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About adoreddragon

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  1. In recent months, thousands of alleged movie pirates in Sweden have been hit with cash demands by a Danish law firm. Sadly, instead of the situation calming down, things are now getting worse. According to a local report, several new law firms are getting in on the action, with one demanding almost double the figures quoted by the Danish outfit while warning of additional costs on top. Back in 2016, so-called copyright-trolling landed in Sweden for the first time via an organization calling itself Spridningskollen (Distribution Check). Within months, however, it was all over, with the operation heading for the hills after much negative publicity. February this year, another wave of trolling hit the country, with Danish law firm Njord Law targeting the subscribers of several ISPs, including Telia, Tele2 and Bredbandsbolaget. Thousands of IP addresses had been harvested by its media company partners, potentially linking to thousands of subscribers. “We have sent out a few thousand letters, but we have been given the right to obtain information behind many more IP addresses that we are waiting to receive from the telecom operators. So there are more,” lawyer Jeppe Brogaard Clausen said in October. But while Internet users in Sweden wait for news of how this campaign is progressing, multiple new threats are appearing on the horizon. Swedish publication Breakit reports that several additional law firms in Sweden are also getting in on the action with one, Innerstans Advokatbyrå, already sending out demands to alleged file-sharers. “By downloading and uploading the movie without permission from the copyright holder, you have committed a copyright infringement,” its letter warns. “However, the rightsholder wishes to propose a conciliation solution consisting of paying a flat rate of 7,000 kronor [$831] in one payment for all of the copyright infringements in question.” The demand for 7,000 kronor is significantly more than 4,500 kronor ($535) demanded by Njord Law but Innerstans Advokatbyrå warns that this amount will only be the beginning, should an alleged pirate fail to pay up and the case goes to court. “If this happens, the amount will not be limited to 7,000 kronor but will compensate for the damage suffered and will include compensation for investigative costs, application fees and attorney fees,” the company warns. Breakit spoke with Alex Block at Innerstans Advokatbyrå who wouldn’t reveal how many letters had been sent out. However, he did indicate that while damages amounts will be decided by the court, a license for a shared film can cost 80,000 kronor ($12,800). “This will last for a long time, and to a large extent,” he said. Of course, we’ve reported on plenty of these campaigns before and their representatives all state that people will be taken to court if they don’t pay. This one is no different, with Block assuring the public that if they don’t pay, court will follow. The credibility of the campaign is at stake, he notes. “It’s our intention [to go to court], even if we prefer to avoid it. We must make reality of our requirements, otherwise it will not work,” he says. Breakit says it has seen a copy of one letter from the lawfirm, which reveals a collaboration between US film company Mile High Distribution Inc. and Mircom International Content Management & Consulting Ltd. Mircom is extremely well known in trolling circles having conducted campaigns in several areas of the EU. German outfit Media Protector is also involved, having tracked the IP addresses of the alleged pirates. This company also has years of experience working with copyright trolls. With several other law firms apparently getting in on the action, Swedish authorities need to ensure that the country doesn’t become another Germany where trolls have run rampant for a number of years, causing misery for thousands. While that help may not necessarily be forthcoming, it’s perhaps a little surprising that given Sweden’s proud and recent history of piracy activism, there appear to be very few signs of a visible and organized pushback from the masses. That will certainly please the trolls, who tend to thrive when unchallenged. source: torrentfreak
  2. The controversial ripping tool AnyDVD has released a new beta version that allows users to decrypt and copy UHD Blu-Ray discs. The software makes use of the leaked keys that came out recently and appears to work well. Meanwhile, disc drive manufacturers are patching security holes. For a long time UHD Blu-Ray discs have been the holy grail for movie rippers. Protected by the ‘unbreakable’ AACS 2.0 encryption, pirates were left with regular HD releases. While that’s fine for most people, it didn’t sit well with the real videophiles. This year there have been some major developments on this front. First, full copies of UHD discs started to leak online, later followed by dozens of AACS 2.0 keys. Technically speaking AACS 2.0 is not confirmed to be defeated yet, but many discs can now be ripped. This week a popular name jumped onto the UHD Blu-Ray bandwagon. In its latest beta release, AnyDVD now supports the format, relying on the leaked keys. “New (UHD Blu-ray): Fetch AACS keys from external file for use with ‘UHD-friendly’ drives,” the release notes read. The involvement of AnyDVD is significant because it previously came under legal pressure from decryption licensing outfit AACS LA. This caused former parent company Slysoft to shut down last year, but the software later reappeared under new management. Based on reports from several AnyDVD users, the UHD ripping works well for most people. Some even claim that it’s faster than the free alternative, MakeMKV. The question is, however, how long the ripping party will last. TorrentFreak has learned that not all supported Blu-Ray disc drives will remain “UHD-friendly.” According to one source’s information, which we were unable to independently verify, device manufacturers have recently been instructed to patch the holes through firmware updates. This indeed appears to be what’s happening. According to several user reports, LG’s WH16NS40 is no longer able to read and rip UHD Blu-Rays after the most recent firmware change. Ironically, LG advertises it as “Improved BD UHD disc compatibility.” So, while ripping tools such as AnyDVD are joining in to support UHD ripping, AACS LA and disc drive manufacturers appear to be patching security holes. But whatever they do, rippers are unlikely to stop their efforts until they’ve reached the holy grail. source: torrentfreak
