Police Begin Placing Warning Adverts on ‘Pirate’ Sites

cityoflondonpoliceFor a year, City of London Police have been working with the music and movie industries on initiatives to cut down on the consumption of pirated content online.

Operation Creative employs a multi-pronged approach, seeking to educate consumers while making life difficult for sites that operate unlicensed services.

Many unauthorized sites generate revenue from advertising, so the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) informs potential advertisers on how to keep their promotions away, thus depriving sites of cash. Another key aim is to stop users from getting the impression that pirate sites have “big brand” support when household names are seen advertising.

Today, PIPCU officially announced the launch of another angle to their ad strategy. As reported by TF in April, police are now placing their own ads on pirate sites to warn users that the site they’re using has been reported.

“This new initiative is another step forward for the unit in tackling IP crime and disrupting criminal profits,” said Head of PIPCU, DCI Andy Fyfe.

“Copyright infringing websites are making huge sums of money though advert placement, therefore disrupting advertising on these sites is crucial and this is why it is an integral part of Operation Creative.”

Sample police ad

As shown below, the BBC has published a PIPCU-supplied screenshot of how the ads look on an unauthorized MP3 site known as Full-Albums.net.

PIPCU-ad-mp3

In our tests we couldn’t replicate the banners, despite dozens of refreshes, so it’s possible the site took action to remove them. Needless to say, we did see other advertising, and very interesting it was too.

Ironically, by clicking album links on Full-Albums we were presented with ads from BearShare, a music service that struck deals with the RIAA in the last decade. As can be seen from the

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Block The Pirate Bay Within 3 Days, Austrian ISPs Told

pirate bayKino.to, one of Germany’s largest illegal streaming portals, was shut down during 2011 following the largest law enforcement action against of its type in Europe. But even with the site long gone the disruption it caused is about to affect The Pirate Bay and two other major sites.

Just a month before Kino.to was dismantled in June 2011, Austrian ISP ‘UPC’ was served with a preliminary injunction ordering it to block subscriber access to the site. Verein für Anti-Piraterie der österreichischen Film und Videobranche (VAP) – the anti-piracy association of the Austrian film and video industry – had been on the warpath since 2010 and had finally got their way after UPC refused to comply voluntarily.

But would blocking the site be legal? UPC insisted that it couldn’t be held responsible for a site it had nothing to do with. The ISP also maintained that there had been no court ruling determining that UPC customers who accessed Kino.to were breaking the law.

To settle the matter once and for all the Austrian Supreme Court asked the European Court of Justice to clarify whether a company that provides Internet access to people using an illegal website could be required to block that site. On March 27, 2014, the ECJ handed down its decision.

On UPC’s first point the Court said that EU law does not require a specific relationship between the person infringing copyright and the intermediary against whom any injunction had been issued. On the second point the Court said that proof of illegality was not necessary as the law exists not only to bring an end to infringement, but also to prevent it.

The key point of the ruling was that ISPs can indeed be required to block access to infringing sites

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“Six Strikes” Anti-Piracy Scheme Costs 3 Million Per Year

pirate-runningFebruary last year, the MPAA, RIAA and five major U.S. Internet providers started sending copyright alerts to customers who pirate movies, TV-shows and music.

Through a series of warnings suspected pirates are informed that their connections are being used to share copyrighted material without permission, and told where they can find legal alternatives.

These efforts are part of the Copyright Alert System which is headed by the Center for Copyright Information (CCI). The goal of this voluntary partnership is to educate the public and point alleged pirates to legal alternatives.

While it’s known that the costs of the program are split between the copyright holders and Internet providers, CCI has been reluctant to share any financial details. Luckily the IRS provides some insight on this front.

TorrentFreak obtained the most recent tax filing of the six-strikes outfit which covers the company’s operations between July 1, 2012 and June 30, 2013. The document reveals that the program cost nearly $3 million during that period.

To put this figure in perspective, the CCI previously reported that 1.3 million notices were sent out during the first 10 months. This means that the cost per notice translates to roughly $2, which is rather high.

Center for Copyright Information’s Form 990
cci

Looking at how the money is spent we see that the only paid employee, CCI Executive Director Jill Lesser, received $320,000 in compensation. Another $350,000 went to Lesser’s consulting firm, JAL Consulting, which was hired as an independent contractor.

The RIAA’s former lobbying firm Stroz Friedberg received $420,000 for the independent expert analysis of the evidence gathering technology behind the project. After we uncovered the RIAA ties CCI later hired a second independent expert, but

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Top 10 Most Pirated Movies of The Week – 07/28/14

expendablesThis week we have three newcomers in our chart.

