Kim Dotcom Leaves Bail Hearing a Free Man, For Now

November 27th, 2014

kimmegaLast week during a hearing at the Auckland District Court, Crown Prosecutor Christine Gordon said that following an apparent breach of conditions an application had been made to revoke Kim Dotcom’s bail.

The allegations, which are reportedly serious enough to put Dotcom back behind bars, resulted in the Court ordering tightened restrictions preventing the entrepreneur from using helicopters, traveling by boat, or going more than 80 kilometers from his Coatesville mansion.

The details of the allegations were set to be revealed this Monday during a second bail hearing but a day earlier a new affidavit containing more allegations led Dotcom’s lawyer Ron Mansfield to request and receive a delay until Thursday.

Dotcom arrived in good time for this morning’s hearing. Pulling up at the Auckland District Court in his familiar Mercedes G-Class, Dotcom exited the vehicle while ignoring questions from the waiting press.

“Mr Dotcom, are you worried about the prospect of returning to jail?” one reporter asked.

dotcom-courtWearing his trademark all black and carrying a small towel and water bottle, within seconds a somber Dotcom was inside, passing metal detectors and riding up an escalator to the next floor.

What happened next is largely cloaked in mystery due to a media blackout imposed by the court.

What we do know is that the hearing was due to begin at 10:00 and the topic would be whether to extend or revoke Dotcom’s bail. The Crown alleges that Dotcom breached his bail conditions and it now appears those claims date back to events in 2012, potentially almost three years ago.

The hearing took place before Judge Nevin Dawson. A veteran of Dotcom cases, at one point Dawson cleared the courtroom so that private discussions on how Dotcom should be cross-examined could take place.

More than seven hours after it began and having failed to reach a conclusion on Dotcom’s bail, the hearing was terminated around 5pm. It will resume lunchtime tomorrow with Dotcom potentially learning his fate before the end of the day.

Dotcom has been on bail since February 2012 following the raids a month earlier on his Coatesville mansion. His extradition battle with the United States has been running ever since and has now been delayed until 2015 to allow the Megaupload founder to put together a new legal team.

Although the companies involved have remained tight-lipped, Dotcom revealed this week that his high-profile New Zealand-based legal team quit after he ran out of money.

“I’m officially broke right now,” he told a digital technology conference in London this week. According to the entrepreneur, to date he’s spent $10m on his defense.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

The Pirate Bay Goes Down Locally

November 26th, 2014

tpb-logoMany U.S. Internet subscribers across various ISPs are experiencing trouble accessing The Pirate Bay at the moment.

Every time TPB becomes inaccessible thousands of people begin to worry that their ISPs have begun blocking or that something awful has happened to their beloved site.

However, the current downtime appears to be a routing issue as the site is still reachable in most parts of the world.

There’s also good news for people who can’t access The Pirate Bay at the moment because many of the proxies are still working just fine, as do VPNs.

TF reached out to the TBC crew who confirmed that that there are connectivity problems. However, this appears to be beyond their control.

“As far as we are concerned TPB is online. Network connectivity issues are outside of our control. Many people are experiencing no issues connecting to TPB,” a TPB crew member says.

“Sooner or later these routing issues will be resolved. In the meantime, a proxy or VPN can be used,” he adds.

There is no ETA for when the problems will be resolved but the most resilient torrent site is expected come back online for everyone eventually.

Stay tuned.

Pirate Bay Downtime

tpb

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

Record Biz Wants To Tax Brits For Copying Their Own Music

November 26th, 2014

Until recently the vast majority of British citizens believed that copying music bought with their own money was something they could do without legal concerns.

The truth, however, was somewhat different. Until recently UK legislation did not permit so-called “private copying”, meaning that anyone who transferred music from a purchased CD to an MP3 player was committing an offense.

Recognizing this as a problem, earlier this year the government decided that it would be in the best interests of consumers to legalize copying for personal use. After a delay through the summer, last month changes were put into place enabling people to make copies of DVDs, CDs and other types of media, as long as they’re for personal use.

But now, less than two months on, the music industry is voicing its collective displeasure at the government’s decision and announcing plans to have consumers pay a new “copy tax” to rightsholders.

The Musicians’ Union (MU), The British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA) and UK Music (of which the BPI is a member) say they have launched an application for a judicial review into the government’s decision to introduce a so-called “private copying exception” without including a kickback to rightsholders.

What the industry groups want is a tax to be applied to blank media including blank CDs, hard drives, memory sticks and other devices capable of recording. This money would then be funneled back to the music industry for distribution among rightsholders, a mechanism already operating in other European countries.

