blocked-censorWebsite blocking is without a doubt one of the favorite anti-piracy tools of the entertainment industries.

The UK is a leader on this front after the High Court ordered the largest ISPs to block access to popular file-sharing sites. Over time the number of blocked URLs in the UK has grown to well over 1,000, including many popular torrent, streaming, and direct download sites.

The Pirate Bay is arguably the biggest target of all. Not only is the site itself blocked by major ISPs, many proxy sites and proxy linking sites are blacklisted as well. The goal of these efforts is to prevent people from accessing the notorious torrent site, but that’s easier said than done.

This week, we decided to take a look at the most visited ‘pirate’ sites in the UK. For this quest, we used data from the traffic monitoring company Alexa, which is often cited by copyright holders as well. Despite the blocking efforts, we spotted quite a few pirate sources among the UK’s top sites.

As it stands, Pirateproxy.sh tops the list. This Pirate Bay proxy is the 115th most-visited site in the UK, which is good for an estimated fifteen million visits per month.

Looking at the list of the 500 most-visited sites in the UK, Pirateproxy.sh is just one of the many Pirate Bay oriented sites. The proxy indexer Unblocked.mx is ranked 227th, for example, while Piratebays.be, Proxybay.bz, Unblocked.lat, Piratebayproxylist.net and Proxyof.com all make an appearance as well.

Most surprising, perhaps, is that the regular ThePirateBay.org still gets a decent amount of traffic too, as it’s currently ranked 319th. That’s more popular than in some other countries where there are no ISP restrictions. This traffic comes in part from VPNs.

Pirateproxy.sh

Does this mean that the blockades have no effect at all? No, that’s impossible to conclude based on these observations. What it does show, however, is that there is still plenty of Pirate Bay traffic in the UK, even to the original site.

Pirateproxy.sh, for example, is part of the ‘Unblocked‘ team which operates a series of proxies and proxy indexes. Since 2013, they’ve been actively providing people with workarounds for blocked sites and continuously launch new domains when theirs are added to the blocklists.

The Unblocked operator believes that while some people may be deterred by the ISP blocks, many are not.

“Although the blocks have had the intended effect of blocking popular file-sharing sites, I don’t believe they are effective since users have access to many workarounds to access these sites,” he explains.

“For any given blocked site, there will be countless proxy sites available with new domains constantly being created.”

Unblocked regularly updates its domains after they are added to the blocklist, which is usually once a month. Just a few weeks ago the main proxy index moved from Unblocked.mx to Unblocked.lat, and that’s probably not the last change.

The new domains are accessible for a few weeks, or sometimes months, and if they are blocked, other ones will simply replace them.

This is not limited to The Pirate Bay and its proxies either. Looking more closely at the most-visited sites in the UK we see more ‘pirate’ sites, some of which are supposed to be blocked.

An overview of the ten most-used pirate sites in the UK is presented below. Some of these will likely be added to the ISP blocklists in the near future, if they aren’t already.

However, similar to regular takedown notices and domain seizures, ISPs blockades have also turned into a game of whack-a-mole.

The label “pirate site” applies to sites that have been classified as such by entertainment industry groups. Unblocked.mx already started redirecting to a new domain name.

SiteAlexa rankTypeOriginal site blocked?
torrentfreak.com
Pirateproxy.sh115Torrent proxyNo
Openload.co194CyberlockerYes
0123movies.com215StreamingYes
Rutracker.org222TorrentsNo
Unblocked.mx227Proxy linksYes
Piratebays.be 255Torrent proxyNo
Kissanime.ru310StreamingNo
Thepiratebay.org319TorrentsYes
Solarmoviez.ru327StreamingNo
Proxybay.bz338Proxy linksNo

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After a Moscow court gave the go-ahead for Telegram to be banned in Russia last month, the Internet became a battleground.

On the instructions of telecoms watchdog Roscomnadzor, ISPs across Russia tried to block Telegram by blackholing millions of IP addresses. The effect was both dramatic and pathetic. While Telegram remained stubbornly online, countless completely innocent services suffered outages as Roscomnadzor charged ahead with its mission.