The Expendables 3, which leaked several weeks before the official premiere, is the most downloaded movie this week.

The data for our weekly download chart is estimated by TorrentFreak, and is for informational and educational reference only. All the movies in the list are BD/DVDrips unless stated otherwise.

RSS feed for the weekly movie download chart.

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Japan to Crack Down on Anime and Manga Piracy

japanIn an effort to crackdown on Internet piracy, during October 2012 the Japanese government introduced new legislation targeted at file-sharers.

To support existing punishments of up to 10 years in prison for uploaders, knowingly downloading copyright-infringing material became an offense carrying a potential two years in jail. While it was hoped that these measures would encourage consumers to do the right thing, today the problems persist.

As a result, this week the Japanese government will act in order to preserve what it sees as one of its greatest cultural exports.

Anime and manga are now consumed in countries right around the world and Japan sees this interest in Japanese culture as useful to its relationships abroad. However, with that popularity comes piracy, much of it facilitated by unlicensed overseas sites.

In the hope of remedying the situation overseas, this Friday will see the launch of a massive anti-piracy campaign aimed at making a huge dent in anime and manga piracy.

The government and 15 leading producers and distributors will begin contacting an estimated 580 “overseas pirate sites” with demands that they mass-delete infringing content. The sites are located in various regions, but there will be a particular focus on China.

Whether those sites will comply will remain to be seen, but should pirate content become harder to find the campaign wants to be able to capitalize on that opportunity. According to NHK, a new site will direct fans to legal copies of the 250 affected works at a flat price of a few hundred yen.

“We want to create a project so that anime fans overseas can enjoy Japanese content legally and without infringement worries while the profits are paid to anime production companies and publishers,” a Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry spokesman said.

It seems

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“Scared” Pirates Delayed Release of Expendables 3

Last week saw the leak online of the brand new Expendables movie.

Earmarked for an August 15 U.S. release, Expendables 3 leaked in near DVD quality a full two weeks ahead. The timing and quality combined to make the leak one of the most prominent in recent years.

While the original sources of these leaks are nearly always shrouded in mystery, once made publicly available on sites like The Pirate Bay they are anyone’s for download.

Originally it was believed that Pirate Bay releaser Drarbg uploaded the first public torrent, but that was not the case. Flying under the radar a hugely less popular torrent (still only with a handful of seeds) actually preceded it by almost 20 minutes.

exp-charles

It’s certainly feasible that another release preceded even this one, but with torrents on sites other than Pirate Bay regularly deleted due to copyright complaints, it’s now too late for any certainty.

It’s also impossible to say how many people were in the chain after the leak and before the first public torrent upload, but numerous public sources (including RARBG themselves) are now pointing to postings on 4chan as indicating the start of events.

The thread is right here and obviously everything happened in public. The postings don’t specifically mention the title of the movie but a source close to the situation assures TF that the chat does indeed refer to The Expendables 3.

4chan-1

Less than two hours after his initial posting on July 15, ‘Anonymous’ was back on 4chan with an update.

“I am in contact with a release group that works with private trackers. They asked me for proof of what I had and I took pictures with a written timestamp of the disc in and out of the box,” he wrote.

“I

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Ford and General Motors Sued Over ‘CD Ripping Cars’

ford-jukeA quarter century ago the music industry was confronted with a new threat – cassette tape recorders.

These devices were able to make “near perfect” copies of any audio recording and the RIAA and others feared this would be the end of the recorded music industry.

The record labels took their fears to Congress, which eventually resulted in the Audio Home Recording Act (AHRA) of 1992. Under this law importers and manufacturers have to pay royalties on “digital audio recording devices,” among other things.

The legislation also applies to some newer recording devices common today, which is now causing trouble for Ford and General Motors. Both companies ship cars with the ability to rip CDs onto internal hard drives and according to a coalition of artists and record companies this violates copyright law.

The Alliance of Artists and Recording Companies (AARC), which lists major record labels and 300,000 artists among its members, filed a class action lawsuit on Friday in which they demand millions of dollars in compensation.

TorrentFreak obtained a copy of the complaint (pdf) which states that Ford’s “Jukebox” device and General Motor’s “Hard Drive Device” allow consumers to rip CDs onto an internal hard drive. According to the music group these devices fall under the Audio Home Recording Act and the car companies are therefore required to pay royalties.

Thus far, neither Ford nor General Motors has complied with any requirements of the Act. Both companies have sold cars with these devices for several years on a variety of models including the Lincoln MKS, Ford Taurus, Ford Explorer, Buick LaCrosse, Cadillac SRX, Chevrolet Volt, and GMC Terrain.