Despite never earning a penny from the billions of copies made before October 1, 2014, the music industry groups say that allowing citizens to record in future “will damage the musician and composer community” and amounts to a contravention of the EU Copyright Directive.

The judicial review will see the High Court examine the introduction of the levy-less copying exception to ascertain whether the government acted legally. The music groups’ aim is to have the legislation amended in the industry’s favor.

“We have sought judicial review because of the way the government made its decision not to protect the UK’s creative industries – in stark contrast to other countries that have introduced copyright exceptions,” says Vick Bain, CEO of The British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors.

“We fully support the right of the consumer to copy legally bought music for their own personal and private use, but there must be fair compensation for the creators of the music.”

UK Music CEO Jo Dipple says that licensing is the key to the industry’s success in the digital age so when the right to copy without a license is granted, in this case to the public, rightsholders must be compensated.

“Copyright enables people to earn a living out of their creativity and sustains jobs. The Government has made a serious error with regards to private copying. The legislative framework must guarantee musicians and composers are fairly compensated,” Dipple says.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

BT Starts Blocking Private Torrent Sites

November 26th, 2014

bt-blockedFollowing a series of High Court orders, six UK ISPs are currently required to block subscriber access to dozens of the world’s largest torrent sites.

The latest order was issued last month after a complaint from the major record labels. It expands the UK blocklist by 21 torrent sites, including limetorrents.com, nowtorrents.com, picktorrent.com, seedpeer.me and torlock.com.

This weekend both BT and Sky implemented the new changes, making it harder for their subscribers to reach these sites. Interestingly, however, BT appears to have gone above and beyond the court order, limiting access to various other sites as well.

Over the past several days TorrentFreak has received reports from several users of private torrent sites who get an “error blocked” message instead of their favorite sites. These include the popular IPTorrents.com and TorrentDay.com trackers, as well as scene release site Scnsrc.me.

IPTorrents and Torrentday are significant targets. Although both sites require prospective users to obtain an invite from a current member (or from the site itself in exchange for cash), they have over a hundred thousand active users.

The error displayed when BT subscribers try to access the above URLs is similar to that returned when users to try access sites covered by High Court injunctions.

However, there is no known court decision that requires BT to block these URLs. In fact, no UK ISP has ever blocked a private torrent site before.

TF contacted BT’s press contact and customer service team but we have yet to receive a response to our findings. Meanwhile, several of the affected users are discussing on Facebook and Twitter how they can bypass the blockades.

bt-blocked

It appears that for now IPTorrents is still accessible via https and via the site’s alternative .me and .ru domains. In addition, VPNs and proxy servers are often cited among suggested workaround techniques.

Whether the private torrent sites will remain blocked and on what grounds remains a mystery for now. We will update this article if BT sends us a response. BT users who spot more unusual blocks are encouraged to get in touch.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

ABS-CBN Sues Another 18 Sites Over TV and Movie Piracy

November 26th, 2014

money-featBack in August TF published a reported on copyright-focused legal action initiated in the United States by ABS-CBN, the largest media and entertainment company in the Philippines.

The media giant filed a lawsuit at a federal court in Oregon looking for millions of dollars in damages from two local husband and wife residents. Their main target, Jeff Ashby, claimed he created several tiny websites so that his wife could enjoy entertainment from her home country. Lawyers for ABS-CBN viewed those sites rather differently.

Last month the case ended badly for the defendants. After branding Ashby a hardcore criminal and using its own news shows to paint him in a poor light, ABS-CBN hit their home run. The media giant reached a consent agreement with Ashby and the Oregon District Court ordered him to pay a mind-blowing $10 million in damages.

Here at TF we suspected that the $10m decision might be of value to ABS-CBN should they wish to begin suing other sites. After all, no one wants to get hit with a $10m bill so settlement offers below this amount might seem more attractive and become more easily arrived at. Sure enough, just weeks later ABS-CBN is back.

In an action filed in a Florida district court, ABS-CBN is now targeting 100 ‘Does’ and another 18 sites in a copyright and trademark infringement lawsuit. ABS-CBN says that in the United States it makes its content available through companies including Comcast, Time Warner Cable, DirecTV, Cox Communications, AT&T, Verizon and Charter to name just a few, but these ‘pirate’ services are undermining that commercial activity.

