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ALAN30

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  1. Spanish soccer league "La Liga" is using its official Android app to create an army of millions of piracy spies. The app can access microphone and location data to scan for restaurants, bars, and other establishments that broadcast their matches without a license. "Protect your team," La Liga notes, while encouraging users to enable the functionality. Even though sports streaming services are widely available in most countries, people are not always willing to pay for them. This applies to individuals, who turn to pirate sites or other unauthorized channels, but also to businesses such as bars and restaurants. The latter group is seen as a thorn in the side by many rightsholders. This includes the Spanish soccer league “La Liga,” which broadcasts some of the most viewed matches in the world. In an effort to curb this type of piracy, “La Liga” has recently started to use modern technology, and its users, to its advantage. In an unprecedented move, the soccer league has turned its official Android app into a piracy spying machine. The app in question, which has been installed by millions of users, will use the microphone and GPS readings of the devices its installed on to report possible instances of streaming piracy. With consent from the user, the app will analyze the audio in its surroundings to check if one of La Liga’s matches is being played. It then pairs that with GPS data to see if that location is an authorized broadcaster. “Protect your team,” users read when they are prompted to enable this type of data collection. Protect your team (photo: Jorge Morell Ramos) The unusual functionality is detailed in the privacy policy which mentions tackling piracy as one of the main purposes. “The purposes for which this functionality will be used are: (i) to develop statistical patterns on soccer consumption and (ii) to detect fraudulent operations of the retransmissions of LaLiga football matches (piracy).” The microphone will only be activated when La Liga is broadcasting its football matches, the policy further clarifies. The spying tool was spotted by Eldiario.es, which reached out to “La Liga” for additional information. The Spanish soccer league informed the publication that “nobody accesses the audio fragments captured by the microphone” as the audio “automatically becomes a signal, a binary code.” This happens only in Spain and “without storing any recording or content.” The organization states that it has to resort to these kinds of measures since piracy is resulting in losses of up to 150 million euros. It doesn’t mention how the data will be used, but establishments who broadcast their matches without consent, are warned. Users who’ve enabled the functionality but no longer want to operate as piracy spies can go into the settings of their phone to disable audio and location sharing. https://torrentfreak.com/soccer-league-turns-app-users-into-piracy-spies-180611/
  2. The top 10 most downloaded movies on BitTorrent are in again. 'Black Panther' tops the chart this week, followed by ‘Avengers: Infinity War'. 'Game Night' completes the top three. This week we have three newcomers in our chart. Black Panther, which was released as BluRay rip latest week, is the most downloaded movie. The data for our weekly download chart is estimated by TorrentFreak, and is for informational and educational reference only. All the movies in the list are Web-DL/Webrip/HDRip/BDrip/DVDrip unless stated otherwise. RSS feed for the weekly movie download chart. THIS WEEK’S MOST DOWNLOADED MOVIES ARE: Movie Rank Rank last week Movie name IMDb Rating / Trailer Most downloaded movies via torrents 1 (6) Black Panther 7.9 / trailer 2 (1) Avengers: Infinity War (HDCam) 9.1 / trailer 3 (…) Game Night 7.3 / trailer 4 (…) Anon 6.1 / trailer 5 (2) 12 Strong 6.8 / trailer 6 (7) Fifty Shades Freed 4.4 / trailer 7 (3) Pacific Rim: Uprising (Subbed HDrip) 5.9 / trailer 8 (5) Den of Thieves 7.0 / trailer 9 (…) 4.2 / trailer 10 (back) Thor: Ragnarok 7.9 / trailer
  3. The Office of the United States Trade Representative has published its yearly Special 301 Report, highlighting countries that fail to live up to US copyright protection standards. The Trump administration remains dedicated to effective enforcement of IP rights, and keeps Canada, Switzerland, Russia and more than two dozen other countries on the 'Watch List.' Every year the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) publishes its Special 301 Reporthighlighting countries that aren’t doing enough to protect US intellectual property rights. The format remains the same as in previous years and lists roughly two dozen countries that, for different reasons, threaten the intellectual property rights of US companies. The latest report deals with a wide range of issues including several problems linked to online piracy. One of the things which stand out, is that the USTR does a fair bit of copying itself, albeit with permission. Entire sections of the report, including the recommendations and country overviews, are identical to last year. In some cases, the US Government didn’t even bother to update the year. “The 2017 Notorious Markets List includes examples of online marketplaces reportedly engaging in commercial-scale online piracy, including sites hosted in or operated by parties located in Canada, China, Cyprus, India, the Netherlands, Russia, Switzerland, Ukraine, and elsewhere,” USTR writes, for example. Most of the concrete piracy related problems mentioned in the report are in line with the talking points the entertainment industries have addressed in recent years. This includes stream-ripping, illicit streaming devices, and general pirate sites. The USTR also mentions the increase in camcording piracy in Russia, which the MPAA reported a few months ago. In addition to a “lack of enforcement against intellectual property crimes” this one of the reasons why Russia remains on the Priority Watch List in 2018. For Canada, there is bad news as well. While the country has been on USTR’s radar for many years, it has had been moved to the Priority Watch List in 2018, making it the only G7 country among the worst offenders. “Canada remains the only G7 country identified in the Special 301 Report and the downgrade to the Priority Watch List this year reflects a failure to resolve key longstanding deficiencies in protection and enforcement of IP,” USTR writes. Among other things, the US sees Canada’s copyright exception for educational purposes as a grave concern. “The United States also remains deeply troubled by the ambiguous education-related exception to copyright that has significantly damaged the market for educational publishers and authors,” USTR writes. Whether this is a major concern for the Canadian authorities remains to be seen. Canada previously said that it doesn’t trust the validity of the Special 301 Report and that the country will follow its own path, a sentiment that it shared elsewhere too. “Canada does not recognize the validity of the Special 301 and considers the process and the Report to be flawed,” Canada’s Government wrote in a memo, responding to an earlier 301 report. Switzerland also remains on notice with a feature on the Watch List. Just a few months ago, the European country urged the USTR to keep it off the list, as its new copyright law addresses the major concerns the US highlighted in the previous year. However, since the proposed law has yet to be signed into law, Switzerland will keep its spot for now. The USTR also adds that the country may want to consider consumer awareness campaigns, public education, and voluntary stakeholder initiatives to further deter piracy. The USTR’s full 301 Watch List and Priority Watch List are listed below and the associated report is available here (pdf). — Priority Watch List – China – Indonesia – India – Algeria – Kuwait – Russia – Ukraine – Argentina – Canada – Chile – Colombia – Venezuela Watch List – Thailand – Vietnam – Pakistan – Tajikistan – Turkmenistan – Uzbekistan – Egypt – Lebanon – Saudi Arabia – UAE – Greece – Romania – Switzerland – Turkey – Mexico – Costa Rica https://torrentfreak.com/us-calls-out-dozens-of-countries-on-yearly-piracy-watchlist-180430/
