Australians Face ‘Fines’ For Downloading Pirate Movies

October 22nd, 2014

Much to the disappointment of owner Voltage Pictures, early January 2013 a restricted ‘DVD Screener’ copy of the hit movie Dallas Buyers Club leaked online. The movie was quickly downloaded by tens of thousands but barely a month later, Voltage was plotting revenge.

In a lawsuit filed in the Southern District of Texas, Voltage sought to identify illegal downloaders of the movie by providing the IP addresses of Internet subscribers to the court. Their aim – to scare those individuals into making cash settlements to make supposed lawsuits disappear.

Now, in the most significant development of the ‘trolling’ model in recent times, Dallas Buyers Club LLC are trying to expand their project into Australia. Interestingly the studio has chosen to take on subscribers of the one ISP that was absolutely guaranteed to put up a fight.

iiNet is Australia’s second largest ISP and the country’s leading expert when it comes to fighting off aggressive rightsholders. In 2012 the ISP defeated Hollywood in one of the longest piracy battles ever seen and the company says it will defend its subscribers in this case too.

Chief Regulatory Officer Steve Dalby says that Dallas Buyers Club LLC (DBCLLC) recently applied to the Federal Court to have iiNet and other local ISPs reveal the identities of people they say have downloaded and/or shared their movie without permission.

According to court documents seen by TorrentFreak the other ISPs involved are Wideband Networks Pty Ltd, Internode Pty Ltd, Dodo Services Pty Ltd, Amnet Broadband Pty Ltd and Adam Internet Pty Ltd.

Although the stance of the other ISPs hasn’t yet been made public, DBCLLC aren’t going to get an easy ride. iiNet (which also owns Internode and Adam) says it will oppose the application for discovery.

“iiNet would never disclose customer details to a third party, such as movie studio, unless ordered to do so by a court. We take seriously both our customers’ privacy and our legal obligations,” Dalby says.

While underlining that the company does not condone copyright infringement, news of Dallas Buyers Club / Voltage Pictures’ modus operandi has evidently reached iiNet, and the ISP is ready for them.

“It might seem reasonable for a movie studio to ask us for the identity of those they suspect are infringing their copyright. Yet, this would only make sense if the movie studio intended to use this information fairly, including to allow the alleged infringer their day in court, in order to argue their case,” Dalby says.

“In this case, we have serious concerns about Dallas Buyers Club’s intentions. We are concerned that our customers will be unfairly targeted to settle any claims out of court using a practice called ‘speculative invoicing’.”

The term ‘speculative invoicing’ was coined in the UK in response to the activities of companies including the now defunct ACS:Law, which involved extracting cash settlements from alleged infringers (via mailed ‘invoices’) and deterring them from having their say in court. Once the scheme was opened up to legal scrutiny it completely fell apart.

Some of the flaws found to exist in both UK and US ‘troll’ cases are cited by iiNet, including intimidation of subscribers via excessive claims for damages. The ISP also details the limitations of IP address-based evidence when it comes to identifying infringers due to shared household connections and open wifi scenarios.

“Because Australian courts have not tested these cases, any threat by rights holders, premised on the outcome of a successful copyright infringement action, would be speculative,” Dalby adds.

The Chief Regulatory Officer says that since iiNet has opposed the action for discovery the Federal Court will now be asked to decide whether iiNet should hand over subscriber identities to DBCLLC. A hearing on that matter is expected early next year and it will be an important event.

While a win for iiNet would mean a setback for rightsholders plotting similar action, victory for DBCLLC will almost certainly lead to others following in their footsteps. For an idea of what Australians could face in this latter scenario, in the United States the company demands payment of up to US$7,000 (AUS$8,000) per infringement.

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

Retired Scene Groups Return to Honor Fallen Member

October 21st, 2014

ripTo many people the Warez Scene is something mythical or at least hard to comprehend. A group of people at the top of the piracy pyramid.

The Scene is known for its aversion to public file-sharing, but nonetheless it’s in large part responsible for much of the material out there today.

The goal of most Scene groups is to be the first to release a certain title, whether that’s a film, music or software. While there is some healthy competition The Scene is also a place where lifelong friendships are started.

A few days ago, on October 17, the Scene lost Goolum, a well-respected member and friend. Only in his late thirties, he passed away after being part of the Scene for more than a decade.