“Through their various websites, Defendants hold out to the public that they have ABS-CBN’s content, and re-broadcast ABS-CBN’s TV shows and movies over the Internet, in order to illegally profit from ABS-CBN’s intellectual property, without ABS-CBN’s consent,” court papers read.

“Further, Defendants control the organization and presentation of the content by themselves providing links to ABS-CBN shows and promote and advertise the content as ABS-CBN’s, including through the use of ABS-CBN’s marks; and stream the shows for users’ viewing through their websites.”

The media company also claims that the ‘pirate’ sites distribute malware, spyware and “other nefarious, malicious and harmful software….typically in the guise of software updates ‘needed’ by the viewer in order to enhance their viewing experience of Plaintiffs’ video content.”

Visits to a handful of the sites carried out by TF confirmed that some do indeed request the installation of a browser addon but when those are rejected the sites remain functional.

In order to end any infringement quickly, ABS-CBN is seeking temporary, preliminary, and permanent injunctions not only against the sites, but also anyone “acting in concert or participation” with them including Internet search engines, web hosts, domain name registrars, and domain name registries.

In respect of domains, ABS-CBN wants all domains put “On Hold” by their registries and then canceled, deleted or transferred “so that they may no longer be used for illegal purposes.”

On the copyright front the action seeks the maximum statutory damages from the defendants of $150,000 per infringement plus attorneys’ fees and costs. In respect of abuse of trademarks, ABS-CBN requests $2 million for each counterfeit trademark used.

Finally, the Philippines-based company demands that all funds generated by the pirate sites should be handed over to partially satisfy any judgment handed down.

It seems unlikely that any of the sites (listed below) will go head-to-head with ABS-CBN in court so settlement agreements will have to be reached. Whether the media giant will begin publishing the details of yet more large settlements will remain to be seen, but it’s doubtful that any will have $10m just sitting around.

Sites targeted by ABS-CBN in its latest lawsuit.

1 buhaypinoyofw.net
2 freepinoytvshows.net
2 pinoylovetvshowreplay.com
3 hapeetube.biz
3 lovelytube.biz
3 pinoy-telebisyon.biz
3 pinoy-telebisyon.org
4 lambingan.tk
5 movieserye.com
6 pinaytambayan.org
7 pinoy-ako.me
8 pinoymoviegallery.net
9 pinoytambayan.me
10 pinoytelesine.com
11 pinoytopmovies.com
12 pinoytv.me
13 projectcabbage.com
14 tambayanofwtv.info
15 telebesyon.com
16 telebyuwers.ph
16 telebyuwers.tv
17 teleseryereplay.com
18 yzreplay.com

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

Senator Uses Piracy Report to Pressure Visa, Mastercard

November 25th, 2014

visa-mastercardFollowing the crash and burn of the defunct SOPA legislation in the United States, Hollywood and the recording industry regrouped to formulate a new strategy.

Their new approach is more considered and cautious, but underneath there is still a burning desire to achieve the main goals of SOPA without need for new legislation. One aim is to strangle the finances of allegedly copyright-infringing sites, particularly if those funds touch American soil.

Unsurprisingly payment processors including Visa and MasterCard have become a key focal point. Directly or otherwise, file-sharing related sites worldwide use the services of these U.S.-based companies, a situation the entertainment industries (and their government allies) would love to bring to an end. Today that fight has been given new momentum.

As the former lead sponsor of the defunct controversial Protect IP Act (PIPA), Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) is no stranger to pro-copyright issues. Today he’s again leading the way with letters to both Visa and MasterCard on the topic of online piracy.

Leahy begins by outlining how the work of America’s artists is being undermined by largely overseas websites dedicated to copyright infringement. This type of “foreign invasion” imagery was rolled out in lobbying efforts for both PIPA and SOPA but this time around Leahy draws on a recent study to support his pitch to the processors.

“A report recently released by NetNames and the Digital Citizens Alliance analyzed the financial performance of leading cyberlockers, which (unlike lawful cloud storage services) exist to unlawfully store and disseminate infringing files around the world,” Leahy writes.

profitThe Senator informs the processors that a vast majority of the “most pernicious cyberlockers” rely on them for their financial viability. The companies surely agree, Leahy says, that no amount of money derived from “unlawful activity” should end up on their balance sheets.

Although the site is not mentioned by name, Leahy praises the work of both MasterCard and Visa in 2006 when they suspended their services to Russian-based music download portal AllofMP3. However, eight years on more work needs to be done to “revise policies” concerning infringing websites.

