In recent days thousands of files have been removed from Kim Dotcom’s Mega, some based on bogus (DMCA) takedown notices. In some cases it takes just minutes before Mega disables access to users’ files, claiming they’ve received a takedown notice from a copyright holder. Ironically, Mega also removed access to Kim Dotcom’s own music. The big question is whether there’s a rogue copyright holder on the loose, or if Mega is actively policing the Internet.
The Russian government is proposing a fresh approach to the way website operators and service providers are expected to handle copyright takedowns. In a draft law the Ministry of Culture says that takedowns should be executed very quickly and failure to meet the deadlines will result in cash fines, 90 day suspensions and even server confiscations. Critics say it’s the DMCA twisted heavily in favor of rightsholders.
CBS and CNET have asked a Californian federal court not to grant a ban on the distribution of file-sharing software through Download.com. They responded to a request for a preliminary injunction from a coalition of artists and billionaire Alki David who claim that CBS induces piracy. According to the media conglomerate this is not the case, and CBS argues that there are many non-infringing uses for BitTorrent.
New Zealand’s Copyright Tribunal has handed down its first penalty to an Internet subscriber accused of downloading and sharing music without permission. While the case is a victory for the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand, the details make it a rather hollow one. All attempts by the music industry group to extract large punitive damages failed due to an almost complete lack of evidence.
The University of Illinois is taking complaints from copyright holders very seriously by disconnecting pirating students’ Internet connections upon the first warning. After being sanctioned by a hearing officer students are allowed to come back online, but after the third strike they lose their Internet access permanently. University employees are also reprimanded, with one staffer asked to look for a new job after several alleged infringements.
A Swedish prosecutor says that in a month’s time he hopes to bring charges against Pirate Bay co-founder Gottfrid Svartholm who is alleged to have hacked into an IT company working for Sweden’s tax authority. Gottfrid’s mother Kristina says that considering the huge resources committed to the investigation so far, there is now a need to show the politicians some kind of result. In the meantime, Gottfrid is well, if a little bored.
During a meeting in Geneva today the World Trade organization (WTO) authorized Antigua’s request to suspend U.S. copyrights. The decision confirmed the preliminary authorization the Caribbean island received in 2007, and means that the local authorities can move forward with their plan to start a download portal which offers movies, music and software without compensating the American companies that make them.
For years entertainment companies have put huge efforts into campaigns to inflict so-called “three strikes” campaigns on errant Internet users who download music and movies for free. The ultimate sanction of disconnection has always been touted as necessary in order for people to take things seriously but over in France, a country that pioneered graduated response, it seems that the music biz now wants to ditch disconnections in favor of fines.
The top 10 most downloaded movies on BitTorrent are in again, ‘Life of Pi’ tops the chart this week, followed by ‘Silver Linings Playbook’. ‘Skyfall’ completes the top three.
After trumpeting the start of a campaign this week to cut off payment processing to Mega, an anti-piracy outfit has just announced some developments. According to Robert King of StopFileLockers, out of a total of ten current Mega resellers, four have now withdrawn customer payment processing via PayPal.
The much-discussed U.S. six strikes anti-piracy scheme is expected to go live within a month. A reputable source told TorrentFreak that February 18 has been selected as the provisional launch date, but CCI denies this. In the meantime we’ll take a look at the expected effectiveness of the copyright alerts system. Will it be able to turn pirates into legitimate customers or will it drive people to VPNs and other means of sharing?
During this week with millions of users signed up and several hundred million files uploaded, Mega has been receiving its first batches of DMCA complaints. According to information received by TorrentFreak, a French anti-piracy company tested Mega and revealed that the company took down allegedly infringing content within 48 hours.
In another victory against copyright trolls in the United States, a court has effectively ruined an adult movie company’s chances of screwing any money out of potentially innocent Internet subscribers. The case, involving the identities of 110 alleged BitTorrent pirates, was kicked out by a judge after the plaintiff failed to explain how it would safeguard its IP address-based evidence from “ensnaring” innocent Internet subscribers.
BitTorrent Inc. has released a new application that allows users to securely sync folders to multiple devices using the BitTorrent protocol. The free application has no storage limits and can serve both as a public backup system and a shared drive. BitTorrent Sync is especially efficient for groups who need to share many large files over the Internet,.
