Google Play Store Rejects App For Using the Word “BitTorrent” 2In recent years we’ve written several articles on Apple’s aversion to BitTorrent-related apps in the iOS store.

Until this day, no fully-featured torrent client has managed to get listed in the store, at least not permanently but Google Play has been more welcoming. The popular app store for Android devices has had a nice collection of BitTorrent apps for years, including several well-known brands.

Last weekend, however, the developers of the relatively new BitTorrent client BiglyBT learned that the term “BitTorrent” is no longer allowed. When they pushed an update of their app on Google Play they were informed that their description violated the metadata policy.

“I reviewed your app and had to reject it because it violates our metadata policy. The app’s full description mentions other brands: Bittorrent.”

Play Store rejection

Google Play Store Rejects App For Using the Word “BitTorrent” 3

Needless to say, the BiglyBT developers were astounded. The app is created by seasoned BitTorrent developers who previously worked on Azureus and Vuze. Since BitTorrent is the name of the transfer protocol their app is using, they expected no issues.

Initially, this wasn’t the case. When the app was first submitted, Google didn’t flag the description as problematic, but something apparently changed.

“Looks like either Google just newly considered ‘Bittorrent’ a brand, or Bittorrent Inc has decided to enforce their name. I guess it’s not good enough anymore that bittorrent is also the protocol name,” BiglyBT developer TuxPaper informed us.

It could indeed have been possible that BitTorrent Inc, which owns the relevant trademark in the US, had started to enforce it. However, that’s not the case. The San Francisco company informs TorrentFreak that they haven’t asked Google to take any action.

Interestingly, BitTorrent Inc.’s own uTorrent app also disappeared from Google’s app store for a few days last month, but it’s unclear to us why this was. The app eventually returned though, and there are also plenty of other apps with BitTorrent mentions on Google Play.

The good news for BiglyBT’s developers is that their app was allowed back on Google Play after they changed all “BitTorrent” mentions to “torrent.”

Google rejections can happen automatically or after a manual review. If the former applies in this case, other developers may face the same issue in the future.

“If it’s an automated one, then other Bittorrent Apps will also be getting this rejection the next time they update their app or play metadata,” TuxPaper notes.

TorrentFreak reached out to Google for a comment on the situation but a few days have passed without a reply. So for now, it remains a mystery why Google is taking action against “BitTorrent,” and on what grounds.

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Google Play Store Rejects App For Using the Word “BitTorrent” 4 Google Play Store Rejects App For Using the Word “BitTorrent” 5

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How The US Pushed Sweden to Take Down The Pirate Bay 8It’s well known that the US Government is actively involved in copyright enforcement efforts around the globe.

In some countries they’ve actively helped write copyright law. Elsewhere, U.S. authorities provide concrete suggestions for improvement, including in Sweden.

After The Pirate Bay was raided for the first time, more than ten years ago, the media highlighted that the U.S. Government and Hollywood pulled strings behind the scenes. However, little was known about what this actually entailed.

Today we can provide more context, thanks to a Freedom of Information request that was sent to the U.S. Department of State. While the events happened a decade ago, they show how action against The Pirate Bay was discussed at the highest political level.

The trail starts with a cable sent from the US Embassy in Sweden to Washington in November 2005. This is roughly six months before the Pirate Bay raid, which eventually resulted in criminal convictions for four men connected to the site.

The Embassy writes that Hollywood’s MPAA and the local Anti-Piracy Bureau (APB) met with US Ambassador Bivins and, separately, with Swedish State Secretary of Justice at the time, Dan Eliasson. The Pirate Bay issue was at the top of the agenda during these meetings.

“The MPA is particularly concerned about PirateBay, the world‘s largest Torrent file-sharing tracker. According to the MPA and based on Embassy’s follow-up discussions, the Justice Ministry is very interested in a constructive dialogue with the US. on these concerns,” the cable reads.

“Embassy understands that State and Commerce officials have also met with Swedish officials in Washington on the same concern,” it adds, with the Embassy requesting further “guidance” from Washington.

How The US Pushed Sweden to Take Down The Pirate Bay 9

The document adds that there has been some movement on the piracy enforcement front in Sweden, with two legal cases pending. However, those were not the targets Hollywood was looking for.

“We have yet to see a ‘big fish’ tried – something the MPA badly wants to see, particularly in light of the fact that Sweden hosts the largest Bit Torrent file-sharing tracker in the world, ‘Pirate-Bay’, which openly flaunts IPR,” the cable writer comments.

