An anti-piracy group say they have monitored decreased usage of cyberlockers that withdrew their rewards programs in the wake of the Megaupload shutdown and increases for those that maintained them. What is required now, the Hollywood-backed group says, is a “burden of proof reversal” which would require hosts to prove that their businesses are not built on piracy, or face being held liable.
Following a six month investigation initiated by international tech companies including Microsoft, Graphisoft and Adobe, Ukrainian authorities have shut down the popular file-hosting site Ex.ua. The police confiscated 200 servers on which more than 6,000 terabytes of data was stored. The Ex.ua raids follow less than two weeks after US authorities ordered the shutdown of another file-hosting service, MegaUpload.
The Department of Justice has filed a brief siding with the RIAA in its civil case against the file-sharing student Joel Tenenbaum.The RIAA is protesting a demand from the student’s legal team, who want the court to reduce the massive $675,000 fine on due process grounds, to the minimum statutory damages of $750 per song.
After an outage of several days, one of the world’s largest and longest-standing adult torrent sites has announced that it will completely close down. The demise of Cheggit.net comes almost exactly a year after two huge adult sites, Empornium and PureTNA, disappeared from the Internet.
MegaUpload has received a letter from the US Attorney informing the company that data uploaded by its users may be destroyed before the end of the week. The looming wipe-out is the result of MegaUpload’s lack of funds to pay for the servers. Behind the scenes, MegaUpload is hoping to convince the US Government that it’s in the best interest of everyone involved to allow users to access their data, at least temporarily.
The top 10 most downloaded movies on BitTorrent, ‘The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’ tops the chart this week, followed by ‘The Rum Diary’. ‘The Descendants’ completes the top three.
Two large ISPs in the Netherlands have said they will not be blocking subscriber access to The Pirate Bay, as demanded by the Hollywood supported anti-piracy outfit BREIN. T-Mobile and KPN argue that blocking websites is a threat to the open Internet, and suggest that the entertainment industry focuses on new business models instead. BREIN is now expected to take the ISPs to court.
While last week’s shutdown of MegaUpload is of huge interest in itself, but a wave of aftershocks and side-effects are proving equally fascinating to watch. In addition to causing all sorts of problems for legitimate users of file-sharing services, there is no avoiding the fact that certain elements of the piracy scene are in a mess. But amazingly, still the beat goes on.
At a behind-closed-doors meeting facilitated by the UK Department for Culture, Media and Sport, copyright holders have handed out a list of demands to Google, Bing and Yahoo. To curb the growing piracy problem, Hollywood and the major music labels want the search engines to de-list popular filesharing sites such as The Pirate Bay, and give higher ranking to authorized sites.
Newzbin2, the site chosen by Hollywood to be their UK web-blocking guinea-pig, has revealed some of their forward plans. Within weeks the Usenet indexing site will not only dump its .COM domain, but also look towards the creation of both VPN and cyberlocker services.
After losing access to their favorite file-hosting service last week, millions of former MegaUpload users have fled to the many alternatives available. Filefactory, Depositfiles and many of the other top cyberlockers have seen an unprecedented surge in traffic in recent days, showing that people haven’t stopped sharing even though the authorities have closed one of the main players in the business.
A new WordPress plugin makes it dead easy to uncensor blocked websites. In just a few clicks people can setup their own proxy site with the popular blogging software. An essential tool for people whose speech is restricted by oppressive regimes, and handy for downloaders in The Netherlands, Italy, Finland and other countries where ISPs are blocking The Pirate Bay. Additionally, the plugin partially defeats the PIPA and SOPA bills in the US.
While MegaUpload founder Kim Dotcom will remain in custody for at least another month, two indicted members of the so-called “Mega Conspiracy” were granted bail this morning. Their privacy, however, will have to wait. On top of the revelation that the FBI monitored Skype calls as far back as 2007, officials are now assessing whether the defendant’s homes are suitable for “electronic monitoring”.
The RIAA has been one of the most dedicated supporters of the PIPA and SOPA bills, but not all of the people they represent share their enthusiasm. EMI’s VP of Urban Promotions Craig Davis made some very reasonable remarks on the controversial anti-piracy plans, stating that “the method they’re using is incorrect.” In addition, the VP says that he’s no fan of DRM and that piracy is a service issue, not an issue of money.
