It is no secret that the MPAA was a main facilitators of the criminal investigation against Megaupload. But while the movie studios have praised the actions of the US Government, they are not satisfied yet. Paramount Pictures’ vice president for worldwide content protection identified Fileserve, MediaFire, Wupload, Putlocker and Depositfiles as prime targets that should be shuttered next.
Rupert Murdoch, media tycoon, founder and Chairman and CEO of News Corporation, has been a fanatical supporter of tougher anti-piracy legislation including PIPA and SOPA in the US. But this week it was claimed that Murdoch’s piracy crusade is a rather hypocritical one, with his News Corporation now at the center of a major piracy scandal in which it’s accused of encouraging piracy to cripple competitors.
A new report on the effectiveness of the French three-strikes anti-piracy law claims that it managed to cut Internet piracy in half last year. While lobbyists are making preparations to show these great results to politicians worldwide, there is one thing the report fails to mention. Despite the claimed decrease in piracy, revenues through legal channels are down as well. This is strange, because in previous years these losses were solely attributed to piracy.
In the wake of the Megaupload shutdown in January, cyberlocker services all around the world enjoyed an immediate surge in traffic due to huge capacity being removed from the market. Now, two months on, a few players are fairly steady, some are through the roof, but for others the graphs are diving to the floor.
After failing to hand himself over to authorities as required in January, Pirate Bay founder Gottfrid Svartholm lost his chance to serve his sentence in an open prison. As a final surrender deadline looms, it’s been revealed that interest charges being applied since May 2006 have boosted the damages award against the site’s founders by 60% to nearly $11 million, a huge $4.06 million uplift.
The troubled Megaupload will drop its lawsuit against Universal Music Group who allegedly deleted the immensely popular Mega Song from YouTube last December. While the cyberlocker still believes the “sham takedown” was unlawful, Megaupload’s lawyer informs TorrentFreak that they will focus their efforts on defending themselves against the US criminal charges and similar “copycat” suits.
The MPAA and file-hosting service Hotfile are ramping up their battle in court. To back up the claim that Hotfile is a piracy haven, the MPAA recently commissioned a study which stated that over 90% of all downloads through the site are infringing. However, in a confidential report obtained by TorrentFreak, a researcher hired by Hotfile points out that the MPAA’s report is both “unreliable” and “unscientific”.
The European Parliament’s international trade committee has rejected a proposal by David Martin, an MEP who is drafting the Parliament’s position on ACTA. Martin wanted to ask the European Court of Justice for its opinion on the controversial anti-piracy treaty, but the committee decided yesterday that wasn’t needed and will now vote in June on whether to approve ACTA. Opponents of the treaty see the development as a victory.
Speculative invoicing might be returning to the UK, thanks to a High Court judgment Monday. The practice, all but abandoned in the UK in the wake of the ACS:Law fiasco, has restarted but with conditions. Meanwhile, over 9,000 people could get letters from the plaintiff, Ben Dover.
A Higher Regional Court in Germany has ruled that file-hosting service RapidShare operates legally in Germany. The verdict is the result of a long-standing legal battle between the Swiss-based file-hosting service and music rights group GEMA. It’s not all good for RapidShare though, as the company now has to monitor external websites for incoming links to infringing files.
Spanish music group Promusicae has sued Enrique Dans, professor at the IE Business School and a well-known blogger, after he claimed that the group is a copyright monopoly that violates antitrust laws. In addition to a public apology, the Spanish version of the RIAA is demanding 20,000 euros in damages. The professor, however, is prepared to fight the case until the bitter end and says he’s protected by the right to freedom of expression.
Having originally resisted the notion that it should stop its subscribers sharing copyright works, in a little under 4 years Ireland’s ISP Eircom has come completely about-face. Not only did it come to a private agreement with the music industry to implement a 3 strikes-style regime, but now its asking other ISPs to join them in doing so. It’s lonely being this kind of ‘pioneer’, especially when it puts your company at a commercial disadvantage.
For the first time since his arrest in January, Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom is responding to allegations in what he calls the “MPAA-sponsored” indictment. Eager to fight back, Dotcom refutes several “nonsense” claims made by the Government. In addition, he shows that Mega wasn’t a big bad pirate haven, but a legitimate service that may have been shutdown for political reasons.
