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  1. i would be interested in your Prices on jpop and animetorrents and to hear what else you have for sale thanks
  2. Popular live TV streaming portal USTVGO appears to have shut down its service. A brief message on the site says "Sorry, we are closed," leaving millions of users with plenty of unanswered questions. While the reason for the sudden decision is unknown, rightsholders and anti-piracy outfits already had USTVGO on their radar. A few days ago, USTVGO users were presented with a disappointing message. Out of the blue, the site’s clean homepage, which usually carries links to over a hundred channels including ABC, CBS, NBC, and Nickelodeon, was replaced with just four words; Sorry, we are closed. Mystery Disappearances When the message first appeared, some had hoped that the downtime would be temporary. But, as time passed, a short hiatus seemed more and more unlikely. It’s not just the main USTVGO.tv domain name that’s affected either; many alternative points of access, including ustv247.tv and watchnewslive.tv, display the same “we are closed” message. To discover more about the shutdown, TorrentFreak reached out to USTVGo’s administrators. At the time of writing we’re yet to receive a response. The site’s email addresses no longer work since USTVGo’s mail servers have disappeared. The platform’s official Discord channel has also been shut down. The above suggests that the people behind the site don’t want to be reached. That leaves former users and the public with unanswered questions, which will undoubtedly lead to speculation. On The Anti-Piracy Radar A statement on USTVGO’s website claimed that it was legal ‘to watch’ its streams. However, the site itself was clearly not seen as a legal streaming service, as the streams were (re)broadcasted without permission from rightsholders. Despite its popularity, USTVGO never appeared on the U.S. Trade Representative’s list of notorious pirate sites, but it was in the crosshairs of copyright holders and anti-piracy groups. In recent months, the TV streaming website was targeted in DMCA notices sent by ESPN, Major League Baseball, and NBCUniversal, who all had their channels listed on the site. Anti-piracy outfit Alianza, which represents major TV broadcasters including DirecTV, Discovery, Fox, HBO, and Sky, has also been on to the service for a while. In a 2021 report produced by Nagra, USTVGO was listed as one of the most popular TV streaming sites. The screenshot above estimates that the service had roughly two million visitors in early 2021, but traffic continued to grow. More recently USTVGO reportedly enjoyed 16 million monthly visits, with almost three quarters coming from the US. Pressure? Without official word from the site’s operators, we can only speculate about the reasons behind USTVGO’s sudden closure. However, in cases like these, some type of legal pressure seems a likely option. There is no evidence to suggest that a third party has taken control of USTVGO’s domains, but perhaps the owners were approached with a cease-and-desist notice. For the site’s former users, whose favorite streaming portal has already gone, the cause of the closure is irrelevant. Some will likely flock to USTVGO alternatives such as 123tvnow, 123tv, tv247, and others. USTVGO
  3. In June 2022, Bungie obtained a $13.5m copyright infringement judgment against defendants who supplied Destiny 2 cheating software 'Wallhax'. New filings by Bungie claim that Wallhax logged users' machines, including medical data of Department of Defense or "active military" personnel. Meanwhile, two defendants are now testifying on behalf of Bungie. In August 2021, Bungie filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against a number of defendants involved in the development and supply of Destiny 2 cheating tool, Wallhax. Last summer, Elite Boss Tech, Inc., 11020781 Canada Inc., and owner Robert James Duthie Nelson, admitted that their tool breached copyright by injecting new code into Bungie’s, thereby creating an unlicensed derivative work. The defendants further conceded that their software circumvented technical measures in breach of the DMCA, but a $13.5 million damages award in Bungie’s favor didn’t mark the end of the lawsuit. Documents handed over by Nelson enabled Bungie to identify Wallhax Senior Developer Patrick Schaufuss (Badger) in Germany and Denmark-based developer Daniel Larsen. After reaching an agreement with the plaintiff, Nelson and Schaufuss are now providing evidence in support of Bungie’s motion for default judgment against Larsen. New Year, New Defendants Late December, several defendants were summoned to appear or face default judgment. They include Sebastiaan Juan Theodoor Cruden, aka “Luzypher” (Netherlands), Eddie Tran, aka “Sentient” (San Jose, US), John Doe #4, aka “Goodman” (Sichuan, China), Yunxuan Deng (Shanghai, China), Anthony Robinson aka “Rulezzgame” (Germany), Chenzhijie Chen, (Beijing, China), Dsoft (Denmark), and Marta Magalhaes (Portugal). If there was any doubt over Bungie’s determination to see this lawsuit through to the bitter end, an avalanche of filings over the past few days settles that once and for all. New declarations from experts and witnesses in support of Bungie’s lawsuit are heavily redacted. However, text left in the clear still manages to deliver powerful testimony that leaves precious room for maneuver. To warm things up, here’s a starter: During the period Wallhax sold their Destiny 2 cheat, Bungie spent “a minimum