Interestingly, Hollywood and the authorities were aware of the fact that a case against The Pirate Bay wouldn’t be an easy one. The site never stored any infringing material directly and had proper legal backing, the cable points out.

“However, it is not clear to us what constraints Sweden and even U.S. authorities would be under in pursuing a case like this when the site is legally well advised and studiously avoids storing any copyrighted material.”

At the time there were some rumors that Sweden would be placed on the US Trade Representative’s 301 Watch List. This could possibly result in negative trade implications. However, in a cable written April 2006, the US Embassy in Sweden was informed that, while there were concerns, it would not be listed. Not yet at least.

“We understand that a specialized organization for enforcement against Internet piracy currently is under consideration,” the cable reads, while mentioning The Pirate Bay once again.

“We are encouraged by reports of ongoing efforts related to Internet piracy in Sweden; however, the increase in Pirate Bay peers, up 74 percent in just the last 7 months, demonstrates the urgent need to step up current efforts dramatically to address this issue in the near term.”

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Then the ‘inevitable’ happened. On May 31, 2006, The Pirate Bay was raided by 65 Swedish police officers. They entered a datacenter in Stockholm with instructions to shut down the Pirate Bay’s servers and collect vital evidence.

A few weeks after the raid, the Embassy sent another cable to Washington informing the homefront on the apparent success of their efforts.

“Starting with the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) visit to post last fall, Embassy Stockholm has engaged intensely with our Swedish interlocutors in efforts to improve IPR enforcement, in particular with regard to Internet piracy. The actions on May 31 thus mark a significant victory for our IPR efforts.”

The US clearly saw a link between their diplomatic maneuvering and the Pirate Bay raid. This link was also brought up in the media at the time, with news reports citing sources claiming that Justice Minister Bodström and his State Secretary Dan Eliasson ordered the police raid under US pressure.

Interestingly, both Bodström and Eliasson denied any direct involvement of the Justice Ministry with the work of the police and prosecutors in the Pirate Bay case.

While the cables make it very clear that the US wanted The Pirate Bay gone, the Embassy said that the raid went beyond their expectations, suggesting they were not directly involved. The pressure was clearly there though.

In future cables, the Pirate Bay case was often mentioned, with regular updates on the media backlash and progress in the criminal investigation. According to the US Embassy in Sweden, shutting down The Pirate Bay “should not be underestimated as a sign of [Sweden’s] willingness to take action and their position against illegal piracy.”

The cables also make clear that in Washington, the Pirate Bay raid was celebrated as a victory that was directly triggered by US diplomacy.

In a cable sent in April 2007, the Embassy nominated one of its employees, whose name is redacted, for the State Department’s Foreign Service National (FSN) of the year award. Again, The Pirate Bay case was brought up.

“REDACTED has spearheaded-work on Internet piracy enforcement in Sweden. The issue is particularly acute here as Sweden was home to the largest Internet piracy site (Pirate Bay) in the world. The work has involved extensive contacts with the Ministry of Justice, the Motion Picture Agency, as well as the Anti-Piracy Bureau.”

The employee is praised for her diplomatic efforts behind the scenes which directly led to the decision to raid The Pirate Bay, the Embassy writes.

“REDACTED skillful outreach directly led to a bold decision by Swedish law enforcement authorities to raid Pirate Bay and shut it down. This was recognized as a major achievement in Washington in furthering U.S. efforts to combat Internet piracy worldwide.”

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Despite US officials taking credit for the Pirate Bay raid, it didn’t turn out to be the success they had hoped for. The notorious torrent site was back online after three days, “flaunting IPR” bolder and braver than ever before.

The press coverage was largely unfavorable towards the US Government and Hollywood, while the people behind the site were seen as heroes by many.

The US Embassy in Sweden was well aware of the delicate situation but kept pushing for stronger copyright measures behind the scenes. This time even further in the background than before.

“The Pirate Bay raid was portrayed as caving to USG pressure. The delicate situation made it difficult, if not counter-productive, for the Embassy to play a public role on IPR issues. Behind the scenes, the Embassy has worked well with all stakeholders,” Washington was informed February 2008.

At the time, Sweden was being considered for the 301 Watch List once again. The Embassy pointed out that, given the public suspicion, this could backfire. The other option was to keep a potential watch list entry as a “looming threat” while Sweden implements the changes they’re looking for.