Considering the aggressive stance taken by the MPAA against Megaupload, one might be forgiven for thinking the Hollywood-backed group and file-hosting service were sworn enemies. But behind the scenes things were quite different, with companies including Disney, Warner Brothers and Fox courting Megaupload to set up content distribution and advertising deals.
In recent weeks the battle has continued to save the data stored at the now-defunct site Megaupload. Contrary to the image painted by the entertainment industries, untold numbers of people used the file-hosting service for completely legitimate sharing. Today we can reveal that not only did people at the Senate, Department of Homeland Security, FBI and NASA hold Megaupload accounts, so did more than 15,600 members of the US Military.
The top 10 most downloaded movies on BitTorrent, ‘Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol’ tops the chart this week, followed by ‘We Bought a Zoo’. ‘The Grey’ completes the top three.
The file-sharing world has had more than its fair share of unbelievable stories in recent years and many of them are linked to The Pirate Bay, the world’s most resilient BitTorrent site. It’s never really certain where it will next appear – a nuclear bunker, a military fort in the middle of the sea, or floating in the sky in unmanned drones. But there is something that one can be sure of – the site is powered by a special kind of crazy that has captured the imagination of millions.
Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom became the proud father of twin girls this week. The healthy twins are the fourth and fifth children of Dotcom and his wife Mona, who gave birth to the girls at the National Women’s Hospital in Auckland. Jokingly, Dotcom instructed hospital personnel to send the placenta to the FBI for forensic analysis.
A key player in Australia’s negotiations to the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) revealed itself last Monday and surprisingly it wasn’t News Ltd, the US Embassy in Canberra or even a reigning political party. The Federal Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade emerged as ACTA’s cheerleader-in-chief in Australia, trumpeting the benefits of the treaty before a rare open federal parliamentary committee.
Every year, tens of thousands of people are scammed into paying for free file-sharing software. Over the years this has evolved into a multi-million dollar business damaging legitimate American companies such as BitTorrent, FrostWire and Vuze. So why is ICE not seizing the domain names of these known scammers? Or viewing it from another angle, perhaps SOPA might come in handy after all…
The Pirate Bay is not only the most visited BitTorrent site on the Internet, but arguably the most censored too. Many ISPs have been ordered to block their customers’ access to the website, and recently Microsoft joined in on the action by stopping people sharing its location with others. Microsoft’s Windows Live Messenger (MSN) now refuses to pass on links to The Pirate Bay website, claiming they are unsafe.
In a few months, millions of alleged BitTorrent pirates in the US will risk being punished by their Internet providers. While the plan was announced a year ago, protests against it have only started to heat up this week. In just a few days more than 90,000 people have signed a petition asking their Internet providers not to participate, and many more are expected to follow.
Google recently filed an amicus brief in which it suggested that the movie companies of the MPAA were misleading the court in their case against file-hosting service Hotfile. In response the MPAA objected to Google’s intervention with claims that the search giant is only interested in influencing the law in its own favor. Now Google is striking back stating that the welfare of legitimate businesses and the climate of free expression online is at stake.
As part of their never-ending quest to reduce copyright infringement major entertainment companies have been engaged in talks with ISPs and representatives from the Australian government. Worryingly, these meetings have been held in secret and all attempts to obtain information are being stonewalled. But now an ISP has revealed that the talks are failing, noting that there is a “massive gap” between the parties.
Hollywood-backed anti-piracy outfit BREIN is trying to stop the massive influx of Pirate Bay proxy sites that circumvent a court-ordered blockade in the Netherlands. The group obtained an injunction against one proxy and has threatened many others with legal action. While BREIN’s efforts appear to have had some effect, the question is for how long.
Miami Judge Marc Schumacher has issued a landmark order in which he protects accused BitTorrent downloaders from mass-lawsuits filed by copyright holders. One of the main arguments of the judge is that these “fishing expeditions” violate BitTorrent users’ right to anonymous speech, which is protected by the constitution. The order effectively kills all BitTorrent lawsuits in Florida state courts.
Criminals are attempting to extort Internet users by claiming there could be financial implications for those who used file-sharing site Megaupload for infringing activities. For the past several days a fake law firm claiming to act on behalf of entertainment companies such as Universal, Sony, EMI and Paramount has been claiming cash settlements from innocent victims.
