TorrentFreak
The following are the titles of recent articles syndicated from TorrentFreak
Add this feed to your friends list for news aggregation, or view this feed's syndication information.

LJ.Rossia.org makes no claim to the content supplied through this journal account. Articles are retrieved via a public feed supplied by the site for this purpose.

[ << Previous 20 ]
Wednesday, February 28th, 2024
LJ.Rossia.org makes no claim to the content supplied through this journal account. Articles are retrieved via a public feed supplied by the site for this purpose.
11:12 am
Video of New ‘Masters of the Air’ Episode Leaks on Pirate Sites

motaOver the years, plenty of TV show episodes have leaked online in advance of their official release.

Game of Thrones had several prominent episodes come out early, sometimes several at once, and successor ‘House of the Dragon’ saw the season finale debut early.

In most cases, these leaks are broadly advertised by the pirate groups who put them online. Being the first to release a prominent leak, is a key accolade in a business where everything revolves around releasing new content faster than others.

‘Masters of the Air’ Leak

As one of the hit shows of the year, the Apple TV+ series “Masters of the Air” is a key target of pirate groups. However, the leaked episode that appeared a few hours ago wasn’t advertised as such.

Information received by TorrentFreak confirms that pirated copies of the latest episode of Apple’s series “The New Look” are not what they seem. Instead, these early pirated copies of ‘The New Look S01E05’ include the video track of an unreleased episode of another series.

These erroneous releases include video from the eighth episode of “Masters of the Air,” which is set to be released on March 8. The audio track, however, is from “The New Look”, which likely makes it a confusing watch.

There are rumors that there are also full copies available, including the leaked audio track, but we could not confirm those.

Leaked video (click for unblurred version)

mastblur

It’s not clear how this ‘mistake’ came about, but it seems likely that Apple or another party accidentally put the wrong video online. This error was fixed as soon as the issue was noticed, but not before pirate groups grabbed their copies.

While some pirate release groups are eager to get leaks out to the public, the content of the release amounts to an unintentional Apple mashup and an unwatchable episode. There are subtitles available on some releases, but they’re from “The New Look.”

Many release groups were swift to fix the unusual error and released “repacks” to fix the earlier mistake. These updated releases include the correct video track, removing the inadvertent “Masters of the Air” leak. Some added comments further corroborate the error.

“Apple fucked up and put up the video for masters of the air episode 8,” we read in one of the notes that comes with a repack release.

repack

Even if the leak was a full copy, one can only wonder how welcome it would be. The seventh episode of “Masters of the Air” is scheduled to be released this Friday and true fans typically like to follow the chronological storyline.

We reached out to Apple for a comment on the accidental leak but the company didn’t immediately reply.

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

Tuesday, February 27th, 2024
LJ.Rossia.org makes no claim to the content supplied through this journal account. Articles are retrieved via a public feed supplied by the site for this purpose.
3:15 pm
OpenAI: ‘The New York Times Paid Someone to Hack Us’

openai logoIn recent months, rightsholders of all ilks have filed lawsuits against companies that develop AI models.

The list includes record labels, individual authors, visual artists, and more recently the New York Times. These rightsholders all object to the presumed use of their work without proper compensation.

A few hours ago, OpenAI responded to The New York Times complaint, asking the federal court to dismiss several key claims. Not just that, the defendants fire back with some rather damning allegations of their own.

OpenAI’s motion directly challenges the Times’s journalistic values, putting the company’s truthfulness in doubt. The notion that ChatGPT can be used as a substitute for a newspaper subscription is overblown, they counter.

“In the real world, people do not use ChatGPT or any other OpenAI product for that purpose. Nor could they. In the ordinary course, one cannot use ChatGPT to serve up Times articles at will,” the motion to dismiss reads.

‘NYT Paid Someone to Hack OpenAI’?

In its complaint, the Times did show evidence that OpenAI’s GPT-4 model was able to supposedly generate several paragraphs that matched content from its articles. However, that is not the full truth, OpenAI notes, suggesting that the newspaper crossed a line by hacking OpenAI products.

“The allegations in the Times’s complaint do not meet its famously rigorous journalistic standards. The truth, which will come out in the course of this case, is that the Times paid someone to hack OpenAI’s products,” the motion to dismiss explains.

nyt hacked

OpenAI believes that it took tens of thousands of attempts to get ChatGPT to produce the controversial output that’s the basis of this lawsuit. This is not how normal people interact with its service, it notes.

It also shared some additional details on how this alleged ‘hack’ was carried out by this third-party.

“They were able to do so only by targeting and exploiting a bug […] by using deceptive prompts that blatantly violate OpenAI’s terms of use. And even then, they had to feed the tool portions of the very articles they sought to elicit verbatim passages of, virtually all of which already appear on multiple public websites.”

‘Hired Guns Don’t Stop Evolving Technology’

The OpenAI defendants continue their motion to dismiss by noting that AI is yet another technical evolution that will change the world, including journalism. It points out that several publishers openly support this progress.

For example, OpenAI has signed partnerships with other prominent news industry outlets including the Associated Press and Axel Springer. Smaller journalistic outlets are on board as well, and some plan to use AI-innovations to their benefit.

The Times doesn’t have any agreements and uses this lawsuit to get proper compensation for the use of its work. However, OpenAI notes that the suggestion that its activities threaten journalism is overblown, or even fiction.

“The Times’s suggestion that the contrived attacks of its hired gun show that the Fourth Estate is somehow imperiled by this technology is pure fiction. So too is its implication that the public en masse might mimic its agent’s aberrant activity,” the defense writes.

Fair Use

None of the allegations above address the copyright infringement allegations directly. However, OpenAI stresses that its use of third-party texts should fall under fair use. That applies to this case, and also to many other AI-related lawsuits, it argues.

This fair use defense has yet to be tested in court and will in great part determine the future of OpenAI and other AI technologies going forward.

To make its point, OpenAI aptly compares its use of third-party works in the journalistic realm. Newspapers, for example, are allowed to report on stories that are investigated and first reported by other journalists, as the Times regularly does.

“Established copyright doctrine will dictate that the Times cannot prevent AI models from acquiring knowledge about facts, any more than another news organization can prevent the Times itself from re-reporting stories it had no role in investigating,” OpenAI writes.

The fair use defense will eventually be argued in detail when the case is heard on its merits. With the current motion to dismiss, OpenAI merely aims to limit the scope of the case.

Among other things, the defense argues that several of the copyright allegations are time-barred. In addition, the DMCA claim, the misappropriation claim, and the contributory infringement claim either fail or fall short.

Note: An earlier version of the article mistakenly mentioned Microsoft in relation to this motion. While the company is a defendant together with OpenAI, it is NOT part of this motion to dismiss.

A copy of OpenAI’s motion to dismiss is available here (pdf). TorrentFreak broke this story, but other journalists are welcome to use it. A link would be much appreciated, of course, but we won’t sue anyone over it

TorrentFreak asked the Times for a response to the ‘hack’ allegations but the company didn’t immediately respond.

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

LJ.Rossia.org makes no claim to the content supplied through this journal account. Articles are retrieved via a public feed supplied by the site for this purpose.
12:13 pm
ISPs Request Records to Show How Piracy Fight Blocked Legitimate Sites

italy-blackoutWhen attempting to block pirated content online, there is always a significant risk that legitimate content will be blocked too.

Proponents of a tough new law in Italy that granted significant powers to rapidly block sites, waved away such concerns last year. However, after less than a month in full operation, the Piracy Shield system made its biggest blunder thus far last Saturday. Rather than opt for a surgical strike, someone rolled out a blunderbuss.

It Could Never Happen…

IP address 188.114.97.7 belongs to Cloudflare and is used by many sites, including legitimate ones, so shouldn’t have been targeted at all. However, when that IP was blocked by Italy’s ISPs, under orders of telecoms regulator AGCOM, just 15 minutes later the effect was significant.

RIP-188.114.97.7

From people whose innocent sites were rendered inaccessible, to networking experts, ISPs, and regular Italian internet users, all want to know why this happened, why it was allowed to happen, and how something similar will be prevented moving forward.

As far as we’re aware, no official comments from AGCOM, rightsholders, or indeed anyone responsible for the blunder have even mentioned it in public, let alone that they provided an explanation.

ASSOProvider Files Access to Information Request

In a letter dated Monday seen by TorrentFreak, independent ISP association ASSOProvider calls on AGCOM to grant access to information under relevant law.

“According to these resolutions, anyone with a personal and concrete interest in the protection of legally relevant situations may exercise the right of access to documents held by the Authority by sending a written and reasoned request. The person in charge of the procedure shall do so within 30 days and inform the Council,” the letter reads.

To illustrate the association’s legitimate interest, the letter lays out ASSOProvider’s participation in working groups related to the law introduced last year, and the legal appeal it subsequently filed to protest its site-blocking provisions. The association further notes that its own members are impacted by the actions of the Piracy Shield system since they’re required to use it.

“As of February 1, 2024, the Piracy Shield platform for combating piracy is active. Moreover, among ASSOprovider’s Associates, there are providers affected by the activities put in place by the Piracy Shield platform as they are members of the same platform, and also in this way the Association makes this petition,” the letter continues.

Legitimate Request For Data Relating to Two Events

ASSOProvider’s request seeks data connected to two reported overblocking events. The first, against IP addresses belonging to Zenlayer CDN, with the second relating to last weekend’s blocking of the Cloudflare IP address. Since there have been suggestions that ISPs could find themselves targeted with legal claims related to unlawful blocking, having AGCOM hand over relevant records is a reasonable request.

“It is therefore in the interest of the Association, engaged on the judicial front and for its own and its members’ protection, to know the acts and documents that gave rise to these inhibitions,” the letter continues.

Information Requested

ASSOProvider requests access to the following documents:

• The list of FQDN domain names and IP addresses submitted to Piracy Shield from February 1, 2024, to date.
• Specifically, all documents related to IP blocking issued, communicated and implemented, on Feb. 14, 15 and 24.
• The reports and all documents received from rights holders that resulted in blocking tickets on the same dates.
• The notice sent by AGCOM to the owner of the officially targeted site.
• Copies of blocking tickets sent to the Piracy Shield platform on Feb. 14, 15 and 24.
• Copies of blocking revocation tickets sent on the same days.

Given that AGCOM hasn’t yet released domain and IP address information on its website to allow relevant parties to appeal against blocking instructions, it will be interesting to see its response to this official request. The request seeks significantly more information than AGCOM has provided thus far, including that which AGCOM is required to publish.

Official Declarations Fail to Indicate Scale of Blocking

The table below shows the bare details of information released thus far, plus information that should be declared relating to post-order blocking, but to date has not. AGCOM may provide additional details at a later date but since that information is available the moment domains and IP addresses are blocked, providing them quickly shouldn’t be an issue.

AGCOM-Blocking to 240221-image

The big question is how the above table translates to the actual number of domains and IP addresses blocked.

Information made available to TorrentFreak shows that from February 1 to last week (not including events last weekend), over 1,200 IP addresses have been blocked by Piracy Shield. The volume of domain names, which includes subdomains, is considerably larger, well over 1,600.

We understand that the law does not specify or recognize unblocking of domains or IP addresses and no system is in place to remove blocks that are out of date. Cursory tests show that some IP addresses on the list no longer facilitate access to pirate services, assuming that was initially the case.

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

Monday, February 26th, 2024
LJ.Rossia.org makes no claim to the content supplied through this journal account. Articles are retrieved via a public feed supplied by the site for this purpose.
10:29 pm
Hollywood Used ‘Dynamic+ Injunction’ to Shut Down movie-web and Other Pirate Sites

delhiThis weekend, we reported that the open source movie search app movie-web lost control over the domain name of its demo site.

