Over the years many pro-copyright groups have lobbied extensively for harsher anti-piracy legislation. In Europe, this task may now become a little easier, as a former music industry lobbyist has been appointed as the head of a unit that deals with copyright and enforcement issues at the European Commission. Among other things, the former IFPI employee will be tasked with pushing through the ACTA trade agreement.
In 2009 an unfinished copy of the latest in the X-Men movie series hit the Internet. The controversy was unprecedented and as expected the leak has since been thoroughly milked by Hollywood, who even referencing it in a failed case against a BitTorrent tracker. As the claimed original uploader now officially pleads guilty, he faces seeing out 2011 in jail. But after months of FBI investigations, unsurprisingly, no one else faces any charges.
Those in the entertainment industries would have people believe that it’s impossible to compete with ‘free’, that if someone offers something for nothing then charging a fee for the same product becomes hugely difficult. But for years companies have made a business out of doing just that, selling access to otherwise free file-sharing software. However, with little to no explanation, one of the market leaders has suddenly shut down, cutting off funding to many file-sharing related sites.
As the dozens of mass-lawsuits against BitTorrent users move through the U.S. courts, lawyers are slowly optimizing their strategies. This week an interesting case was filed at the Southern California District Court, as the movie studio Liberty Media filed a lawsuit against a BitTorrent swarm, “Swarm of November 16, 2010″ to be precise.
Censoring the Internet on behalf of the entertainment industries appears to be a growing trend. Talks about Internet blocklists, domain seizures of alleged pirate sites, and Google’s proactive filter of “infringing” searches are just a few examples. Today it appears that Yahoo! has hopped on the bandwagon with its censoring of links to FilesTube, one of the largest media search engines.
In mid-2009, South Korea made the pioneering move of implementing a 3 strikes style regime for dealing with illicit file-sharing. As statistics become available for the first time, authorities have conducted one of the biggest piracy crackdowns involving so-called cyberlocker sites. The Ministry of Culture says that 19 of the country’s top services were targeted which together served up to 4 million users.
To most people in the entertainment industry BitTorrent is seen as a tool to download video and music without the consent of copyright owners, but there are also many artists who see it as a vital part of their business. The BitTorrent-only TV-series Pioneer One is one of the most progressive projects in this regard, and today the producers have released the third episode, with the fourth being scheduled for a release in the coming weeks.
Less than a week after her investiture ceremony, U.S. District Court Judge Beryl Howell laid down a landmark verdict that will make it easy for copyright holders to send cash demands to people they suspect of copyright infringement. Many people called the decision into doubt, and the revelation that Judge Howell previously worked as an RIAA lobbyist and as the Managing Director of a pirate-chasing outfit hints at a conflict of interest.
The top 10 most downloaded movies on BitTorrent, ‘Limitless’ tops the chart this week, followed by ‘Season of the Witch’. ‘TRON: Legacy’ completes the top three.
Last year the MPAA took legal action against UK ISP BT in an attempt to force it to block the domain of Usenet indexing site Newzbin2. While the government and its communications watchdog run around trying to find out if effective site blocking is feasible, Newzbin2 have just taken steps to neutralize it before it even happens.
The Belgian music royalty collecting agency SABAM has once again stepped up to enforce their strict copyright regime. After collecting money for fake artists and forgetting to pay out to real ones, they are now targeting truck drivers who listen to music in their cabs without an appropriate license.
The mass lawsuits against alleged BitTorrent users in the United States that have been keeping the courts busy over the past several months are turning into a roller-coaster ride. Last week thousands of defendants celebrated a victory when they had their cases dropped, but just a few days later a judge ignored all procedural issues and gave the green light for the mass-lawsuits to continue.
Yesterday both the Swedish Pirate Party and The Pirate Bay disappeared from the Internet causing concern among their users. While they have both now returned, it appears that the Party downtime was caused by the unauthorized use of their servers “for commercial purposes”, something which is expressly forbidden.
