The year is almost over so we’re going to spend its final few hours looking back at the biggest news events in the file-sharing world during 2012. Which TorrentFreak articles were read the most, which received the most comments, and what were the biggest file-sharing news stories of the year?
The MPAA tends to leave no opportunity unused in its quest to show that online piracy is devastating the movie industry. However, this supposed devastation is not visible at the box office this year. In 2012 North American movie theaters showed more movies than ever before, and for the first time in history domestic box office grosses surpassed $10.7 billion The new record comes in a year where two academic studies have shown that “piracy” isn’t necessarily hurting box office revenues .
Hackulous, perhaps the Internet’s most famous cracked app community, has dramatically closed its doors. The community shut down yesterday but that isn’t the only damage. Apptrackr, the web-based partner index for cracked apps and Installous, the app used by millions to transfer cracked apps to their iDevices, have also been disabled. The operators cite lack of activity for the shutdown but it seems unlikely that’s the only reason.
The top 10 most downloaded movies on BitTorrent, ‘Taken 2′ tops the chart this week, followed by ‘This Is 40′. ‘Killing Them Softly’ completes the top three.
2012 was, without a doubt, the most intense year to date in the fight for civil liberties and against the copyright monopoly. While much work remains to be done, we can see a light at the end of the tunnel.
In October we published an article which gave Internet users the opportunity to contact Pirate Bay co-founder Gottfrid Svartholm during his detention in Sweden. Support has been overwhelming and from all corners of the world. In a guest post today by Gottfrid’s mother Kristina Svartholm, we look at the content of some of those letters and ask why The Pirate Bay’s contribution to the distribution of culture is so often overlooked.
Each and every day hundreds of millions of people scour their favorite BitTorrent search engines for content to download. But what are all these people looking for? Today we present the BitTorrent Zeitgeist 2012, a list of the 50 most searched for phrases and keywords on one of the most-used public BitTorrent indexes during the past year.
Last week, UK Prime Minister David Cameron announced a new porn filtering system that will go online sometime during the coming year. However, the blockades, which are intended to deal with porn, may end up developing into a backdoor ban on BitTorrent and other file-sharing related sites.
Over the past year copyright holders have asked Google to remove 51,395,353 links to infringing webpages, a dramatic surge compared to previous years. The search giant is currently processing half a million “infringing” links per day, and this number is increasing week after week. At the same time, Hollywood and the major record labels want Google to increase its anti-piracy efforts.
Despite intervention by the Open Rights Group, an adult movie company in the UK has been given the green light to hugely expand its anti-piracy operations in the UK. The Court of Appeal told Golden Eye, a company connected with the Ben Dover porn brand, that it can start sending out thousands of cash demands to individuals suspected of sharing not only their works online, but those that belong to third party righsholders. Already the company has indicated it intends to expand its project.
After being freed from solitary confinement and sent to prison just over a week ago, soon Pirate Bay founder Gottfrid Svartholm will be on the home straight of his sentence. In the early days of January he will reach the halfway point of his confinement and will start looking forward to a potential release towards the middle of the year. But with the prosecutor yet to make a decision on the hacking charges, uncertain times still lie ahead.
As 2012 comes to an end we follow up our most pirated TV-shows chart by taking a look at the most pirated movies of the year. Project X comes out on top, and aside from other usual suspects such as box office hits The Dark Knight Rises and The Avengers, the list has a few notable absentees.
After revealing that employees at Hollywood movie studios are pirating movies themselves, we now move on to some other high profile organizations. As it turns out, the Big Three record labels are also using BitTorrent to pirate movies and software. And they’re not alone, we also found plenty of pirates at the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, the U.S. House of Representatives and at various European Parliaments.
RLSLOG, one of the Internet’s most prominent file-sharing “release blogs,” has announced a significant change in the way it will operate in future. The site, which was recommended by the RIAA for inclusion on the USTR’s “notorious markets” list, says it was contacted by the same law firm that took down NZBMatrix and is taking their threats seriously. This could lead to all 3rd-party links being withdrawn.
BitTorrent is used by millions of people every day, including people who work at major Hollywood studios. Those who are said to be suffering the most from online piracy are no stranger to sharing copyrighted files themselves. New data reveals that employees at Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros., Disney, Sony Pictures and 20th Century Fox are openly pirating movies, games and other forms of entertainment while at work.