“The USG [US Govt] has to carefully determine which course of action will be the most productive; (1) a Watch-Listing with potentially negative repercussions in future GOS [Swedish Govt.] cooperation and in the public eye; or (2) continuing to exercise influence behind the scenes, with a potential Watch-Listing looming in the background as a continued threat.”

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As our earlier coverage has shown, Sweden then went on to implement a list of copyright changes which also happened to be proposed by US copyright holders. Needless to say, Sweden was never placed on the US Trade Representative’s 301 Watch List.

TorrentFreak spoke with Peter Sunde, one of the Pirate Bay co-founders who was indicted after the raid, and who has since served a jail sentence for his involvement with the site.

He is happy to see the new information being released. This is yet more confirmation of what he and many others have known for quite some time.

While former Swedish State Secretary of Justice Dan Eliasson, who now happens to be the national police commissioner, denied any direct orders from the Justice Ministry, it’s clear that US pressure made an impact.

“It’s been an open secret that the USG was behind the unlawful raid against The Pirate Bay, and exerting their power with threats against Sweden like this. It’s nice to see these documents coming up, interestingly enough from the most secretive of governments,” he says.

There is still a lot of information missing though. The documents mention a fifth person that was supposed to be indicted, for example, which is completely new information. Sunde hopes that Sweden will open up its secret archives as well.

“I’m hoping that Sweden will now follow up and release the 747 documents they’ve classified as secret regarding this affair. The Minister of Justice at the time, Thomas Bodström, said that he would put all the cards on the table so the public would know what happened, but then classified these 747 documents as secret.

“Sweden has a proud history of transparency, celebrating 250 years of freedom of the press this year, and it’s an open sore that these documents are being held as classified,” Sunde adds.

The relevant responses to the Freedom of Information request, which was submitted by Rachael Tackett and shared with TorrentFreak, are available here.

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YouTuber Convicted For Publishing Video Piracy ‘Tutorials’ 17While piracy-focused tutorials have been around for many years, the advent of streaming piracy coupled with the rise of the YouTube star created a perfect storm online.

Even a cursory search on YouTube now turns up thousands of Kodi addon and IPTV-focused channels, each vying to become the ultimate location for the latest and hottest piracy tips. While these videos don’t appear to be a priority for copyright holders, a channel operator in Brazil has just discovered that they aren’t without consequences.

The case involves Marcelo Otto Nascimento, the operator of YouTube channel Café Tecnológico. It began, strangely, with videos about baking bread but later experimented with videos on technological topics including observations on streaming content without paying for it.

In time, this attracted the negative attention of local TV industry group Associação Brasileira de Televisões por Assinatura (Brazilian Association of Television By Signature / ABTA). The group eventually took legal action, complaining about the nature of Nascimento’s YouTube and Facebook pages.

ABTA told the court that Nascimento had been posting tutorials that “encourage the use of equipment and applications designed to allow access to services and content” of its members, despite that content being protected by copyright. The trade group called for the removal of the content, an injunction against Nascimento, an apology, plus compensation for “material and moral damages.”

In his defense, Nascimento said that he merely comments on IPTV systems, does not breach copyright, doesn’t represent unfair competition, and did not cause the TV companies to incur any losses. Overall, Judge Fernando Henrique de Oliveira Biolcati did not agree with his assertions.

“[T]he plain intention of the defendant was to guide users in order for them to obtain access to the restricted content of the applicant’s associates….while gaining advantages for this, especially via remuneration from the providers of the mentioned applications (YouTube and Facebook), proportional to the volumes of visitors,” the Judge wrote in his ruling.

“This is not a question of mere disinterested comments, in the exercise of freedom of expression,” he added.

As a result, Nascimento was ordered to remove all of his online content that could be deemed instructional for pirates, in order to protect the interests of ABTA’s members and their ability to earn revenue from their content. In addition, the channel operator was forbidden from publishing any more videos of a similar nature.

On top, Nascimento must now pay the copyright holders for material damages, yet to be determined, measured from the posting of the first ‘pirate’ tutorial until such a date when all of the tutorials have been removed.

The ruling (PDF via Mg, Portuguese) also requires Nascimento to pay the equivalent of US$7,600 for “moral damages” plus extra for legal costs, during the next 15 days.

In a statement, ABTA said that following this conviction, more people could fall under the spotlight.

“ABTA is also monitoring the activities of other channels on YouTube and on social networks that publish illegal content such as channel lists, movies and ‘free’ access TV series, as well as tutorials and comparisons of devices or applications intended for illicit use (such as Megabox, HtvBox, Kodi, Dejavu, IPTV, ITVGo, etc.),” the group said.

