVA.


    Finally, the report also notes a massive decrease in advertising by another known sponsor of piracy,
    Azino 777
    . In 2018, the gambling site was the top online advertiser in the region but this time around only managed 24th place.


    As a result, Mediascope’s latest report concludes that despite 1XStravka’s links to ads on pirate sites, the top 10 online advertisers are all currently legal.


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    [h=2]Accused Pirate Walks Free After Bank Statements Show he Was Not at Home[/h]

    The Copenhagen City Court has dismissed a copyright infringement claim against a man who stood accused of movie piracy. Proving one's innocence can be tricky in file-sharing lawsuits. In this case, however, bank records were particularly helpful as these revealed that the man wasn't anywhere near his home at the time of the offense.


    In recent years, millions of file-sharers all over the world have been pressed to pay hefty settlement fees, or face their day in court.


    The process was pioneered in Germany where it turned into an industry in itself, and copyright holders later went after alleged pirates in the US, Canada, the UK, Sweden and elsewhere.


    These so-called “copyright trolls” are also active in Denmark. While some ISPs have protested what they describe as ‘
    ‘ practices, well over 150,000 Internet subscribers are believed to have been targeted. A massive number, for a population of fewer than six million people.


    While a large percentage of the targeted users choose to settle, some cases are litigated. In court, the judgments can vary quite a bit. When defendants have a secured Wifi network they can be held liable, but the Copenhagen City Court recently dismissed all claims against an accused pirate, despite having a secure WiFi connection.


    The man, who was a student living in Odense at the time of the offense, was sued by a movie company. The name of the company is redacted in court records but the defendant stood accused of sharing a pirated film from his IP-address during the summer of 2015.


    More than two years later, the movie company sent the suspected pirate a letter requesting a settlement. However, the man denied the allegations, after which the matter made its way to court.


    Since the evidence showed that the pirated movie was indeed linked to the defendant’s IP-address on a properly secured network, the movie company thought it had a strong case. However, the defendant continued to deny the allegations and presented some strong counter-evidence in return.


    Although his memory of that day, years ago, wasn’t crystal clear, bank records showed that the man used his payment card at 7:59 PM, roughly 160 kilometers from his home, while the download was logged at 6:39 PM.


    Based on the evidence, as well as the defendant’s testimony that he took his computer with him, the Copenhagen City Court agreed that he was probably not at home when the offense was logged. Although it’s not indisputable, the court found it unlikely that the man shared the movie himself.


    “The court finds that the defendant [through the bank records] and his explanation that he had his computer with him, has shown concrete circumstances that with great certainty exclude the possibility that he himself was present at the address, or via his computer, picked up the movie at the address while he was not at home.


    “The defendant hereby disproves the presumption that he himself shared or downloaded the movie at the time, which is why the case is dismissed,” the Copenhagen City Court adds.


    The ruling will add to the growing list of jurisprudence in the piracy realm. As mentioned
    by Lexology
    , several file-sharing cases in Denmark are currently on hold, pending judgments from the Eastern High Court, which is likely to further clarify when account holders can be held liable.


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    [h=2]‘Pirate’ Porn Sites Under Pressure as MG Premium Tightens the Screw[/h]

    In a wave of new DMCA subpoena applications, MG Premium is hoping to discover the identities of individuals said to be responsible for pirate uploads on tube sites. However, given the way that the subpoena applications are worded, it seems likely that with assistance of Cloudflare, the adult giant is trying to unmask the operators of the sites themselves.


    MG Premium, the adult entertainment giant behind brands including Reality Kings, Brazzers, MOFOS, Babes.com, and Twistys, appears to be increasing the pressure on sites that allegedly distribute its content without permission.


    As previously reported, one of those targets is the massive adult tube site YesPornPlease. This February, MG Premium filed a
    full-blown lawsuit
    against the site in a Washington court, potentially worth hundreds of millions of dollars. However, the action began months earlier with a DMCA subpoena
    directed at Cloudflare


    Through processes like this, MG Premium hopes to obtain crucial identifying information about site operators and/or uploaders. At US courts this week, MG Premium made several similar requests targeting additional adult domains, all of which use the services of Cloudflare.


    The first pair of subpoenas, filed at a Washington district court, target YesPornPlease.biz and YesPornPlease.best. Whether these are directly connected to MG’s earlier target isn’t made clear in the applications but the nature of the action is obvious.


    “MG is the owner of numerous copyrighted audiovisual works. In the course of protecting its works, MG has determined that infringing copies of these works, posted at the direction of individual users and without authorization from MG, appear on Cloudflare, Inc.’s website ‘yespornplease.biz’,” one of the applications reads.


    MG notes that it has been sending DMCA infringement notices to Cloudflare but it is now applying for a DMCA subpoena to obtain the identity of the individuals “who are posting the infringing content.” A closer examination of the wording in the subpoena shows that this can easily extend to the site’s operators too.


    “For the period January 1, 2016 through the present, produce all documents and account records that identify the person(s) or entities that caused the infringement of the material described in the attached Exhibit B DMCA notifications to the DMCA Agent for Cloudflare, Inc., and/or who unlawfully uploaded MG Premium Ltd’s copyrighted works at the URLs listed in the notifications, including but not limited to identification by names, email addresses, IP addresses, user history, posting history, physical addresses, telephone numbers, and any other identifying information,” the request reads.


    An almost identical application seeks the same information relating to alleged infringers at YesPornPlease.best, a domain that appears to have been put into use around October last year.


    A third application, which in most key respects is a copy of the others, targets PornDish.com. At the time of writing and according to SimilarWeb stats, this ‘tube’ site receives just under three million visits per month. Right on its front page it states that visitors can “Watch full premium Sis Loves Me, Brazzers, RealityKings, Teamskeet, Naughty America 2020 HD videos online for free!”, which is probably why MG Premium is interested in the site.


    Yet another subpoena application, again filed at a Washington district court, demands the same information relating to watchxxxfree.org. According to traffic statistics, the site didn’t get any significant traction until December 2019 but steep gains since then now mean it’s pulling in around 1.4 million visits per month. This domain triggered malware warnings several times (apparently due to different threats) during our investigation so we backed away carefully.


    XTapes.to, another MG Premium target, was also the subject of a cookie-cutter DMCA subpoena this week. With around 3.8 million visits in February, it’s bigger than the also-targeted XMoviesForYou.video but, unlike the latter, didn’t cause MalwareBytes to light up in panic.


    Finally, MG Premium also fired off a subpoena application listing a domain called ‘PornForDays.net’ as infringing its rights. Sadly, this had us running round in circles because there is no site of that name and the domain is yet to be registered.


    After closely examining additional paperwork, however, it became clear that this was in fact an error by MG Premium’s law firm. The correct domain should have been listed as the 2.9 million visits per month tube site Porn4Days.net, which also triggered malware warnings during our checks.


    Where these cases will go from here remains to be seen but if MG Premium’s action against YesPornPlease is any indicator, more lawsuits could appear on the horizon.