  3. People are being warned to be on their guard after fake piracy fines demanding hundreds of euros were sent out to Internet users in Germany. The emails claim that the user has infringed the rights of 20th Century Fox by streaming illegal content from popular platform Kinox. But the whole thing is an elaborate scam designed to part people from their hard-earned cash. Most people who obtain and share large quantities of material online understand that comes with risk, possibly in the form of an ISP-forwarded warning, a letter demanding cash, or even a visit from the police. While the latter only happens in the rarest of circumstances, warnings are relatively commonplace, especially in the United States where companies like Rightscorp pump them out in their thousands. Letters demanding cash payment, sent by so-called copyright trolls, are less prevalent but these days most people understand the concept of a piracy ‘fine’. With this level of understanding in the mainstream there are opportunities for scammers, who have periodically tried to extract payments from Internet users who have done nothing wrong. This is currently the case in Germany, where a consumer group is warning of a wave of piracy ‘fines’ being sent out to completely innocent victims. The emails, which claim to be sent on behalf of 20th Century Fox, allege the recipient has infringed copyright on streaming portal Kinox.to. For this apparent transgression, they demand a payment of more than 375 euros but the whole thing is an elaborate scam. Unlike some fairly primitive previous efforts, however, these emails are actually quite clever. Citing a genuine ruling from the European Court of Justice which found that streaming content is illegal inside the EU, the cash demand offers up personal information of the user, such as IP addresses, browser, and operating system. However, instead of obtaining these via an external piracy monitoring system and subsequent court order (as happens with BitTorrent cases), the data is pulled from the user’s machine when a third-party link is clicked. As highlighted by Tarnkappe, who first noticed the warning, there are other elements to the cash demands that point to an elaborate scam. Perhaps the biggest tell of all is the complete absence of precise details of the alleged infringement, such as the title of the content supposedly obtained along with a time and date. These are common features of all genuine settlement demands so any that fail to mention content should be treated with caution. “Do not pay. It is rip off. Report to the police,” the local consumer group warns. Interestingly, warning recipients are advised by the scammers to pay their ‘fine’ directly to a bank account in the United Kingdom. Hopefully it will have been shut down by now but it’s worth mentioning that people should avoid direct bank transfers with anyone they don’t trust. If any payment must be made, credit cards are a much safer option but in the case of wannabe trolls, they’re best ignored until they appear with proper proof backed up by credible legal documentation. Even then, people should consider putting up a fight, if they’re being unfairly treated. source: torrentfreak
  4. Students and youths who record the latest blockbusters in cinemas and upload them to pirate sites are being offered US$10 for their work. That's according to an Indian Chamber of Commerce representative who revealed the latest piracy strategies during a meeting with police this week. "The amount is being deposited into their account the moment they upload the film,” an official said. In common with most other countries, demand for movies is absolutely huge in India. According to a 2015 report, the country produces between 1,500 and 2,000 movies each year, more than any other country in the world. But India also has a huge piracy problem. If a movie is worth watching, it’s pirated extremely quickly, mostly within a couple of days of release, often much sooner. These early copies ordinarily come from “cams” – recordings made in cinemas – which are sold on the streets for next to nothing and eagerly snapped up citizens. Who, incidentally, are served by ten times fewer cinema screens than their US counterparts. These cam copies have to come from somewhere and according to representatives from the local Anti-Video Piracy Committee, piracy groups have begun to divert “camming” duties to outsiders, effectively decentralizing their operations. Their targets are said to be young people with decent mobile phones, students in particular. Along with China, India now has more than a billion phone users, so there’s no shortage of candidates. “The offer to youngsters is that they would get 10 US dollars into their bank accounts, if they videographed and sent it on the first day of release of the film,” says Raj Kumar, Telugu Film Chamber of Commerce representative and Anti-Video Piracy Committee chairman. “The minors and youngsters are getting attracted to the money, not knowing that piracy is a crime,” he adds. Although US$10 sounds like a meager amount, for many locals the offer is significant. According to figures from 2014, the averag daily wage in India is just 272 Indian Rupees (US$4.24) so, for an hour or two’s ‘work’ sitting in a cinema with a phone, a student can, in theory, earn more than he can in two days employment. The issue of youth “camming” came up yesterday during a meeting of film producers, Internet service providers and cybercrime officials convened by IT and Industries Secretary Jayesh Ranjan. The meeting heard that the Telangana State government will soon have its own special police officers and cybercrime experts to tackle the growing problem of pirate sites, who will take them down if necessary. “The State government has adopted a no-tolerance policy towards online piracy of films and will soon have a plan in place to tackle and effectively curb piracy. We need to adopt strong measures and countermeasures to weed out all kinds of piracy,” Ranjan said. The State already has its own Intellectual Property Crimes Unit (IPCU) but local officials have complained that not enough is being done to curb huge losses faced by the industry. There have been successes, however. Cybercrime officials previously tracked down individuals said to have been involved in the piracy of the spectacular movie Baahubali 2 – The Conclusion which became the highest grossing Indian film ever just six days after its release earlier this year. But despite the efforts and successes, the basics appear to elude Indian anti-piracy forces. During October 2017, a 4K copy of Baahubali 2 was uploaded to YouTube and has since racked up an astonishing 54.7m views to the delight of a worldwide audience, many of them enjoying the best of Indian cinema for the first time – for free. Still, the meeting Monday found that sites offering pirated Indian movies should be targeted and brought to their knees. “In the meeting, the ISPs too were asked to designate a nodal officer who can keep a watch over websites which upload such data onto their websites and bring them down,” a cybercrime police officer said. Next stop, YouTube? source: torrentfreak
