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    Torrent client Transmission 3.00 is out

    Developers of the open source cross-platform BitTorrent client Transmission have released Transmission 3.00 this week. The new major version of the program introduces several new features and improvements, as well as fixes for various issues.

    Transmission 3.00 is already available on the project's GitHub project page. Just select the correct version, e.g. transmissino-3.00-x64.msi for 64-bit versions of Microsoft's Windows operating system to download the package to the local system.

    https://www.ghacks.net/wp-content/up...ssion-3.00.png

    Windows users can install the new version so that existing installations get upgraded automatically. The upgraded version picks up all existing torrents and settings after installation.

    Transmission can be run in several ways. Desktop users may install a client and use it on the desktop machine; other options include using a Web UI to control the client remotely, or running a headless daemon.

    Transmission 3.00 is a major new release that introduces new functionality. Among the noticeable changes is support for TCP_FASTOPEN which may speed up things somewhat, RPC server IPv6 support, use of a temporary session ID to better determine whether a session is local or remote, and improved HiDPI support of the Qt client.

    Existing users may notice other changes. The idle seed limit range has been set to a maximum of four weeks in all clients by default. Windows users benefit from improved completion scripts execution and error handling, and added support for .bat and .cmd scripts. These scripts may be executed automatically after files have been downloaded to the system.

    Windows and Linux clients support queue up and down hotkeys in the new version. In the Qt Client, torrent properties memory usage has been reduced, and there are updated translations for several languages including Danish, Green, Slovenian and Norwegian. On Windows, CA certs are loaded from the system store to address issues connecting to HTTPS trackers.

    Transmission 3.00 fixes several issues in clients and tools. The progress sorting option has been fixed on Windows, and a torrent dropping bug has been fixed as well.

    All clients benefit from updated library files, several memory leak fixes, and other improvements.

    You can check out the entire changelog here.

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    Cloudflare Ordered to Reveal Operators of Popular Pirate Sites Manga1000.com

    Shogakukan, one of Japan's largest manga publishers, has been given permission to obtain the personal details of the operators of one of Japan's most popular pirate manga sites. The DMCA subpoena compels Cloudflare to reveal what it knows about the people behind Manga1000.com, a near top-500 site in its home country.

    Obtaining the personal details of individuals behind pirate sites is rarely straightforward.

    When they’re visible at all, domain registrations can be hidden behind privacy services, faked, or even both, while hosting companies tend not to comply with demands to reveal information when they’re unsupported by a valid court order.

    One of the methods increasingly deployed in recent times is to target a potential weak spot. Thousands of pirate sites use the services of CDN company Cloudflare and as a US-based entity, Cloudflare is compelled to comply with the orders of the court. So, with copyright infringement allegations in hand, rightsholders apply for a so-called DMCA subpoena to force Cloudflare to hand over site operators’ personal details.

    This tactic was recently used by Shogakukan, one of Japan’s largest publishers of manga content. In an application for DMCA subpoena filed at a California district court this month, lawyers for the company explained that in order to protect its copyrighted content, Shogakukan needs to identify the people behind two domains – manag1000.com and manga1001.com.

    https://torrentfreak.com/images/mang...0495767517.png

    “It has recently come to Shogakukan’s attention that certain users of your services have unlawfully published and posted certain contents on the website located at [manga1000.com and manga1001.com],” the application reads.

    “We demand that you immediately disable access to the Infringing Work [detailed in the image below] and cease any use, reproduction, and distribution of the Original Work. Specifically, we request that you remove or disable the Infringing Work from [the websites] or any of your system or services.”

    https://torrentfreak.com/images/Shog...0495380908.png

    In all but a slight domain difference, manga1000.com and manga1001.com seem identical. They both offer manga titles in ‘raw’ format and enjoy a decent number of visitors – around five million per month per domain according to SimilarWeb stats.

    Manga1000 enjoys slightly more traffic at around 5.1 million visits per month which means it’s almost ready to break into the list of Top-500 most-visited sites in Japan, period.

    Shogakukan has taken interest in both domains more recently, filing DMCA takedown complaints with Google to delist more than 500 URLs. Now, however, it appears to have more concrete legal plans on the horizon, demanding that Cloudflare spills the beans on its allegedly pirating customers.

    The DMCA subpoena, which was duly signed off by the court, now compels Cloudflare to hand over highly-detailed information.

    That includes all information sufficient to identify the operator and/or owner of both sites who “uploaded, hosted, and/or contracted with another provider to host the infringing content” owned by the publisher. Shogakukan also demands billing and administrative records that reveal the infringers’ names, physical addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, credit card numbers, and hosting providers, plus any and all logs of IP addresses.

    Cloudflare is required to present the relevant details to Shogakukan’s legal team in San Francisco by June 5, 2020, but whether that request will lead to any useful information remains to be seen.

    As reported last September, Shogakukan and three other major manga publishers previously sued Mangamura ‘replacement’ site Hoshinoromi in a New York federal court, noting that Cloudflare was helping the site’s operators to conceal their identities.

    Earlier this month, however, the publishers filed a notice of voluntary dismissal after months of work trying to identify the operators of the site ended without bearing fruit. Back in February, a lawyer for the plaintiffs told the court (pdf) that the defendants had “gone to considerable lengths to conceal their identities and avoid legal process.”

    After the court granted the publishers’ request for expedited discovery, the publishers served subpoenas on four Internet companies that provided services to Hoshinoromi, demanding that they hand over information on the defendants. While they received plenty of information back, things didn’t go especially well.

    After receiving dozens of files including technical logs containing 1,000 unique records and more than 100 unique IP addresses spanning a 16-month period, the publishers were forced to hire an outside consulting company to perform an analysis of the data. In the end, however, none of the data personally identified the operators of Hoshinoromi.

    Shogakukan will be hoping for a better result this time around.

    Shogakukan’s application for DMCA subpoena against Cloudflare be found here (pdf)

    Torrentfreak.com

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    Stores Selling Switch Piracy Hacks ‘Disappear’ Following Nintendo Lawsuit

    Last week Nintendo sued the operators of nine online stores for enabling widespread piracy. The websites in question offered Switch hacks and mods linked to Team-Xecuter, including an upcoming release of a Switch Lite hack. While the lawsuits are just starting up, they already seem to have had an effect as most stores have now disappeared. Or have they?

    Hacking group Team-Xecuter has long been a thorn in Nintendo’s side.

    The group offers hardware and software solutions that allow people to install and play pirated games on Nintendo consoles, including the popular Nintendo Switch.

    After cracking Switch’s original technical protections in 2018, Team-Xecuter is now gearing up to release a hack for newer versions as well as the Switch Lite. But while Nintendo’s efforts to take down the hacking group have failed thus far, the game company isn’t sitting idly by.

    Last week it filed two lawsuits in US federal courts, targeting a total of nine websites. These include Uberchips.com, USAchipss.com, NC-card.com and Flashcarda.com which, according to Nintendo, are official resellers of hacking tools.

    While it can be hard to shut down sites through legal action, especially if they are operated and sell products from outside of the US, in this case Nintendo’s strategy has already paid off. Or so it appears.

    Soon after the news about the lawsuits was made public, several stores began to disappear. This includes Uberchips.com which, according to the complaint, is operated from the US by Ohio resident Tom Dilts Jr.

    Initially, Uberchips removed all listings of Team-Xecuter hacks, referring to some unnamed issues. Soon after, however, the store completely disappeared showing just a blank page instead.

    People who preordered the new SX Core and SX Lite chips won’t get them delivered. According to customer reports the website will issue refunds, but most just want the chips.

    “Very disappointed to receive email from uberchips.com saying that they are issuing full refund and are no longer processing any pre-orders. Where else am I able to order from that ships to Canada?” one customer wrote.

    Uberchips is not the only site to throw in the towel, several other stores have vanished too.

    https://torrentfreak.com/images/google-404.jpg

    At the time of writing the Mod3dscards.com domain links to a parked page, while NX-card.com, Flashcarda.com, USAchipss.com, and Anxchip.com all point to a Google hosting error, suggesting that the sites were removed.

    Meanwhile, there is no official word from Team-Xecuter on the lawsuits. Interestingly, the site still lists “recommended seller” banners for some of the sites that are down. However, these banners now link to new URLs that offer pretty much the same products.

    For example, the Flashcarda.com banner links to Free-switch.com, which looks very similar to the original site.

    The Mod3dscards.com banner is also still up, but the link is now pointing to Mod-switch.com.

    In addition, three of the sued sites – TXswitch.com, SXflashcard.com and Axiogame.com – are still online and accepting orders.

    For now, none of the targeted sites has responded in court. While some foreign operators may choose to ignore the case, the US-based operator of Uberchips.com has been summoned already and will have to appear in court or face a default judgment.

    Although the lawsuits have clearly had some effect, Team-Xecuter hacks and mods remain widely available. But by going after resellers, Nintendo may be able to get a step closer to the source of the problem.

    Torrentfreak.com

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    Vapor Store Looks a Lot Like a Popcorn Time For Pirated Steam Games

    Popcorn Time made thousands of headlines after being dubbed the 'Netflix for Pirates' and a new piece of software released this week could be making some early steps towards becoming its counterpart for pirated games. Like Kodi, Vapor Store doesn't come with any unlicensed media installed but after a simple tweak can provide access to a huge library of Steam games.

    Websites are some of the most popular hangouts for pirates but over the past several years there’s been an increased appetite for app-based solutions.

    Modified Kodi installations, for example, have proven popular for close to a decade but in 2014 Popcorn Time sparked a revolution by providing a Netflix-like experience for movie and TV show consumers.

    Since then, dozens of Popcorn Time-like applications have appeared on the scene with varying levels of success but most have stuck to providing access to video content. This week, however, a new tool called Vapor Store debuted online targeting the video games niche.

    As the image below shows, a fully-configured Vapor Store looks very much like a Popcorn Time for pirated games.

    https://torrentfreak.com/images/vapo...0567778271.png

    Speaking with TorrentFreak, Vapor Store developer ‘Sushy’ (who appears to be still at school) says that he’d always liked the idea of having a simple-to-use program to download games. So, putting his newly-acquired coding skills to the test, he embarked on this “challenging and rewarding” open-source project.

    “Vapor Store is a program that simplifies downloading and installing games on Windows,” Sushy informs TF.

    “All games are direct downloads [not torrents as is the case with Popcorn Time] and to use Vapor Store you will need to find a source that already has a list of games with download links and import them into Vapor Store. Vapor Store will generate a list based on the data from the site the user inserted.”

    For legal reasons, this step is pretty important. While Popcorn Time comes ready-configured with all pirate sources and resources, Vapor Store does not. Users are required to input a source site to render it useful and it’s already an open secret that the software currently only works with video game download site Steamunlocked.

    Once connected to that site, Vapor Store utilizes the database at IGDB, presenting game titles, previews and screenshots along with cover art.

    https://torrentfreak.com/images/vapo...0575910285.png

    “When you click on a game you get even more information such as a short description and some screenshots. To install a game the user simply needs to click on the ‘Download’ button and then Vapor Store will do its thing,” Sushy explains.

    “Once the install is complete the game will automatically get added to the user’s library and from there they will be able to run the game.”

    Vapor Store is still very much in development over at Github, with updates to its interface, storefront and ability to work with ROM sites on the horizon. The developer acknowledges that there are things still to be fixed but believes the tool has reached the stage where it can be tested by the public.

    Vapor Store is currently limited by the slow download speeds associated with file-hosting sites and due to the nature of games themselves (which cannot be streamed in the same way video can), it does not enjoy the immediacy of its movie and TV show equivalents. From a technical perspective, people shouldn’t begin holding their breath anytime soon for that kind of functionality.