Registrar Namecheap suspended the domain following a complaint from several major Hollywood studios and Netflix. Initially, broader context was missing but new information suggests that an Indian order lies at the basis of this intervention.

Like many other countries around the world, India’s copyright law allows rightsholders to limit access to pirate sites. This measure is widely used by major American movie companies to obtain injunctions that require local Internet providers to block websites to prevent piracy.

Dynamic+ Blocking Orders

Over the years the nature of these court orders has evolved. The initial measures were straightforward, in the sense that they pointed out specifically which domains should be blocked. These later evolved into ‘dynamic’ versions, allowing rightsholders to add new domains and proxies whenever they are launched.

The Indian courts are not stopping at dynamic blocking orders either. In several instances, Internet providers have been instructed to block websites because they might make infringing works available in the future. This includes content yet to be created.

In addition, ISPs are no longer the only parties that are covered by dynamic+ injunctions. The orders also require domain name registrars worldwide to disable the mentioned domain names. Domain registrars that refuse to comply risk losing their ability to operate in India.

Movie-web.app and 44 Other ‘Pirate’ Domains

Namecheap’s decision to suspend the movie-web.app domain follows after Netflix, Disney, Warner Bros. and others obtained a new dynamic+ injunction at the High Court of Delhi earlier this month. The complaint in question lists 45 domain names linked to 28 defendants (full list below).

defendants

The injunction requires Indian ISPs to block the domains, but also lists ‘domain registrars’ as a broad category, without specifically naming any.

“The respective Domain Name Registrars of Defendants No. 1 to 28, upon being intimated by the Plaintiffs, shall lock and suspend the said domain names. In addition, any details relating to the registrants of the said domain names including KYC, credit card, mobile number, etc. be also provided to the Plaintiffs,” it reads.

According to the order, the operators of these websites are doing all they can to hide their identities. Attempts to compel the operators to stop the allegedly infringing activity presumably failed.

“Plaintiffs’ legal notices to takedown the infringing content from the websites have been futile. Defendants No. 1 to 28 are thus knowingly engaging in the impugned activities, in utter disregard of the Plaintiffs’ rights,” the order notes.

While the above typically applies to rogue pirate sites, we’re not sure how accurate it is for movie-web. The identities of the developers involved in the open source project are easy to find and, in their shutdown message a few days ago, they said that they “would go down without a fight,” if it came to that.

Movie-web kept its word. After Namecheap put the domain on clientHold, it didn’t make any comeback attempts. The software is still available for others to use but the official demo website will remain offline.

Not all Domains are Offline

The movie-web example suggests that Namecheap complied with the Indian court order. This is further confirmed by other Namecheap-registered domains from the same injunction that also went offline, including moviemods.dev, epxmovies.com, sflix.watch and goflixtor.com.

All of these domains now have a clientHold status, rendering them inaccessible. The same applies to domains that were registered through Porkbun, which include cinehub.wtf, filmygallery.baby, and other filmygallery domains.

Domains registered through Namebright and Dynadot are also unreachable, but these don’t have a dedicated status code.

Not all domains covered by the order are offline though. At the time of writing, several Tucows registered domains remain accessible or redirect to new ones, and the same applies to domains that are linked to Dynadot, Sarek, Realtime Register, and Godaddy.

The above are just our initial findings and these shouldn’t be used to draw broader conclusions, especially since some domain registrars are only tied to a single domain name. However, it is worth taking note and comparing these actions to any in the future.

.To Complications

The above suggests that at least some American domain registrars are responsive to an Indian court injunction, obtained by American movie studios. This means that this “Indian route” could be a fruitful anti-piracy measure for rightsholders.

Thus far, however, none of the .to domain names listed in the injunction have gone offline. The .to registry ‘Tonic‘ is not covered by the injunction, but it appears that none of the registrars of these domain names has ‘intervened’ either.

The .to domain whois doesn’t list who the registrars are but TorrentFreak has information which shows that upmovies.to, zorox.to, flixwave.to and others were registered through Namecheap. This is interesting because Namecheap suspended non- .to domains.

We asked Namecheap for a comment on our findings but the company didn’t immediately respond.

One explanation for the response discrepancy could be that the Tonic registry doesn’t support the clientHold status code. Namecheap used this to suspend the other domain names, so the lack of action with regard to the .to domains may be of a technical nature.

Whatever the explanation is, these dynamic+ orders are among the most effective we’ve seen so far. With that in mind, we expect Hollywood to use the Indian route more often going forward, if they want U.S. companies to take action.

A copy of the dynamic+ injunction issued by Justice Sanjeev Narula at the Delhi High Court is available here (pdf). A full list of all affected domain names is available below.

1. fzkidd.net
2. ofilmyzilla.ms
3. ofilmyzilla.com.ve
4. ofilmyzilla.it
5. tamilyogi.plus
6. tamilyogi.love
7. tamilyogi.band
8. soap2day.tel
9. myflixer.la
10. flixer.ph
11. myflixer.ph
12. sflix.watch
13. sflixz.to
14. moviesmod.dev
15. moviesmod.wiki
16. moviesmod.one
17. freemovies360.cc
18. streamm4u.com
19. streamm4u.to
20. desicinemas.ink
21. epxmovies.net
22. movi.pk
23. 123moviesfree.mx
24. filmygallery.baby
25. filmygallery.app
26. filmygallery.cab
27. filmygallery.club
28. filmygallery.foo
29. filmygallery.lol
30. filmygallery.pro
31. zorox.to
32. zoro.vc
33. flixwave.to
34. upmovies.to
35. mydownloadtube.net
36. movie-web.app
37. moviekhhd.biz
38. movieshd.watch
39. goflixtor.com
40. cinehub.wtf
41. arc018.to
42. flixerplus.com
43. netmovies.to
44. aniwatch.to
45. toonstream.in

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

LJ.Rossia.org makes no claim to the content supplied through this journal account. Articles are retrieved via a public feed supplied by the site for this purpose.
10:48 am
Piracy Shield Cloudflare Disaster Blocks Countless Sites, Fires Up Opposition

Logo piracy shieldFollowing a statement that Italy’s all-new anti-piracy system had received top marks from telecoms regulator AGCOM for “working perfectly,” on Saturday the truth came out in all its glory.

Piracy Shield has only been fully operational for a few weeks. So, expecting it to work flawlessly, right out of the box, was always unrealistic. There have been reports of unexpected behavior in the ticketing system, for example, plus other issues one might describe as relatively normal for a new system, or at least non-critical.

But while any unexpected behavior needs to be understood, the Piracy Shield system, i.e software, hardware, and sundry biological components, arguably had just one job to perform perfectly in its first month. Through meticulous care, prove the naysayers wrong by not blocking innocent sites and staying away from CDNs. A single IP address blocked in error can do damage anywhere but, on a platform such as Cloudflare, problems can multiple extremely quickly.

Like a Moth to a Flame

As reported less than two weeks ago, the first issue to cause elevated public concern was the blocking of Zenlayer CDN IP addresses. During the first two weeks in the public spotlight, that wasn’t ideal or even an isolated incident.

Black spots = No connectivityPiracy Shield - ZenLayer Block - Error - 240222

When AGCOM and anti-piracy group FAPAV turned up on TV recently to announce an expansion of Piracy Shield blocking, the system was said to be “working perfectly” while reports to the contrary were labeled “fake news.”

But even before those statements had time to fully sink in, along came Saturday afternoon, otherwise known as ‘TTFN CDN’.

AS13335 Cloudflare – IP: 188.114.97.7

Around 16:13 on Saturday, an IP address within Cloudflare’s AS13335, which currently accounts for 42,243,794 domains according to IPInfo, was targeted for blocking. Ownership of IP address 188.114.97.7 can be linked to Cloudflare in a few seconds, and doubled checked in a few seconds more.

The service that rightsholders wanted to block was not the IP address’s sole user. There’s a significant chance of that being the case whenever Cloudflare IPs enter the equation; blocking this IP always risked taking out the target plus all other sites using it.

Why blocking went ahead anyway has no good answers; from didn’t check and don’t understand to oops, too late…, how it managed to traverse the claimed checks and balances defies logic. Giorgio Bonfiglio, Principal Technical Account Manager at Amazon Web Services, warned of this specific risk last year. Some of the best advice available, pro bono, yet simply ignored.

“When I talked about the risks of the Piracy Shield last year I focused on the impossibility for an external observer to understand whether an IP is shared or not. I never expected they would block one of the top 5 CDNs in the world, an AS that does ONLY that,” Bonfiglio wrote.

Block Party Erupts

On February 2, 2024, developer Marco d’Itri (aka rfc1036) published a pearl of wisdom on Twitter. On Saturday, a little over three weeks later, he was the first to publicly confirm that what shouldn’t have happened, had obviously happened, to the surprise of no one.

be careful

it happened - piracy shield

Reports of sites suddenly going offline came in quickly. The IP address block went live at 16:13 and by 16:31, Italy was already covered head to foot in black spots indicating no connectivity (Source: RIPE via @auguzanellato).

RIP-188.114.97.7

EU citizens’ right to receive and impart information without interference often enters site-blocking discussions. Such concerns were waved away in Italy because the above would never be allowed to happen.

Communication to the Public, By The Public

On X, @handymenny quickly pinpointed the source of his initial connectivity problem, and then went on to discover he was more affected than first thought. That appeared to pique his curiosity, so he decided to find out who else had been blocked.

His discoveries included the ODV Prison Volunteers Association, a charitable group with a key goal of improving communication between prisoners and their families. Elimobile.it, a telecoms company that relies on people communicating so that they a) buy SIM cards and b) can access Elimobile’s video services, was also blocked.

4blox-piracy shield

Several schools also suffering downtime is not just a terrible look. The laws and regulations passed last year that authorize rapid blocking include a mandatory educational component for kids. If anyone can think of a statement that will resonate with kids, to explain why preventing football piracy has a negative effect on education, answers on a blackboard please.

Block Quietly Removed, But That Won’t Be Enough

Around five hours after the blockade was put in place, reports suggest that the order compelling ISPs to block Cloudflare simply vanished from the Piracy Shield system. Details are thin, but there is strong opinion that the deletion may represent a violation of the rules, if not the law.

Another legal aspect of potential interest involves a general principle of EU law, one that requires authorities to strike a balance between the means used and the intended aim when exercising their powers.

IT enthusiast Ernesto Castellotti wasted no time deciding his course of action. Since his website was also unlawfully blocked on Saturday, he’s sent a civil access request to AGCOM demanding all information held on file to show why that happened. He’s also calling for the immediate resignation of the head of AGCOM “for demonstrated negligence in the implementation of the Piracy Shield project.”

As far as we’re aware, there has been no formal comment from AGCOM on Saturday’s disaster.

Share information with TF in confidence here

Note: An earlier version of this article reported on a Bonfiglio tweet which appeared to estimate the number of sites potentially blocked on Saturday. We’re informed the tweet used an Italian phrase that simply suggests a very large number. The direct translation lacked nuance and has since been removed.

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

Sunday, February 25th, 2024
LJ.Rossia.org makes no claim to the content supplied through this journal account. Articles are retrieved via a public feed supplied by the site for this purpose.
4:33 pm
Njalla: Hundreds of Suspended .TV Domains Could Soon Return to Life

happy-pirateThe last time over 200 pirate sites went offline at the same time was…..well, probably never. Certainly, so many sites have never gone down and stayed down for four days straight in what still amounts to a relatively tight niche.