  4. While the Pirate Bay is still considered to be the bastion of limitless sharing, it's no longer as overtly rebellious as it once was. What makes things worse is that the famous doodles the site was once known for, have disappeared from its archive. Luckily we saved most, so we can take a look at TPB's history...in doodles. Later this year, The Pirate Bay will celebrate its 15th anniversary. That’s quite an achievement for any website, but for a pirate site in particular, considering the mounting legal pressures. The Pirate Bay is not an ordinary torrent site though. It has a long and rich history that, unfortunately, appears to be fading. Up until a few years ago TPB frequently replaced its iconic pirate ship logo to send a message. These ‘doodles’ were pieces of art in their own right and have long been documented on a dedicated page. However, when we checked this page a few days ago we noticed that the doodles only go back to 2014. This means that dozens of earlier pieces are missing, which is a crying shame. So, for the sake of history, we tracked down whatever we could and have published our findings here. Below is our overview of TPB’s doodles in chronological order. Many of the titles are the ones TPB used. The list doesn’t include ‘ads’ or artist promos, which sometimes were just videos, but otherwise, it should be relatively complete. — The Grand Theft Bay – 24 October, 2004 The first doodle we’re aware of, celebrating the pirated release of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. The Pear Bay – 20 August, 2005 The Pirate Bay renamed itself to The Pear Bay when Apple x86 OS leaked. The logo linked to a search which led visitors directly to it. Merry Christmas! – 24 December, 2005 The Pirate Bay wished all its visitors a Merry Christmas. As far as we know, this doodle hasn’t been reused in recent years. Nice game got released – 24 October, 2005 Another pirate game release, Quake 4 this time. It’s clear what some of the TPB people were up to in their spare time. The Pirat eBay – 21 January, 2006 The Pirate Bay crew auctioned a night of partying to the highest bidder on eBay. “Since we have a lot of bandwidth usage and low salaries for working on our site, we’ve decided to go prostitutes on you and sell ourselves for money,” they wrote. The Police Bay – 3 June, 2006 Three days after The Pirate Bay was raided for the first time, the site returned with their cannons aimed at Hollywood. The Phoenix Bay – 18 June, 2006 With The Pirate Bay raid still dominating the news and political agenda, the site’s operator added another message. “Like the phoenix bird, The Pirate Bay will always rise again.” Ladonia Invasion – 25 July, 2006 The Piratebay openly supported the ‘war’ against Ladonia, a micronation located in the south of Sweden. Yet another political statement. Steal This Film – 21 August, 2006 Pirate Bay promoting the release of the documentary Steal This Film featuring its co-founders Brokep and Anakata, directed by Jamie King. Party Aftermath – 8 October, 2006 The Pirate Bay crew had a party but didn’t bother to clean up. Instead, they put a photo of the aftermath on the frontpage. Pirate Bay + WESC = <3 - 11 October, 2006 A pirate site teaming up with the street fashion company “WeSC”? While brands shun these links nowadays, it was all possible ten years ago. Talk Like a Pirate Day – 19 September, 2006 Good pirates talk like pirates. The Pirate Bay honored the yearly Talk Like a Pirate Day. Pirates of Sealand – 12 January, 2007 Perhaps one of the most ambitious plans. The Pirate Bay raised money to buy Sealandand form their own state. That never happened, the money was reportedly spent on trees instead. OscarTorrents – 12 February, 2007 TPB promoting the OscarTorrents.com website where archivists were collecting pirated links to the latest Oscar-nominated movies. North Korea – 01 April, 2007 Pirate Bay moves to North Korea on April 1st, causing a lot of confusion as well as some outrage. Eurovisiontorrents.com – 08 May, 2007 Following the success of Oscartorrents, the Swedes from The Pirate Bay now promote a similar initiative for the Eurovision song contest. Kopimi Klothing – 25 May, 2007 Every self-respecting website has its own merchandise store. The Pirate Bay had Kopimi clothing.. Pirates of the internets – 27 May, 2007 When the Hollywood blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End leaked online, TPB made a fitting doodle linking to pirated copies. The Torrent of Fire – 19 July, 2007 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows leaked online, and Pirate Bay’s logo leaked as well. The Evergreen Terrace Bay – 27 July, 2007 The Pirate Bay celebrates the release of the first illegal CAM version of “The Simpsons Movie” with a new logo and t-shirt design. Walk the plank – 21 September, 2007 The internal emails of anti-piracy outfit MediaDefender went public, revealing that they were indeed behind the video site MiiVi, and more… The Global Icon Bay – 20 November, 2007 TPB praising its own achievement of becoming a global icon. “We won the ‘global icon’ award from the copy lobby!” We need help! – 17 January, 2008 The Pirate Bay posted its version of a job application. We wouldn’t steal – 19 January, 2008 When the European Parliament coalition Greens EFA launched a pro-filesharing campaign named “I Wouldn’t Steal,” Pirate Bay showed their support. Jubilee – 31 January, 2008 “10 million peers. 1 million torrents. 2.5 million registered users. 100 blog entries. Jubilee!” Valentines day – 14 February, 2008 The Pirate Bay shows off its romantic side. Manifesta7 – 22 February, 2008 The Pirate Bay and the Bureau of Piracy start their journey throughout Europe, that will reach its climax at the art festival Manifesta. Sinai – 01 April, 2008 The Pirate Bay keeps its arch-nemesis IFPI updated on the site’s whereabouts. All your cops – 18 April, 2008 Hollywood buys police officers, according to The Pirate Bay, which is embroiled in a legal battle in Sweden. Liberty Bay – 25 April, 2008 The Pirate Bay celebrates the release of Grand Theft Auto IV. Tiamo Dirty Thirty – 27 April, 2008 Pirate Bay co-founder Fredrik Neij turned thirty. “All your NES are belong to him…” Pirate Independence Day – 31 May, 2008 Two years after the Pirate Bay raid, the notorious torrent site declares May 31 “Pirate Independence Day.” “Today we celebrate that we’re united in our efforts. Keep on seeding!” The Pirate Bat – 25 July, 2008 The Pirate Bay renamed the site into “The Pirate Bat“ and put up a new logo that links to a search for “The Dark Knight”. The Beijing Bay – 17 August, 2008 The International Olympic Committee (IOC) asked the Swedish Minister of Justice for “assistance” to remove Olympic torrents from TPB. The site was not impressed. The Beatrice Bay – 20 August, 2008 A few days later TPB asks its users to send their love to Beatrice Ask, the Swedish Minister of Justice at the time. International Anti Piracy Day – 21 October, 2008 When Microsoft announced Global Anti-Piracy Day, The Pirate Bay blamed Bill Gates. 25 Million Peers – 15 November, 2008 Pirate Bay’s tracker served 25 million concurrent peers, which is more than the entire populations of Sweden, Norway, Finland, Iceland and Denmark combined. Our fifth birthday! – 25 November, 2008 While the TPB-crew wasn’t certain that it was the right date (the tenth anniversary was in August), they celebrated anyway. Happy new 1984! – 31 December, 2008 Ending 2008 with a call to action. “2009 turns out to be the year of surveillance. We need to fight that!” Wasted can’t be wrong – 09 January, 2009 Leading up to the TPB-trial, the site reminds people that MPAA lawyer Monique Wadsted previously represented the Church of Scientology in a copyright case. King Kong downloads – 18 February, 2009 The legendary King Kong defense. Warner Brothers buys The Pirate Bay – 01 April, 2009 Pirate Bay announced that they settled their differences with Warner Bros. The largest BitTorrent tracker sold out to Hollywood, on April 1st. Embassy of Piracy – 07 May, 2009 An important art institution is born, according to TPB. The Embassy of Piracy. We are all The Pirate Bay – 15 May, 2009 Swedish artist Montt Mardié thought that The Pirate Bay and its following could use an anthem, so he decided to write one. EU Election – 27 May, 2009 TPB reminded its visitors to vote in the EU election. The Persian Bay – 17 June, 2009 TPB transformed into The Persian Bay and asked users to help out Iran. “Get your tunnelz goin!” Hack the system – 07 December, 