As a cracker Goolum, also known as GLM, was of the more experienced reverse engineers who worked on numerous releases.

Through the years Goolum was connected to several groups which are now retired, some for more than a decade. To honor their fallen friend, the groups ZENiTH, Lz0, SLT and MiDNiGHT have made a one-time comeback.

Below is an overview of their farewell messages, which honor him for his cracking skills but most of all as a friend. Our thoughts go out to Goolum’s friends and family.

ZENiTH: THUNDERHEAD.ENGINEERING.PYROSIM.V2014.2.RIP.GOOLUM-ZENiTH (NFO)

ZENiTH, a group that retired around 2005, mentions Goolum’s loyalty and the love for his daughter.

“Goolum has been in and around the scene since the Amiga days but had never been a guy to jump from group to group, but stayed loyal and dedicated to the few groups he was involved in.”

“We are all proud to have been in a group with you, to have spent many a long night sharing knowledge about everything, learning about your daughter who you where very proud of, and all the projects you were involved in.”

ZENiTH’s in memoriam

zenith1

Lz0: CEI.Inc.EnSight.Gold.v10.1.1b.Incl.Keygen.RIP.GOOLUM-Lz0 (NFO)

Lz0 or LineZer0, split from the Scene last year but many of its members are still actively involved in other roles. The group mentions the hard time Goolum has had due to drug problems. LzO also highlights Goolum’s love for his daughter, and how proud he was of her.

“We all knew that he struggled in life – not just economical but also on a personal level and not the least with his drug issues. One of the things that kept him going was his wonderful daughter whom he cherished a lot. He often talked about her, and how proud of her he was. He was clear that if there was one thing in life he was proud of – it was that he became the dad of a wonderful girl.”

“We’re shocked that when finally things started to move in the right direction, that we would receive the news about his death. It came without warning and we can only imagine the shock of his family. It’s hard to find the right words – or words for that matter. Even though it might have appeared as that he was lonely – with few friends, he knew that we were just a keyboard away.”

Lz0′s in memoriam

Lz0mem

SLT: PROTEUS.ENGINEERING.FASTSHIP.V6.1.30.1.RIP.GOOLUM-SLT (NFO)

SLT or SOLiTUDE has been retired since 2000 but returns to remember Goolum. The group notes that he will be dearly missed.

“You will be missed. It is not easy to say goodbye to someone who you have known for over a decade, trading banter, laughs, advice and stories. You leave behind a daughter, a family and a group of friends, who will miss you dearly.”

“As the news have spread, the kind words have poured in. Solitude is releasing this in honor of you, to show that the values we founded the group on is the exact values you demonstrated through your decades of being in the scene. Loyalty, friendship and hard work. Our thoughts are with you, wherever you may be.”

SLT’s in memoriam

SLT

MiDNiGHT: POINTWISE_V17.2.R2_RIP_GOOLUM-MIDNIGHT (NFO)

MiDNiGHT hasn’t been active for nearly a decade but have also honored Goolum with a comeback. The group mentions that he was a great friend who was always in for a chat and a beer.

“Life won’t ever be the same again my friend. We could sit and chat for hours and hours, and even then we knew each other well enough that nothing more was required than a beer, a rant and a small *yarr* and we’d know it would all be good.”

“This time it’s not good mate. I am here, you are not. I can’t even begin to express how this makes me feel – except an absolute sadness.”

MiDNiGHT’s in memoriam

midnight

RIP Goolum 1977 – 2014

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

Microsoft: We’ve Always Had Freemium, It’s Called Piracy

October 21st, 2014

microsoft-pirateIn recent years the ‘freemium’ business model has gained much traction in many areas from gaming to software services. But while the portmanteau describing the phenomenon is a relatively new addition to our language, the idea behind the business model is not.

In the 1980s, those with access to Bulletin Board Systems would download programs and share them with their friends, all with the full encouragement of the software’s creators. Shareware, as it was known, often encouraged users to send off a snail-mailed registration fee in return for a code to unlock premium features. Although basic, freemium had been born.

Today the concept has gone way beyond those humble roots. The App Store and Google Play are awash with free-to-play games with premium addons, and services such as Spotify and Dropbox offer decent free levels of service to get users onboard and primed to start parting with real cash.