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    [h=2]Movie & TV Giants Sue ‘Pirate’ Nitro IPTV For ‘Massive’ Copyright Infringement[/h]

    A coalition of entertainment companies headed up by Universal, Paramount, Columbia, Disney and Amazon have filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against 'pirate' IPTV service Nitro TV. Alleging 'brazen' and 'massive' breaches of their rights, the companies are demanding millions in damages and a broad injunction.


    Web-based streaming, torrent, and direct download sites have been targeted by the entertainment industries for years but the rise of subscription-based IPTV services is now considered a major threat to business.


    These services, available for a relatively small monthly outlay, can (reliability permitting) not only replace licensed TV packages but also video-on-demand services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. Considering the broad range of content on offer, they also compete with physical blu-ray sales and even titles still in their theatrical windows.


    Perhaps one of the best-known IPTV brands in this space is Nitro TV / Nitro IPTV but whether that will remain the case in the weeks and months to come remains to be seen. Late Friday a coalition of entertainment industry companies filed a lawsuit against Alejandro Galindo, the supposed operator of Nitro TV, plus an additional 20 ‘Doe’ defendants.


    Filed in a California district court by companies owned by Columbia, Amazon, Disney, Paramount, Warner, and Universal, the lawsuit alleges that Nitro TV offers subscription packages consisting of thousands of “live and title-curated television channels” available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, throughout the United States and abroad.


    “The channels available on Nitro TV include many of the world’s most popular television programs and motion pictures such as The Office, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Toy Story 3, Star Trek Beyond, Homecoming and Joker, including works whose copyrights Plaintiffs own or exclusively control,” the complaint reads.


    “Plaintiffs and/or their affiliates have invested and continue to invest substantial resources and effort each year to develop, produce, distribute, and publicly perform their Copyrighted Works through legitimate market channels that in aggregate create a content ecosystem that is safe and reliable for consumers.


    “Defendants’ unlawful conduct in operating Nitro TV directly and willfully subverts that ecosystem through pursuit of illicit profits from massive and blatant infringement of Plaintiffs’ Copyrighted Works,” it continues.


    Noting that the service can be accessed via the web, mobile devices, and smart TVs, the lawsuit continues with an overview of the Nitro TV business model.


    At least in part, marketing is carried out via a Facebook group, with defendant Alejandro Galindo the alleged administrator. This group is described as a platform to promote Nitro TV subscriptions, with Galindo accused of using it to induce, encourage and facilitate infringement. It also doubles as a way to expand the number of individuals re-selling Nitro TV packages to end-users.


    “Among other things..[.]..Defendants used this Facebook group platform to inform subscribers of Nitro TV’s new channels and program offerings, to provide subscribers with updates about the Nitro TV Platforms, and to invite subscribers to post on the Nitro TV Facebook Group page the TV shows they wanted added to Nitro TV,” the companies add.


    According to the complaint, the website TekkHosting.com is the “primary interface” through which users can obtain Nitro logins, which are acquired in one of two ways – either via a direct purchase or from a Nitro TV reseller. These resellers, which are essentially middle-men, buy ‘credits’ from Nitro which are then converted into end-user accounts, “typically” sold for $20 per month for two devices.


    “One of Defendants’ resellers recently boasted about the success of his resell efforts: ‘Over 45,000 customers activated in the last 12 months.’ That is just one Nitro TV reseller. There are scores of them,” the complaint notes.


    Once signed up, these customers are able to access an expansive service offering thousands of channels and video-on-demand libraries via convenient interfaces.


    “The live television channel offerings are streamed contemporaneously with the original source of the telecast. In other words, the television program airing on a television channel (e.g., FX, the Disney Channel, Paramount Network) through an authorized source (e.g., a cable operator, satellite TV provider) is available on the Nitro TV Platforms at the same time. Many of these television channels include the Copyrighted Works.”
    (sample below)




    While “thousands” of live channels being made available without the appropriate licensing is clearly contentious, at this stage this aspect doesn’t appear central to the complaint. Instead, it focuses on Nitro’s VOD services and so-called ’24/7′ channels.


    Nitro subscribers have the ability to select a ‘catch up’ feature through which they are able to watch shows that aired during the previous two days, on Disney Channel or Paramount Network, for example. This type of VOD service, the lawsuit claims, is “only possible by copying the programming.”


    24/7 channels are offered by many IPTV services and usually consist of episodes of a single show or even a single movie played on a continuous loop. By way of example, the lawsuit highlights Peaky Blinders and Friends fin the TV category and Spider-Man and Captain America in the movie section.


    Given the reach and scale of the Nitro service, the movie and TV companies believe that it not only undermines their business models but also those of their partners. These include legitimate online services that pay for licenses to show content that Nitro is obtaining for free.


    “This unfair competition undermines the legitimate market for content streamed over the Internet, which is a robust and growing part of Plaintiffs’ businesses and an important option to many consumers,” they add, noting that Nitro is creating confusion in the market by misleading people as to what is legal and what is not.


    “Nitro TV subscribers and potential subscribers may mistakenly view Nitro TV as a legal and sanctioned alternative to authorized distribution outlets and licensees, when it is not. This harms the market for legitimate services by drawing users away from Plaintiffs’ legitimate licensees.”


    Alleging willful direct copyright infringement, the movie and TV company plaintiffs demand either damages and defendants’ profits in amounts to be proven at trial or statutory damages up to $150,000 per infringed work.


    Addressing the possibility that Nitro may claim that it is third-parties that are responsible for violating performance and reproduction rights under the Copyright Act, the companies note that the defendants are still “knowingly and materially contributing to such infringement” so are liable for contributory copyright infringement. As such, the plaintiffs are able to claim damages and Nitro’s profits or statutory damages of up to $150,000 per infringed work.


    The complaint further alleges that Nitro and the Doe defendants intentionally induce infringement by “supplying and promoting the use of the Nitro TV Platforms to connect customers to unauthorized online sources that stream Plaintiffs’ copyrighted works, and by actively inducing, encouraging, and promoting the use of Nitro TV for copyright infringement.” Again, statutory damages of up to $150,000 are requested.


    Finally, the lawsuit demands preliminary and permanent injunctions not only against all defendants, but also third-party companies.


    They include Namecheap and Domain.com, the domain registrars for Tekkhosting.com and NitroIPTV.com respectively. It is requested that they maintain “unchanged” WHOIS records for the domains, change their name-servers to those controlled by the plaintiffs, prevent the transfer of the domains, and preserve all evidence relating to them.


    Ultimately, the movie and TV show companies seek to take control of all Nitro domain names.



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    uTorrent is the Most Used BitTorrent Client By Far


    Every day, dozens of millions of people use BitTorrent to download and share files. Although there is a wide variety of clients to choose from, fresh data reveal that uTorrent remains the top choice for most. The competition, including Transmission and qBitTorrent, are left with a small piece of the pie, which they share with the popular Russian apps Zona and MediaGet.
    The file-sharing landscape has changed dramatically over the past decade. To a certain degree, this is also true for the BitTorrent ecosystem.
    Popular sites such as KickassTorrents. Torrentz.eu, and ExtraTorrent are no more, and the original YTS and EZTV groups have been long disappeared as well.
    While sites have come and gone, there’s still one torrent client that the public at large prefers. When we last looked at the market share of BitTorrent clients,
    , uTorrent was already firmly in the lead. Today, this is no different.