The Government of Antigua is planning to launch a website selling movies, music and software, without paying U.S. copyright holders. The Caribbean island is taking the unprecedented step because the United States refuses to lift a trade “blockade” preventing the island from offering Internet gambling services, despite several WTO decisions in Antigua’s favor. The country now hopes to recoup some of the lost income through a WTO approved “warez” site.
In yet another bizarre twist to the Mega story, for the second time in less than two years a video belonging to Kim Dotcom has been booted offline following an apparent bogus copyright infringement takedown request. After the video of the Mega launch party was taken down by music rights group GEMA overnight, Dotcom says the German outfit will be hearing from his lawyers.
A Dutch court has declared a criminal case against a Pirate Bay uploader inadmissible. The man admitted uploading more than 5,000 e-books to the popular BitTorrent site, but the court ruled that copyright infringement cases belong in a civil, not criminal court. Current policy rules prescribe that copyright infringements should only be handled in a criminal court if the defendant is part of a criminal organization, or when the infringements are carried out as business activities.
When Mega launched this week as “The Privacy Company” their claims of super-security were bound to come under the highest levels of scrutiny. Predictably, security experts all over the world have been examining the site looking for flaws and any sign that user privacy could be breached. After responding to some of the critics, Kim Dotcom has announced that he will issue some kind of encryption challenge. “Let’s see what you got,” he says.
Despite having its funding cut by around 25%, budget predictions suggest that the French Hadopi anti-piracy agency will send out 1.1 million “strike” warnings in 2013 compared to 668,000 in 2012. At the same time, Hadopi have published new figures on how citizens are consuming both legal and not-so-legal content online and reporting successes in getting people back into official stores.
TPB-AFK, the upcoming documentary about The Pirate Bay and its founders, has a release date. The film is premiering with a prominent spot at the prestigious Berlin Film Festival on February 8. At the same time TPB-AFK will also be released for free on the Internet., making it the first film ever to premiere both online and at an A-list festival.
IsoHunt, one of the oldest BitTorrent sites on the Internet, turns 10 years old today. The site has been fighting Hollywood in court for more than seven years but has not backed down. IsoHunt founder Gary Fung is determined to protect and facilitate people’s right to share culture legitimately. “One would think the people of the Internet are losing to the copyright cartels, but I think different,” he says.
It’s been an up and down week for Pirates, as official party status has been decided in two countries. In Australia it’s a big G’day to their Pirate Party, while the Russians yet again heard ‘Nyet’ from their Ministry of Justice.
A convicted member of the now-defunct online movie piracy group IMAGiNE has left a public statement before starting his 40-month prison term. Last Friday 53-year-old sysop Gregory Cherwonik of New York was transferred to a detention facility to serve his sentence. In his first public words on the case he criticizes the MPAA and the U.S. Department of Justice, among others.
An anti-piracy group with the stated aim of shutting down file-hosting services by strangling their finances has wasted no time in going after Kim Dotcom’s new baby. Robert King of StopFileLockers says that his outfit has started a campaign to have the payment processor accounts of Mega resellers terminated. King, who is affiliated with the adult industry, says that from the start Mega was never intended to be a legitimate service and has “all the fundamental qualities” of an infringing file-locker.
The top 10 most downloaded movies on BitTorrent are in again, ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ tops the chart this week, followed by ‘Argo’. ‘Django Unchained’ completes the top three.
People in power have always tried to prevent the common folk from obtaining knowledge that threatens their power. This happened in the 16th century, and it is happening now.
The much anticipated rebirth of Megaupload took place in the last few hours with interest living up to expectations. In less than one hour the site picked up 100,000 new registrations, going on to 500,000 and beyond just a few hours later. As the site struggled to cope with demand it became unresponsive in the face of an unprecedented flood of users eager to test out the new file-hosting site. Just a few minutes ago the launch party at Kim Dotcom’s mansion began, with some interesting reveals.
The timeless plastic bricks of LEGO can be built into predetermined items such as a car or house but can also be formed into any shape, the options limited only by the creativeness of its builder. However, turn LEGO bricks into a controversial item and the company’s lawyers could soon be breathing down your neck. The Czech Pirate Party did just that and are now calling for Internet allies in their war with the corporates behind one of the world’s most famous toys.