  5. A VPN server operated by ExpressVPN was seized by Turkish authorities to investigate the assassination of Andrei Karlov, the Russian Ambassador to Turkey. Authorities hoped to find more information on people who removed digital traces of the assassin, but the server in question held no logs. VPNs are valuable tools for people who want to use the Internet securely and maintain their anonymity. They are vital for whistleblowers and people who rebel against Government oppression. As with any online service, they can also be used for criminal purposes. According to Turkish news sources, this is also what happened following the assassination of Andrei Karlov, the Russian Ambassador to Turkey, exactly one year ago. Karlov was shot dead in Ankara by Mevlüt Mert Altıntaş, an off-duty Turkish police officer. While that much is clear, the investigation into the assassination is not closed yet. When the authorities tried to find links to other people that may have been involved, they found out that the policeman’s Gmail and Facebook had been deleted. This happened remotely over a VPN connection, operated by ExpressVPN. To find out more, the authorities raided the datacenter and seized the server through which the connection went. This all happened last January, but the information just came out today. Like many other VPN services nowadays, ExpressVPN doesn’t store any logs, and this is what the investigators soon found out as well. An inspection of the server in question yielded no useful information. Following the seizure, an investigator also reached out to ExpressVPN directly, asking for logs. The VPN provider is incorporated in the British Virgin Islands and only responds to local court orders, but the investigator was informed that they don’t store connection or activity logs. “As we stated to Turkish authorities in January 2017, ExpressVPN does not and has never possessed any customer connection logs that would enable us to know which customer was using the specific IPs cited by the investigators,” ExpressVPN writes in a statement. “Furthermore, we were unable to see which customers accessed Gmail or Facebook during the time in question, as we do not keep activity logs. We believe that the investigators’ seizure and inspection of the VPN server in question confirmed these points.” Speaking with TorrentFreak, the VPN provider mentions that they’ve had physical server seizures in the past, but generally not more than a few times per year. These seizures are not announced in public, but the company stresses that user anonymity is their highest priority. “While we don’t have a policy of announcing such incidents, we’ve designed our technology to ensure that VPN servers do not possess logs which would enable a third party to determine sensitive information about our users, such as their VPN activity or connections. “A physical server seizure is therefore highly unlikely to provide relevant information to someone trying to determine data about specific usage,” ExpressVPN tells us. Incidents like these show that decent VPNs do what they’re set out to. They safeguard the privacy of users which, like the Internet in general, can be used for good and bad. It also highlights the importance of the server location. When servers are operated by third-party companies in foreign jurisdictions, they can be easily targeted, or perhaps even worse, monitored. ExpressVPN told TorrentFreak that after the seizure incident in Turkey, the company decided to no longer use physical servers in Turkey. Instead, they provide a virtual location with Turkey-registered IP addresses pointing to VPN servers hosted in the Netherlands. The VPN provider regrets that its services were used for unlawful purposes but says that its policies will remain the same. “While it’s unfortunate that security tools like VPNs can be abused for illicit purposes, they are critical for our safety and the preservation of our right to privacy online. ExpressVPN is fundamentally opposed to any efforts to install ‘backdoors’ or attempts by governments to otherwise undermine such technologies,” the company concludes. source: torrentfreak
  6. Facebook has published data on the number of piracy takedown notices the company receives. During the first half of 2017, the social media giant removed 1.8 million posts or files, following copyright holder requests. Interestingly, the company rejected nearly a third of all requests in their entirety. As one of the largest user-generated platforms on the Internet, Facebook has to battle a constant stream of unauthorized copyright material. To facilitate this process, Facebook has rolled out a few anti-piracy initiatives in recent years. The company has a “Rights Manager” tool that automatically detects infringing material and allows owners to take down or monetize this content. In addition, Facebook uses the third-party service Audible Magic to spot and remove pirated music tracks. Thus far, little was known about the number of copyright takedown requests Facebook processes every month, but new details released in its new transparency report a few hours ago provides some context. During the first six months of 2017, a total of 224,464 requests were received by Facebook. One request can list a single post or file, but they can contain more items. During this period, 1,818,794 items were removed from Facebook, which is roughly 10,000 per day. “Each report submitted by a rights holder is processed by our IP Operations team, which is a global team of trained professionals who provide around-the-clock coverage in multiple languages,” Facebook writes. “If the report is complete and valid, the team will promptly remove the reported content, typically within a day or less, and confirm that action with the rights holder that reported it.” Another interesting statistic is that no action was taken in response to more than 31% of the 224,464 requests. This means that none of the content highlighted in these notices was removed. These rejections could be the result of an abusive, inaccurate or incomplete request, for example. In addition to takedown requests on Facebook itself, the company also shared the same data for Instagram. The numbers are roughly a third of Facebook’s, with 70,008 requests and 685,996 removed posts or items during the first half of 2017. The social media giant stresses that it operates with the best interests of copyright holders and users in mind. For copyright holders, the takedown process is optimized and improved where possible. At the same time, the company aims to educate users who make an occasional mistake, to prevent further problems. Facebook users who continue to post or link to pirated content repeatedly, will be dealt with eventually though. The company regularly disables accounts, removes pages, and deletes groups to stop persistent infringers. “In addition to removing reported content, we disable the accounts of repeat infringers in appropriate circumstances. Our repeat infringer policy applies to IP violations committed via Facebook profiles and Instagram accounts, including copyright, trademark and counterfeit,” the company writes. This is likely the reason why several pages of pirate sites disappeared from the social media platform in recent years. Interestingly, there appears to be little to stop these repeat infringers from signing up again and starting over. source: torrentfreak