    With help from
    we looked at over 25 million logged BitTorrent connections on a single day last week. This reveals that more than two-thirds (68.6%) of these were using uTorrent’s desktop version.
    The vast majority of these users were updated to the most recent 3.5.5 release, but dozens of older versions are in use as well. Although no longer officially supported, there are also hundreds of thousands of people who still use uTorrent for Mac.
    The most popular Mac client, however, appears to be Transmission. This is a notable change compared to a decade ago when its market share was much lower. Although Transmission also has a beta Windows release, that userbase is believed to be relatively small.
    Below is an overview of all software with at least 0.1% market share* which translates to roughly 25,000 logged connections.
    BitTorrent Client Market Share, March 2020






    Ranking Client Market Share
    1 uTorrent 68.6%
    2 BitTorrent 6.6%
    3 Libtorrent (uTorrent Web e.a.) 6.3%
    4 Transmission 5.1%
    5 MediaGet 3.7%
    6 qBitTorrent 3.4%
    7 Zona 3.3%
    8 Deluge 0.9%
    9 Bitcomet 0.6%
    10 BiglyBT 0.3%
    11 FDM 0.2%
    12 BitSpirit 0.2%
    13 BitLord 0.1%



    The table shows more good news for uTorrent’s parent company BitTorrent Inc., as the Mainline BitTorrent client takes second place with 6.6%. This client has a different name but is developed by the same company. It’s also pretty much identical to uTorrent in terms of code and features.
    Aside from the sheer dominance of uTorrent, the appearance of Libtorrent also stands out. Although very popular, this is not a torrent client but a library that is used by a wide variety of torrent applications.
    The most-used Libtorrent version is Some follow up research revealed that this is used by the latest version of uTorrent Web. Instead of its own ‘client ID,’ the latest web version of uTorrent, which is being pushed as the main option now, identifies as Libtorrent. This means that uTorrent’s market share is even higher than the reported 69%.
    Other surprising entries in the list of most-used clients are Zona and MediaGet. Both applications offer downloading and streaming functionality with an easy-to-use interface. While they are available in English, their userbases are mainly from Russia.
    The list is further completed by qBitTorrent, Deluge, Free Download Manager (FDM), and BiglyBT. The latter is operated by former developers of Vuze, which was the second most-used torrent client ten years ago, but is no longer actively developed.
    Other clients that were found in our sample but didn’t make the 0.1% cut are Tribler, Frostwire, Tixati, tTorrent, aTorrent, and PicoTorrent. These may still have thousands of active users on any given day, but their use pales in comparison to the top clients.
    That is also true for Popcorn Time, which generated quite a bit of press attention over the years. None of the Popcorn Time forks, which identity as ‘webtorrent,’ were anywhere close to the top of the list.
    The Popcorn Time observation also highlights an important caveat. The data presented here represents clients from users who are actively sharing files. If a client, such as Popcorn Time, stops seeding after a movie is done, it will no longer be logged in the following days. As such, clients used by people who continue to seed files may be somewhat overrepresented.
    We are planning to repeat these and similar analyses more frequently in the future, so we can spot more trends. However, it’s quite clear that uTorrent is not going to give up its top spot anytime soon.



    *BitTorrent clients are identified through the ‘client ID’ which is publicly broadcasted to trackers and over DHT. The totals reported here are based on a sample of the client IDs with at least 10,000 connections. After that, different versions of the same client were added up.






    Edited by dontpanicRendition
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    Top 10 Most Pirated Movies of The Week on BitTorrent – 04/06/20


    The top 10 most downloaded movies on BitTorrent are in again. 'Bad Boys for Life' tops the chart this week, followed by ‘The Gentlemen'. 'Bloodshot' completes the top three.
    This week we have two newcomers in our chart.
    Bad Boys for Life 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:



    Most downloaded movies via torrents
    Movie Rank Rank last week Movie name IMDb Rating / Trailer
    1 (7) Bad Boys for Life 7.1 /
    2 (5) The Gentlemen 8.0 /
    3 (1) Bloodshot 5.7 /
    4 (…) Underwater 5.9 /
    5 (2) Birds of Prey 6.3 /
    6 (…) Sonic The Hedgehog 6.6 /
    7 (3) Onward 7.6 /
    8 (6) Star Wars: Episode IX 6.8 /
    9 (10) The Call of the Wild 6.8 /
    10 (4) The Invisible Man 7.4 /












    Edited by dontpanicRendition
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    [h=2]Movie Company Boss Urges US Senators to Make Streaming Piracy a Felony[/h]

    In the United States, criminal copyright infringers can be sentenced to five years in prison. However, this is not the case for streaming piracy, which is seen as a misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum jail sentence of one year. Millennium Films boss Jonathan Yunger is callling on senators to change this, so the Department of Justice can effectively shut down and prosecute streaming piracy operations.


    The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property is actively looking for options through which the US can better address online piracy.


    During a hearing last month, various experts voiced their opinions. They specifically addressed measures taken by other countries and whether these could work in the US, or not.


    Pirate site blocking and upload filtering
    emerged as the main topics during this hearing. While pros and cons were discussed, movie industry insiders including Millennium Media co-president Jonathan Yunger framed these measures as attainable and effective.


    After the hearing, senators asked various follow-up questions on paper. Last week we reported how former MEP Julia Reda answered these by stressing the
    importance of affordable legal options
    . Yunger, however, takes another approach.


    In his answers, which were published before the weekend, he reiterates the power of website blocking. In addition, Yunger also brings a second, previously unmentioned issue to the forefront: criminal penalties for streaming piracy.


    “The second thing that we could easily do in the United States is close the legal loophole that currently allows streaming – which accounts for the vast majority of piracy today – to be treated as a misdemeanor rather than a felony,” Yunger writes.


    Under US law, streaming and downloading piracy are seen as two different offenses. Not just from a technical point of view, but also in the way they are punished. Streaming is seen as a misdemeanor, with a maximum penalty of one year in prison, while other forms are a felony, which can lead to five years of jail time.


    Lawmakers tried to change this with the Commercial Felony Streaming Act in 2011, and later with the SOPA and PIPA bills. These bills all failed and as a result the gap between streaming and traditional file-sharing remains today.


    In his answers, Yunger notes that ‘this loophole’ was completely accidental as streaming wasn’t a thing yet when the DMCA was enacted. Putting it on par with other forms of piracy would greatly help to address the streaming piracy problem.


    “If we could make this adjustment to the law, it would effectively shut down a cottage criminal industry of websites, app developers, and set top box sellers in America who are profiting enormously from illegal streams of movies, television shows, and live events,” Yunger notes.


    “These streaming services are an existential threat to our industry. Both the Department of Justice and the Copyright Office have recognized this threat to creativity and the American economy and have supported this change to the law,” he adds.


    Millennium Media’s co-president says that there are dozens, if not hundreds, of Americans who’ve made a business out of criminal streaming. This isn’t a surprise for the Department of Justice. However, it’s harder to effectively prosecute these people under current law.


    “We must change existing law to create a more powerful deterrent for Americans to engage in streaming piracy, and to allow the DoJ to prosecute these criminals who are engaged in massive levels of infringement with the same felony penalties that apply to illegal downloading and distribution,” Yunger notes.