Meanwhile, Nascimento says that he would’ve taken the videos down if only ABTA had asked him to. He will be appealing the decision, claiming that the videos did not teach people about piracy, they only demonstrated functionality. YouTube declined to comment.

One of the remaining IPTV-focused videos

Source: TF


Treasure Trove of AACS 2.0 UHD Blu-Ray Keys Leak Online 19Nowadays, movie buffs and videophiles find it hard to imagine a good viewing experience without UHD content, but disc rippers and pirates have remained on the sidelines for a long time.

Protected with strong AACS 2.0 encryption, UHD Blu-ray discs have long been one of the last bastions movie pirates had yet to breach.

This year there have been some major developments on this front, as full copies of UHD discs started to leak online. While it remained unclear how these were ripped, it was a definite milestone.

Just a few months ago another breakthrough came when a Russian company released a Windows tool called DeUHD that could rip UHD Blu-ray discs. Again, the method for obtaining the keys was not revealed.

Now there’s another setback for AACS LA, the licensing outfit founded by Warner Bros, Disney, Microsoft, Intel, and others. On various platforms around the Internet, copies of 72 AACS 2.0 keys are being shared.

The first mention we can find was posted a few days ago in a ten-year-old forum thread in the Doom9 forums. Since then it has been replicated a few times, without much fanfare.

The keys

Treasure Trove of AACS 2.0 UHD Blu-Ray Keys Leak Online 20

The keys in question are confirmed to work and allow people to rip UHD Blu-ray discs of movies with freely available software such as MakeMKV. They are also different from the DeUHD list, so there are more people who know how to get them.

The full list of leaked keys includes movies such as Deadpool, Hancock, Passengers, Star Trek: Into Darkness, and The Martian. Some movies have multiple keys, likely as a result of different disc releases.

The leaked keys are also relevant for another reason. Ten years ago, a hacker leaked the AACS cryptographic key “09 F9” online which prompted the MPAA and AACS LA to issue DMCA takedown requests to sites where it surfaced.

This escalated into a censorship debate when Digg started removing articles that referenced the leak, triggering a massive backlash.

Thus fas the response to the AACS 2.0 leaks has been pretty tame, but it’s still early days. A user who posted the leaked keys on MyCe has already removed them due to possible copyright problems, so it’s definitely still a touchy subject.

The question that remains now is how the hacker managed to secure the keys, and if AACS 2.0 has been permanently breached.

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

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These days keeping your software updated is becoming more and more important because of possible security risks. Although we will never claim Kodi will become risk free when you are using it, we will certainly try to improve security and reduce possible risks in each version we release. This not only involves the core code of which Kodi is build but also all the external code libraries we use to make it a functional program. As such it is quite important that when possible you try to update Kodi to the most recent released final version.

We encourage everyone to regularly visit our https://kodi.tv website to check if there’s any news or updates available. To aid in this we included a notification dialog to tell there’s a new version available. Be sure to also read our news section.

Keep Kodi and the installed add-ons updated 25
What Kodi version am I using?

To find out which version of Kodi you are currently using is actually quite simple. Each time you start Kodi it will briefly show a splash screen image on which it says what version you are currently running. However, since this usually only shows up quite briefly it you might not have enough time to be able to read it. Another option is to navigate to the settings screen.

Keep Kodi and the installed add-ons updated 26

In case you have Kodi installed from Google Play Store you should usually get the latest available and compatible version that we support. If this is not the case Play store also offers a check for updates option somewhere in it’s menu. For people who are using Windows 10 and have installed Kodi from the Microsoft Store applies the same. Once we publish a new version you should automatically receive that a few days after. As well as Play Store there’s a check for updates button to make sure you are up-to-date. For the people who are not using the above methods will have to get the latest update manually by visiting our https://kodi.tv website and click on the “download” button and follow the steps presented.

For those who are using Android and are not using the Play Store we have made a special Kodi add-on from which you can install a newer Kodi version with the click of a button. It’s called “Kodi Android Installer” and can be found from our official repository under programs.

How can i update my add-ons?

In normal cases Kodi itself will contact the main repository server on regular basis to see if there are some updates available for the add-ons you have installed or update the list which are available. In some rare cases it might not see there are new updates and you may need to trigger a manual check. The other case might be that you know the add-on developers issued an update and you can’t wait till you receive it on next server check. For these situations we made a button available in de add-on manager sidebar to check if there are any updates available. Here’s how you get that done.