A new paper published by the American economist Joel Waldfogel shows that music piracy hasn’t hurt the creation of new music as the RIAA, IFPI and other industry representatives have often claimed. Instead, music has democratized in recent years with the balance of power shifting from the monopoly of the major music labels to smaller, independent ones. Music itself may be more alive than ever before.
A court ruling has not only sharply reduced the amount of compensation rightsholders can expect from Danish file-sharing cases, but has also drawn a line on evidential standards. To accurately claim their losses in future, rightsholders will have to gain physical access to an infringer’s computer. A leading lawyer in the field says the costs will prove prohibitively expensive.
Today we have some good news for the major record labels. The renowned market research group NPD has found that close to half of all Americans who were pirating music via P2P applications a year ago, have reportedly stopped doing so. As a result the number of US music pirates decreased by 12 million. NPD attributes this unprecedented shift to the LimeWire shutdown, but we fear that it wont have any effect on record label revenues.
After a pair of unsuccessful attempts at making Aussie ISP iiNet responsible for the copyright infringing activities of their users, the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft is refusing to give in. The Hollywood-backed group is now taking its case to the High Court, claiming that two of the three judges in the appeal did not apply legal tests correctly.
After a decade in the dark the unreleased David Bowie album ‘Toy’ has just hit BitTorrent. Bowie is reportedly “livid” at the leak but his fans, who have expressed themselves in hundreds of postings, appear to be universally delighted. TorrentFreak tracked down the leaker to discover his motivations and learned that this controversial release was made to deliberately sabotage commercial pirates.
The recognition of the Pirate Party in a US state might have been considered the last obstacle to overcome before widespread acceptance of the movement as a viable political force. Yet there might be another country more obstinate than the US when it comes to registering political parties, and that’s Russia.
TorrentFreak will soon cease to exist because of new legislation being considered by the Obama administration, a prominent music industry expert has announced. But we’re in good company. Music streaming service Grooveshark and the RIAA-approved iMesh will have to go too, and news sites like Wired, Techdirt and Slashdot will have to change their tune drastically so as not to upset the battered music industry.
As UK communications watchdog Ofcom considers if website blocking is actually feasible, an insider at government meetings has said that the mechanism is the favored approach to dealing with illicit file-sharing. In the hope that the plans get the go ahead, the entertainment industries have already prepared a list of 100 sites that they would like to see blocked by ISPs.
In an attempt to crack down on pirating anime fans, American anime distributor Funimation announced lawsuits against 1337 alleged BitTorrent downloaders two months ago. An unusual move, and perhaps even a tad bit hypocritical, as behind the scenes footage from the Funimation dubbing room has now revealed that they themselves are using ‘pirated’ subtitles.
One of the founders of the world’s largest music-dedicated private torrent site has quit. WhatMan, sysop at What.CD, the spiritual successor to the now-defunct and legendary OiNK BitTorrent tracker, says that having spare time is a luxury of the past. With some major achievements behind him, he will long be remembered in the BitTorrent community.
The top 10 most downloaded movies on BitTorrent, ‘Season of the Witch’ tops the chart this week, followed by ‘TRON: Legacy’. ‘The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader’ completes the top three.
In recent weeks many Pirate Bay users have received an email, allegedly sent by The Pirate Bay team, encouraging them to download a course on how to make money from the site. The email is clearly sent by spammers, but since this is not the first time the Pirate Bay user database has been exploited, users are starting to worry how it’s possible that their personal info is leaking out again.
The copyright monopoly is not a property right. It is a limitation of property rights. Copyright is a government-sanctioned private monopoly that limits what people may do with things they have legitimately bought.
If you know how, it is possible within just a few mouse clicks to have free access to one of the world’s largest resources of free music. Millions of tracks are available for free streaming but, with a few tweaks and the right software, they can be easily downloaded. The industry, seemingly powerless to do anything about the powerful source of the music, prefers to destroy the toolmakers – by fair means or foul.
Thousands of accused BitTorrent downloaders – including those of The Hurt Locker – can breathe a sigh of relief as their cases have been dropped. In what can be described as a major victory for those targeted, the complicated nature of these mass-lawsuits has forced the copyright holders to dump nearly all the defendants and rethink their strategy. Slowly, it appears that the US Copyright Group’s campaign to turn piracy into profit is crumbling.
