Hundreds of Thousands of ‘Pirate’ Sites Disappear Following Takedown Notices

Hundreds of Thousands of ‘Pirate’ Sites Disappear Following Takedown Notices

Takedown notices are a vital tool for copyright holders who want to make sure that infringing copies of their work are not widely distributed.

Every week millions of these requests are sent to hosting platforms, as well as third-party services, such as search engines. 

Quite a few of the major players, including Twitter, Google, and Bing, publish these requests online. However, due to the massive volume, it’s hard for casual observers to spot any trends in the data. 

Researchers from Queen Mary University of London and Boston University aim to add some context with an elaborate study covering a broad database of takedown requests. Their results are now bundled in a paper titled: “Who Watches the Watchmen: Exploring Complaints on the Web.”

The research covers all takedown requests that were made available through the Lumen Database in 2017. The majority of these were sent to Google, with Bing, Twitter, and Periscope as runners-up. In total, more than one billion reported URLs were analyzed.

Most takedown requests or ‘web complaints’ were copyright-related, 98.6% to be precise. This means that other notices, such as defamation reports, court orders, and Government requests, make up a tiny minority. 

The researchers report that the complaints were submitted by 38,523 unique senders, covering 1.05 billion URLs.  While that’s a massive number, most reported links are filed by a very small group of senders. 

“We find that the distribution of notices is highly skewed towards a few extremely active senders. The top 10% of notice senders report over 1 billion URLs, in stark contrast to just 550K by the bottom 90%,” the researchers write.

Not surprisingly, the list of top senders is entirely made up of anti-piracy groups and trade organizations. In 2017, the top senders were Rivendell, Aiplex, and the UK music group BPI. 

On the domain side, the results are skewed as well. The top 1% of all reported domain names were targeted in 63% of all complaints. In other words, a small number of sites are responsible for the vast majority of all takedown notices. 

These and other figures provide more insight into the various takedown characteristics. What we were most surprised about, however, are the researchers’ findings regarding the availability of the reported domain names. 

The researchers carried out periodic checks on the domains and URLs to verify if the websites are still active. This revealed that a few weeks after the first takedown notices were filed, 22% of the reported domains were inactive, returning an NXDOMAIN response.

“Many domain names are soon taken offline and 22% of the URLs are inaccessible within just 4 weeks of us observing the complaints. Hence, it is clear that we shed light on a highly dynamic environment from the perspective of domain operators too,” the article reads.

With a total dataset of more than a billion domain names, this suggests that hundreds or thousands of sites simply disappeared. Whether the takedown requests have anything to do with this is unclear though, as many site owners may not even be aware of them.

The disappearing domain names mostly use more exotic TLDs, with .LOL being the most popular, followed by .LINK, .BID, .SPACE, and .WIN. The vast majority of these (97%) have an Alexa rank lower than one million, which means that they only have a few visitors per day. 

It’s not clear why these domains disappear and the authors of the article stress that follow-up research is required to find out more. It would not be a surprise, however, if many of these are related to spam or scams that rely on temporary search engine traffic. 

Finally, the article also observed worrying activity carried out by copyright holders. For example, some use seemingly fabricated URLs, as we have highlighted in the past, while others send hundreds of duplicate notices. 

All in all the research should help to provide a better understanding of how takedown requests impact various stakeholders. This type of transparency is essential to improve procedures for the senders, but also to prevent abuse.

“Transparency is critical and, as a society, it is important to know how and why information is filtered. This is particularly the case as we have found that these mechanisms might not be always used wisely,” the researchers conclude. 

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Credits TorrentFreak

If you found this post informative, please help by sharing to your social pages using the links above. Subscribe to my YouTube Channel for more great content!

Stay protected online, check out my new VPN Partnership and protect your online activity from spying eyes. – CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT MY VPN PARTNER

Cox Business Subscriber Doesn’t Want Identity Revealed in Piracy Lawsuit

Cox Business Subscriber Doesn’t Want Identity Revealed in Piracy Lawsuit

Last year a group of prominent record labels, all members of the RIAA, filed a lawsuit against ISP Cox Communications. 

The labels argue that Cox categorically failed to terminate repeat copyright infringers and that it substantially profited from this ongoing ‘piracy’ activity. All at the expense of the record labels and other rightsholders.