First you navigate to the add-on menu button and select it.

Keep Kodi and the installed add-ons updated 27

Once you have entered the main add-on section you will have to go down to my-addons item or up to the box icon and select it.

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Once you have done that you need to press left to get the sidebar visible. Now that the sidebar has appeared you can see when the last update check was performed on this system. To trigger the check again you can navigate down toward the “Check for updates” button and select it.

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Once you have done that Kodi will try to contact the server and get an updated add-on list. Depending on the setting you have it will automatically install the newest available version.

The following wiki page has a more detailed explanation how that section works: add-on manager. If you have any problems with an add-on coming from our official repository you can find out how to report on https://kodi.tv/addons and click the forum button when available. If it’s not there please search the official forum manually.

If you update or not is of course you to decide thought it’s certainly highly encouraged.

Do note that the screenshots used above are while using the default Estuary skin. If you have installed any other skin the steps might be slightly different.

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Terrarium TV: The Best Android Movie Streaming App Faces Uncertain Future 34In early 2014, Popcorn Time turned the consumer end of the piracy world upside down. Utilizing a BitTorrent backend and a beautiful interface, Popcorn Time certainly lived up to its promise of being the Netflix for Pirates. Adopted by millions of users, it soon became a household name.

In the months and years to come, Popcorn Time grabbed hundreds of headlines. However, aside from the app’s success, much of what followed was negative in tone as the entertainment industries struggled to contain this new kid on the block.

Since then, of course, Kodi and its numerous illicit third-party addons have become massive news, stepping over Popcorn Time to become the most talked about and consumer-friendly of piracy tools. In the background, however, other applications have been making steady and indeed somewhat stealthy progress.

One of these applications is Terrarium TV. Built exclusively for the Android platform and equally at home on a phone, tablet, streaming stick or set-top box, this software has gained a cult but significant following. For those out of the loop, it will be the most important piracy app they’ve never heard of, despite its Facebook page alone attracting close to 200,000 members.

In many respects, Terrarium TV resembles Popcorn Time. It has a beautiful Netflix-style interface, pulling movie and TV show artwork and metadata from several sources to make what some consider to be the best all-in-one streaming app for Android, period. While Kodi is no doubt powerful and Popcorn Time has one hell of a reputation, Terrarium TV makes viewing simplicity itself. And it really does cater to everyone.

Terrarium TV – A category for everyoneTerrarium TV: The Best Android Movie Streaming App Faces Uncertain Future 35

If people are worried about Popcorn Time due to its BitTorrent-based streaming, Terrarium TV has that covered. Every single stream offered by the app is conjured up from public sources such as file-hosting sites and even GoogleVideo. On the whole, streaming is of an extremely high-quality with dozens of sources offered for most content, whether that’s the latest Hollywood movies, blockbuster TV shows, or decades-old rarities.

The quality is impressive too. While 4K rips are best left to the BitTorrent crowd with bandwidth to spare, Terrarium TV manages to conjure up a bewildering range of content in an impressive array of qualities. HD is commonplace and barely a search goes by without a corresponding source alongside. And with multi-language subtitle and Chromecast support, the icing is placed on top of what is an extremely competent cake.

But despite all the accolades, Terrarium TV has an uncertain future.

Over a week ago TerrariumTV.com – the site from where the application has been seamlessly delivered for some time – suddenly disappeared without trace. There was no announcement on Facebook, no announcement on Twitter. Even the moderators on the fairly active Terrarium TV subreddit seemed to have few ideas as to what was going on.

Theories are numerous but most center around the developer, who’s resident in Asia, going on some kind of hiatus. Why that would require the Terrarium TV website to be taken down isn’t clear. Neither does it explain why the Terrarium TV site Github repo was taken down too.

Terrarium moviesTerrarium TV: The Best Android Movie Streaming App Faces Uncertain Future 36

But alongside the ‘break’ theory is one that legal trouble, either actual or simply the fear of it, is what’s underlying the apparent limbo in which the app now sits. That was confirmed this week by the developer, who told one of the app’s subreddit moderators that he’d be lying low, at least for a while.

“I’ve decided to shut down the official website and maybe soon will also shut down the Github repository hosting the apk files in order to avoid any potential legal issues,” he said.

“There has been no cease and desist letters, no lawyers at the door, no seizing of the website. Ad free is not involved. It has been purely a precautionary measure. I want to take a break for a while (maybe a few weeks) first.”