of $2,000,000” on game security measures to counter cheating. In this lawsuit alone, Bungie has already incurred litigation costs in excess of $338,000. Expert: Cheat Software Logged Sensitive User Data Steven Guris is Director of Threat Investigation at cybersecurity firm Unit 221B. He’s an ethical hacker, an expert in video game cheats, and a Destiny 2 player with over 2,200 hours of logged gaming time. According to his declaration, Guris and his team spent 21 hours analyzing the Wallhax Destiny 2 cheat. The image below shows Wallhax in action, but page after page of redacted text indicates many findings are being suppressed for security reasons. Details relating to the mysterious Wallhax ‘logging function’ are mostly redacted too, but text left in the clear reveals a feature that users of the cheat should be made aware of – sooner rather than later. Major Privacy Breach For Users of Wallhax “Some of the logged processes are not stand-alone applications, but are found on browser tabs that the user had open on their machine,” Guris explains. “In order to identify these tabs, the cheat must look at the name of every browser tab the user has opened every time the user launches the cheat.” Guris goes on to reference a log file that “only contains 20,868 entries” while noting that the cheat software most likely performed a scan each and every time it ran on a user’s computer. Parents are likely to be alarmed at the findings detailed below. From this low point, things somehow manage to get worse. One log entry references a browser tab called ‘patientportal.mhsgenesis.health.mil login’ while another carries the label ‘MHS GENESIS Patient Portal – COVID-19 Results.’ “MHS Genesis is the patient portal for the United States Department of Defense,” Guris writes. “I believe these log entries represent the cheat software’s logging of the browser windows containing MHS Genesis Patient Portal sessions, including health care information. “Based on this information, it appears that the Wallhax cheat software was scanning the computers of, and logging data from, active duty military or Department of Defense personnel.” The URL referenced in the declaration From the text in the declaration that isn’t redacted, there’s no evidence to indicate that logging military personnel data was an explicit aim of the cheat, but in itself that’s unlikely to be of much comfort to users of the cheating software. “In sum, the Wallhax cheat was fundamentally designed to breach private data spaces, evade security measures, and attempt to ensure that cheat users could continue to access Destiny 2 and achieve success against other Destiny 2 players based not on their own skill, but on the cheat software’s technology,” Guris concludes. Badger’s Declaration in Support of Bungie While it’s safe to assume that Patrick Schaufuss (Badger) filed his declaration of his own free will, albeit within the confines of his agreement with Bungie, the document bears the polish of a legal professional. As such, it devastates any defense Larsen would’ve had, if he’d actually tried to defend himself, which it appears he hasn’t. Schaufuss says that the Wallhax business was a partnership consisting of him, Nelson and Larsen. The Wallhax software “exists for the one purpose and only one purpose” – to enable users to cheat in videogames, Destiny 2 included. Schaufuss says he left Wallhax in 2022 but Nelson is still paying towards his legal fees. “When I first joined the Wallhax partnership in 2012, I was the primary software developer for the business,” Schaufuss writes. “Larsen initially joined the partnership as a forum moderator and asked me to teach him programming and reverse engineering in lieu of payment. He was a good student and learned very quickly, and I continued to mentor him for the next three or four years. “Reverse-engineering games is an essential part of Larsen’s cheat development process, and therefore his role at Wallhax,” the cheat developer adds. “Larsen Understood That He was Violating Game Companies’ Rights” The next several pages detailing the Wallhax software are completely redacted. Claims that Larsen willfully violated the DMCA are not. “Larsen and I knew that the Software was wrongful and that it violated the DMCA. In fact, in an effort to taunt me about this litigation Larsen specifically told me that he was well aware that what we were doing violated the DMCA,” Schaufuss writes. “At some point between 2016 and 2018, Larsen decided to make a cheat for Overwatch, which is a game from Activision/Blizzard. After Larsen made that cheat and Nelson began promoting it, Activision/Blizzard reached out to us and told us that they would sue us if we started selling it. Larsen’s reaction was, essentially, ‘Ha ha, try’. “Nelson and I each signed agreements with Activision/Blizzard saying that we would not touch their games, but Larsen refused,” Schaufuss adds. James Barker, Bungie’s Deputy General Counsel, also filed a declaration in support of Bungie’s motion for default judgment. Barker says that cheaters ruin the Destiny 2 experience and with 1,700 hours of gameplay under his belt, he can “viscerally understand the aggravation of encountering a cheat software user.” Like Schaufuss before him, Nelson also filed a declaration in support of Bungie. From the statement that many Wallhax customers “are based in the United States, and send us payment from the United States” to Larsen being aware of the lawsuit but refusing to hand over his copyrighted cheat code, exits were closed one after another.