Over the past several weeks, Roscomnadzor has gone some way to clean up the mess, partly by removing innocent Google and Amazon IP addresses from Russia’s blacklist. However, the collateral damage was so widespread it’s called into question the watchdog’s entire approach to web-blockades and whether they should be carried out at any cost.

This week, thanks to an annual report presented to President Vladimir Putin by business ombudsman Boris Titov, the matter looks set to be escalated. ‘The Book of Complaints and Suggestions of Russian Business’ contains comments from Internet ombudsman Dmitry Marinichev, who says that the Prosecutor General’s Office should launch an investigation into Roscomnadzor’s actions.

Marinichev said that when attempting to take down Telegram using aggressive technical means, Roscomnadzor relied upon “its own interpretation of court decisions” to provide guidance, TASS reports.

“When carrying out blockades of information resources, Roskomnadzor did not assess the related damage caused to them,” he said.

More than 15 million IP addresses were blocked, many of them with functions completely unrelated to the operations of Telegram. Marinichev said that the consequences were very real for those who suffered collateral damage.

“[The blocking led] to a temporary inaccessibility of Internet resources of a number of Russian enterprises in the Internet sector, including several banks and government information resources,” he reported.

In advice to the President, Marinichev suggests that the Prosecutor General’s Office should look into “the legality and validity of Roskomnadzor’s actions” which led to the “violation of availability of information resources of commercial companies” and “threatened the integrity, sustainability, and functioning of the unified telecommunications network of the Russian Federation and its critical information infrastructure.”

Early May, it was reported that in addition to various web services, around 50 VPN, proxy and anonymization platforms had been blocked for providing access to Telegram. In a May 22 report, that number had swelled to more than 80 although 10 were later unblocked after they stopped providing access to the messaging platform.

This week, Roscomnadzor has continued with efforts to block access to torrent and streaming platforms. In a new wave of action, the telecoms watchdog ordered ISPs to block at least 47 mirrors and proxies providing access to previously blocked sites.

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This evening, Liverpool and Real Madrid will go head to head in the Champions League final, one of the biggest sports events of the year.

Hundreds of millions of football fans from around the world will be glued to their televisions to follow the spectacle, while the hashtags #RMALIV and #UCLfinal are trending on social media.

While Twitter, Facebook and other social media are great ways to keep fans engaged and generate traction, they also present a threat. According to data released by the global anti-piracy outfit Irdeto, social media rivals traditional pirate streaming sites.

The company analyzed the number of pirated streams it ran into during the knockout stages of the Champions League and found 5,100 unique illegal streams that were rebroadcasting the matches.

Roughly 40 percent of these unauthorized broadcasts came from ‘social’ platforms including Periscope, Facebook and Twitch. Irdeto found 2,093 streams on these sites with an estimated 4,893,902 viewers.

Regular web-based streams on traditional sports pirate sites were the most popular (2,121), followed by ones found through Kodi-addons (886).

“These viewing figures combined with the number of UEFA Champions League streams detected across a variety of channels suggests that more needs to be done to stop the illegal distribution of high profile live European football matches,” the company writes.

Red card…

Rory O’Connor, Irdeto’s Senior Vice President of Cybersecurity Services, notes that criminals are “earning a fortune” from these activities. At the same time, he stresses that people who stream the matches on social media could face criminal action.

“The criminals who profit from these illegal streams have little regard for their viewers and are exposing them to cybercrime, inappropriate content and malware infection. Also, viewers of illegal content can face criminal penalties if they decide to share content with friends on social media,” O’Connor says.

Besides sharing infographics and reporting interesting statistics, including that Real Madrid was the most viewed team with 2,856,011 viewers of illegal social media streams during the knock out stage, Irdeto can also take action.

Whether they already work for UEFA or if this is an unsolicited application is not known to us, but they do work for other rightsholders.

So instead of tuning into the final tonight, they will probably be busy tracking down pirate broadcasts on social media and elsewhere, hoping to shut them down as soon as possible.

The game is on.