After a short exchange in the summer, Terrarium TV’s developer didn’t return our recent requests for comment but if he had, we’d have certainly asked him about the future development of the app, framed around the Popcorn Time situation.

Despite many legal attacks, the open source nature of Popcorn Time allowed the project to ‘fork’ in several different directions, with various teams continuing development. Terrarium TV, on the other hand, is closed source meaning that when it’s gone, it’s possibly gone for good.

At the moment it’s still available for download from sources listed in the sidebar of its dedicated subreddit but whether the dev will decide to revisit the project again is unclear at this point. If he does not, it seems likely that the system will degrade over time although at the moment it carries out its tasks automatically, which is impressive in itself.

In the meantime, its hundreds of thousands of users will just have to cross everything – and wait.

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Hollywood and Netflix Ask Court to Seize Tickbox Streaming  Devices 41More and more people are starting to use Kodi-powered set-top boxes to stream video content to their TVs.

While Kodi itself is a neutral platform, sellers who ship devices with unauthorized add-ons give it a bad reputation.

According to the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE), an anti-piracy partnership between Hollywood studios, Netflix, Amazon, and more than two dozen other companies, Tickbox TV is one of these bad actors.

Earlier this year, ACE filed a lawsuit against the Georgia-based company, which sells set-top boxes that allow users to stream a variety of popular media. The Tickbox devices use the Kodi media player and come with instructions on how to add various add-ons.

According to ACE, these devices are nothing more than pirate tools, allowing buyers to stream copyright infringing content. “TickBox promotes and distributes TickBox TV for infringing use, and that is exactly the result of its use,” they told court this week.

After the complaint was filed in October, Tickbox made some cosmetic changes to the site, removing some allegedly inducing language. The streaming devices are still for sale, however, but not for long if it’s up to the media giants.

This week ACE submitted a request for a preliminary injunction to the court, hoping to stop Tickbox’s sales activities.

“TickBox is intentionally inducing infringement, pure and simple. Plaintiffs respectfully request that the Court enter a preliminary injunction that requires TickBox to halt its flagrantly illegal conduct immediately,” they write in their application.

The companies explain that that since Tickbox is causing irreparable harm, all existing devices should be impounded.

“[A]ll TickBox TV devices in the possession of TickBox and all of its officers, directors, agents, servants, and employees, and all persons in active concert or participation or in privity with any of them are to be impounded and shall be retained by Defendant until further order of the Court,” the proposed order reads.

In addition, Tickbox should push out a software update which remove all infringing add-ons from the devices that were previously sold.

“TickBox shall, via software update, remove from all distributed TickBox TV devices all Kodi ‘Themes,’ ‘Builds,’ ‘Addons,’ or any other software that facilitates the infringing public performances of Plaintiffs’ Copyrighted Works.”

Among others, the list of allegedly infringing add-ons and themes includes Spinz, Lodi Black, Stream on Fire, Wookie, Aqua, CMM, Spanish Quasar, Paradox, Covenant, Elysium, UK Turk, Gurzil, Maverick, and Poseidon.

The filing shows that ACE is serious about its efforts to stop the sale of these type of streaming devices. Tickbox has yet to reply to the original complaint or the injunction request.

While this is the first US lawsuit of its kind, the anti-piracy conglomerate has been rather active in recent weeks. The group has successfully pressured several addon developers to quit and has been involved in enforcement actions around the globe.

A copy of the proposed preliminary injunction is available here (pdf).

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Dutch Film Distributor Wins Right To Chase Pirates, Store Data For 5 Years 46For many years, Dutch Internet users were allowed to download copyrighted content without reprisals, provided it was for their own personal use.

In 2014, however, the European Court of Justice ruled that the country’s “piracy levy” to compensate rightsholders was unlawful. Almost immediately, the government announced a downloading ban.

In March 2016, anti-piracy outfit BREIN followed up by obtaining permission from the Dutch Data Protection Authority to track and store the personal data of alleged BitTorrent pirates. This year, movie distributor Dutch FilmWorks (DFW) made a similar application.

The company said that it would be pursuing alleged pirates to deter future infringement but many suspected that securing cash settlements was its main aim. That was confirmed in August.

“[The letter to alleged pirates] will propose a fee. If someone does not agree [to pay], the organization can start a lawsuit,” said DFW CEO Willem Pruijsserts

“In Germany, this costs between €800 and €1,000, although we find this a bit excessive. But of course it has to be a deterrent, so it will be more than a tenner or two,” he added.