A few days ago The Pirate Bay announced that in future parts of its site could be hosted on GPS controlled drones. To many this may have sounded like a joke, but in fact these pirate drones already exist. Project “Electronic Countermeasures” has built a swarm of five fully operational drones which prove that an “aerial Napster” or an “airborne Pirate Bay” is not as futuristic as it sounds.
The founders of The Pirate Bay, convicted in 2009 of copyright infringement offenses, have learned where they are to be held during their sentences. The trio – Peter Sunde, Fredrik Neik and Gottfrid Svartholm – will be separated and held in three locations around Sweden. But according to Sunde’s lawyer, a further appeal might already be underway.
All too often I hear that the copyright industry doesn’t understand the Internet, doesn’t understand the net generation, doesn’t understand how technology has changed. This is not only wrong; it is dangerously wrong. In order to defeat an adversary; you must first come to understand their state of mind, rather than painting them as evil. The copyright industry understands exactly what the Internet is, and that it needs to be destroyed for that industry to stay even the slightest relevant.
Google has filed a brief at a federal court in Florida defending the file-hosting site Hotfile in its case against the MPAA. The search giant accuses the movie companies of misleading the court and argues that Hotfile is protected under the DMCA’s safe harbor. Indirectly, Google is also refuting claims being made by the US government in the criminal case against Megaupload.
Carl Lundström, one of the persons convicted in The Pirate Bay trial, will not be going to jail for his role in the operations of The Pirate Bay. The millionaire, who gave the site a crucial helping hand with hardware and other services in its early days, was sentenced to four months in prison but will now spend that time in a Swedish apartment. He will be electronically monitored and allowed to leave in order to attend a government-arranged job.
The top 10 most downloaded movies on BitTorrent, ‘Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol’ tops the chart this week, followed by ‘The Grey’. ‘We Bought a Zoo’ completes the top three.
In recent months The Pirate Bay has drastically changed its site to make it less vulnerable to ever increasing censorship attempts across the globe. But that was just the start, as the torrent site now says it’s getting ready to put some of its hardware in GPS controlled drones. “Everyone knows WHAT TPB is. Now they’re going to have to think about WHERE TPB is,” The Pirate Bay team told TorrentFreak.
In another astonishing development in the Megaupload saga, a judge in New Zealand’s High Court has declared the order used to seize Kim Dotcom’s assets as “null and void”. The blunder, which occurred because the police applied for the wrong type of court order, means that the Megaupload founder could have his property returned.
Every single day millions of people watch video streams on the Internet, but while some streaming services provide authorized material, it’s inevitable that others will offer illegal content too. So, when people click then watch a stream of unauthorized material online, are they committing an offense? According to an intriguing announcement this week, some illicit stream viewers may be about to find out.
The former head of security at the now-defunct movie streaming site NinjaVideo has been sentenced by a federal court in Virginia for conspiracy to commit copyright infringement. The Government demanded a prison term for 33-year-old Jeremy Andrew, but the court decided that three years probation is sufficient as he was not motivated by monetary rewards.
Every single ISP in India has been ordered to block 104 sites offering unauthorized music. A total of 387 ISPs must block the sites immediately via DNS and IP address blocking, backed up with Deep Packet Inspection. While the IFPI praised the action, their Indian counterparts are singing are more interesting tune – they don’t want to destroy their opponents, but bring them into the business.
A Higher Regional Court in Germany has ruled that file-hosting service RapidShare must proactively filter thousands of files uploaded by its users. The Court confirmed three separate verdicts by a lower court, in cases that were started by book publishers and a music rights group. RapidShare has yet to decide whether it will appeal the verdicts, and informs TorrentFreak that there’s also positive news to report.
This July major US Internet service providers will start assisting copyright holders in their fight against online copyright infringement. Major ISPs including Comcast, Verizon and Time Warner Cable will begin fulfilling their obligations under the terms of a Memorandum of Understanding signed last year, which will see the providers send out copyright infringement warnings to their millions of customers.
Under the umbrella of the American Bar Association, two so-called copyright troll lawyers are teaching colleagues how to catch BitTorrent pirates. The ‘webinar’ is part of a credit program for lawyers and discusses “tools to pursue infringement claims against anonymous infringers.”