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Founded by BitTorrent inventor Bram Cohen, BitTorrent Inc. is best known for its torrent client uTorrent, which has more than 100 million users.

Despite this massive userbase, however, the company never transformed into the next billion-dollar tech giant, as some as the early investors had hoped.

In fact, it has only gone downhill in recent years, in part due to questionable management practices. Things have calmed down since, but according to new information gathered by TorrentFreak, there is a major change afoot.

A few weeks ago we reported that BitTorrent Inc. quietly renamed its company to “Rainberry” last year. The company informed us that this was “purely a corporate decision.” While that may be the case, it could also be related to the company’s plans to be acquired.

Legal paperwork filed earlier this year reveals that Rainberry was sued because it allegedly violated a “No Shop” clause in an agreement with a potential buyer. This potential buyer, who signed a letter of intent, is none other than TRON founder Justin Sun.

TRON is one of the hottest and controversial cryptocurrencies. After a successful ICO, it now has a market cap of more than $4 billion, only surpassed by a few others. And with Sun at the helm, it makes headlines nearly every day.

The TRON mainnet, which will go live in a few days, has the ultimate goal to “decentralize the web.” BitTorrent would fit well in this picture, and the TRON whitepaper mentions torrents as one of the pillars.

TRON

Sun first began pursuing the acquisition of BitTorrent Inc.’s assets in September last year. In January 2018, both parties finalized a letter of intent for the acquisition, of which Sun returned a signed copy.

While it appeared that things were moving along nicely, BitTorrent Inc. CEO Ro Choy came back with a surprising reply.

“Within literally hours after the parties agreed to the Letter of Intent, and after Ro Choy began performing the terms of the Letter of Intent, Defendant claims it received three ‘superior’ bids from companies that David Chao admitted they had been communicating with,” Sun claims in the lawsuit.

Sun asked the court for a restraining order to prevent BitTorrent from talking to other potential buyers, as was agreed in the letter of intent. The case was swiftly dismissed by the court, but not without leaving a paper trail.

While it is clear that TRON’s founder is eager to acquire BitTorrent, less is known about what happened afterward. Did both parties throw their letter of intent in the trash mid-February, or was the deal still on?

Then, our research pointed out another interesting fact which suggests that the deal is going forward. At the end of February, right when the exclusivity period set in the letter of intent ended, a holding company named “Rainberry Acquisition” was registered in California.

This company is registered to none other than TRON founder Justin Sun, who completed the statement of information last month, as can be seen below.

Rainberry Acquisition paperwork

TorrentFreak reached out to Justin Sun, but TRON’s founder did not immediately reply to our request for comment.

When we confronted BitTorrent Inc. with the information, the company confirmed our findings and the interest from Sun, but it noted that the acquisition is not 100% finalized yet. More information will likely be released at a later stage, if all goes well.

At this point, Sun’s plans for BitTorrent Inc. remain unclear. He has not spoken about the acquisition in public, obviously, but it’s likely that it will be used to the advantage of TRON.

Interestingly, BitTorrent Inc. founder Bram Cohen has also taken an interest in cryptocurrencies, with the goal of creating a superior one called Chia. As far as we know, he is not part of TRON’s future in any way.

A copy of Sun’s complaint against Rainberry (f/k/a BitTorrent) is available here (pdf).

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For many years media companies have focused their anti-piracy efforts on pirate sites, including torrent and streaming portals.

More recently, these efforts expanded to streaming boxes, with the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE) targeting several vendors of such devices.

This week, a group of independent movie studios has targeted yet another largely overseen element of the piracy ecosystem. Dallas Buyers Club, Cobbler Nevada, Bodyguard Productions, and several other studios are going after the popular Android-based app Showbox.

Showbox hasn’t caught many headlines, but the tool is used by hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people. It allows users to stream movies and TV shows via torrents and direct sources, all through a Netflix-style interface.

In a lawsuit filed at the US District Court of Hawaii, the movie companies are now taking action against several people and sites which distribute the application.

This includes the alleged founder and developer ‘Andrew Crow,’ Showboxappdownload.co founder ‘Mark Willow,’ and the people behind Showboxappdownload.com and Showbox.en.uptodown.com/android.