With the disgraceful Megaupload finally out of the way, it’s good to see that a reputable US-based company has stepped up to the plate on the pirate movie front. Without a federal agent in sight and with untold numbers of investors happy to support the company in public, Google-owned YouTube is showing Kim Dotcom how to hand out free Christmas movies this year without a single visit from Scrooge. Now there’s a model to aspire to.
With his upcoming project titled Megabox, Kim Dotcom is hoping to put the major music labels out of business. The music service promises to shift the balance of power away from multi-billion dollar corporations to the artists who actually make the music. Initially Megabox was scheduled to launch this year, but Dotcom informs TorrentFreak that it will take a few more months to get it ready.
PRQ, the infamous ISP created by Fredrik Neij and Gottfrid Svartholm of The Pirate Bay, has been nuked by PayPal. After a fruitful partnership lasting three years, PayPal decided to ruin their relationship with the so-called “bullet-proof” hoster by freezing the company’s funds for up to 180 days. On PayPal’s advice PRQ opened a second account to get by while the dispute was being sorted out, but then without warning PayPal seized those funds too.
The top 10 most downloaded movies on BitTorrent, ‘Taken 2′ tops the chart this week, followed by ‘Hit and Run’. ‘The Man With the Iron Firsts’ completes the top three.
With 2012 nearing its end we begin our annual look at the most-pirated entertainment titles across various categories, starting today with TV-shows. Game of Thrones comes out on top this year, followed by last year’s number one Dexter. Episodes of both shows are shared among millions of people, with airing delays and limited legal download options among the key reasons to pirate.
The United States and Russia have announced an agreement to crack down on online piracy. The countries have agreed to disrupt sites that facilitate infringement and take action against their operators. As a result, uncertain times may lie ahead for the many BitTorrent and other file-sharing sites hosted in Russia.The agreement also allows for the improved takedown of infringing content and discussions on allowing Russian rightsholders to use the United States’ “six strikes” system.
After legal threats from the music industry the UK Pirate Party saw no other option than to shut down their Pirate Bay proxy service. However, as is usually the case with censorship, the Internet has found a way to route around it. Responding to the UK situation Pirate parties in Argentina and Luxembourg have decided to start fresh Pirate Bay proxies.
One third of the Dutch population downloads “pirated” music, movies and games from the Internet, and for a while the government has been wondering what to do about it. In recent weeks a “download ban” was put on the political agenda, but the House of Representatives struck down this plan yesterday. Downloading remains legal, and in exchange rightsholders will be compensated through a private copying tax on various media storage devices.
Three men behind a brand new torrent site that almost nobody visited say they have had their lives turned upside down by Australian authorities. An unfortunate series of events, triggered by fraud committed against one of the men in South Africa, led to a police investigation and a raid. After it was discovered that the men launched a torrent site last month, all now face deportation back to their home country of Canada.
Warner Bros. and Intel’s daughter company Digital Content Protection have filed a lawsuit against a hardware manufacturer that creates devices enabling consumers to bypass HDCP copy protection. The devices, which presumably use the leaked HDCP master key to convert digital to analog signals, can be useful for connecting digital devices to analog displays. However, they could also be used by pirates to copy pay-per-view, on-demand, and other premium content.
In a case lasting more than three years, a web designer who admitted that he had been contracted to work on the now-defunct StudentBay torrent site was cleared after the court found there was no evidence to suggest he had actually run the site. But in a turnaround the Court of Appeal ruled yesterday that the designer must’ve known the site would be put to infringing use and found him guilty of copyright infringement offenses.
BitTorrent Inc., the company behind the popular file-sharing clients uTorrent and BitTorrent, is distancing itself from online piracy. BitTorrent Inc. emphasizes that their software has a wide range of legal uses and that the company doesn’t support those who use their tools to pirate. “We do not endorse piracy. We do not encourage it. We don’t point to piracy sites,” BitTorrent CEO Eric Klinker says.
As reported earlier today, the UK Pirate Party has taken the difficult decision to shut down their Pirate Bay proxy service. The law firm representing the party has informed TorrentFreak that due to the state of the law, choosing to carry on providing the service would be “untenable”. While PPUK’s move will be unpopular with some, it does mean that the party can put this episode behind them and fight another day.
The UK Pirate Party has taken down its popular Pirate Bay proxy. While no official statement has yet been released, it’s believed that legal threats made by music industry group BPI are behind the unexpected move. The decision comes a few days after six individual Pirate Party members received a letter from the BPI’s solicitors. In addition to taking down the proxy, the Pirate Party have also pulled their legal battle fundraiser campaign.