During an appearance in court today, his third in less than a week, Kim Dotcom was informed that bail had been denied. The judge rejected the MegaUpload founder’s bid for freedom while he awaits extradition to the US and remanded him in custody until late February. Three other alleged co-conspirators will learn of their fate tomorrow.
To back up their demands for tougher anti-piracy laws, the music industry often promotes statistics that show how drastically sales improve when they have their way. This week the music industry did this again by claiming that the French three-strikes law has been highly effective and has boosted iTunes sales tremendously. But is this really the case? Or have the media and lawmakers been fooled again by the copyright lobby?
You wouldn’t download a car, the Internet meme predicted. But if The Pirate Bay has its way that action will be a reality in the years to come. In preparation for this world-changing day, the world’s biggest torrent site has just premiered a new section containing the plans for physical items that can be downloaded then printed out. Today its a plastic pirate ship, but one tomorrow in a decade or two it may well be a car.
As last week’s arrest of Megaupload owner Kim Dotcom emphasized, the main character in the SOPA/PIPA debate is the foreign ‘thief’. He’s everywhere—robbing Americans of their creativity, jobs, and money. Worse, he’s enjoying himself. As the Chamber of Commerce put it: “The criminals behind these sites are laughing all the way to the bank, stealing the best of American creativity and innovation at the expense of our jobs and consumers.”
A few days after top lawyer Robert Bennett announced he would defend MegaUpload vigorously in their upcoming trial, he has been forced to withdraw from the case. A source says that this drastic decision was made because the case conflicts with the interests of another client of Bennett’s law firm Hogan Lovells. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to conclude that the pressure most likely came from the entertainment industry.
In the wake of last week’s Megaupload shutdown, some of the biggest names in the market are taking drastic action. During the last 48 hours many sites have completely withdrawn their systems for paying uploaders when their files are shared with others, but one of the most dramatic moves came first from Filesonic and today Fileserve. Both services now forbid people from downloading any files they didn’t upload themselves.
The top 10 most downloaded movies on BitTorrent, ‘Special Forces’ tops the chart this week, followed by ‘In time’. ‘Seeking Justice’ completes the top three.
In a New Zealand court today, a judge delayed the decision to grant or deny bail to Kim Dotcom, the larger than life founder of Megaupload.com. The prosecutor said that since multi-millionaire Dotcom had multiple identities, four dozen credit cards and a history of “fleeing criminal charges” he represented a flight risk “on the extreme end of the scale”. In the meantime, two other site operators were arrested in Europe.
Filesonic, one of the Internet’s leading cyberlocker services, has taken some drastic measures following the Megaupload shutdown and arrests last week. In addition to discontinuing its affiliates rewards program and not yet paying accrued money to members, the site has disabled all sharing functionality, leaving users only with access to their own files.
This week’s collective action against the PIPA and SOPA bills in the United States was unprecedented and mighty. But have you noticed that we’re always on the defensive? We cannot win or even maintain our rights to free speech that way.
The public has started a petition asking the White House to investigate comments made by MPAA CEO Chris Dodd a few days ago on Fox News. Closing a tumultuous week of wide protest against PIPA and SOPA – two MPAA backed anti-piracy bills – Dodd threatened to stop the cash-flow to politicians who dare to take a stand against pro-Hollywood legislation. Clear bribery, the petition claims, and already thousands agree.
Collectively, we Australians can be a cowardly bunch, so scared of an unknown invader that we will sell our sovereignty for the illusion of protection. This fear is symbolised in the movie ‘Tomorrow When the War Began,’ a film of dubious quality that portrays an Australia under invasion from some shadowy Asiatic power.
A second administrator of NinjaVideo, one of the first targets of the US government’s Operation in Our Sites, has been sentenced. Matthew Smith, known online as Dead1ne, received 14 months in prison, two years supervised release, and was ordered to pay back just over $172,000 he allegedly earned from the site.
File-hosting services all around the world will have looked on in horror yesterday as MegaUpload, one of the world’s largest cyberlocker services, was taken apart by the FBI. Foreign citizens were arrested in foreign lands and at least $50 million in assets seized. So what exactly prompted this action? TorrentFreak read every word of the 72-page indictment so you don’t have to, and we were surprised by its contents.
The founder of MegaUpload, Kim Dotcom, has been denied bail in an extradition hearing in New Zealand this morning. Dotcom, who was raided by 76 armed police in helicopters yesterday, is wanted in the United States alongside other key MegaUpload employees on racketeering, copyright infringement and money laundering charges.