    That being said, Vapor Store is an interesting concept that could be built upon in the future. It’s no Steam replacement at this early stage but has the potential to spark plenty of curiosity.

     Torrentfreak.com

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    Russia Adopts Law to Block Pirate Apps and if Necessary, App Stores Too

    Russia's State Duma has adopted new legislation that will enable copyright holders to take far-reaching action against apps facilitating access to pirated content. If the owners of the apps themselves fail to take action, the new legislation will compel services such as Google Play and Apple's App Store to remove the tools or find themselves blocked by local ISPs.

    As torrent indexes and streaming portals continue to provide access to copyrighted content, there has also been a considerable increase in the availability of software applications that facilitate access to movies, TV shows and similar content.

    These tools, which can be installed with minimal effort, often act as aggregators of content and presenting it in easy-to-use interfaces on mobile phones, tablets and similar devices. While the sources for this content can be handled with traditional takedown and blocking mechanisms, authorities in Russia have been seeking to take direct action against the apps themselves.

    Following its third reading, Russia’s State Duma adopted new legislative amendments yesterday that will allow them to do just that.

    How the New Law to Tackle Piracy Within Apps Will Work

    After receiving a complaint from a copyright holder, local telecoms watchdog Roscomnadazor will have 72 hours to determine where the allegedly-infringing application is being hosted. This might typically be an official repository such as Google Play or Apple’s App Store but could also be a third-party distributor or website offering a similar service or functionality.

    Roscomnadzor will then send an infringement notice to the platform informing it of the alleged violation while highlighting a requirement to limit the availability of the content identified in the notice. The app distribution platform will then have 24 hours following the receipt of the complaint to notify the application’s owner that an infringement complaint has been filed.

    Within 24 hours of the developer being made aware of the details of the complaint, they will be required to prevent the specified content from being made available in their application. If they do not comply, the responsibility to prevent ongoing infringement will then fall back on the app distribution platforms themselves, requiring them to stop distributing the entire application.

    In the event that the application distributor fails to take the mandated removal or blocking steps, Roscomnadzor will then be able to issue an instruction to have the distributor itself blocked by all Internet service providers in Russia, thereby preventing consumers from having access to the platform in its entirety.

    “If the owner of the information resource [Google Play, Apple’s App Store] has not limited access to the software application, the information necessary for taking measures to restrict access to the software application is sent to telecom operators,” an announcement from the State Duma reads.

    Last-Ditch Efforts to Soften the Law Were Ignored

    In the original draft of the legislation, responsibility for blocking access to pirated content was limited to the developers/operators of the allegedly-infringing applications themselves. However, subsequent amendments expanded liability to application distribution platforms too.

    Several trade groups made last-minute appeals to the State Duma requesting that measures to block distribution platforms be removed from the legislation but their calls went unheeded. As a result, there are now fears that key app distribution players could be negatively affected by the measures due to additional requirements to monitor for the alleged infringements of third-parties.

    After two years in the making, the new law will be signed by President Vladimir Putin and into force on October 1, 2020.

    Torrentfreak.com

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    US Copyright Office’s DMCA Tweaks Trigger ‘Internet Disconnection’ Concerns

    Last week the US Copyright Office released its long-awaited review on the DMCA's safe harbor section. While far-reaching proposals such as pirate site blocking and upload filters were not recommended, some proposals have triggered criticism from digital rights groups, who fear that the interests of users are being ignored.

    After several years of public consultations and stakeholder meetings, the US Copyright Office issued its review of the DMCA’s safe harbor provisions.

    The report doesn’t propose any major overhauls of the DMCA. Instead, it aims to fine-tune some parts, to better balance the interests of copyright holders and online service providers (OSPs).

    More drastic suggestions were put on the backburner. Those include pirate site blocking and a ‘takedown and staydown’ requirement for online services, which would require mandatory upload filtering.

    Not Everyone Is Happy with the Report

    The Copyright Office’s attempt to create more balance is well-intended but not everyone is pleased with it. For example, a statement released by several prominent music industry groups, including the RIAA, shows that they wanted and expected more.

    The music groups provide a list of things big technology platforms could do to address the concerns raised in the report. However, their first suggestion is to ensure that ‘takedown’ means ‘staydown.’ That’s one of the things the Copyright Office explicitly did not recommend, as there may be a negative impact.

    On the other side, there was a lot of critique of the apparent disregard for a key party in the DMCA debate, the public at large. The Copyright Office frames DMCA issues as a ‘copyright holders’ vs. ‘online service provider’ debate, but the voice of the public is glanced over at times.

    Looking at the suggestions in the report, however, it’s clear the public will be heavily impacted by the proposed changes. This is also a problem signaled by some digital rights groups.

    Disconnecting Alleged Copyright Infringers

    According to Public Knowledge, the Copyright Office’s recommendations are ill-considered. The digital rights group believes that the report heavily favors copyright holders while totally overlooking the interests of millions of regular Internet users.

    The proposals don’t only harm the general public, they also fail to recognize copyright abuses, including false DMCA notices, the group adds.

    “In a contentious debate, it comes down on the same side (copyright holders) in nearly every instance, and disregards ample evidence that the DMCA is often abused by people looking to censor content they have no rights over,” the group notes.

    Public Knowlege takes offense to the Office’s comments regarding repeat infringers. These stress that people’s Internet access be disconnected based on allegations of copyright infringements by copyright holders.

    “Astonishingly, the Copyright Office buys into the idea that users should be subject to being cut off from internet access entirely on the basis of allegations of copyright infringement,” Public Knowledge writes.

    The DMCA text is currently not clear on whether allegations are good enough, but the Office’s recommendation is backed by an Appeals Court order. Nonetheless, Public Knowledge doesn’t believe it should be law.

    “Congress should not be making it easier for private actors to completely and unilaterally remove a person’s ability to access the internet,” the group writes. “The internet is not just a giant copyrighted-content delivery mechanism; it is the fundamental backbone of modern life.”

    Public Knowledge is not alone in its criticism. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) also stresses that the interests of the public are largely ignored, tilting the “balance” towards copyright holders.

    “For example, the proposal to terminate someone’s Internet access—at any time, but especially now—is a hugely disproportionate response to unproven allegations of copyright infringement,” EFF wrote on Twitter.

    Copyright Office Cherry-Picking?

    It’s worth noting that court decisions are not always leading to the Copyright Office. The Appeals Court previously ruled that a repeat infringer policy doesn’t have to be written down, for example, but the Office now suggests updating the DMCA to change this.

    Requiring a written repeat infringer policy, contrary to the Appeal Court ruling, would favor copyright holders. The same is true for confirming the other Appeal Court ruling, which concluded that ISPs must deal with repeat infringers based on allegations alone.

    This doesn’t mean that the Office is always taking one side, however. As mentioned earlier, the report also denied the top demands from copyright holders by not recommending site blocking and ‘takedown – staydown’ policies.

    Disagreement Remains

    By highlighting these positions from two opposing sides of the debate, it is clear that the Copyright Office report includes positive and negative elements for all stakeholders. While it attempts to create more balance, disagreement remains.

    This has also been the general theme of the DMCA revision debate over the past several years. The demands from one side usually hurt the other, and vice versa. It took a long time before the Office finalized its views and given what’s at stake, pushing any changes through Congress is not going to be easy.

    Torrentfreak.com

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    US Court Hands Down Preliminary Injunction Against Pirate IPTV Provider

    A Florida district court judge has handed down a highly-restrictive preliminary injunction against a 'pirate' IPTV provider trading under various names including CBC and X-View. The case was originally filed under seal by TV broadcaster DISH Networks, whose representative tracked down the alleged operator in Belize.

    Pirate IPTV services have flourished in the past few years with little to hold them all back.

    To counter the threat, however, US-broadcaster DISH Network hasn’t taken its foot off the gas, filing numerous lawsuits in local courts in an effort to shut at least some of them down.

    DISH seems to pick its targets wisely, enjoying success in many of not all of its lawsuits. This week the company added another victory to its collection after obtaining a preliminary injunction to prevent a pirate IPTV service from infringing its rights.

    Filed under seal back in late January at a Florida court, the complaint targeted Robert Reich, an alleged resident of Riviera Beach, Florida. Reich’s IPTV service reportedly operates under various business names including Channel Broadcasting Corporation of Belize Ltd, Channel Broadcasting Cable, CBC Cable, and CBC.

    The ‘Pirate’ Rebroadcasting Scheme

    According to DISH, Reich is the owner and operator of the ‘CBC X-View Cable Service’ which does business at CBC.bz. DISH alleges that the service is actually a pirate TV operation that utilizes official DISH subscriber accounts (many of which have Florida addresses) to steal the company’s programming before retransmitting it via the Internet.

    The image below shows around half of the channels offered by the service, many of which are licensed exclusively by DISH.

    https://torrentfreak.com/images/cbc-...0745225620.png

    “Defendant sells subscriptions to the CBC pirate television service for $60 per month plus a $55 installation fee. To purchase a subscription, customers can contact CBC through a variety of means according to CBC’s website, including telephone, email, Facebook, and WhatsApp VOIP service,” the complaint reads.

    In addition to regular subscribers, DISH alleges that the service is also being used in several hotels in Belize including the Radisson Fort George. DISH claims that error messages from its services were observed on television sets in the hotels showing that the programming had indeed been retransmitted from its platform.

    DISH commonly files anti-IPTV lawsuits under copyright law or the Federal Communications Act, with the latter being used in this case. The company alleges breaches of 47 U.S.C. § 605(a) and 47 U.S.C. § 605(e)(4) which covers the sale of device codes (aka subscriptions) and piracy devices such as configured set-top boxes.

    Statutory damages of between $1,000 and $10,000 are available for each violation of Section 605(a) and up to $100,000 if the violation was committed willfully and for financial gain. Section 605(e)(4) allows for statutory damages up to $100,000 for each violation.

    Defendant Tracked Down and Served in Belize

    The docket shows that on April 24, 2020, a former police officer and process server hired by DISH served documents on Robert Reich at his residence in Belize, including an ex parte motion for temporary restraining order and motion for preservation order and asset freeze previously granted by the court.

    In response, Reich filed a motion to quash, arguing that the court that it had no jurisdiction over him because he hadn’t been properly served. After highlighting conflicting statements submitted by Reich and his wife, earlier this month Judge Rodney Smith dismissed the motion and sided with DISH.

    Temporary Restraining Order Converted to Preliminary Injunction

    This week the court noted that it had previously granted a temporary restraining order (TRO) against Reich based on several findings, including that since DISH was likely to succeed in its claims under the FCA, the continued distribution of pirate subscriptions and devices would cause “irreparable injury” to the company.

    Since then, however, the court acknowledged that the parties had met and agreed to convert the TRO into a preliminary injunction to be formalized by the court, in advance of an upcoming hearing.

    As a result, Judge Smith was happy to carry that out by restraining Reich and all of his businesses from continuing to infringe DISH’s rights. That includes receiving and/or distributing DISH programming without permission and selling or distributing devices “marketed, designed or intended for receiving or assisting others” in receiving DISH programming.

    Reich was further restrained from destroying, hiding or transferring any computer servers, satellite equipment, software, set-top boxes and documentation that have been used (or could be used) to support his pirate IPTV service.

    Finally, Reich had severe restrictions placed on his assets, including physical items, cash and bank accounts, preventing any transfer beyond what’s required for “reasonable” living and business expenses. The court told Reich that he must now “keep detailed records” of all his expenditures.

    “Defendant, and anyone acting in active concert or participation with Defendant or Defendant’s CBC TV Service at issue in this action who receives actual notice of this Order, is warned that any act in violation of any of the terms of this Order may be considered and prosecuted as contempt of this Court,” Judge Smith warned.