  7. The New Zealand government has announced an overhaul of the country's copyright laws. A review of the Copyright Act 1994 was announced by the previous government and will now go ahead next year. Speaking with TF, Kim Dotcom says that current legislation is mostly good, since it protects both consumers and ISPs. However, he does have some advice for the judiciary. The Copyright Act 1994 is the key legislation governing New Zealand’s handling of intellectual property issues, covering protection, infringement, exceptions and enforcement. It last underwent a review more than a decade ago resulting in the Copyright (New Technologies) Amendment Act 2008. Like much copyright law worldwide, New Zealand’s legislation has struggled to keep pace with technological change so, during the summer, the last government announced plans for a review with several key goals: – Assess the performance of the Copyright Act against the objectives of New Zealand’s copyright regime. – Identify barriers to achieving the objectives of New Zealand’s copyright regime, and the level of impact that these barriers have. – Formulate a preferred approach to addressing these issues – including amendments to the Copyright Act, and the commissioning of further work on any other regulatory or non-regulatory options that are identified. The former government planned to initiate a public consultation in the second quarter of 2018, with a review being informed by the responses. According to an announcement Friday, the new government plans to go ahead with the overhaul, beginning in April as previously envisioned. Many of the hot topics in the United States, Europe and closer to home in Australia are expected to come to the forefront, including site-blocking, service provider safe harbor provisions, and the thorny issue of fair use. Speaking with RadioNZ, New Zealand Screen Association managing director Matthew Cheetham says that new legislation is required to keep pace with a rapidly moving landscape. “In New Zealand, piracy is almost an accepted thing, because no one’s really doing anything about it, because no one actually can do anything about it,” Cheetham says. “As new technologies have evolved, the law has struggled to keep pace with those new technologies and to make sure that the law is fit for purpose in the digital age.” As the local representative for several Hollywood studios, it’s no surprise that NZSA will be seeking amendments that will force ISPs to block access to popular pirate sites, as they do already in the UK, Europe, and Australia. “If the site is infringing [a court] can order internet service providers to block access to that site. Forty-two countries around the world have recognised that blocking access when it’s carefully defined is a perfectly legitimate avenue for rights holders to protect their rights,” Cheetham notes. While there hasn’t been a major copyright overhaul in more than a decade, New Zealand is no stranger to prolonged exercises to try and stop piracy. The country spent huge amounts of time and money late last decade in order to come up with the Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Act 2011. It laid out a system under which pirates received escalating warnings culminating in eventual disconnection from the Internet. But, with escalating costs (between NZ$20 and NZ$25 per notice), the scheme was ultimately an expensive flop. “We have an entire regime that allows copyright holders to seek and send notices to users that are committing piracy and actually have a process in a court-based system that allows remedies to be pursued,” Internet New Zealand deputy chief executive Andrew Cushen told RadioNZ. “None of them are using it. Why would we now look at a wholly different solution that none of them are going to use as well?” As someone who has been acutely affected by New Zealand’s approach to intellectual property rights enforcement, Kim Dotcom certainly has an interest in the development of local copyright law. The Megaupload founder was arrested in 2012 for alleged copyright offenses that he insists aren’t even a crime in New Zealand. So what advice does he have for the review? According to the entrepreneur, the NZ Copyright Act is “mostly good”, noting that it protects both ISPs and consumers. Given the chance, however, he would remind judges about the purpose of the act. “The NZ Copyright Act is a code. The Copyright Act creates a special property right. No other act applies to this special property right, including the crimes act,” Dotcom informs TF. “This might be a helpful yardstick for Judges who don’t understand the Copyright Act and attempt to create new and unintended law from the bench. Just like in my case.” Only time will tell how the public consultation will play out but it seems likely that tackling the “Value Gap” situation will be high up the agenda, especially if that can be achieved by eroding Internet companies’ safe harbors under copyright law. Expect that to receive significant push-back from the technology sector. source: torrentfreak
  8. The US Department of Justice is known to target and prosecute pirate site operators within its own borders. However, the authorities also help other countries to do the same by providing training, forensic tools, and legal expertise to law enforcement around the globe. Online piracy is a global issue. Pirate sites and services tend to operate in multiple jurisdictions and are purposefully set up to evade law enforcement. This makes it hard for police from one country to effectively crack down on a site in another. International cooperation is often required, and the US Government is one of the leaders on this front. The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has quite a bit of experience in tracking down pirates and they are actively sharing this knowledge with countries that can use some help. This goes far beyond the occasional seminar. A diplomatic cable obtained through a Freedom of Information request provides a relatively recent example of these efforts. The document gives an overview of anti-piracy training, provided and funded by the US Government, during the fall of 2015. “On November 24 and 25, prosecutors and investigators from Romania, Moldova, Bulgaria, and Turkey participated in a two-day, US. Department of Justice (USDOJ)-sponsored training program on combatting online piracy. “The program updated participants on legal issues, including data retention legislation, surrounding the investigation and prosecution of online piracy,” the cable adds. According to the cable, piracy has become a very significant problem in Eastern Europe, costing rightsholders and governments millions of dollars in revenues. After the training, local law enforcement officers in these countries should be better equipped to deal with the problem. The event was put together with help from various embassies and among the presenters were law enforcement professionals from around the world. The Director of the DoJ’s CCIPS Cybercrime Laboratory was among the speakers. He gave training on computer forensics and participants were provided with various tools to put this to use. “Participants were given copies of forensic tools at the conclusion of the program so that they could put to use some of what they saw demonstrated during the training,” the cable reads. While catching pirates can be quite hard already, getting them convicted is a challenge as well. Increasingly we’ve seen criminal complaints using non-copyright claims to have site owners prosecuted. By using money laundering and tax offenses, pirates can receive tougher penalties. This was one of the talking points during the training as well. “Participants were encouraged to consider the use of statutes