MegaUpload, one of the largest file-sharing sites on the Internet, has been shut down by federal prosecutors in Virginia. The site’s founder Kim Dotcom and three others were arrested by the police in New Zealand at the request of US authorities. MegaVideo, the streaming site belonging to same company, and a total of 18 domains connected to the Mega company were seized and datacenters in three countries raided.
The French authority responsible for administering the country’s anti-filesharing operations reports that it has now sent out more than 736,000 “first strike” and 62,000 “second strike” infringement warnings, with a total of 165 Internet account holders now on their third and final strike. Meanwhile, a report set to be published by IFPI next week will suggest that Hadopi is a success that has contributed to a 22.5% increase in purchases from iTunes.
Today the Internet is witnessing the largest protest in its history, aimed at killing two pending anti-piracy bills. The effort has not been without results. During the past few hours several Senators who co-sponsored SOPA and PIPA have dropped their support. The protests made them realize that the legislation is flawed, and a potential threat to the future of the Internet.
January 18, 2012, will still be talked about decades from now. It is the day tens of thousands of websites, including giants such as Google, Wikipedia and Reddit, decided to take a stand against what they see as a hostile takeover of the Internet by Hollywood, the recording industry, and other rightsholders. As it faces two draconian anti-piracy bills, the free Internet is at stake. Whatever the outcome may be, history is being made today.
This morning millions of Internet users in Germany have woken to find their online music listening options reduced. Music streaming service Grooveshark has self-censored in the country, citing “unreasonably high” licensing costs imposed by local music rights collections group GEMA. In other news, Grooveshark is now trying to unmask the ‘whistleblower’ who recently landed them in so much legal trouble with the major labels.
Although the major label members of the RIAA publicly ended their file-sharing settlement schemes in the United States, surprisingly they are continuing with a similar project elsewhere. Using the same IP address-based evidence, Universal, Sony, EMI and Warner are sending out controversial cash settlement demands in Germany where recipients have little alternative than to pay up.
Supporters of the pending PIPA/SOPA anti-piracy bills often use The Pirate Bay as a prime example of a website that can be taken out under the new legislation. But is that really the case? The Pirate Bay team has been silent on the issue, until now. As it turns out, the people behind the popular torrent site don’t believe the laws will do much to stop them, but they do fear for the future of the Internet.
Today, lawyer Andrew Crossley from the now defunct ACS:Law faced the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal over his disastrous foray into ‘speculative invoicing’ – the chasing down of alleged file-sharers with the sole aim of receiving cash settlements. In a surprising turn-around from previous displays of bravado, Crossley contested only one of the seven charges against him. The Tribunal suspended him from acting as a lawyer for 2 years.
Hollywood and the major music labels frequently describe The Pirate Bay as a piracy haven that ruins their businesses. On the other side, however, there are many independent artists who would like nothing more than to be featured prominently on the world’s largest torrent site. For the latter group The Pirate Bay team have just released a new platform where artists can have their content promoted on the site’s homepage, free of charge.
The top 10 most downloaded movies on BitTorrent, ‘Johnny English Reborn’ tops the chart this week, followed by ‘War Horse’. ‘Real Steel’ completes the top three.
After it was revealed that games developer CD Projekt had been sending cash settlement letters to Internet users based on flimsy IP address-based anti-piracy evidence, this week the company decided to end their campaign. Today TorrentFreak reveals the names of many other famous games companies conducting almost identical operations – “Send us cash settlements,” they tell their targets, “…or else…”
The White House just released a statement commenting on the pending SOPA and PIPA anti-piracy bills in congress. While the Obama Administration sides with the opposition by saying that free-speech should be protected, censorship is evil, and that DNS-blocking is a no go, the statement doesn’t mean that the bills are off the table.
The RIAA is continuing to put pressure on torrent sites. This week the music group went after the torrent indexer TorrentHound. The RIAA obtained a subpoena at the U.S. District Court of Columbia and has asked the whois privacy service WhoisGuard to hand over the IP-address, email and all other identifying information related to the account holder.
Last week Hana Beshara, one of the founders of the popular NinjaVideo movie and TV show streaming site, was sentenced to 22 months in prison for conspiracy and criminal copyright infringement. Beshara was released until a bed opened up at a detention center, but after she posted critical notes on Facebook the authorities asked to reconsider this decision. As a result, the NinjaVideo founder was rushed to local prison today.
