Copyright Holders Want Netflix to Ban VPN Users

netflixWith the launch of legal streaming services such as Netflix, movie and TV fans have less reason to turn to pirate sites.

At the same time, however, these legal options invite people from other countries where the legal services are more limited. This is also the case in Australia where up to 200,000 people are estimated to use the U.S. version of Netflix.

Although Netflix has geographical restrictions in place, these are easy to bypass with a relatively cheap VPN subscription. To keep these foreigners out, entertainment industry companies are now lobbying for a global ban on VPN users.

Simon Bush, CEO of AHEDA, an industry group that represents Twentieth Century Fox, Warner Bros., Universal, Sony Pictures and other major players said that some members are actively lobbying for such a ban.

Bush didn’t name any of the companies involved, but he confirmed to Cnet that “discussions” to block Australian access to the US version of Netflix “are happening now”.

If implemented, this would mean that all VPN users worldwide will no longer be able to access Netflix. That includes the millions of Americans who are paying for a legitimate account. They can still access Netflix, but would not be allowed to do so securely via a VPN.

According to Bush the discussions to keep VPN users out are not tied to Netflix’s arrival in Australia. The distributors and other rightsholders argue that they are already being deprived of licensing fees, because some Aussies ignore local services such as Quickflix.

“I know the discussions are being had…by the distributors in the United States with Netflix about Australians using VPNs to access content that they’re not licensed to access in Australia,” Bush said.

“They’re requesting for it to be blocked now, not just when it

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AT&T Patents Technology to Keep Torrent Files Alive

attIn recent years the intellectual property division of ATT has patented quite a few unusual inventions. Today we can add another to the list after the telecoms company was granted a patent which aims to keep torrent files available for as long as possible.

In the patent (pdf), which was awarded yesterday, the ISP points out that BitTorrent is a very effective way of sharing files online. However, ATT also signals some drawbacks, including the fact that some torrent swarms stop working because there are no complete copies of the file available.

“As more and more peers download a complete copy of the file, the performance of the torrent deteriorates to the point that it becomes difficult for the file to be located and downloaded. As a result, current BitTorrent systems are not desirable for downloading older files,” the patent reads.

Since there are often many swarms downloading the same content via different trackers, it could be that the file lives on elsewhere. Similarly, other peers might be willing to start seeding the dead torrent again. ATT’s patent pairs these sources to increase the availability of files downloaded via BitTorrent.

ATT’s torrent patent

The patent proposes to add “collaboration information” which may be obtained from each peer when it joins a torrent swarm. If a torrent has no active seeds available, this information can point the downloader to “dormant peers” or external trackers that still have active seeders.

“If the file is not available at an active peer, the tracker node has two options; it may contact some of the listed dormant peers to see if they are willing to make the file available, and/or it may contact a remote tracker node listed for the

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Expendables 3 Downloaders Told To Pay Up – Or Else

Back in July a pretty much pristine copy of The Expendables 3 leaked online. It was a dramatic event for those behind the production as the movie’s premier on BitTorrent networks trumped its theatrical debut by several weeks.

Distributor Lionsgate was quick to react. Just days after the leak the entertainment company sued several file-sharing sites, which eventually resulted in the closure of file-hosting site Hulkfile. But more action was yet to come.

Doubling up on their efforts, Lionsgate also targeted hosting providers, domain registrars and seedboxes while at the same time sending thousands of DMCA takedown notices to have content and links to content removed.

However, a big question remained unanswered. Would the makers of The Expendables 3 start tracking down alleged file-sharers to force them into cash settlements as happened with previous iterations of the movie? It’s taken a few weeks but confirmation is now in.

Millennium Films, the production company behind The Expendables 3, is now shaking down individual Internet users they believe to have downloaded and shared the leaked movie without permission. What do they want? Hard cash, of course.

Interestingly, and at least for now, the company isn’t going through the courts filing subpoenas against ISPs to obtain downloaders’ personal details. In a switch of tactics the company is sending DMCA takedown notices to ISPs via CEG TEK International and requesting that the notices are forwarded to the customers in question instead. In addition to the usual cease and desist terminology, Millennium tag on cash settlements demands too.

Expendables 3-notice

As can be seen in the image above, the production company is giving notice recipients until October 5, 2014 to come up with the money – or else.

“If within the prescribed time period described above you

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Hollywood Workers Demand Peter Sunde’s Dignity & Freedom

peter-sundeThe imprisonment of former Pirate Bay spokesman Peter Sunde has been going on since late May 2014, provoking a number of reports on the conditions under which he is being held.

Despite being accused of non-violent crimes, Peter is being held in a high-security unit and without concern for his dietary needs. As a result he’s literally wasting away.

Following the tragic death of his father who recently succumbed to a long-standing set of illnesses, the week delivered yet more bad news. Although the prison would allow him to attend the funeral, Peter was told he could expect to carry his father’s coffin wearing handcuffs.