  4. Last month, the U.S. seized dozens of domains for illegally streaming World Cup 2022 matches. The tournament began in November, but according to a Special Agent's affidavit, Homeland Security received information on sites illegally streaming World Cup matches in September. HSI affidavits filed in support of the December 2022 domain seizures reveal how that process played out. The World Cup is international football’s most prestigious tournament. International governing body FIFA guards its lucrative rights to the competition with a rod of iron. FIFA World Cup 2022 got underway on November 20 in Qatar, and in the hours leading up to December 10, Homeland Security Investigations began seizing pirate streaming site domains. Our initial report was confirmed by U.S. authorities two days later, with a statement claiming that “55 separate websites” had been seized. Over the next few days, 23 additional domains were seized, bringing the total to 78. The official announcement referenced an affidavit filed in support of the seizures, but no copy was provided and hours spent trawling court records turned up nothing in December. Affidavit Dated December 2022 Filed in January 2023 After being officially filed on January 12, 2023, two identical affidavits appeared on record this month at the United States District Court for the District of Maryland. Submitted by HSI Special Agent Jones under two different case numbers, the affidavits carry the signature of Judge Maddox dated December 16, 2022. Both affidavits relate to seizures that took place between December 16-19 but make no mention of earlier seizures. The affidavits list two other case numbers but those documents were filed under seal. After previous assignments at the NSA and Weapons of Mass Destruction Response Team, Special Agent Jones is currently assigned to HSI’s Transnational Cyber Crimes Team (TCCT). His affidavit states that he has probable cause to believe that the listed domains are subject to seizure and forfeiture under 18 U.S.C. § 2323(a)(1)(A)-(B) and (b)(1) because they are used or intended to be used to commit or facilitate criminal infringement under 17 U.S.C. § 506 and 18 U.S.C. § 2319. Friend MTS Referral to HSI in September At least two months before World Cup 2022 began, in its role as representative of FIFA, UK-based anti-piracy company Friend MTS (which is heavily involved in dynamic stream blocking in Europe) began supplying HSI with information on “several” domains. “Friend MTS identified the sites as being used to transmit and distribute copyright infringing content (World Cup games in particular), without the authorization of the copyright holders,” the affidavits read. A “whitelist” of domains allowed to broadcast games is apparently maintained by FIFA, but none of the domains submitted by Friend MTS appeared on that list. ‘Open-Source’ Search For Additional Domains To find additional domains illegally streaming copyright-protected content, U.S. investigators reportedly conducted a review of “open-source internet messages.” Some of the sites discovered “appeared to host illicit streaming content,” while others embedded streams or offered links to content hosted elsewhere. The table below lists some of the domains and the time they were confirmed as offering FIFA content. Also listed are their corresponding domain registries, in this case mostly VeriSign, but others include GoDaddy, Inc., Identity Digital Inc., and Tonic Domains. After confirming all domains were offering unlicensed content, HSI concluded that “neither a restraining order nor an injunction” could guarantee their seizure. However, if the domains were seized and redirected to another website, that would “prevent third parties from acquiring the name and using it to commit additional crimes” and “prevent third parties from continuing to access the websites in their present forms.” Legal Assessment & Seizure The affidavit states that for civil forfeitures, venue may lie in any district where any of the acts giving rise to forfeiture occurred, where the property was found, or where it was bought. For criminal forfeitures, venue lies in any district in which prosecution could occur. In this case, the affidavit states there is probable cause to believe that the domains are subject to civil and criminal forfeiture. With all bases covered, attention turns to the domain registries for .com, .tv, .to, .cc, me, .live, and .net domains – Verisign, Inc., GoDaddy, Tonic Domains, and Identity Digital, Inc. Upon seizure of the domains, the registries were required to associate them with new authoritative name servers, to direct visitors to a government seizure notice referencing a warrant issued by the court. After being served with a copy of the seizure warrant, domain registrars (through which the domain owners had purchased their domains) were told to “modify any records, databases, tables, or documents” used to identify the owner of the domain, to show that seizure had taken place. Domain Seizure Instructions Both affidavits have four attachments marked A1-A4, each detailing actions to be taken by a specific registry. In all cases domain seizures were instructed to take place on December 16, 2022, at 4:00 pm EST. Registries were given the choice of adding two new DNS entries (ns1 and ns2.seizedservers.com) to each domain or redirecting domains to two designated IP addresses. A third option allowed law enforcement to issue instructions to a relevant domain registrar instead. All registries were warned to prevent any modification or transfer of the domains and to implement instructions as quickly as possible. The list of domains for each registry reads as follows: Verisign: Rojadirectatvonline.net, Soccerstreams.net, Weakstream.net, Wizwig1.com, Releasesky.com, Tenorsky.com, Vipleagues.net, Extremotvplay.com, Futbollatam.com, Futboltv-envivo.com, Futbollatin.com, Librefutbol.com, Ovopremium.com Registry Services, LLC (GoDaddy): AJSports.tv, Sportstream.tv, Futboltv.biz Tonic Domains: Soccerstreams.to Identity Digital, Inc.: Rojadirecta.global, Hesgoal.pro, Rojadirecta.me, Livetv605.me, Futboltv.live, Hesgoal.me Notify Domain Owners of Seizures (or not) Since domain seizures are still relatively uncommon in the United States, it was unclear whether the authorities would target domain registries, domain registrars, or both. The paperwork clearly shows that registries are the preferred option, but registrars do get a few mentions. For instance, there’s an instruction for domain registrars to modify registrant records “to reflect the seizure” and also the potential for registrars to change DNS records. In the section shown below, there is a requirement for domain registrars to notify customers that their domains were seized by Homeland Security. As detailed in our earlier report, U.S. domain registrars are listed for more than 60% of the seized domains. Registrars have access to domain owners’ details, so contacting them about seized domains would be straightforward. Despite instructions in the warrant directed at registrars and notes that the seizure warrant will be sent to domain name registrars based in the United States, in all cases the list of registrars is surprisingly small. The affidavit claims that no registrars are based in the United States but in the example above, both AJSports.tv and Futboltv.biz list NameCheap Inc. as the registrar. Other domains listed in the affidavit as having no registrar in the United States include Hesgoal.pro (NameCheap), LiveTV605.me (NameCheap), Fullboltv.live (NameCheap) and Hesgoal.me (Name.com, Inc.) At least on the surface, it appears that all U.S. registrars must inform their customers of the seizures but only if they are listed in the affidavit as being in the United States. None are listed as such. Finally, the original seizure applications and orders were sealed and remain so. At least one was filed in a Miami district court back on October 5, 2022, at least six weeks before the start of the World Cup on November 20, 2022.