2010 Inspired by the French football legend Cantona, TPB calls in its users to ban Paypal after it kicked out Wikileaks. Pirate Bay’s sysop decided to put his Christmas wishlist on the frontpage. “Freedom for all information!” Blackout 4 hungary – 05 January, 2011 At a time where several new laws were being drafted to restrict people’s freedoms, TPB joined the Blackout for Hungary. Protest time – 13 January, 2011 More protest. TPB wins auction site – 01 April, 2011 The Pirate Bay reuses an old doodle on April first. “TPB will use the tools from eBay to make a better rating system for torrents. Then TPB will divide eBay up into smaller companies and sell to the highest bidders. We see no use for an auction site since most stuff is available for free.” The Research Bay – 18 April, 2011 The Pirate Bay launched a new survey in collaboration with the Cybernorms research group at Sweden’s Lund University. As part of a sociology study, they hoped to find out more about people’s motivations to share. You do not recieve freedom, you take it. – 09 May, 2011 In a slightly edited version of Winston Churchill’s “this was their finest hour” speech, replacing Nazi-Germany with MAFIAA, The Pirate Bay team declares war on Internet censorship advocates. Happy birthday! – 15 September, 2011 The Pirate Bay turns eight years old. This time it’s in September. “One world one love!”” Belgian Beer, Belgian Blue, Belgian Block Belgian Bay – 04 October, 2011 The Belgian Anti-Piracy Federation succeeds in their quest to force two ISPs to block the famous torrent site. The next day TPB adds a new domain to bypass the blockade. A new tool to avoid censorship! – 05 December, 2011 The Pirate Bay promotes Mafiaafire, an unblocking too that helps users to access blocked sites. The Promo Bay! – 15 January, 2012 TPB launched The Promo Bay, an initiative to help artists expose their work to the world through the site’s frontpage. We won’t publish all promo’s here, just the first one below. The Promo Bay proudly presents Paulo Coelho – 28 January, 2012 The first promo is none other than best selling author Paulo Coelho, who’s a file-sharing enthusiast and a supporter of The Pirate Bay. Fight! – 01 February, 2012 Sweden’s Supreme Court announced that it would not grant an appeal in the Pirate Bay case. This means that the prison sentences and millions of dollars in fines previously handed out to the four defendants remained in place. The Magnet Bay! – 28 February, 2012 TPB removed all popular torrent files and made the switch to magnet links. This was needed to make the site future proof, the team announced. Suprbay! – 06 March, 2012 The Pirate Bay runs a promo for its own forum, Suprbay. Greece sells airspace to TPB – 01 April, 2012 TPB memo on April 1st: “Political power in Athens, Greece, today signed an agreement with representatives for The Pirate Bay (TPB) about exclusive usage of the Greek airspace at 8000-9000ft.” The Pirate Bay proudly promotes Dan Bull! – 23 April, 2012 With the track “Sharing is Caring”, Dan Bull tried to break into the UK and international singles charts with the help of a free Internet and BitTorrent. Not without success. ACT NOW! – 03 May, 2012 The censorship button doodle was reused when The Pirate Bay was blocked in the UK. The Hydra Bay! – 07 May, 2012 The Pirate Bay renamed itself The Hydra Bay today, linking it to PirateReverse.info, an information site that was dedicated to helping ‘blocked people’ to access TPB. The operator of this site was later arrested. Act against Acta! – 07 June, 2012 TPB joins the widespread demonstrations against the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). ACTA IS DEAD – 04 July, 2012 In a 478 to 39 vote, the European Parliament decided to reject ACTA. Sign for Peter! – 14 July, 2012 Pirate Bay co-founder Peter Sunde submitted an emotional pardon plea to the Swedish authorities, hoping to avoid his prison sentence. The Olympic Bay – 27 July, 2012 The TPB crew created another doodle for their friends at the International Olympic Committee, promoting their bi-annual gathering. 9th birthday – 14 September, 2012 Time flies. But at least it’s September again. The Pirate Bay Party! – 09 October, 2012 The Pirate Bay is already looking forward to its tenth anniversary, which they will celebrate in August… The Pirate Bay moves to the cloud – 17 October, 2012 From this day, The Pirate Bay will serve its users from several cloud hosting providersscattered around the world. Support Richard from being extradited to the US! – 25 October, 2012 TPB backs efforts to prevent UK student Richard O’Dwyer from being extradited to the United States. Whether it helped or not, the extradition was stopped. Merry a’rr a’rr! – 24 December, 2012 TPB encouraged its users to sent cards, letters, and gifts to co-founder Gottfrid Svartholm, who was in prison at the time. TPB AFK – 08 February, 2013 TPB-AFK, the documentary about The Pirate Bay and its founders, was released. The film follows the lives of the three Pirate Bay founders during their trials in Sweden. The Hydra Bay – 25 February, 2013 New Provider For TPB – 04 March, 2013 The Pirate Bay moves the site to North Korea. For real. Or? Fuck yeah! – 01 April, 2013 After its failed experiment in North Korea, The Pirate Bay has set course to the land of the free, the United States of America. Take a look at what these guys are doing! – 08 July, 2013 The Pirate Bay promotes a charity project. PARTY PARTY PARTY! – 18 July, 2013 The 10 year anniversary is coming, and TPB is hosting a massive party! Happy birthday! – 10 August, 2013 The Pirate Bay celebrates its 10th anniversary, in August. ThePirateBay.PE – 13 December, 2013 Facing legal uncertainty, The Pirate Bay moves to a .PE domain name, the fifth domain is 2013. Let him at least read some books for fucks sake! – 07 January, 2014 No books? More than 100,000 signatures on a petition to improve the prison circumstances of Pirate Bay founder Gottfrid Svartholm, appear to have had an effect. Free the pirates! – 10 July, 2014 TPB encouraged its users to write to the site’s imprisoned co-founders. This doodle reappeared several times. The Pirate Bay rises again – 29 January, 2015 The Pirate Bay reappears after more than a month of downtime, following a raid on the Nacka station, a nuclear-proof datacenter built into a mountain complex. New domain names – 19 May, 2015 The Pirate Bay adds several new domain names. A new and improved hydra was born, although it didn’t last very long. Raid? – 21 September, 2015 Raid? What raid? The Pirate Bay denies that they were critically hit by the police raid a few months earlier. https://torrentfreak.com/the-pirate-bays-rebellious-history-in-doodles-180429/
  5. As founder of the now-defunct torrent search engine isoHunt, Gary Fung was one of the early BitTorrent pioneers. Nearly five years after his search engine was shut down by the MPAA, Fung releases a new search tool this week. Not a torrent-specific site, but he aims to create a revolution in mobile search instead. Of all the major torrent sites that dominated the Internet at the beginning of this decade, only a few remain. One of the sites that fell prey to ever-increasing pressure from the entertainment industry was isoHunt. Founded by the Canadian entrepreneur Gary Fung, the site was one of the early pioneers in the world of torrents, paving the way for many others. However, this spotlight also caught the attention of the major movie studios. After a lengthy legal battle isoHunt’s founder eventually shut down the site late 2013. This happened after Fung signed a settlement agreement with Hollywood for no less than $110 million, on paper at least. Launching a new torrent search engine was never really an option, but Fung decided not to let his expertise go to waste. He focused his time and efforts on a new search project instead, which was unveiled to the public this week. The new app called “WonderSwipe” has just been added to Apple’s iOS store. It’s a mobile search app that ties into Google’s backend, but with a different user interface. While it has nothing to do with file-sharing, we decided to reach out to isoHunt’s founder to find out more. Fung tells us that he got the idea for the app because he was frustrated with Google’s default search options on the mobile platform. “I find myself barely do any search on the smartphone, most of the time waiting until I get to my desktop. I