Aside from starring in a Christmas play and fighting legal battles on two continents, Kim Dotcom is also working hard on the release of the new Megaupload. Mega, as the new service is called, will go live in a month and today Dotcom showed off one of his many new racks, packing a cool 720 terabytes of data.
After being targeted by Voltage Pictures, the company behind the Hurt Locker and thousands of copyright troll lawsuits in the United States, Canadian ISP TekSavvy chose not to oppose the studio in court at yesterday’s hearing. TekSavvy CEO Marc Gaudrault said that after looking at the issue from every possible direction, he ultimately decided that the ISP could not get involved in disputing the merits of the case. Instead, TekSavvy gained a delay in proceedings to further notify customers.
One of the top executives of the US-based anti-piracy outfit Digital Rights Corp has submitted a patent application that promises to turn piracy into profit. The patent describes a system where Internet users caught downloading will receive a notice from their Internet provider along with a request to pay a small fee to the affected copyright holder. Pirates who refuse to pay risk the ultimate punishment of being disconnected from the Internet.
A leading Australian Internet service provider has pulled out of negotiations to create a warning notice scheme aimed at reducing online piracy. iiNet, the ISP that was sued by Hollywood after refusing to help chase down alleged infringers, said that it can’t make any progress with righthsolders if they don’t make their content freely available at a reasonable price. The ISP adds that holding extra data on customers’ habits is inappropriate and not their responsibility.
The top 10 most downloaded movies on BitTorrent, ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ tops the chart this week, followed by ‘The Man With the Iron Firsts’. ‘The Bourne Legacy’ completes the top three.
When you start questioning the copyright monopoly, many middlemen and other has-beens start acting offended – as if you have somehow questioned a natural birthright. Nothing is farther from the truth.
A week ago the popular Usenet indexer NZBMatrix announced that following pressure from rightsholders it would close its doors for good. While TorrentFreak is used to receiving plenty of emails when sites go down, nothing prepared us for the influx last Sunday. People were genuinely upset at the site’s demise and today we hear from just one of them, a popular encoder who made NZBMatrix and Usenet his home.
Music industry group the BPI has threatened legal action against six members of the UK Pirate Party, after the party refused to take its Pirate Bay proxy offline. BPI seems to want to hold the individual members of the party responsible for copyright infringements that may occurs via the proxy, which puts them at risk of personal bankruptcy. Pirate Party leader Loz Kaye criticized the latest music industry threats and reiterated that blocking The Pirate Bay is a disproportionate measure.
The MPAA is still not happy with Google’s efforts to reduce online piracy and says that the search giant continues to facilitate a “staggering amount of copyright infringement.” For their part Google is warning policymakers of the damaging effects the recent surge of DMCA takedown requests is having on the flow of information online. Both Google and the MPAA agree that the current DMCA takedown procedures are not ideal, but the solutions both parties have in mind are quite different.
A report released by the United States Trade Representative has listed the world’s largest BitTorrent indexers, cyberlockers and linking sites as some of the most problematic copyright infringers in the world. In addition to the usual suspects of The Pirate Bay, isoHunt, KickassTorrents and Torrentz, file-hosting service RapidGator and WarezBB make an appearance.
Google has quietly rolled out a new feature to its copyright transparency report, allowing the public to see when DMCA takedown notices sent by copyright holders are false. The search giant is currently processing more than a dozen million “infringing” links per month, but points out that not all requests sent by rightsholders are legitimate. As an example, Google cites a request where a major U.S. motion picture studio asked them to censor their IMDb page and official trailer.
It’s not unusual for some to conclude that the Pirate Party and The Pirate Bay are one and the same thing. But while ideals may be shared, with the former often jumping to the defense of the latter, there is no direct connection. However, the Swedish Pirate Party is The Pirate Bay’s Internet service provider, something that several filmmakers are calling to be made illegal. Party leader Anna Troberg is defiant and says there’s nothing illegal about providing a digital postal service.
Early next year the controversial “six-strikes” anti-piracy system will kick off in the U.S. While the initiative itself has a focus on educating instead of punishing BitTorrent pirates, ISPs are obliged to hand over IP-addresses of repeat infringers to the MPAA and RIAA. Commenting on this largely overlooked aspect, CCI director Jill Lesser confirmed to TorrentFreak that lawsuits may indeed be initiated based on information collected under the program.