  5. Season 23 of Big Brother has just got underway in Brazil, and broadcaster Globo is taking no chances. In a leaked email, Globo staff are informed that when people share too much BBB23 content on social media, it hurts the show and the company, and it needs to be stopped. And if staff suspect people of sharing their passwords, they should be reported too. First broadcast in the Netherlands back in 1999, reality TV show ‘Big Brother’ is now a global franchise spanning more than 60 countries. Big Brother Brazil (BBB) is one of the most successful regional variants. Right now, BBB23 is live on air, so millions of fans are tuning in at home to watch other people living in a different house for a bit while others watch. When BBB fans aren’t glued to their TVs waiting for the drama to unfold, many can be found on social media, usually speculating about what comes next, based on what they’ve just seen. To facilitate the discourse, fans often post images and video clips from the show, but for TV company Globo, which broadcasts the show 24/7 on pay-per-view, some fans go too far. Security Department’s Email Gets Leaked When Globo broadcast BBB22 last year, the company decided to loosen its copyright policy. Rather than being banned from Twitter for sharing clips of the show without permission, Globo said that fans could share a one-minute clip online for every hour of the show. According to an internal communication leaked to local media outlet TVPop, the position may have changed for BBB23. Reportedly issued by Globo’s Information Security department, new guidelines inform staff that digital piracy harms the show and as a result, harms the company. “Digital piracy causes several damages to the market and the entertainment industry is especially affected by it,” the translation reads. “Piracy Impacts Advertising” Reportedly sent to staff via an internal communications system, the new guidelines suggest that piracy harms Globo employees and has a negative effect on the advertising market. “The damage goes far beyond the loss of uniqueness and the dissemination of content without authorization. For example, there is an impact on the attractiveness of audiovisual products for the advertising market,” it reads. While the extent of any damage isn’t quantified, data shows that subscriptions to the Globoplay streaming platform increased by 79% in 2020 and by another 32% in 2021. A document published by Associação Brasileira das Administradorasde Consórcios (pdf) last September provides specifics on the BBB23 advertising program. “Advertising on Big Brother Brasil will become more expensive in 2023. 112 days before the start of the program, brands are rushing to secure a space in the most watched house in Brazil, even with sponsorship quotas for the [Globo] program costing up to 32% more than in previous series,” it reads. “According to program data, in 2022, more than 153 million people watched the program on Globo platforms. Although without breaking the 2021 audience record, according to the broadcaster, the public spent 13% more time watching the last series.” “Lots of Parties and Bullshit” Globo’s leaked communication initially celebrates the launch of BBB23 but quickly emphasizes the importance of clamping down on piracy. “The most watched house in the country is back and promises lots of parties, bullshit, exciting competitions, shacks and audience records. It’s a lot of good things together! But there are people wanting to take a ride on this success. Piracy generates several negative consequences for BBB and for the work of all of us,” it reads. So what can Globo staff do to help? To clamp down on social media users sharing images and videos of BBB23, staff are instructed to report them to Globo. The line between free advertising and piracy isn’t made clear, but when it comes to another modern-day scourge, facilitated by Globo’s paying customers, everything seems more cut and dried. “If you see pirated content out there or know of someone who is sharing the Globoplay login with other people, you already know: just report it by email,” the communication adds. According to TVPop, Globo appears to be taking down BBB videos dating back several years at the same time as taking down content from BBB23. Evidence of takedowns can be found on the Lumen Database, which lists dozens of DMCA takedown notices sent by Globo to Google. Whether this will be enough for Globo is unclear, but with headlines in local media asking, “What time do participants go to the secret room?” the pressure on fans to subscribe can’t be understated.
  6. Paul Hansmeier, a former copyright troll attorney who's currently serving a 14-year prison sentence, wants to hire an undercover investigator to go after online pirates while he's in prison. The convicted lawyer has also requested a sentence reduction, citing a prolonged stay in solitary confinement. Three years ago, a U.S. District Court in Minnesota sentenced Paul Hansmeier to 14 years in prison. Hansmeier was a key player in the Prenda Law firm, which pursued cases against people who were suspected of downloading pirated porn videos via BitTorrent. Investigating and suing pirates isn’t illegal, but Hansmeier and his associate John Steele entered criminal territory when they lied to the courts, committed identity theft, and created a honeypot by uploading self-produced porn torrents to The Pirate Bay as bait. Hansmeier and Steele’s individual responses to the criminal prosecution couldn’t have been more different. Steele cooperated with the prosecution from the start. This resulted in a relatively modest 5-year prison sentence, including a probation period, and he left prison a few weeks ago. Hansmeier decided to go on the offensive. Hansmeier’s Fights Hansmeier initially denied any wrongdoing and later appealed his sentence. The convicted lawyer also launched a flurry of petitions and new lawsuits, hoping to aid his case or reduce the prison term. A few weeks ago, the former lawyer filed a new request to reduce his sentence. Hansmeier says officials have treated him harshly, including a 122-day stay in solitary confinement. “Specifically, Hansmeier engaged in petitioning activity and, in response, prison officials threw him in an isolation cell for five months,” he informed the court, writing in the third person. “While he was in the isolation cell, Hansmeier was limited to one phone call to his family per month, he was locked in a tiny, windowless room where the light stayed on 24 hours a day, he