    Torrentfreak.com

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    Watch Tower DMCA Subpoena Row Settled After Judge Hands Out Vulgarity Warning

    A row over whether a judge should allow the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society to obtain the identity of someone who uploaded 'pirated' Jehovah's Witness videos to YouTube is effectively over. Concluding possibly one of the most foul-mouthed cases on record, the judge dismissed all claims of fair use while advising an anonymous movant that vulgarity in court filings "is not a good idea".

    Back in March we reported that the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, the publisher for the Jehovah’s Witness religious group, had gone to court to obtain a DMCA subpoena.

    The aim of the group was to discover the personal details of a self-declared ‘apostate’ who uploaded Jehovah’s Witness sermons to YouTube in breach of copyright. These are usually open-and-shut cases but when an anonymous movant stepped in to contest the application, things got pretty stormy to say the least.

    As reported in April, the anonymous individual filed a series of documents with the court, branding leaders of the religious group as ‘pedophiles’ and suggesting that Judge Cathy Seibel’s alleged friendship with Watch Tower’s attorney could be undermining the judicial process. While largely irrelevant to our copyright-focused reporting, it should be noted that those claims were just the tip of the iceberg.

    Profanities aside (and they were present in abundance), the anonymous movant declared protection under fair use doctrines and drew attention to the fact that despite filing applications for 59 DMCA subpoenas, Watch Tower had never followed up with an actual copyright lawsuit. These matters and more were subsequently addressed by Watch Tower and Judge Seibel.

    Watch Tower: DMCA Subpoena Process Was Used in Good Faith

    In a memorandum and declaration, Watch Tower attorney Paul D. Polidoro said that beginning June 2018, the religious group undertook “concentrated efforts” to address the “global theft” of its intellectual property. Part of this was exercising its rights under the DMCA, including applying for subpoenas. According to Polidoro, however, these didn’t bear much fruit.

    Using the words of the anonymous movant against him, the attorney noted that things like “VPNs, anonymous proxies, and TOR exit nodes” frustrate Watch Tower’s enforcement efforts to discover the true identities of alleged infringers.

    “When some identifying information was obtained, usually the infringer resided outside of the United States, such as in South America or Europe,” Polidoro wrote.

    “At the end of last year, Watch Tower’s Legal Department was finally able to identify a few potential domestic defendants to bring a copyright infringement action. Undertaking litigation with its attendant expenses was and is carefully considered because Jehovah’s Witnesses’ efforts are ‘supported entirely by voluntary donations’.”

    In the end, however, Watch Tower decided that legal action against someone was required and in December 2019 took the decision to sue an alleged copyright infringer. According to the filing, work on the case has been taking place since the beginning of 2020 but due to the coronavirus pandemic, the complaint was delayed.

    “Watch Tower’s forthcoming copyright infringement lawsuit will not end its efforts to take steps to address other ongoing continued infringements. To this end, Watch Tower will continue to avail itself of its statutory rights to pursue DMCA subpoenas to identify other potential defendants,” Polidoro warned.

    Watch Tower: No Fair Use in This Case

    What followed was a case-by-case analysis of five videos posted by the movant to YouTube. In previous filings, the movant stated that the videos were “undercover” recordings of Jehovah’s Witness sermons but according to the religious group, they were all posted in their entirety and without criticism, as might be the case when attempting to make a fair use claim.

    Only making matters more complicated was a subsequent motion to quash by the anonymous movant which stated that the DMCA subpoena itself was invalid because the five videos referenced by Watch Tower had already been removed from YouTube by YouTube itself, before the notices had been issued.

    y the time Watch Tower had issued its DMCA notices for the five allegedly infringing videos in the case at hand, the five videos had already been removed by Google/YouTube because Google is a huge piece of shit who doesn’t have to do their fucking jobs right,” the motion notes.

    “So ‘Hooray for the pieces of shit at Google for being so quick on the trigger and heavy-handed with their ban hammer!’ But I guess that means that this subpoena must be quashed.”

    No, Possibly, and Mind Your Language, Judge Declares

    “Having heard further from the parties, I deny the motion to quash,” Judge Siebel wrote in her recent order settling the matter.

    “Watch Tower has provided an explanation for why it has not pursued more cases, as well as evidence that the alleged infringement would not constitute fair use because the videos are full-length and not accompanied by criticism. That there may be criticisms in the comments section [on YouTube] does not render the initial postings fair use.”

    On the validity of the DMCA subpoena, the anonymous movant may enjoy more success, but only within tight parameters.

    “Movant argues that the subpoena is unenforceable because the videos were all taken down before Google received notice. I am dubious, because this allegation contradicts what Movant alleges elsewhere — that the videos were taken down only after the notices were received — and because in Watch Tower’s initial declaration, it attached a letter it sent to Google asking it to take down the videos,” the Judge notes.

    “But the subpoena would be unenforceable if the material had been taken down before the notices were received, so Watch Tower’s counsel should provide Google with a copy of this text order, and Google is advised that compliance with the subpoena is not required if in fact the videos were taken down before Google received any notice of the possible infringement.”

    With the matter of the DMCA subpoena now apparently over, Judge Siebel took the time to add some personal advice to conclude her order. Having made no attempt to rein in any of the language used in the dispute thus far, she had the last word indicating she was far from happy.

    “Finally, some free advice for Movant: Inflammatory, vulgar and abusive language in court filings is not a good idea.”

     Torrentfreak.com

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    Netflix Impostor Bombards Google With Fake DMCA Takedown Notices

    From just a few thousand flagged URLs per week the number of DMCA takedown notices Netflix sent to Google skyrocketed to over a million recently. The reason for this increase wasn't clear initially but Google now believes that it's dealing with a Netflix impostor, which could be a pirate site trying to downrank the competition.

    Earlier this month we reported on an interesting trend. Suddenly, the number of DMCA takedown notices sent by Netflix to Google shot through the roof.

    As a possible explanation, we suggested an increase in enforcement following the surge of piracy during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, there were also some signs that hinted towards possible abuse by a third party.

    After our publication, the number of ‘Netflix’ DMCA notices sent to Google only increased. Two weeks ago the streaming platform reportedly flagged 1.2 million pirate URLs in a month, a sharp contrast to the few thousand it filed a few weeks earlier.

    Google Takes Action

    At the same time, however, Google started to pick up the issue as well. Where all reported pirate links sent by “Netflix” were previously removed, the search engine has now started to reject more and more requests.

    In fact, Google’s Transparency Report is actively flagging several Netflix notices as abusive. While they do contain links to pirated material, Google believes they were sent by impostors.

    “We believe that an impostor or someone else abusing the process submitted this request. We report it here for the sake of completeness and to provide a view into one kind of abuse of the DMCA process,” Google writes.

    https://torrentfreak.com/images/netflix-impostor.jpg

    The notices that are flagged show the same fishy characteristics we highlighted in our earlier article. They generate separate ‘reporting organization’ listings in Google’s transparency report, submit long lists of URLs from the same domains, and often identify content that’s not owned by Netflix.

    Also, the message that comes with these notices isn’t exactly proper English and reads: “All works on this website is copyrighted for netflix and this website not allowed to share this content.”

    Competing Pirate Sites?

    Who is responsible for these abusive notices remains a question. It seems very likely, however, that they’re being sent by the owner of a pirate streaming site, who wants links from competing sites removed from Google search.

    Given that most reported sites are French we assume that the sender – pirate or not – is French-speaking as well.

    It’s good to see that Google is now aware of the problem. However, this is not the first time this type of abuse has come up, so it would be good to know if it can be prevented going forward.

    Google Is Taking Action

    Google obviously doesn’t like this type of abuse, but in some cases it’s unavoidable. The company says its DMCA removals process aims to strike a balance between making it easy and efficient for rightsholders to report infringing content, and protecting free expression on the web.

    “This system has been effective at significantly reducing access to infringing content via Search, but there are bad actors who attempt to abuse this system and limit access to information, which is something we actively fight against,” a Google spokesperson informed TorrentFreak.

    “Over the years, we’ve continued to invest in new tools and establish processes like the Trusted Copyright Removal Program to tackle this issue at scale, while also developing new ways to counter abuse, which continues to evolve.”

    As a result of these measures, Google rejects all requests it believes were sent by impostors. That said, many of the ‘dubious’ notices that were sent previously have not been flagged, or the URLs that were reported remain deindexed.

    Google says that there are various types of abuse, some effecting legitimate content, and others target pirate content. While reported links form abusers are not always reinstated, affected sites can always submit counternotices. However, Google will not reinstate pirate URLs.

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    ACE/MPA Seize Four More Sites For Facilitating Movie & TV Show Piracy

    The Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment and the Motion Picture Association of America have 'seized' four more domains for being involved in piracy activities. While the domains don't appear to be particularly big players, they add to a growing list of online portals being quietly placed under the control of the massive global anti-piracy coalition.

    Domain takeovers and seizures have been part of the piracy landscape for at least 15 years.

    Previously implemented mostly by government agencies, including the Department of Justice and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) as part of criminal investigations, seizure banners are used as messages to deter former and would-be pirates.

    Given the finite resources of law enforcement agencies and their tendency to focus on high-profile targets, domain seizures/takeovers are now much more likely to be actioned privately. This usually involves an approach to a site owner by entertainment industry lawyers, who politely request that all infringing activity ceases and domains are handed over to avoid more punishing action.

    The Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE) is now emerging as the leader in this type of enforcement tactic. Comprised of the world’s leading video-focused entertainment companies, ACE has shut down dozens of platforms in this manner. However, instead of shouting its achievements from the rooftops, ACE prefers to conduct most of this activity behind the scenes.

    Four More Domains Officially ‘Seized’ by ACE/MPA This Month

    1. Rokuenmexico.com

    Until recently, visitors to ‘Roku in Mexico’ were greeted with an offer to buy what appears to have been an unlicensed IPTV product called Future TV.

    “Premium TV at the best price. Forget about SKY and Netflix,” the site declared. “The largest catalog of films including some that are still in the cinema. Access the latest movies from your home.”

    Priced at 230 pesos (around $10) per month, the service claimed to be compatible with Android, iOS, Windows and Mac devices, playable on up to three at any one time. The service could be ‘activated’ via WhatsApp with payments accepted via PayPal and other means.

    Curiously, however, the underlying Future TV portal seems to have been unaffected by the MPA’s seizure of the Rokuenmexico.com domain. That remains available today, as the image below shows.

    https://torrentfreak.com/images/futu...0658582344.png

    2. Android-Latino.com

    The MPA’s takeover of Android-Latino.com is more difficult to decipher. The minimal volume of cached pages available on the Wayback Machine suggest that the site published news and reviews of pirate IPTV services and apps. It may have also published links to URLs where people could watch IPTV channels for free.

    In any event, the original page (which wasn’t professionally presented) is long gone and now diverts to the ACE anti-piracy portal.

    3. TVnota10.net

    In common with the above seizure, the takeover of TVnota10.net isn’t immediately straightforward either. While the main site is down and redirecting to ACE citing breaches of copyright law, it appears to have functioned as a sales/promotional platform for a similarly-named service, TVN10.com.

    https://torrentfreak.com/images/tvno...0660409389.png

    That site appears to be completely functional, offering access to an almost certainly unlicensed IPTV service offering everything from live TV channels and movies, to TV shows and international sports.

    4. Crowdstream.ml

    To complete this weird quartet of domain takeovers we have Crowdstream.ml. Not only had we never heard of this platform before, it seems that the major companies of ACE may have only heard of it recently too. Google’s Transparency Report reveals that Twentieth Century Fox and Disney sent a handful of takedown notices in December 2019 with French free-to-air television channel TF1 taking an interest at roughly the same time.