Today a few dozen people were invited to try Mega, the new and improved version of the defunct Megaupload file-hosting service. With “The Privacy Company” as Mega’s slogan, Kim Dotcom and his team are making it clear that they are doing their best to secure the files of their users. Our first impression confirms that the encryption indeed works brilliantly, but those who are looking for complete anonymity might be a bit disappointed.
Today is Internet Freedom Day. After historic protests last year SOPA was shelved and the anti-piracy proposal eventually died completely, a big victory for the millions who protested. However, a year later we see that several of SOPA’s provisions are being executed nonetheless, without any oversight or complaint from the public.
During the coming weeks the controversial “six-strikes” anti-piracy system will start in the U.S. The initiative is aimed at educating the public, but last week we uncovered from leaked documents that it also applies to businesses. Today CCI director Jill Lesser confirms that indeed some business accounts will be affected. However, she adds that this is not going to affect café owners who offer public WiFi, as this is already prohibited in the applicable Terms of Services.
Last week Kim Dotcom posted a few lines on Twitter detailing his guidelines on how the piracy conundrum might be solved. The Megaupload founder said that offering a great product at a fair price, with the same release date worldwide should do the trick, as long as it’s playable on any device. In response today, the Kiwi version of the RIAA said that they’ve done all that and sadly, since people continue to pirate, the only solution is to sue them.
A teacher with an apparently limited knowledge of file-sharing techniques committed a blunder of epic proportions last Friday. In an attempt to obtain a cartoon movie for her class to watch the teacher fired up a file-sharing client, tapped a few buttons and initiated a download . Taking the finished product into class, she fired up her computer and went outside to answer a phone call. When she returned the 3 to 5-year-old children in her care were watching a porn movie.
A Canadian court has rejected a request from the United States to hand over 32 servers hosted by a local provider. Instead of simply handing over all data, which may include personal files of users, the court decided to first determine what files are stored on the machines. Megaupload lawyer Ira Rothken is pleased with the ruling and hopes the United States will be more considerate of the privacy of cloud hosting users when requesting data seizures in the future.
A Dutch teacher has been convicted for linking to pirated copies of math answer sheets stored on file-storage sites. The Amsterdam court ordered the teacher to remove the hyperlinks from his personal website and pay the litigation costs. According to the verdict the teacher facilitated students’ copyright infringements, this despite the fact that downloading for personal use is legal in the Netherlands.
In yet another twist in the incredible life of Kim Dotcom, the Internet entrepreneur has revealed that a set of ads to promote the launch of the new Mega this week have been canceled at the eleventh hour. Broadcasting company MediaWorks had been contracted to run several radio ads hundreds of times, but according to Dotcom pressure from recording labels has now resulted in MediaWorks backing out of the deal.
One of the most comprehensive studies into media sharing and consumption habits in the United States and Germany reveals that nearly half of the populations have copied, shared or downloaded music, movies, and TV shows. Sharing occurs both on- and offline, but the latter is seen as reasonable by most people. The report does, however, reveal that online file-sharers consume more music than their non-file-sharing counterparts.
A takedown of a YouTube video that has been held as a model of fair use prompted widespread outrage last week. The video, Buffy vs Edward, was eventually reinstated and the claims dropped, but that’s not the end of the discussion. The process used, like most ‘x strike’ copyright programs, relies on good faith from the claimant, but what happens when there is none?
As a US-based film studio continues with its plans to send cash settlement demands to alleged Canadian BitTorrent pirates, a judge has delayed the handing over of their personal details. Voltage PIctures recently targeted more than a thousand customers of the Ontario-based ISP Teksavvy as potential recipients of pay-up-or-else letters in connection to illegal file-sharing, but yesterday a court delayed the case to allow a public interest group to prepare an intervention to examine the studio’s evidence.
For the major music labels the sales of recorded music represent the majority of their revenue, but a different picture emerges when looking at the income of individual musicians. A new survey among 5,000 U.S. musicians of different genres shows that on average only six percent of all revenue comes from recorded music. The research concludes that copyright law mostly affects the revenue of the highest-income musicians in a direct fashion.