In addition, the complaint also targets the persons who made the application available on Rawapk.com/showbox-apk-download/, a repository of APK files.

“Plaintiffs bring this action to stop the massive piracy of their motion pictures brought on by the software application Show Box app,” the complaint reads.

“The Defendants misleadingly promote the Show Box app as a legitimate means for viewing content to the public, who eagerly install the Show Box app to watch copyright protected content, thereby leading to profit for the Defendants.”

The lawsuit follows on the heels of another case where a phone store employee was accused of promoting the Showbox app. Similar to that case, the current lawsuit also relies on input from an alleged user of the application. In this case, that’s Hawaiian resident James Sosa.

“I visited the website showboxappdownload.com and followed the instructions on the website to download the Show Box app to my Dell tablet,” Sosa testifies. “The language on the website led me to believe that I could use the Show Box app to watch free movies legally.”

From the complaint

According to the movie studios, most of which have thus far been very active in filing lawsuits against individual BitTorrent downloaders, Showbox is a pirate tool, plain and simple.

“Defendants promote the use of the Show Box app user for overwhelmingly, if not exclusively, infringing purposes, and that is how the users use the Show Box app,” the studios write.

The defendants all stand accused of contributory copyright infringement. The studios are asking the court for actual or statutory damages to compensate their losses, as well as temporary, preliminary and permanent injunctions to stop the allegedly infringing activities.

In addition, the studios also request an order preventing internet search engines, hosting companies, domain-name registrars, and domain name registries to stop facilitating access to the allegedly infringing domain names and websites.

The two recent Showbox related cases reveal an interesting trend. Where many of these movie studios were previously engaged in so-called copyright trolling lawsuits, they are now going after the people who promote, develop, and distribute a popular streaming app. It will be interesting to see if this trend continues.

A copy of the complaint filed by Venice PI, Headhunter, MON, LHF Productions, Cook Productions, Glacier Films, Colossal Movie Productions, Automata Productions, Criminal Productions, Dallas Buyers Club, Clear Skies Nevada, Bodyguard Productions, I.T. Productions, SVZ Productions, Splintered, Cobbler Nevada and Justice Everywhere Productions is available here (pdf).

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While users of older peer-to-peer based file-sharing systems have to work relatively hard to obtain content, users of the Kodi media player have things an awful lot easier.

As standard, Kodi is perfectly legal. However, when augmented with third-party add-ons it becomes a media discovery powerhouse, providing most of the content anyone could desire. A system like this can be set up by the user but for many, buying a so-called “fully-loaded” box from a seller is the easier option.

As a result, hundreds – probably thousands – of cottage industries have sprung up to service this hungry market in the UK, with regular people making a business out of setting up and selling such devices. Until three years ago, that’s what Michael Jarman and Natalie Forber of Colwyn Bay, Wales, found themselves doing.

According to reports in local media, Jarman was arrested in January 2015 when police were called to a disturbance at Jarman and Forber’s home. A large number of devices were spotted and an investigation was launched by Trading Standards officers. The pair were later arrested and charged with fraud offenses.

While 37-year-old Jarman pleaded guilty, 36-year-old Forber initially denied the charges and was due to stand trial. However, she later changed her mind and like Jarman, pleaded guilty to participating in a fraudulent business. Forber also pleaded guilty to transferring criminal property by shifting cash from the scheme through various bank accounts.

The pair attended a sentencing hearing before Judge Niclas Parry at Caernarfon Crown Court yesterday. According to local reporter Eryl Crump, the Court heard that the couple had run their business for about two years, selling around 1,000 fully-loaded Kodi-enabled devices for £100 each via social media.

According to David Birrell for the prosecution, the operation wasn’t particularly sophisticated but it involved Forber programming the devices as well as handling customer service. Forber claimed she was forced into the scheme by Jarman but that claim was rejected by the prosecution.

Between February 2013 and January 2015 the pair banked £105,000 from the business, money that was transferred between bank accounts in an effort to launder the takings.