Yet that’s exactly what happened this week, when at least 200 .TV domains were suddenly rendered useless. WHOIS records revealed that the domains had a status of ‘serverHold’ which indicates a domain with no presence in the domain name system.

Registry >> Registrar >> Domain Owner

The suspended domains were all registered at Sarek Oy, the Finland-based domain registrar with connections to former Pirate Bay spokesman, Peter Sunde. Those in need of a liberal, privacy-focused domain registrar, with a pedigree supported by thousands of news articles, countless interviews, TV appearances, and a full-blown movie, have fewer reasons than most to shop for domains elsewhere.

Site operators understand Peter and he understands their requirements, as other projects including Njalla demonstrate. Unfortunately, when everything went dark Tuesday/Wednesday with no sign of recovery by Thursday, lack of information from obvious sources seemed to have no solution.

When domains are placed on ‘serverHold’ that’s the work of domain registries, not registrars, but domain owners still need to know where they stand.

Frustrations Build

One of those people is Jomo, the person who put together the list of suspended .TV domains mentioned in our earlier report. He’s the owner of Jomo.tv, which unlike most of the .TV domains currently suspended, isn’t a pirate site.

“I use the affected domain for my tech blog and my email address. I have received zero information about what’s going on, and I don’t know if or when this is going to be resolved,” Jomo told TF early on Friday.

“Njalla does not seem to know anything, the registry did not want to tell me anything and only referred to Sarek without any further info, and Sarek does not respond at all.”

GoDaddy completed its takeover of registry services for .TV domains late 2022, after previous controller Verisign chose not to bid when .TV last came up for grabs. When attempting to contact GoDaddy for comment earlier this week, TorrentFreak’s first email received an automatic response saying “Message blocked” while a second to a different address informed us that “The recipient’s mailbox is full and can’t accept messages now.”

While frustrating for us, domain owners like Jomo had serious issues to contend with.

“It is extremely frustrating to not get any info or updates, in addition to being unable to send or receive any emails, and being unable to log in to several services. By now I’m sure some emails are lost forever as the domain has been unavailable for several days,” Jomo added.

Problem Acknowledged on Friday

When no official updates were provided on Thursday, the situation was looking increasingly grim. Then on Friday, Jomo suddenly had luck reaching GoDaddy via TurnOn.tv.

“They actually replied fairly quickly,” Jomo says, “but only told me to ‘contact your sponsoring registrar, Sarek Oy.'”

After logging into his Sarek Oy account, a new message appeared: “Some .tv domains have been put on serverHold by the registry and we are in contact with them to resolve the issue.” There was no response to his support ticket filed earlier but at least the issue had been acknowledged.

sarek confirms

Then a few hours later, a ray of light appeared at the end of the tunnel.

‘Technical Issue’ Resolved With Registry

After three days without any useful information, Jomo received a response from Njalla, sometime Friday evening we believe.

“It is a technical issue. We’ve squared things out with the registry and we’re just waiting for them to lift the serverHold,” a message from Njalla reads.

“That will happen anywhere between in a few minutes till Monday, but we’re hoping sooner than later of course. We apologize for the troubles it had caused.”

At the time of writing, Jomo’s domain still hasn’t returned and when we last checked, the same was true for around 200 others. While there’s optimism that all domains will eventually return to service, the episode leaves big questions unanswered.

The Information Age

Perhaps the most pressing question from a consumer perspective is the decision by the registry to suspend so many domains in one swoop with zero notice. The fact that so many domains are used by pirate sites does muddy the waters somewhat but as Jomo will confirm, non-pirate sites are affected too.

When a particular entity takes action to suspend domains, whose responsibility is it to keep customers informed? In this case the action was taken by the registry but when asked to provide information, the registry refused to supply it, referring questions back to the registrar instead.

Problems Over, or More to Come?

Then there’s the question of the issue that prompted the suspensions; what was it and is it likely to reoccur? Should domain registrants avoid .TV domains? Without information to the contrary, rightly or wrongly some will draw that conclusion.

Of course, by offering domains with toughened privacy, Sarek Oy/Njalla find themselves disproportionately involved in legal proceedings where a plaintiff hopes to identify a domain operator but runs into firewall instead.

A live case in the United States required various domain registrars including GoDaddy, Namecheap and Sarek Oy, to take action against several app stores to prevent apps with ‘Temu’ branding being made available to the public.

As far as we can see, Namecheap, GoDaddy, and Sarek Oy were ordered to disable the platforms’ domains but to date, only domains registered through Sarek remain both intact and online.

At least in part, that’s to be expected and to some extent, the service as promised. Also to be expected are complications arising from an accumulation of these types of cases and similar disputes that come with the territory, the supply of which seems endless.

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

LJ.Rossia.org makes no claim to the content supplied through this journal account. Articles are retrieved via a public feed supplied by the site for this purpose.
8:43 am
“Perfect” Piracy Shield & Propaganda: Blocking Blunders Branded “Fake News”

Logo piracy shieldItaly’s Piracy Shield blocking platform is the mechanism through which sports rightsholders exercise their right to use state-approved tools in their fight against IPTV piracy.

In common with other systems in use around Europe, Piracy Shield acts on information provided by rightsholders. After identifying the target to be blocked, domain names and IP addresses are fed into the Piracy Shield system.

From there, data is pumped directly to the nation’s ISPs who must block or risk financial penalties.

Given that Piracy Shield cannot function without human input, when we refer to Piracy Shield here that means the entire chain. From data collection and approval for entry, through to actual blocking, regardless of whether any component is software, hardware, or human.

Who Benefits From Overblocking?

Pirates aside, two broad pools of people participate in site-blocking debates: those who understand the internet and the fallibility of human beings, and those who are equally aware of the risks but have an overriding and extremely urgent piracy problem to solve.

The concerns of the former include the not insignificant risk of innocent platforms being blocked in error. Such overblocking can be triggered by a simple typo or something more complex, a pirate site sharing an IP address with one or more completely innocent sites, for example.

Similar concerns are shared by rightsholders and anti-piracy groups; nobody ever reduced piracy by blocking innocent sites and no anti-piracy group’s work has ever been made easier by a belligerent mob shouting about censorship.

Given that a high-paced, dynamic environment virtually guarantees at least some mistakes, debating the inevitable isn’t anywhere near as important as finding out what went wrong, improving the system, and if required, having a discussion about it.

Piracy Shield “Works Perfectly”

During an appearance on Sky TG24 by AGCOM commissioner Massimiliano Capitanio and Federico Bagnoli Rossi, president of anti-piracy group FAPAV, it was revealed that since the launch of the Piracy Shield platform, there have been no overblocking blunders whatsoever.

Yet media reports published by DDAY.it and Wired recently, both contained sufficient evidence to mount a credible and, in at least one case, publicly verifiable argument directly to the contrary.

So did the publications both make blunders of their own? Is it feasible that they independently decided to report instances of collateral damage, against innocent web entities, without evidence or regard for the truth?

AGCOM Analysis: FAKE NEWS

A text excerpt from the TV show published by Libero.it begins by stating that AGCOM and FAPAV give the Piracy Shield system “full marks” based on its work thus far and that any reports of “friendly fire” blocking should be considered “fake news.”

“This is absolutely false and unfounded news,” states Capitanio. “Since the launch of the platform no DNS or IP address holder has made a request to AGCOM, as required by law, to have a site rehabilitated. There is a procedure for those who report that is so rigorous, I am not aware of any public administration sites being blocked in recent weeks.”

In other words, since AGCOM received no complaints of wrongful blocking from anyone wrongfully blocked, it must follow that no wrongful blocking took place. Whether the two publications mentioned above now consider their reporting debunked seems unlikely.

Similar stories are regularly discussed among workers at the country’s ISPs and associated entities. The so-called “rigorous” complaints procedure is mostly mocked for its critical failings.

Rigorously Impossible to Complain

After spending the last two weeks in the virtual company of people who keep Italy’s internet running, one thing is beyond doubt: how the system is being portrayed in public does not align with facts on the ground.

Workers at Italy’s ISPs and closely related companies don’t seem entirely consumed by the imposition of Piracy Shield on their businesses, but they are showing signs of frustration.

Many feel they have no voice and after AGCOM and FAPAV appeared on TV, unhindered by the views of the IT workers compelled to make blocking happen, it was immediately understood that bickering among themselves in public would’ve “spoiled the advertorial.”

Others chimed in on the rigorous complaint procedure referenced by AGCOM that, through its own basic failings, effectively doesn’t exist.

Instant Blocking on Tap (No Instant Undo)

The image below shows summaries of three recent orders for full and perpetual blocking to be administered through the Piracy Shield platform. The full orders are also available and can make for interesting reading.

Piracy Shield Orders

But while commendably detailed in almost every respect, a decision has clearly been made to list only a single domain (some with subdomains) in each order to identify the platform authorized for blocking. Once an order is published there is a five-day window of opportunity for a complainant to file a complaint.

AGCOM block complaint1

The text here shows that this option is useless for those wrongfully blocked; it seems highly unlikely that an unknown third party would receive a copy of an order in advance of Piracy Shield accidentally blocking them. That raises the prospect of a blocked innocent third party having to a) proactively discover that their connectivity has been limited b) isolate the problem to Italy c) discover the existence of AGCOM d) learn Italian and e) find the blocking order relating to them.

Don’t Get Too Optimistic

Awkwardly, and after all that detective work, the domains of innocent third parties do not appear in blocking orders for obvious reasons. That may suggest that they have been unlawfully blocked, especially since the regulations and Piracy Shield policy disallow any blocking of innocent parties.

In any event, overblocking is almost always the result of other things, such as shared IP addresses, which also do not appear in the orders published by AGCOM. While AGCOM does publish aggregated figures for IP addresses blocked after the initial order, zero IP addresses are published in public.

Since IP addresses don’t appear in initial orders, they can only appear in ‘subsequent reports’. The good news here is that those allowed to complain can at least try to file a complaint if they’re negatively affected. They must do that within five days of the ‘subsequent report’ (containing the IP addresses) being published on the AGCOM site.

There are some issues with that logic, however. First, AGCOM doesn’t publish subsequent reports. Second, a complaint will not stop the blocking.

subsequent report

Third, and probably most importantly, wherever the complaint procedure is mentioned, only recipients of a blocking order are specifically mentioned as qualified to complain.

That raises the prospect of pirate IPTV providers – immaculately reported to AGCOM for scrutiny before being deemed illegal by the regulator – being allowed to file a complaint. Those who have done absolutely nothing wrong, on the other hand, are treated as if they don’t even exist.

Of course, since they don’t even exist, filing complaints can be tricky. And, as established earlier, if there are no complaints that leads to the clear conclusion mentioned on TV: there has been no overblocking and any news to the contrary is fake.

‘Everyone Breaks The Rules’

This remarkable system “is a shit show” from beginning to end, a source familiar with it informs TF. There’s even a sarcastic suggestion that everyone abiding by the rules and regulations could bring the entire system down.

First, the law that disallows blocking of legitimate servers doing the legitimate work of legitimate third parties, is being violated. That means legitimate users are blocked, maybe in violation of their basic human right to send and receive information.

Second, information about blocks that should be published to facilitate correction of blunders, is not being published, also in violation of the regulations. Finally, we’re informed that some ISPs, having seen the mess, have decided to unblock some IP addresses without permission from those who initiated the mess, thus contravening the rules themselves.

One IT worker also expressed an interest in appearing on TV during the next debate but expects the spot to be scooped up by an ISP that also sells TV subscriptions.