was prohibited from receiving a newspaper or any other periodicals and he was prohibited from having attorney-client privileged calls.” Torture? These events are just a fraction of the punishments allegedly suffered by Hansmeier, at least according to Hansmeier’s own reporting of events. If the allegations are accurate, concerns over Hansmeier’s treatment would be warranted, despite his past activities. These concerns were recognized by journalist Joe Patrice from Above the Law, who previously worked as a litigator and has an extensive legal background. In his coverage of the matter, Patrice suggested that Hansmeier’s treatment could potentially qualify as torture, according to the United Nations. From Patrice’s Article Hansmeier read this report and used Patrice’s article to support his case. In the end, that didn’t help him. United States District Judge Joan N. Ericksen denied the request early this month. Undercover Piracy Investigator The denial means that the 14-year sentence still stands, but that doesn’t mean Hansmeier is giving up. A few days ago he submitted a new request, asking permission to hire an undercover investigator to enforce his copyrights. This isn’t the first time that Hansmeier has attempted to continue his anti-piracy work from prison. Similar suits were filed before – and dismissed. Last summer the court prohibited him from filing more. Despite the filing restriction, Hansmeier now requests a preliminary injunction to prevent the U.S. Government from enforcing the mail-wire fraud conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy statutes for his planned copyright enforcement activities. This basically means that he wants the court to greenlight a similar enforcement strategy for which he was convicted. That’s the simple way of putting it, without any nuance. “Paul Hansmeier would like to hire an undercover investigator to enforce his copyrights in creative works and bring claims under the Copyright Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act against people who pirate the works,” the motion reads. “Hansmeier seeks to do so in a way that addresses the political issues raised by his prior anti-piracy litigation. The primary impediment to Hansmeier protecting his copyrights against Internet piracy is the chilling effect of the government’s criminalization of the routine copyright enforcement methods Hansmeier seeks to use now.” The copyright enforcement campaign could help Hansmeier’s defense, which argues that his conviction was unconstitutional. However, the former lawyer also stresses that pirates deserved to be punished. Piracy is a Cancer According to Hansmeier’s motion, piracy is basically theft and a cancer on the creative industries. “Internet piracy is a cancer eating away at the markets for creative expression. It destroys the incentive to invest in creative output and thus lessens the public’s access to works that enrich the human experience. “Piracy—which is really just theft—contributes nothing to our society. Efforts to deter piracy benefit our society with no corresponding harm to the public; the only person who loses is the pirate, but pirates can avoid being sued if they don’t steal,” the motion adds. These arguments didn’t convince District Judge Joan N. Ericksen to rule in Hansmeier’s favor. In a rather brief order, the request was denied, which sends Hansmeier back to the drawing board.
  7. Sci-Hub, a shadow library that offers a free gateway to paywalled academic research, has lost control over one of its main domain names. Sci-Hub.se was deactivated by The Internet Foundation in Sweden, which manages the country's .se domains. The action came without warning and took Sci-Hub founder Alexandra Elbakyan by surprise. By offering free access to millions of ‘paywalled’ research papers, Sci-Hub is often described as “The Pirate Bay of Science”. The site is used by researchers from all over the world to access papers they otherwise have a hard time accessing. For some, the site is essential to their work. Major academic publishers such as Elsevier, Wiley, and American Chemical Society are not happy with the rogue research library. These companies have made billions of dollars selling access to research and see Sci-Hub as a direct threat to their business model. The publishers have previously tried to shut down Sci-Hub through U.S. courts. While this resulted in favorable default judgments, Sci-Hub hasn’t gone away. The site’s audience continues to grow with millions of academics flocking to Sci-Hub.se every month. Sci-Hub.se Deactivated Yesterday, however, the site’s Swedish domain name suddenly became unresponsive. The reasons for that were unclear, even Sci-Hub founder Alexandra Elbakyan was taken by surprise. After initially thinking of a DDoS attack, Elbakyan learned that the Swedish domain name had been deactivated by the domain name registry. As a result, the site is now unreachable. “Yesterday I noticed problems when trying to open Sci-Hub website: at first, I was thinking that is some DDoS attack, but after checking again today, found out that http://sci-hub.se domain that was resistant for many years has been deactivated,” she wrote. Copyright Complaint? Sci-Hub.se’s domain status was changed to “ServerHold.” Set by the domain registry, this status effectively makes the domain unusable. Similar action was previously taken against other domains, including Fmovies.se. To find out more, we reached out to The Swedish Internet Foundation, which manages Sweden’s .se domains, but at the time of publication, we haven’t heard back (update below). While no official explanation is available, it’s likely that the action was triggered by a copyright complaint. Sweden’s domain registry was previously involved in a legal battle over thepiratebay.se ten years ago. At the time, CEO Danny Aerts called the effectiveness of these deactivations into question. “Removing a domain name can be compared to taking down the signs hanging outside the shoe store. Although this would make it more difficult for customers to find the store, it would still be there,” Aerts said. In the present case, Elbakyan doesn’t expect that the domain can be reinstated. Instead, she simply points followers to the alternative sci-hub.ru domain name, which remains accessible. — Update: The .se registry informed us that the owner of the domain received an email with all information needed. We’re trying to get more details on this from the owner and will update this article if that comes in.