A production company founder and member of the Spanish Film Academy has been arrested on suspicion of leaking pre-release movies to file-sharing networks. Manuel Sirgo, a previous award winner, was detained along with two of his staff after movies which had been accessed using a special account registered to him appeared online.
Shipping an album to more than a million people is a dream for every artist, but one that only comes true for a privileged few. Or does it? With help from BitTorrent, indie band Sick of Sarah have now joined a seemingly exclusive club of artists whose albums have been downloaded more than a million times. In the process, the girls also set a new record for the most-seeded torrent ever.
In a little over two months time, the long-awaited horror movie The Tunnel will receive its world premiere. Rather than a traditional theatrical release, the movie – which is set in abandoned real-life tunnels under Sydney, Australia – will make its debut online for free with BitTorrent. Simultaneously it will be released on physical DVD, to be distributed by Hollywood giant Paramount Pictures.
President Obama’s so-called “IP Czar” Victoria Espinel yesterday delivered a 20-page white paper containing her recommendations for future legislation, calling on Congress to make changes in order to make it easier to clamp down on copyright infringement. Among the recommendations are calls to turn streaming into a felony alongside authority to wiretap in copyright cases.
According to a report from a customer who just pre-ordered the digital deluxe edition of Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, Ubisoft have just made yet another piracy related screw up. Hot on the heels of their earlier usage of a warez crack to fix Rainbox 6: Vegas 2, the publisher is now accused of downloading their own soundtrack from Demonoid, re-encoding it to a lower quality and selling it to the public.
Last week the Australian press referred to a study that claimed piracy was causing the local economy $900 million in losses, yet the report was carefully hidden from the public. After pressure from multiple sides the report has now finally been published, revealing significant flaws. The report appears to be nothing more that a direct translation of a bogus piracy study that aimed to mislead EU legislators last year.
IsoHunt has continued with its legal battle against Hollywood. The site has filed its reply brief at the U.S. Court of Appeals in which it hints that Google, not isoHunt, is the largest BitTorrent search engine on the Internet. Through the appeal, isoHunt hopes to reverse the permanent injunction which ordered it to filter its search results, and obtain a jury trial instead of a summary judgment.
Following its recent court victory over Hollywood-backed anti-piracy group AFACT, Internet service provider iiNet has been hard at work thinking of ways the issue of illicit file-sharing can be dealt with. Today it has presented a framework which includes the creation of an independent body to overlook a system of detection, warnings and punishments.
Anti-piracy reports that are commissioned by the entertainment industries are suspicious by definition, but the mystery that surrounds a recent study goes far beyond that. Despite being widely covered in the press, no journalist has actually seen a copy of the report. Even worse, the company that produced the in-depth report was registered only four months ago, and appears to be carefully hidden from the public.
The top 10 most downloaded movies on BitTorrent, ‘TRON: Legacy’ tops the chart this week, followed by ‘The Next Three Days’. ‘The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader’ completes the top three.
Last month the second case against a UK-based BitTorrent site came to an end. Two administrators of FileSoup – the longest standing BitTorrent community – had their case dropped by the authorities and were free men once again. This week, personal belongings that were seized during the house raids were released and returned, but what should have been a celebration turned out to be a great disappointment.
Last week, Bryan McCarthy, the 32-year-old operator of ChannelSurfing.net, was arrested on charges of criminal copyright infringement. This arrest has once again raised questions about the seizure of domains operated by those that are accused, but not convicted, of copyright infringement related crimes. Critics ranging from bloggers to individual rights advocates to Senators have rightfully questioned the constitutionality of these seizures.
The copyright owners of the Paris Hilton sex tape ‘One Night in Paris’ filed a lawsuit in January against 843 individuals they accused of sharing the now-infamous movie via BitTorrent. Their lawyer has now been told that he may engage in “immediate discovery” in order to find out the identities of the John Doe defendants. Are you worried that your name might be on the list? How about a $500 game of lawsuit Russian roulette? Do you feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?