Reporting from Court via Twitter, Crump said that Jarman’s defense lawyer accepted that a prison sentence was inevitable for his client but asked for the most lenient sentence possible.

Forber’s lawyer pointed out she had no previous convictions. The mother-of-two broke up with Jarman following her arrest and is now back in work and studying at college.

Sentencing the pair, Judge Niclas Parry described the offenses as a “relatively sophisticated fraud” carried out over a significant period. He jailed Jarman for 21 months and Forber for 16 months, suspended for two years. She must also carry out 200 hours of unpaid work.

The pair will also face a Proceeds of Crime investigation which could see them paying large sums to the state, should any assets be recoverable.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.





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In recent years, a group of select companies have pressured hundreds of thousands of alleged pirates to pay significant settlement fees, or face legal repercussions.

Traditionally, the companies go after BitTorrent users, as they are easy to track down by their IP-addresses. In Hawaii, however, a newly filed case adds a twist to this scheme.

The studios ME2 Productions and Headhunter, who own the rights to the movies ‘Mechanic: Resurrection‘ and ‘A Family Man‘ respectively, are suing an employee of a phone store who allegedly promoted and installed the ‘pirate’ application Showbox on a customer’s device.

Showbox is a popular movie and TV-show streaming application that’s particularly popular among mobile Android users. The app is capable of streaming torrents and works on a wide variety of devices.

While it can be used to stream legitimate content, many people use it to stream copyrighted works. In fact, the application itself displays this infringing use on its homepage, showing off pirated movies.

In a complaint filed at the US District Court of Hawaii, the studios accuse local resident Taylor Wolf of promoting Showbox and its infringing uses.

According to the studios, Wolf works at the Verizon-branded phone store Victra, where she helped customers set up and install phones, tablets and other devices. In doing so, the employee allegedly recommended the Showbox application.

“The Defendant promoted the software application Show Box to said members of the general public, including Kazzandra Pokini,” the complaint reads, adding that Wolf installed the Showbox app on the customer’s tablet, so she could watch pirated content.

From the complaint

The movie studios note that the defendant told the customer in question that her tablet could be used to watch free movies. The employee allegedly installed the Showbox app on the device in the store and showed the customer how to use it.

“Defendant knew that the Show Box app would cause Kazzandra Pokini to make copies of copyrighted content in violation of copyright laws of the United States,” the complaint adds.

The lawsuit is unique in the sense that the studios are going after someone who’s not directly accused of sharing their films. In the traditional lawsuits, they go after the people who share their work.

The complaint doesn’t mention why they chose this tactic. One option is that they initially went after the customer, who then pointed ME2 and Headhunter toward the phone store employee.

Neither studio is new to the piracy lawsuit game. ME2 is connected to Millennium Films and Headhunter is an affiliate of Voltage Pictures, one of the pioneers of so-called copyright trolling cases in the US.

As in most other cases, the copyright holders demand a preliminary injunction to stop Wolf from engaging in any infringing activities, as well as statutory damages, which theoretically can go up to $150,000 per pirated film, but are usually settled for a fraction of that.

A copy of the complaint filed against Taylor Wolf at the US District Court of Hawaii is available here (pdf).

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Every day, hundreds of millions of people use Facebook to share photos, videos and other information.

While most of the content posted on the site is relatively harmless, some people use it to share things they are not supposed to. A pirated copy of Deadpool, for example.

This is what the now 22-year-old Trevon Franklin from Fresno, California, did early 2016. Just a week after the first installment of the box-office hit Deadpool premiered in theaters, he shared a pirated copy of the movie on the social network.

To be clear, Franklin wasn’t the person who originally made the copy available. He simply downloaded it from the file-sharing site Putlocker.is and then proceeded to upload it to his Facebook account, using the screen name “Tre-Von M. King.”

This post went viral with more than six million viewers ‘tuning in.’ While many people dream of this kind of attention, in this case, it meant that copyright holder Twentieth Century Fox and the feds were alerted as well.

The FBI launched a full-fledged investigation which eventually led to an indictment and the arrest of Franklin last summer.