“The cyberlockers listed in the NetNames report bear red flags of having no legitimate purpose or activity. I ask [Visa / MasterCard] to review the complaints against those cyberlockers and to ensure that payment processing services offered by [both companies] to those sites, or any others dedicated to infringing activity, cease,” Leahy adds.

While there are indeed some dubious sites in the NetNames report, Leahy’s words are bound to further infuriate New Zealand-based file-hosting site Mega.co.nz. Although the status of the complaint is unclear, Mega has already threatened legal action against NetNames after the company included the file-hoster in its report.

Finally, it’s interesting to note that letters like the ones sent by Leahy to MasterCard and Visa usually start out amicably but end in implied threats to intervene should no progress be made. However, Leahy carefully tows the current entertainment industry line of cooperation over confrontation.

Urging the payment processors to work with copyright owners, Leahy says partnerships should develop methods and practices for the “efficient investigation” of sites alleged to be involved in infringement.

“Voluntary agreements, developed and refined over time between the relevant stakeholders, hold great promise for addressing the problem of infringement online,” Leahy concludes.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

Piracy Police Arrest Two for The Expendables 3 Movie Leak

November 25th, 2014

expendablespiracyEarlier this year the movie The Expendables 3 leaked in extremely high-quality several weeks before its theatrical debut, causing a huge Hollywood controversy.

A fully finished so-called DVD Screener copy of the action movie featuring Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham and Arnold Schwarzenegger appeared on July 25 and had already been downloaded millions of times before its official release August 15.

In the U.S., movie distributor LionsGate has been working hard on the legal front, chasing down alleged downloaders and even suing file-sharing sites and domain registrars. News in just a few moments ago reveals that the hunt has traveled across the Atlantic.

According to the Intellectual Property Crime Unit of City of London Police (PIPCU), two people were taken into custody this morning under suspicion of leaking The Expendables 3 online.

Detectives from PIPCU traveled to Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, where they arrested a 33-year-old man. PIPCU detectives also arrested a 36-year-old man at his home in Upton, Wirral.

PIPCU informs TorrentFreak that the men are believed to have “stolen the film from a cloud based system” before uploading it to the Internet. The statement raises important questions though. Were the men involved in obtaining the original leaked copy and, crucially, were they the first to leak it online?

“The two suspects are believed to be involved in the leaking of the movie and are currently being questioned by PIPCU detectives,” is all PIPCU would tell TF, adding that the pair are being held at local police stations.

Earlier this year Lionsgate collaborated with the owner of file-hosting site Swankshare in an effort to identify who leaked the movie. That site subsequently shut down but it’s possible that logs were handed over in the meantime. Whether this is the “cloud based system” referred to by PIPCU remains a mystery for now.

“Today’s operation shows you the significant impact intellectual property crime has on our creative industries, with millions of pounds being lost as a result of criminal actions,” Head of PIPCU, Detective Chief Inspector Danny Medlycott said in a statement.

“The public need to be aware that piracy is not a victimless crime. By downloading illegal music, film, TV and books, not only are you exposing your own computer to the risk of viruses and malware, but you are also putting hardworking people’s livelihoods at risk as piracy threatens the security of thousands of jobs in the UK’s creative industries.”

It’s of some interest that the first suspects to be arrested in this super high-profile case are based in the UK. There have been no reports of arrests in the United States where the movie was made and being prepared for distribution.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

Google Asked to Censor Three Million Pirate Bay URLs

November 25th, 2014

pirate bayDespite the criminal prosecution of The Pirate Bay four, the notorious torrent site remains available to the public at large.

TPB is setup to make it especially difficult for law enforcement to take it down, so copyright holders have to turn to third parties to address the threat.

One of the main strategies is to ask Google and other search engines to remove infringing Pirate Bay URLs from their search results.

Google in particular is heavily targeted and this week the number of thepiratebay.se URLs submitted to Google reached the three million mark. Nearly all of these links have indeed been removed and can no longer be accessed through search results.

The chart below shows the number of links that have been submitted per week. There is a sharp decline towards the end of 2013 when The Pirate Bay used another domain name. The requests increased again in December when the torrent site switched back.

3 Million Pirate Bay URLs reported

thepiratebay3m

While most of the reported links do indeed point to copyrighted material, some none-infringing pages have been removed as well.

Paramount Pictures, for example, asked to remove this blog post where a comment mentions “the beast of hercules,” not the Hercules movie. Similarly, TPB’s Doodles page is gone because an adult entertainment company confused it with Kelly Madison’s “Yankee Doodle Dame”

In total, the three million URLs were submitted in 135,486 separate takedown notices, averaging more than 22 links per takedown request. A staggering number, but one that pales in comparison to other sites.

