Tag: afeat

A California man has been ordered to pay $16,800 in damages to Sony Interactive Entertainment, for selling jailbroken PS4 consoles filled with pirated games. In a default judgment, the Federal Court sided with the gaming company, ruling that the man’s activities violated the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provisions.

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This week the EU Parliament approved the final text of the Copyright Directive, meaning that user-uploaded content sites, such as YouTube, will have to strike licensing deals with rightsholders to avoid liability. But how will that affect piracy-focused torrent and streaming sites?

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This week the European Parliament voted in favor of the new Copyright Directive. While the Council has yet to adopt it, France plans to implement the measures within months. Article 13/17 will be part of a new anti-piracy law that will also introduce a national blacklist for pirate streaming sites, the French Minister of Culture announced.

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One of the former administrators of piracy giants Kinox.to & Movie4k.to has been released from prison. Unlike his brother, who is still on the run, Kreshnik Selimi has cooperated with German authorities, helping the tax office retrieve around 1.75 million euros.

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The U.S. is recommending a 12.5 year prison sentence for Paul Hansmeier, one of the lead attorneys of the controversial law firm Prenda. The Pirate Bay played a crucial role in the case, since it’s where Prenda uploaded porn movies to extract settlements from alleged pirates. Hansmeier admitted his wrongdoing but is requesting a more lenient prison sentence of little over 7 years.

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Ten major VPN providers have been ordered by Russian authorities to begin blocking sites present in the country’s national blacklist. NordVPN, ExpressVPN, IPVanish and HideMyAss are among those affected. TorGuard also received a notification and has pulled its services out of Russia with immediate effect.

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Internet provider Vodafone has started to block access to the popular pirate linking forum Boerse.to in Germany. The ISP feels compelled to take this action, without a court order, to avoid a legal dispute with the local music rights group GEMA.

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BitTorrent Inc. is best known for its file-sharing clients, but after its acquisition by TRON, it plans to expand its repertoire. Today the company announces “BitTorrent Live,” a social media platform for live streaming, which will be available for beta testing in the next quarter. The new platform will, ironically, not use BitTorrent technology to stream videos. At least not from the get go.

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UK police and Trading Standards officers, with assistance from anti-piracy outfit FACT, have conducted raids targeting a pirate TV operation. Shop premises and homes were searched and equipment worth an alleged £100k was seized. Two men have been arrested on suspicion of fraud.

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The Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment, the global anti-piracy coalition boasting dozens of major companies as members, has announced its expansion. Discovery Inc. and the Viacom-owned Channel 5 and Telefe companies are the latest additions, welcomed aboard by MPAA chief Charles Rivkin.

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The European Parliament has adopted the new Copyright Directive. This includes the widely contested Article 13, which was renumbered to Article 17 in the final text. Pirate Party MEP Julia Reda sees it as a “dark day for Internet freedom,” but many copyright holders are happy with the result.

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A group of major music publishing companies has sued Charter Communications for failing to take action against its pirating subscribers. The music companies state that the Internet provider deliberately turned a blind eye to pirating subscribers, while at the same time profiting from their activities.

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A group of major music companies including Sony, Universal, and Warner Bros, has sued Internet provider Bright House Networks for failing to disconnect repeat infringers. The ISP, which was acquired by Charter three years ago, knowingly profited from the massive volumes of copyright infringement committed by its users, the companies state. With thousands of tracks as evidence, the potential damages exceed a billion dollars.

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Music is widely acknowledged as one of the most potent and emotive ways to tell a story and send a message. Yet, inexplicably, no major artists in favor of Article 13 have used their talent to tell the world why it should pass. In that silence, UK rapper Dan Bull (with support from Grandayy and PewDiePie) has now seized the day – to explain why it shouldn’t.

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People who are in need of a VPN service have plenty of options to choose from. Most services offer decent encryption options nowadays, but what more does your VPN provider do to keep you anonymous? We take a look at the logging policies plus other privacy and security features of dozens of VPN providers.

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For mainly legal reasons, it’s prudent for ISPs to describe themselves as dumb pipes, with no control over or responsibility for the content that traverses their networks. The reality is, however, that is not only an untruth but a stance that can be undone in an instant, should emotions run high enough. Trouble is, no important actions exist in a bubble.

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A new report from piracy tracking outfit MUSO shows that visits to pirate sites dipped slightly last year. The company recorded a total of 190 billion visits in 2018. TV and movie streaming portals are by far the most popular, while the United States remains the top source for these sites.