As part of the discovery phase, both parties requested relevant information from each other. The labels, for example, were interested in finding out the names and addresses of Cox business subscribers that received copyright infringement warnings. 

In addition to regular households, Cox also offers Internet connections to business clients and many of these – 2,793 to be precise – were flagged as pirates.

After some back and forth Cox and the record labels agreed on a stipulated court order, requiring the ISP to disclose this information. While the court signed off on this, not all affected subscribers are happy with this decision. One of them objected in court this week. 

The company in question appeared as “John Doe” and explained that it’s a  non-profit corporation that provides hospital and medical care facilities outside of Virginia. 

As is quite common today, the non-profit operates a secured network that’s only accessible to its employees. In addition, it offers public WiFi access to patients and visitors. The latter was provided by Cox in the relevant time period.

“Like other medical care providers, John Doe provides an unsecured, public
wireless network that can be accessed by patients and other visitors who agree to abide by John Doe’s terms of use for the Public WiFi network. Cox is the internet service provider for this Public WiFi network,” the company notes

It was this unsecured network that triggered the referenced copyright infringement notifications. This, despite the fact that all users had to agree to the terms of service, which specifically prohibited illegal downloading.

From the ToS

The health care provider doesn’t refute that visitors or patients may have used the network to share copyright-infringing content. However, it notes that there’s not much it can do to identify these infringers. Not then and not now.

The health care provider doesn’t track MAC addresses of people who connected to the network, and even if it did, that would only identify a device, not a person. 

Given this background, the “John Doe” company doesn’t see any reason why its details should be shared with the record labels. That won’t help to identify any copyright infringers. However, it does breach the health care provider’s privacy rights. 

“Thus, disclosure of John Doe’s subscriber information will not lead to the discovery of the individual(s) who are alleged by Plaintiffs to have engaged in copyright infringement through the misuse of John Doe’s network in violation of the access agreement,” the company informs the court.

“All disclosure will accomplish is a breach of John Doe’s privacy rights under the Cable Communications Privacy Act, 47 USC § 551, and the imposition of time and expense burdens on John Doe, all without furthering any claim or defense in this case.”

It is now up to the court to decide whether the details of the company can be handed over by Cox. Meanwhile, it remains unclear why the record labels are interested in this information at all, and how this will help their case.

A copy of John Doe’s objection to the disclosure is available here (pdf).

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Credits TorrentFreak

If you found this post informative, please help by sharing to your social pages using the links above. Subscribe to my YouTube Channel for more great content!

Stay protected online, check out my new VPN Partnership and protect your online activity from spying eyes. – CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT MY VPN PARTNER

Chinese Game of Thrones Pirates Unaffected By US ‘Trade War’

Chinese Game of Thrones Pirates Unaffected By US ‘Trade War’

Following its launch in 2011, Game of Thrones became one of the most talked about and loved TV shows in history.

Eight years and dozens of Emmy awards later, episode six of season eight aired last Sunday, bringing the curtain down for the final time.

While millions were able to soak up this momentous TV occasion, fans in China were left brokenhearted. Tencent Video, the Chinese platform that has held the local distribution rights to the HBO series since 2014, revealed that it would not be broadcasting S08EP06.

Citing a mysterious “media transmission problem”, Thrones fans were told that if they wanted to watch the show, that would have to be at a later date.

Strangely, however, HBO told the Wall Street Journal that there had been no problem delivering content to Tencent, leading to speculation that the show had become yet another casualty of the trade war with the United States.

But even as officials bicker and argue, the flood of content across the Internet continues, seemingly untroubled by the political turmoil. If official channels aren’t able to provide what the public wants, then unofficial swarms of like-minded people will do their jobs for them.

Since the announcement, TorrentFreak has been looking around various popular torrent and eD2K (yes, that’s still a thing) sites in China. We can safely say that obtaining the final episode of Game of Thrones is not a problem.

While the above image suggests availability for uTorrent and BitComet, a pair of torrent clients that are well known in the West, Chinese users are more likely to opt for the popular ‘Thunder’ client.

Owned by Xunlei, Thunder is one of the world’s most popular torrent clients. As shown below, links for all episodes in the series are easy to obtain via ‘thunder’ links, which can be thought of as a magnet link variant.