To counter the many one-sided piracy studies that have been released by the entertainment industry in recent history, a group of dozens of academics have bundled their powers to write the most objective and elaborate piracy study to date. As many would have predicted, the results differ quite significantly from the message pro-copyright lobby groups have put out over the years.
In the wake of last month’s win for ISP iiNet in its legal battle with Hollywood-backed anti-piracy group AFACT, the Internet Industry Association announced today it will begin work immediately on a code of conduct for ISPs and other Internet companies. The aim of the code will be to help clarify the legal rights and responsibilities of a connected range of providers including ISPs, search engines, hosts and social media sites.
After hearing about a pirate amnesty scheme offered by a movie studio, a self-proclaimed file-sharer took the opportunity to confess his crimes. The Swedish pirate wrote an email telling the US-based copyright holder that he was ready to pay, thanks to a leprechaun and despite of his unicorn. The movie studio read the email with care, and subpoenaed Google for the IP-address associated with the Gmail account.
Now accused of uploading more than 1,000 movies, a major uploader at one of the world’s oldest BitTorrent sites was arrested at his home last month. Worryingly, the prosecutor in the case has just revealed that tracking the man was simple since he made no effort to hide his IP address, which was both residential and static. Is it now a sign of madness to even go online without some kind of protection?
Katz.cd, one of the largest direct download and torrent link directories on the Internet, appears to have been taken over by hackers. As a result the site’s visitors are now being redirected to a dubious pay-to-download site. How long the ‘downtime’ will last is unclear at the moment, but all signs suggest that something serious is going on.
Anti-piracy group Antipiratbyrån say police have arrested “an elite pirate” in Sweden. The man in his thirties is claimed to be an administrator of multiple ‘Scene’ servers carrying as many as 7,000 movies to which around 100 people had access. The man is said to have denied the charges but the prosecutor says his crimes could earn him a jail sentence.
After LimeWire was ordered to cease its operations, the legal troubles continued for the file-sharing company. Dozens of record labels still demanded hundreds of millions of dollars in damages to compensate for their claimed losses. One of these lawsuits involving all the major music publishers has now been settled, reducing the potential damages to just a billion dollars the record labels are claiming in another case.
At the end of September 2010 three of the four defendants in the Pirate Bay case arrived at the Court of Appeal in Stockholm. The fourth defendant, Gottfrid Svartholm, was nowhere to be seen. The appeal continued without him, with his hearing and sentencing to be conducted at a later date. Now Swedish media are reporting that the Court cannot set a date for Gottfrid’s hearing because he has disappeared.
A new study commissioned by several entertainment industry outfits made the rounds in the Australian news yesterday. It claims that illicit movie, music and games downloads cost the industry $900 million a year as well as 8,000 jobs and that an increase in broadband adoption could propel the losses to a staggering $5.2 billion in the next five years. However, it looks like the public isn’t buying it, figuratively speaking.
Sending DMCA takedown notices in bulk has become increasingly fashionable during recent years but thanks to the database at Chilling Effects, we are able to see who is sending what to whom. As concerns mount over the amount of checking carried out before items are taken down, it appears that Fox has managed to get Google to delist DMCA complaints on Chilling Effects, which were originally sent by Fox themselves and submitted to Chilling Effects by Google.
The top 10 most downloaded movies on BitTorrent, ‘TRON: Legacy’ tops the chart this week, followed by ‘The King’s Speech’. ‘The Next Three Days’ completes the top three.
Ask any veteran of the file-sharing community who their arch-enemies are and it’s safe to presume that the RIAA and MPAA will be the first two stones at the top of the piracy hate-pyramid. After all, when it comes to disrupting the activities of pirates – and in some cases ruining their lives – they have few equals. But are the music and movie industries justified in their actions when, after all, they’re supplying most of the content on which file-sharers survive?