Looking at the list of domains for which Google received the most URLs removal requests, The Pirate Bay is currently listed in 23rd place. The top spot goes to rapidgator.net with close to 13 million URLs, followed by 4shared.com, filestube.com, dilandau.eu and zippyshare.com. Torrentz.eu, the first torrent site in the list, comes in 8th with 5.4 million URLs.

For The Pirate Bay the reduced availability in Google is not much of a problem. Previously the Pirate Bay team informed TorrentFreak that they stopped relying on search engines as a traffic source a long time ago.

And indeed, despite the censored pages The Pirate Bay’s traffic has continued to grow. Even today the site remains among the 100 most visited websites on the Internet.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

Pirate Bay Founder Preps Appeal, Puts the Press Straight

November 24th, 2014

After being arrested in Cambodia during September 2012 it soon became clear that two Scandinavian countries wanted to get their hands on Gottfrid Svartholm.

Sweden had a long-standing interest in their countryman for his infamous work on The Pirate Bay, but once that was out-of-the-way a pair of hacking cases had to be dealt with.

The first, in Sweden, resulted in partial successes for both sides. While Gottfrid was found guilty of hacking into IT company Logica, following testimony from Jacob Appelbaum he was later cleared by the Appeal Court (Svea Hovrätt) of hacking into Nordea Bank.

But despite this significant result and a repeat appearance from Appelbaum, the trial that concluded in Denmark last month went all one way, with Gottfrid picking up a three-and-a-half year sentence.

With his mother Kristina acting as go-between, TorrentFreak recently fired off some questions to Gottfrid to find out how he’s been bearing up following October’s verdict and to discover his plans for the future.

Firstly, TF asked about his opinion on the decision. Gottfrid declined to answer directly but indicated we should look to the fact that he has already filed an appeal against the verdict. That should be enough of an answer, he said.

As it stands and considering time served, Gottfrid could be released as early as August 2015, but that clearly isn’t deterring him from the possibility of leaving sooner. Gottfrid has always shown that he’s both stubborn and a fighter, so sitting out his sentence in silence was probably never an option.

Moving on, TF pressed Gottfrid on what he feels were the points of failure during the court process and how these will play out alongside his appeal.

“Can’t discuss defense strategy at this point,” he responded. Fair enough.

Even considering the preparations for an appeal, there are a lot of hours in the coming months that will prove hard to fill. However, Gottfrid’s comments suggest that his access to books has improved since his days in solitary confinement and he’s putting that to use.

“I study neurobiology and related subjects to pass the time,” he says, with mother Kristina noting that this education is self-motivated.

“The ‘arrest house’ can of course not provide him with opportunities for higher studies,” she says.

Although he’s been thrust into the public eye on many occasions, Gottfrid’s appearances at court in Sweden (documented in TPB AFK) and later in his Danish trial reveal a man with an eye for detail and accuracy. It perhaps comes as little surprise then that he also took the opportunity to put the record straight on something he knows a lot about – the history of The Pirate Bay.

If one searches for “founders of The Pirate Bay” using Google, it’s very clear from many thousands of reports that they are Gottfrid Svartholm, Fredrik Neij and Peter Sunde. According to Gottfrid, however, that simply isn’t true.

“TPB was founded by me and two people who haven’t been involved since 2004,” Gottfrid says. “Fredrik came into the picture when the site moved from Mexico to Sweden, probably early 2004.”

While acknowledging Fredrik’s work as important for the growth of the site, Gottfrid noted that Peter’s arrival came sometime later. He didn’t specify who the other two founders were but it’s likely they’re to be found among the early members of Piratbyrån as detailed here.

With Peter Sunde already released from his sentence and Fredrik Neij close to beginning his, it’s possible that the founders trio could all be free men by the end of 2015. So does Gottfrid have anything exciting up his sleeve for then?

“Yes, I have plans, but I’m not sharing them,” he concludes.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

One Life Crew / Empire Falls ‎– “Necessary Vengeance” 7″ Vinyl Record

November 24th, 2014
One Life Crew / Empire Falls ‎– "Necessary Vengeance" 7" Vinyl Record A1. One Life Crew - Necessary Vengeance A2. One Life Crew - On The Cuff A3. One Life Crew - Too Much Authority A4. One Life Crew - In The Crosshairs B1. Empire Falls - Cop Out B2. Empire Falls - The Quick And The Dead B3. Empire Falls - Take A Stab At Society