    Major search engines only have a handful of Crowdstream pages indexed but the suggestion is that the service hosted or linked to mainstream movies and may have been directed at the French market.

    Coverage of previous ACE/MPA domain seizures can be found here.

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    How Anonymous Are Cloud Torrenting Services?

    Cloud torrenting services are an ideal tool to download content swiftly. They also help to hide your IP-address from the public at large. However, are they really anonymous? We asked the leading cloud torrenting services what their policies are.

    Every day, millions of people download files through BitTorrent. This works well but there is one major drawback; everything you download can be tracked.

    To bypass this privacy concern many people have started to use VPNs, many of which provide good anonymity. Others prefer cloud torrenting tools, which also help to hide users’ IP-addresses.

    Over the past few years we’ve regularly asked VPN providers how anonymous they really are. However, little is known about the privacy policies and logging practices of cloud torrenting services. Today, we hope to fill this gap.

    At the start of the week we reached out to several of the leading cloud torrenting services to ask some detailed questions. In particular, we wanted to know what information they store and if that can expose users.

    The list of all questions, including the answers from providers, is listed below. At the bottom of the article we provide a summary, as well as a list of those who failed to respond at all.


    1. Does your service collect any temporary or permanent data that can link a timestamp and IP-address to a specific user on your service? If so, what information do you collect and how long is that stored?

    2. Does your service store any personally identifiable information of users (including IP-addresses)? If so, what information do you store, and for how long?

    3. Does your service store the names/hashes or other identifying information of downloaded content (stored on your servers) that can be connected with a specific user? If so, for how long?

    4. Does your service store the names/hashes or other identifying information of previously downloaded content (after being removed from the user’s account) that can be connected with a specific user? If so, for how long?

    5. How does your service respond to DMCA notices or similar takedown requests?

    6. Do you have a repeat infringer policy? If so, what does it entail?



    Premiumize

    1. No, we don’t log any IP access data. Our whole service is built to have minimal logging and is very light on the database level. That keeps things simple.

    2. The most unique userkey is the user’s email address. We keep that for obvious reasons – to secure the account and reach the user. We keep it until the account is deleted. Apart from that we don’t store anything, but other information might be stored by our payment gateways. Nothing really can be done there except moving to Bitcoin – which we support and love.

    3. There are two parts to our service. One is for fetching (eg a transfer job for importing the files into cloud storage) and then there’s the actual cloud storage. There is obviously a database that links the files to the user’s account but that connection is gone once the user deletes(removes) the file from their cloud. We cannot restore files and cannot backtrack who added/transferred what.

    4.No, we do not.

    5. Luckily we don’t have this problem since our business model does not contain any sort of sharing or publishing. Generated filelinks are locked to the user’s account and cannot be accessed externally.

    6. We do not and it would be pretty hard since we do not have the logs. For now, we are content with the current legal situation.



    TorrentFreak summary: There are no logs that can connect a person’s IP-address to an account. Premiumize can link files to user accounts and information



    Transfercloud

    1. The last IP address is registered when the user logs on and it is cleared when the user logs out. This IP is only used to permit access to their downloaded files, and it is correlated with the login cookie. This is temporary and the privacy of the user is assured when they logout. The email is used to register and as an account recovery mechanism.

    2. Each account is associated with an email address. Even though we frown on ‘temporary’ or ‘disposable’ emails, we make no effort in collecting the real name. In fact, if the user logs in with a Facebook account and refuses to share their email address, we don’t store any address at all. Email is only used to ensure the ownership of the account and allow users to ‘recover’ their own account and not be available for anyone else.

    At any point, users can change their email address or delete it. Also, at any point any user can ask for account deletion and all information will be purged on request. We are working on adding an automatic mechanism for this.

    Now, if the user upgrades their account, our payment processor asks for PII to ensure the identity of the user to protect against credit card fraud. This information STAYS on their servers and is not available from ours. We don’t use that information at all, we just receive the activation for a specific account.

    3. See the next answer.

    4. On all active or previous transfers the original request is stored as long as the user leaves them on their ‘downloaded’ list. As soon as they clear this list, that information is purged and can no longer be connected with the user.

    5. We respond as soon as the request is received. We delete the referred content and comply, informing the user why it was deleted and suggesting they do not try downloading any copyrighted content.

    6. We have not had to enforce any “repeat infringer” policies, but we do not disclose the limits we would consider as abuse to avoid users trying to “pass below the radar”. To be clear, although we do have a “fair use” policy for bandwidth usage, we have not had to impose any limits, as we try to permit the users to use the service to their maximum potential, and instead, we are really happy to see users enjoy it that much.



    TorrentFreak summary: There are temporary logs that can connect a person’s IP-address to an account. TransferCloud can link non-deleted files and download histories to user accounts and information



    Put.io

    1. Since we are a Turkish company we are required to abide by Turkish laws, which are more concerned about curtailing free speech than privacy. And since there is no speech at put.io we’re not keeping a list of [‘all’] used IP addresses.

    We do keep the last used IP address to generate a download token that invalidates download links when requested from other IP addresses. We keep this last IP address as long as the user is logged in. It is erased when the user logs out or is inactive for 7 days. This is a precaution against abuse. We are currently working on a solution that will make it unnecessary to keep the last IP address.

    2. We keep the username, reported email address and the last IP address for the purpose explained above. We have no access to users’ payment information. These are stored by our payment providers

    3. There is an association with the account and the transfer jobs as long as they are displayed on the transfers page, and there is an association between the account and the files as long as they are stored under that account. There is also a history page that lists the latest transfer jobs, but it can be turned off.

    These associations disappear the moment the transfers page is cleared, the files are deleted or the history page is cleared (or disabled). We wouldn’t be able to answer the question “What has this user downloaded?” after that.

    Also, if the user ever destroys their account, we destroy everything related to the account. The only record we keep is a log entry that states that an account with that username was destroyed on that date. We had to add this to solve some mysteries with unintended account deletions.

    4. No. If it’s not visible in the user interface we don’t keep it.

    5. After 10 years in operation we have received only one DMCA request and that was meant for another service called Putlocker. The copyright holder had mixed up the services. We don’t receive DMCA requests, but if we ever did, we would comply and remove the content from our servers. That would be the end of it.

    6. We have never had to develop a policy to deal with this.

    TorrentFreak summary: There are temporary logs that can connect a person’s IP-address to an account. Put.io can link the non-deleted files and download history to user accounts and information.



    Summary: How Anonymous Are Cloud Torrenting Services

    Cloud torrenting services help people to hide their IP-addresses from the public. By doing so, they add an extra privacy layer. Outsiders can’t see what people download. However, true anonymity is a different matter.

    The services can link stored files – and in some cases non-deleted download histories – to the personal information they store in their database. In that regard, they are similar to cloud hosting services. This is worth keeping in mind, as services can be compromised or legally required to share information.

    Cloud Torrenting Services That Haven’t Responded (Yet)

    The following services didn’t respond to our questions. If they do, we will update the article accordingly.

    – Bitport
    – Boxopus
    – Cloudload
    – Filestream
    – Seedr
    – Offcloud
    – Torrentsafe
    – Transfercloud
    – Zbig

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    BREIN Shut Down 564 Pirate Sites & Blocked 258 Pirate Bay Proxies in 2019

    BREIN has published the results of its 2019 anti-piracy campaign. In addition to shuttering 564 downloading and streaming platforms, the group had The Pirate Bay and 258 of its mirrors and proxies blocked by ISPs. More than 330 similar platforms shut themselves down.

    Founded in 1998, BREIN is one of the world’s most recognizable anti-piracy groups and has taken on some of the largest names in piracy, including the infamous Pirate Bay.

    BREIN has a laundry list of significant anti-piracy victories under its belt, not only by introducing site blocking to the Netherlands via a case against The Pirate Bay but also winning a landmark decision in the Filmspeler case, which found that selling piracy-configured set-top boxes is illegal under EU law.

    Many of BREIN’s achievements aren’t so widely publicized in real-time but via its annual report, the Dutch anti-piracy group shines a light on its activities of the preceding 12 months. Its latest publication reveals that 2019 was a busy year, as BREIN sought to protect the rights of copyright holders in the fields of movies, TV shows, music and publishing, plus games and images.

    BREIN Investigations Increase Year on Year

    The global anti-piracy landscape is huge and almost impossible to map comprehensively given its fluid nature. However, BREIN is certainly taking on its fair share of cases and looking into a surprising number of matters at any one time.

    During 2019, BREIN said it completed 596 investigations, up from the 511 it concluded during the previous year. The anti-piracy group doesn’t provide a precise overview of the nature of each of these investigations or the reasons for discontinuing each of them. Nevertheless, at the close of last year, 243 were still active, up from the 97 that remained ongoing at the end of 2018.

    The War Against Downloading and Streaming Platforms

    For many years, BREIN has reported successes against pirate platforms, often taking down hundreds in a 12 month period and 2019 was no exception. When downloading and streaming platforms are combined, BREIN says that it disabled 564 overall during the period. Sites targeted by the anti-piracy group commonly operate in the torrent, Usenet, linking, and cyberlocker niches.

    Continuing to Tackle The Pirate Bay

    After unrelenting pressure by BREIN, in 2012 a Dutch court issued an order for ISPs to block The Pirate Bay in the Netherlands. While that decision was overturned two years later, BREIN took the matter to the Supreme Court, which led to an EU Court of Justice referral.

    In 2017, Europe’s highest court ruled that The Pirate Bay could indeed be blocked. The case in the Netherlands is still pending but with an interim injunction in place, ISPs are blocking the site. That has led to the emergence of hundreds of mirrors and proxies, all of which keep BREIN busy.

    According to the group’s annual report, 258 mirrors and proxies of The Pirate Bay were blocked by ISPs using IP address and DNS methods while 333 proxies “ceased their service” during 2019.

    Illegal IPTV and VOD suppliers

    One of BREIN’s most notable achievements in 2019 took place in partnership with the MPA. Together the groups took legal action against Russian pirate CDN ‘Moonwalk’ (1,2) which reportedly serviced around 80% of Russia-based streaming sites.

    Lower down the chain of supply, BREIN reports it also curtailed the activities of “23 illegal dealers” in ‘pirate’ IPTV and VOD subscriptions plus another 12 sellers operating via Facebook. A seller of piracy-configured IPTV devices offered through an online marketplace agreed to pay a settlement to BREIN after being tracked down by the group. During the past several years, BREIN has taken down around 300 pirate IPTV sellers and obtained settlements worth tens of thousands of euros.

    BREIN also took on a more unusual case targeting the operator of a so-called ‘Plex share’ offering 5,700 movies and 10,000 TV-shows. That individual agreed to shut down and pay a settlement to the anti-piracy group.

    Uploaders and other distributors

    BREIN doesn’t have a history of regularly targeting small-time ‘personal’ file-sharers but does take action against people who supply content for download or devices designed for copyright infringement on a larger scale.

    During 2019, BREIN targeted several Facebook and other social media-based groups offering eBooks, shutting them down and obtaining settlements from their operators. The anti-piracy outfit also concluded a case against a seller of Nintendo R4 cartridges pre-loaded with up to 100 games after the seller signed a cease-and-desist with a financial penalty clause. A similar agreement was reached with a Usenet uploader.

    In a sign that BREIN expects these types of settlements to be adhered to, the anti-piracy group reports that it took action against at least two offenders who previously agreed to comply and then reneged.

    In response, a repeat eBook pirate who continued her activities had her house and assets seized by BREIN before payments were resumed. A major uploader who did not comply with the terms of his settlement was summoned to court, with additional legal and collection costs.