In common with many others around the world, the government of Norway see sites like The Pirate Bay as particularly responsible for the growth of file-sharing online but have had little success in stopping their activities. Following failed attempts by rightsholders to have the site censored by ISPs, this month the government will reveal its new proposals to tackle the problem. They are widely expected to include changes to copyright law to allow sites to be blocked, with The Pirate Bay at the top of the list.
The top 10 most downloaded movies on BitTorrent are in again, ‘Django Unchained’ tops the chart this week, followed by ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’. ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ completes the top three.
The Department of Justice has responded to Megaupload’s claims that they planted evidence and tried to mislead the court. According to United States Attorney Neil MacBride these allegations are baseless and unfounded. In a new filing the U.S. asks the court to deny Megaupload’s request for a hearing on the matter.
A brilliant mind has passed and it’s heartbreaking.
A brand new Chrome extension from the makers of uTorrent turns the popular browser into an easy-to -use BitTorrent client with just a couple of clicks. BitTorrent Inc. say they have been working on the software for the last six months and inform TorrentFreak that the development came about for the same reasons that Bram Cohen first invented BitTorrent – to move large, rich media files easily across the Internet.
During the coming weeks the controversial “six-strikes” anti-piracy system will kick off in the U.S. While none of the participating ISPs have officially announced how they will handle repeat infringers, TorrentFreak has obtained a copy of Verizon’s full policy. Among other things, offenders will have to watch a video about the consequences of online piracy, before their speeds are reduced to 256kbps. Also worth mentioning is that the copyright alert system will also apply to business customers.
Tube sites EmpFlix and TNAflix, which grew out of the famous BitTorrent trackers Empornium and PureTNA, were targeted in 2011 by an adult rightsholder company in a copyright case. If successful it could have seen the sites losing their domains and being shut down. However, in a case described by their lawyers as “higher-end versions” of the current wave of BitTorrent troll suits, the non-US based sites have just come out the winners after a U.S. judge dismissed the case.
In the last decade file-sharing has turned from a hobbyist activity into something with mass market appeal. From just a handful of sites there are now many thousands, many of them in the rat-race to become the biggest, fastest, most exclusive location, or a combination of all three. The problem is that for many options are narrowing, particularly when it comes to financing their operations. Is it time for file-sharing to go back to its roots?
The Pirate Bay is one of the best known file-sharing brands and in less than a decade the site has well-earned its place in computer history. The Computer Museum in Linköping has a section dedicated to 50 years of file-sharing and one of the top pieces is one of the first servers used by The Pirate Bay. According to the museum The Pirate Bay has become a contemporary historical phenomenon and the server signifies “a revolution that begun in a dark grey metal box under a bed.”
Under continued pressure to take additional anti-piracy measures, file-hosting site RapidShare introduced a new business strategy last year. The model restricted the ability of all users to engage in third party public distribution, the most popular way of sharing copyrighted material. As a result the company experienced a significant drop in traffic and, according to a spokesman, a significant drop in copyright infringement too.
The first ever certified BitTorrent Android box goes on sale today, allowing users to stream files downloaded with uTorrent wirelessly to their television. The new set-top box supports playback of all popular video formats and can also download torrents by itself, fully anonymously if needed.
The traditional way for private BitTorrent trackers to keep their operations going is to accept donations from site users. Many sites, probably many hundreds, use PayPal to process these donations since it’s the most convenient option for site members. However, these days PayPal isn’t keen on doing business with file-sharing sites and is getting very demanding. Those demands now include receiving private tracker invitations so they can personally snoop behind the scenes.
A new study released by researchers from Boston’s Northeastern University shows that censoring “pirate” sites by blocking or seizing their domains is ineffective. The researchers looked at the availability of various pirated media on file-hosting sites and found that uploaders post more new content than copyright holders can take down. A better solution, according to the researchers, is to block the money streams that flow to these sites.
In a just a few days time the 2013 Oscar nominees will be announced and as usual there are plenty of great movies in the running. One of them, Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, is currently getting a huge thumbs up from the Internet. Over the weekend a perfect review copy leaked online and in just 24 hours racked up 500,000 downloads. The Hobbit, currently the most popular Oscars leak, has more than 2 million downloads to date with a week’s head start over Tarantino’s western.