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

Saturday, February 24th, 2024
LJ.Rossia.org makes no claim to the content supplied through this journal account. Articles are retrieved via a public feed supplied by the site for this purpose.
1:07 pm
‘Movie-Web’ Domain Shut Down By Hollywood Complaint

movie webIn recent months, Movie-Web has quickly gained popularity among a particular group of movie aficionados.

The open source software, which is still available on GitHub, allows anyone to set up a movie search engine capable of streaming content from third-party sources. These external sources tend to have large libraries of pirated entertainment.

Like Google

Movie-Web’s developers are not oblivious to the legal ramifications but since they don’t host any files, they hoped to avoid legal trouble. The software just provides a search engine for third-party content, they argued.

“Think of it like Google, we search the Internet for videos, but we don’t own the sites, nor the content. We merely link to them,” Movie-Web explained in its FAQ.

pirate search

That ‘Google’ argument has previously been used by torrent sites. However, history has shown that this doesn’t make such projects immune to legal issues. And as Movie-Web grew, Hollywood started to take notice, and action.

Movie-Web Domain Shutdown

Yesterday, the movie-web.app domain was suddenly taken down. According to a message posted on the official Discord server, this is the result of a “court action” from several movie companies including Warner Bros. Netflix, Paramount, Universal, and Disney.

Movie-Web announcement

shutdown

TorrentFreak is not aware of any lawsuit, but [I]t appears that action was taken against the movie-web.app domain. It seems likely that registrar Namecheap suspended the domain after receiving a legal complaint from the aforementioned Hollywood companies.

Update: After publishing the article we learned that there is a legal action that requires registrars to take action against several ‘pirate’ domains. We’re looking into the matter and will follow this up later.

Namecheap updated the domain’s status to clientHold, which effectively rendered the domain inaccessible. The measure is often used to suspend pirate site domains following copyright holder complaints.

No Comeback

The surprise takedown only affects Movie-Web’s publicly hosted ‘demo’ instance. On Discord, the Movie-Web team says that it has no plans to bring this website back in any shape or form.

“As a team, we always said that if we were taken down, we would go down without a fight and we have decided to stick to that. We have zero interest in getting involved with legal matters, and so we will not be trying to circumvent this takedown in any way,” developer ‘BinaryOverload’ writes.

While this is the end of the popular movie-web.app site, the project isn’t dead yet. The code remains available on GitHub and people can still use it to run their own self-hosted instances.

In fact, the Movie-Web team points to several of these third-party instances, which were not targeted in the same takedown effort.

Shutdown FAQ

faq

More Targets…

TorrentFreak reached out to the Movie-Web team requesting more details about the takedown action but, at the time of writing, we have yet to hear back.

Looking through the discussions, we found a comment from user ‘chaos,’ one of the project leads, who confirms that the domain name takedown happened through Namecheap. This also suggests that Movie-Web wasn’t the only target. [see earlier update]

“This wasn’t just targeting movie-web, it was a blanket attack on a lot of other domains/sites as well. I doubt they actually have any grounds, but Namecheap isn’t going to go to court to defend piracy,” ‘chaos’ wrote.

The Movie-Web team says that it will continue to support people who want to self-host instances of the app, when possible. In addition, it will also maintain the list of “official mirrors” that they trust and recommend. Whether Hollywood will approve remains to be seen.

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

Friday, February 23rd, 2024
LJ.Rossia.org makes no claim to the content supplied through this journal account. Articles are retrieved via a public feed supplied by the site for this purpose.
8:56 pm
Google Search Takedown Requests Rush to 8 Billion at Record Pace

google darkFor many people, Google is the go-to starting point when they need to find something on the web. With just a few keystrokes, the search engine can find virtually anything.

This is generally good, but copyright holders are not happy with all content that can be discovered. Pirates sites, for example, should remain hidden when possible.

In recent years Google has tweaked its algorithms to address this issue. At the same time, it continues to process DMCA takedown notices which allow rightsholders to ‘remove’ problematic content, even when it’s yet to be indexed.

Takedown Transparency

In the spring of 2012, Google expanded its Transparency Report by publishing all DMCA requests the company receives, including the targeted links and their senders. For the first time, outsiders were able to see the URLs copyright holders targeted and in what quantity.

Here at TorrentFreak, we’ve also paid considerable attention to how the volume of these requests has evolved. In the early years, there was a rapid rise in DMCA takedowns, reaching a peak around 2017 and then dropping off afterward.

Surprisingly, this trend reversal was only temporary. Last year it became clear that Google search DMCA notices had picked up again. And this second surge continues to this day.

8 Billion Reported URLs

A few days ago, Google processed its eight billionth takedown request, measured by individual reported URLs. This follows a little over six months after the seven billionth request, establishing a record-breaking pace.

For comparison, between 2019 and 2021, it took almost two full years to add a billion new takedowns.

8 billion

As highlighted previously, the recent surge is partly caused by an increase in activity from the takedown outfits Link-Busters.com and Comeso. Together, they now submit the vast majority of all takedown requests.

These companies work with a variety of rightsholders. Link-Busters, for example, mostly works with major publishers, including Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, and Hachette.

Active Senders

To give an indication of the volume, Link-Busters.com flagged an average of more than two million URLs per day recently. If that pace continues, it will report more than 700 million URLs a year.

Comeso currently averages around 1.2 million reported URLs per week, which translates to well over 400 million yearly takedowns.

A large number of Comeso takedowns were sent on behalf of Kakao Entertainment, a major webtoon publisher. Earlier this week the Korean media giant released a whitepaper celebrating a record number of 208 million “takedown operations” between June to December 2023. The majority of these relate to Google takedown requests, the company confirmed to us, but other search engines and services were targeted as well.

While hundreds of millions of removals sure sound impressive, some nuance is warranted, as not all URLs are deindexed by Google. For example, only 36% of Comeso’s requests resulted in content being removed. Most URLs, about 58%, were not indexed by Google and put on a blacklist instead. The remaining URLs were not removed for other reasons.

Whether these efforts will put a significant dent in publishing piracy has yet to be seen, but the two takedown companies are certainly doing their best.

10 Billion?

If this trend continues, we could be at 10 billion takedowns by this time this year. That sounds like a lot and it certainly is. However, pirate sites are not oblivious to this tactic and actively switch to new domains, so there can always be more.

To offer some context, there are thousands of “Z-Library” related domains online, each with millions of URLs. That adds up quickly.

In the grander scheme of things, the eight billion figure might represent just a tiny speck. It’s less than 0.007% of the 130 trillion webpages Google search reportedly had indexed years ago.

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

LJ.Rossia.org makes no claim to the content supplied through this journal account. Articles are retrieved via a public feed supplied by the site for this purpose.
12:40 pm
‘IFPS Gateway Operator is not Liable for Pirated Software Keys’

ipfs logoThe InterPlanetary File System, more broadly known as IPFS, has been around for nearly a decade.

While the name may sound alien to the general public, the peer-to-peer file storage network has a growing user base among the tech-savvy.

In short, IPFS is a decentralized network where users make files available to each other. The system makes websites and files censorship-resistant and not vulnerable to regular hosting outages; as long as at least one user in the network continues to share.

These advantages allow archivists, content creators, researchers, and others to reliably distribute large volumes of data over the Internet. Many developers support the project and some do so actively, by running an IPFS gateway that the public can freely use to access IPFS-stored content.

IPFS DMCA Notices

The operators of these gateways are not aware of how people use them; they simply enable the technology. However, that hasn’t stopped copyright holders from sending complaints that urge operators to prevent alleged copyright infringements.

In recent years, several gateway operators have received DMCA takedown requests for content available through, but not stored on, their service. These complaints are not only lodged against small players. Cloudflare has also received thousands of takedown requests.

While Cloudflare has in-house legal experts to rely on, these notices can be a challenge for smaller developers who tend to run IPFS gateways as hobby projects. This also applies to computer scientist Mike Damm, who operates the Hardbin.com service.

IPFS & JetBrains Keys

Hardbin is an encrypted pastebin that enables users to share text, such as this message we just posted. The service relies on IPFS for storing content and offers a gateway through which it can be viewed publicly.

Technically, Hardbin doesn’t store any third-party material but it can be published and accessed through the site. Not all rightsholders are happy with this and the Czech software company JetBrains shared its concerns with the operator last October.

JetBrains sent a takedown notice to the site, asking for the content to be removed. In response, Mr. Damm explained that Hardbin.com is an IPFS gateway that doesn’t store content, hoping that would resolve the matter. It didn’t.

While JetBrains now understands that IPFS gateways don’t store content, the company suggested disabling the Hardbin.com URL through which the software keys can be accessed. If not, the operator could be liable for copyright infringement under the DMCA, the software company warned.

“By knowingly facilitating the access to the cracks, activation codes, or other methods that aim to circumvent measures for protecting JetBrains’ products from unauthorized use, you are directly liable, even if you did not directly engage in software piracy activities.”

“Further, by knowingly inducing or providing links to the tools which are then employed in unauthorized access of JetBrains’ software, you may be liable for contributory copyright infringement,” JetBrains added.

damm-letter

EFF Steps Up

Faced with this legal conundrum, Mr. Damm reached out to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), who stepped up to help. EFF replied to JetBrains on behalf of the Hardbin.com operator, stressing that the service is not legally responsible for the alleged availability of the pirated software keys.

“That suggestion is baseless. As Mr. Damm has explained, an IPFS gateway is a conduit similar to VPNs, internet access services, or Tor nodes,” the letter from EFF attorney Kit Walsh reads.

“Mr. Damm is not presenting the complained-of link to the public; the link is only generated when a user provides the hash that identifies the file they wish to retrieve. This step is analogous to providing a domain name to an ISP’s DNS server in order to obtain the IP address corresponding to that domain..,” Walsh adds.

JetBrains’s suggestion that Hardbin violates the DMCA is not accurate, according to EFF. The letter points out that the IPFS gateway is not a hosting service, but a general-purpose conduit for information, which should not be held liable.

The software company sent its letter under Section 1201 of the DMCA, which applies to trafficking in circumvention technology. This is different from the traditional Section 512 takedowns. However, EFF sees no reason why liability should apply in this case.

“It would be absurd to suggest that Congress granted conduits special immunity for copyright claims based on third party activity but then, in the same statute, made them liable for pseudo-copyright Section 1201 claims,” Walsh writes.

Liability is Complex

EFF’s response doesn’t necessarily suggest that all IPFS gateways are immune to liability. Speaking with TorrentFreak, Walsh explains that there are several aspects operators may want to consider before sending a similarly styled response.

This includes whether they make money by offering the gateway service to users with accounts, whether they have made any statements encouraging people to use their service for infringement, and whether they host the complained-of files.

Thus far, the responses from IPFS operators have been mixed. Cloudflare, for example, has disabled access to thousands of externally stored files through its IPFS gateway, and other gateways have responded similarly in the past.

UK-based programmer James Stanley, who previously operated Hardbin.com, temporarily took the entire service offline when he received requests to take down thousands of links. Legal threats and uncertainties make it less fun to run these projects, he noted at the time.

Hardbin’s current operator sought help from EFF and the site remains online. To hear the other side of the story we also reached out to JetBrains but the company has yet to reply.

While IPFS gateway operators can feel strengthened by the position EFF takes in its response, legal uncertainties always remain. EFF’s Kit Walsh informs us that she will consider writing a FAQ to address these legal aspects and nuances, similar to the legal FAQ for TOR relay operators.