    Upcoming Activities in 2020

    After being granted permission to monitor BitTorrent users several users ago, BREIN indicated that it might be prepared to demand cash settlements from people who repeatedly upload infringing content. While that never appeared at any scale, the anti-piracy group does have something up its sleeve for the months ahead.

    “The dealing with frequent uploaders includes an awareness program of 6 months in which a maximum of 1000 accounts a month will receive an educational warning by email. For research into its effect, funding has been obtained,” BREIN says.

    “The start of the education is planned mid-2020. Whether enforcement will eventually take place is subject to the effect of the awareness program.”

    The full BREIN Review 2019 report can be obtained here (pdf)

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    Former Police Officer Handed 12 Month Sentence For Selling Pirate TV Devices

    A former police officer, currently serving a six-year sentence for running a cannabis farm, was handed an additional 12 months inside yesterday for running a pirate streaming operation. Daniel Aimson, who sold piracy-configured devices and ran an online streaming portal, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud.

    Over the years there have been many claims that people involved in piracy are linked to other areas of criminality but a case concluded yesterday probably wasn’t the leading example the authorities had in mind.

    In 2017, Greater Manchester Police (GMP) assisted by the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) launched an investigation into Daniel Aimson, who at the time was a serving officer with the force. Another matter, which we’ll come to shortly, triggered an investigation into Aimson’s finances and his connection to A1MSN Ltd, a company registered in the UK during October 2016 directed by his then-wife, Rachel Aimson.

    It transpired that this company, which described itself as being involved in the “retail sale of audio and video equipment in specialized stores”, was being used to supply piracy-configured IPTV devices providing access to sport and movies for a monthly subscription.

    According to GMP, the company also sold pirate streaming subscriptions that allowed users to log into a web-based portal where the content could be viewed without the need for a dedicated device.

    “Over a seven-month period between January to August 2017, the turnover for just one of the accounts linked to the company was in excess of £300,000, none of which was declared to HMRC,” GMP said in a statement.

    “Further analysis of the account revealed that between September 2016 and May 2017, approximately 1,640 illicit IPTV devices were sold.”

    Alleged losses for SKY TV

    In September 2017, Aimson was arrested at his home under suspicion and fraud and he was suspended from his role with the police. An analysis by Sky TV suggested it could have lost around £5 million in official subscriptions but a figure of $2.124m is now being cited by GMP.

    Yesterday, after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud, a judge at Manchester Crown Court sentenced the former police officer to 12 months in prison.

    “Aimson was making enormous amounts of money from what he knew to be an illegal activity,” commented Detective Constable Paul Bayliss of Greater Manchester Police.

    “He was a police employee with a good career. That is now in tatters and he’s facing a lengthy prison sentence during which to contemplate his foolish and deceitful actions.”

    While 12 months may sound like a long time in prison, many offenders spend just half of their sentences behind bars. However, Daniel Aimson’s case goes much deeper than that, something that went unmentioned in the force’s statement this morning.

    Already Serving a Six-Year Sentence for Drugs Offenses

    According to the archives of the Manchester Evening News, in 2015 when Daniel Aimson was still a serving officer, he and several other individuals were producing cannabis on a commercial scale. One of the growing locations was leased using the identity of the member of the public after Aimson stole the individual’s driving license during a spot check.

    Aimson’s farms continued to produce cannabis for at least 30 months but in June 2017 the operation was raided by police and shut down.

    “He (Aimson) was seen at various stages on his own CCTV hard drive to wear a t-shirt depicting the lead character Walt in the hit TV series called Breaking Bad,” Prosecutor Owen Edwards previously commented.

    “In his various text messages it is clear that Aimson reveled in his double life as officer and criminal.”

    IPTV Piracy Continued While Aimson Was On Bail

    While Aimson was on bail for the drugs offenses, financial investigators found links to his still-operating set-top box business, his wife’s limited company through which they were sold, and bank accounts operated by other family members used to handle the money.

    In 2017, Aimson was handed a prison sentence of six years and four months for running the cannabis operation. Yesterday, just two and a half years into that sentence, he was handed an additional 12 months inside for selling the pirate TV devices.

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    Massive Piracy Damages Award Against Cox is Not Excessive, Court Rules

    Cox Communications' request to lower the massive piracy liability verdict issued by a Virginia jury has failed. The request for a new trial was denied as well. However, the court does agree that the damages should be issued per work if there are multiple copyrights involved, which means that the $1 billion figure may go down.

    Last year, Internet provider Cox Communications lost its legal battle against a group of major record labels.

    Following a two-week trial, a Virginia jury held Cox liable for its pirating subscribers, ordering the company to pay $1 billion in damages.

    Heavily disappointed by the decision, Cox later asked the court to set the jury verdict aside and decide the issue directly. In addition, the ISPargued that the “shockingly excessive” damages should be lowered. If that wasn’t an option, Cox wanted a new trial.

    These requests were fiercely opposed by the record labels and, after weighing the evidence from both sides, US District Court Judge Liam O’Grady decided over the matter this week.

    O’Grady’s 75-page opinion is mostly bad news for Cox. It starts by discussing the motion for judgment as a matter of law, which argues that the jury verdict should be set aside in exchange for a verdict by the court. The court, however, sees no reason to fully grant this.

    Cox argued that the evidence presented during trial doesn’t show that the ISP is liable for direct or secondary copyright infringement. The court disagrees. For example, when it comes to vicarious infringement, the record shows that Cox directly benefited from pirating subscribers.

    “Here, there was ample evidence for a reasonable jury to conclude, as this jury did, that Cox gained some direct financial benefit from the infringement, no matter how small,” Judge O’Grady writes.

    “The Court agrees with Plaintiffs’ argument that Cox’s treatment of repeat infringer accounts suffices as a causal connection between the infringement and financial gain. Internal emails among Defendants clearly establish a connection between infringing accounts and continued collection of revenue rather than termination.”

    https://torrentfreak.com/images/cox-order.jpg

    While the vast majority of Cox’s arguments “fall flat,” according to Judge O’Grady, there is a small win for the ISP as well, one that could have large financial consequences. The court agrees with the ISP that damages should be issued per ‘work’ and not for each ‘copyright.’

    There are 10,017 copyrights listed in the case which were multiplied by $99,3830 in damages per work, which led to the final figure of $1 billion. However, that should be adjusted as there are some overlapping works as well, where one song is covered by multiple copyrights.

    The court explains that infringers shouldn’t be punished multiple times for one pirated track simply because there are more copyrights related to it. As an example, Judge O’Grady mentions mashups where tracks can easily have 20 different copyright holders.

    “It is difficult to fathom that Congress intended such dramatic discrepancies in liability for substantially the same conduct. As willful infringement exposes the defendant to a maximum of $150,000 per work infringed, that three-minute mash-up could cost a defendant $3 million,” Judge O’Grady writes.

    This means that Cox can go over the list of copyrights in the suit to see how many ‘works’ these cover. This could be substantially less than the 10,017 copyrights previously indicated.

    Moving on, the court reviewed the scale of the damages, which was set at $99,3830 per work. Cox summed up a list of arguments why this “historic” amount is “shockingly” excessive. However, the court notes that the amount wasn’t grossly excessive in light of the evidence. There was no “miscarriage of justice,” as Cox claims.

    The ISP knew very well what the requirements of the DMCA are, what the possible statutory damages could be, and how many works were infringed.

    “As there is no potential ambiguity in construing the statutory dollar amounts, and Cox was keenly aware of the volume of infringement notices it received, the product of these two values was reasonably foreseeable,” Judge O’Grady notes.

    “In sum, Plaintiffs were well within their rights to elect both a jury trial and statutory damages. After significant deliberation, the jury awarded $99,830.29 per work, well within the Act’s statutory range of $750.00-$150,000.00.”

    All in all, this means that the damages per work stay the same. Cox is not entitled to a new trial but the $1 billion damages award may be lowered based on the number of works that have more than one copyright.



    A copy of US District Court Judge Liam O’Grady’s Memorandum Opinion and Order is available here (pdf). 

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    Massive Piracy Damages Award Against Cox is Not Excessive, Court Rules

    Cox Communications' request to lower the massive piracy liability verdict issued by a Virginia jury has failed. The request for a new trial was denied as well. However, the court does agree that the damages should be issued per work if there are multiple copyrights involved, which means that the $1 billion figure may go down.

    Last year, Internet provider Cox Communications lost its legal battle against a group of major record labels.

    Following a two-week trial, a Virginia jury held Cox liable for its pirating subscribers, ordering the company to pay $1 billion in damages.

    Heavily disappointed by the decision, Cox later asked the court to set the jury verdict aside and decide the issue directly. In addition, the ISPargued that the “shockingly excessive” damages should be lowered. If that wasn’t an option, Cox wanted a new trial.

    These requests were fiercely opposed by the record labels and, after weighing the evidence from both sides, US District Court Judge Liam O’Grady decided over the matter this week.

    O’Grady’s 75-page opinion is mostly bad news for Cox. It starts by discussing the motion for judgment as a matter of law, which argues that the jury verdict should be set aside in exchange for a verdict by the court. The court, however, sees no reason to fully grant this.

    Cox argued that the evidence presented during trial doesn’t show that the ISP is liable for direct or secondary copyright infringement. The court disagrees. For example, when it comes to vicarious infringement, the record shows that Cox directly benefited from pirating subscribers.

    “Here, there was ample evidence for a reasonable jury to conclude, as this jury did, that Cox gained some direct financial benefit from the infringement, no matter how small,” Judge O’Grady writes.

    “The Court agrees with Plaintiffs’ argument that Cox’s treatment of repeat infringer accounts suffices as a causal connection between the infringement and financial gain. Internal emails among Defendants clearly establish a connection between infringing accounts and continued collection of revenue rather than termination.”

    https://torrentfreak.com/images/cox-order.jpg

    While the vast majority of Cox’s arguments “fall flat,” according to Judge O’Grady, there is a small win for the ISP as well, one that could have large financial consequences. The court agrees with the ISP that damages should be issued per ‘work’ and not for each ‘copyright.’

    There are 10,017 copyrights listed in the case which were multiplied by $99,3830 in damages per work, which led to the final figure of $1 billion. However, that should be adjusted as there are some overlapping works as well, where one song is covered by multiple copyrights.

    The court explains that infringers shouldn’t be punished multiple times for one pirated track simply because there are more copyrights related to it. As an example, Judge O’Grady mentions mashups where tracks can easily have 20 different copyright holders.

    “It is difficult to fathom that Congress intended such dramatic discrepancies in liability for substantially the same conduct. As willful infringement exposes the defendant to a maximum of $150,000 per work infringed, that three-minute mash-up could cost a defendant $3 million,” Judge O’Grady writes.

    This means that Cox can go over the list of copyrights in the suit to see how many ‘works’ these cover. This could be substantially less than the 10,017 copyrights previously indicated.

    Moving on, the court reviewed the scale of the damages, which was set at $99,3830 per work. Cox summed up a list of arguments why this “historic” amount is “shockingly” excessive. However, the court notes that the amount wasn’t grossly excessive in light of the evidence. There was no “miscarriage of justice,” as Cox claims.

    The ISP knew very well what the requirements of the DMCA are, what the possible statutory damages could be, and how many works were infringed.

    “As there is no potential ambiguity in construing the statutory dollar amounts, and Cox was keenly aware of the volume of infringement notices it received, the product of these two values was reasonably foreseeable,” Judge O’Grady notes.

    “In sum, Plaintiffs were well within their rights to elect both a jury trial and statutory damages. After significant deliberation, the jury awarded $99,830.29 per work, well within the Act’s statutory range of $750.00-$150,000.00.”