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Google Unlocked is a new extension for Chrome and Opera that attempts to ‘uncensor’ Google search results affected by DMCA notices. While it tends to work as advertised overall, it suffers from – surprise, surprise – an inability to distinguish between infringing and non-infringing URLs.

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Hollywood’s MPAA has submitted an amicus curiae brief in support of several major record labels, hoping to overturn a verdict in favor of the stream ripping sites FLVTO.biz and 2Conv.com. The group fears that the verdict will serve as a roadmap for foreign pirates who want to evade US Courts. Unlike the District Court concluded, the MPAA says the sites are “quintessentially commercial.”

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In conjunction with Europol, police forces in Spain, UK, and Denmark, have carried out what is being described as the “largest ever” operation against a pirate IPTV network. Five people have been arrested, accused of crimes including IP violations, fraud, and money laundering.

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The popular “Save The Internet!” petition, which urges lawmakers to vote against Article 13 of the EU Copyright Directive, reached a new milestone of five million signatories today. The petition is part of an intensifying campaign which also features offline demonstrations and Wikipedia blackouts. Meanwhile, supporters of Article 13 are not sitting still either.

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Three men from the UK have been jailed for a total of 17 years for running a pirate streaming operation. The sentences were handed down after a four-week trial during which they stood accused of defrauding the Premier League while generating more than £5 million in revenues over a decade of operations.

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All 24 movies from the iTunes exclusive 4K “James Bond Collection” have leaked online. This is further evidence to suggest that pirates have found a way to decrypt 4K source files from the iTunes store. How, exactly, remains a mystery.

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Rising privacy-focused search engine Qwant is calling for the Copyright Directive to be passed by the EU Parliament. Founder Eric Léandri says his platform is ready to pay creators for use of their works but is calling for an external database of copyrighted works as a reference point. Last year, however, the company said that Article 13 presented a “risk for fundamental rights and freedoms.”

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The popular game YouTuber “Golden Modz” has admitted to posting copyright-infringing videos that displayed Fortnite cheats and hacks. Brandon Lucas, owner of the channel, agreed to an undisclosed settlement and a permanent injunction that prevents him from promoting Fortnite cheats going forward. The “Golden Modz” channel remains online and appears to have switched focus to GTA V.

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Four men in the UK have received sentences of up to four-and-half years for running a torrent site that leaked movies online, sometimes in advance of their theatrical release. Most notably, the quartet shared The Expendables 3. All four pleaded guilty to defrauding Lionsgate Films and members of the MPAA to the tune of $11.2m.

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Texas-based Internet provider Grande Communications has no right to a safe harbor defense in its case against several RIAA backed record labels. The ruling from the Texan federal court puts the ISP at a severe disadvantage for the upcoming trial, where it’s accused of being liable for copyright infringements allegedly committed by its users.

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After never directing a single complaint to the popular /r/piracy discussion forum, Reddit Legal has now issued its moderators with an official warning concerning its future. Almost no evidence has been provided but apparently 74 complaints in recent months triggered the warning. Reddit has a quarter of a billion monthly users.

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Aussie movie studio Village Roadshow has a reputation of being a staunch anti-piracy advocate. However, the company is also known for delaying local movie releases for weeks, knowing that this may trigger pirates. That may also be the case with the “The LEGO Movie 2” as a high-quality copy leaked onto various pirate sites before the Australian theatrical release.

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Reddit’s /r/piracy sub is a thriving community of almost 350,000 subscribers, some of whom are terrified it’s going to be shut down. However, a key moderator there has recently revealed a zero tolerance approach for copyright infringement, with a one-strike suspension policy for offenders.

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Travis McRea, the former leader of the Pirate Party of Canada, is making international headlines over his controversial eBook download platform. Speaking with TorrentFreak, an unrepentant McRea says he actually wants someone to sue him so he can win the case and set a legal precedent.

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Copyright holders have asked Google to remove four billion links to ‘pirate’ search results over the years. The vast majority of these requests were honored. This includes hundreds of millions of URLs which are not yet indexed. These end up on a preemptive blacklist instead.

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Scammers are using fake copyright notices to obtain login credentials from Instagram users, cybersecurity firm Kaspersky reveals. The recipients are told that their account will be suspended for copyright infringement within 24 hours. They can, however, “verify” their account if they believe it’s a mistake.

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Russia’s Ministry of Culture has tabled new amendments to copyright law that will allow rightsholders to order web hosts to block pirate sites without trial, if they are unresponsive to takedown demands. Site owners will also be forced to publish their names and addresses on their platforms but it’s not yet clear how this can be enforced.