After months of relative silence, Franklin has now signed a plea agreement with the Government where he admits to sharing the pirated film on Facebook. In return, the authorities will recommend a sentence reduction.

“Defendant admits that defendant is, in fact, guilty of the offense to which defendant is agreeing to plead guilty,” the plea agreement reads.

The legal paperwork, signed by both sides, states that Franklin downloaded the pirated copy from Putlocker, knowing full well that he didn’t have permission to do so. He then willfully shared it on Facebook where it was accessed by millions of people.

“Between February 20 and 22, 2016, while Deadpool was still in theaters and had not yet been made available for purchase by the public for home viewing, the copy of Deadpool defendant posted to his Facebook page had been viewed over 6,386,456 times,” the paperwork reads.

From the plea agreement

While a federal case over Facebook uploads is unlikely, the risk of legal trouble was pointed out to Franklin by others.

According to Facebook comments from 2016, several people warned “Tre-Von M. King” that it wasn’t wise to post copyright-infringing material on the social media platform. However, Franklin said he wasn’t worried.

It’s unclear why the US Government decided to pursue this case. Copyright infringement isn’t exactly rare on Facebook. However, it may be that the media attention and the high number of views may have prompted the authorities to set an example.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, Franklin will be sentenced for a Class A misdemeanor. This can lead to a maximum prison sentence of one year, followed by probation or a supervised release, as well as a fine of $100,000. Meanwhile, he has waived his right to a trial by jury.

A copy of the plea agreement is available here (pdf).

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On a large number of occasions over the past decade, Ukraine has played host to some of the world’s largest pirate sites.

At various points over the years, The Pirate Bay, KickassTorrents, ExtraTorrent, Demonoid and raft of streaming portals could be found housed in the country’s data centers, reportedly taking advantage of laws more favorable than those in the US and EU.

As a result, Ukraine has been regularly criticized for not doing enough to combat piracy but when placed under pressure, it does take action. In 2010, for example, the local government expressed concerns about the hosting of KickassTorrents in the country and in August the same year, the site was kicked out by its host.

“Kickasstorrents.com main web server was shut down by the hosting provider after it was contacted by local authorities. One way or another I’m afraid we must say goodbye to Ukraine and move the servers to other countries,” the site’s founder told TF at the time.

In the years since, Ukraine has launched sporadic action against pirate sites and has taken steps to tighten up copyright law. The Law on State Support of Cinematography came into force during April 2017 and gave copyright owners new tools to combat infringement by forcing (in theory, at least) site operators and web hosts to respond to takedown requests.

But according to the United States and Europe, not enough is being done. After the EU Commission warned that Ukraine risked damaging relations with the EU, last September US companies followed up with another scathing attack.

In a recommendation to the U.S. Government, the IIPA, which counts the MPAA, RIAA, and ESA among its members, asked U.S. authorities to suspend or withdraw Ukraine’s trade benefits until the online piracy situation improves.

“Legislation is needed to institute proper notice and takedown provisions, including a requirement that service providers terminate access to individuals (or entities) that have repeatedly engaged in infringement, and the retention of information for law enforcement, as well as to provide clear third party liability regarding ISPs,” the IIPA wrote.

But amid all the criticism, Ukraine cyber police chief Sergey Demedyuk says that while his department is committed to tackling piracy, it can only do so when complaints are filed with him.

“Yes, we are engaged in piracy very closely. The problem is that piracy is a crime of private accusation. So here we deal with them only in cases where we are contacted,” Demedyuk said in an Interfax interview published yesterday.

Surprisingly, given the number of dissenting voices, it appears that complaints about these matters aren’t exactly prevalent. So are there many at all?

“Unfortunately, no. In the media, many companies claim that their rights are being violated by pirates. But if you count the applications that come to us, they are one,” Demedyuk reveals.

“In general, we are handling Ukrainian media companies, who produce their own product and are worried about its fate. Also on foreign films, the ‘Anti-Piracy Agency’ refers to us, but not as intensively as before.”