Of course, if the Chinese are relying on Western video sources to satisfy their S08EP06 needs, many of them will find they meet a language barrier that needs to be overcome. While Tencent offered Chinese subtitles, pirates are also happy to oblige with hand-translated SRT files, to match the Amazon-sourced video.

Finally, in addition to trade war speculation, a piece in Fortune noted that the final episode contained a point about democracy that may not have gone down particularly well with Chinese authorities. This, it’s suggested, may have something to do with the episode failing to air as planned.

Whether that’s the case or not, Game of Thrones episodes are already subject to censorship edits in the region, a point not lost on Chinese pirates who enthuse in site comment sections about whether copies of the show are cut or uncut versions.

Needless to say, due to Tencent’s “media transmission problems”, it’s likely that most if not all pirate copies currently circulating fit into the latter category. There are some things that not even the Chinese government and its Great Firewall can control.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Credits TorrentFreak

If you found this post informative, please help by sharing to your social pages using the links above. Subscribe to my YouTube Channel for more great content!

Stay protected online, check out my new VPN Partnership and protect your online activity from spying eyes. – CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT MY VPN PARTNER

Movie Company Uses DMCA Subpoena Shortcut to Identify Pirates

Movie Company Uses DMCA Subpoena Shortcut to Identify Pirates

In the early 2000s, the RIAA started going after against tens of thousands of alleged music pirates.

The music industry had just defeated Napster, but P2P file-sharing remained a massive problem. Applications such as KaZaA, Morpheus, Grokster, and eDonkey, had millions of users each.

Since filing federal lawsuits is relatively expensive, the RIAA attempted to take a shortcut by applying for so-called DMCA subpoenas. These are not reviewed by a judge, as regular subpoenas are, and only require a signature from the court clerk.

While this worked initially, Internet providers soon started to object. They argued that DMCA subpoenas are only valid when an Internet service stores or links to the infringing content, not when they merely pass on traffic.

Several courts, including the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, agreed with the ISPs and effectively banned the practice. If copyright holders want to go after individual downloaders, they have to file a complaint and request a regular subpoena.

While these rulings were established at the start of the last decade, Hawaii attorney Kerry Culpepper sees things differently. Representing the rightsholders of the movie “Hunter Killer,” he recently requested a DMCA subpoena against Verizon.

Culpepper and his client are not new to copyright litigation. Far from it. They have been involved in several lawsuits against alleged pirates, obtaining regular subpoenas. However, in this case, they are taking the shortcut.

Instead of filing a complaint, Culpepper applied for a DMCA subpoena to compel Verizon to identify the account holders behind 20 IP-addresses which allegedly shared a copy of the movie “Hunter Killer” via BitTorrent.

The court clerk signed off on this request, without oversight from a judge. This is pretty significant, as it means that the movie company can obtain the identities of the alleged pirates with limited expense, without having to file a lawsuit.

If this becomes common practice, it will become a goldmine for so-called copyright trolls. Now that more and more federal courts are pushing back against these cases, refusing to issue regular subpoenas, they could simply request DMCA subpoenas and avoid filing a lawsuit altogether.

There’s a big IF of course, as we noted that appeals courts outlawed similar practices over a decade ago. So how is this different now?

Looking at the filing, we see that Hunter Killer’s attorney is well aware of the precedents. They are mentioned in the subpoena application, but Culpepper argues that these earlier cases don’t necessarily apply here.

The rulings in the DC Circuit and Eighth Circuit appeals courts both concluded that DMCA subpoenas can’t be issued against ISPs that are mere conduits. This is because the “notifications” described in the DMCA could not be applied to ISPs that don’t store infringing material. As such, DMCA subpoenas were not an option.

Culpepper counters that the Ninth Circuit Appeals Court, which Hawaii and other states such as California fall under, never ruled on the mere conduit issue in a case like this. Hence, it’s an open question. In fact, Hunter Killer’s attorney notes that more recent decisions suggest that the DMCA notifications are valid in this case.

In the more recent repeat infringer cases against ISPs such as Cox and Grande, courts have concluded that these providers have no right to a DMCA safe harbor because they failed to act on DMCA notifications. This suggests that these notices are valid and apply to conduit providers.