    These comments are not entirely new. Several copyright holders and industry groups have argued the same in recent years. Thus far, this hasn’t resulted in any legislative changes, but it looks like pressure is building.


    In a way, it feels like history is repeating itself. Almost ten years ago, the same arguments were being made. At the time, website blocking and felony steaming made their way into concrete bills. These were eventually ‘shelved’ after massive public protests, but according to Yunger and others, it might be a good idea to reintroduce them, perhaps in a more modern form.




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    [h=2]Watch Tower DMCA Subpoena Case Hots Up as Anonymous Objector Gains Traction[/h]

    When the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society filed an application for a DMCA subpoena recently , it hoped to obtain the identity of an 'apostate' who allegedly uploaded its videos to YouTube in breach of copyright. However, an anonymous objector is now making life difficult for the religious group with a series of filings that hope to cast doubt on its true aims.


    Last month we
    on what appeared to be a relatively straightforward DMCA subpoena application filed by the supervising body and publisher for the Jehovah’s Witness religious group.


    After discovering that a number of its video sermons had been uploaded to YouTube, the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania went to court in New York requesting that the video-hosting platform hand over the personal identifying information of ‘JW Apostate’, the operator of the channel of the same name.


    Watch Tower told the court that it had fulfilled all the requirements for obtaining a subpoena and its sole purpose was to “obtain the identity of an alleged infringer or infringers” so that its copyrighted content could be protected. The subpoena was granted but before YouTube could hand over any information, a rather angry and apparently motivated individual stepped in.


    In a motion to quash, Jane / John Doe – who identifies as a “noted author and journalist” – told the court that the DMCA subpoena application amounted to an illegal attempt by the religious group to violate the First Amendment rights of journalists by attempting to obtain information about confidential sources. From here, however, the objections became rather more personal.




    “[T]he Court utterly failed in its duty to balance the interests of news reporters from stupid fishing expeditions by angry pedophile and pedophile enablers in its hurried effort at rubber stamping whatever documents are handed to the Court in an effort by this judge to appease stupid religious cults who live in her neighborhood,” the motion continued.


    “The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society is no stranger when it comes to DMCA subpoena applications or indeed Judge Seibel. The religious cult has attempted to obtain several subpoenas in New York courts against Facebook and YouTube users, filing around 60 applications overall since June 2017. This is complete BULLSHIT(to use a legal term).”


    A little under two weeks later, Watch Tower attorney Paul Polidoro filed an opposition to the motion to quash, noting that Watch Tower had applied to the US Copyright Office for registration of all of the allegedly infringed works, citing the registration or application numbers for each.


    Polidoro further noted that YouTube-owner Google had advised him that until the court ruled on the matter, no identifying information would be handed over.


    “JW Apostate (hereinafter ‘Movant’) posted a number of Watch Tower’s complete videos. There were no transformative efforts made in these postings. Rather, as is clear from the motion, he/she asserts the right to unfettered use of Watch Tower’s corporate intellectual property,” Polidoro wrote.


    “The filthy diatribe he/she submitted claims this right is grounded in reporter’s shield laws, and the First Amendment right to anonymous speech. As both arguments are without any legal support, his/her motion should be dismissed.


    “Movant also seeks refuge in the right of anonymous speech. The law in this circuit is clear: there is no right to anonymously infringe copyrights,” the attorney added.


    Late last week, Jane / John Doe hit back in a new filing which describes the Jehovah’s Witnesses as a “notorious group of criminal pedophiles running a scam ‘religion’ who are guilty of abuse of process and emotional extortion through sham litigation in their pathetic efforts at discovering leaks and moles and whistleblowers.”


    “Unfortunately for them,” the filing continues, “this is the year 2020 and things like VPNs, anonymous proxies, and TOR exit nodes frustrate them at every turn.”


    With those claims out of the way, the Doe movant states that Watch Tower does not have a valid copyright claim for any of the videos allegedly made available via YouTube because the necessary registration process wasn’t completed before legal action was taken.


    Furthermore, the movant alleges that the videos posted were either “secret recordings” or “edited videos” which only displayed material in such volumes necessary to “inform the public about these anti-government, child molesting religious fanatics.”


    In a quite extraordinary filing, the movant makes additional, and at this stage totally unsupported, claims about the relationship between Watch Tower’s attorney and the presiding judge, suggesting that a friendship might be undermining the judicial process.




    “The whole point of this response, Judge Seibel, is to get you to think first before you pull out your rubber stamp when these assholes show up on your doorstep hollering about alleged copyright violations,” the anonymous movant continues.


    “Lives are at stake here in what you do, Judge Seibel. You need to be more cognizant of the fact that these people are a bunch of damn liars, pedophiles, and bullies.”


    Given the outrageous tone of the filings objecting to Watch Tower’s demands for a DMCA subpoena, one could be forgiven for thinking that Judge Seibel might not respond as the movant might’ve hoped. However, the Judge now appears to be taking the objections seriously.


    In initial comments, Judge Seibel rejects the notion that the movant is being asked to reveal a journalistic source. She further states that the First Amendment does not protect acts of copyright infringement. However, the claim that Watch Tower keeps requesting DMCA subpoenas appears to have piqued her interest.


    “[M]ovant challenges the good faith of Watchtower’s representation that its purpose in seeking a DMCA subpoena is solely to identify a potential defendant for a copyright infringement action, alleging that Watchtower has invoked the [sic] 59 times without ever then bringing such a lawsuit,” Judge Siebel writes.


    “The Court can imagine reasons for that fact (if it is a fact) that do not evidence lack of good faith, but Watchtower should address (by declaration or affidavit of someone with knowledge) whether it is true, and if so, why I should not conclude that it evidences lack of good faith.”


    Furthermore, the Judge also wants to get a closer look at what content was obtained and the context in which it was posted to YouTube. This is important because, under certain circumstances, there may not have been any infringement at all.


    “Watchtower suggests that Movant posted full videos produced by Watchtower. Movant says he posted: 1) ‘undercover’ videos of meetings, in which (he suggests) Watchtower would have no copyright rights; and 2) portions of videos produced by Watchtower, which (he implies) would be fair use because it was part of criticism,” the memo reads.


    “Accordingly, Watchtower should address (by declaration or affidavit of someone with knowledge) what exactly it claims was infringed by Movant and how,” Judge Siebel concludes.


    DMCA subpoena applications are usually open-and-shut cases but at least in this instance, the evidence will now be subjected to additional scrutiny. Where that will lead is open to question but determining fair use is often a complex not to mention expensive matter.



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    [h=2]Company Registers YTS and Popcorn Time Trademarks to Promote Legal Streaming[/h]

    The Hawaiian company "42 Ventures" has registered various piracy-related trademarks. The company currently owns the US word marks for YTS, Popcorn Time, and Terrarium, which it uses to target key piracy services. This recently resulted in the suspension of the Twitter account of a popular Popcorn Time fork.


    Copyright holders can take a wide variety of measures to address piracy, with some being more effective than others.


    Hawaiian attorney Kerry Culpepper has tried different approaches. Given his profession, most of these take place in the legal realm.