    All in all, this means that the damages per work stay the same. Cox is not entitled to a new trial but the $1 billion damages award may be lowered based on the number of works that have more than one copyright.

    Torrentfreak.com

     
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    Project Gutenberg Public Domain Library Blocked in Italy For Copyright Infringement

    Project Gutenberg, the world's oldest digital library, has been blocked by ISPs in Italy under the orders of the Court of Rome. The platform, which focuses on public domain books, appears to have been erroneously labeled a pirate site in an action targeting 28 domains and several Telegram channels.

    Project Gutenberg, a volunteer effort to digitize and archive books, is sometimes described as the world’s oldest digital library.

    Founded in 1971, Project Gutenberg‘s archives now stretch to a total of more than 62,000 books, with a focus on titles that entered the public domain after their copyrights expired. The library does carry some and in-copyright books but these are distributed with the express permission of their owners.

    The project has an excellent reputation and its work is considered a great contribution to education and culture. However, it now transpires that the site has been rendered inaccessible by ISPs in Italy under the instructions of the Public Prosecutor at the Court of Rome.

    Project Gutenberg Chief Executive and Director posted an announcement to Twitter apologizing for the disruption of service while revealing that the surprise action had been taken by the Italian authorities.

    https://torrentfreak.com/images/gutten-twitter.jpg

    Investigation was carried out by police financial crimes unit

    As the above shows, the action involves the Guardia di Finanza, the Italian police unit tasked with financial crimes. GdF is regularly involved in enforcement actions against pirate sites and with the assistance of the Public Prosecutor at the Court of Rome, is heavily involved in site-blocking decisions. Indeed, a court order published by Techdirt reveals that Project Gutenberg’s issues are directly linked to a copyright infringement case.

    Published in Italian, the document is a “notification of preventative seizure decree” actioned under Article 321 of the Italian Criminal Code. It lists a total of 28 domains including what appears to be many platforms dedicated to the distribution of pirated literary content.

    Unfortunately, however, Project Gutenberg has also been thrown into the mix for reasons that aren’t immediately clear.

    Gutenberg.org Declared an Illegal For-Profit Pirate Site

    The seizure/blocking notice states that all of the targeted domains “distributed, transmitted and disseminated in pdf format, magazines, newspapers and books (property protected by copyright) after having illegally acquired numerous computer files with their content, communicating them to the public, [and] entering them into a system of communication networks.”

    Similar allegations are made against eight monitored Telegram channels with the following explanation:

    “The investigation, conducted by a special unit of the Guardia di Finanza, has been developed in the context of monitoring the targeted Internet networks to combat economic and financial offenses perpetrated online.

    “In this context, the operators identified some web resources registered on foreign servers which make content and magazines available to the public early in the morning, allowing users to view or download digital copies,” the court document reads. (translated from Italian)

    Court Order Also Sent to Google

    The order from the Court of Rome was also sent to Google, a copy of which was acquired by TorrentFreak from the Lumen Database. The sender was Reccia Giovanni who is listed as a commander with the GdF. As the image below shows, Gutenberg.org is 15th on the list of allegedly infringing sites.

    https://torrentfreak.com/images/lumen-guten.png

    Despite Project Gutenberg’s best efforts, copyright holders still file plenty of DMCA infringement notices with Google complaining that it infringes copyright law. Luckily, however, the search giant doesn’t seem particularly interested in taking the complaints seriously.

    According to its transparency report, Google has received requests to have 1,110 URLs from Gutenberg.org deleted from its search results. The company took “no action” for 85.9% and marked the remaining 14.1% as duplicate requests, for which it also did nothing.

    Source: Torrentfreak.com 

    This seems to suggest that while Google understands the business of Project Gutenberg and was able to respond appropriately, the combined forces of the Italian financial police, the court, and telecoms watchdog AGCOM (which handles blocking), aren’t able to tell the difference between a pirate site and a public domain library.

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    Hollywood Studios & Netflix Target ‘Movies Time’ Piracy App

    Several Hollywood studios and Netflix have filed a complaint with Github over the pirate streaming app 'Movies Time'. The companies claim that the Microsoft-owned platform hosts not only the application itself but the website used for its distribution. In response, the operator of Movies Time has already taken evasive action.

    Ever since the rise of Popcorn Time more than six years ago, developers have been coming up with similar-looking clones to try and grab a slice of the market.

    Given the massive reach of Android, which can be found running on phones, tablets and set-top devices, this operating system is the weapon of choice for most coders. As a result there are hundreds of apps available online today that provide ostensibly free access to pirated movies and TV shows.

    The Motion Picture Association, which these days includes Netflix, and the global anti-piracy coalition ACE, have been working hard to hold back the tide but like the little boy and the dam, plugging a hole at a time seems a neverending task.

    The latest target for the MPA is Movies Time, a relative newcomer to the space having appeared online less than a year ago. The developer identifies variously as Prince Sharma and/or Audionetime and markets his app as follows:

    “Tired of annoying ads interrupting your entertainment? Not anymore!! We at Movies Time welcomes you to the world of hassle free entertainment.

    “Movies time is the most awaited app where you can get access to latest movies, web series and LiveTv on your fingertips ‘free of cost’,” the blurb reads.

    “Add movies and web series to your watch-list from our largest library including Bollywood, Hollywood, Tollywood, Punjabi and much more on the go on your smartphone.”

    https://torrentfreak.com/images/movies-time.png

    This, of course, is a problem for the MPA and this week it became a problem for Github too.

    “We are writing to notify you of, and request your assistance in addressing, the extensive copyright infringement of motion pictures and television shows that is occurring by virtue of the operation of the infringing service titled ‘Movies Time’,” the MPA complaint to Github reads.

    “Movies Time is a software application – specifically an APK – that is preconfigured to provide unauthorized access to copyrighted motion pictures and television shows; a user need only download the APK, and on launch it will allow the user to search for, select and stream large numbers of copyrighted motion pictures and television shows, without any further configuration by the user, and all without authorization.”

    https://torrentfreak.com/images/movi...1256853209.png

    According to the MPA, Github provides ‘supporting services’ to Movies Time including hosting its repository, hosting its website, and hosting the app (APK). As a result it asked the Microsoft-owned platform to take preventative action.

    “Movies Time – your customer – blatantly infringes the MPA Member Studios’ copyrights and countless other copyrights. Indeed, copyright infringement is so prevalent on Movies Tim that infringement plainly is its predominant use and purpose,” the MPA complaint reads.

    “By this notification, we are asking for your immediate assistance in stopping your customer’s unauthorized activity. Specifically, we request that you cease providing all supporting services to Movies Time, by (1) removing or disabling access to the infringing Website, and (2) removing the APK from your Repository…”

    The MPA provided Github with a list of infringing works and asked the platform to consider the repeat infringer provision of the DMCA and breaches of its own acceptable use policy. All this appears to have been enough for Github which has now disabled access to the repository and the Movies Time website.

    Of course, with these type of applications there is more than one hole to plug. Movies Time has a domain, MoviesTimeApp.xyz, which previously linked to the website hosted on Github. While that was rendered useless yesterday, any visitors to that domain today are now given a ‘drive-by’ download of the Movies Time APK – whether they wanted one or not.

    Also, the MoviesTime Telegram channel remains in operation and its growing membership now exceeds 25,600 users, a figure apparently swelled by the Github takedown.

    Like many ‘pirate’ APKs, it’s interesting to note that MoviesTime may have a piracy problem of its own. A cursory search reveals several sites offering a modded version of the application which claims to have ads and banner placeholders removed and ads during playback disabled. The mod also states that analytics, unneeded permissions and root check code have been removed.

    Why any app would need the final pair in place is open to debate so perhaps needless to say, installing either variant isn’t recommended.

    Torrentfreak.com

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    More Than Half of All Sports Fans Regularly Pirate Content

    A new survey published by Synamedia shows that more than half of all sports fans access pirated content at least once a month. On average, these pirates are more engaged than other sports fans. At the same time, however, the findings show that there are many different types of pirates, all with their own preferences and habits.

    Copyright holders are no fans of piracy. However, pirates tend to be the biggest fans of their content, whether that’s movies, games or music.

    Research has consistently shown that illegal downloaders and streamers are more engaged consumers. They also tend to spend more money on subscriptions, merchandise, theater visits and concerts.

    Thus far most surveys and studies have zoomed in on music and video entertainment. However, there is a massive market for sports piracy as well. With a new report, Synamedia tried to fill this gap with an extensive survey of over 6,000 respondents in ten countries.

    The Survey Results

    As expected, the study found that frequent pirates are among the most engaged consumers, with 42% watching sports fixtures on a daily basis. This is twice as much as regular sports fans.

    What really stands out, however, is that piracy is not a niche activity for sports fans. On the contrary, more than half of all sports fans consume pirated content at least once a month.

    It turns out that finding a sports fan who has never pirated anything is quite a challenge. Of all the people who were surveyed, only 16% said that they had never pirated sports content. This is also clear from the overview of the key results, listed below.

    https://torrentfreak.com/images/syna...rt-results.jpg

    Not all sports pirates are equal, according to Synamedia. The company identifies three different groups, which each differ in their viewing preferences, content demands, and views on piracy.

    Loyal Stalwarts, Fickle Superfans, and Casual Spectators

    The first group are the “Loyal Stalwarts,” which are mostly older men who consume a broad variety of sports content. Most think illegal services are wrong and they plan to keep their legal subscriptions.

    Loyal Starwarts

    https://torrentfreak.com/images/loyal-starwats.jpg

    The second group covers the “Fickle Superfans.” They are younger and often have a strong focus on local and niche games and sports. These Superfans can be divided into ‘Content Plunderers’ who believe piracy is not wrong, and ‘Internet Buccaneers,’ who prefer legal content.

    Fickle Superfans

    https://torrentfreak.com/images/fickle-suprtfans.jpg

    “Casual Spectators” make up the last group. As the name suggests, they don’t consume pirated content very often. This covers both ‘Ocean Explorers’ who are fine with piracy but prefer legal content, as well as ‘Silver Islanders,’ who clearly believe piracy is wrong.

    Casual Spectators

    https://torrentfreak.com/images/casual-spectators.jpg

    While all these different groups and subgroups are a bit confusing, it helps to convey the point that not all pirates are equal. Not by a long shot. This makes sports piracy a complicated enforcement area.

    No One-Size-Fits-All Solution

    For example, some groups are worried about fines, while others clearly aren’t. Similarly, some pirates are eager to pay, while others are more likely to keep pirating.

    What is important, however, is that legal options are available. If people have no way to watch something legally, they often turn to unauthorized channels.

    Synamedia hopes that their research will help copyright holders and content providers to understand pirates better, even though there’s no “one-size-fits-all” solution. In any case, sports pirates should not be universally written off as cheapskates.

    “Consumers who most indulge in illicit viewing are also the most engaged sports fans and potentially most willing to pay for legitimate content,” Synamedia writes.

    “The challenge for rights holders and platform operators is to combine enforcement activity to frustrate illegal viewing with products that address the underlying triggers for consumers to stray. Done right there is potential to generate incremental revenue,” the company adds.

    Torrentfreak.com

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    Australian Federal Court orders another 86 piracy sites blocked

    A Federal Court judge has ordered Australian internet service providers to block access to an additional 86 piracy-focused websites and has also allowed a new process that may result in those sites being reblocked more quickly if they change their name or web address.

    In the latest legal win for a group of film and television production companies including Village Roadshow, Disney, Netflix and Warner Bros., ISPs must take reasonable steps to block access to the new sites, which include torrent directories, unofficial streaming sites and proxy unblockers, within 15 days.

    The case was first heard in December 2019 and an initial judgement was handed down in April.