ask why?” Fung tells us. One of the main issues he identified is the fact that swiping is not an option. Instead, people end up browsing through dozens of mobile browser tabs. So, Fung took Google’s infrastructure and search power, making it swipeable. “From a UI design perspective, I find swiping through photos on the first iPhone one of the most extraordinary advances in computing. It’s so easy that babies would be doing it before they even learn how to flip open a book! “Bringing that ease of use to the central way of conducting mobile search and research is the initial eureka I had in starting work on WonderSwipe,” Fung adds. That was roughly three years ago, and a few hours ago WonderSwipe finally made its way into the App store. Android users will have to wait for now, but the application will eventually be available on that platform as well. In addition to swiping through search results, the app also promises faster article loading and browsing, a reader mode with condensed search results, and a hands-free mode with automated browsing where summaries are read out loud. WonderwSwipe Of course, WonderSwipe is nothing like isoHunt ever was, apart from the fact that Google is a search engine that also links to torrents, indirectly. This similarity was also brought up during the lawsuit with the MPAA, when Fung’s legal team likened isoHunt to Google in court. However, the Canadian entrepreneur doesn’t expect that Hollywood will have an issue with WonderSwipe in particular. “isoHunt was similar to Google in how it worked as a search engine, but not in scope. Torrents are a small subset of all the webpages Google indexes,” Fung says. “WonderSwipe’s aim is to find answers in all webpages, powered by Google search results. It presents results in extracted text and summaries with no connection to BitTorrent clients. As such, WonderSwipe can be bigger than isoHunt has ever been.” Ironically, in recent years Hollywood has often criticized Google for linking to pirated content in its search results. These results will also be available through WonderSwipe. However, Fung says that any copyright issues with WonderSwipe will have to be dealt with on the search engine level, by Google. “If there are links to pirated content, tell search engines so they can take them down!” he says. WonderSwipe is totally free and Fung tells us that he plans to monetize it with in-app purchases for pro features, and non-intrusive advertising that won’t slow down swiping or search results. More details on the future plans for the app are available here. https://torrentfreak.com/isohunt-founder-returns-with-new-search-tool-180419/
  6. Last year the Rhode Island-based company Hanna Instruments accused Microsoft and the Software Alliance of trying to extort money via baseless piracy claims. In their reply, the two organizations deny these allegations, showing that Hanna's own evidence reveals that it used unlicensed product keys. For many years, Microsoft and the Software Alliance (BSA) have carried out piracy investigations into organizations large and small. Companies accused of using Microsoft software without permission usually get a letter asking them to pay up, or face legal consequences. This also happened to Hanna Instruments, a Rhode Island-based company that sells analytical instruments. Last year, the company was accused of using Microsoft Office products without a proper license. In a letter, BSA’s lawyers informed Hanna that it would face up to $4,950,000 in damages if the case went to court. Instead, however, they offered to settle the matter for $72,074. Adding some extra pressure, BSA also warned that Microsoft could get a court order that would allow U.S. marshals to raid the company’s premises. Where most of these cases are resolved behind closed doors, this one escalated. After being repeatedly contacted by BSA’s lawyers, Hanna decided to take the matter to court, claiming that Microsoft and BSA were trying to ‘extort’ money on ‘baseless’ accusations. “BSA, Microsoft, and their counsel have, without supplying one scintilla of evidence, issued a series of letters for the sole purpose of extorting inflated monetary damages,” the company informed the court. Late last week Microsoft and BSA replied to the complaint. While the two companies admit that they reached out to Hanna and offered a settlement, they deny several other allegations, including the extortion claims. Instead, the companies submit a counterclaim, backing up their copyright infringement accusations and demanding damages. “Hanna has engaged and continues to engage in the unauthorized installation, reproduction, and distribution and other unlawful use of Microsoft Software on computers on its premises and has used unlicensed copies of Microsoft Software to conduct its business,” they write. According to Microsoft and BSA, the Rhode Island company still uses unauthorized product keys to activate and install unlicensed Microsoft software. Turning Hanna’s own evidence against itself, they argue that two product keys were part of a batch of an educational program in China — not for commercial use in the United States. Microsoft / BSA counterclaim Another key could be traced back to what appears to be a counterfeit store which Microsoft has since shut down. “The materials provided by Hanna also indicate that it purchased at least one copy of Microsoft Software from BuyCheapSoftware.com, a now-defunct website that was sued by Microsoft for selling stolen, abused, and otherwise unauthorized decoupled product keys,” Microsoft and BSA write. According to Hanna, BSA previously failed to provide evidence to prove that the company was using unlicensed keys. However, the counterclaim suggests that the initial accusations had merit. Whether BSA’s tactic of bringing up millions of dollars in damages and a possible raid by the U.S. Marshalls is the best strategy to resolve such a matter is up for debate of course. It could very well be that Hanna was duped into buying counterfeit software, without knowing it. Perhaps this will come out as the case progresses. That said, it could also help if both sides simply have a good conversation to see if they can make peace, without threats. — Microsoft and BSA’s reply and counterclaim is available here (pdf). https://torrentfreak.com/microsoft-denies-piracy-extortion-claims-returns-fire-180416/
  7. More than half a decade ago a unique FBI operation took down several pirate Android app 'stores' and arrested their operators. One of the accused men was just a teenager at the time. While he admitted to criminal copyright infringement, the Georgia District Court has agreed to a lower sentence without prison. Assisted by police in France and the Netherlands, the FBI took down the “pirate” Android stores Appbucket, Applanet and SnappzMarket in the summer of 2012. During the years that followed several people connected to the Android app sites were arrested and indicted, and slowly but surely these cases are reaching their conclusions. This week the Northern District Court of Georgia announced the sentencing of one of the youngest defendants. Aaron Buckley was fifteen when he started working on Applanet, and still a teenager when armed agents raided his house. Years passed and a lot has changed since then, Buckley’s attorney informed the court before sentencing. The former pirate, who pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to Commit Copyright Infringement and Criminal Copyright Infringement, is a completely different person today. Similar to many people who have a run-in with the law, life wasn’t always easy on him. Computers offered a welcome escape but also dragged Buckley into trouble, something he deeply regrets now. Following the indictment, things started to change. The Applanet operator picked up his life, away from the computer, and also got involved in community work. Among other things, he plays a leading role in a popular support community for LGBT teenagers. Given the tough circumstances of his personal life, which we won’t elaborate on, his attorney requested a downward departure from the regular sentencing guidelines, to allow for lesser punishment. After considering all the options, District Court Judge Timothy C. Batten agreed to a lower sentence. Unlike some other pirate app stores operators, who must spend years in prison, Buckley will not be incarcerated. Instead, the Applanet operator, who is now in his mid-twenties, will be put on probation for three years, including a year of home confinement. The sentence (pdf) In addition, he has to perform 20 hours of community service and work towards passing a General Educational Development (GED) exam. It’s tough to live with the prospect of possibly spending years in jail, especially for more than a decade. Given the circumstances, this sentence must be a huge relief. TorrentFreak contacted Buckley, who informed us that he is happy with the outcome and ready to work on a bright future. “I really respect the government and the judge in their sentencing and am extremely grateful that they took into account all concerns of my health and life situation in regards to possible sentences,” he tells us. “I am just glad to have another chance to use my time and skills to hopefully contribute to society in a more positive way as much as I am capable thanks to the outcome of the case.” Time to move on. https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-android-app-store-operator-avoids-prison-180413/