    That includes lawsuits against downloaders and owners of well-known pirate sites and apps, including YTS, MKVcage, Cotomovies, Popcorn Time, and Showbox. These actions have resulted in some successes, with sites and apps shutting down or paying thousands of dollars in settlements.


    However, the piracy problem isn’t easy to defeat. This is why Culpepper recently added another option to his anti-piracy toolbox. Through the recently incorporate Hawaiian company 42 Ventures, he helped to register several piracy-related trademarks.


    The current trademark portfolio of the company includes the popular brands “YTS,” “Popcorn Time,” and “Terrarium.” In addition, 42 Ventures also claimed the trademark for the Showbox arrow logo.


    All trademarks are registered under the same description, “downloadable computer software for downloading and streaming multimedia content images, videos and audio.” The same description also applies to the pirate sites and apps.




    The fact that one of the most prolific anti-piracy lawyers is connected to these trademarks, opens the door to new enforcement options. That also appears to be the goal here.


    For example, just a few days ago, a popular Popcorn Time fork had its
    Twitter account
    suspended, following a trademark claim. The Popcorn Time
    Facebook page
    was also taken down, possibly following a similar complaint.


    TorrentFreak spoke to Culpepper, who confirmed that 42 Ventures is actively enforcing its trademarks. According to the lawyer, the company’s ultimate goal is to promote legal streaming.


    “42 has partnered with various content providers to deliver a platform of LEGAL streaming media. One or more of these providers have been providing content since 2009 under same or related trademark,” Culpepper writes.


    “42 greatly values its Intellectual Property and has taken steps to protect its valuable rights and will continue to do so in the future,” he adds.


    The trademarks were only recently registered which brings up the issue of prior use. Popcorn Time, Terrarium, and YTS have been using their brands for years, and could technically object to any enforcement efforts.


    42 Ventures, however, stresses that it has its own legal “Popcorn Time” website at Popcorntime4u.com, which links to content from the YouTube channel
    Popcorned Planet


    The Popcorn Planet channel is operated by Andy Signore who’s also known as the creator of the popular YouTube channel Screen Junkies. This may also explain why 42 Ventures
    the trademarks for “Movies Fights” and “Honest Trailers,” which are titles of shows that are linked to Screen Junkies and Popcorned Planet.


    TorrentFreak reached out to Popcorned Planet for a comment on the matter but, at the time of writing, we have yet to hear back.


    With the trademarks in hand, 42 Ventures has been successful in shutting down some piracy-related social media channels. In addition, it resolved some issues privately behind closed doors. The company isn’t officially operated by a copyright holder, but part of its goal is to prevent piracy.


    Interestingly, this isn’t the first time a third-party has registered a Popcorn Time trademark for enforcement purposes. A few years ago movie distributor
    Dutch Filmworks registered Popcorn Time’s logo and word trademarks
    at the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property. As far as we know, these haven’t been actively enforced.


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    [h=2]Russia Wants New Fines For Platforms That Don’t Remove Pirated Content Fast Enough[/h]

    Russia's Ministry of Culture has plans to further tighten up the country's response to the availability of pirated content online. Under current law, platforms can be ordered by a court to block or remove content within three days but according to the government, that needs to be reduced. Furthermore, non-responsive players should also receive new fines but to what extent remains unclear.


    Given Russia’s historically weak response to the availability of pirated content online, the past seven years have seen a dramatic turnaround.


    While the laws of the United States, Russia’s most vocal critic, have remained largely static, Russia implemented new anti-piracy legislation in 2013 and has continually updated it. One of its major weapons is an expedited process to force platforms to remove content or face permanent blocking by ISPs.


    Under the current system and following a request by copyright holders, telecoms watchdog Roscomnadzor can order platforms and hosts to remove or block access to pirated content. This action must be taken three days after a related court process and can result in fines of 700,000 rubles (US$9,240) or up to 3,000,000 rubles (US$39,600) for repeat offenders. However, some targets are not responsive enough, or responsive at all, so the government plans to make that a more costly option.


    According to a regulation filing spotted by
    , the Ministry of Culture wants to address these issues with amendments to the law. The bills, precise details of which are yet to be revealed by the government, are tweaks to the Code of Administrative Offenses. They propose new fines for failure to comply with the instructions of Roscomnadzor to remove content and a reduction of the window of opportunity to remove content following a request.


    In comments made by a representative from the Ministry, Russia’s anti-piracy legislation needs to be tightened up, with the department citing the length of the legal procedure to have content blocked as a concern. The issue of extrajudicial processes against anonymous site owners will also need to be addressed, since by their very nature they tend to be less responsive. Kommersant sources describe violations following Roscomnadzor’s orders as “frequent”.


    At this stage there is no detail on the scale of any new fines, nor is the government providing an indication on how quickly content should be removed in the future. Furthermore, while legitimate platforms can probably be forced to act more quickly, ‘pirate’ sites likely won’t respond as required and won’t be responsive to fines, critics say.


    “How can a pirate who is hiding his legal entity and identity be fined?” questioned one Kommersant source. Nevertheless, industry players are hoping that should new fines be introduced, they will be of a magnitude to act as a real deterrent against non-compliance.


    The government has already penciled in a date of December 20, 2020, for the new amendments to come into force, so more detail should become available in the weeks to come. Whether they will have the desired effect will remain to be seen. In the meantime, however, the anti-piracy memorandum continues in the background.


    The actions of the major companies party to the agreement don’t render content inaccessible at the source but according to recent reports, they are having considerable success in making pirated material harder to find in search engines.



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    [h=2]Piracy and File-Sharing Traffic Surges Amidst Covid-19 Crisis[/h]

    Hundreds of millions of people are being asked to stay home during the coronavirus pandemic. This is having a widespread effect on worldwide consumption habits including Internet usage. New data obtained by TorrentFreak suggests that there has been a surge in global file-sharing traffic as well as an increased number of visitors to pirate sites.


    The coronavirus pandemic has drastically changed the lives of hundreds of millions of people around the world.


    In every continent, local governments have imposed restrictive measures, urging people to stay inside as much as possible.


    As a result of these restrictions, Internet traffic has gone up. More people are working from home over remote connections while others pass the time by looking for online news and entertainment.


    Traffic to several legal streaming services has gone up significantly. YouTube, in particular, has gained a lot of traffic. In March, traffic management company Sandvine reported a global
    10% increase
    in traffic to the streaming site, which helped it
    surpass Netflix
    for the first time.


    The effects of the Covid-19 crisis are not limited to legal entertainment consumption, however. A few weeks ago we already signaled that
    interest in pirate sites
    had gone up in regions where a lockdown had been imposed. Using a variety of data sources, we can now show that piracy and file-sharing traffic is impacted around the world.


    We start with China, where the virus impacted daily life first. Mid-January the new coronavirus started to make headlines and on January 23, 2020, authorities in Wuhan announced a quarantine and prevented travel in and out of the region. In the days that followed, more restrictions followed in China.


    Looking at the number of Chinese visitors to pirate sites, from December to the end of February, we see that these measures had a clear impact. The data in question come from piracy tracking from
    and were kindly shared with TorrentFreak.