Commenting in a personal capacity, not on behalf of his client, Culpepper informs TorrentFreak that these decisions suggest that DMCA subpoenas are valid too.

“The Fourth Circuit in BMG v. Cox, determined that Cox had no safe harbor preventing them from liability for infringement because of Cox’s failure to terminate the accounts of repeat infringers based upon the notifications received from Rightscorp among other reasons,” Culpepper says.

“These are the same types of notifications the DC Circuit and Eighth Circuit said were not valid for a 512(h) subpoena, yet here they were deemed sufficiently valid for triggering loss of safe harbor.”

Culpepper has many other counterpoints as well, but in this instance, these were not needed. The clerk issued the subpoena, which is what he and Hunter Killer were after.

The question remains, of course, is what they will do with the personal details of the alleged infringers. In theory, the information could be used to demand settlements, however, they could also serve as evidence for a bigger case.

In the past, Culpepper has approached file-sharers, not to sue or settle with them, but to build a case against the pirate apps there were using. This is what happened in a Showbox-related lawsuit, for example, and could happen here as well.

That said, the revival of the DMCA subpoena is definitely a major event that will be watched closely by rightsholders and ISPs. In this case, we see no evidence that Verizon objected, but if the practice becomes more common, the matter may end up in court.

A copy of Culpepper’s application and the signed DMCA Subpoena, spotted by Cashman, is available here (pdf)

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Credits TorrentFreak

If you found this post informative, please help by sharing to your social pages using the links above. Subscribe to my YouTube Channel for more great content!

Stay protected online, check out my new VPN Partnership and protect your online activity from spying eyes. – CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT MY VPN PARTNER

Reddit KOs Piracy-Focused MMA Community, Ex-UFC Fighter Gets The Blame

Reddit KOs Piracy-Focused MMA Community, Ex-UFC Fighter Gets The Blame

Diligently following top-tier Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) events has never been an inexpensive pastime.

From its modern roots in the early 1990s on a strictly PPV basis, MMA has become a huge draw around the globe. Dominated by the UFC, those PPVs today cost upwards of $60 in the US, albeit less in other countries where providers like BT Sport offer the events as part of much cheaper packages.

Nevertheless, there is no shortage of fans who’d prefer not to pay anything at all. That, of course, is entirely possible using various types of pirate streaming outlets, from dedicated sites to streaming torrents, from Kodi add-ons to ‘pirate’ IPTV services.

While these streams are in abundance most Saturdays, finding them isn’t always easy for the novice. However, acting as a human-powered link aggregator, that’s where Reddit’s /r/MMAStreams sub-Reddit came in handy. Visitors to the sub around event time were able to find free streams of most if not all events. Until this week, that is.

/r/mmastreams – banned by Reddit

The nuking of the 165,000 member community shouldn’t have come as a surprise. Around a month ago, moderators of the sub posted a warning indicating that everyone was on borrowed time.

“Today, we were notified that r/MMAStreams is at high risk of being banned for copyright violation,” the announcement read.

“We are seeking clarity on the issue, but we must begin to take steps to move.”

The community began switching to /r/MMAStreamz but this week that too was banned for exactly the same reasons as its predecessor.

It isn’t clear who had been filing complaints against these subs but one can be pretty confident that the UFC had a fairly big part to play. While links to live events don’t hang around for long, Reddit doesn’t contest notices on behalf of users, particular when a sub is obviously centered around infringement.

Of course, many in the link-sharing community are looking for a scapegoat. From a strictly legal perspective, the obvious choice would be the people posting the streams (no pirate links, no notices – in theory) but to MMA fans, they certainly aren’t part of the problem.

There is another candidate, however. One with a very high profile and, many streaming fans believe, a mouth that should’ve stayed closed.

Brendan Schaub is a former UFC heavyweight contender but since his departure from the promotion, he hasn’t always been polite about the way it operates. He may have also stepped somewhat dramatically over the line in advance of UFC 236, the very first UFC PPV under its brand new and exclusive ESPN+ streaming deal.

In a nutshell, Schaub – who has more than 750,000 Twitter followers and a very successful podcast – hit the platform in a sweat last month because he couldn’t get the PPV on his TV. With the clock counting down, he then made a veiled threat to stream the event illegally. He was subsequently inundated with a couple of thousand messages from fans containing links to do just that.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

The ‘dark side’ calls

In a post-event podcast, Schaub revealed that what he saw in the illegal streaming world should be a serious matter for the UFC.