A copy of the second takedown notice Jetbrains sent to Mr. Damm is available here (pdf) and EFF’s response letter can be found here (pdf)

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

Thursday, February 22nd, 2024
LJ.Rossia.org makes no claim to the content supplied through this journal account. Articles are retrieved via a public feed supplied by the site for this purpose.
9:37 pm
Record Labels: ‘Hisses & Crackles’ Are No License to Copy & Digitize Old Records

gramophoneThe Internet Archive is widely known for its Wayback Machine, which preserves copies of the web for future generations.

These archiving efforts, which started decades ago, will become more valuable over time. The same could apply to IA’s other projects, including the digitization of old books and records.

Six years ago, the Archive began archiving the sounds of 78-rpm gramophone records, a format obsolete today. In addition to capturing their unique audio, including all ‘crackles and hisses’, this saves unique recordings for future generations before the vinyl or shellac disintegrates.

The ‘Great 78 Project‘ received praise from curators, historians, and music fans but not all music industry insiders were happy with it. Several record labels including Sony and UMG, sued the Internet Archive for copyright infringement in Manhattan federal court last year.

IA’s Motion to Dismiss

A few weeks ago, IA responded to these allegations with a motion to dismiss. According to the Archive, many of the claims are simply too late, as they supposedly point to infringements that occurred over three years ago. The record labels were aware of this, they allege, as the RIAA sent a cease and desist letter on their behalf but took no further action at the time.

The motion is centered around the statute of limitations but IA also stressed the importance of their archiving efforts, hinting that it would be eligible for a fair use defense.

Specifically, the motion explained that the ‘Great 78 Project’ aims to systematically archive these old records, including the hisses, crackles and pops, to preserve them for future generations.

“The specific quality of the sound, including the peculiar and distinct crackles and other imperfections that are a hallmark of this antiquated medium formed an indelible part of American culture for many decades,” the motion reads.

Record Labels Respond

The record labels responded to this motion a few days ago, letting the court know that they see no reason to dismiss any claims at this stage. The RIAA letter that IA relied on didn’t mention any dates and shouldn’t be construed as knowledge of any specific infringements, they counter.

“[T]he letter cannot demonstrate that Plaintiffs were aware, or should have been aware, that Defendants infringed any of the particular works in suit at the time the letter was sent,” their reply reads.

The labels listed a total of 2,749 musical works, which are good for a potential statutory damages award of more than $400 million. None of these claims should be dismissed at this stage, they argue, as discovery could show that they are timely.

“Later in the case, discovery will adduce the multitude of dates pivotal to the statute of limitations analysis, including: all of the dates Defendants created copies of the sound recordings at issue […] and the dates that the Defendants distributed and/or transmitted the sound recordings at issue to others.”

The Archive’s motion to dismiss is limited to the statute of limitation argument but the record labels also picked up on the “hisses and crackles” references, which they couldn’t ignore.

‘Hisses and Crackles’

The music companies are convinced that IA’s archiving of obsolete records is illegal, equating it to a massive pirate streaming library.

“Defendants have created a massive online storefront providing digital copies of thousands of these protected sound recordings to anyone to stream or download for free. The Great 78 Project is illegal,” they state.

The labels further believe that the defendants are “dreaming up baseless arguments” to justify their activity. This includes the value placed on the unique sound of old records, which the music companies label the ‘Rice Krispies’ argument.

‘Rice Krispies’

rice crispies

These sounds are not a feature, but a bug, the music companies counter. They are audible imperfections, a sign of decaying physical records, which were never intended to be heard.

“When these recordings were released, they did not have all of the same hisses, crackles, and pops they have today. Many of those flaws result from the brittle discs’ many decades of age,” the labels note.

“Contrary to Defendants’ arguments, recording the hisses and crackles does not preserve how the records sounded on release. Instead, it anachronistically captures how an older format behaves after more than seventy years of aging.”

Fair Use?

Today, many people have come to appreciate these unique sounds. IA stressed that, without digitizing them, they may be soon lost forever. As such, its archiving effort should be able to rely on a fair use defense.

While the court is not yet being asked to consider the fair use aspect, the labels reject IA’s line of reasoning.

“Fair use cannot be perverted into forfeiting a sound recording’s protection under copyright law just because the recording is copied, distributed, and performed in something other than its cleanest sound. If ever there were a theory of fair use invented for litigation, this is it,” they write.

All in all, it’s clear that both parties have a very different take on the ‘Great 78 Project‘. First, the court has to decide whether any claims will be dismissed based on the statute of limitations argument. After that, we will likely see more ‘fair use’ fireworks.

The music companies also responded to a separate motion to dismiss from the Kahle-Austin Foundation. The foundation argued that there are no grounds to include it in the lawsuit, as it only helped to fund the Internet Archive, but the labels argue that as a named sponsor it knew of the infringements.

—-

A copy of the record labels’ response to IA’s motion to dismiss is available here (pdf). The response to the Kahle-Austin Foundation can be found here (pdf)

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

LJ.Rossia.org makes no claim to the content supplied through this journal account. Articles are retrieved via a public feed supplied by the site for this purpose.
8:45 am
IPTV Piracy Group Members Arrested For Signal Theft, Fraud, Money Laundering

sq-shield-sqThe action in Canada this week is being described as the second phase of an operation that began last year.

Events were triggered when rightsholders led by Bell Media filed a criminal complaint against pirate IPTV service, Arubox TV.

Following an investigation by the Quebec Provincial Police, in 2023 the Office of Criminal Assets Recovery and Money Laundering carried out five searches; a condo in Laval and premises in Saint-Eustache and Brownsburg-Chatham were among the targets.

When some of those locations were targeted again this week, police may have returned to finish the job.

At Least Five Arrested For Links to Arubox TV and Stocker IPTV

During Tuesday’s raids, conducted by the Quebec Provincial Police at locations in Gatineau, Longueuil, Saint-Eustache, and Brownsburg-Chatham, at least five people were detained for suspected links to Arubox TV and Stocker IPTV.

The suspects were arrested on suspicion of various crimes including theft of telecommunications services, fraud, and money laundering. According to a local media report, Videotron, Bell, and Rogers are among the TV companies affected. Police say that more arrests are likely to follow.

arubox-tv

Police claim that Arubox and Stocker packages provided access to more than 3,000 channels and in four years attracted over 7,000 subscribers. During the period 2020 to date, that reportedly generated around CA$2 million (US$1.5 million) for their operators, with sales over the past few months presumably taking place under the eye of the authorities.

Court Appearances via Videoconference

Following their arrests, the suspects appeared by videolink at the Trois-Rivières courthouse in Québec, accused of the crimes mentioned earlier plus another, mischief in relation to data.

Section 430(1.1) of the Criminal Code describes the offense as knowingly and intentionally destroying or altering data, to the extent it becomes useless or ineffective, or lawful use of the data is obstructed.

In respect of damage to the cable companies, the suspects stand accused of depriving them of an amount in excess of CA$500,000 using deception and fraudulent means.

Suspects Identified

The suspects were identified in court as follows: Éric Grenier (who is yet to be arrested) and Danick Rouleau, plus alleged accomplices Sarah-Maude Grenier, Christian Sabourin, Marie-Ève ​​Poliquin Karaguioules, Daniel Perreault-Marcotte, Patrick Cyr and Éric Laforge.

Éric Grenier is the alleged operator of Arubox.tv and per our 2023 report, he made no secret of his involvement in the IPTV market. Over several years, Canadian news reports have repeatedly linked Grenier to a local chapter of the Hells Angels and in that respect, police aren’t yet ruling anything out.

Danick Rouleau is the alleged operator of Stocker IPTV. The nature of the Stocker service isn’t made clear, something that also holds true for the Arubox service. The ‘signal theft’ allegations against the men imply a video capturing operation but thus far we’ve seen little to support that theory, at least in respect of Arubox.TV

Descriptions of the other suspects are currently limited to their names, but it seems likely that as the case develops, so will the media’s interest. It seems unlikely to be boring, let’s put it that way.

Were The Pirate Services Taken Down?

One curious aspect of the case is that for reasons that remain unclear, the portal through which Arubox customers watched the service seems to be at least partially operational. Attempting to access it via a web browser obviously produces an error but remains online nonetheless.

stb-blocked

Determining whether it’s fully operational requires a subscription but in the current environment, that’s obviously best avoided. There is a way to obtain usable MAC addresses to access some portals of this type without handing over cash, but that’s most likely illegal, regardless of the nature of the service.

Fortunately, and regardless of its use of Cloudflare, Arubox’s setup allows for the identification of an IPTV server that seems to be still alive; that’s despite the raids this week and despite the action in May 2023.

That raises the question of why it hasn’t been shut down like servers in other cases involving Bell. We have no idea but the eight-minute walk from Bell HQ in Montreal to the server location probably rules out distance.

Are Subscribers Facing Arrest?

Police say that IPTV subscribers are not a target in the current action, which should put some minds at rest. However, they are advising people to return their set-top boxes to an official drop-off point at the Quebec Electronic Products Recycling Program.

Whether handing in close to top-of-the-range set-top boxes for dismantling sounds attractive will be a personal choice but the devices in themselves are not illegal. That’s good news for those who want to be kind to the environment; if there’s one thing better than recycling, it’s getting the most use out of a device before that’s even necessary.

Formuler Z10/11 devices sold by Arubox recently can be returned to factory settings in just a few seconds, leaving owners to install whatever legal apps they like from Google’s Play Store. They also outperform most smart TVs and won’t spy on your viewing habits nearly as much.

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

Wednesday, February 21st, 2024
LJ.Rossia.org makes no claim to the content supplied through this journal account. Articles are retrieved via a public feed supplied by the site for this purpose.
3:03 pm
Appeals Court Vacates $1 Billion Piracy Damages Award Against Cox, Orders New Trial

Late 2019, Internet provider Cox Communications lost its legal battle against a group of major record labels, including Sony and Universal.

Following a two-week trial, a Virginia jury held Cox liable for its pirating subscribers. The ISP failed to disconnect repeat infringers and was ordered 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, arguing that the “shockingly excessive” damages should be lowered. Both requests were denied by the court, which upheld the original damages award.

Despite the setbacks, Cox didn’t give up. The company believes the district court’s ruling is a disaster for Internet providers. If it stands, the verdict will also have dramatic consequences for the general public, the company warned.

Cox Appealed

In 2021, the Internet provider took the matter to the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, hoping to reverse the lower court’s judgment. According to the company’s lawyers, “the music industry is waging war on the internet” with these lawsuits.

The entire dispute revolves around the legal obligations of Internet providers when it comes to pirating subscribers. According to the law, ISPs must adopt and reasonably implement a policy that allows them to terminate the accounts of repeat infringers in appropriate circumstances.

The music companies argued that Cox failed to do so. As a result, the ISP should be held liable for vicarious and contributory copyright infringement.

While a jury previously found Cox liable for both types of secondary copyright infringement, Cox believes this was in error. It argued that some issues, including vicarious liability, should have been decided in its favor before they were sent to the jury.

Court of Appeals Reverses Vicarious Liability Ruling

After taking a fresh look at the case and weighing the evidence, the Court of Appeals partly ruled in favor of Cox in a decision handed down yesterday. The court concludes that Cox is not vicariously liable for piracy carried out by subscribers, as it didn’t directly profit from the activity.

The district court previously ruled that Cox was liable, concluding that it profited from not terminating the accounts of repeat infringers, which allowed the company to keep collecting monthly subscription fees. The Court of Appeals reaches a different conclusion.

To establish liability, there should be evidence to show the ISP had a direct financial benefit from the reported copyright infringements. That’s not the case here, according to the court.