    The graph below shows that a sharp increase in pirate site visits started on January 24, reaching a peak on the 27th. Pirate site traffic started to drop off a bit after that, but at the end of February, it was still roughly 20% more than before the Coronavirus measures started.

    Chinese pirate site visits




    While MUSO’s data are valuable, they only run to the end of February, while the measures in most other countries started around mid-March.


    To cover the global trend we, therefore, obtained the number of daily BitTorrent downloads, as measured by
    . This service tracks millions of files that are available on public torrent sites, including The Pirate Bay and YTS.


    The worldwide torrent download estimates show a clear increase from March 6 to April 6. They started off by hovering around 12 million daily recorded downloads and went up to 16 million a month later, which is a 33% increase.


    Tracked torrent downloads worldwide



    This spike is also visible at the torrent tracker level. The operator of
    , a widely used content-neutral tracker, informs us that he sees an uptick in the total number of connections as well as the number of connected peers.


    OpenTrackr.org recently implemented a technical change, which makes it hard to compare numbers over a longer period of time. However, the number of connected peers were increasing both before and after the change.


    As shown below, between March 31 and April 6, the peer count went up from little over 24 million to more than 26 million during the daily peak.


    Peer count on OpenTrackr




    The data presented throughout this article clearly suggest that the coronavirus outbreak is increasing piracy and file-sharing traffic. This is visible on a global level, but we expect the country-specific trends to be even more pronounced.


    We are still processing some additional data to shed some more light on local trends and hope to highlight these in a future article.


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    [h=2]ACE and MPA Help to Shut Down Taiwan’s Largest Pirate Movie and TV Show Site[/h]

    Police in Taiwan have shut down 8maple.ru, the country's largest pirate movie and TV show site. The action came in the wake of an investigation by ACE, the MPA and Japan-based anti-piracy group CODA. Two men in their thirties, both graduates of the Northern National Taiwan University, were arrested and millions in cash and luxury property seized.


    While English language ‘pirate’ sites grab most mainstream headlines, anti-piracy groups have international platforms firmly on their radars. There are hundreds, perhaps thousands of such sites in Asia but following coordinated police action, one of the largest has now fallen.


    Following an investigation carried out by the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment, the Asia-Pacific division of the Motion Picture Association (MPA-APC), Japan-based Content Overseas Distribution Association (CODA), and local TV network Sanli TV, police in Taiwan have now shut down 8maple.ru, the country’s most popular pirate movie and TV show site.


    According to SimilarWeb stats, 8maple has been attracting up to 35 million visits per month, making it not only the most-visited platform of its type in the region but also the 32nd most-visited site in Taiwan, period.



    According to police sources, the Criminal Investigation Bureau in conjunction with the specialist Telecommunications Investigation Corps swooped to arrest 33-year-old Chen Su and 32-year-old Zhuang Su on
    March 31, 2020
    . Both are graduates of the Department of Science and Engineering at the Northern National University and are reported to have extensive software skills.


    Authorities say the pair launched 8maple in 2014, creating a fake advertising company before offering Hollywood movies plus US, Taiwanese, Japanese, Chinese and Korean shows to the public for free viewing. The site allegedly operated servers in several regions including the United States, Canada, Ukraine, France, and Romania.


    8maple generated income from advertising, with authorities currently estimating revenues of around NT$4,000,000 (US$133,000) per month.


    Following the arrests, which have only just been made public, police seized a number of electronic items including 25 computers, mobile phones, and data in cloud storage in France and Canada (OVH). As the image below shows, the site’s main .ru domain was among several seized including 8maple.com and eyny.tv.



    The business appears to have been profitable for the two men. During a press briefing, authorities revealed that Chen and Chuang had both acquired luxury mansions for around NT$16,000,000 (US$532,000) each, both paid for in cash. These we seized along with an estimated NT$ 60,000,000 (US$1,900,000) discovered in the pair’s bank accounts.


    The suspects were arrested for copyright infringement offenses with Taiwan’s Telecommunications Investigation Corps estimating that 8maple caused around NT$1 billion (US$33.2m) in damages.


    The anti-piracy groups involved in the action have yet to make a statement.


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    [h=2]Court Allows ISP to Question Rightscorp’s Credibility at Piracy Trial[/h]

    Texas-based Internet provider Grande Communications will be allowed to question the business practices, financial situation, and credibility of anti-piracy tracking firm Rightscorp at trial later this year. The music companies suing the ISP asked the court to exclude this information. However, US District Court Judge Ezra believes that it's relevant for the case at hand.


    Three years ago, a group of RIAA labels
    sued the Texas ISP Grande Communications


    The music companies accused the provider of not doing enough to stop pirating subscribers. Specifically, it alleged that Grande failed to terminate repeat infringers.


    The case was initially scheduled to go to trial in February, but that was
    canceled at the last minute
    due to time constraints. The legal battle is now set to conclude later this year. Before going ahead, however, some outstanding issues have to be resolved.


    This week, US District Court Judge David Ezra ruled on the so-called motions
    in limine
    from both sides. These are requests to exclude certain topics or evidence from being presented to the jury at trial.


    The music companies, for example, asked the court to exclude certain details regarding Rightcorp, the company that sent the anti-piracy notices to Grande. These notices are crucial evidence, as Grande stands accused of not properly responding to them.


    Specifically, the music companies wanted to exclude any “irrelevant or unfairly prejudicial” evidence or arguments about Rightscorp’s business practices, its finances, or the allegation that the anti-piracy firm destroyed evidence.


    Grande objected, however, and the ISP pointed out that the jury is entitled to this information. The ISP pointed out that the credibility of Rightscorp is a significant issue at trial, while highlighting that the piracy tracking firm is financially dependant on the music companies.


    “In short, Rightscorp’s relationship with Plaintiffs is the only thing keeping Rightscorp’s business afloat,” Grande


    In his ruling, Judge Ezra sides with the Internet provider. This means that Grande can question Rightscorp’s credibility and business practices at trial. The same is true for the fact that Rightscorp previously destroyed evidence.




    And there is more good news for Grande. The music companies also asked the court to exclude evidence about the now-defunct Copyright Alert System. Under this music industry sanctioned program, other ISPs agreed to forward piracy notices. However, they were not required to terminate repeat infringers.


    Grande can use this information to argue in its favor and it will have the option to do so at trial, as the music companies’ motion to exclude evidence regarding the Copyright Alert System was denied.


    Not everything in the ruling was positive for Grande though. The ISP also submitted motions in limine, several of which were denied. For example, it asked the court to exclude evidence regarding Grande’s termination of clients who failed to pay their subscription fees.


    Judge Ezra denied this motion, allowing the music companies to address these issues in court. The companies could use that information to counter Grande’s defense that Internet terminations are drastic measures that should be used sparingly.


    According to the current planning, the trial is scheduled to start in September. The jury selection has yet to take place. This could get interesting as well. As we reported before, the music labels plan to ask potential jurors if they
    read TorrentFreak




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    [h=2]Pirate Set-Top Box Seller Has Jail Sentence Overturned Due to Prosecution Error[/h]

    A man who was sentenced to three months in jail for selling piracy-configured set-top boxes will not be imprisoned following a successful appeal. The original prosecution, carried out privately on behalf of companies including the Premier League, relied on an earlier decision that was later overruled, resulting in a sentence that was "manifestly excessive."