“I don’t think they [the UFC] realize the level of pure professionalism these dark web dudes have to these links. I’m not gonna say I did watch it illegally, i’m not gonna say I didn’t. When I clicked on that link, that thing was better quality than I had [expletive]…ever seen.

“Here’s the thing that’s scary about it,” he continued. “I must have got 2,000 DMs with different links to illegally stream this thing.”

And then, the cardinal sin. He mentioned Reddit by name.

“Just for database and research I went through 10 to 15 [of the links]. How big is Reddit? Reddit has their MMA thread where [events get posted], and you’re talking clear as day. I saw the fight. I’m anti-illegal streaming, i’m against that,” he added, to balance things up a bit.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Great fights, not all of them paid for

Whether Schaub did pirate the whole event isn’t known but in the days that followed he continued to mention the illegal streams available via Reddit and elsewhere to his considerable audience. That, some believe, is why MMAStreams suddenly felt even more heat than usual.

The reality is that we’ll probably never know for sure. It’s also likely that even without Schaub’s promotional ‘help’, MMAStreams would still find itself choked-out eventually. Previously, similar sports-focused sub-Reddit’s have closed down following complaints from other organizations.

Considering its size, there is zero chance that the UFC didn’t know about MMAStreams already and with ESPN on board, they almost certainly want to show what they’re capable of on the eyeballs front. Platforms like MMAStreams don’t help that effort and that’s probably part of the reason why they’re no longer around.

Not on Reddit, at least….

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Credits TorrentFreak

If you found this post informative, please help by sharing to your social pages using the links above. Subscribe to my YouTube Channel for more great content!

Stay protected online, check out my new VPN Partnership and protect your online activity from spying eyes. – CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT MY VPN PARTNER

Award-Winning John Lennon Photographer Sues Universal Music For $150,000

Award-Winning John Lennon Photographer Sues Universal Music For $150,000

As part of the RIAA, Universal Music is known for being the aggressor in dozens of copyright infringement complaints concerning the unlicensed use of its music.

Now, however, it now finds itself on the other side of the fence, following a copyright infringement complaint filed against it in the United States.

The man behind the action is Allan Tannenbaum, an award-winning photographer known for his works depicting the New York art, music and nightlife scene in the 70s and early 80s.

Tannenbaum’s portfolio contains many iconic photographs of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, including a very well known one that depicts the couple in bed laughing. (shown below)

“John Lennon cracks a joke while he and Yoko are nude in bed filming a video for ‘Just Like Starting Over’ in a SoHo studio, November 26, 1980,” says a description of the image on Tannenbaum’s site.

“Tannenbaum is the author of the Photograph and has at all times been the sole owner of all right, title and interest in and to the Photograph, including the copyright thereto,” Tannenbaum’s complaint reads.

According to the complaint, filed under Section 501 of the Copyright Act, Universal Music is the operator of uDiscoverMusic, a website that takes an in-depth look at “some of the most influential music in the world – and the artists that created it.”

At issue is an article published on the site titled “John Lennon – Milk and Honey” which ran Tannenbaum’s image alongside to the right, as shown in the screenshot below.

Screenshot from uDiscoverMusic/complaint

According to the Universal-owned site, the article was first published during July 2015, but Tannenbaum says that he only discovered the unlicensed use of his work in May 2019. The article is still live at the time of writing.

“Universal Music infringed Plaintiff’s copyright in the Photograph by reproducing and publicly displaying the Photograph on the Website,” the complaint notes.

“Universal Music is not, and has never been, licensed or otherwise authorized to reproduce, publically display, distribute and/or use the Photograph.”

It further alleges that Universal’s actions were willful, intentional, and purposeful, in “disregard of and indifference to Plaintiff’s rights.”

Demanding a trial by jury, Tannenbaum says he is entitled to damages and profits generated as a result of Universal’s “unlawful conduct”. Alternatively, he demands statutory damages of up to $150,000 for the infringed work.

The complaint, obtained by TorrentFreak, was filed just yesterday so Universal Music has not yet responded. It can be viewed here (pdf)

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Credits TorrentFreak

If you found this post informative, please help by sharing to your social pages using the links above. Subscribe to my YouTube Channel for more great content!