such as money laundering and tax evasion, in addition to those protecting copyrights and trademarks, since these offenses are often punished more severely than standalone intellectual property crimes.” The cable, written by the US Embassy in Bucharest, provides a lot of detail about the two-day training session. It’s also clear on the overall objective. The US wants to increase the likelihood that pirate sites are brought to justice. Not only in the homeland, but around the globe. “By focusing approximately forty investigators and prosecutors from four countries on how they can more effectively attack rogue sites, and by connecting rights holders and their investigators with law enforcement, the chances of pirates being caught and held accountable have increased.” While it’s hard to link the training to any concrete successes, Romanian law enforcement did shut down the country’s leading pirate site a few months later. As with a previous case in Romania, which involved the FBI, money laundering and tax evasion allegations were expected. While it’s not out of the ordinary for international law enforcers to work together, it’s notable how coordinated the US efforts are. Earlier this week we wrote about the US pressure on Sweden to raid The Pirate Bay. And these are not isolated incidents. While the US Department of Justice doesn’t reveal all details of its operations, it is very open about its global efforts to protect Intellectual Property. The DoJ’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS) has relationships with law enforcement worldwide and regularly provides training to foreign officers. A crucial part of the Department’s international enforcement activities is the Intellectual Property Law Enforcement Coordinator (IPLEC) program, which started in 2006. Through IPLECs, the department now has Attorneys stationed in Thailand, Hong Kong, Romania, Brazil, and Nigeria. These Attorneys keep an eye on local law enforcement and provide assistance and training, to protect US copyright holders. “Our strategically placed coordinators draw upon their subject matter expertise to help ensure that property holders’ rights are enforced across the globe, and that the American people are protected from harmful products entering the marketplace,” Attorney General John Cronan of the Criminal Division said just last Friday. Or to end with the title of the Romanian cable: ‘Pirates beware!’ source: torrentfreak
  9. A report published by the Committee on Standards in Public Life advises the UK government to bring forward legislation "to shift the liability of illegal content online towards social media companies" upon Brexit. While the report's focus is on the problem of online intimidation, the advice envisages the UK moving away from the safe harbors offered by the EU's E-Commerce Directive. In order to operate and innovate in the online space, Internet giants such as Google, YouTube, and Facebook can’t be held immediately liable for everything that appears on their platforms. If Google indexes an objectionable website, if someone posts an infringing video to YouTube, or if abusive or violent messages appear on Facebook, that is currently and quite rightly the responsibility of the person who put the offending content there. However, once the platforms in question are advised by an appropriate authority that content posted on their services breaks the law, they are required to take it down. If they do not, they can then be held liable under local and EU law. While essential for tech companies, this so-called safe harbor is a thorn in the side of copyright holders. They contend that platforms like YouTube abuse their freedoms in order to monetize infringing content while gaining advantages in licensing negotiations. The protection offered by the E-Commerce Directive is a hot topic right now, one which necessarily involves the UK. However, with the UK due to leave the EU at 11pm local time on Friday 29 March, 2019, it will then be free to make its own laws. It’s now being suggested that as soon as Brexit happens, the UK should introduce new laws that hold tech companies liable for “illegal content” that appears on their platforms. The advice can be found in a new report published by the Committee on Standards in Public Life. Titled “Intimidation in Public Life”, the report focuses on the online threats and intimidation experienced by Parliamentary candidates and others. However, the laws that currently protect information society service providers apply to a much broader range of content, including that alleged to be copyright-infringing. “Currently, social media companies do not have liability for the content on their sites, even where that content is illegal. This is largely due to the EU E-Commerce Directive (2000), which treats the social media companies as ‘hosts’ of online content. It is clear, however, that this legislation is out of date,” the report reads. “Facebook, Twitter and Google are not simply platforms for the content that others post; they play a role in shaping what users see. We understand that they do not consider themselves as publishers, responsible for reviewing and editing everything that others post on their sites. But with developments in technology, the time has come for the companies to take more responsibility for illegal material that appears on their platforms.” That responsibility should be increased immediately upon Brexit, the Committee recommends, via new legislation that won’t be hindered by the safe harbors offered by the E-Commerce Directive. Doing so will force online platforms to take more direct action to combat the appearance of illegal content, the Committee argues. “The government should seek to legislate to shift the balance of liability for illegal content to the social media companies away from them being passive ‘platforms’ for illegal content. Given the government’s stated intention to leave the EU Single Market, legislation can be introduced to this effect without being in breach of EU law,” the report notes. “We believe government should legislate to rebalance this liability for illegal content, and thereby drive change in the way social media companies operate in combatting illegal behavior online in the UK.” How the process will play out from here remains to be seen but there is likely to be significant push-back from companies including the likes of Google, Facebook, and Twitter. Whether the “illegal content” they’re to be held liable for is deemed threatening, racist, or indeed copyright-infringing, matters are rarely clear-cut and there could be significant fall out if conditions are set too tightly. source: torrentfreak