  8. A few years ago the MPAA launched its movie search engine WhereToWatch, offering viewers a database of legal alternatives to piracy. While the site worked as advertised, the movie industry group decided to quietly shut it down, stating that there are plenty of other search options available today. During the fall of 2014, Hollywood launched WhereToWatch, its very own search engine for movies and TV-shows. The site enabled people to check if and where the latest entertainment was available, hoping to steer U.S. visitors away from pirate sites. Aside from the usual critics, the launch received a ton of favorable press. This was soon followed up by another release highlighting some of the positive responses and praise from the press. “The initiative marks a further attempt by the MPAA to combat rampant online piracy by reminding consumers of legal means to watch movies and TV shows,” the LA Times wrote, for example. Over the past several years, the site hasn’t appeared in the news much, but it did help thousands of people find legal sources for the latest entertainment. However, those who try to access it today will notice that WhereToWatch has been abandoned, quietly. The MPAA pulled the plug on the service a few months ago. And where the mainstream media covered its launch in detail, the shutdown received zero mentions. So why did the site fold? According to MPAA Vice President of Corporate Communications, Chris Ortman, it was no longer needed as there are many similar search engines out there. “Given the many search options commercially available today, which can be found on the MPAA website, WheretoWatch.com was discontinued at the conclusion of 2017,” Ortman informs TF. “There are more than 140 lawful online platforms in the United States for accessing film and television content, and more than 460 around the world,” he adds. The MPAA lists several of these alternative search engines on its new website. The old WhereToWatch domain now forwards to the MPAA’s online magazine ‘The Credits,’ which features behind-the-scenes stories and industry profiles. While the MPAA is right that there are alternative search engines, many of these were already available when WhereToWatch launched. In fact, the site used the services of the competing service GoWatchIt for its search results. Perhaps the lack of interest from the U.S. public played a role as well. The site never really took off and according to traffic estimates from SimilarWeb and Alexa, most of the visitors came from Iran, where the site was unusable due to a geo-block. After searching long and hard we were able to track down a former WhereToWatch user on Reddit. This person just started to get into the service and was disappointed to see it go. “So, does anyone know of better places or simply other places where this information lives in an easily accessible place?” he or she asked. One person responded by recommending Icefilms.info, a pirate site. This is a response the MPAA would cringe at, but luckily, most people mentioned justwatch.com as the best alternative. https://torrentfreak.com/mpaa-quietly-shut-down-its-legal-movie-search-engine-180411/
  9. Motion Picture Association Canada has revealed the scale of pirate site-blocking around the world. In a submission to the CRTC, the Hollywood group states that at least 42 countries are now obligated to block infringing sites. In Europe alone, 1,800 sites and 5,300 domains have been rendered inaccessible, with Portugal, Italy, the UK, and Denmark leading the way. Few people following the controversial topic of Internet piracy will be unaware of the site-blocking phenomenon. It’s now one of the main weapons in the entertainment industries’ arsenal and it’s affecting dozens of countries. While general figures can be culled from the hundreds of news reports covering the issue, the manner in which blocking is handled in several regions means that updates aren’t always provided. New sites are regularly added to blocklists without fanfare, meaning that the public is kept largely in the dark. Now, however, a submission to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) by Motion Picture Association Canada provides a more detailed overview. It was presented in support of the proposed blocking regime in Canada, so while the key figures are no doubt accurate, some of the supporting rhetoric should be viewed in context. “Over the last decade, at least 42 countries have either adopted and implemented, or are legally obligated to adopt and implement, measures to ensure that ISPs take steps to disable access to copyright infringing websites, including throughout the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, and South Korea,” the submission reads. The 42 blocking-capable countries referenced by the Hollywood group include the members of the European Union plus the following: Argentina, Australia, Iceland, India, Israel, Liechtenstein, Malaysia, Mexico, Norway, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, and Thailand. While all countries have their own unique sets of legislation, countries within the EU are covered by the requirements of Article 8.3 of the INFOSEC Directive which provides that; “Member States shall ensure that rightholders are in a position to apply for an injunction against intermediaries whose services are used by a third party to infringe a copyright or related right.” That doesn’t mean that all countries are actively blocking, however. While Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia have the legal basis to block infringing sites, none have yet done so. In a significant number of other EU countries, however, blocking activity is prolific. “To date, in at least 17 European countries, over 1,800 infringing sites and over 5,300 domains utilized by such sites have been blocked, including in the following four countries where the positive impact of site-blocking over time has been demonstrated,” MPA Canada notes. Major blocking nations in the EU At this point, it’s worth pointing out that authority to block sites is currently being obtained in two key ways, either through the courts or via an administrative process. In the examples above, the UK and Denmark are dealt with via the former, with Italy and Portugal handled via the latter. At least as far as the volume of sites is concerned, court processes – which can be expensive – tend to yield lower site blocking levels than those carried out through an administrative process. Indeed, the MPAA has praised Portugal’s super-streamlined efforts as something to aspire to. Outside Europe, the same two processes are also in use. For example, Australia, Argentina, and Singapore utilize the judicial route while South Korea, Mexico, Malaysia and Indonesia have opted for administrative remedies. “Across 10 of these countries, over 1,100 infringing sites and over 1,500 domains utilized by such sites have been blocked,” MPA Canada reveals. To date, South Korea has blocked 460 sites and 547 domains, while Australia has blocked 91 sites and 355 domains. In the case of the latter, “research has confirmed the increasingly positive impact that site-blocking has, as a greater number of sites are blocked over time,” the Hollywood group notes. Although by no means comprehensive, MPA Canada lists the following “Notorious Sites” as subject to blocking in