But despite the grand plans, nothing would be possible without first obtaining the necessary permission from the Data Protection Authority. This Wednesday, however, that arrived.

“DFW has given sufficient guarantees for the proper and careful processing of personal data. This means that DFW has been given a green light from the Data Protection Authority to collect personal data, such as IP addresses, from people downloading from illegal sources,” the Authority announced.

Noting that it received feedback from four entities during the six-week consultation process following the publication of its draft decision during the summer, the Data Protection Authority said that further investigations were duly carried out. All input was considered before handing down the final decision.

The Authority said it was satisfied that personal data would be handled correctly and that the information collected and stored would be encrypted and hashed to ensure integrity. Furthermore, data will not be retained for longer than is necessary.

“DFW has stated…that data from users with Dutch IP addresses who were involved in the exchange of a title owned by DFW, but in respect of which there is no intention to follow up on that within three months after receipt, will be destroyed,” the decision reads.

For any cases that are active and haven’t been discarded in the initial three-month period, DFW will be allowed to hold alleged pirates’ data for a maximum of five years, a period that matches the time a company has to file a claim under the Dutch Civil Code.

“When DFW does follow up on a file, DFW carries out further research into the identity of the users of the IP addresses. For this, it is necessary to contact the Internet service providers of the subscribers who used the IP addresses found in the BitTorrent network,” the Authority notes.

According to the decision, once DFW has a person’s details it can take any of several actions, starting with a simple warning or moving up to an amicable cash settlement. Failing that, it might choose to file a full-on court case in which the distributor seeks an injunction against the alleged pirate plus compensation and costs.

Only time will tell what strategy DFW will deploy against alleged pirates but since these schemes aren’t cheap to run, it’s likely that simple warning letters will be seriously outnumbered by demands for cash settlement.

While it seems unlikely that the Data Protection Authority will change its mind at this late stage, it’s decision remains open to appeal. Interested parties have just under six weeks to make their voices heard. Failing that, copyright trolling will hit the Netherlands in the weeks and months to come.

The full decision can be found here (Dutch, pdf) via Tweakers

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Dutch Film Distributor Wins Right To Chase Pirates, Store Data For 5 Years 47 Dutch Film Distributor Wins Right To Chase Pirates, Store Data For 5 Years 48

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Movie Company Has No Right to Sue, Accused Pirate Argues 51In recent years, a group of select companies have pressured hundreds of thousands of alleged pirates to pay significant settlement fees, or face legal repercussions.

These so-called “copyright trolling” efforts have also been a common occurrence in the United States for more than half a decade, and still are today.

While copyright holders should be able to take legitimate piracy claims to court, not all cases are as strong as they first appear. Many defendants have brought up flaws, often in relation to the IP-address evidence, but an accused pirate in Oregon takes things up a notch.

Lingfu Zhang, represented by attorney David Madden, has turned the tables on the makers of the film Fathers & Daughters. The man denies having downloaded the movie but also points out that the filmmakers have signed away their online distribution rights.

The issue was brought up in previous months, but the relevant findings were only unsealed this week. They show that the movie company (F&D), through a sales agent, sold the online distribution rights to a third party.

While this is not uncommon in the movie business, it means that they no longer have the right to distribute the movie online, a right Zhang was accused of violating. This is also what his attorney pointed out to the court, asking for a judgment in favor of his client.

“ZHANG denies downloading the movie but Defendant’s current motion for summary judgment challenges a different portion of F&D’s case: Defendant argues that F&D has alienated all of the relevant rights necessary to sue for infringement under the Copyright Act,” Madden writes.

The filmmakers opposed the request and pointed out that they still had some rights. However, this is irrelevant according to the defense, since the distribution rights are not owned by them, but by a company that’s not part of the lawsuit.

“Plaintiff claims, for example, that it still owns the right to exploit the movie on airlines and oceangoing vessels. That may or may not be true – Plaintiff has not submitted any evidence on the question – but ZHANG is not accused of showing the movie on an airplane or a cruise ship.

“He is accused of downloading it over the Internet, which is an infringement that affects only an exclusive right owned by non-party DISTRIBUTOR 2,” Madden adds.

Interestingly, an undated addendum to the licensing agreement, allegedly created after the lawsuit was started, states that the filmmakers would keep their “anti-piracy” rights, as can be seen below.

