Lionsgate Wants to Settle Expendables 3 Lawsuit With Torrent Site

expendablespiracyWith a disappointing $16 million in earnings during the opening weekend, the box-office premiere of The Expendables 3 turned into a big flop.

Many insiders blame the pre-release leak of the film for the disappointing numbers. Millions of people have downloaded pirated copies and skipped the box office, they argue.

Over the past several weeks Lionsgate has countered the leak by sending tens of thousands of takedown requests. The movie studio even went as far as suing the operators of six websites that allegedly failed to remove the infringing files – Limetorrents.com, Billionuploads.com, Hulkfile.eu, Played.to, Swankshare.com and Dotsemper.com.

This pressure resulted in drastic actions at several of these sites. Faced with a preliminary injunction, cloud hosting service Hulkfile shut down its website, for example, and Swankshare did the same. LimeTorrents remained online, but removed all expendables torrents, including the trailers.

TorrentFreak spoke with the operator of the torrent site who says he installed a filter that blocks everything related to the Expendables franchise. He hoped that this would be enough to appease the movie studio, but thus far Lionsgate has no plans to back down without compensation.

In an email the movie studio’s lawyer notes that the preliminary injunction stays in place. Interestingly, however, the torrent site operator is invited to discuss a potential settlement.

“Thanks for the email. As you know the court has entered a preliminary injunction, and the lawsuit is going to continue unless we can reach a settlement. I think it would be helpful to set up a time to talk by phone,” Lionsgate’s lawyer writes.

Whether Lionsgate is serious about settling or whether it merely wants to know more about the identity of Limetorrents’ operator remains anyone’s guess. It’s very unlikely that the movie studio

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No VPN on Earth Can Protect Careless Pirates

pirate-cardLast year, Philip Danks, a man from the West Midlands, UK, went into a local cinema and managed to record the movie Fast and Furious 6. He later uploaded that content to the Internet.

After pleading guilty, this week Wolverhampton Crown Court sentenced him to an unprecedented 33 months in prison.

The Federation Against Copyright Theft are no doubt extremely pleased with this result. After their successful private prosecution, the Hollywood-affiliated anti-piracy group is now able to place Danks’ head on a metaphorical pike, a clear warning to other would-be cammers. But just how difficult was this operation?

There’s often a lot of mystery attached to the investigations process in a case like this. How are individuals like Danks tracked and found? Have FACT placed spies deep into file-sharing sites? Are the authorities sniffing traffic and breaking pirates’ VPN encryption?

Or are they spending half an hour with Google and getting most of it handed to them on a plate? In Danks’ case, that appears to be exactly what happened.

Something that many millions of people use online is a nickname, and Danks was no exception. His online alias in the torrenting scene was TheCod3r, and as shown below it is clearly visible in the release title.

Kick-up

The idea behind aliases is that they provide a way to mask a real name. Military uses aside, adopting an alternative communications identity was something popularized in the 70s with the advent of Citizens Band radio. The practice continues online today, with many people forced to adopt one to register with various services.

However, what many in the file-sharing scene forget is that while aliases on a torrent site might be useful, they become as identifying as a real name when used elsewhere in ‘regular’ life. The

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Fraud and Embezzlement Drives Anti-Piracy Group into Bankruptcy

smaisguyAnti-piracy groups are often quick to label file-sharing sites as criminal organizations, but these outfits also have some rotten apples amongst their own.

A few months ago we reported on the President of the Lithuanian Anti-Piracy Association LANVA, who was jailed for two years for drug trafficking. The boss of Iceland’s anti-piracy group SMAIS is not doing much better, it seems, as he stands accused of fraud and embezzlement.

SMAIS is a local branch of Hollywood’s Motion Picture Association. The group recently failed to get The Pirate Bay blocked in Iceland, and has now run into the law itself.

The organization’s board filed for bankruptcy after it discovered a wide range of serious problems. The group’s financial statements were falsified, the books were not in order, and taxes haven’t been paid since 2007.

Making matters even worse, the board says that its CEO Snæbjörn Steingrímsson has admitted to embezzlement. This case is now under review by the Special Prosecutor, who has to decide whether a criminal investigation will be launched against the anti-piracy chief.

The last time SMAIS made international headlines was last year, when the group pulled its Facebook page offline after four days. According to Steingrímsson, SMAIS didn’t have enough resources to handle the constant flaming comments from the public.

What certainly didn’t help was that the launch of the Facebook page coincided with the news that SMAIS never paid for the film and game rating software they purchased from a Dutch company back in 2007. Considering the position the group is in now this is hardly a surprise.

Whether Hollywood has plans to install a new anti-piracy group in Iceland if the bankruptcy goes through is currently unknown.

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Dotcom’s Millions Will Remain Frozen, Court Decides

dotcom-laptopJust days before the huge raid on Kim Dotcom’s New Zealand home in 2012, foreign restraining orders were granted to enable the seizure of the entrepreneur’s assets.

Those orders ran out in April 2014, with the Crown immediately seeking to have them extended. That application was rejected by the High Court, a decision that prompted celebrations from Dotcom alongside speculation on how he might spend some of the money.