Understandably the news provoked much outrage. Why would a non-violent and now-frail man with with just a few days left on his sentence try to escape from not one but two prison guards? As that improbable situation was discussed among supporters online, a much less traditional support group were asking the same questions.

Hollywood director Lexi Alexander has been a vocal supporter of Peter and earlier this year broke with the usual Tinseltown position by calling for his release.

While her outspoken approach is uncharacteristic of a Hollywood worker, it may come as a surprise that she is definitely not on her own. During recent weeks the director and actress, who has several movies under her belt, called for other like-minded individuals in Hollywood to make themselves known.

The result was the publication a few minutes ago of a video dedicated to the uncuffing, release and support of Peter Sunde.

“We created this video in solidarity with Peter as he attends his father’s funeral today,” Alexander told TorrentFreak.

“Originally I had planned to do this over the next few weeks, but when I heard about Peter’s father’s death yesterday, we scrambled

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Kiwi Prime Minister’s Party Sued For Pirating Eminem Track

eminemWhen it comes to polarizing figures standing accused of copyright infringement in New Zealand, there can be few more famous than Kim Dotcom. The entrepreneur and now political activist is in a bitter battle with not only the New Zealand and US governments, but also the world’s largest entertainment companies.

That’s why the news today that the ruling National Party is being sued for copyright infringement has somewhat amused the German-born businessman. The party is led by political rival Prime Minister John Key, one of Dotcom’s most vocal critics and a leader who the Megaupload founder says played a key role in having him arrested in 2012.

The lawsuit, filed by Eminem’s publishers, follows allegations that the song “Lose Yourself” was used in a 2014 New Zealand General Election advertising campaign run by the National Party.

Eight Mile Style and Martin Affiliated told local media that Eminem’s publishers were not approached to use the songs.

“It is both disappointing and sadly ironic that the political party responsible for championing the rights of music publishers in New Zealand by the introduction of the three strikes copyright reforms should itself have so little regard for copyright,” the publishers told 3News.

“We do not hesitate to take immediate action to protect the integrity of Eminem’s works, particularly where a party, as here, has sought to associate itself with Eminem and his work.”

The National Party insists that it obtained all necessary licenses by purchasing the track from official sources known to work with the film and entertainment industry. However, in order to try and calm down the complaint by the publishers use of the song by the party was withdrawn two weeks ago, an unusual thing to do if money had indeed been invested in a legitimate license.


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Search Engines Can Diminish Online Piracy, Research Finds

google-bayIn recent years Hollywood and the music industry have taken a rather aggressive approach against Google. The entertainment industry companies believe that the search engine isn’t doing enough to limit piracy, and have demanded more stringent measures.

One of the suggestions often made is to remove or demote pirate sites in search results. A lower ranking would lead fewer people to pirate sources and promoting legal sources will have a similar effect.

Google previously said it would lower the ranking of sites based on DMCA complaints, but thus far these changes have had a limited effect. A few weeks ago the company also began promoting legal options but this effort is in the testing phase for now.

The question that remains is whether these changes would indeed decrease piracy. According to new research from Carnegie Mellon University, they can.

In a paper titled “Do Search Engines Influence Media Piracy?” the researchers ran two experiments where they let participants use a custom search engine to find a movie they wanted to watch. The respondents could pick from a list of 50 titles and received a $20 prepaid virtual Visa card as compensation.

All search results were pulled from a popular search engine. In the control category the results were not manipulated, but in the “legal” and “infringing” conditions the first page only listed “legal” (e.g Amazon) and neutral (e.g IMDb) sites or “infringing” (e.g. Pirate Bay) and neutral sites respectively.

While it’s quite a simple manipulation, and even though users could still find legal and pirated content in all conditions, the results are rather strong.

Of all participants who saw the standard results, 80% chose to buy the movie via a legal option. This went up to 94% if the results were

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Pirate Bay Founder “Will Wear Handcuffs” to Carry Father’s Coffin

While most people have been enjoying the summer months, Peter Sunde has been locked away in a Swedish prison. After his Pirate Bay-related sentence was made final in 2012, Sunde remained at large, a man wanted by Interpol for aiding copyright infringement offenses.

During the final day of May 2014, a two-year hunt came to its conclusion. A special Swedish police unit tasked with tracking down fugitives carried out a raid at a farm in Skåne, a rural area near Malmö, Sweden.

Despite continued protestations that he had committed no crimes, Sunde was transferred to the high-security Västervik Norra prison to begin an eight-month sentence. A month later Sunde applied to be moved to a lower security unit, a place more in keeping with his alleged white-collar crimes. His application was rejected.

With his release date now less than 50 days away, Sunde should have reason to be looking to the future, but instead a family tragedy has marked his final weeks in prison. After succumbing to a long illness, Sunde’s father has passed away. The event has prompted Peter’s brother, Mats Kolmisoppi, to speak out for the first time on the Pirate Bay founder’s imprisonment conditions.