Stay protected online, check out my new VPN Partnership and protect your online activity from spying eyes. – CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT MY VPN PARTNER

There Were 140 Piracy ‘Incidents’ in UK Cinemas Last Year

There Were 140 Piracy ‘Incidents’ in UK Cinemas Last Year

The earlier a film ends up on pirate sites, the more filmmakers, cinemas, and other players in the movie industry stand to lose.

This is the main reason why movie theaters keep a very close eye on their visitors.

Employees are specifically trained and instructed to recognize potentially suspicious behavior so they take action in response. Those who help to catch a pirate, are eligible for hard cash bounties.

In the UK, the Film Content Protection Agency (FCPA) is in charge of these rewards as well as educating cinema personnel.  This is much needed, it appears, as there are piracy ‘incidents’ in UK movie theaters on a weekly basis. 

According to the latest annual report from the UK Cinema Association, 2018 saw a record number of ‘film theft’ related incidents, wrapped in a positive sauce.

“Despite ongoing attempts by individuals to record films in cinema theaters there were 140 separate incidents in UK cinemas in 2018, a new record – much of the year saw the continuation of a period of unprecedented success in this regard,” the report reads.

While people are frequently caught trying to record movies, leaks from UK cinemas are rare, the association notes. In fact, no leaked films could be tracked to the UK for a period of three consecutive years. However, that also changed in 2018.

In October, a pirated copy of a newly-released film was traced back to a Birmingham cinema and this was followed by two more, but unrelated, leaks from Cornwall.

This is obviously a setback, but the Cinema Association notes that the FCPA is investigating the cases with the authorities, hoping to bring the perpetrators to justice, as it did with a 21-year old man from Sunderland last summer.

“As the year closed, the FCPA was collaborating on investigating these three
cases with the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU), based at the City of London Police,” the annual report notes.

As for the increase in reported incidents, it is not clear whether this reflects an actual uptick in piracy attempts. Last year, more than 2,200 cinema staff from 68 UK cinemas attended the FCPA’s anti-piracy briefings, so it’s possible that elevated awareness is playing a role too.

Increased vigilance is also a reason to keep the bounty program in place. Theater employees are eligible for a reward of up to £1,000 for spotting pirates.

“Encouraging and incentivising such vigilance and awareness is vital – so the FCPA has continued to acknowledge cinema staff for their efforts in tackling film piracy through its reward programme,” the report reads.

“Across the year, a record 52 cinema staff were formally recognised for successfully disrupting attempts to illegally record films and presented with cash rewards at presentations in March and September,” the Cinema Association adds.

On its website, the FCPA provides further guidance on how to spot pirates. Among other things, it recommends using night-vision goggles.

“Modern, lightweight, silent night vision devices may be available at your cinema. Their use during screen checks is warmly encouraged, especially for new releases most vulnerable to theft,” the advice reads.

With these and other measures, the UK movie industry hopes to keep piracy incidents under control. Sharper surveillance may initially lead to more reported incidents, but if it pays off, the number of actual leaks should drop to zero again.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Credits TorrentFreak

If you found this post informative, please help by sharing to your social pages using the links above. Subscribe to my YouTube Channel for more great content!

Stay protected online, check out my new VPN Partnership and protect your online activity from spying eyes. – CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT MY VPN PARTNER

SET TV IPTV Reseller A-Box TV Ordered to Pay Dish $2 Million in Damages

SET TV IPTV Reseller A-Box TV Ordered to Pay Dish $2 Million in Damages

Last June, popular ‘pirate’ IPTV service SET TV went offline after being sued by DISH Network and encryption partner NagraStar.

In a Florida court, the defendants were accused of creating and selling subscriptions to the SET TV service which, among other things, offered numerous television channels that were unlawfully obtained from DISH’s satellite service and retransmitted to customers.

The $20-per-month platform had offered its subscribers a package of 500 live channels, including on-demand content and PPV broadcasts, sometimes via pre-configured hardware devices.

Last November that case ended in DISH and NagraStar’s favor, with the former awarded statutory damages of $90,199,000 ($500 for each of the 180,398 subscribers SET TV had) following an agreement with SET TV.