But things weren’t over yet. The Crown filed an appeal against the ruling, and today the Court of Appeal handed down its decision. It’s bad news for Dotcom and fellow respondents Bran Van Der Kolk, Megastuff Limited, and Dotcom’s estranged wife, Mona Dotcom.

The judgment handed down by Judges O’ Regan, Wild and French in the Court of Appeal concerns the High Court’s dismissal of an application by the Commissioner of Police to extend the restraining order over Dotcom’s assets made by a United States Court.

The High Court’s Judge Thomas previously decided that while the Court had jurisdiction to extend the duration of the restraining orders, it would be inappropriate to do so, a decision which led to the appeal.

While Dotcom supported Judge Thomas’ ultimate ruling, he cross appealed against the finding that there was jurisdiction to extend the restraining order. He also contested the Judge’s decision to extend the order pending the outcome of the appeal.

The Court of Appeal dismissed Dotcom’s cross-appeal in its entirety.

For her part, Mona Dotcom supported her estranged husband’s position but also requested that her property be excluded from any extended order. The Court rejected her submission.

“We allow the appeal, quash the decision of the High Court and make the extension order sought by the Commissioner,” the Court of Appeal judges wrote.

“An order is made extending the duration

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Fast & Furious 6 Pirate Sentenced to 33 Months Prison

During May 2013, TorrentFreak received an email from an individual in the UK who detailed serious problems he’d experienced in the preceding days.

On May 23 at 07:30, five unmarked cars containing 10 police officers and representatives from the Federation Against Copyright Theft tried to apprehend the man at this former address. That error was quickly corrected and within minutes three cars, four detectives and two FACT officers had made it to the correct location.

The police were looking for Philip Danks, a man from Walsall in the West Midlands. Their information was that the then 24-year-old had cammed Fast and Furious 6 at the local Showcase cinema before uploading it to the Internet.

“I was detained for 3 hrs 12 minutes, out of that I was questioned for approximately 40 minutes,” Danks told TorrentFreak at the time. “One police officer and two FACT officers conducted the interview. The police officer sat back and let FACT do all the questioning, so FACT were running the show.”

Danks was eventually released, but in September police were back, this time arresting both his sister and her former boyfriend. New allegations were made, this time in respect of the unauthorized camming and uploading of the movie ‘Epic’.

In March this year Danks told TF that the police weren’t going to take any action against him. However, after previously keeping us updated, Danks went quiet. Today his fate has been revealed.

Following a trial at Wolverhampton Crown Court, Danks was sentenced to 33 months in prison for recording, uploading and also selling physical copies of Fast and Furious 6.

In Court it was claimed that Danks’ uploading of Fast 6 resulted in more than 700,000 downloads costing Universal Pictures and the wider industry millions of pounds in losses.

It appears that Danks was also

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Movie Boss Avoids Copyright Q&A to Avoid Piracy “Crazies”

runningThe main thrust from the government and entertainment industry figures is that something pretty drastic needs to be done about the illegal downloading habits of many Australians.

Consumer groups and citizens, on the other hand, want any response to be measured and coupled with assurances from entertainment companies that Australians will stop being treated like second-class consumers. Local ISPs have varying opinions, depending on the depth of their Big Media affiliations.

Back in July a discussion paper leaked revealing government proposals that include measures such as the tweaking of ISP liability right through to ‘pirate’ website blocking. Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull later indicated that a public QA would be held in September for representatives from the entertainment industries, ISPs, and consumer groups to air their thoughts on the proposals.

While the opportunity was welcomed by the majority of stakeholders, it’s now clear that not everyone will be there.

Village Roadshow is the company that mounted the most aggressive anti-piracy legal action ever against iiNet, one of Australia’s largest ISPs. They have a deep interest in how this debate pans out. This morning, however, co-CEO Graham Burke told ZDNet that his company wouldn’t be attending the discussions because he’ll be overseas at the time.

While that may be true, an email Burke sent to Turnbull and other participants shines rather more light on the topic.

“My company is not prepared to participate in the forum. As expressed to you previously these Q and A style formats are judged by the noise on the night and given the proposed venue I believe this will be weighted by the crazies,” Burke told the Minister.

According to ZDNet, attendees from the ISP industry will include iiNet CEO David Buckingham, Telstra executive director Jane Van Beelen and Foxtel CEO Richard Freudenstein.

On

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Google Asked to Remove 1 Million Pirate Links Per Day

google-bayIn the hope of steering prospective customers away from pirate sites, copyright holders are overloading Google with DMCA takedown notices.

These requests have increased dramatically since Google began making the data public. A few years ago the search engine received just a few dozen takedown notices during an entire year, but today it processes millions of allegedly infringing links per week.

Over the past months the number of reported URLs has continued to rise. Now, for the first time ever, Google has processed an average of more than one million URLs per day.

Last week Google was asked to remove more than 7.8 million results, up more than 10% compared to the previous record a week earlier. The graph below shows the remarkable increase in requests over the past three years.