If Joe Public was pressed into a snap judgment, Microsoft would probably be more associated with premium than free, with the company historically charging sizable amounts for its Windows and Office products, for example. However, speaking with CNBC, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella says that the company has always had an eye on the freemium experience.

The idea, the CEO notes, is to get people on board with a product they find useful. Then, when it becomes clear how users are utilizing the service, options to monetize become available alongside their demands for improved service. He uses the company’s cloud-storage service as an example.

“We want everybody to use OneDrive. And then when you are starting to use it for business, that’s when we want to monetize. So we do not want to have you only start using us when you have a business license or subscription. We want to have you use us when you just want to save any file or any document, any artifact of yours. And then have a natural way for us to monetize as you use more of it in the commercial context,” Nadella explains.

By now millions of people online are familiar with ‘freemium’ in one shape or another but comments from Nadella suggest that while this business model has been leveraged by Microsoft for quite some time, the company had it forced upon them.

“Well, we’ve always had freemium. Sometimes our freemium was called piracy,” Nadella reveals.

“[The] thing that I don’t want us as a company to shy away from is usage first. Because I think if anything, the new competition has taught is that, you know, what matters is do not try to equate revenue and usage day one.”

The ‘piracy is promotion’ angle is something rarely spoken about by company execs, probably in fear of endorsing an illegal activity and validating it in the eyes of piracy proponents. However, by speaking of it alongside ‘freemium’, Microsoft’s CEO appears to have confirmed what many have been saying all along, that getting people on board for free – via piracy if necessary – is one the first steps on the monetization trail.

Indeed, this belief his held so strongly in some quarters that there are some who insist that it’s preferable for people to pirate the software of company ‘A’ than switch to the opposition, whether paid or not.

That said, what Microsoft does not want is people selling pirated copies of its premium products – that kind of ‘promotion’ is never welcome. If people use a free sample of Microsoft products at home, the company isn’t likely to kick down the door. Do the same in a business environment, however, and things aren’t anywhere near as open-minded.

There are no signs that Microsoft is going soft on piracy but as business models change, as they have with Adobe’s Creative Cloud, free tiers attractive to would-be pirates will become more commonplace. And that can only mean one thing for piracy rates.

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

4shared Demands Retraction Over Misleading Piracy Report

October 20th, 2014

profitLast month the Digital Citizens Alliance and NetNames released a new report with the aim of exposing the business models and profitability of “rogue” file-storage sites.

The report titled Behind The Cyberlocker Door: Behind The Cyberlocker Door: A Report How Shadowy Cyberlockers Use Credit Card Companies to Make Millions, is being used as ammunition for copyright holders to pressure credit card companies and advertisers to cut ties with the listed sites.

While some of the sites mentioned are indeed of a dubious nature the report lacks nuance. The “shadowy” label certainly doesn’t apply to all. Mega, for example, was quick to point out that the report is “grossly untrue and highly defamatory.” The company has demanded a public apology.

4shared, the most visited site in the report with over 50 million unique visitors per month, is now making similar claims. According to 4shared’s Mike Wilson the company has put its legal team on the case.

“We decided to take action and demand a public retraction of the information regarding 4shared’s revenues and business model as published in the report. Our legal team is already working on the respective notes to Digital Citizens Alliance and Netnames,” Wilson tells TorrentFreak.

As the largest file-hosting service the report estimates that 4shared grosses $17.6 million per year. However, 4shared argues that many of the assumptions in the report are wrong and based on a distorted view of the company’s business model.

“Revenue volumes in this report are absolutely random. For instance, 4shared’s actual revenue from premium subscription sales is approximately 20 times smaller than is shown in the document,” Wilson says.

4shared explains that its premium users are mostly interested in storing their files safely and securely. In addition, the company notes that it doesn’t have any affiliate programs or other encouragements for uploading or downloading files.

Unlike the report claims, 4shared stresses that it’s not setup as a service that aims to profit from copyright infringement, although it admits that this does take place.

To deal with this unauthorized use the file-hosting service has a DMCA takedown policy in place. In addition, some of the most trusted rightsholder representative have direct access to the site where they can delete files without sending a takedown notice.

This works well and the overall takedown volume is relatively low. Together, the site’s users store a billion files and in an average month 4shared receives takedown notices for 0.05% of these files.