In February 2006 the MPAA threatened to sue not only isoHunt and the now-defunct TorrentSpy, but also a trio of Usenet indexing sites. After initially promising a war with the MPAA, one of them, BinNews, later caved in and agreed to pay the MPAA $15 million in damages. Interestingly, and in the wake of the NZBMatrix shutdown, it now turns out that BinNews was operated by one of today’s most prominent Usenet anti-piracy bosses.
It’s now apparent that Verizon is fed up with the avalanche of mass-BitTorrent lawsuits and is determined to put an end to copyright trolls’ extortion-like practices. The Internet provider is asking a Texas court to grant discovery so it can expose how these companies operate. According to Verizon, copyright trolling practices don’t belong in court and the ISP equates the companies involved with “schoolyard bullies who push and shove until firm opposition is met when they shrink away.”
Two brothers from the UK in their mid-twenties have been convicted for operating websites that indexed links to unauthorized streams of copyrighted movies. The pair were charged in 2010 and this week were handed nine month suspended jail sentences and ordered to complete 150 hours of unpaid work. The convictions follow an investigation by West Yorkshire Police in collaboration with the movie industry group FACT, who feel that in the UK the tide is turning in favor of copyright holders.
Popular Canadian ISP TekSavvy is warning its customers that BitTorrent trolls have been calling and will likely strike in the weeks to come. Voltage Pictures, the company that sued thousands in the United States over its Hurt Locker movie, monitored TekSavvy users sharing two dozen of its titles during September and October and will go to court next week to obtain their identities. What will follow is a claim for more than CAD$10,000, but will people really pay that to make a weak case go away?
A recent tip followed by a trawl through the WHOIS domain registry has revealed that a Hollywood anti-piracy group is now the proud owner of a number of file-sharing related domains. Is a major conspiracy ready to unfold? Well, not exactly. It appears that some previously happy site owners have been willingly handing over their domains to the Federation Against Copyright Theft in order to avoid visiting the inside of a court room.
Music industry group the BPI is sending its lawyers after the UK Pirate Party after they refused to take their Pirate Bay proxy offline. Last week the BPI kindly asked the Pirates to shut down the website, but quickly turned to threats when they didn’t get their way. Pirate Party leader Loz Kaye tells TorrentFreak that they are determined to stand behind their principles, even if that means getting involved in an expensive legal battle.
The top 10 most downloaded movies on BitTorrent, ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ tops the chart this week, followed by ‘The Man With the Iron Firsts’. ‘The Bourne Legacy’ completes the top three.
NZBMatrix, one of the leading Usenet indexing services, has shut down voluntarily. The website’s owners explain that it has become increasingly difficult to operate in a business where copyright holders vigorously protect their content. A large takedown notice from Hollywood’s movie studios as well as issues with payment providers are cited as reasons for NZBMatrix to throw the towel.
After three months in solitary confinement Pirate Bay co-founder Gottfrid Svartholm will be released from custody. The prosecutor suspects Gottfrid of being involved in several hacking and fraud cases but he has yet to be charged in any of these cases. The Pirate Bay founder will now be transferred to a new prison which he will leave as a free man in five months if no new charges are brought against him.
The major recording labels are on a fresh High Court mission to force Ireland’s Internet service providers to block The Pirate Bay. The site is already blocked by major ISP Eircom, but the big four of EMI, Sony, Universal and Warner Music want more and are seeking an injunction against four other ISPs including UPC and Vodafone.
Next month Kim Dotcom will release a new and improved version of the now defunct Megaupload. Today, he unveiled the new look of the site by sharing several teaser screenshots, including one of the encryption interface. Mega, as the new service is called, will turn encryption into a mass product and Dotcom believes that with Mega’s help half of all Internet traffic will be encrypted in 5 years.
Tim Kuik, head of the Hollywood-backed anti-piracy outfit BREIN, has won a WIPO domain name dispute against a Pirate Bay proxy service. The domain timkuik.org was operating its proxy from the address fuck.timkuik.org which according to the decision infringed on a trademark held by the anti-piracy boss. The operator of the Pirate Bay proxy argued that BREIN stalked him and that the site was meant to critique the group, but WIPO says this doesn’t trump the trademark infringement.
The epic battle to stop UK student Richard O’Dwyer being extradited to the United States is finally over. His excited mother Julia contacted TorrentFreak from New York with news that all necessary paperwork had been signed and that a brief court appearance had effectively ended legal action against her son. Richard thanks all those who supported him and says he is looking forward to getting his life back on track.