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Popular file-hosting service Zippyshare is unavailable throughout the UK. Contrary to widespread rumors, ISPs are not responsible for the ‘blockade.’ Instead, it appears that Zippyshare itself is actively blocking UK visitors, intentionally or not. Without any official word from the operators, the question remains; why?

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In 2016, Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom filed an eight-point statement of claim for judicial review in an effort to attack the underpinnings of the extradition process. A year later, the High Court struck out the first seven and a subsequent appeal by Dotcom failed. In a judgment handed down today, Dotcom was denied permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.

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Several major labels including Universal, Warner Bros, and Sony, have filed their opening brief in the appeal against the Russian operator of stream-ripping sites FLVTO.biz and 2conv.com. The companies argue that the District Court mistakenly dismissed the case, a decision that gives Internet pirates carte blanche, keeping them out of US courts’ reach.

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The Higher Regional Court of Vienna, Austria, has ruled that YouTube can’t be held liable for infringing videos uploaded by users. The Court overturned a previous verdict which held that YouTube takes an “active role,” which disqualifies it from safe harbor protection. Rightsholder Puls 4 is disappointed with the outcome and will take the case to the Supreme Court.

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Japan’s government has decided to not to proceed with its controversial anti-piracy law. The proposals would have rendered the downloading of all copyrighted content illegal while criminalizing offenders with jail sentences of up to two years. The reforms will now go back to the drawing board.

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Rockstar Games’ parent company Take-Two Interactive has ‘won’ a consent judgment against the developer of the GTA V cheat “Infamous”. A New York federal court signed off on the judgment in which defendant Erik Cameron admits copyright infringement and agrees to pay an undisclosed settlement amount.

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A coalition of 243 organizations representing a wide range of creative industries is calling on the European Parliament to quickly adopt the proposed Copyright Directive. The planned changes, including Article 11 and Article 13, will help to create a fair and sustainable Internet, they say.

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David Kaye, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, has raised the alarm over the EU’s proposals for Article 13 and its de facto filtering requirements. “Such sweeping pressure for pre-publication filtering is neither a necessary nor proportionate response to copyright infringement online,” Kaye warns.

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Piracy is a major problem for India’s movie industry but according to a local new report, the enemy is within. Rival production companies reportedly pirate each other’s movies to hurt box office revenues. At the same time, other insiders such as movie theater owners and even the censor board, are also implicated.

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Proposals to massively tighten up Japan’s copyright law have been put on hold over fears the restrictions could reduce use of the Internet. The plans, which would make downloading any copyrighted material punishable as a crime, are seen by opponents as a step too far. As things stand, even screenshots for personal use could be a criminal offense.

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Megaupload has been offline since it was raided in 2012 and the original file-hosting platform is not coming back. That doesn’t prevent anti-piracy outfit Link-Buster from sending takedown notices to Google, targeting URLs of the long-defunct site. Other sites which are long gone, including Hotfile and FileServe, are on their list too.

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Music production software is both notoriously expensive and heavily pirated, quite often by those just getting into the game. However, if you’re an already famous performer and screenshots of your desktop appear on the Internet, removing evidence of cracked apps is probably a good move.

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Many Kodi add-ons are hosted on Github but when a developer deletes his or her account, other developers are sometimes stepping in to exploit the situation, to pass their product off as the original. However, Github says it will not tolerate any exploits and will take action in response complaints.

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Google is opposing a recommendation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to introduce a mandatory takedown notice scheme. This could lead to automated censorship, the company warns. Various copyright holder groups don’t see the takedown notice proposal as a good solution either, but they are demanding even stricter measures.

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Authorities in Russia have held talks with major rightsholders, hosting platforms, and search providers, with the aim of writing the terms of a voluntary anti-piracy agreement into law. If approved, it will become one of the toughest takedown regimes anywhere in the world.

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Last week, the European Parliament tweeted a video about Article 13, informing the public that their memes are safe. The video was criticized for being inaccurate and this week, things got worse. It turns out that the video was created by a major media company, which lobbied extensively in favor of the EU Copyright Directive.

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Last December, Canada amended its Copyright Act to prevent abuse of the notice-and-notice regime. As a result, copyright holders are no longer allowed to demand cash in infringement notices and ISPs aren’t obliged to pass them on. Sadly, the rules are being ignored.

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Streaming TV provider Omniverse describes the piracy lawsuit filed by the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE) as “reckless”. The company has unveiled new information, suggesting that it is backed by an old and relatively unrestricted licensing deal that was agreed by a US-based real estate company in the early 90s. Omniverse says that it’s literally doing everything by the book.