In addition to their takedown procedure 4shared also scans publicly shared music files for copyright-infringing content. This Music ID system, custom-built by the company, scans for pirated music files based on a unique audio watermark and automatically removes them.

Despite these efforts 4shared was included in the “shadowy cyberlocker” report where it’s branded a rogue and criminal operation. Whether the company’s legal team will be able to set the record straight has yet to be seen.

Netnames and Digital Citizens have thus far declined to remove Mega from the report as the company previously demanded. Mega informs TorrentFreak that a defamation lawsuit remains an option and that they are now considering what steps to take next.

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

Kim Dotcom Must Reveal Everything He Owns to Hollywood

October 20th, 2014

dotcom-laptopKim Dotcom has been associated with many things over the years, but one enduring theme has been wealth – and lots of it.

Even in the wake of the now-infamous raid on his New Zealand mansion and the seizure of millions in assets, somehow Dotcom has managed to rake in millions. Or did he also have some stashed away?

It’s an important matter for Hollywood. The businessman’s continued lavish lifestyle diminishes the financial pot from where any payout will be made should they prevail in their copyright infringement battles against the Megaupload founder.

The studio’s concerns were previously addressed by Judge Courtney, who had already ordered Dotcom to disclose to the Court the details of his worldwide assets. The entrepreneur filed an appeal but that hearing would take place in October, a date beyond the already-ordered disclosure date.

Dotcom took his case to the Court of Appeal in the hope of staying the disclosure order, but in August that failed.

Dotcom complied with the ruling and subsequently produced an affidavit. However, he asked the Court of Appeal to overturn the decision of the High Court in order to keep the document a secret from the studios. That bid has now failed.

Following a ruling handed down this morning by the New Zealand Court of Appeal, Dotcom’s financial information will soon be in the hands of adversaries Twentieth Century Fox, Disney, Paramount, Universal and Warner Bros.

Court of Appeal Judges John Wild, Rhys Harrison and Christin French ordered the affidavit to be released to the studios on the basis that the information could only be used in legal proceedings concerning the restraining of Dotcom’s assets. And with a confidentiality clause attached to the affidavit, the public will not gain access to the information.

Another setback for Dotcom came in respect of who pays the bill for proceedings. The Megaupload founder’s attempt at avoiding costs was turned down after the judges found that having already supplied the affidavit as required, Dotcom’s appeal was not likely to succeed.

And there was more bad news for Dotcom in a separate High Court ruling handed down in New Zealand today. It concerns the extradition cases against not only him but also former Megaupload associates Finn Batato, Mathias Ortmann and Bram Van Der Kolk.

The theory put forward by Dotcom is that the United States and New Zealand governments had politically engineered his downfall in order to extradite him to the U.S. To gather evidence showing how that happened, Dotcom and the other respondents made a pair of applications to the extradition court (the District Court) requesting that it make discovery orders against various New Zealand government agencies, ministers and departments.

The District Court declined so the respondents sought a judicial review of that decision claiming that the Court acted unfairly and erred in law. In today’s ruling, Justice Simon France said there was no “air of reality” that political interference had been involved in Dotcom’s extradition case.

“It is, as the District Court held, all supposition and the drawing of links without a basis,” the Judge wrote.

“Nothing suggests involvement of the United States of America, and nothing suggests the New Zealand Government had turned its mind to extradition issues. These are the key matters and there is no support for either contention.”

Judge France said that as respondents in the case, the United States were entitled to costs.

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

Top 10 Most Pirated Movies of The Week – 10/20/14

October 20th, 2014

22jumpThis week we have four newcomers in our chart.

22 Jump Street is the most downloaded movie for the second week in a row.

The data for our weekly download chart is estimated by TorrentFreak, and is for informational and educational reference only. All the movies in the list are BD/DVDrips unless stated otherwise.

RSS feed for the weekly movie download chart.

Ranking (last week) Movie IMDb Rating / Trailer
torrentfreak.com
1 (1) 22 Jump Street 7.6 / trailer
2 (…) How to Train Your Dragon 2 8.2 / trailer
3 (5) The Purge: Anarchy 6.6 / trailer
4 (3) Stretch 6.8 / trailer
5 (2) Transformers: Age of Extinction 6.1 / trailer
6 (…) Planes: Fire & Rescue 5.8 / trailer
7 (…) The Giver 6.7 / trailer
8 (…) Annabelle 5.9 / trailer
9 (4) Sex Tape 5.2 / trailer
10 (9) X-Men: Days of Future Past 8.4 / trailer

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

Illegal Copying Has Always Created Jobs, Growth, And Prosperity

October 19th, 2014

copyright-brandedIt often helps to understand present time by looking at history, and seeing how history keeps repeating itself over and over.