“The judgment and injunction against the SetTV service marks a significant victory in the ongoing fight against pay-TV piracy, and a win for consumers who subscribe to legitimate pay-TV services,” DISH said in a statement.

But while the case against SET TV was being wrapped up, another case lay pending. In a second complaint, filed in Florida May 1, 2018, DISH and NagraStar targeted Julie Bishop and her company A-Box TV, which they accused of acting as a reseller for the SET TV service.

“Defendants sell subscriptions and devices for a pirate streaming television service called ‘SET TV’, which includes numerous television channels that were received without authorization from DISH’s satellite service and subsequently retransmitted without authorization on the SET TV pirate streaming service,” the complaint reads.

The filing goes on to list several now-defunct A-Box URLs (including a-boxtv.com, shop.a-boxtv.com, and store.a.boxtv.com) from where the service and associated devices were sold to customers.

A-Box – A SET TV reseller (Website from 2017)

In common with SET TV, A-Box was accused of offering packages costing $20 per month and selling set-top devices pre-loaded with the SET TV service. Among the illegal broadcasts offered to customers was the record-setting Mayweather v. McGregor boxing match, grabbed from the DISH service and unlawfully distributed.

Screengrab from A-Box’s Facebook page (via complaint)

Following the judgment in the SET TV case last year, it seemed unlikely that the case against A-Box would end well for the defendants. That was confirmed Tuesday with District Judge Mary S. Scriven signing off on an agreed judgment and injunction.

The order states that Julie Bishop and A-Box TV LLC are, among other things, permanently enjoined from “redistributing or retransmitting any DISH satellite signal or over-the-top (‘OTT’) signal” and/or “distributing, copying, reproducing, performing, hosting, streaming, or displaying any video programming” owned by DISH or its affiliates.

There are damages too, which are significant.

The defendants are ordered to pay DISH $2,000,000 which represents $10,000 for each violation cited in the complaint. Whether or not that amount will ever be paid is likely to remain unknown but the parties will cover their own attorney’s fees and costs.

The original complaint can be found here and the consent judgment here

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Credits TorrentFreak

If you found this post informative, please help by sharing to your social pages using the links above. Subscribe to my YouTube Channel for more great content!

Stay protected online, check out my new VPN Partnership and protect your online activity from spying eyes. – CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT MY VPN PARTNER

Popular Streaming Site Pelispedia Shuts Down, Operators Arrested

Popular Streaming Site Pelispedia Shuts Down, Operators Arrested

With over a million visitors per day, Pelispedia.tv was one of the most popular streaming sites in Latin America. 

Just a few weeks ago, it was highlighted by the US Trade Representative as a notorious pirate site, following a referral from Hollywood’s MPAA. 

By then, rightsholders and enforcement authorities already had their eyes focused on the site’s alleged operators, a couple from Uruguay. Following collaborative efforts from Interpol, rightsholders, and Uruguayan authorities, this culminated in two arrests last week.

According to Uruguayan prosecutor Mónica Ferrero, the alleged operators are charged with “a continuing offense of making available a digital broadcast for profit without the written authorization of their respective holders or successors, and a crime of money laundering.”

The two, who are referred to in local media by their initials JAGR and MJHG, will remain in custody for  30 days. Their case is being handled by a court specialized in organized crime, which will take a closer look at the allegations. 

Initially, Pelispedia.tv remained online following the arrests, but since yesterday it is no longer available. The sister site Pelisplus is still accessible but is also expected to shut down.

Pelispedia

The pair reportedly have no other employment and made roughly $5,000 per month from the business. In addition to the arrests, several assets were seized including hardware, a 2008 Peugeot, a 2014 Volkswagon, $1,257 in cash, and two Payoneer cards. 

The Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment collaborated with the authorities and is pleased with the outcome thus far.

“We thank Interpol, the Uruguayan police, and prosecutors for their leadership in this important action against a major illegal streaming service operator,” ACE spokesperson Richard VanOrnum said, commenting on the news.

MPAA Chairman and CEO Charles Rivkin agrees and sees the shutdown of Pelispedia.tv as another example of ACE’s successful and ongoing global effort to reduce piracy.