After more than five months of downtime Demonoid’s website is showing signs of life again. Instead of timing out, demonoid.me has started to redirect to a new demonoid.hk domain, displaying a “403 Forbidden” HTTP status after initially showing a “nothing to see here” notice. While Demonoid is not back yet, these recent developments show that there’s activity behind the scenes.
The top 10 most downloaded movies on BitTorrent are in again, ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ tops the chart this week, followed by ‘Django Unchained’. ‘Killing Them Softly’ completes the top three.
Continuing a long-standing New Year’s tradition, today we present an up-to-date list of the world’s most-visited BitTorrent sites. At the start of 2013 The Pirate Bay continues to pull in the most visitors, followed by KickassTorrents and Torrentz. Household names BTJunkie and Demonoid have dropped off the list as both sites are no longer online.
At the end of this month a hearing will take place to help decide the fate of The Pirate Bay in Ireland. The major labels want the site blocked by a handful of ISPs that are at the moment digging in their heels and refusing to comply. The issue is particularly important, and not only for The Pirate Bay and its users. The labels have indicated to the court that they actually want more than one site blocked – in fact they have a list of 260 others.
A man and woman from New York have been ordered to pay $7,000 in damages for downloading a “For Dummies” eBook using BitTorrent. New York Federal Judge Laura Taylor Swain ordered a default judgment against the pair for infringing the copyright and trademark of major book publisher John Wiley and Sons. The recent verdicts pale in comparison to the hundreds of thousands of dollars movie pirates had to pay last year.
A pair of decisions by the Swedish Supreme Court means that it will now become somewhat easier for rightsholders to identify file-sharers. The cases, which involve the identities of the administrator of a BitTorrent tracker and an alleged book pirate, have been dragging on since 2009. They have both now ended with the Supreme Court ruling that two ISPs will have to hand over identifying information under Sweden’s IPRED legislation.
The former leader of a now-defunct online movie piracy group has been handed a record-breaking prison sentence in the United States today. Jeramiah Perkins was described as the sysop of the BitTorrent release group IMAGiNE, a group that was busted by the FBI in 2011 following an MPAA investigation. Perkins will now serve five years in a federal prison, the longest sentence ever handed out in a case of this type.
A new report has linked two of the world’s largest search engines to the funding of piracy-related sites. In the University of Southern California’s Advertising Transparency Report both Google and Yahoo stand accused of funneling cash to the sites, which were picked due to their placement in Google’s own Transparency Report. Also admonished in the report is torrent index SumoTorrent for their alleged operation of an advertising network.
In a filing just submitted to court Megaupload is looking to declare the search warrants executed by the U.S. Government unlawful. Kim Dotcom’s legal team argues that the Government. deliberately misled the court by withholding information that showed how the authorities had “planted” key evidence. Dotcom is furious about the alleged misconduct that led to the destruction of 220 jobs and the seizure of the personal files of millions of users.
Last year Sweden found itself with a new religion when the Church of Kopimism was officially recognized by authorities there. Now, just a year later, there has been another great achievement for the somewhat discordant Kopimism movement. In a list just published by the body responsible for the advancement and cultivation of the Swedish language, ‘kopimism’ has been officially accepted as a brand new word.
TPB-AFK, the upcoming documentary about The Pirate Bay and its founders, is finally ready for a worldwide premiere. The film has been in the making for four years and aside from funds received from “the Internet” it received financial support from major broadcasters including the BBC. Director Simon Klose hopes that the film will be picked up by a film festival soon so it can be shared on the Internet, for free.
XBMC is a free open source media player, but dismissing it as just an app that plays files would be a huge underestimation of its capabilities. The software, which has its roots back in 2003, has developed into a cross-platform giant that offers access to mind-boggling amounts of free content wrapped up in a nice interface. A new configuration tool just released means that anyone can set up XBMC with a couple of clicks.
The popular private BitTorrent tracker bitGAMER has shut down its operation. The site’s owners mention that the legal climate has changed over the years and say that they are ready to move on with their lives. The founders have considered handing over ownership but chose not to share any sensitive user data with a third-party. The site’s 65,000 members, meanwhile, are looking for alternatives to resume their torrenting habits.
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