In the late 1700s, the United Kingdom was the empire that established laws on the globe. The United States was still largely a colony – even if not formally so, it was referred to as such in the civilized world, meaning France and the United Kingdom.

The UK had a strictly protectionist view of trade: all raw materials must come to England, and all luxury goods must be made from those materials while in the UK, to be exported to the rest of the world. Long story short, the UK was where the value was to be created.

Laws were written to lock in this effect. Bringing the ability to refine materials somewhere else, the mere knowledge, was illegal. “Illegal copying”, more precisely.

Let’s look at a particularly horrible criminal from that time, Samuel Slater. In the UK, he was even known as “Slater the Traitor”. His crime was to memorize the drawings of a British textile mill, move to New York, and copy the whole of the British textile mill from memory – something very illegal. For this criminal act, building the so-called Slater Mill, he was hailed as “the father of the American Industrial Revolution” by those who would later displace the dominance of the UK – namely the United States. This copy-criminal also has a whole town named after him.

Copying brings jobs and prosperity. Copying has always brought jobs and prosperity. It is those who don’t want to compete who try to legislate a right to rest on their laurels and outlaw copying. It never works.

We can take a look at the early film industry as well. That industry was bogged down with patent monopolies from one of the worst monopolists through industrial history, Thomas Edison and his Western Electric. He essentially killed off any film company that started in or at New York, where the film industry was based at the time. A few of the nascent film companies – Warner Brothers, Universal Pictures, MGM – therefore chose to settle as far from this monopolist as possible, and went across the entire country, to a small unexploited suburb outside of Los Angeles, California, which was known as “Hollywoodland” and had a huge sign to that effect. There, they would be safe from Edison’s patent enforcement, merely through taking out enough distance between themselves and him.

Yes, you read that right – the entire modern film industry was founded on piracy. Which, again, lead to jobs and prosperity.

The heart of the problem is this: those who decide what is “illegal” to copy do so from a basis of not wanting to get outcompeted, and never from any kind of moral high ground. It’s just pure industrial protectionism. Neo-mercantilism, if you prefer. Copying always brings jobs and prosperity. Therefore, voluntarily agreeing to the terms of the incumbent industries, terms which are specifically written to keep everybody else unprosperous, is astoundingly bad business and policy.

I’d happily go as far as to say there is a moral imperative to disobey any laws against copying. History will always put you in the right, as was the case with Samuel Slater, for example.

For a more modern example, you have Japan. When I grew up in the 1980s, Japanese industry was known for cheap knock-off goods. They copied everything shamelessly, and never got quality right. But they knew something that the West didn’t: copying brings prosperity. When you copy well enough, you learn at a staggering pace, and you eventually come out as the R&D leader, the innovation leader, building on that incremental innovation you initially copied. Today, Japan builds the best quality stuff available in any category.

The Japanese knew and understand that it takes three generations of copying and an enormous work discipline to become the best in the world in any industry. Recently, to my huge astonishment, they even overtook the Scottish as masters of whisky. (As I am a very avid fan of Scottish whisky, this was a personal source of confusion for me, even though I know things work this way on a rational level.)

At the personal level, pretty much every good software developer I know learned their craft by copying other people’s code. Copying brings prosperity at the national and the individual levels. Those who would seek to outlaw it, or obey such unjust bans against copying, have no moral high ground whatsoever – and frankly, I think people who voluntarily choose to obey such unjust laws deserve to stay unprosperous, and fall with their incumbent master when that time comes.

Nobody ever took the lead by voluntarily walking behind somebody else, after all. The rest of us copy, share, and innovate, and we wait for nobody who tries to legislate their way to competitiveness.

About The Author

Rick Falkvinge is a regular columnist on TorrentFreak, sharing his thoughts every other week. He is the founder of the Swedish and first Pirate Party, a whisky aficionado, and a low-altitude motorcycle pilot. His blog at falkvinge.net focuses on information policy.