  10. CBS Broadcasting has dropped its lawsuit against a New York photographer who posted a screenshot of a 1958 episode of the TV series 'Gunsmoke' on social media. The suit was filed after the man first sued CBS for copyright infringement, a case that will likely be settled soon. Over the past year, dozens of independent photographers have taken mainstream media outlets to court, accusing the companies of using their work without permission. While the photographers only have a tiny fraction of the legal budgets of their wealthy adversaries, they have managed to score several settlements. This is no surprise, as the evidence in these cases is often undisputed. However, New York photographer Jon Tannen learned that going up against a media mogul is not without risk. When he sued CBS Broadcasting a few weeks ago, the company ‘retaliated’ in a highly unusual way. Instead of resolving the matter behind closed doors, CBS came out guns blazing. The company filed a lawsuit against the photographer accusing him of posting a copyright-infringing screenshot of a TV show on social media – the 59-year-old show Gunsmoke. While posting a half-century old screenshot of an episode is quite different from using a recent photograph in a commercial publication, CBS branded Tannen a hypocrite in the complaint. Follow up filings revealed how things spiraled out of control. Both parties were not able to agree on a settlement. According to CBS, Tannen demanded more than 100 times the value of a license, which they refused to pay. Instead, they filed a lawsuit of their own. It was a clear retaliatory move and without informing the photographer in advance, attorney Richard Liebowitz wrote to the court. “n the midst of settlement negotiations on this case, Ballard Spahr LLP, the same law firm which serves as defense counsel here, filed a patently frivolous copyright infringement case on behalf of CBS against Tannen in obvious retaliation for this lawsuit,” he writes. While lawsuits over TV show screenshots are highly unusual, this one apparently revitalized the settlement negotiations. Both parties recently informed the court that they are finalizing an agreement in the initial lawsuit, which will end the case. As a result, CBS also dismissed its case against the photographer this week. As is usual, details of the settlement are not disclosed. Meanwhile, another photographer filed a lawsuit against CBS this week, again represented by attorney Richard Liebowitz, who’s not hesitant in targeting the company again. In this case the photographer, New York-based Lawrence Schwartzwald, accuses CBS Interactive of using a photo he took of actress Barbara Streisand and actor Jeff Bridges on CBSNews.com without obtaining permission. With a screenshot of the photo of the site on file, the evidence looks quite compelling. However, let’s see if CBS can dig up some dirt on the photographer’s social media accounts this time round. source: torrentfreak
  11. The battle over the legality of a seized Popcorn Time "news" domain is heating up again in Norway. Two digital rights groups are challenging the domain seizure, arguing that free speech is at stake. It's going to be the "revenge of the nerds," lawyer Kirill Miazine says. A few years ago, Popcorn Time gained popularity worldwide, mostly thanks to its ability to stream torrent files through a user-friendly interface. This rapid rise raised concern among many movie industry companies, who worked hard to contain the threat by going after several forks and their developers. This resulted in the shutdown of several projects. Domain name blockades in several countries, including the UK and most recently Denmark, were used to further mitigate the problem. The most unusual action, however, was taken in Norway where the economic crime police seized the Popcorn-Time.no domain name following a complaint from copyright holders. This was highly unusual because the domain in question didn’t host Popcorn Time itself. Instead, the site posted news articles, as well as links to sites that offered the application. This broad takedown of a news-focused site raised concerns among digital rights activists and legal experts. They questioned whether the far-reaching measure, without a proper judicial review, was violating free speech. Hoping to hold the authorities accountable, Electronic Frontier Norway (EFN) and the Norwegian Unix User Group (NUUG) took the case to court. Initially, the court refused to take on the case, arguing that both parties lacked standing, since they were not sufficiently affected by the domain seizure. This decision was appealed together with the legal owner of the domain name, the Norwegian company IMCASREG8, the domain registrar. After several new filings and hearings, the Appeal Court decided that the case had to be sent back to the District Court again, which will start a new trial next week. TorrentFreak spoke with senior lawyer Kirill Miazine, who will act as the legal assistant for the digital rights groups. He is looking forward to the hearings. “This is going to be like the revenge of the nerds, as the usual suspects, who are monitoring the Internet and bullying the users and ISPs, are now going to be asked uncomfortable questions,” Miazine says. “We’re also considering whether there are grounds to file a criminal case against the people who filed the criminal complaint against the registrant. We are serious about this. It’s not about Popcorn Time.” Since the beginning, this case has been one against the seizure process of the authorities, rather than the site in question. The person who operated the targeted website is not even involved in the case. One of the key questions that will be brought up during the trial, is how Popcorn-Time.no’s activities were different from all the mainstream news sites that covered and linked to Popcorn Time. The rights groups are being represented pro bono by law firm Føyen Torkildsen, who are confident that they can win the case, and prevent similar broad seizures in the future. “For us, the matter is about three core aspects: Internet freedom, free speech, and free software,” Miazine says. “When they attack a tool which could be used legally and illegally, we have to fight back, as their next step could target Tor and VPNs. Of course, the case is about justice too: the police should not be agents of the called copyright groups..,” he adds. source: torrentfreak
  12. As Kim Dotcom continues his fight to avoid extradition to the United States, the entrepreneur suffered a setback this morning. Siding with the US government in a ruling published this morning, Justice Brewer at the New Zealand High Court rejected seven out of eight arguments put forward by the entrepreneur for judicial review. In 2012, file-hosting site Megaupload was shut down by the United States government and founder Kim Dotcom and his associates were arrested in New Zealand. Ever since, the US government has sought to extradite Dotcom on several counts including copyright infringement, racketeering, and money laundering. Dotcom has fought them every single step of the way. One of the key areas of conflict has been the validity of the search warrants used to raid his Coatesville home on January 20, 2012. The fight has been meticulous and lengthy but in 2014, following appeals to lower courts, the Supreme Court finally dismissed Dotcom’s appeals that the search warrants weren’t valid. Following a three-month hearing, the District Court later found that Dotcom was eligible for extradition. Dotcom appealed again but in February 2017 the High Court ruled that the entrepreneur could indeed be transferred to the United States. Dotcom subsequently appealed the High Court decision to the Court of Appeal, a hearing that will go ahead in February 2018. Last summer, the Megaupload