To put these numbers in perspective, Google is currently asked to remove an infringing search result every 8 milliseconds, compared to one request per six days back in 2008.

google-dmca-record

The massive surge in removal requests is not without controversy. It’s been reported that some notices reference pages that contain no copyrighted material, due to mistakes or abuse, but are deleted nonetheless. Google has a pretty good track record of catching these errors, but since manual review of all links is unachievable, some URLs are removed in error.

Google says it’s doing its best to address the concerns of copyright holders. Last year the company released a report detailing the various anti-piracy measures it uses. However, according to some industry groups the search giant can and should do more.

For the RIAA the staggering amount of takedown requests only confirms the notion that the process isn’t very effective. Brad Buckles, RIAA

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Major Torrent Sites and Google Purge The Expendables 3

With The Expendables 3 now officially released in theaters, the autopsy over its leak last month and the potential effects on box office figures has begun.

Many news outlets reported yesterday that the first weekend’s takings represent a flop for the third in the Expendables franchise and, of course, those closest to Hollywood are pointing the figure firmly at piracy.

But on the ground, on some of the very sites accused of facilitating piracy of the action movie, there are signs which suggests that this leaked title is being treated somewhat differently to any that have gone before.

LimeTorrents

Noting that the site was named in a Lions Gate lawsuit, TF monitored for the presence of The Expendables 3 torrents on popular torrent site LimeTorrents. The result is shown in the image below.

Lime-Expend

While the site lists 14 torrents, not a single working Expendables 3 torrent appears in the search results. The three that do appear are sponsored links that do not lead to anything useful.

But while LimeTorrents are clearly doing all they can to comply with the terms of a lawsuit, other sites that have not been named by Lions Gate also appear to have been taking action.

KickassTorrents

KickassTorrents is the world’s second largest torrent site and the go-to place for many looking for fresh content. However, anyone searching for leaked Expendables 3 torrents will be going home disappointed. There are currently nine torrents returned in results, all of which are trailers. The leaked movie cannot be found.

Kick-expend

It’s worth noting that like many of the leading torrent sites, Kickass removes torrents following copyright holder requests, so that goes someway to explaining why the Expendables 3 torrents have all disappeared. What is notable, however, is that no fresh ones seem to be reappearing as is usually

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Court: Usenet Provider Doesn’t Have to Filter Pirated Content

news-serviceIn 2009, Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN, representing the movie and music industries, took Europe’s largest Usenet provider News-Service Europe (NSE) to court.

Through the court BREIN demanded that NSE delete all infringing content from its servers, and in 2011 the Court of Amsterdam sided with the copyright holders.

The Court argued that NSE willingly facilitated copyright infringement through its services. In its verdict the Court ruled that NSE had to remove all copyrighted content, and filter future posts for possible copyright infringements.

Responding to the verdict the Usenet provider said that it was economically unfeasible to filter all messages. The company therefore saw no other option than to shut down its services while the appeal was pending.

This week the Appeals Court ruled on the case overturning the previous verdict, setting a more positive precedent for Usenet providers and similar services.

The Court concluded that NSE does not facilitate copyright infringement as long as it maintains a procedure through which copyright holders can send unlimited takedown notices.

In addition, the Court decided that proactive filtering of copyrighted content is not required, as that conflicts with existing jurisprudence of the European Court of Justice.

“We are very pleased with this ruling,” NSE CEO Patrick Schreurs says. “The Court correctly states that a Usenet provider such as News-Service Europe can not be expected to proactively monitor the messages others place.”

The ruling this week is an interlocutory verdict. The Court still has to rule on how NSE’s notice and takedown procedure should operate. Afterwards, both BREIN and NSE still have the option to take the case to the Supreme Court.

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Attackers Can ‘Steal’ Bandwidth From BitTorrent Seeders, Research Finds

swarmBitTorrent is one of the fastest and most efficient ways to share large files over the Internet. The popular file-sharing protocol is used by dozens of millions of people every day and accounts for a substantial amount of total Internet traffic.

This popularity makes BitTorrent an interesting target for attacks, which various anti-piracy companies have shown in the past. One of these possible attacks was recently unveiled by Florian Adamsky, researcher at the City University London.

In an article published in “Computers Security” Adamsky and his colleagues reveal an exploit which allows attackers to get a higher download rate from seeders than other people.

In technical terms, the exploit misuses BitTorrent’s choking mechanism of clients that use the “Allowed Fast” extension. Attackers can use this to keep a permanent connection with seeders, requesting the same pieces over and over.

The vulnerability was extensively tested in swarms of various sizes and the researchers found that three malicious peers can already slow download times up to 414.99%. When the number of attackers is greater compared to the number of seeders, the worse the effect becomes.

The impact of the attack further depends on the download clients being used by the seeders in the swarm. The mainline BitTorrent clients and uTorrent are not vulnerable for example, while Vuze, Transmission and Libtorrent-based clients are.

TorrentFreak spoke with Adamsky who predicts that similar results are possible in real swarms. Even very large swarms of more than 1,000 seeders could be affected through a botnet, although it’s hard to predict the precise impact.

“If an attacker uses a botnet to attack the swarm, I think it would be possible to increase the average download time of all peers [of swarms with 1,000 seeders] up to three times,” Adamsky

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