Book Falkvinge as speaker?

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

The Soaring Financial Cost of Blocking Pirate Sites

October 19th, 2014

Yesterday news broke that luxury brand company Richemont had succeeded in its quest to have several sites selling counterfeit products blocked by the UK’s largest ISPs.

The landmark ruling, which opens the floodgates for perhaps tens of thousands of other sites to be blocked at the ISP level, contained some surprise information on the costs involved in blocking infringing websites. The amounts cited by Justice Arnold all involve previous actions undertaken by the movie and music industry against sites such as The Pirate Bay and KickassTorrents.

The applications themselves

The solicitor acting for Richemont, Simon Baggs of Wiggin LLP, also acted for the movie studios in their website blocking applications. Information Baggs provided to the court reveals that an unopposed application for a section 97A blocking order works out at around £14,000 per website.

The record labels’ costs aren’t revealed but Justice Arnold said “it is safe to assume that they are of a similar magnitude to the costs incurred by the film studios.”

In copyright cases, 47 sites have been blocked at the ISP level = £658,000

Keeping blocked sites blocked

When blocking orders are issued in the UK they contain provisions for rightsholders to add additional IP addresses and URLs to thwart anti-blocking countermeasures employed by sites such as The Pirate Bay. It is the responsibility of the rightsholders to “accurately identify IP addresses and URLs which are to be notified to ISPs in this way.”

It transpires that in order to monitor the server locations and domain names used by targeted websites, the film studios have hired a company called Incopro, which happens to be directed by Simon Baggs of Wiggins.

In addition to maintaining a database of 10,000 ‘pirate’ domains, Incopro also operates ‘BlockWatch’. This system continuously monitors the IP addresses and domains of blocked sites and uses the information to notify ISPs of new IPs and URLs to be blocked.

“Incopro charges a fee to enter a site into the BlockWatch system. It also charges an ongoing monthly fee,” Justice Arnold reveals. “In addition, the rightholders incur legal costs in collating, checking and sending notifications to the ISPs. Mr Baggs’ evidence is that, together, these costs work out at around £3,600 per website per year.”

If we assume that the music industry’s costs are similar, for 47 sites these monitoring costs amount to around £169,200 per year, every year.

Costs to ISPs for implementing blocking orders

The ISPs involved in blocking orders have been less precise as to the costs involved, but they are still being incurred on an ongoing basis. All incur ongoing costs when filtering websites such as those on the Internet Watch List, but copyright injunctions only add to the load.

Sky

The cost of implementing a new copyright blocking order is reported as a “mid three figure sum” by Sky, with an update to an order (adding new IP addresses, for example) amounts to half of that. Ongoing monitoring of blocked domains costs the ISP a “low four figure sum per month.”

BT

According to the court, BT says that it expends 60 days of employee time per year implementing section 97A orders via its Cleanfeed system and a further 12 days employee time elsewhere.

Each new order takes up 8 hours of in-house lawyers’ time plus 13 hours of general staff time. Updates to orders accrue an hour of costs in the legal department plus another 13 hours of blocking staff time.

EE

For each new order EE expends 30 minutes of staff time and a further three hours of time at BT whose staff it utilizes. Updates cost the same amount of time.

EE pays BT a “near four figure sum” for each update and expends 36 hours employee time each year on maintenance and management.

TalkTalk

TalkTalk’s legal team expends two hours implementing each new order while its engineers spend around around two and a half. Updates are believed to amount to the same. The company’s senior engineers burn through 60 hours each year dealing with blocking orders amounting to “a low six figure sum” per annum.

Virgin

Virgin estimates that Internet security staff costs amount to a “low five figure sum” per year. Interestingly the ISP said it spent more on blocking this year than last, partly due to its staff having to respond to comments about blocking on social media.

And the bills are only set to increase

According to Justice Arnold several additional blocking orders are currently pending. They are:

- An application by Paramount Home Entertainment Ltd and other film studios relating to seven websites said to be “substantially focused” on infringement of copyright in movies and TV shows

- An application by 1967 Ltd and other record companies in respect of 21 torrent sites

- An application by Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp and other film studios in respect of eight websites said to be “substantially focused” on infringement of copyright in movies and TV shows

But these 36 new sites to be blocked on copyright grounds are potentially just the tip of a quite enormous iceberg now that blocking on trademark grounds is being permitted.