founder also “attacked the underpinnings of the extradition process” by filing an eight-point statement of claim for judicial review. This morning the High Court handed down its decision and it looks like bad news for Dotcom The causes of action presented by the Megaupload founder were varied but began by targeting the validity of the arrest warrants used in January 2012 and by extension every subsequent process, including the extradition effort itself. “Accordingly, the relief sought includes orders that the extradition proceeding be quashed or set aside and that Mr Dotcom be discharged,” the ruling reads. However, the Court describes this argument as an abuse of process, noting that the Supreme Court has already upheld the validity of the search warrants and a High Court ruling confirmed the District Court’s finding that Dotcom is eligible for extradition, a process that will soon head to the Court of Appeal. But Dotcom’s arguments continued, with attacks on the validity of search warrants and a request to quash them and return all property seized under their authority. Another point asserted that a US request to seize Dotcom’s assets in New Zealand was invalid because no extraditable offense had been committed. Unfortunately for Dotcom, none of his detailed arguments gained traction with the Hight Court. In his decision, Justice Timothy Brewer sides with the US government which previously described the efforts as “collateral attacks on previous decisions of the Courts and an attempt to pre-empt Mr Dotcom’s appeal.” The Judge eventually rejected seven out of the eight causes of action in a 22-page ruling (pdf) published this morning. “I have granted the USA’s application to strike out causes of action 1 to 7 of the statement of claim for judicial review dated 21 July 2017. The proceeding is now ‘live’ only in relation to the eighth cause of action,” Justice Brewer writes. “I direct that the proceeding be listed for mention in relation to the eighth cause of action in the duty list at 10:00 am on 7 February 2018.” The eighth point, which wasn’t challenged by the US, concerns the “decision by the Deputy Solicitor-General in June 2017 to direct that clones be made of the electronic devices seized from Mr Dotcom’s homes and that they be sent to the USA.” source: torrentfreak
  13. The House of Commons has triggered a parliamentary review of Canada's Copyright Act, to be conducted by the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology. The music industry was quick to weigh in, congratulating government ministers and making it known that the so-called Value Gap, which concerns copyright takedown regimes and artist remuneration, will be high on the agenda. The Copyright Act of Canada was first passed in 1921 and in the decades that followed has undergone considerable amendment. Between 2005 and 2010, several bills failed to gain traction due to opposition but in 2011 the Copyright Modernization Act was tabled. A year later, in the summer of 2012, it was passed into law. The Act tackles a number of important issues, such as allowing time and format shifting, plus backup copies, as long as DRM isn’t circumvented along the way. So-called ‘fair dealing’ also enjoys expansion while statutory damages for non-commercial scale infringement are capped at CAD$5000 per proceeding. Along with these changes sits the “notice-and-notice” regime, in which ISPs forward infringement notices to subscribers on behalf of copyright holders. The Act also mandates a review of copyright law every five years, a period that expired at the end of June 2017. Yesterday a House of Commons motion triggered the required parliamentary review, which will be carried out by the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology. It didn’t take long for the music industry to make its position known. Music Canada, whose key members are Sony Music, Universal Music and Warner Music, enthusiastically welcomed the joint announcement from the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and the Minister of Canadian Heritage. “I applaud Minister Bains and Minister Joly for initiating this review of the Copyright Act,” said Graham Henderson, President and CEO of Music Canada. “Music creators, and all creators who depend on copyright, deserve a Copyright Act that protects their rights when their works are commercialized by others. This is our chance to address the Value Gap threatening the livelihood of Canadian creators and the future of Canadian culture.” That the so-called “Value Gap” has been immediately thrown on the table comes as no surprise. The term, which loosely refers to the way user-generated platforms like YouTube are able to avoid liability for infringing content while generating revenue from it, is a hot topic around the world at the moment. In the US and Europe, for example, greater emphasis is being placed on YouTube’s position than on piracy itself, with record labels claiming that the platform gains an unfair advantage in licensing negotiations, something which leads to a “gap” between what is paid for music, and what it’s actually worth. But the recording labels are unlikely to get an easy ride. As pointed out in a summary by Canadian law professor Michael Geist, the notice-and-takedown rules that facilitate the “Value Gap” are not even part of Canadian law and even without them, the labels have done just fine. “The industry has enjoyed remarkable success since 2012, growing far faster [than] the world average and passing Australia as the world’s 6th largest music market,” Geist writes. “The growth has come largely through Internet streaming revenues, which now generate tens of millions of dollars every year for creators, publishers, and the broader industry. The industry is also likely to continue to lobby for copyright term extension, as foreshadowed by a lobbying blitz just last month in Ottawa.” As reported in September, telecoms companies and the entertainment industries are pressing for website blockades, without intervention from the courts. The upcoming copyright review will provide additional opportunity to push that message home. “Bell admits that copyright reform is not needed for site blocking, but the link to the Copyright Act ensures that the issue will be a prominent part of its lobbying campaign,” Geist notes. “The reality is that Canada is already home to some of the toughest anti-piracy laws in the world with many legislative tools readily available for rights holders and some of the largest damages provisions found anywhere in the world.” But for copyright holders, a review also has the potential to swing things the other way. The previously mentioned notice-and-notice regime, for example, was put in place as an alternative to more restrictive schemes elsewhere. However, it was quickly abused by copyright trolls seeking cash settlements from alleged pirates. It’s certainly possible for that particular loophole to be closed or at least addressed as part of a comprehensive review. In any event, the review is likely to prove spirited, with interested parties on all sides trying to carve out a smooth path for their interests under the next five years of copyright law. source: torrentfreak