    All around the world, content creators, distributors and associated anti-piracy groups are grappling with the thorny issue of piracy-configured set-top boxes.


    These cheap devices were initially embraced by the tech-savvy but later attracted a broad audience among the general public, rendering piracy both easy and cheap to access for the masses.


    Numerous legal actions have been launched in Europe and the United States but in recent years the fight has migrated to Asia too. In January 2018, it was
    that telecoms, broadcasting, and sporting giants SingTel, Starhub, Fox Networks Group and the Premier League, had teamed up to launch a pioneering private prosecution against those involved in the supply of devices in Singapore.


    The action targeted set-top box distributor Synnex Trading and its client and wholesale retailer, An-Nahl. The rightsholders also named Synnex Trading director Jia Xiaofen and An-Nahl director Abdul Nagib as defendants. Last April, Nagib’s case was concluded with a small fine of less than $1,000 but nevertheless marked the first successful prosecution of a ‘pirate’ box seller in the country.


    The case against Synnex Trading and director Jia Xiaofen was less straightforward. After pleading guilty to four charges of criminal copyright infringement, in October 2019 the director was sentenced to 12 weeks in prison and ordered to pay a fine of S$5,400 (US$3,800) while his company was fined S$160,800 (US$113,500). However, the
    Attorney-General’s Chambers
    (AGC) quickly filed an appeal, claiming that the sentencing was flawed.


    According to the AGC, sentencing submissions made by the parties involved in the private prosecution relied on an
    earlier court decision
    where a man was initially sentenced to eight weeks in jail for selling modified Playstation2 consoles and copying pirated software to customers’ machines. However, that jail sentence was later overruled and replaced with a fine. As a result, the jail sentence handed down to Jia Xiaofen was excessive, the AGC argued.


    In submissions late March 2020, three Deputy Public Prosecutors wrote that the AGC should assist the court with sentencing in the Jia Xiaofen case, to ensure that an appropriate sentence was handed down based on accurate precedents.


    “This responsibility undergirds a crucial aspect of the administration of criminal justice in Singapore — that all offenders are punished appropriately,” the DPPs wrote, as cited by


    “It is in this context that the Public Prosecutor has taken the unusual but necessary step of filing the present appeal against the sentence of 12 weeks’ imprisonment imposed upon (Jia).”


    During the prosecution, neither the defense nor the prosecution in Jia’s case mentioned the fact that the earlier prison sentence had been overruled, which meant that the District Court handed down a similar sentence when there was no precedent. As a result, this week the High Court overruled Jia’s 12-week prison term but the defendant didn’t escape punishment.


    On the advice of the DPPs, Jia Xiaofen was
    handed a fine
    of S$32,100 (US$22,000) and the original and much larger fine against his company was ordered to stand.


    What this means for sentencing in future cases isn’t yet clear but with no precedent for relatively harsh periods of imprisonment, larger fines in their place seem a potential solution.


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    [h=2]Pirate Bay No Longer Uses Cloudflare, Visitors Sent to ‘Black Hole’[/h]

    The Pirate Bay is no longer using the services of Cloudflare. The whois record for the main ThePirateBay.org domain was updated a few hours ago and now points to the nameservers of EasyDNS, the registrar. At the same time, all traffic to the domain is being null routed, with the DNS pointing to


    The Pirate Bay’s original and main domain has been unreachable for
    more than a month


    While the site operates as usual on the Tor network, visitors to ThePirateBay.org are welcomed by a Cloudflare error message mentioning that the “connection timed out.”


    Two weeks ago, a source familiar with the matter informed us that the infamous torrent site faces some technical issues and the admin is taking this opportunity to
    rewrite some code
    . After that, we received no updates.


    Today, however, something appears to be changing. For the first time in years, the whois record for ThePirateBay.org has been updated. Instead of the domain pointing to Cloudflare’s nameservers, it is now linked to the default nameservers of the domain registrar


    In addition, the domain’s status code has changed from ‘client Transfer Prohibited’ to ‘ok,’ which means that there are no restrictions preventing it from being transferred to a new owner.




    At the time of writing, all traffic to ThePirateBay.org is resolving to, which is the generic localhost IP-address. This means that the domain name is effectively null routed, with all requests dumped into a local black hole.


    The new details are gradually propagating. The following query from
    shows that, in some places, it still resolves to the Cloudflare server.




    The changes are highly unusual but without further details, it is hard to say what’s going on here. While it’s pure speculation, we can go over a few options.


    The first and most likely option is that The Pirate Bay team intentionally made these changes. They may have moved away from Cloudflare to set up shop elsewhere, pointing the DNS to for the time being.


    That would not explain why they changed the status code, however. Nor is it clear why this intermediate step would be needed.


    A second option is that Cloudflare may have kicked The Pirate Bay out. That seems unlikely, however, as The Pirate Bay would usually not update its DNS records this quickly. Also, there are no unusual errors in places where the domain name still resolves to Cloudflare.


    Another option is that EasyDNS was ordered to take action by a court to null route the domain, and to allow it to be transferred to a third party. The latter would also explain the updated status code. This is not the case though.


    EasyDNS CEO Mark Jeftovic informs TorrentFreak that it hasn’t taken any action regarding this domain. As standard procedure, the company did reach out to the registrant to make sure they’re aware of what’s happened and to double-check if everything is ok.


    Until there’s an official announcement from the Pirate Bay team, the changes will remain a mystery.


    Whatever the reason is, it’s worth keeping an eye on. We will continue to monitor the situation in the days to come and will update this article if more information becomes available.


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    [h=2]The Pirate Bay’s Main Domain ‘Returns’ After a Month of Downtime[/h]

    After a month, The Pirate Bay is accessible again through its main domain name. The unannounced comeback follows after Thepiratebay.org sent traffic to a black hole for nearly a day. Initially, Cloudflare's nameservers were removed from the whois records but the site is now reachable again through a new set of Cloudflare nameservers. There are also some other changes.


    Over the past several weeks, The Pirate Bay has suffered prolonged downtime. For many people, the popular torrent site was completely
    through its main Thepiratebay.org domain.


    While regular visitors knew that the site was still accessible over the Tor network, through a separate domain, the problems were unusual.


    Yesterday, the situation for more confusing when the .org domain was updated. The usual Cloudflare nameservers were removed and replaced by EasyDNS nameservers. In addition, all traffic to the domain was sent to, which essentially meant that all requests dumped into a
    local black hole


    Without an official explanation from the Pirate Bay team, these changes were fuel for speculation. Today, however, the situation has already completely changed again.


    Starting a few hours ago, Thepiratebay.org domain is back online. After another update of the domain records, it is operational again. Not just that, it also uses Cloudflare’s services.


    There is a small update though. Over the past few years, The Pirate Bay used the dean.ns.cloudflare.com and sofia.ns.cloudflare.com nameservers. Today, the site uses deb.ns.cloudflare.com and sevki.ns.cloudflare.com.




    Other than the nameserver update, nothing has changed domain-wise. The domain is still registered through Fredrik Neij, one of the original Pirate Bay co-founders, and EasyDNS remains the registrar.