  8. This month the tabloids have been spicing up regular Premier League and PPV boxing event articles with exclusive commentary on cutting-edge anti-piracy techniques. The Orwellian revelation that Illegal Streaming Detector Cars are tracking people to their homes warrants specific and immediate action; 1) Wrap Firesticks in Tin Foil. 2) Wrap Head in Tin Foil. 3) BUY LEGAL TV PACKAGES. Early January, anti-piracy group FACT and West Mercia Police announced they would be visiting addresses in the UK to warn people away from pirate IPTV services. Police had obtained a customer list from a service they raided last year and, since many people hand over their real details to pirate services, tracking down some subscribers would’ve been trivial. None were ever destined for prosecution but they did have an important purpose. Those visited are the physical proof that people who simply watch illegal streams risk a visit from the police. That’s a psychological step up, but not quite enough on its own. People also need to believe that punishments are criminally significant. More fundamentally, millions of people need to be exposed to that message first. Paid advertising is an option, but it can’t compete with free. UK Tabloids Need Clicks After failing to consider the finer details and broader implications of FACT’s carefully written press release, UK tabloid media outlets published sensationalized stories with zero context. The first claim – police were knocking on the doors of 1,000 suspected pirate IPTV subscribers – was a massive exaggeration. The second – two men had already been sentenced to months in prison for simply watching pirate streams – failed to mention that both ran their own piracy operations and received convictions for fraud. In just one of those cases, the prosecution estimated damages in excess of £10 million. Due to the footprint of mass media, other publications had little incentive to set the record straight. As a result, a substantially distorted ‘fact’ reached millions in the UK and audiences in dozens of other countries around the world. Comments on a Russian state-owned newspaper article described UK police as “extremists” – let that sink in. Since a reality check seems to be in order, in an upcoming report we’ll reveal the truth about those convictions for watching illegal streams, and compare them to the risks faced by ordinary consumers. In no small part, the motivation to reveal those details was provided by new and completely unsubstantiated claims published in the media during the last few days. Sports News, Subscription/PPV Promotion, Piracy Warnings Over the past few years, a new breed of articles has featured in UK tabloids. Typically published in advance of a big PPV boxing event, articles appear with three components – sundry news about the fights, “stark warnings” not to pirate the fight (or go to prison), and then details of where the fight can be legally bought. The same format appears just before the start of a new football season, year after year. Eubank Jr vs. Smith: Big Fight, Even Bigger Warnings After reading hundreds of similar articles, the intended effect can wear off, but a few days ago something extraordinary appeared in not one, but two UK tabloids under different ownership. Both articles promoted the Chris Eubank Jr vs. Liam Smith PPV boxing event that took place last Saturday night and did so in almost identical ways. The Mirror ran with the headline, “Boxing fans sent prison warning over illegal Chris Eubank Jr fight stream.” The article itself made no mention of who issued the warning or what was actually said, but did have room for the following sequential paragraphs: Sky Sports Box Office is showcasing the grudge match, with the price for the first big British boxing card of the year set at £19.95. And new technology now enables sports’ rightholders and broadcasters to trace the unique IP addresses of users illegally streaming the fight – for up to six months. Mail Online ran with the headline, “Boxing fans handed PRISON warning ahead of Saturday’s highly-anticipated middleweight clash.” This time the article did cite a source for the warnings: “Police reissued warnings for those intending to illegally stream the fight.” No specific police unit or officer received credit for the warning, but Mail Online did repeat the same IP address claims published by The Mirror. Unfortunately, neither cited a source or attempted to explain how this “new technology” might work. How sports reporters got the best anti-piracy scoop of the last 20 years also remains a mystery. Remember TV Detector Vans? Meet Piracy Detector Tracking Cars If you aren’t wearing a tin foil hat right now, find something with equivalent protection and buckle up. The articles referenced above were written by two different people, and published in two separate publications under different ownership. Both articles are based on the same exclusive information, have the same structure, and make the same extraordinary claims. Some take scare tactics to a brand-new level. The Mirror: “Cars driving across the UK have also been fitted with tracking devices as police identity the households illegally streaming such events during the crackdown.” Mail Online: “It is part of a wider police attempt to decrease illegal streaming, and cars have been fitted with apparatus that will allow them to pick up and track streamers to their homes.” If this claim had substance – real substance – it would make for an irresistible tabloid headline, not something casually bumped between paragraphs in a boxing article. Then there’s the question of how it came to appear in there at all. Did two independent journalists simultaneously discover the existence of piracy spy vehicles driving all over the UK? On the balance of probabilities, the theory fails to convince. Equally unlikely is a scenario where one writer spotted the other’s work and thought that the claim was so generic, nobody would notice it being republished in a rival newspaper. Could it be possible, that by some coincidence, the articles relied on the same source? Without cooperation and full disclosure, that would be hard to prove. But if there was an aim, somewhere along the murky tip supply chain, to deter piracy by revealing the existence of Illegal Streaming Detector Cars, here’s the breaking news: it’s been tried before and it didn’t work. DeepAI’s rendition of the new detection/tracking technology The BBC’s ‘TV Detector Vans‘ have been objects of ridicule in the UK for the last 60 to 70 years. The BBC refuses to discuss them in response to FOIA requests and the suspicion here is that ISDCs (all anti-piracy terms MUST have an acronym) will find themselves shrouded in similar mystery. In the meantime, all “hacked and dodgy Firesticks” should be immediately wrapped in tin foil and buried outside. For extra protection, make a tin foil hat and take two spoons of common sense every four hours.