Despite protestations that merely linking to copyright material isn’t an offense in the UK, a judge has today ruled that the UK-based ex-administrator of the TVShack video linking website can be extradited to the US to face copyright infringement charges. Richard O’Dwyer, 23, has never set foot in United States but now faces being used as a ‘guinea pig’ for US copyright law.
CD Projekt RED have abandoned their misguided pay-up-or-else anti-piracy scheme. Initially a hit with fans due to their rejection of experience-killing DRM, the company fell from grace when it was revealed that in common with other companies with less of a reputation to maintain, they had chosen one of the most controversial methods of extracting money from the public.
In a month The Pirate Bay will no longer offer downloads of .torrent files. Instead, the largest torrent site on the Internet will only provide so-called magnet links to its visitors. The first step in this direction was made today with The Pirate Bay replacing the current default torrent download links with magnets. Could this be the end of an era?
While the major record labels see BitTorrent as a threat, thousands of independent musicians believe it’s one of the best ways to gain an audience. The FrostWire BitTorrent client has been promoting independent artists for years, with great success. To celebrate a massive 2.4 million downloads in 2011, FrostWire just released a compilation album featuring free Creative Commons-licensed tracks from 30 artists.
After failing last year in its attempt to force a local Internet service provider to block online piracy, a major record label is now taking on a much bigger opponent. Yesterday, EMI Records filed a lawsuit against the Irish state for not fulfilling its obligations under European law which would otherwise allow for the “blocking, diverting or interrupting of internet communications” which breach copyright law.
Despite claims that freedom of expression is at stake, today a pair of ISPs have been ordered to block The Pirate Bay. Following a demand from Dutch anti-piracy outfit BREIN, the Court of The Hague ruled that Ziggo, the largest ISP in the Netherlands, and competitor XS4ALL have to block subscriber access to the world’s most famous torrent site. XS4ALL say they are “bitterly disappointed”, noting that fundamental rights have been traded for “commercial interests”.
Anyone who understands The Pirate Bay, BitTorrent and the viral nature of file-sharing will appreciate just how difficult it is to have content taken down. So what can you do when previously private explicit photos of you appear online? For one young lady it seems that no effort was too big or too costly, as court papers from this fascinating case reveal.
Last weekend Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff wrote a column in the Salt Lake City Tribune supporting the pending SOPA and PIPA anti-piracy bills. In his article Shurtleff argues that the bills are a necessity if the US is to “stop Internet thieves and profiteers.” An interesting take, but not very credible, as the Attorney Generally who may soon have the power to seize domains, simply passed off MPAA-penned propaganda as his own words.
Two of Bulgaria’s largest torrent sites have been raided by the country’s organized crime unit. The sites, which served in excess of three quarters of a million members, had been established for several years. Three locations were raided and two site admins, one just 17-years-old, were arrested.
uTorrent parent company BitTorrent Inc. just announced that the BitTorrent Mainline client and uTorrent have hit the milestone of 150 million monthly users. Together both clients increased their user base by more than 50 percent compared to last year, and the end of this surge is not yet in sight.
In October 2011, a court in Finland ordered local ISP Elisa to block The Pirate Bay to stop copyright infringement among its subscribers. Today, the blockade – which covers many domains and IP addresses – took effect, but behind the scenes there is an effort to unblock the site and render the court order useless. Meanwhile there is already collateral damage – the court order has succeeded in blocking a domain linking to Electronic Frontier Finland.
The top 10 most downloaded movies on BitTorrent, ‘Real Steel’ tops the chart this week, followed by ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’. ‘Cowboys and Aliens’ completes the top three.
Cory Doctorow held a presentation just before the turn of the year, showing how the current copyright wars are just a skirmish in the battles yet to come. It is a very strong omen that gives you an idea just how much is at stake in the coming two decades.
Continuing a long-standing New Year’s tradition, we present an up-to-date list of the world’s most visited BitTorrent sites. At the start of 2012 The Pirate Bay continues to pull in the most visitors, followed by Torrentz and KickassTorrents. The six-year-old TV-torrent distribution group EZTV appears in the list for the first time, ranked 8th.