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A high quality pirated copy of the movie Aquaman appeared online yesterday. The 4K release is believed to come from iTunes, which would make this the first 2160p movie to be directly downloaded from Apple’s movie store. It’s unclear how the file was obtained.

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Travis McRea, the former leader of the Pirate Party of Canada, is causing quite a stir with his eBook upload site, Ebook.bike. Many authors have gone into meltdown over the past few days, accusing the entrepreneur of blatant piracy. For his part, McCrea admits that his abrasive attitude towards them is trolling – designed to draw even more traffic to his platform.

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The executive vice president of strategy for Germany’s powerful Bundesliga football league says that competing with piracy begins with having “legal product everywhere.” It’s a common sense approach but the lack of options in many countries continually drives huge numbers of fans to piracy every week.

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The US Supreme Court has ruled that creators can’t sue someone for copyright infringement before they’ve obtained a copyright registration certificate. In a unanimous decision, Justice Ginsburg clarifies that applying for a copyright registration is not sufficient. Major copyright holders are not happy with the decision, but for some others it may offer hope.

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A California federal court has sanctioned attorney Lincoln Bandlow for willful disobedience. Bandlow, who’s a partner at Fox Rothschild where he handles hundreds of piracy cases for Strike 3 Holdings, failed to meet the court’s deadlines on many occasions. The attorney’s explanations of insufficient staff and an overactive spam filter, were unacceptable, according to the court.

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GuardaLey, the world’s most infamous ‘copyright-trolling’ operation in the BitTorrent space, says it has entered into a joint venture with a US company called American Films Inc. The latter will become the 100% owner of GuardaLey’s US operations. According to Bloomberg data, American Films Inc. currently has no “significant operations”.

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Cutting off the money supply to copyright-infringing sites is commonly seen as a prime tactic to deal with the piracy problem. Anti-piracy company DMCAForce has a different strategy though. On behalf of a client, it’s reaching out to file-sharing sites with an advertising deal, in exchange for a cut of the money.

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It’s a commonly held belief among many pirates that all premium content should be available for free. However, when pirates ‘steal’ or take credit for releases made by other pirates, many find this completely unacceptable. It’s an interesting double standard that appears to defy logic but has its roots in earned respect. Content companies might do well to consider such loyalties.

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A takedown notice sent to Google on behalf of a prominent Indian record label, clearly targeted the wrong site. Instead of a pirate site, the notice resulted in the removal of a link from the well-respected copyright blog SpicyIP. Luckily, the site had enough in-house experience to set the record straight.

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Sky TV is sending notices containing thousands of complaints to Google to have pirate IPTV providers removed from search results. While there’s little doubt that the underlying services upon which they rely are unlicensed and therefore illegal, in many cases the sites being wiped from Google are not directly infringing in themselves.

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Popular file-hosting service Uploaded.net proudly represents itself as a Swiss company. With the US Government branding it a pirate site, that presented a problem for the European country. However, following a criminal investigation, the Swiss authorities concluded that the site has “no real ties” to Switzerland.

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The University of California (UC) is the latest institution to cancel its subscription to leading academic publisher Elsevier. UC cites high costs and the lack of open access research among the reasons. This likely means an increase in traffic for Sci-Hub, the site that’s often referred to referred to as ‘The Pirate Bay for Science’, which may actually play a bigger role than some suspect.

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Germany’s Federal Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information has issued a warning over the data privacy implications of the EU’s proposed Article 13 legislation. Ulrich Kelber says an “oligopoly” of filtering vendors would have significantly increased access to vast swathes of user data, unless the EU can explain how its aims can be achieved without filtering.

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Film distribution company Dutch FilmWorks is continuing its legal battle to identify BitTorrent pirates. The company is appealing the case against Internet provider Ziggo, where it requested the personal details connected to 377 IP-addresses. Even if the account holders themselves are not pirates they do have a responsibility for what happens on their connections, Dutch Filmworks stresses.

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Several torrent sites have banned the account of the popular software uploader CracksNow. The software and cracks were repeatedly flagged as malicious and some came with the GandCrab ransomware. While malicious torrents are nothing new, it’s rare for this to happen via a “trusted” uploader.

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Every few weeks, plans for starting new torrent sites, streaming platforms, and apps, appear on Internet discussion platforms. While most have lofty goals, few consider what might happen when they hit the jackpot. Initial intent is crucial so careless actions early on can easily come back to haunt and then undermine successful projects.

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