  9. Someone claiming to be Elon Musk has bombarded Google with takedown notices recently. The requests urge the search engine to remove listings for T-shirts emblazoned with memes shared by the tech billionaire. Other targets include a copy of a Tesla AI Day t-shirt. While Musk can certainly be unpredictable, there might be an imposter at work. Elon Musk is not only one of the smartest and richest people on the planet, he’s also a passionate meme connoisseur. A few months ago we covered a Musk-approved meme which suggested that piracy may start to appeal again as the legal streaming landscape gets more crowded. And that was just one of many he shared. Since Musk has quite a large following, these memes circulate all over Twitter and far beyond. This has inspired some ‘entrepreneurs’ to use them in business, by setting up dropship services that print Musk’s memes on T-shirts and other goods, for example. Musk Meme Takedowns Since meme shirts are now being sold in various online stores, there seems to be a demand for this type of product. These nerdy fashion items have largely gone unnoticed by the general public, but Google was recently informed about this viral activity through a series of takedown requests. The DMCA notices were sent by none other than Elon Musk or, much more likely, someone claiming to be the tech billionaire. They all follow the same format, asking Google to remove links to copyright-infringing t-shirts from search results. “The following websites have stolen my copyright and they have no right to sell them, please remove the following links from search results,” ‘Musk’ writes in one of the requests, citing one of his ‘own’ tweets. The image shared in the tweet is a ‘bots’ meme, referring to Musk’s attempt to reduce bot activity on Twitter. And indeed, most of the listed URLs that were reported to Google sell T-shirts emblazoned with this meme. One of the Reported T-shirts While there’s no question that Musk shared the meme, the copyright claim is trivial. Even if Musk created this meme himself, he doesn’t own the rights to the base photo, which is Grant Gustin on the set of The Flash. This photo has been used as meme inspiration for years. The same is true for other memes highlighted in ‘Musk’ takedown notices, including the Lego Doctor, Mediocrates and They Brainwashed You memes. Again, the takedown requests target several stores that sell clothing with a print of this meme, with ‘Musk’ claiming ownership of the memes themselves. One of the DMCA Notices Aside from memes, ‘Musk’ also targets a design that hits closer to home. One notice highlights an exclusive design for the official Tesla AI Day t-shirt. This request seems more plausible, but the broader context puts the validity of these requests in question. Musk Be Fake Aside from the questionable copyright claims, we seriously doubt that these DMCA notices were sent or authorized by Musk. It’s more likely that someone else is pretending to be the tech billionaire, to further their own cause. For example, an imposter may be a player in the highly competitive Musk-meme t-shirt-selling business. By removing competitors from Google’s search results, this person can improve visibility and increase their own profits. That would be a typical example of DMCA abuse. While DMCA abuse is against the law, this certainly wouldn’t be the first time that an imposter has exploited copyright law to gain an unfair advantage. We have seen similar efforts in the past, often with a competitive edge. The suggestion that there are imposters at work is strengthened by other notices we spotted, in which “The Beatles” and “Barstool Sports” also flag ‘Musk’ (and other) shirts. In turn, some Musk takedowns report entirely unrelated designs. DMCA Drama These and other notices are among thousands of t-shirt takedowns in recent weeks, covering a variety of designs. Perhaps this is all related to a brawl between competing apparel outlets? For now, the good news is that Google has rejected the vast majority of these claims. To completely rule out that these notices were sent by the real Elon Musk, we reached out to Twitter, hoping that his company could offer some clarity. At the time of publication, we have yet to receive a response. In any case, we caution others from drawing the wrong conclusions. After all, the tech billionaire isn’t a big fan of the DMCA, to say the least. Just a few months ago he characterized the copyright law as being an “overzealous plague on humanity.” That was the real Elon Musk, for sure. Perhaps someone should put that on a t-shirt? —
  10. In June 2022, the operators of pirate IPTV service Nitro TV were ordered to pay $100 million in damages to broadcaster DISH Network. To recover at least some of the millions made by the service, DISH obtained permission to seize and sell a house worth almost $1 million. After failing to participate in the original lawsuit, the defendants are now trying to defend their house. After being sued by DISH Network in 2021, former Nitro TV operators Alex Galindo, Anna Galindo, Martha Galindo, and Osvaldo Galindo, made no real attempt to fight the lawsuit. Why that decision was taken is still unknown, but court records suggest that throwing money away on a case that couldn’t be won might be one of the possibilities. The downside is that the plaintiffs went completely unchallenged, including when they requested and received a damages award in excess of $100 million last June. Cash Disappeared, House Remained After receiving the green light, DISH began searching for the defendants’ assets, including more than $10 million generated by the Nitro TV service. Four banks that had received deposits of more than $9 million complied with disclosure requests; two reported no active accounts, one confirmed a $49.00 balance, and the final account was in the red. Finding the cupboard bare, DISH moved in on the defendants’ house in Friendswood, Texas. Since the property might qualify for homestead protection, DISH presented evidence to the court to show that Nitro TV subscription revenue was used to pay for the house. With the defendants entirely absent from the legal process, the court ordered the United States Marshal Service to levy and sell the property. Out of nowhere, the defendants suddenly decided that wasn’t going to happen. The House is Off Limits In a motion to alter or amend the judgment “to prevent a clear error or manifest injustice,” counsel for Alex Galindo explained that his client bought the house in Friendswood in March 2020 and declared it his home. “The Texas Constitution provides special protections for the homestead separate and distinct from protections afforded other types of property,” the motion reads. “Because constitutional homestead rights protect citizens from losing their homes, statutes relating to homestead rights are liberally construed to protect the homestead.” DISH evidence linked 99% of the house purchase price to sales of illegal IPTV subscriptions. The company argued that homestead protection is not available when a property is purchased with wrongfully acquired funds. To support that claim, DISH cited another case – Deluxe Barber School, LLC and Bonifice I. Mbaka – but according to counsel for Galindo, an important detail means that his house still enjoys protection. No Money Was Stolen In a nutshell, Deluxe Barber involved a foreclosure on a property that was purchased with stolen cash. The strong suggestion here is that since the cash at issue in the Nitro case wasn’t stolen and wasn’t earned by DISH, Deluxe Barber is unhelpful to the broadcaster. “[T]hese funds were never possessed, or even earned, by the Plaintiffs. There is no