  14. BitTorrent Inc., the company behind the BitTorrent and uTorrent torrent clients, has emerged victorious following a long-running trademark dispute in Europe. The battle involved a German company, previously called Bittorrent Marketing GmbH, the EU Intellectual Property Office, the company itself, and an argument over a useless fax machine. For anyone familiar with the BitTorrent brand, there can only be one company that springs to mind. BitTorrent Inc., the outfit behind uTorrent that still employs BitTorrent creator Bram Cohen, seems the logical choice, but not everything is straightforward. Back in June 2003, a company called BitTorrent Marketing GmbH filed an application to register an EU trademark for the term ‘BitTorrent’ with the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO). The company hoped to exploit the trademark for a wide range of uses from marketing, advertising, retail, mail order and Internet sales, to film, television and video licensing plus “providing of memory space on the internet”. The trademark application was published in Jul 2004 and registered in June 2006. However, in June 2011 BitTorrent Inc. filed an application for its revocation on the grounds that the trademark had not been “put to genuine use in the European Union in connection with the services concerned within a continuous period of five years.” A year later, the EUIPO notified BitTorrent Marketing GmbH that it had three months to submit evidence of the trademark’s use. After an application from the company, more time was given to present evidence and a deadline was set for November 21, 2011. Things did not go to plan, however. On the very last day, BitTorrent Marketing GmbH responded to the request by fax, noting that a five-page letter had been sent along with 69 pages of additional evidence. But something went wrong, with the fax machine continually reporting errors. Several days later, the evidence arrived by mail, but that was technically too late. In September 2013, BitTorrent Inc.’s application for the trademark to be revoked was upheld but in November 2013, BitTorrent Marketing GmbH (by now known as Hochmann Marketing GmbH) appealed against the decision to revoke. Almost two years later in August 2015, an EUIPO appeal held that Hochmann “had submitted no relevant proof” before the specified deadline that the trademark had been in previous use. On this basis, the evidence could not be taken into account. “[The appeal] therefore concluded that genuine use of the mark at issue had not been proven, and held that the mark must be revoked with effect from 24 June 2011,” EUIPO documentation reads. However, Hochmann Marketing GmbH wasn’t about to give up, demanding that the decision be annulled and that EUIPO and BitTorrent Inc. should pay the costs. In response, EUIPO and BitTorrent Inc. demanded the opposite, that Hochmann’s action should be dismissed and they should pay the costs instead. In its decision published yesterday, the EU General Court (Third Chamber) clearly sided with EUIPO and BitTorrent Inc. “The [evidence] document clearly contains only statements that are not substantiated by any supporting evidence capable of adducing proof of the place, time, extent and nature of use of the mark at issue, especially because the evidence in question was submitted, in the present case, three days after the prescribed period expired,” the decision reads. The decision also notes that the company was given an additional month to come up with evidence and then some – the evidence was actually due on a Saturday so the period was extended until Monday for the convenience of the company. “Next, EUIPO had duly informed the applicant, by letter of 19 July 2011, that it was ‘required to submit the required evidence of use in reply to the request within three months of receipt of this communication’ and that ‘if no evidence of use [was] submitted within this period, the [EU] mark w[ould] be revoked’,” the decision reads, adding; “That letter also included guidance on how to provide evidence in a timely manner. Consequently, the applicant knew not only what documents it must submit, but also what the consequences of late submission of evidence were.” All things considered, the Court rejected Hochmann Marketing GmbH’s application, ultimately deciding that not enough evidence was produced and what did appear was too late. For that, the trademark remains revoked and Hochmann Marketing must cover EUIPO and BitTorrent Inc.’s legal costs. This isn’t the first time that BitTorrent Inc. has taken on BitTorrent/Hochmann Marketing GmbH and won. In 2014, it took the company to court in the United States and walked away with a $2.2m damages award. source: torrentfreak
  15. A massive list of 72 AACS 2.0 keys is circulating on the Internet, allowing people to rip previously well-protected UHD Blu-ray discs. The leak is a massive setback for Hollywood and the licensing company AACS LA, who have done everything in their power to keep UHD discs secure. Nowadays, movie buffs and videophiles find it hard to imagine a good viewing experience without UHD content, but disc rippers and pirates have remained on the sidelines for a long time. Protected with strong AACS 2.0 encryption, UHD Blu-ray discs have long been one of the last bastions movie pirates had yet to breach. This year there have been some major developments on this front, as full copies of UHD discs started to leak online. While it remained unclear how these were ripped, it was a definite milestone. Just a few months ago another breakthrough came when a Russian company released a Windows tool called DeUHD that could rip UHD Blu-ray discs. Again, the method for obtaining the keys was not revealed. Now there’s another setback for AACS LA, the licensing outfit founded by Warner Bros, Disney, Microsoft, Intel, and others. On various platforms around the Internet, copies of 72 AACS 2.0 keys are being shared. The first mention we can find was posted a few days ago in a ten-year-old forum thread in the Doom9 forums. Since then it has been replicated a few times, without much fanfare. The keys in question are confirmed to work and allow people to rip UHD Blu-ray discs of movies with freely available software such as MakeMKV. They are also different from the DeUHD list, so there are more people who know how to get them. The full list of leaked keys includes movies such as Deadpool, Hancock, Passengers, Star Trek: Into Darkness, and The Martian. Some movies have multiple keys, likely as a result of different disc releases. The leaked keys are also relevant for another reason. Ten years ago, a hacker leaked the AACS cryptographic key “09 F9” online which prompted the MPAA and AACS LA to issue DMCA takedown requests to sites where it surfaced. This escalated into a censorship debate when Digg started removing articles that referenced the leak, triggering a massive backlash. Thus fas the response to the AACS 2.0 leaks has been pretty tame, but it’s still early days. A user who posted the leaked keys on MyCe has already removed them due to possible copyright problems, so it’s definitely still a touchy subject. The question that remains now is how the hacker managed to secure the keys, and if AACS 2.0 has been permanently breached. source: torrentfreak