TorrentReactor is making a stand against the increasing censorship efforts targeted at BitTorrent sites. Less than two days after an Italian court ordered local ISPs to censor the popular torrent site, they have launched a free proxy to circumvent the blockade. The proxy, operating from the fitting domain “come.in,” works not only with TorrentReactor, but also with The Pirate Bay, KickassTorrents and Torrents.net.
A ruling by a High Court judge today means that New Zealand’s spy agency will have to reveal details of their secret surveillance of Kim Dotcom. The decision, which will see the Government Communications Security Bureau added to Dotcom’s lawsuit over an illegal January raid on his mansion, means that the GCSB may now be sued for damages after it was revealed the agency illegally spied on him.
On Sunday, TorrentFreak broke the news that several UK Internet providers were blocking access to The Promo Bay, The Pirate Bay’s perfectly legal promotion platform for independent artists. After a storm of protest the local music industry group BPI has now instructed the ISPs to unblock the site. While the BPI should be applauded for their move, the incident raises the question whether a private industry group should be in control of an Internet blocklist to begin with.
In a filing to the Office of the US Trade Representative the major movie studios describe how successful the shutdown of Megaupload has been. According to the MPAA the file-hosting industry was massively disrupted, with carry-over effects to linking and BitTorrent sites. Nonetheless, the movie group says the work is not done yet and lists The Pirate Bay, Extratorrent, isoHunt, Kat.ph and several other file-hosting and linking sites as remaining threats.
Last Friday a pair of leading BitTorrent sites and a handful of streaming and linking portals had their domains put on hold by EURid, the European Registry of Internet Domain Names. Fresh information this week from a source familiar with the situation suggests that someone filed a complaint against the sites with the prosecutor in Brussels. In response, some of the affected sites have been taking steps to mitigate the effects of what could be pending legal action. .
Torrentreactor.net and Torrents.net will soon be inaccessible in Italy. Following an investigation by the country’s cybercrime police and the local music industry all internet providers are required to block access to the sites. A probe into the identities of the owners, who the authorities believe are profiting heavily from the sites, is ongoing. The move follows similar blockades against both The Pirate Bay, KickassTorrents and the now-defunct BTjunkie.
Last weekend customers of ISPs O2 and BE began receiving notifications that their accounts had been used for illicit file-sharing. The claims originate from Golden Eye International who are connected to the famous porn outfit Ben Dover. Very soon they will drop so-called “letters of claim” through customers’ letter boxes, potentially ruining Christmas for thousands of families with demands for a cash settlement. But with the right response, this get-rich-quick-scheme can be stopped in its tracks.
In what is by far the greatest DMCA mess we’ve ever witnessed, several major movie studios have seemingly asked Google to take down legitimate copies of their own films. Through an agent the studios further requested the search engine to remove their official Facebook pages and Wikipedia entries, as well as movie reviews in prominent newspapers. Has the world gone mad or…?
Another file-sharing case brought before New Zealand’s Copyright Tribunal by the major record labels has been withdrawn at the 11th hour after it was discovered that none of the”strikes” had been properly delivered to the account holder. As yet again rightsholders and ISPs delay the implementation of a similar scheme in the United States, they will seek to avoid the 100% failure rate in contested cases set by their Kiwi counterparts.
The top 10 most downloaded movies on BitTorrent, ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ tops the chart this week, followed by ‘Resident Evil Retribution’. ‘The Bourne Legacy’ completes the top three.
If there’s one thing that needs constant reminding, it’s the explicit purpose of the copyright monopoly. Its purpose is to promote the progress of human knowledge. Nothing less. Nothing more.
Several UK Internet providers are blocking Pirate Bay’s perfectly legal promotion platform for independent artists. The Promo Bay website is currently being blocked by BT, Virgin Media, BE and possibly several other providers. A plausible explanation is that the Promo Bay domain is listed on the same blocklist that’s used to enforce the Pirate Bay blockade. However. the domain itself has never linked to infringing material, nor is it hosted on The Pirate Bay’s servers.
Several BitTorrent sites including Torrentz and Fenopy have had their .EU domains put on hold by EURid, the European Registry of Internet Domain Names. The new status for the domains, forcibly applied by EURid within seconds of each other yesterday afternoon, suggests that legal action against them might be pending and prevents the owners from making changes.
Uploading just over a handful of movies to a BitTorrent site has turned into a financial disaster for a man from Upper Marlboro, Maryland. A federal judge entered a default judgment in favor of adult company Flava Works this week, awarding the company $1.5 million in damages. Anwar Ogiste, who failed to defend himself, shared a total of seven “clips” putting the damages at more than $214,000 per infringed movie.
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