Libraries are wonderful places where even the poor can develop their reading skills and enrich their lives with knowledge, but for infamous rights group SABAM they are just another outlet from which to extract cash. Quite unbelievably SABAM now expect to receive payments of hundreds of euros so that libraries can read books to children.
Suspicions that the police have started a new criminal investigation into The Pirate Bay were confirmed by the Swedish hosting company Binero today. Police have requested the company to reveal the personal details of the customer who registered The Pirate Bay domain name. Sources say that the new investigation is a renewed attempt to shut the popular BitTorrent site down.
Richard O’Dwyer, the UK-based ex-administrator of the video linking website TVShack will be extradited to the US to face copyright infringement charges. Despite public outrage Home Secretary Theresa May approved the extradition order today. The 23-year-old student has never visited United States, but now faces several years in a US prison.
Film producer Saul Zaentz owns the film, stage and merchandising rights to JRR Tolkien classics such as The Hobbit. Ostensibly to protect those rights, lawyers for the company are now threatening small businesses across the UK with ruinous legal action if they don’t stop using the term ‘Hobbit’ – a word that may not even have been created by Tolkien.
Popular music streaming service Grooveshark is being sued by all the major recording labels. The lawsuits, which range from contractual disputes right up to copyright infringement, mean that the company will be tied up in litigation for months, even years to come. TorrentFreak recently managed to discuss developments with someone close to Grooveshark who told us that the company will strive to maintain an open and unlimited platform that accommodates the rightsholder.
Aside from preparing the cases of the Megaupload defendants, a team of lawyers is working hard to grant the site’s users access to their personal data. The cyberlocker is working out a deal with the Department of Justice to allow users to download their personal files. Interestingly enough, Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom reveals that these users include many high-ranking US Government officials.
The top 10 most downloaded movies on BitTorrent, ‘The Grey’ tops the chart this week, followed by ‘The Awakening’. ‘Machine Gun Preacher’ completes the top three.
When confronted with a doomsday scenario where mainstream online file-sharing becomes a thing of the past, it’s not uncommon for people to refer to days gone by, when files were swapped freely offline using discs and other mediums. Now, an interesting and compact system can deliver the [g]olden days of data swapping with a modern twist, by turning any open space into a wireless and anonymous file-sharing system at a rock-bottom price.
Traditionally, BitTorrent and cyberlockers are generally seen as two entirely different file-sharing platforms, but the newly launched Netkups shows that this doesn’t have to be the case. In fact, supporting both direct downloads and torrents can have benefits for both site operators and users, the founders claim.
After the infamous ACS:Law made a monumental mess of attempting to extract cash from alleged file-sharers, it was expected that similar schemes would die along with the now-defunct company. But despite that disastrous attempt at so-called Speculative Invoicing, another company is now trying its hand. According to the Open Rights Group, how the High Court deals with the movie company involved could have implications for the Digital Economy Act.
More than half a decade after Swedish police officers first raided The Pirate Bay, there is talk that a second police raid against the world’s most famous torrent site is in the planning. The Pirate Bay team has learned that local authorities have acquired warrants to take action against the site, and expect that both servers and the new .se domain name may be targeted soon.
Part of The Pirate Bay’s decision to go torrent-less was to make the site more resistant to outside attacks, but it also has quite an impact on bandwidth bills. The Pirate Bay team told TorrentFreak today that after the switch the site now consumes 30 percent less bandwidth, while the number of visitors remains stable. Despite some annoyances most users appear to be fine with the new magnet-only site.
The French government agency responsible for administering the country’s ’3 strikes’ anti-piracy scheme is reporting that online TV and other VOD services have received a boost following the shutdown of Megaupload. According to Hadopi, these authorized outlets enjoyed an average growth of nearly 26% in the weeks immediately after the Hong Kong based site was shuttered.
The MPAA is moving full steam ahead in their ongoing battle with file-hosting service Hotfile. Pointing to the criminal investigation against Megaupload, the movie studios are asking for a summary judgement against Hotfile, a development which would effectively shut down the site. The MPAA argues that Hotfile is a piracy haven where more than 90% of all downloads are copyright infringing.