evidence that such funds belonged to the Plaintiffs or that Defendants stole or wrongfully acquired funds directly from Plaintiffs,” the motion reads. The 99% figure is also important, the motion adds. It argues that since the account used to buy the property contained personal funds and money “potentially earned” from legitimate transactions, just one percent of legitimate funding would mean homestead rights under the Texas Constitution, especially since Texas courts “liberally construe statutes” relating to homestead rights. Predictably, DISH sees things quite differently. DISH: Don’t Undo The Correct Decision In calling for the motion to be dismissed, DISH cites the history of the lawsuit, using the Court’s own words to state its position. The defendants operated an “illegal streaming service called Nitro TV, through which the defendants pirated the plaintiffs’ television programming and sold that content to Nitro TV’s subscribers,” the court’s judgment reads. The Court also handed down a statutory damages award of $100,363,000 – the defendants didn’t challenge the award in June 2022, and they aren’t challenging it now, DISH adds. Furthermore, the defendants were served with a motion relating to the house in October 2022, and a month later after receiving no response, the Court found that the property does not warrant homestead protection. “Defendants moved the Fifth Circuit to stay the sale of the Friendswood Property – making essentially the same arguments raised here – and that motion was denied,” DISH notes. “Defendants’ motion for reconsideration should likewise be denied as there are no grounds warranting the extraordinary remedy of reconsideration and, even if reconsidered, the Court’s Order allowing the sale of the Friendswood Property is supported by the undisputed facts and well-established Texas law.” The Money Wasn’t Stolen But Fraud Works Too Addressing Galindo’s assertion that stolen money wasn’t used to buy the house, DISH draws attention to “analogous Florida laws” where homestead protection did not apply because funds were “fraudulently obtained.” Furthermore, if the house was indeed a homestead, it wasn’t designated as such for tax purposes. “Defendants fail to show entitlement to the extraordinary remedy of reconsideration. Defendants’ motion to alter or amend the Court’s Order authorizing the U.S. Marshal to levy and sell the Friendswood Property and apply the proceeds towards the satisfaction of Plaintiffs’ judgment should be denied in all respects,” DISH concludes. Galindo’s motion to alter/amend and the DISH response can be found online
  11. Following a legal process of more than five years, a court in Lithuania has handed down its verdict against two alleged operators of streaming portal Filmai. After being found guilty, one man was sentenced to fines and a confiscation order of 200,000 euros. The second man was acquitted. Meanwhile, Film.ai is still online and remains one of the most popular sites in the country. Numerous reports published by the European Union over the past decade have linked higher levels of content piracy with lacking availability of legal content. Restricted access to legal offers fuels the perception among citizens that piracy is an acceptable option, which in turn leads to higher levels of pirated content consumption. One way to combat that is by making content available and raising awareness, through the EU’s Agorateka platform, for example. Member State Lithuania has faced criticism for its high piracy rates, including an EU finding in 2022 that 43% of young people mainly access movies from illegal sources. However, when Agorateka sends citizens to the country’s “Buy Legally” portal which doesn’t appear to exist, that doesn’t help when the same EU report (pdf) found that 50% of people said they would stop pirating content if it was made available legally. Filmai – A Pirate Movie Service Like No Other Filmai is the most famous movie and TV show piracy site in Lithuania. Founded in 2009 when access to legal content was exponentially worse than it is even today, Filmai is no ordinary piracy platform. So that Lithuanians can access and enjoy international movies, the site hires translators and voice actors to create Lithuanian language streams and downloads. Since this costs money, Lithuanian visitors mostly pay to access the service. In 2021, it was revealed that Lithuanian officials were Filmai users. At the same time, two alleged administrators of the site were under criminal investigation. Filmai had been infiltrated by anti-piracy investigators posing as translators. The team reportedly earned 111.17 euros for their work, and payment was sent to their PayPal account. The fates of two alleged operators of Filmai were announced yesterday. One Conviction, One Acquittal Following a legal process that took more than five years, relating to the activities of two men between 2010 and 2017, the Kaunas District Court handed down its decision last Friday. One of the defendants was acquitted of all wrongdoing but the other wasn’t so lucky. The Lithuanian man, who hasn’t been named, was ordered to pay almost 50,000 euros in fines to rightsholders including 38,000 euros to the Lithuanian Copyright Collective Administration Association (LATGA) and 11,000 euros to All Media Lithuania (TV3 television). The most significant component of the sentence is a confiscation order. Assets worth almost 200,000 euros will be seized from the defendant, who is also required to compensate LATGA for its legal costs. LATGA Celebrates Win In a statement issued yesterday, LATGA welcomes the district court’s verdict since it also serves as a reminder that takedown notices and ISP blocking are not the only anti-piracy options available to rightsholders. “The legal acts also provide for the possibility to apply for the application of criminal liability to specific persons who administer illegal websites and receive financial benefits from such activities, at the same time claiming against them claims for compensation for property damage,” says LATGA director Laura Baškevičienė. “This court decision only confirms that copyright violations are taken seriously and can lead to serious legal consequences.” Filmai Appears to Be Thriving While Filmai has suffered some downtime over the past few years, the site appears to be thriving. During the last three months of 2022, Filmai.in received around 1.8 million visitors per month, despite the site’s domains being blocked by internet service providers. Legal competitor Go3.lt receives around 1.9 million visits per month. Also of interest is the significant amount of traffic Filmai attracts from abroad. Around 38% of the site’s total traffic comes from outside Lithuania, with the United Kingdom (19%), Norway (7%), Sweden (4%) taking the top spots according to SimilarWeb stats. For reasons that aren’t entirely clear, visitors from Ireland recently increased by 78% and now account for 3% of Filmai’s overall traffic. All of this helps to maintain Filmai’s position among the top 120 most-visited sites in Lithuania. Finally, it appears that Filmai also shared some of its spoils with the state. The entity behind the site paid around 287,000 euros in VAT over the years and between 2015 and 2017, declared another 56,000 euros in VAT as payable. That in itself doesn’t render the site legal but it does suggest demand in what appears to be an underserved market.
  12. tried it out seems like they got rid of the invite system but i don't know the site seems like its missing something nothing that i cant get else were so far..... how is everyone else finding the Site ?
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