“I have deliberately said very little about what happened to my brother, Peter Sunde, the last few months. Partly because he can speak for himself and does not have difficulty being heard, even though he sits in a prison with a high safety rating in Västervik,” Mats wrote on Facebook.

The problem, Mats says, is with a system that has forgotten that its job is to support offenders in order to ensure that they never return to prison.

That system has deemed that despite his non-violent crimes, Sunde should be detained in a high-security prison, a placement that was allocated to

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ISP Wants Court to Sanction Piracy Monitoring Firm

rightscorp-realFor several months Rightscorp has been sending DMCA subpoenas to smaller local ISPs in the United States.

Unlike regular subpoenas, these are not reviewed by a judge and only require a signature from the Court clerk. This practice raised questions because DMCA subpoenas are not applicable to file-sharing cases, which is something courts determined more than a decade ago.

Perhaps unaware of the legal precedent, most ISPs have complied with the requests. Until last week, when small Texas provider Grande Communications stood up in court after it was asked to reveal the account details connected to 30,000 IP-addresses/timestamp combinations.

Soon after Grande filed its objections Rightscorp decided to drop the request entirely. While ISP is pleased that its customers no longer have to be exposed, the company is not letting Rightscorp off the hook.

In an advisory to the court (pdf) the ISP notes that Rightscorp’s actions suggest that it’s merely trying to avoid having a judge look at their dubious efforts.

“The abrupt withdrawal of the Subpoena is consistent with the apparent desire of Rightscorp and its counsel to avoid judicial review of their serial misuse of the subpoena power of the federal courts,” Grande’s attorneys write.

The ISP still wants Rightscorp to pay for the costs run up thus far. In addition, Grande also believes that sanctions for misusing the federal court’s subpoena powers may be in order.

“The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California may consider ordering Rightscorp and its counsel to show cause why they should not be sanctioned for misusing the federal court’s subpoena powers,” the advisory reads.

The ISP points out that if it hadn’t challenged the subpoena, the personal details of hundreds or thousands of subscribers would have been shared based

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How Publisher Harper Collins Tackles eBook Piracy

harperOne of the key elements leading to ease of piracy is file-size. Since music files are relatively small, unauthorized content can be distributed and accessed using a wide array of methods, from torrents and direct storage sites through instant messaging and humble email.

If music files are small, ebooks definitely share the same kind of characteristics. As a result, ebooks are widely pirated and made available on thousands of sites and services in a wide range of convenient formats. By attacking the problem from a number of different directions, this is something publisher HarperCollins is trying to do something about.

As part of its latest drive, this week the company announced a collaboration with LibreDigital, a leading provider of distribution and fulfillment services for ebook retailers. Together they adopted a new watermarking solution from anti-piracy company Digimarc.

Called Guardian Watermarking for Publishing, the system embeds all but invisible markers into ebooks. Then, Digimarc trawls the web looking for leaked content containing the watermarks. Once found, the anti-piracy company reports the unique identifiers back to Harpercollins who can match them against their own transaction records. This enables the company to identify the source of that material from wherever it occurred in the company’s supply chain.

Speaking with TorrentFreak, HarperCollins said that tracking these pre-consumer leaks provides intelligence to prevent them happening again.

“We have had leaks in the past in the final stages of our supply chain – via isolated instances of early releases by retailers. We therefore intend to be able to track these potential leaks in the future – especially now that our digital supply chain extends to many partners in many markets,” a spokesperson said.

“[The system] empowers us to go back to the source of the problem (ie identify the source) and find solutions

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BitTorrent: Our Users Buy 33% More Music Albums Online

bittorrent-crimeBitTorrent Inc, the company behind the successful uTorrent and BitTorrent file-sharing clients, has been making huge efforts in recent times to shed the false image that the company is synonymous with online piracy.

One of the key ways it’s changing this perception is by partnering with well-known artists such as De La Soul, Moby and Madonna, and showing that BitTorrent is an ideal tool to connect artists with fans.

To provide some examples of what it can do, BitTorrent Inc. has made a distribution and advertising deck with success stories. Thus far more than 10,000 artists have used BitTorrent’s bundles, generating over 100 million downloads which convert into real sales.

Slide from BitTorrent’s advertising deck (via Digiday)

Aside from listing its successes the company also reports some intriguing statistics on the consumer behavior of its community.

On slide 12 BitTorrent Inc. notes that its community is 33% more likely to buy albums online, makes 34% more DVD purchases, watches 34% more movies in theater and is twice as likely to have a paid music subscription.

BitTorrent’s community

Because BitTorrent Inc provides no source for the data provided in this last slide we contacted the company last week to find out more. Unfortunately, we haven’t received a response thus far.

However, while writing this article we found that the numbers reported in the pitch deck trace back to one of our own articles. The data reported by BitTorrent Inc. comes from music industry group IFPI and details the buying habits of music pirates. BitTorrent Inc subsequently used these piracy statistics to sell its “community” to potential partners.

This is interesting

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