    Why the Cloudflare nameserver changed is unknown. It is possible, however, that the domain had to be operated through a separate Cloudflare account for some reason.


    Previously, we were told that The Pirate Bay team would use the downtime to implement some updates to the code. While that doesn’t have to be visible, there are a few changes in the site’s appearance as well.


    Several links have been stripped from the homepage now, including those to the blog and the about page. In addition, the ‘login’ and ‘register’ links simply point back to the homepage. In addition, the site uses the torrindex.net domain to serve some static content.


    Perhaps these modifications are part of the previously announced changes, or it’s something that’s still being worked on. Interestingly, the Tor version of the site still shows the old look, with all the other links intact.


    We will keep an eye on any other changes during the days to come. If any new information becomes available we will update this article accordingly.



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    [h=2]Danish Court Throws Out Three Piracy Cases, Plaintiff Had No Right to Sue[/h]

    A High Court in Denmark has thrown out three copyright infringement cases against alleged BitTorrent pirates, filed by a middle-man operation with links to notorious copyright troll Guardaley. The court found that the company produced no content, distributed none, and wasn't in a position to sue. The ruling could prove pivotal for hundreds, perhaps thousands of cases still pending in the country.


    Legal actions against file-sharers come in all shapes and sizes but perhaps the most common are the mass lawsuits that target alleged BitTorrent users.


    Hundreds of thousands of these cases, which usually begin with a demand for cash settlement, end when the target pays up an amount to have a supposed lawsuit disappear. More rarely, however, cases end up in court and under the scrutiny of a judge, things don’t always go so well.


    Like many countries in Europe, alleged file-sharers in Denmark have been receiving letters claiming that since they’ve been caught sharing porn without the copyright holders’ permission, they must now pay an informal fine. The threat for non-payment is a court case but for one company and its beneficiaries involved in a pretty big scheme, this has not gone to plan.


    Copyright Management Services (CMS) is known for its involvement in mass copyright litigation. Working with Danish law firm NJORD Law, it
    demanded the identities of thousands of individuals in Sweden so it could pursue them for settlements relating to alleged porn downloads. It is also very active in Denmark.


    CMS was incorporated in the UK during October 2014. Until fairly recently its sole director was Patrick Achache, who also operates German-based BitTorrent tracking company MaverickEye. Both were part of the notorious international trolling operation Guardaley, which recently changed ownership.


    While actual copyright holders are perfectly able to sue alleged file-sharers, there is a tendency among some mass litigation outfits to use middle-man companies instead. There are theories that their purpose is to act as a buffer to protect the actual copyright holders should lawsuits go wrong but in the cases brought by middle-man CMS in Denmark, its involvement in the chain has caused things to unravel.


    The development comes after CMS demanded cash settlements from three individuals who failed to pay and were later taken to court. The defendants were ISP account holders of IP addresses that CMS claimed were connected to illegal file-sharing. In all cases, district courts found in favor of CMS, ordering the defendants to pay 7,500 DKK ($1,039) to the company.


    When the cases went to appeal, the defendants denied they committed the copyright infringements alleged by CMS. They further alleged that CMS was not a producer of the content, was not a distributor of content, and had no documentation to prove that it was entitled to sue on behalf of the actual copyright holders.


    Countering, CMS referred to its successes in the district courts and insisted that it did indeed have agreements in place to prosecute the cases against the alleged pirates. That assertion was rejected this week by the Eastern High Court.


    “In all three cases, the High Court found that the company had not proved that it had legal capacity to conduct the cases in its own name,” a statement from the court reads.


    As a result, all three cases were dismissed.


    “The cases are part of a large number of cases pending before the courts, about the sharing of films, in some cases porn films. The three cases are the first of such cases decided by the Eastern High Court,” the statement notes.


    Quite how many other cases Copyright Management Services has filed on the same grounds (i.e with no right to sue) is unclear but having these cases thrown out could present problems for the company. In respect of the company itself, interesting facts are available from public sources.


    As previously mentioned, Patrick Achache was the sole director of CMS. However, on November 19, 2019, he ceased to be a director and what Companies House describes as a ‘person with significant control’. In his place as the new officer with ‘significant control’ stepped Lubesly Tellidua, who has the same name as a beauty queen from the Philippines.


    This could have been a complete coincidence but thanks to detective work by Danish news site K-News, it’s possible to confirm that Lubesly Tellidua the beauty queen is not only the new person in control of CMS but is also
    directly linked to Achache
    , as the photograph in their article shows.


    A new director was also appointed to CMS last year, Eleanor Elizabeth Powell of Brecon, Wales, who chose to register modified names and addresses across two different companies –
    Copyright Management Services Ltd
    Powtex Limited
    . Adding a middle name and tweaking the details of an address is enough for Companies House not to link the same director to two companies, at least without manual research.


    Anyone interested in venturing further down the CMS rabbit hole might consider visiting
    Open Corporates
    where several familiar names in copyright trolling and anti-piracy enforcement can be found doing business, past and present.



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    [h=2]WordPress DMCA Takedown Notices Drop But Abuse Remains Prevalent[/h]

    WordPress has published a new transparency report which shows a decline in the number of DMCA takedown notices received. While volume is dropping after an all-time high in 2018, inaccurate claims remain prevalent. Roughly three-quarters of all takedown requests were rejected, with some being categorized as abusive.


    Automattic, the company behind the popular blogging platform WordPress.com, receives thousands of takedown requests from copyright holders.


    For a number of years, the volume of notices continued to increase but that trend has slowly started to reverse.


    This week, the company published its latest
    transparency report
    , revealing that it had processed 11,220 takedown notices during 2019. That is a significant drop compared to a year earlier when over 20,000 notices were handled.


    Unlike other services, Automattic only reports the number of notices it receives for WordPress.com. Each of these notices can contain multiple URLs, in some cases even dozens.


    The takedown notices are sent in by a variety of copyright holders. The most prolific sender was Image Protect, an anti-piracy service for photographers, followed by familiar names including the music groups IFPI and BPI.


    Looking at the longer-term trend, we clearly see a decline in the number of takedowns requests, which reached an all-time high two years ago. The drop in numbers is in line with what other Internet services have noticed recently,
    including Google




    It is worth noting that not all takedown requests are blindly accepted, with Automattic keeping a close eye on errors. This results in a relatively high rejection rate. Of all notices, more than three quarters didn’t result in any content being removed.


    The vast majority of the notices were rejected because they were ‘incomplete,’ meaning that some info was missing, and roughly 7% were classified as ‘abuse’.


    “‘Abusive’ notices may be formally complete, but are directed at fair use of content, material that isn’t copyrightable, or content the complaining party misrepresents ownership of a copyright,” Automattic explains.


    Since Automattic began counting complaints in 2014, the company has processed 75,837 DMCA takedown requests. More than two-thirds of these were rejected and for the remaining 33%, no content was removed.


    Whether the drop in the number of received notices for WordPress.com will continue to decrease remains to be seen. Although a similar pattern emerges at other services as well, it’s certainly not universal. For example, Reddit reported the opposite just a few weeks ago, with the number of takedowns
    increasing 500%
    in just a year.


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