    In an effort to make amending the list of sites to be blocked quicker and less expensive, the judge also allowed a procedure where the production companies can reach out to the ISPs directly in the event that a blocked piracy site re-emerges under a new name or address and request the new URL also be blocked. Unless the ISPs object, they will be obliged to block the additional URLs.

    Laws requiring ISPs block sites deemed to be primarily for the purpose of facilitating piracy were first passed in 2015 and since then Village Roadshow and other rights holders have had to return to court frequently to request the blocking of additional URLs.

    Kickass Torrents, a popular repository of torrent files relating to new movies, TV shows, games and other content, was among the first to be blocked, but remains online today after frequently changing URLs.

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    Massive Piracy Damages Award Against Cox is Not Excessive, Court Rules

    Cox Communications' request to lower the massive piracy liability verdict issued by a Virginia jury has failed. The request for a new trial was denied as well. However, the court does agree that the damages should be issued per work if there are multiple copyrights involved, which means that the $1 billion figure may go down.

    Last year, Internet provider Cox Communications lost its legal battle against a group of major record labels.

    Following a two-week trial, a Virginia jury held Cox liable for its pirating subscribers, ordering the company to pay $1 billion in damages.

    Heavily disappointed by the decision, Cox later asked the court to set the jury verdict aside and decide the issue directly. In addition, the ISPargued that the “shockingly excessive” damages should be lowered. If that wasn’t an option, Cox wanted a new trial.

    These requests were fiercely opposed by the record labels and, after weighing the evidence from both sides, US District Court Judge Liam O’Grady decided over the matter this week.

    O’Grady’s 75-page opinion is mostly bad news for Cox. It starts by discussing the motion for judgment as a matter of law, which argues that the jury verdict should be set aside in exchange for a verdict by the court. The court, however, sees no reason to fully grant this.

    Cox argued that the evidence presented during trial doesn’t show that the ISP is liable for direct or secondary copyright infringement. The court disagrees. For example, when it comes to vicarious infringement, the record shows that Cox directly benefited from pirating subscribers.

    “Here, there was ample evidence for a reasonable jury to conclude, as this jury did, that Cox gained some direct financial benefit from the infringement, no matter how small,” Judge O’Grady writes.

    “The Court agrees with Plaintiffs’ argument that Cox’s treatment of repeat infringer accounts suffices as a causal connection between the infringement and financial gain. Internal emails among Defendants clearly establish a connection between infringing accounts and continued collection of revenue rather than termination.”

    https://torrentfreak.com/images/cox-order.jpg

    While the vast majority of Cox’s arguments “fall flat,” according to Judge O’Grady, there is a small win for the ISP as well, one that could have large financial consequences. The court agrees with the ISP that damages should be issued per ‘work’ and not for each ‘copyright.’

    There are 10,017 copyrights listed in the case which were multiplied by $99,3830 in damages per work, which led to the final figure of $1 billion. However, that should be adjusted as there are some overlapping works as well, where one song is covered by multiple copyrights.

    The court explains that infringers shouldn’t be punished multiple times for one pirated track simply because there are more copyrights related to it. As an example, Judge O’Grady mentions mashups where tracks can easily have 20 different copyright holders.

    “It is difficult to fathom that Congress intended such dramatic discrepancies in liability for substantially the same conduct. As willful infringement exposes the defendant to a maximum of $150,000 per work infringed, that three-minute mash-up could cost a defendant $3 million,” Judge O’Grady writes.

    This means that Cox can go over the list of copyrights in the suit to see how many ‘works’ these cover. This could be substantially less than the 10,017 copyrights previously indicated.

    Moving on, the court reviewed the scale of the damages, which was set at $99,3830 per work. Cox summed up a list of arguments why this “historic” amount is “shockingly” excessive. However, the court notes that the amount wasn’t grossly excessive in light of the evidence. There was no “miscarriage of justice,” as Cox claims.

    The ISP knew very well what the requirements of the DMCA are, what the possible statutory damages could be, and how many works were infringed.

    “As there is no potential ambiguity in construing the statutory dollar amounts, and Cox was keenly aware of the volume of infringement notices it received, the product of these two values was reasonably foreseeable,” Judge O’Grady notes.

    “In sum, Plaintiffs were well within their rights to elect both a jury trial and statutory damages. After significant deliberation, the jury awarded $99,830.29 per work, well within the Act’s statutory range of $750.00-$150,000.00.”

    All in all, this means that the damages per work stay the same. Cox is not entitled to a new trial but the $1 billion damages award may be lowered based on the number of works that have more than one copyright.

     Torrentfreak.com

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    Torrent Site BTDB.io Has Domain Suspended By Registry Without Warning

    Torrent site BitTorrent Database has lost control over its BTDB.io domain after the .io domain registry marked it with a serverHold status code. The suspension was put into place without any warning, leaving the site to fall back on a previously-registered .eu domain.

    In terms of sheer traffic, BitTorrent Database (BTDB) doesn’t rub shoulders with The Pirate Bay and RARBG but with seven million visitors per month, it’s certainly no slouch.

    The site began by allowing people to search BitTorrent’s Distributed Hash Table (DHT) but has more recently allowed users to upload their own torrents into categories including movies, TV, music, games and others.

    According to its search engine there are more than 27.6 million torrents to choose from but this week, completely out of the blue and literally overnight, the site’s traffic dropped by 90%.

    https://torrentfreak.com/images/btdb...1292442176.png

    At least initially, the site’s operator thought that some kind of ISP blocking might have struck his site but when other techniques to access his main domain at BTDB.io failed, attention turned elsewhere. Indeed, after running a closer check on the domain in question, the problem soon became apparent.

    As the following image of BTDB.io’s WHOIS entry shows, the final line of the ‘Domain Status’ section contains a code site owners dread – ‘serverHold’.

    https://torrentfreak.com/images/btdb...1292301539.png

    According to ICANN the serverHold domain status is something people shouldn’t come across very often but, when it appears, it’s usually the result of “legal disputes, non-payment, or when your domain is subject to deletion.”

    Domains such as BTDB.io are assigned to the British Indian Ocean Territory and administered by the Internet Computer Bureau. In this case the domain was registered via Njalla, the domain privacy company associated with former Pirate Bay spokesman Peter Sunde. However, neither BTDB’s operator nor Njalla were informed of any issues before the domain was suspended.

    A support email seen by TorrentFreak shows a Njalla team member explaining the serverHold status code while confirming that it had been set by the registry. Njalla had no idea what the BTDB.io domain was being used for but did offer to try and find out what the issue was. At the time of writing, BTDB’s operator is still in the dark.

    Given the nature of the platform, however, it seems possible that some kind of copyright dispute could be the underlying reason for the suspension. Google reports that 1,387 copyright holders have filed DMCA notices targeting 235,806 URLs on the BTDB site, meaning that there is no shortage of suspects when it comes to considering who may have thrown a spanner in the works.

    The top notice-senders are all very well-known too, including the BPI, CBS, Disney, BREIN, and the RIAA, although at this stage there is no suggestion that any of these are responsible for the issues.

    While BTDB’s .io domain is currently out of action, its alternative BTDB.eu domain is still operational. The underlying BTDB site is currently restoring its database but should be fully functional at that URL moving forward.

    Torrentfreak.com

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    Google ‘Promotes’ Pirate Book Sales, Authors Guild Says

    The Authors Guild believes that online services should do more to prevent book piracy. In a testimony before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, the group is particularly critical of Google. It accuses the search engine of hurting authors by facilitating piracy, including the prominent promotion of pirate book stores through its shopping ads.

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

    Earlier this year, it held a hearing to see what could be learned from copyright policies in other countries. This week a new meeting was put on the agenda, which zoomed in on the effectiveness of the DMCA itself.

    This isn’t the first time that the US Government has heard stakeholders on the DMCA and many of the arguments, both in favor and against the law, have been brought up before. The overall theme is that online services are fine with the current system while rightsholders want online services to do more.

    One of the testimonies worth highlighting comes from Douglas Preston, president of the Authors Guild, which represents over 10,000 professional writers. Many of the Guild’s members are struggling due to piracy, he says, because the DMCA doesn’t work as intended.

    “The notice-and-takedown system is not working — at least not for authors, other individual creators, and small creative businesses,” Preston informed the Senate Subcommittee.

    Book Piracy is Rampant and the DMCA Does Little to Help

    The testimony continues by describing the book piracy landscape in detail. According to Preston, the number of piracy complaints has skyrocketed over the past decade, with pirate sites and pirate booksellers growing more and more popular.

    “It is nearly impossible to estimate the number of active pirate sites at any given moment,” Preston notes, while mentioning Ebook.bike, LibGen, Sci-Hub, Epub.pub, Graycity.net and Kissly.net as some of the worst actors.

    It’s clear that at least some of the sites don’t care about the DMCA. Even with much stricter legislation including ‘staydown’ and ‘filtering’ requirements, they would keep going. However, the Authors Guild believes that some online services have room to improve.

    Google’s Role in the Piracy Ecosystem

    Preston is particularly critical of Google. This doesn’t come as a surprise, as both parties previously met in court over a copyright dispute. That said, the Authors Guild doesn’t spare the search engine in its testimony to the Senators.

    According to the Authors Guild, search engines make pirate sites easily accessible. While the comments also apply to other search engines, Google is the only one that’s specifically named.

    Terms such as ‘free ebook,’ ‘download,’ or ‘ebook’ return a “bewildering variety” of links to pirate sites, the Authors Guild notes. That’s not limited to regular searches either, as Google shopping links also list pirate book stores or link to cheap pirated books on eBay.

    “Those Google Shopping buy buttons include links to pirate sites and pirate eBay sellers mixed in with legitimate vendors, sometimes even ranking above legitimate vendors in search results if the pirates have bought promotional placement on the page.

    “And since there is no way to tell a licensed ebook copy apart from a pirated copy, users will usually choose the cheapest offer not knowing that these cheap ebooks are in fact pirated copies,” the Authors Guild adds.

    Spot the Pirate Book…

    https://torrentfreak.com/images/pirate-book.jpg

    Copyright holders can take down the links by sending a DMCA request. However, the authors want more. Ideally, they would like shopping links to be carefully vetted. In addition, known pirate sites should be completely removed from Google’s search index.

    Removing Pirate Domains from Search Results

    The Authors Guild points out that Google does filter out other illegal content, including child pornography. Thus far, however, it has rejected rightsholders’ requests for the wholesale removal of pirate domains.

    “The Authors Guild has asked Google in the past to de-index sites like Ebook.bike and Epub.pub from search results for books, but we were only successful in getting them demoted so they don’t appear whenever a user searches for a book title on Google.

    “There is no reason for search engines and other legitimate platforms covered by the DMCA to continue linking to pirate sites—not when they clearly have abundant knowledge of the pirate nature of these sites,” the testimony adds.

    The authors are very critical of search engines. However, they also point out that other online services including Facebook, Linkedin, Scribd, Slideshare, and eBay can do more as well. Ideally, the DMCA would require these companies to take action.

    The Solution?

    According to the Authors Guild, the current interpretation of the DMCA doesn’t work. Online services should be required to do more. And if they don’t, they should be held liable.

    Preston says that the DMCA has allowed for-profit companies to grow and prosper “to an obscene measure” which hurts copyright holders, while “leaving individual creators poorer than ever.”

    Instead of continuing on the same foot, the authors want a “takedown and staydown” policy. This can be achieved by changing the interpretation of the current law or by proposing new legislation.

    “Congress could enact a new provision that provides that a takedown notice applies to every full-length, identical copy of the particular work. In other words, one notice does not result in one takedown, but in the removal of all current and infringing copies of that work,” it suggests.