Why complaints are going down, Demedyuk does not know, but when his unit is asked to take action it does so, he claims. Indeed, Demedyuk cites two particularly significant historical operations against a pair of large ‘pirate’ sites.

In 2012, Ukraine shut down EX.ua, a massive cyberlocker site following a six-month investigation initiated by international tech companies including Microsoft, Graphisoft and Adobe. Around 200 servers were seized, together hosting around 6,000 terabytes of data.

Then in November 2016, following a complaint from the MPAA, police raided FS.to, one of Ukraine’s most popular pirate sites. Initial reports indicated that 60 servers were seized and 19 people were arrested.

“To see the effect of combating piracy, this should not be done at the level of cyberpolicy, but at the state level,” Demedyuk advises.

“This requires constant close interaction between law enforcement agencies and rights holders. Only by using all these tools will we be able to effectively counteract copyright infringements.”

Meanwhile, the Office of the United States Trade Representative has maintained Ukraine’s position on the Priority Watchlist of its latest Special 301 Report and there a no signs it will be leaving anytime soon.

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Last year, American satellite and broadcast provider Dish Network targeted two well-known players in the third-party Kodi add-on ecosystem.

In a complaint filed in a federal court in Texas, add-on ZemTV and the TVAddons library were accused of copyright infringement, with both facing up to $150,000 for each offense.

While TVAddons operator Adam Lackman responded to the allegations last week, ZemTV’s developer ‘Shani’ decided not to reply.

Shahjahan Durrani, Shani for short, never denied that he was the driving force behind the Kodi-addons ZemTV, LiveStreamsPro, and F4MProxy. While the London-based developer had never set foot in Texas, he initially planned to put up a defense. Financially, however, this was a problem.

ZemTV’s developer launched a fundraiser last fall to crowdsource the legal battle. While he was able to raise close to £1,000, the legal costs already exceeded that the case even got fully underway.

Without the ability to pay the legal costs Shani is unable to put up a proper defense. But speaking with TorrentFreak, he explains that after the motion to dismiss was denied, he didn’t have much hope for a fair trial anyway.

“I was shocked and disappointed, not only by reading that the court dismissed my jurisdiction appeal, they did so with just one sentence. It seems unfair and doesn’t give any confidence to me that the court/judge would be fair,” Shani tells us.

This left the developer with two options. Find a way to fund the legal battle, money which may never be recovered, or give up the fight and face a default judgment. Shani chose the latter option.

Shani told his attorney Erin Russel to cease all activity on the case and to take no further steps on his behalf.

“I don’t have enough resources to fight this case completely with four kids that I am raising and anything more I do will be seem to be submitting to the US Courts which I am not going to do unless I have enough money to fight the case,” the developer wrote in an email to Russel.

The attorney informed the court of this decision late last week and withdrew from the case.

This means that the lawsuit is steering towards a default judgment, and indeed, Dish has already moved for an entry of default.

“To date, Durrani has not filed an answer or other responsive pleading or requested additional time to do so,” Dish’s motion reads. “Accordingly, the Clerk should enter a default against Durrani.”

Shani still hopes that Dish will not push through. The developer stresses that he never operated any of the servers that provided copyright-infringing streams, nor has he ever made money from his addons.

“I hope they would let the matter go as the addon code has been taken down for more than a year now. Plus, they already know by the return of the subpoena to the servers that none of them were handled or paid by me,” Shani says.

“This was an open source addon and no one would pay hundreds of pounds to host the servers/streams in the hope that people would donate. I actually never ever asked for any donation and never ever earned a single penny from Kodi addons.”

ZemTV, like many other addons, merely offered the interface that makes it possible to watch third-party streams on the Kodi platform. While that may be infringement or not, the developer notes that despite the lawsuit, these third-party streams are still online.

“The irony of all this mess is that those servers and apps are still functional and working while I am dealing with this illogical case,” Shani concludes.

If the Texas District Court enters the default, Dish will demand a judgment which likely includes thousands of dollars in damages. However, since Durrani lives in the UK and has no assets in the US, these damages may be hard to recoup.

Dish’s request for an entry of default is available here (pdf).

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