In addition to the two car companies, the lawsuit also targets their technology partners Denso and Clarion. Commenting on the dispute the AARC

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TorrenTV Instantly Streams Movie Torrents to Apple TV

appletvEarlier this year Popcorn Time made headlines all over the Internet as one of the first apps to combine a simple and stylish user interface with an effective way to stream torrents.

The application also inspired dozens of developers to start their own spinoffs. While most of these apps mimicked the looks and functionality of the original application, TorrenTV offers something completely different.

Instead of providing a Netflix-style index of movies, TorrenTV allows people to add their own torrents and stream these directly to an Apple TV.

“Popcorn Time is beautiful in code and in looks but I wanted to do two things that PopcornTime didn’t allow me, watch movies directly on my TV and add new torrents which Popcorn Time doesn’t have yet,” TorrenTV developer Carlos tells TorrentFreak.

Carlos started coding and a few weeks later TorrenTV was born. The application works by simply dropping a torrent or magnet link into it. The video file starts downloading and via Airplay it can be streamed directly to an Apple TV.

TorrenTV for Linux, Mac and Windows
torrentv-apps

TorrenTV uses Popcorn Time code and is built on the same Peerflix and torrent-stream libraries. There are plans to extend its functionality by adding Chromecast and Roku support in the future, but its simplicity will remain.

One of the main differences compared to Popcorn time is that TorrenTV doesn’t offer an index of movies. This may be a downside for some, but according to Carlos this is an advantage.

With no index of pirated content it can’t be taken down by the MPAA, which happened to Popcorn Time a few weeks ago.

For those who are interested in taking it for a spin, TorrenTV is

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Google Protects Chilling Effects From Takedown Notices

google-bayEach week many millions of DMCA-style copyright notices are sent to sites and services around the planet. Initially the process flew almost entirely under the radar, with senders and recipients dealing with complaints privately.

In 2001, that began to change with the advent of Chilling Effects, an archive created by activists who had become concerned that increasing volumes of cease-and-desist letters were having a “chilling effect” on speech.

In the decade-and-a-third that followed the archive grew to unprecedented levels, with giants such as Google and Twitter routinely sending received notices to the site for public retrieval.

However, while Chilling Effects strives to maintain free speech, several times a month rightsholders from around the world try to silence the archive in specific ways by asking Google to de-index pages from the site.

As can be seen from the tables below, Home Box Office has tried to de-index Chilling Effects pages 240 times, with Microsoft and NBC Universal making 99 and 65 attempts respectively.

Chilling1

The ‘problem’ for these copyright holders is two-fold. Firstly, Chilling Effects does indeed list millions of URLs that potentially link to infringing content. That does not sit well with copyright holders.

“Because the site does not redact information about the infringing URLs identified in the notices, it has effectively become the largest repository of URLs hosting infringing content on the internet,” the Copyright Alliance’s Sandra Aistars complained earlier this year.

However, what Aistars omits to mention is that Chilling Effects has a huge team of lawyers under the hood who know only too well that their archive receives protection under the law. Chilling Effects isn’t a pirate index, it’s an educational, informational, research resource.

Thanks to Google, which routinely throws out all attempts at removing Chilling Effects URLs

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Pirate Bay Founder’s Religious Rights Spark New Complaint

It’s been almost two months since former Pirate Bay spokesman Peter Sunde was located on a farm in Sweden and spirited away by a specialist police unit.

Sunde’s destination was Västervik Norra, the prison allocated to him following the finalizing of his jail sentence in 2012.

The first few days and weeks of Sunde’s imprisonment went silently under the media radar, but by the end of June the former Pirate Bay spokesman was making his voice heard on his prison conditions.

Sunde has been both vegetarian and vegan, a dietary choice that has proven difficult during his incarceration. In a letter to authorities he complained that due to his needs not being met, his weight had plummeted 11 pounds (5kgs) in just four weeks.

It’s not clear whether that complaint resulted in any positive action, but just a month later Sunde is making his displeasure known once more, this time over his religious rights.

Four years ago a group of self-confessed pirates began a mission to have their beliefs recognized as a religion in Sweden. The Church of Kopimism – which holds CTRL+C and CTRL+V as sacred symbols – eventually prevailed and in 2012 was officially approved by the authorities.

Kopimi

Just recently Sunde tried to exercise his right to meet with a representative of his chosen religion, but was met with prison red tape in response.

“The board of spiritual care (NAV) doesn’t have any representative for the Kopimist faith with whom they cooperate and therefore the Prison and Probation Service should provide permission for electronic contact with representatives from the Kopimist faith to believers,” Sunde wrote in his letter to authorities.

Whether this complaint will result in physical or even virtual access to a Kopimist priest is not yet clear. However, since Kopimism

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