“Each time we collaborate with law enforcement authorities to disrupt major piracy operations like Pelispedia.tv, we support the millions of people around the world working in the film and television industry and the dynamic legal marketplace for creative content,” Rivkin notes.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Credits TorrentFreak

If you found this post informative, please help by sharing to your social pages using the links above. Subscribe to my YouTube Channel for more great content!

Stay protected online, check out my new VPN Partnership and protect your online activity from spying eyes. – CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT MY VPN PARTNER

Game of Thrones Piracy in Russia: 180,000 Takedowns, Mirror Wars & Capitulation

Game of Thrones Piracy in Russia: 180,000 Takedowns, Mirror Wars & Capitulation

There have been many stories published about Game of Thrones, mostly due to its massive viewing figures.

However, the now-concluded show wasn’t always viewed on legitimate platforms, something which made it the most-pirated show in TV history.

While breaking records on all platforms is something that many shows will settle for, behind the scenes there’s a constant battle against piracy. Over in Russia, that task has fallen to anti-piracy company Group-IB.

After working on behalf of streaming service Amediateka, which has held the exclusive distribution rights to Game of Thrones in Russia since April 2015, Group-IB has today revealed some of the facts and stats from its four-year campaign.

The headline figure is that since the launch of Season Five, Group-IB has carried out successful takedowns against 180,000 links to illicit copies of the show on websites, forums, and social media.

As the infographic below shows, enforcement was something of a crescendo, growing rapidly as the seasons progressed (bars represent takedowns during the seasons’ airings).

During Season 8, Group-IB’s team took down more than 43,700 links to pirated versions of the show in Russian.

While that’s a large number of takedowns in itself, those were spread far and wide, spanning 1,098 different websites. More than 90 of those sites were designed specifically to spread pirated copies of the show.

Like all takedown campaigns, Group-IB also placed an emphasis on removing links to pirated copies of the show from search engines. Yandex is Russia’s most popular portal so it’s no surprise it chose to focus there.

The company reports that more than 30,000 links were removed from the search engine. Group-IB informs TF that they were all links to streaming websites but also of interest was the pirates’ response to those takedowns.

According to the anti-piracy company, the operators of the sites were unprepared for their links to be removed from Yandex, so began taking counter-measures by duplicating their platforms to ensure a new search engine listing.

Amediateka, home of HBO in Russia

“In response to the blocking, online pirates struck back by creating mirrors on a daily basis – copies of their websites with new but very similar domain names. For instance, one of the pirates created more than 20 mirrors on their subdomains,” Group-IB reports.

“However, according to the pirates’ forum posts, the owners of pirate websites were not ready for the ‘attack’ on them: ‘Looks like somebody just wiped the links out. Some of the pages disappeared… some of them do not appear in search results’,” Group-IB reports, citing the operators’ comments.

The anti-piracy campaign also targeted social media and by default VK.com, Russia’s largest social networking site. Interestingly, after filing numerous complaints with VK, some of the groups on the platform reportedly decided to go straight, converting from places to host pirated videos to become Game of Thrones fan pages.

“Group-IB Anti-Piracy team filed many takedowns through VK moderators who forced the groups’ owners to remove infringing content,” the company informs TF.

“The groups which kept publishing pirated content despite the warnings from VK were banned. Others, which removed the infringing content, turned into fan pages so as not to lose traffic that can be converted to advertising revenues.”

Finally, some thoughts from Andrey Busargin, Director of Anti-Piracy and Brand Protection at Group-IB.

“For us the battle against online pirates, trying to profit off the illegal distribution of the Game of Thrones in Russian, was as fierce as for George R.R. Martin’s characters,” Busargin says.

“I would also like to highlight Amediateka’s commitment to counter online piracy in Russia: they brought in Group-IB Anti-Piracy team ahead of time and have been making continuous efforts to popularize legal viewership of the Game of Thrones making it available on its website, in movie theaters all over the country and even on the stadium.”

While there will always be historic GoT links to clean up, Group-IB also protects other titles, including True Detective, Billions, The Good Wife, and Westworld. Game of Thrones may be over, but the takedown work will persist for years to come.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Credits TorrentFreak

If you found this post informative, please help by sharing to your social pages using the links above. Subscribe to my YouTube Channel for more great content!

Stay protected online, check out my new VPN Partnership and protect your online activity from spying eyes. – CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT MY VPN PARTNER