Anti-Piracy rights?

Movie Company Has No Right to Sue, Accused Pirate Argues 52

This doesn’t save the filmmaker, according to the defense. The “licensor” who keeps these anti-piracy and enforcement rights refers to the sales agent, not the filmmaker, Madden writes. In addition, the case is about copyright infringement, and despite the addendum, the filmmakers don’t have the exclusive rights that apply here.

“Plaintiff represented to this Court that it was the ‘proprietor of all copyrights and interests need to bring suit’ […] notwithstanding that it had – years earlier – transferred away all its exclusive rights under Section 106 of the Copyright Act,” the defense lawyer concludes.

“Even viewing all Plaintiff’s agreements in the light most favorable to it, Plaintiff holds nothing more than a bare right to sue, which is not a cognizable right that may be exercised in the courts of this Circuit.”

While the court has yet to decide on the motion, this case could turn into a disaster for the makers of Fathers & Daughters.

If the court agrees that they don’t have the proper rights, defendants in other cases may argue the same. It’s easy to see how their entire trolling scheme would then collapse.

The original memorandum in support of the motion for summary judgment is available here (pdf) and a copy of the reply brief can be found here (pdf).

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Resilient TVAddons Plans to Ditch Proactive ‘Piracy’ Screening 57After years of smooth sailing, this year TVAddons became a poster child for the entertainment industry’s war on illicit streaming devices.

The leading repository for unofficial Kodi addons was sued for copyright infringement in the US by satellite and broadcast provider Dish Network. Around the same time, a similar case was filed by Bell, TVA, Videotron, and Rogers in Canada.

The latter case has done the most damage thus far, as it caused the addon repository to lose its domain names and social media accounts. As a result, the site went dead and while many believed it would never return, it made a blazing comeback after a few weeks.

Since the original TVAddons.ag domain was seized, the site returned on TVaddons.co. And that was not the only difference. A lot of the old add-ons, for which it was unclear if they linked to licensed content, were no longer listed in the repository either.

TVAddons previously relied on the DMCA to shield it from liability but apparently, that wasn’t enough. As a result, they took the drastic decision to check all submitted add-ons carefully.

“Since complying with the law is clearly not enough to prevent frivolous legal action from being taken against you, we have been forced to implement a more drastic code vetting process,” a TVAddons representative told us previously.

Despite the absence of several of the most used add-ons, the repository has managed to regain many of its former users. Over the past month, TVAddons had over 12 million unique users. These all manually installed the new repository on their devices.

“We’re not like one of those pirate sites that are shut down and opens on a new domain the next day, getting users to actually manually install a new repo isn’t an easy feat,” a TVAddons representative informs TorrentFreak.

While it’s still far away from the 40 million unique users it had earlier this year, before the trouble began, it’s still a force to be reckoned with.

Interestingly, the vast majority of all TVAddons traffic comes from the United States. The UK is second at a respectable distance, followed by Canada, Germany, and the Netherlands.

While many former users have returned, the submission policy changes didn’t go unnoticed. The relatively small selection of add-ons is a major drawback for some, but that’s about to change as well, we are informed.

TVAddons plans to return to the old submission model where developers can upload their code more freely. Instead of proactive screening, TVAddons will rely on a standard DMCA takedown policy, relying on copyright holders to flag potentially infringing content.

“We intend on returning to a standard DMCA compliant add-on submission policy shortly, there’s no reason why we should be held to a higher standard than Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Reddit given the fact that we don’t even host any form of streaming content in the first place.

“Our interim policy isn’t pragmatic, it’s nearly impossible for us to verify the global licensing of all forms of protected content. When you visit a website, there’s no way of verifying licensing beyond trusting them based on reputation.”

The upcoming change doesn’t mean that TVAddons will ignore its legal requirements. If they receive a legitimate takedown notice, proper action will be taken, as always. As such, they would operate in the same fashion as other user-generated sites.

“Right now our interim addon submission policy is akin to North Korea. We always followed the law and will always continue to do so. Anytime we’ve received a legitimate complaint we’ve acted upon it in an expedited manner.

“Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and other online communities would have never existed if they were required to approve the contents of each user’s submissions prior to public posting.”

The change takes place while the two court cases are still pending. TVAddons is determined to keep up this fight. Meanwhile, they are also asking the public to support the project financially.

While some copyright holders, including those who are fighting the service in court, might not like the change, TVAddons believes that this is well within their rights. And with support from groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation, they don’t stand alone in this.

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