Richemont has identified approximately 239,000 sites potentially infringing on their trademarks, 46,000 of which have been confirmed as infringing and are waiting for enforcement action.

So who will pick up the bill?

“It is obvious that ISPs faced with the costs of implementing website orders have a choice. They may either absorb these costs themselves, resulting in slightly lower profit margins, or they may pass these costs on to their subscribers in the form of higher subscription charges,” Justice Arnold writes.

Since all ISPs will have to bear similar costs, it seems likely that the former will prove most attractive to them, as usual.

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

Sports Streaming Site Hides Itself From The UK Piracy Police

October 19th, 2014

cityoflondonpoliceOver the past few months City of London Police have been working together with copyright holders to take on sites that provide or link to pirated content.

The Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) uses a variety of measures to achieve its goals. This includes sending requests to registrars requesting the suspension of allegedly infringing domain names.

The sports streaming site Fromhot, also known as Sportlemon and Frombar, was one of the most recent targets of the latter strategy. The “franchise” has well over a million visitors per month but some of these went missing after the Frombar.com domain was suspended.

The streaming site does remain operational from several alternative domain names, which now point to Fromhot.com, but interestingly enough the site can no longer be accessed from the UK.

fromhot1

A few days after its main domain was suspended the sport streaming site decided to block all visitors from the UK. It appears that this measure was taken in the hope of avoiding further actions from PIPCU.

TorrentFreak contacted the people behind the site for a comment on the unusual measure, but we have yet to hear back.

Frombar is not the first sports streaming site to be targeted by PIPCU. In May, PIPCU had the domain of the Cricfree.tv streaming portal suspended but its operator was able to bring the site back under a new domain.

In addition to the domain suspensions PIPCU also had several sports streaming site operators arrested. TorrentFreak previously revealed that the operator of BoxingGuru.co.uk, boxingguru.eu, boxingguru.tv and nutjob.eu was arrested during April.

This was followed by the arrest last month of 27-year old Zain Parvez, who allegedly operated CoolSport.se, CoolSport.tv and KiwiSportz.tv. Parvez was described as the head of an “industrial scale” sports streaming operation but all charges against him were dropped earlier this week.

Whether the blockade of UK traffic will keep PIPCU at bay has yet to be seen. The notice posted on the seized Frombar.com still notes that the site is “under criminal investigation.”

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

Jennifer Lawrence Gets Google to Censor Leaked Pictures, Sort Of

October 18th, 2014

pixelatedOver the past several weeks hundreds of photos of naked celebrities leaked online. This “fappening” triggered a massive takedown operation targeting sites that host and link to the controversial images.

As a hosting provider and search engine Google inadvertently plays a role in distributing the compromising shots, much to the displeasure of the women involved.

More than a dozen of them sent Hollywood lawyer Marty Singer after the company. Earlier this month Singer penned an angry letter to Google threatening legal action if it doesn’t remove the images from YouTube, Blogspot and its search results.

“It is truly reprehensible that Google allows its various sites, systems and search results to be used for this type of unlawful activity. If your wives, daughters or relatives were victims of such blatant violations of basic human rights, surely you would take appropriate action,” the letter reads.

While no legal action has yet been taken, some celebrities have also sent individual DMCA takedown requests to Google. On September 24 Jennifer Lawrence’s lawyers asked the search engine to remove two links to thefappening.eu as these infringe on the star’s copyrights.

The DMCA takedown request

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Earlier this week the request was still pending, so TorrentFreak asked Google what was causing the delay. The company said it could not comment on individual cases but a day later the links in question were removed.

This means that both the thefappening.eu main domain and the tag archive of Jennifer Lawrence posts no longer appear in Google’s search results.

Whether this move has helped Lawrence much is doubtful though. The site in question had already redirected its site to a new domain at thefappening.so. These links remain indexed since they were not mentioned in the takedown request.

The good news is that many of Lawrence’s pictures are no longer hosted on the site itself. In fact, the URLs listed in the takedown request to Google no longer show any of the infringing photos in question, so technically Google had no obligation to remove the URLs.

A prominent disclaimer on the site points out that the operator will gladly take down the compromising photos if he’s asked to do so. Needless to say, this is much more effective than going after Google.

The disclaimer

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