“To prove vicarious liability, therefore, Sony had to show that Cox profited from its subscribers’ infringing download and distribution of Plaintiffs’ copyrighted songs. It did not,” the Court of Appeals notes.

Court of Appeals Reverses Vicarious Liability Ruling

The district court previously ruled that Cox could be held liable for failing to terminate subscribers who paid monthly fees. Cox was aware of that and considered the monthly payments when deciding whether to terminate an account or not.

According to the Court of Appeals, this is not enough, as the direct connection between the infringing activity and financial gain is absent.

“The continued payment of monthly fees for internet service, even by repeat infringers, was not a financial benefit flowing directly from the copyright infringement itself,” the decision reads.

“As Cox points out, subscribers paid a flat monthly fee for their internet access no matter what they did online. Indeed, Cox would receive the same monthly fees even if all of its subscribers stopped infringing.”

Piracy Draw and Payment Tiers

The music companies also argued that the ability to pirate through Cox acted as a draw to potential pirates, as evidence showed more than 10% of all traffic on the network was likely piracy-related.

That didn’t convince the appeals court; it notes that people don’t exclusively use their Internet connections to pirate and there’s no evidence to show subscribers favoring Cox over other providers.

“No one disputes that Cox’s subscribers need the internet for countless reasons, whether or not they can infringe. Sony has not identified evidence that any infringing subscribers purchased internet access because it enabled them to infringe copyrighted music.

“Nor does any evidence suggest that customers chose Cox’s internet service, as opposed to a competitor’s, because of any knowledge or expectation about Cox’s lenient response to infringement,” the ruling adds.

From the Ruling

oppose

Similarly, the music companies’ argument that pirates paid for higher bandwidth tiers that are more expensive, was also rejected.

“Sony has not identified any evidence that customers were attracted to Cox’s internet service or paid higher monthly fees because of the opportunity to infringe Plaintiffs’ copyrights.”

Contributory Infringement Remains

The second liability theory deals with contributory copyright infringement. Here, the music companies had to show that Cox ‘knew’ that piracy would likely occur if it continued to provide its Internet services to particular subscribers.

According to the Court of Appeals, there was sufficient evidence to reach this conclusion. As such, the contributory copyright infringement ruling remains intact.

“The jury saw evidence that Cox knew of specific instances of repeat copyright infringement occurring on its network, that Cox traced those instances to specific users, and that Cox chose to continue providing monthly internet access to those users despite believing the online infringement would continue because it wanted to avoid losing revenue.”

Court Vacates $1 Billion Damages Order

The Court of Appeals’ conclusions are a mixed bag, which may trigger further appeals while having an effect on previously established damages.

Given these new findings, the Court of Appeals concludes that the $1 billion damages award issued by the jury cannot stand. Instead, it is vacated, and a new trial will have to determine the scale of the damages.

Cox is still liable in part and the number of infringed works is unchanged. However, the court feels that, given the new situation, the jury could have reached a different conclusion.

“We have reversed the vicarious liability verdict because Cox did not directly profit from its subscribers’ infringement. Without that legally erroneous finding, the jury’s assessment of at least these damages factors may be different.”

“We therefore vacate the damages award and remand for a new trial on damages,” the court concludes.

—-

A copy of The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals order and associated ruling are available here (1, 2)

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

LJ.Rossia.org makes no claim to the content supplied through this journal account. Articles are retrieved via a public feed supplied by the site for this purpose.
2:45 am
100s of Pirate Sites Go Dark as .TV Domains Placed on ServerHold

stupidtv-lA few hours ago a TorrentFreak reader linked us to a list of almost 200 domains with several things in common.

The vast majority have naming conventions that almost certainly point to some type of piracy activity. No shortage of the word ‘streams’ for example, along with other familiar pirate terms such as HD, cine, film, movie, plus the likes of buff, cric and crack.

Sites with ‘anime’ in their domain names also stand out; they include the popular Animebytes, a platform that above most seemed to be generating significant panic. A gloomy discussion on Reddit spoke of the site having just hours to live, a fate that may have since been suspended but with a root cause that remains unresolved.

The Sun Doesn’t Shine on .TV

The sites on the list have other things in common too. All operate from .TV domains that were registered at Finnish registrar Sarek Oy. As things stand, none have any functioning DNS and that means all are completely inaccessible, at least as far as site users are concerned.

The list can be viewed here and given its size and the platforms on it, it feels safe to conclude that this blackout is currently affecting millions of pirates. It’s probably fraying the nerves of many site operators too, albeit some more than others.

As far as we know, information and explanations for the unprecedented failure are in short supply, at least those announced directly from Sarek Oy. It’s the middle of the night in Finland, so it may be a few hours before any official announcement arrives.

Domain Status: serverHold

After checking a few dozen WHOIS records for domains on the list, all display a domain status of ‘serverHold’. ICANN’s official description notes that the status is set by domain registries to indicate that a domain is not activated in the Domain Name System (DNS).

serverHold

Given the way the current problem manifests itself, the explanation is accurate but not especially helpful.

The bigger question is why hundreds of domains were suddenly placed on serverHold and why did that have to be done so urgently that there was no time to inform the domain owners? That will likely become evident during the next few hours, but we can confirm that sites operating .TV domains with other registrars remain functional.

whois-buffstreams

That may suggest an issue specific to the registrar. Some type of issue between the registry and registrar seems most likely, but it’s hard to imagine either party simply deciding to render so many domains inoperable, seemingly all at once, without any kind of warning.

So at least for now, beads of perspiration will have to persist while soaking up the irony. Perhaps more than any other registrar in operation right now, Sarek Oy’s reputation for keeping sites online is extremely well known. That it’s currently at the center of one of the largest blackouts in recent history is unexpected, to say the least.

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

Tuesday, February 20th, 2024
LJ.Rossia.org makes no claim to the content supplied through this journal account. Articles are retrieved via a public feed supplied by the site for this purpose.
9:14 pm
Racing Driver Arrested as Police Target Thailand’s Largest & Oldest Torrent Site

hacker-coderPress releases announcing the shutdown of yet another pirate site, more arrests, and what that means for the entertainment industry, are nothing out of the ordinary. In particularly busy periods, simply determining where one batch ends and another begins can present challenges.

Yet in many cases, even the most straightforward reports have much more going on just below the surface. An announcement published Monday by the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment is clear, quite detailed, but also conservative in respect of reporting events behind the scenes.

The matter involves the oldest and most likely the largest torrent site in Thailand, a platform described by the most powerful rightsholders in the United States as a priority enforcement target for at least seven years. Yet only now, 18 years after the site first launched, have local authorities taken any visible action.

If policy recently changed in Thailand, there’s no obvious indication of when that took place or what it might be. The official page to provide tips about illegal services on the police website still doesn’t work and known complications simmering in this particular case haven’t been mentioned either.

ACE Outlines The Main Facts

The key details, as reported by ACE on Monday, read as follows:

The Royal Thai Police’s Economic Crimes Department (ECD), with support from the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE), has raided four locations in Bangkok, Surin Province and Surat Thani. Four Thai nationals have been taken into custody and are expected to be formally charged with copyright offenses in the coming days.

Siambit.me was the largest torrent tracker site in Thailand with average monthly visits of 5.5 million, and which provided access to a huge range of Hollywood, international and Thai content.

The site had been in operation since 2005 and is known to regularly change its domain to avoid detection. According to statements by the Royal Thai Police, Siambit.me had over 100,000 VIP members and the operators were making an estimated 1.5 million baht (USD $41,000) on a monthly basis.

The 5.5 million visits reported here align exactly with data reported by SimilarWeb, so we’ll put that aside for now. The reference to 100,000 VIP members indicates those paying a fee each month. The lowest monthly fee reported recently was just 99 baht with the highest at 499 baht, so roughly $2.70 to almost $14.00 per month.

The higher monthly rate of $14.00 makes little to no sense in any context while the claim that 1.5 million baht was generated each month could in theory suggest around 15,000 members paying 99 baht each. If 100,000 members paid even the minimum rate each month, no figures from any source combine to produce a sensible total, so perhaps more information will emerge to clarify the situation.

Images of Police Action Emerge

Images that began circulating late last week seem to confirm that the authorities had good intelligence. Photographs such as the one featuring a server room below appear to have been taken at the home of the main suspect.

siambit_servers1

When trying to establish a timeline for the events reported a few days ago a confusing picture emerged. In fact, to make any sense of these events we needed to go back, not just days, but several weeks.

Thai Police & ACE Took Sites Down in January

On January 19, 2024, we provided background on an ACE announcement detailing the shutdown of 27 Thai-focused sites, each reliant on a common infrastructure provided as a service by the website IAMTHEME.com.

Around January 17, officers from the Central Investigation Bureau were preparing an operation to enforce the country’s strict pornography laws; in Thailand it’s illegal to distribute porn, possess it, or produce it.

The bureau’s target was the suspected operator of numerous sites including xxxporn678.com, 037movie-hd.com, dooball678.com, movie678.com, and 678-hd.com. The first domain seems to have majored on illegal adult content while the rest appeared to focus on pirated movies and pirated live football streams.

678-trash

The common denominator for all sites was a) a reliance on services offered by IAMTHEME.com and b) offering porn illegally and/or generating revenue illegally from online gambling advertising.

Combinations like these are an effective way to attract Thai authorities, who will shut sites down and arrest their operators. And that’s exactly what happened here. Items seized included four computers, eight mobile phones, and more than a dozen bank accounts.

Dominoes Start to Fall

Not long after the operator of xxxporn678 and the other sites was arrested, police began investigating the operator of IAMTHEME. On or around February 2, he too was placed under arrest, most likely for similar reasons.

At some point, police determined that their latest suspect was either sourcing his porn and pirated movies from SiamBit or was otherwise connected to the site and/or its operator. That triggered a series of events that led to Thailand’s largest torrent site becoming the focus of the ACE announcement published on Monday.

A source who asked not to be identified said that police initially expanded their investigation to identify the person in charge at SiamBit. Armed with a search warrant dated February 7 issued by a local court, on February 9 they targeted the home of a man in his late thirties* suspected of running the group that controls the site.
*the suspect is believed to be either 38 or 40

SiamBit2

According to the authorities, SiamBit had 10,000 VIP members, together paying around 1.5 million baht to its operators every month. For balance, we have also seen references to ‘100,000 members’ but without any mention of money. SiamBits’ tracker data obtained by TF shows a peak of almost a million peers while reporting over 200,000 members.

It’s possible that the focus will end up being a monetary value, but whether that will be linked to porn and gambling, copyright infringement, or both, is still unclear.

At least initially, police focused on suspected crimes under Section 287 of the Thai Penal Code. Section 287 makes it beyond clear that any kind of dealing in pornographic content is a criminal offense, punishable by a fine, a prison sentence, or both.

Section 287 Thai Penal Code

While we were able to positively identify all four main suspects by name and home address, details here are limited to their initials, arrest location, alleged role, and reported age.

CW: Sai Mai District. SiamBit operator and famous professional racing driver (38/40)
PB: Chatuchak District. Financial controller (54)
WNK: Surin Province. Website/systems administrator (42)
NSWW: Surat Thani Province. Administrator, community manager (53)

Several images made available by the authorities allegedly feature the suspected operator of SiamBits but whether all show the same person isn’t entirely clear.

On the top row, images one and two show the same person at the same location, dressed in a light blue t-shirt, face blurred. However, the person with his face obscured in image three at the bottom seems to more closely match press images of the racing driver named as the main suspect.