multiple countries via both judicial and administrative means. Most will be familiar, with the truly notorious The Pirate Bay heading the pile. Several no longer exist in their original form but in many cases, clones are blocked as if they still represent the original target. The methods used to block the sites vary from country to country, dependent on what courts deem fit and in consideration of ISPs’ technical capabilities. Three main tools are in use including DNS blocking, IP address blocking, and URL blocking, which can also include Deep Packet Inspection. The MPA submission (pdf) is strongly in favor of adding Canada to the list of site-blocking countries detailed above. The Hollywood group believes that the measures are both effective and proportionate, citing reduced usage of blocked sites, reduced traffic to pirate sites in general, and increased visits to legitimate platforms. “There is every reason to believe that the website blocking measures [presented to the CRTC] will lead to the same beneficial results in Canada,” MPA Canada states. While plenty of content creators and distributors are in favor of proposals, all signs suggest they will have a battle on their hands, with even some ISPs coming out in opposition. https://torrentfreak.com/mpa-reveals-scale-of-worldwide-pirate-site-blocking-180410/
  10. Sci-Hub, often referred to as the "Pirate Bay of Science," remains a thorn in the side of academic publishers. After obtaining an injunction against the site last year, the American Chemical Society went back to court for an update, which now gives it the authority to seize newly registered domain names as well. But will that end the domain whac-a-mole? While Sci-Hub is loved by thousands of researchers and academics around the world, copyright holders are doing everything in their power to wipe if off the web. Following a $15 million defeat against Elsevier last June, the American Chemical Society (ACS) won a default judgment of $4.8 million in copyright damages a few months later. The publisher was further granted a broad injunction, requiring various third-party services to stop providing access to the site. This includes domain registries, hosting companies and search engines. Soon after the order was signed, several of Sci-Hub’s domain names became unreachable as domain registries and Cloudflare complied with the court order. Still, Sci-Hub remained available all this time, with help from several newly registered domain names. Frustrated by Sci-Hub’s resilience, ACS recently went back to court asking for an amended injunction. The publisher requested the authority to seize any and all Sci-Hub domain names, also those that will be registered in the future. “Plaintiff has been forced to engage in a game of ‘whac-a-mole’ whereby new ‘sci-hub’ domain names emerge,” ACS informed the court. “Further complicating matters, some registries, registrars, and Internet service providers have refused to disable newer Sci-Hub domain names that were not specifically identified in the Complaint or the injunction” Soon after the request was submitted, US District Court Judge Leonie Brinkema agreed to the amended language. The amended injunction now requires search engines, hosting companies, domain registrars, and other service or software providers, to cease facilitating access to Sci-Hub. This includes, but is not limited to, the following domain names. ‘sci-hub.ac, scihub.biz, sci-hub.bz, sci-hub.cc, sci-hub.cf, sci-hub.cn, sci-hub.ga, sci-hub.gq, scihub.hk, sci-hub.is, sci-hub.la, sci-hub.name, sci-hub.nu, sci-hub.nz, sci-hub.onion, scihub22266oqcxt.onion, sci-hub.tw, and sci-hub.ws.’ From the injunction The new injunction makes ACS’ enforcement efforts much more effective. It effectively means that third-party services can no longer refuse to comply because a Sci-Hub domain is not listed in the complaint or injunction. This already appears to have had some effect, as several domain names including sci-hub.la and sci-hub.tv became inaccessible soon after the paperwork was signed. Still, it is unlikely that it will help to shut down the site completely. Several service providers are not receptive to US Court orders. One example is Iceland’s domain registry ISNIC and indeed, at the time of writing, Sci-Hub.is is still widely available. Seizing .onion domain names, which are used on the Tor network, may also prove to be a challenge. After all, there is no central registration organization involved. For now, Sci-Hub founder and operator Alexandra Elbakyan appears determined to keep the site online, whatever it takes. While it may be a hassle for users to find the latest working domain names, the new court order is not the end of the “whac-a-mole” just yet. — A copy of the amended injunction is available here (pdf). https://torrentfreak.com/publisher-gets-carte-blanche-to-seize-new-sci-hub-domains-180410/
  11. In what appears to be an ongoing purge, Roku has now banned the popular cCloud TV service from its platform. cCloud makes available many thousands of streaming IPTV links on a number of platforms, from web browsers to Kodi, from Xbox One to Apple TV. Until recently the service was also available on Roku but like USTVNow before it, cCloud TV is now unavailable on the device. Despite being one of the more popular set-top box platforms, until last year Roku managed to stay completely out of the piracy conversation. However, due to abuse of its system by third-parties, last June the Superior Court of Justice of the City of Mexico banned the importation and distribution of Roku devices in the country. The decision followed a complaint filed by cable TV provider Cablevision, which said that some Roku channels and their users were infringing its distribution rights. Since then, Roku has been fighting to have the ban lifted, previously informing TF that it expressly prohibits copyright infringement of any kind. That led to several more legal processes yet last month and after considerable effort, the ban was upheld, much to Roku’s disappointment. “It is necessary for Roku to make adjustments to its software, as other online content distribution platforms do, so that violations of copyrighted content do not take place,” Cablevision said. Then, at the end of March, Roku suddenly banned the USTVnow channel from its platform, citing a third-party copyright complaint. In a series of emails with TF, the company declined to offer further details but there is plenty of online speculation that the decision was a move towards the “adjustments” demanded by Cablevision. Today yet more fuel is being poured onto that same fire with Roku’s decision to ban the popular cCloud TV service from its platform. For those unfamiliar with cCloud TV, it’s a video streaming platform that relies on users to contribute media links found on the web, whether they’re movie and TV shows or live sporting events. “Project cCloud TV is known as the ‘Popcorn Time for Live TV’. The project started with 50 channels and has grown over time and now has over 4000 channels from all around the world,” its founder ‘Bane’ told TF back in 2016. “The project was inspired by Popcorn Time and its simplicity for streaming torrents. The service works based on media links that can be found anywhere on the web and the cCloud project makes it easier for users to stream.” Aside from the vast array of content cCloud offers, its versatility is almost unrivaled. In an addition to working via most modern web browsers, it’s also accessible using smartphones, tablets, Plex media server, Kodi, VLC, and (until recently at least) Roku. But cCloud and USTVnow aren’t the only services suffering bans at Roku. As highlighted by CordCuttersNews, other channels are also suffering similar fates, such as XTV that was previously replaced with an FBI warning. cCloud has had problems on Kodi too. Back in September 2017, TVAddons announced that it had been forced to remove the cCloud addon from its site. “cCloud TV has been removed from our web site due to a complaint made by Bell, Rogers, Videotron and TVA on June 12th, 2017 as part of their lawsuit against our web site,” the site announced. “Prior to hearing of the lawsuit, we had never received a single complaint relating to the cCloud TV addon for Kodi. cCloud TV for Kodi was developed by podgod, and was basically an interface for the community-based web service that goes by the same name.” Last week, TVAddons went on to publish an “blacklist” that lists addons that have the potential to deliver content not authorized by rightsholders. Among many others, the list contains cCloud, meaning that potential users will now have to obtain it directly from the Kodi Bae Repository on Github instead. At the time of publication, Roku had not responded to TorrentFreak’s request for comment. https://torrentfreak.com/roku-bans-popular-social-iptv-linking-service-ccloud-tv-180409/