In anticipation of the Academy Awards ceremony last week, Belarusian TV viewers were treated to some previous Oscar-awarded movies. One of the films that Belarus’ National State Television decided to air was last year’s best picture The Hurt Locker. However, the channel managers apparently didn’t go through all the proper licensing channels, electing to show a copy that had been downloaded from the BitTorrent site Interfilm.ru instead.
Thanks to malware infecting their machines, last year some BitTorrent users were presented with a screen claiming that they had been caught infringing copyright by groups such as the RIAA and MPAA and needed to pay cash to settle. Now, thanks to leaked documents from the company that processed the credit card payments, we can see how many people fell for the scam.
For those people who’ve been using BitTorrent for longer than 6 years, the name Suprnova.org is likely to bring back memories. In the first half of the previous decade it was the largest BitTorrent site on the Internet. Legal pressure eventually led it its demise, but this week the site has been relaunched by its founder as a video portal, complete with a little BitTorrent flavor.
We see it everywhere. Corporations are trying to take control over our communications tools, citing copyright concerns. Frequently, they are assisted by hapless politicians, who are also aspiring for the same control, citing terrorist concerns or some other McCarthyist scareword of the day. We should see this in perspective of the revolts happening right now in the Arab world.
In the past several months, U.S. authorities have seized several domain names that were allegedly facilitating copyright infringement, and yesterday U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) announced the first arrest. The 32-year-old Texan Bryan McCarthy was arrested and has been charged with criminal copyright infringement. Meanwhile, the site associated with these criminal charges remains active.
Following an investigation into the online sharing of a new movie, Serbia’s High-Tech crime unit has swooped on an apartment in the capital Belgrade where they arrested a 51-year-old man. Following interrogation and an apparent confession, in just one day a judge has ruled the man can be detained in jail for 30 days. The Pirate Party are now calling for protests today.
To make BitTorrent appeal to an even wider audience, uTorrent parent company BitTorrent Inc. has released a brand new BitTorrent client today. Codenamed Chrysalis, the new piece of software is aimed at novice BitTorrent users who are generally overwhelmed by the traditional interface of uTorrent and the mainline client. In the months to come Chrysalis will replace BitTorrent’s mainline client.
The “piracy is stealing” argument raises its head in the media every week and is on the lips of anti-piracy outfits and copyright holders every day. To them, every unauthorized copy is a lost sale and another small dent in the company spreadsheet which, when added to a million others, will destroy it bit by bit. To the maker of Minecraft, however, its an opportunity. Piracy is theft? You must be kidding. Lost sales? They don’t exist.
Rights holders often take extreme measures to combat piracy, but that a Government institution creates a ‘pirate’ honeypot is quite exceptional. In Portugal, a collaboration between a Ministry of Culture affiliated organization and the local music industry has resulted in a protocol that calls for such a honeypot, in order to shame, scare and threaten those who download music without authorization.
Dutch anti-piracy outfit BREIN has been subjected to a major DDoS attack which has taken its website offline. The Hollywood-backed group has been making a number of enemies with its actions in The Netherlands so the range of culprits is quite large. Nevertheless, BREIN chief Tim Kuik says he thinks he knows who is behind it.
BitTorrent is an excellent tool for sharing large files online, which is why millions of people use it every day. In developing third world countries, however, BitTorrent usage falls far behind, mainly because the transfer speeds are not that great on low bandwidth connections. Thanks to a new BitTorrent client, funded by a grant from the U.S. State Department, this situation can look forward to positive change.
Swebits, one of Sweden’s largest BitTorrent communities, has ceased its activities with immediate effect. While the site’s founders cite a DDoS attack, hardware problems and a lack of donations as the reason for the closure, the Swedish authorities and local anti-piracy outfit Antipiratbyran link it to the arrest of a prominent uploader a few days ago.
The US Government has classified some of the largest players in the BitTorrent scene as examples of sites which sustain global piracy. Indexing and search engines The Pirate Bay, Torrentz, isoHunt, Kickasstorrents and BTjunkie all make appearances, with Demonoid, OpenBitTorrent and PublicBT described as trackers which have become “notorious for infringing activities.”
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