That raises the question of why the person in image three is wearing completely different clothes than those worn by the suspect in one and two.

suspects

Other apparent anomalies include the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment referencing the domain Siambit.me, which as far as we can establish is indeed the site’s main domain.

Locally there appears to be greater interest in Siambit.io, which at the time of writing redirects to Google. Meanwhile, the .me variant currently redirects to a Telegram channel with over 18,700 members.

Thai authorities confirm that their interest in SiamBit was raised due to complaints from companies in the movie industry. In its statement published yesterday, the anti-piracy group said that copyright infringement charges are expected in the next few days.

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

LJ.Rossia.org makes no claim to the content supplied through this journal account. Articles are retrieved via a public feed supplied by the site for this purpose.
10:33 am
Film Companies Seek ‘Torrenting History’ Related to Redditor

reddit-logoEarly last year, a group of filmmakers obtained a subpoena which required Reddit to reveal the identities of users who commented on piracy-related topics.

The movie companies said they were not planning to go after these people in court but wanted to use their comments as evidence in an ongoing piracy lawsuit against Internet provider RCN.

Reddit wasn’t willing to go along with the request, at least not in full. The company objected, arguing that handing over the requested information would violate its users’ right to anonymous speech. Reddit later responded similarly to a second and third subpoena request.

Reddit Shared IP Address

Recent legal activity shows that Reddit doesn’t intend to automatically comply with all user information requests. Early last year, it did share some information (including IP address logs) related to user ‘ben125125’. Since the comment mentioned RCN, Reddit felt that was the appropriate response.

ben reddit

After this initial disclosure in March last year, no new information surfaced in 2023. However, a recent court filing shows that the movie companies, including Voltage Holdings and Millennium Media, actively tried to track down the commenter.

The IP address handed over by Reddit was linked to a T-Mobile account. Responding to a subpoena, the provider shared information related to subscriber ‘Mr. S’. According to the filmmakers, the Redditor used this connection to post on the platform.

When Mr. S failed to respond to their letter, the filmmakers obtained a subpoena from the District of New Jersey to compel a response last December. The filmmakers were contacted by phone in early January, supposedly by Mr. S’ family attorney, who promised to send information over email. According to the film companies, a response never arrived.

Movie Companies Seek ‘Torrenting History’

To move the case forward, a few days ago the filmmakers asked the Illinois federal court to compel Mr. S to comply with the subpoena. The request reveals what type of information these companies are looking for.

The plaintiffs have always maintained that they don’t intend to pursue legal action against the targeted Redditors. Instead, they’re seeking information to support their lawsuits against RCN and other Internet providers.

The motion to compel shows that the movie companies are seeking the following information from Mr. S, who is not necessarily the Redditor:

1. All written communications with RCN concerning piracy from Oct. 1, 2017 to the present.

2. Payment records to RCN from Oct. 1, 2017 to present.

3. All personal computing records pertaining to usage of BitTorrent from Oct. 1, 2017 to the present.

4. All social media account usernames used including for Reddit, Twitter and Facebook January 1, 2016 to present.

5. All Reddit posts and messages from Jan. 1, 2016 to the present

6. Records of all movie piracy websites (including but not limited to YTS, 1337x, RARBG, Torrent Galaxy, The PirateBay) that were used at your Internet service.

The above shows that the movie companies would like to see comprehensive details of the subscriber’s torrenting history, including records of visits to The Pirate Bay. In addition, it seeks information on other social media profiles, where more relevant information might be found.

Direct Infringement

The movie companies argue that the requested information is relevant and proportional to the needs of the case. For example, Bittorrent activity will help to show direct copyright infringement by an RCN subscriber.

“[The responses] will prove direct infringement and thus Plaintiffs’ allegation that Defendant’s subscribers directly infringe Plaintiffs’ exclusive rights (and that Defendant is liable for its subscribers’ piracy),” they argue.

At the time of writing, the court has yet to respond to the motion and no objections have been received. The filing is very insightful, though, as it sheds some extra light on what type of information the movie companies are after.

A copy of the movie companies’ motion to compel, submitted at the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, is available here (pdf)

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

Monday, February 19th, 2024
LJ.Rossia.org makes no claim to the content supplied through this journal account. Articles are retrieved via a public feed supplied by the site for this purpose.
4:05 pm
IPTV / Astrology Business Received Signals, Failed to Predict Copyright Lawsuit

tv future-sThanks to a global pooling of knowledge and intelligence, answers to our most difficult questions are just a few clicks away on the internet today.

Since in many cases those answers aren’t necessarily right, or even right at all, that might explain why some seek advice from outer space. For a fee, astrology company Astro Vastu Solutions (AVS) reportedly supply all kinds of advice.

However, when DISH offered the owner of AVS some advice concerning the Sharma IPTV service allegedly being sold, the cease-and-desist notice got lost in the ether and the inexorable march towards conflict began.

Sharma IPTV Receives All The Wrong Signals

In a lawsuit filed at a California court late last week, DISH describes the owner of Sharma IPTV and his company AVS as traffickers of an illegal streaming service.

How DISH managed to link sales to Sharma IPTV is unclear but according to the complaint, flyers distributed in the Bay Area led to its investigators handing over $135 in exchange for an annual subscription.

sharma iptv

“The Service is advertised on the flyer as a subscription-based service providing more than 10,000 live channels, sports programs, movies, and pay-per-view events, among other content, all for a low price ranging from approximately $10 to $15 per month,” the lawsuit claims.

“Users can access the Service with their own hardware or purchase a set-top box from Defendants for an extra fee. Defendants’ advertising emphasizes attracting users that may otherwise purchase legitimate television services such as the satellite-based services that DISH offers, stating for example, ‘NO Cable/Dish Needed’.”

DISH says that after signing up for 12 months, Sharma IPTV got in touch to say that the package had been activated. The company claims that it’s “the most sought after IPTV service provider” because its “data centers are strategically located in Danville [where Defendants reside] and across the USA and Canada to bring the live streaming without any delay or freeze.”

Who Supplies Your Content?

Whether the statement above aligns with facts on the ground is unknown, but answering a key DISH question well in advance of a lawsuit even being filed could be helpful.

No such information was provided proactively in respect of Sharma IPTV’s streaming sources, but you don’t have to be David Blane to see that at least some of its content originated from Sling.

sling v sling

“Plaintiffs’ Channels are retransmitted to users of the Service by circumventing the DRM technology that Plaintiffs use to protect the Channels from unauthorized access and copying. Upon information and belief, the circumvention targets at least the Widevine DRM,” the lawsuit notes.

“The Widevine DRM and the copy protection that it affords is circumvented using a specially developed computer program that emulates the behavior of a reverse engineered hardware device.”

Plaintiffs Predicted The Future

Having had a vision of what might happen in the absence of cooperation, the plaintiffs say they shared their prediction with Sharma IPTV in the form of a cease-and-desist, which appears to have proven unconvincing. How DISH and Sling managed to channel Sharma’s comments isn’t explained, but they shared them with the court nonetheless.

Despite an alleged plan to deflect attention elsewhere, certain actions with the potential to negatively unbalance the future were discontinued anyway.

DISH says that Sharma IPTV stopped accepting PayPal payments because “Dish and some other companies have been catching people” and requested online reviews to be deleted because the service “is not legal.” Subscribers were asked not to mention the IPTV service when paying for it, and in some cases were told to reference an astrology consultation instead.

DISH and Sling say Sharma and Astro Vastu Solutions willfully violated 17 U.S.C. § 1201(a)(2) and 17 U.S.C. § 1201(b)(1) when they manufactured, offered to the public, provided, or otherwise trafficked in their infringing service.

Somewhat predictably they demand an injunction under 17 U.S.C. § 1203(b)(1) plus actual or statutory damages of up to $2,500 for each infringement under § 1201.
(The stars predict a settlement, however)

The complaint can be found here (pdf)

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

Sunday, February 18th, 2024
LJ.Rossia.org makes no claim to the content supplied through this journal account. Articles are retrieved via a public feed supplied by the site for this purpose.
1:32 pm
Bitmagnet Allows People to Run Their Own Decentralized Torrent Indexer Locally

magnet-aiWhen Bram Cohen released the first version of BitTorrent in 2002, it sparked a file-sharing revolution.

At the time bandwidth was a scarce resource, making it impossible to simultaneously share large files with millions of people over the Internet. BitTorrent not only thrived in that environment, the protocol remains effective even to this day.

BitTorrent transfers rely on peer-to-peer file-sharing without a central storage location. With updated additions to the protocol, such as the BitTorrent Distributed Hash Table (DHT), torrent files no longer require a tracker server either, making it decentralized by nature.

In theory, it doesn’t always work like that though. People who use BitTorrent, for research purposes or to grab the latest Linux distros, often use centralized search engines or indexes. If these go offline, the .torrent files they offer go offline too.

Decentralizing Torrents

This problem isn’t new and solutions have been around for quite a few years. There’s the University-sponsored Tribler torrent client, for example, and the BitTorrent protocol extension (BEP51), developed by ‘The 8472’, that also helps to tackle this exact problem.

BEP51 makes it possible to discover and collect infohashes through DHT, without the need for a central tracker. These infohashes can be converted to magnet links and when paired with relevant metadata, it’s possible to create a full BitTorrent index that easily rivals most centralized torrent sites.

Some centralized torrent sites, such as BTDigg, have already done just that. However, the beauty of the proposition involving DHT is that centralized sites are not required to act as search engines. With the right code, anyone can set up their own personalized and private DHT crawler, torrent index, and search engine.

Bitmagnet: A Private Decentralized Torrent Index

Bitmagnet is a relatively new self-hosted tool that does exactly that. The software, which is still in an early stage of development, was launched publicly a few months ago.

“The project aims to reduce reliance on public torrent sites that are prone to takedown and expose users to ads and malware,” Mike, the lead developer, tells us.

Those who know how to create a Docker container can have an instance up and running in minutes and for the privacy conscious, the docker-compose file on GitHub supports VPNs via Gluetun. Once Bitmagnet is up and running, it starts collecting torrent data from DHT, neatly classifies what it finds, and makes everything discoverable through its own search engine.

Bitmagnet UI

webui bitmagnet

Decentralization is just one of the stated advantages. The developer was also positively surprised by the sheer amount of content that was discovered and categorized through Bitmagnet. This easily exceeds the libraries of most traditional torrent sites.

“Run it for a month and you’ll have a personal index and search engine that dwarfs the popular torrent websites, and includes much content that can often only be found on difficult-to-join private trackers,” Mike tells us.

After running the software for four months, the developer now has more than 12 million indexed torrents. However, other users with more bandwidth and better connections have many more already. This also brings us to one of the main drawbacks; a lack of curation.

Curation

Unlike well-moderated torrent sites, Bitmagnet adds almost any torrent it finds to its database. This includes mislabeled files, malware-ridden releases, and potentially illegal content. The software tries to limit abuse by filtering metadata for CSAM content, however.

There are plans to add more curation by adding support for manual postings and federation. That would allow people with similar interests to connect, acting more like a trusted community. However, this is still work in progress.

Another downside is that it could take longer to index rare content, as it has to be discovered first. Widely shared torrents tend to distribute quickly over DHT, but rare releases will take much longer to be picked up. In addition, users may occasionally stumble upon dead or incomplete torrents.

Thus far, these drawbacks are not stopping people from trying the software.

While Bitmagnet is only out as an “alpha” release it’s getting plenty of interest. The Docker image has been downloaded nearly 25k times and the repository has been starred by more than a thousand other developers so far.