Pirate Bay founder Peter Sunde has revealed that the words of an MPAA lawyer several years ago inspired the creation of the Missionary Church of Kopimism. The Church hit the headlines this week and was met largely by words of tolerance, but a Catholic bishop has just labeled it “farcical” since it has no God. Interestingly, Pirate Party founder Rick Falkvinge mulls the idea that ‘pirate’ communications may now be barred from evidence in court.
An outspoken founder of NinjaVideo, one of the first domains to be targeted in the ongoing Operation in Our Sites, was sentenced today for conspiracy and criminal copyright infringement. Hana Beshara, known online as Phara, will now spend 22 months in prison followed by 2 years of probation and 500 hours of community service. A source close to NinjaVideo told TorrentFreak that Hana’s lawyer “was happy” with the sentence.
In its appeal against the file-sharing mom Jammie Thomas, the RIAA has asked the court to reinstate a massive fine which U.S. District Judge Michael Davis previously slashed because it was “monstrous and shocking.” The music group argues that awards as high as $1.5 million for sharing 24 songs are appropriate and constitutional. In their appeal, the RIAA is joined by the MPAA who also want to overthrow the standing verdict.
BitTorrent Inc. just released a new standalone file-sharing application called “Share.” The application aims to make it easier for tech novices to share large files with friends, without having to get familiar with all the BitTorrent customs and lingo. Share will eventually be integrated into BitTorrent’s flagship client uTorrent.
In a leaked letter sent to Spain’s outgoing President, the US ambassador to the country warned that as punishment for not passing a SOPA-style file-sharing site blocking law, Spain risked being put on a United States trade blacklist . Inclusion would have left Spain open to a range of “retaliatory options” but already the US was working with the incoming government to reach its goals.
Last month, the Gamer/Law legal blog published an article which in many ways failed to understand what so-called pay-up-or-else anti-piracy schemes are all about. Now the owner of Gamer/Law is back with an open letter titled “To those who defend game pirates”. Since it’s published in Edge, probably the best print-based games publication ever made, I simply can’t let this one lie.
Since 2010 a group of self-confessed pirates have tried to get their beliefs recognized as an official religion in Sweden. After their request was denied several times, the Church of Kopimism – which holds CTRL+C and CTRL+V as sacred symbols – is now approved by the authorities as an official religion. The Church hopes that its official status will remove the legal stigma that surrounds file-sharing.
4Shared, the largest file-sharing website on the Internet, has been sued in an attempt to reveal the identities of the person or persons who uploaded copyrighted files. The case was filed at a US federal court by Modulo Security Solutions, who are trying to identify the alleged uploader of confidential documents belonging to the company. If successful, the case may have implications for others who share copyrighted files on cyberlockers.
Supporters of SOPA and PIPA, two bills that aim to deter piracy, claim that they will only affect foreign sites and businesses. However, this view is not shared by a wide range of opponents, including the people behind the popular Reddit community. But how exactly can SOPA and PIPA threaten sites like Reddit? Leading First Amendment lawyer and Internet policy expert Marvin Ammori explains.
As citizens of the United States worry over the implications of the pending SOPA legislation, a small land-locked country on the fringes of Europe is showing how bad things can really get. Labeled by the United States as an “outpost of tyranny”, Belarus is certainly living up to its reputation. This Friday, browsing foreign websites will become an offense punishable by fines, with service providers taking responsibility for the actions of their users.
A new plugin for WordPress allows anyone to set up a fully functioning BitTorrent site in just a few minutes. Whether it’s a totally public torrent index or a private torrent tracker with strict ratio enforcement, WP-Trader supports it. The project was born when the developers recognized a huge demand for a simple script that even relative tech novices can set up.
Spain’s new government has wasted no time in approving tough new legislation to combat unauthorized file-sharing. After less than two weeks in power, the Partido Popular government has fully implemented the so-called Sinde Law. Spaniards can look forward to previously legal sites being blocked by ISPs or shut down completely, all within 10 days of a rightsholder complaint.
The top 10 most downloaded movies on BitTorrent, ‘Cowboys and Aliens’ tops the chart this week, followed by ‘Warrior’. ‘The Inbetweeners Movie’ completes the top three.
Mid-December, data from YouHaveDownloaded was used to show that several illegal downloads had taken place in the palace of French President Sarkozy. These, however, were just the tip of the iceberg. More than 250 further IP addresses belonging to the French Ministry of Culture have now been linked to illegal downloads but the government, unsurprisingly, say they are completely innocent. OK, so prove it.
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