  12. Piracy of digital content in Spain fell 6% in 2017, according to an entertainment industry report. The Coalition of Creators and Content Industries says that the figure matches the 6% decrease achieved the previous year. Still, piracy remains at a high level, the coalition insists, noting that consumers believe site-blocking and measures against ISPs to be effective solutions. The Coalition of Creators and Content Industries, which represents Spain’s leading entertainment industry companies, is keeping a close eye on the local piracy landscape. The outfit has just published its latest Piracy Observatory and Digital Content Consumption Habits report, carried out by the independent consultant GFK, and there is good news to report on headline piracy figures. During 2017, the report estimates that people accessed unlicensed digital content just over four billion times, which equates to almost 21.9 billion euros in lost revenues. While this is a significant number, it’s a decrease of 6% compared to 2016 and an accumulated decrease of 9% compared to 2015, the coalition reports. Overall, movies are most popular with pirates, with 34% helping themselves to content without paying. “The volume of films accessed illegally during 2017 was 726 million, with a market value of 5.7 billion euros, compared to 6.9 billion in 2016. 35% of accesses happened while the film was still on screens in cinema theaters, while this percentage was 33% in 2016,” the report notes. TV shows are in a close second position with 30% of users gobbling up 945 million episodes illegally during 2017. A surprisingly high 24% of users went for eBooks, with music relegated to fourth place with ‘just’ 22%, followed by videogames (11%) and football (10%). The reasons given by pirates for their habits are both varied and familiar. 51% said that original content is too expensive while 43% said that taking the illegal route “is fast and easy”. Half of the pirates said that simply paying for an internet connection was justification for getting content for free. A quarter of all pirates believe that they aren’t doing anyone any harm, with the same number saying they get content without paying because there are no consequences for doing so. But it isn’t just pirates themselves in the firing line. Perhaps unsurprisingly given the current climate, the report heavily criticizes search engines for facilitating access to infringing content. “With 75%, search engines are the main method of accessing illegal content and Google is used for nine out of ten accesses to pirate content,” the report reads. “Regarding social networks, Facebook is the most used method of access (83%), followed by Twitter (42%) and Instagram (34%). Therefore it is most valuable that Facebook has reached agreements with different industries to become a legal source and to regulate access to content.” Once on pirate sites, some consumers reported difficulties in determining whether they’re legal or not. Around 15% said that they had “big difficulties” telling whether a site is authorized with 44% saying they had problems “sometimes”. That being said, given the amount of advertising on pirate sites, it’s no surprise that most knew a pirate site when they visited one and, according to the report, advertising placement is only on the up. Just over a quarter of advertising appearing on pirate sites features well-known brands, although this is a reduction from more than 37% in 2016. This needs to be further improved, the coalition says, via collaboration between all parties involved in the industry. A curious claim from the report is that 81% of pirate site users said they were required to register in order to use a platform. This resulted in “transferring personal data” to pirate site operators who gather it in databases that are used for profitable “e-marketing campaigns”. “Pirate sites also get much more valuable data than one could imagine which allow them to get important economic benefits, as for example, Internet surfing habits, other websites visited by consumers, preferences, likes, and purchase habits,” the report states. So what can be done to reduce consumer reliance on pirate sites? The report finds that consumers are largely in line with how the entertainment industries believe piracy should or could be tackled. “The most efficient measures against piracy would be, according to the internet users’ own view, blocking access to the website offering content (78%) and penalizing internet providers (73%),” the report reads. “Following these two, the best measure to reduce infringements would be, according to consumers, to promote social awareness campaigns against piracy (61%). This suggests that increased collaboration between the content sector and the ISPs (Internet Service Providers) could count on consumers’ support and positive assessment.” Finally, consumers in Spain are familiar with the legal options, should they wish to take that route in future. Netflix awareness in the country is at 91%, Spotify at 81%, with Movistar+ and HBO at 80% and 68% respectively. “This invalidates the reasons given by pirate users who said they did so because of the lack of an accessible legal offer at affordable prices,” the report adds. However, those who take the plunge into the legal world don’t always kick the pirate habit, with the paper stating that users of pirates sites tend to carry on pirating, although they do pirate less in some sectors, notably music. The study also departs from findings in other regions that pirates can also be avid consumers of legitimate content. Several reports, from the UK, Sweden, Australia, and even from Hollywood, have clearly indicated that pirates are the entertainment industries’ best customers. In Spain, however, the situation appears to be much more pessimistic, with only 8% of people who access illegal digital content paying for legal content too. That seems low given that Netflix alone had more than a million Spanish subscribers at the end of 2017 and six million Spanish households currently subscribe to other pay TV services. The report is available here (Spanish, pdf) https://torrentfreak.com/piracy-falls-6-in-spain-but-its-still-a-multi-billion-euro-problem-180409/
  13. The top 10 most downloaded movies on BitTorrent are in again. 'The Commuter' tops the chart this week, followed by ‘12 Strong'. 'Maze Runner: The Death Cure' completes the top three. This week we have three newcomers in our chart. The Commuter is the most downloaded movie. The data for our weekly download chart is estimated by TorrentFreak, and is for informational and educational reference only. All the movies in the list are Web-DL/Webrip/HDRip/BDrip/DVDrip unless stated otherwise. RSS feed for the weekly movie download chart. THIS WEEK’S MOST DOWNLOADED MOVIES ARE: Movie Rank Rank last week Movie name IMDb Rating / Trailer Most downloaded movies via torrents 1 (7) The Commuter 6.4 / trailer 2 (…) 12 Strong 6.8 / trailer 3 (1) Maze Runner: The Death Cure (Subbed HDrip) 6.8 / trailer 4 (2) The Greatest Showman 7.9 / trailer 5 (3) Molly’s Game 7.5 / trailer 6 (8) Black Panther (HDTS) 7.9 / trailer 7 (…) The Post 7.2 / trailer 8 (4) Star Wars: The Last Jedi 7.4 / trailer 9 (8) Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle 7.7 / trailer 10 (…) Fifty Shades Freed 4.4 / trailer