Caution is Advised!

Mike doesn’t know how many people are running an instance or how they’re using them. Bitmagnet is designed and intended for people to run on their own computer and network, but people could turn it into a public-facing search engine as well.

Running a public search engine comes with legal risks of course. Once there’s serious traffic, that will undoubtedly alert anti-piracy groups.

Even those who use the software privately to download legitimate content might receive complaints. By crawling the DHT, the software presents itself as a torrent client. While it doesn’t download any content automatically, some rudimentary anti-piracy tracking tools might still (incorrectly) flag this activity.

There are no examples of this happening at the moment, but the potential risk is why Bitmagnet advises users to opt for VPN routing.

Impossible to Shut Down

All in all, Bitmagnet is an interesting tool that uses some of BitTorrent’s underutilized powers, which have become increasingly rare in recent years.

The idea behind Bitmagnet is similar to Magnetico, which first came out in 2017. While that no longer appears to be actively maintained, it remains available on GitHub. During these years, we haven’t seen any takedown notices targeting the software.

Mike hopes that his project will be spared from copyright complaints too. The developer sees it simply as a content-neutral tool, much like a web browser.

“I hope that the project is immune from such issues, because the source code contains no copyright infringing material. How people choose to use the app is up to them – if you access copyrighted content using a web browser or BitTorrent client, that does not make the vendors of those apps liable.”

“Bitmagnet cannot be ‘taken down’ – even if the GitHub repository were threatened by an illegitimate takedown request, the code can easily be hosted elsewhere,” Mike concludes.

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

Friday, February 16th, 2024
LJ.Rossia.org makes no claim to the content supplied through this journal account. Articles are retrieved via a public feed supplied by the site for this purpose.
6:37 pm
Pirate Site Shut Down For Trademark, Cybersquatting & Copyright Violations

kokoatvLawsuits filed in the United States targeting pirate sites usually focus on breaches of copyright law, typically direct and secondary infringement, or violations of the DMCA, depending on individual circumstances.

Allegations of copyright infringement also featured in a complaint filed at an Arizona court in 2023, which hoped to quickly shut down a popular pirate site. Somewhat unusually, however, federal trademark infringement and cybersquatting allegations also played a key role, alongside other claims including unfair competition.

Complaint Targets Kokoa TV

Plaintiff Wavve Americas Inc. (wA) describes itself as a joint partnership between SK Telecom and the top three Korean Broadcast Networks –KBS, MBC, and SBS. According to the company’s website, wA’s mission is to use its open video streaming platform Kocowa (Korean Content Wave) to generate value for its content partners while providing an exceptional user experience.

The company’s complaint filed last year targeted the unknown domain registrant of kokoatv.net, kokoa.tv, and vidground.com. All three domains were registered at Namecheap which requires registrants to consent to personal jurisdiction in Arizona when in dispute with a third party.

The complaint alleged that Kokoa TV provided access to Korean-based TV shows and movies, including those exclusively licensed to wA for distribution in the United States. The site targeted both Korean and English-speaking audiences, the complaint added, with video content sourced from platforms including vidground.com.

kokoa tv

Trading Off Kocowa’s Goodwill (and its content)

Kokoa TV’s choice of branding was called out for its similarity to the plaintiffs’ service Kocowa, for which they hold a trademark. The aim, the complaint added, was to trade off the goodwill of Kocowa while cybersquatting a deliberately similar domain, to confuse users into believing that the defendant’s platform had links to the official service.

Once presented with official content without having to pay for any of it, users of the unlicensed service Kokoa would be deterred from using the official platform offered by the plaintiffs, the complaint added.

Kocowa holds an exclusive license to distribute around 1,100 shows in the United States, content created by the three major Korean networks. The sites operated by the defendant offered that content for free, leading to allegations of copyright infringement and contributory copyright infringement.

All three domains had their ownership hidden by a WHOIS protection service so when Namecheap refused to disable the domains or hand over the identity of the domains’ operator, Wavve Americas Inc. filed its complaint.

The company demanded a permanent injunction, an award sufficient to cover the costs of corrective advertising, an award of Kokoa’s profits, the transfer of its domain names, damages for both trademark and copyright infringement, plus attorneys’ fees and costs.

Plaintiff Prevails

Discovery directed at Namecheap revealed the same name behind all three domains – Tumi Max of Bangkok, Thailand – who was named in the plaintiff’s first amended complaint. The defendant was served September 22, 2023, but after failing to appear, the court’s entry of default was followed by a motion for default judgment.

Judge Michael T. Liburdi handed down his order on February 6, 2024. Since the defendant had accepted Namecheap’s terms and conditions, the Judge found that personal jurisdiction had been established. Since the websites were accessible in the district and likely to cause confusion there, venue was considered proper.

Since Tubi Max decided not to appear, he failed to produce rebuttal evidence related to the distribution of the plaintiff’s content. While the Judge found Kocowa a “conceptually strong mark” he noted that the complaint failed to demonstrate it was a “commercially strong” mark. However, after weighing several factors including the defendants’ absence, the broadcasters prevailed on their trademark, cybersquatting, and copyright infringement claims.

A permanent injunction followed soon after, comprehensively restraining Tubi Max from unlawful use of the plaintiff’s trademarks (image below) and any unlicensed use of its copyrighted works. It appears that the focus of the complaint was to shut the site down since the injunction notes that “wA does not seek monetary damages.”

injunction kokoa

As the above shows, Namecheap was instructed to hand over the domains to prevent any further infringement of the plaintiff’s rights. Visitors to those domains today will find themselves redirected to the plaintiff’s streaming platform where they will be able to compensate the rightful owners when consuming their copyrighted content.

In theory, at least.

kocowa unavailable

The complaint and other filings cited above are available here

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

LJ.Rossia.org makes no claim to the content supplied through this journal account. Articles are retrieved via a public feed supplied by the site for this purpose.
10:33 am
Pirate Site Blocking Boosts Legal Consumption, Research Finds

blockedIn recent years, website blocking has become one of the most widely-used anti-piracy enforcement mechanisms in the world.

ISPs in several dozen countries prevent subscribers from accessing a variety of ‘pirate’ sites. New blocks are added every month and rightsholders are actively lobbying to expand the measure to the United States.

While site blocking is by no means a panacea, copyright holders are convinced that it has a notable effect and have research to back this up.

Piracy Blocking Research

One of the earliest pieces of peer-reviewed academic research, based on UK data, showed that the local Pirate Bay blockade had little effect on legal consumption. Instead, pirates turned to alternative pirate sites, proxies, or VPNs to bypass the virtual restrictions.

A follow-up study added more color and brought good news for rightsholders. The research found that once a large number of sites were blocked in the UK, overall pirate site traffic decreased. At the same time, the researchers observed an increase in traffic to legal services such as Netflix.

The latter findings are frequently cited in policy discussions around site blocking. While the results are solid, they are limited too. They only apply to the UK situation, for example, and the long-term effects of site-blocking efforts on piracy and legal consumption are missing.

New Findings: India

A new non-peer-reviewed working paper published by Chapman University and Carnegie Mellon University researchers aims to fill the first gap. Using similar methodology to that seen in the earlier UK study, the researchers studied the effects of blocking in India and Brazil.

The working paper

blocking study

In India, the researchers studied two separate blocking waves. The first took place in December 2019, when 380 piracy websites were blocked. The second wave was implemented in September 2020, when Indian ISPs blocked 173 additional piracy sites.

The researchers checked browsing data to see if the blocks were effective and whether pirates switched to unblocked sites. Visits to legal video entertainment services, including Netflix and Hotstar, were monitored as well.

The results of these studies largely replicate the UK findings. The first Indian blocking wave triggered an 8.1% increase in visits to legal sites, and the second wave led to a 3.1% increase. There was no statistically significant increase in visits to unblocked pirate sites.

Overall, the Indian findings suggest that site blocking can increase legal consumption without driving traffic to other, unblocked pirate sites.

New Findings: Brazil

Next, the researchers turned their attention to Brazil, where 174 piracy sites were blocked in July 2021. Using a similar research design, they found that these pirate site blocks resulted in a 5.2% increase in visits to paid streaming websites.

Unlike in India, there was a significant increase in traffic to unblocked pirate sites in Brazil. This is similar to the ‘dispersion’ effect that was previously found in response to UK blockades.

[I]n Brazil we found that blocking 174 piracy sites caused a statistically significant increase in visits to unblocked piracy sites, in essence dispersing some piracy,” the researchers write.

‘Pirate Site Blocking Works’

These findings suggest that the positive effects of pirate site blocking are not limited to the UK. This will be music to the ears of rightsholders who wish to expand pirate site blocking globally, with the US as the ‘holy grail’.

“[The research] provides evidence that website blocking in Brazil and India in 2019, 2020, and 2021 has a similar effect as it did in the UK in 2013 and 2014, despite the fact that during that intervening time the landscape of piracy and legal consumption has changed significantly.

“In short, our results suggest that piracy website blocking remains an effective strategy for increasing legal consumption of copyrighted content,” the researchers add.

While the latest study isn’t peer-reviewed separately, it indeed confirms the earlier findings. That said, piracy research is dynamic and never complete, so many questions remain unanswered.

More (Lasting) Conclusions?

One question that remains concerns the lasting effect on behavior. The studies above only measure consumption patterns in the span of a few months, and it’s possible that some pirates eventually relapse.

Brett Danaher of Chapman University, the lead author of the paper, recognizes this shortcoming. Ideally, he would like to do more longitudinal research but obtaining that type of data is not easy.

“The biggest challenge there is finding a panel company that tracks a consistent set of users for longer periods of time,” Danaher tells TorrentFreak.

“With the companies we’ve been working with, the size of the panel shrinks exponentially as we ask for longer panels. It’s a real challenge.”

The researcher mentions that there is a study that found that the effects of blocking measures are short-lived, but that only applies to a single site, Kino.to. This ‘relapse’ finding was later supported by an Italian study, that included over two dozen sites.

Danaher further explained that the latest study wasn’t peer-reviewed because it’s a replication study. The research uses the same methodology as the previously published UK study, which was peer-reviewed and published in MIS Quarterly.

“Our thought was that there was useful information in this study and the methodology itself has already undergone peer review, but the peer review process for this paper would have taken a lot of time with little probability of landing in a premier journal.”

MPA Funding

Finally, it should be noted that this new India/Brazil study, like previous ones, is carried out as part of Carnegie Mellon University’s Initiative for Digital Entertainment Analytics (IDEA). The initiative is partly funded by the Motion Picture Association (MPA) which is the driving force behind many global site blocking efforts.

The MPA has sent unrestricted gifts to IDEA center since 2012, totaling several million dollars. In recent years, the gift amounted to $1 million annually.

There is no evidence that the research findings are in any way influenced by this funding, of course. The connected researchers have repeatedly pointed out that they operate completely independently, which Danaher confirms.

“To me, the top value of the center is that it allows me to sometimes access data to which I otherwise would not have access but protects me from outside influences,” Danaher notes, using the movie industry sales figures that were used in a Megaupload study as an example

“In other words, once I get studio data through the IDEA Center for a particular project, I am guaranteed the ability to publish my results for that paper regardless of what they say,” he adds.

Danaher, Brett and Sivan, Liron and Smith, Michael D. and Telang, Rahul, The Impact of Online Piracy Website Blocking on Consumer Choices (February 12, 2024). Available at SSRN.

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

[ << Previous 20 ]

LJ.Rossia.org makes no claim to the content supplied through this journal account. Articles are retrieved via a public feed supplied by the site for this purpose.