A London-based anti-piracy company has found itself mired in controversy after it wrongfully took down comedian Dave Gorman’s work posted to Flickr. The company responded with the excuse that their server had been hacked last month by people hoping to ruin the company’s reputation. Research into DMCA takedowns previously issued by the company suggests they can do that on their own.
The EFF has filed a brief in the dispute between the cyberlocker Hotfile and Warner Bros, where the latter is accused of taking down content they don’t hold the copyrights to. The EFF argues that Warner Bros. is stifling online speech by denying Hotfile users to access to legitimate content. The movie studio’s claim that they are not responsible for mistakes made by a computer, but this is not a valid defense according to the group.
Internet service providers BT and TalkTalk have lost their appeal against the UK’s Digital Economy Act. The ISPs had argued that the legislation was incompatible with EU law, but this morning the Court of Appeal decided otherwise and dismissed their appeal. While the decision was welcomed by copyright holders, Internet account holders now face warnings, disconnections and speed throttling.
A trio of Court of Appeal judges are expected to give their ruling today as to whether a decision by the High Court supporting the controversial Digital Economy Act can be overturned. BT and TalkTalk, two of the country’s largest ISPs, had objected to the legislation claiming it breached EU directives. Today, however, they find themselves in a new controversy.
We all too frequently hear that the copyright monopoly is supposed to encourage creativity and that the patent monopoly is supposed to encourage innovation. Most lawyers whose jobs depend on the belief in these myths even claim that the monopolies fulfill these functions to the letter. But when we look at history, a different pattern emerges.
Authorities in the United States have put in an official request to extradite Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom and the three other suspects in the “Mega Conspiracy.” While the request doesn’t come as a surprise, the prosecutors waited till the official deadline last Friday before filing the paperwork. It will take a while before the fate of the accused is decided, as the first extradition hearing is planned for August.
The top 10 most downloaded movies on BitTorrent, ‘The Grey’ tops the chart this week, followed by ‘Machine Gun Preacher’. ‘The Three Musketeers’ completes the top three.
More and more regularly, TorrentFreak has been turning over its Sunday front page to people who have an opinion on copyright, file-sharing and other related issues. From Rick Falkvinge to a member of the European Parliament, from lawyers to a filmmaker, we’re happy to share our platform. Today we have our very first musical contribution from talented UK artist Dan Bull, who is distinctly unimpressed with the BPI.
The DMCA was once drafted to protect the interests of copyright holders, allowing them to take infringing content offline. Today, however, the system is systematically abused by rightsholders as an overbroad censorship tool. One third of the notices sent to Google are false, companies like Microsoft censor perfectly legal sites, and others use the DMCA to get back at competitors.
Some Internet piracy groups decided to implement some new regulations and standards last week. Instead of releasing TV shows in the Xvid/avi format, groups responsible for putting major TV shows online switched to MP4/x264. Outraged by the lack of democracy, some BitTorrent users are directing their anger at bewildered torrent sites and even threatening to boycott releases. For those who understand, the whole thing is pretty amusing.
The file-sharing landscape is slowly adjusting in response to the continued push for more anti-piracy tools, the final Pirate Bay verdict, and the raids and arrests in the Megaupload case. Faced with uncertainty and drastic changes at file-sharing sites, many users are searching for secure, private and uncensored file-sharing clients. Despite the image its name suggests, RetroShare is one such future-proof client.
A “human error” carried out by the police resulted in thousands of websites being completely blocked at the DNS level yesterday. Danish visitors to around 8,000 sites including Google and Facebook were informed that the sites were being blocked by the country’s High Tech Crime Unit due to them offering child pornography, a situation which persisted for several hours.
In an attempt to sabotage a new anti-piracy law that went into effect today, hundreds of websites in Spain are participating in a unique protest organized by a local hacktivist group. The websites all link to an “infringing” song by an artist loyal to the protest, who reported the sites to the authorities to overload them with requests.
The dramatic shutdown of Megaupload and the US government’s case against the operators of the service has the potential to alter the entire service provider landscape, not just in the United States but all around the world. Indeed, some observers believe that has already happened. After defeating attempts to put him back behind bars yesterday, Mega founder Kim Dotcom is back with more insights into the reasons behind the site’s closure.
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