    This proposal is not new but whether Congress is open to it is questionable. Last month the US Copyright Office released its detailed report on the state of the DMCA. This specifically recommended not to implement any “staydown” requirements.

    Torrentfreak.com

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    Top Mistakes Made By BitTorrent Users That Lead to Lawsuits & DMCA Notices

    Every week bemused BitTorrent users post online wondering why they have received copyright notices from their ISPs or, worse still, notification of a pending lawsuit. The obvious reason is that they downloaded some pirated content but there are several more, mostly the result of belief in urban myths or misunderstandings of how BitTorrent works.

    Once upon a time, most BitTorrent users could download whatever they liked with relative impunity.

    Movies, TV shows, music, games and software could mostly be obtained trouble-free but more than 15 years on, the game has changed significantly. Copyright holders and their anti-piracy partners are highly-organized and Internet service providers in some countries, notably the United States, are keener than ever to forward complaints to lessen their own liability.

    Yet despite the thousands of articles that have been written on the topic of DMCA notices, ISP account suspensions, and even lawsuits, BitTorrent users still hit the web every week to complain that even in the face of all of their efforts, they are now facing varying degrees of legal trouble. Here are the top reasons, misconceptions, and urban myths that lead to people getting into a fix.

    Download and Sharing Copyrighted Content

    Sherlock Holmes shouldn’t be needed to highlight why people who download and share pirated content can get themselves into legal hot water. In most countries that care to enforce copyright, the duplication and distribution of pirated content is illegal and punishable under law, whether in civil or in extreme cases, criminal procedures.

    Sharing any kind of copyrighted content without the protection offered by a VPN or similar tool, for example, always carries an element of risk. For instance, people think that by downloading older content, such as decades-old films or less popular material, they can completely avoid being tracked by copyright holders. That is not the case.

    In summary, the only cast-iron guaranteed way to avoid being sent an infringement notice or potentially being subjected to a lawsuit is not to share any copyrighted content at all. Some people may argue that their country doesn’t care about such matters and to those there is a simple response: Maybe today they don’t.

    Can People Avoid Getting a Notice By Not Seeding or Not Uploading?

    In a word – NO. Most copyright holders and anti-piracy companies could care less whether BitTorrent users downloaded or uploaded part of a film or all of it. There might be implications in a copyright lawsuit if someone was observed seeding a torrent for a very long time but simply being part of a sharing swarm is enough for anyone to get a copyright infringement notice and/or a ‘strike’ from their ISP in the United States.

    Equally, there is a persistent belief among some that people who set their upload speed to zero won’t get a copyright notice or even find themselves on the end of a lawsuit. That is completely false. While some are more thorough, there are plenty of companies that will detect a BitTorrent user’s IP address in a swarm (this information is public) and then accuse them of copyright infringement just for being there.

    This also applies to people who may have gotten halfway through downloading a movie, for example, and then backed out. Many notice senders and copyright trolls do not care how much people downloaded or whether they backed out or not.

    Some people also claim that since they didn’t upload anything the copyright holder has a weaker case but these are not matters that the ISPnotification system cares about. Those targeted may also believe that they could stand up in court and argue that they didn’t distribute anything but, at this point, the defense process will have already cost plenty of time and money.

    In short and broadly speaking, if a case ends up in court any ordinary Joe who values their time and money has already lost. People do win cases but instances are few and far between.

    But I Subscribe to a VPN and Still Got a Notice. Why?

    Using a VPN is all well and good when the user understands how they work, sets them up properly, and remains cautious about their limitations. However, in some cases all of these conditions are overlooked, which can again lead to ISP notifications and even lawsuits.

    All good VPN providers will supply accurate instructions on how to get their tools up and running but one of the most common blunders is to misunderstand the capabilities of the main products they supply. While those who obtain and correctly set up a good whole-system VPN should have few problems, there are plenty of cases reported online where people wrongly believed that using a browser-based VPN would protect their BitTorrent transfers.

    While it is common for some BitTorrent clients/systems to have web interfaces these days, the transfers themselves do not take place through a browser. They use an entirely different process that must be protected in its own right or globally on the host system. In short, no browser plug-in will anonymize downloading and/or uploading with BitTorrent.

    I had my VPN Set Up Correctly System-Wide and Still Got a Notice. Why?

    Like anything on a computer, VPNs aren’t completely fool-proof unless additional precautions are taken. For any number of reasons a VPN connection can temporarily fail, including but not limited to the underlying Internet connection itself dropping and causing a reconnection.

    For this reason, some VPN providers provide a ‘kill switch’ function, which prevents Internet connectivity when a problem occurs. If this is not enabled, users can find their real IP addresses exposed to a BitTorrent swarm and people trying to monitor them.

    Another basic failure is more simply prevented. Some people configure their torrent client to start when their machine boots up. If for any reason their VPN is not activated before this happens, their IP addresses will be exposed in public. While there are a number of possible workarounds, a simple option is to disable the torrent client’s autostart feature and only launch the software once a VPN connection is established.

    Finally, not all VPN providers are no-log services so by choosing the wrong supplier, anonymity can be undermined.

    I Enabled the Encryption Option in My Torrent Client and Still Got a Notice, Why?

    Most major torrent clients do indeed have an encryption option hidden away in their settings and there’s no shortage of reports online from people who have still received a notice after enabling this option.

    The reason is that this encryption is only aimed at hindering ISPs from identifying BitTorrent traffic so they have more difficulty slowing it down. Client encryption offers no protection whatsoever on the anonymity front and those using it will still have their IP addresses exposed.

    Conclusion

    There are many people out there who claim to have used torrents for years, downloaded and shared terabytes of data, yet have never received a complaint or been on the sharp end of a lawsuit. Just as many people drive around above the speed limit most days of their lives without getting a ticket, that is entirely possible.

    However, in common with speeding drivers, those who take extra risks or don’t exercise caution are putting themselves in danger of falling foul of those who would like to punish them. As a result, always staying below the limit or never sharing any copyrighted material online are the only guaranteed solutions for not getting a fine or, if people are lucky, getting off with a warning.

    Everything else requires work, additional tools, and/or the acceptance of risk and the attached consequences.

    Torrentfreak.com

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    Uberchips Denies Nintendo’s Piracy Claims and Wants Case Dismissed

    Uberchips has responded to the piracy lawsuit filed by Nintendo last month. The store and its operator deny pretty much all allegations and is asking the court to dismiss the case. The lawsuit revolves around an upcoming jailbreak hack for Nintendo's Switch Core and Lite consoles, which will soon be released by Team Xecuter.

    Nintendo is doing everything in its power to stop the public from playing pirated games on the Switch console.

    Their major adversary is the infamous hacking group Team-Xecuter, which released several ‘jailbreak’ hacks for the games console.

    The group is about to launch its latest products, SX-Core and SX-Lite, which will be the first to work on recent Switch consoles including the Lite variant. Nintendo sees this as a major threat and with a series of lawsuits, hopes to limit the availability of these mod devices.

    As Nintendo’s efforts to go directly after Team-Xecuter failed, the games company went after nine stores that offered these new hacks for pre-sale instead. This includes Uberchips.com, which is operated by Ohio resident Tom Dilts Jr.

    Uberchips Responds in Court

    Soon after the lawsuits were filed Uberchips and other sites pulled the plug but that didn’t make the legal problems disappear. Uberchips’ owner realizes this and through his attorney responded to Nintendo’s complaint in court this week.

    The response is far from spectacular. It’s a standard answer where the defendants either “deny the allegations” in the complaint or state that they don’t have “sufficient knowledge or information” to say whether the allegations are true or not.

    The image below gives a pretty good indication of the entire reply. The only outlier, where Uberchips “admits” an allegation, refers to Nintendo’s claim that Mr. Dilts is the founder and managing member of
    Uberchips, LLC.

    https://torrentfreak.com/images/uberchipsdeny.jpg

    The answer also lists some affirmative defenses but these are pretty basic as well. Uberchips, for example, says that Nintendo failed to state a claim and adds that its request is barred by the statute of limitations. As such, Uberchips want the case dismissed.

    To get a dismissal, Uberchips will likely have some more explaining to do, as Nintendo will have some more questions. The video games company will be very interested in Uberchips’ links to Team-Xecuter and the reason to suddenly shut the site down, for example.

    As reported last week, several sued stores ‘disappeared‘ after the lawsuits were filed but others vanished too, including Xecuter-sx.com. While that doesn’t reference any legal trouble, it’s likely related to Nintendo’s enforcement efforts.

    “We regret to inform you that this page will be permanently closed. Pre-sales purchases made on this website will be returned in the order they were received,” the site informed its customers.

    Team-Xecuter Continues Despite Legal Pressure

    Meanwhile, Team-Xecuter is moving full steam ahead with the release of its new hacks. In a message posted on their official site, the group announced that testing is going well.

    “The testing phase for our new SX Core and Lite products is well under way. We have gotten a lot of feedback and are actively working on in-cooperating these suggestions and details to bring you the best end-user experience.[sic]”

    In addition, the group also published the official manuals for installing the SX Core and SX Lite chips.

    https://torrentfreak.com/images/sx-lite-manual.jpg

    With a determined Team-Xecuter and many stores that are still happy to sell the chips, Nintendo will have a hard time preventing a new wave of incoming Switch pirates. That said, the games company is likely to keep up the pressure.

    : Torrentfreak.com

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    Japan Passes New Copyright Law to Criminalize Manga Piracy & Linking Sites

    Japan's parliament has passed amendments to copyright law that aim to prevent illegal downloading of manga, magazines and other texts. Set to be implemented in two phases, the new framework also outlaws so-called 'leech sites' that provide links to copyrighted content hosted elsewhere.

    Eight years ago, Japan passed legislation that made it illegal to download unlicensed movies and music from the Internet.

    The move to criminalize this activity with a prison sentence of up to two years received a general welcome from copyright holders. However, rightsholders offering other types of content felt left out. Ever since they’ve called for the law to be expanded to include manga (local comics) and other literary works.

    Fines and Prison Sentences For Downloaders

    This week and after years of work, their goals were achieved. Japan’s parliament passed new copyright amendments Friday that ban the unlicensed downloading of manga, magazines and academic texts from the Internet, in line with the previously outlawed media categories.

    In common with the penalties already available for movies and music, those illegally downloading publications from the Internet now face a theoretical sentence of two years in prison or a fine of up to two million yen (US$18,300).

    The new downloading law will come into effect on January 1, 2021, but there will be some exceptions.

    Those who download a small section of a manga publication or a handful of pages from a larger book, for example, will not face prosecution. After protests over the strict nature of an early draft of the law, people who accidentally include copyrighted works in screenshots will also avoid breaking the law.

    New Criminal Penalties For ‘Leech Site’ Operators

    Other amendments passed Friday including the outlawing of so-called “leech” sites. Outside Japan, these are often called indexing or linking sites since they host no copyrighted content themselves but link to external platforms or users that do. These have previously proven a thorn in the side of local copyright holders who previously claimed that around 200 were operating with impunity in the country.

    As of October 1, 2020, however, site operators or those publishing apps that have the same function will face the harshest sentences available under the law. Such offenses will carry a sentence of up to five years in prison, a maximum fine of five million yen (US$45,760), or in some cases, both.

    New Legislation Overcame Significant Hurdles to Become Law

    In early 2019, the Cultural Affairs Agency proposed an expansion of the law to cover all copyrighted content but things didn’t go smoothly. Opponents argued that the proposed legislation was too tight and could even meet the private copying of images with a prison sentence.

    Due to these and similar fears, the amendments were eventually shelved. This led to the production of an amended bill that received approval in March.

    Passed by parliament this week, the government says that the amendments represent a fair yet effective compromise.

    Torrentfreak.com

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