  14. In an increasingly capitalist world, people are brought up to see financial opportunities wherever they exist. The world of piracy is no different and as a result, there are always people out to make a quick buck from infringement. But what happened to "sharing is caring" and when, if ever, will pirates return to those once proud roots? Perhaps more to the point, does anyone even care anymore? Long before peer-to-peer file-sharing networks were a twinkle in developers’ eyes, piracy of software and games flourished under the radar. Cassettes, floppy discs and CDs were the physical media of choice, while the BBS became the haunt of the need-it-now generation. Sharing was the name of the game. When someone had game ‘X’ on tape, it was freely shared with friends and associates because when they got game ‘Y’, the favor had to be returned. The content itself became the currency and for most, the thought of asking for money didn’t figure into the equation. Even when P2P networks first took off, money wasn’t really a major part of the equation. Sure, the people running Kazaa and the like were generating money from advertising but for millions of users, sharing content between friends and associates was still the name of the game. Even when the torrent site scene began to gain traction, money wasn’t the driving force. Everything was so new that developers were much more concerned with getting half written/half broken tracker scripts to work than anything else. Having people care enough to simply visit the sites and share something with others was the real payoff. Ironically, it was a reward that money couldn’t buy. But as the scene began to develop, so did the influx of minor and even major businessmen. The ratio economy of the private tracker scene meant that bandwidth could essentially be converted to cash, something which gave site operators revenue streams that had never previously existed. That was both good and bad for the scene. The fact is that running a torrent site costs money and if time is factored in too, that becomes lots of money. If site admins have to fund everything themselves, a tipping point is eventually reached. If the site becomes unaffordable, it closes, meaning that everyone loses. So, by taking in some donations or offering users other perks in exchange for financial assistance, the whole thing remains viable. Counter-intuitively, the success of such a venture then becomes the problem, at least as far as maintaining the old “sharing is caring” philosophy goes. A well-run private site, with enthusiastic donors, has the potential to bring in quite a bit of cash. Initially, the excess can be saved away for that rainy day when things aren’t so good. Having a few thousand in the bank when chaos rains down is rarely a bad thing. But what happens when a site does really well and is making money hand over fist? What happens when advertisers on public sites begin to queue up, offering lots of cash to get involved? Is a site operator really expected to turn down the donations and tell the advertisers to go away? Amazingly, some do. Less amazingly, most don’t. Although there are some notable exceptions, particularly in the niche private tracker scene, these days most ‘pirate’ sites are in it for the money. In the current legal climate, some probably consider this their well-earned ‘danger money’ yet others are so far away from the sharing ethos it hurts. Quite often, these sites are incapable of taking in a new member due to alleged capacity issues yet a sizeable ‘donation’ miraculously solves the problem and gets the user in. It’s like magic. As it happens, two threads on Reddit this week sparked this little rant. Both discuss whether someone should consider paying $20 and 37 euros respectively to get invitations to a pair of torrent sites. Ask a purist and the answer is always ‘NO’, whether that’s buying an invitation from the operator of a torrent site or from someone selling invites for profit. Aside from the fact that no one on these sites has paid content owners a dime, sites that demand cash for entry are doing so for one reason and one reason only – profit. Ridiculous when it’s the users of those sites that are paying to distribute the content. On the other hand, others see no wrong in it. They argue that paying a relatively small amount to access huge libraries of content is preferable to spending hundreds of dollars on a legitimate service that doesn’t carry all the content they need. Others don’t bother making any excuses at all, spending sizable sums with pirate IPTV/VOD services that dispose of sharing morals by engaging in a different business model altogether. But the bottom line, whether we like it or not, is that money and Internet piracy have become so intertwined, so enmeshed in each other’s existence, that it’s become virtually impossible to separate them. Even those running the handful of non-profit sites still around today would be forced to reconsider if they had to start all over again in today’s climate. The risk model is entirely different and quite often, only money tips those scales. The same holds true for the people putting together the next big streaming portals. These days it’s about getting as many eyeballs on content as possible, making the money, and getting out the other end unscathed. This is not what most early pirates envisioned. This is certainly not what the early sharing masses wanted. Yet arguably, through the influx of business people and the desire to generate profit among the general population, the pirating masses have never had it so good. As revealed in a recent study, volumes of piracy are on the up and it is now possible – still possible – to access almost any item of content on pirate sites, despite the so-called “follow the money” approach championed by the authorities. While ‘Sharing is Caring’ still lives today, it’s slowly being drowned out and at this point, there’s probably no way back. The big question is whether anyone cares anymore and the answer to that is “probably not”. So, if the driving force isn’t sharing or love, it’ll probably have to be money. And that works everywhere else, doesn’t it? https://torrentfreak.com/piracy-money-are-virtually-inseparable-people-probably-dont-care-anymore-180408/
  15. EZTV, one of the prime destinations for TV-minded torrent users, is distributing a rather disturbing video on its site. By plastering a list of dozens of IP-addresses in the latest episode of Lucifer, the encoder warns EZTV users that the site is a huge security risk. For more than a decade EZTV has been a widely recognized brand among many BitTorrent users and known as one of the main TV-distribution groups. While the original EZTV shut down following a hostile takeover, the people who took over are still serving torrents to millions of people every month. Generally speaking, EZTV takes releases from outside encoders which they then distribute with their own nametag. It’s been like this for years and has never caused any real problems. Last week, however, a disturbing release was added to the site, sending a message to EZTV users. What appeared to be a regular release of Lucifer S03E19, turned into something darker. Ten minutes into the episode, a red warning appears, telling viewers that EZTV.ag is a huge security risk. Huge Security Risk Throughout the rest of the episode, a few dozen IP-addresses appear plastered across the screen. Needless to say, this makes the program rather unwatchable. According to the earlier message, these IP-addresses are “used on EZTV.ag.” This seems to suggest that the website has a leak somewhere unless it refers to IP-addresses of downloaders, which are public anyway. IP-addresses It is hard to grasp what’s really going on here and there is no direct evidence that the site has been breached in any way. Not directly at least. At the end of the episode, a final message appears, adding to the intrigue. The message comes from the encoder DeXoX and offers up a complete IP-address database, email addresses of registered EZTV users, and more. DeXoX Again, we have not been able to verify the validity of these claims but it’s certainly not good PR for EZTV. The spooky torrent has been downloaded by thousands of people already and is still listed on the site several days after first appearing. We are not familiar with DeXoX, but it appears that the person behind the handle is not a fan of EZTV.ag, to say the least. It remains unclear how the torrent was added to the site. It could be that the EZTV site has indeed been breached in some way, or DeXoX has access to the site where EZTV sources its material. In any event, the release page or the site itself contains no warnings, only the video itself. Update: This torrent is not the only problematic release. There are several others. For example, “Krypton.S01E03.All.Subtitles.HDTV.x264[eztv],” released a few days ago, turns out to be a porn video with another alarming message. https://torrentfreak.com/spooky-torrent-warns-eztv-users-about-huge-security-risk-180408/