Last year, the European Commission published its long-awaited proposal to modernize EU copyright law. Among other things, it will require online services to do more to fight piracy.

Specifically, Article 13 of the proposed Copyright Directive requires online services to monitor and filter pirated content, in collaboration with rightsholders.

This means that online services, which deal with large volumes of user-uploaded content, must use fingerprinting or other detection mechanisms to block copyright infringing files, similar to YouTube’s Content-ID system.

The Commission stressed that the changes are needed to support copyright holders. However, many legal scholars, digital activists, and members of the public worry that they will violate the rights of regular Internet users.

They believe that mandatory filters ignore established case law and human rights. This critique is now, in part, backed up by questions from several EU member states.

Authorities in Belgium, Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, Ireland and the Netherlands have recently sent a series of questions to the Council Legal Service, requesting clarification on several issues.

The document (pdf), published by Statewatch, asks whether a mandatory piracy filter is proportionate and compatible with existing law.

“Would the standalone measure/ obligation as currently proposed under Article 13 be compatible with the Charter of Human Rights […] in the light of the jurisprudence of the CJEU that aims to secure a fair balance in the application of competing fundamental rights?

“Are the proposed measures justified and proportionate?” the member states add.

Specifically, the member states suggest that the filters may hinder people’s right to freedom of expression and information, the right to protection of personal data, and freedom to conduct a business.

One of the problems is that such filters work by monitoring the communications of all citizens uploading to platforms, which would go against existing EU law. In the Sabam v Netlog case, the European Court of Justice ruled that hosting sites can’t be forced to filter copyrighted content, as this would violate the privacy of users and hinder freedom of information.

The letter, which was sent on July 25, also stresses that important copyright exceptions, such as parody and the right to quote, are not taken into account.

“The [Commission’s] proposal does not provide for appropriate measures that would enable these users to actually benefit from public interest copyright exceptions. It is important to point out that certain exceptions to copyright, such as e.g. parody or the quotation right are the embodiment in copyright of fundamental rights other than the right to property.”

This is not the first time that member states have responded critically to the proposal. Tweakers notes that the Dutch Government previously stressed that there should be a better balance between the rights of consumers and copyright holders.

The recent letter from the six member states backs up many of the questions that have been asked by activists, scholars and members of the public, including the “Save the Meme” campaign. These critics hope that the proposal will be changed substantially, ideally without mandatory piracy filters, when it’s voted on in the EU Parliament.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.





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The seventh season of Game of Thrones has brought tears and joy to HBO this summer.

It was the most-viewed season thus far, with record-breaking TV ratings. But on the other hand, HBO and Game of Thrones were plagued by hacks, leaks, and piracy, of course.

While it’s hard to measure piracy accurately, streaming in particular, piracy tracking outfit MUSO has just released some staggering numbers. According to the company, the latest season was pirated more than a billion times in total.

To put this into perspective, this means that on average each episode was pirated 140 million times, compared to 32 million views through legal channels.

The vast majority of the pirate ‘views’ came from streaming services (85%), followed by torrents (9%) and direct downloads (6%). Private torrent trackers are at the bottom with less than one percent.

Pirate sources

Andy Chatterley, MUSO’s CEO and Co-Founder, notes that the various leaks may have contributed to these high numbers. This is supported by the finding that the sixth episode, which leaked several days in advance, was pirated more than the season finale.

“It’s no secret that HBO has been plagued by security breaches throughout the latest season, which has seen some episodes leak before broadcast and added to unlicensed activity,” Chatterley says.

In addition, the data shows that despite a heavy focus on torrent traffic, unauthorized streaming is a much bigger problem for rightsholders.

“In addition to the scale of piracy when it comes to popular shows, these numbers demonstrate that unlicensed streaming can be a far more significant type of piracy than torrent downloads.”

Although the report shares precise numbers, it’s probably best to describe them as estimates.

The streaming data MUSO covers is sourced from SimilarWeb, which uses a sample of 200 million ‘devices’ to estimate website traffic. The sample data covers thousands of popular pirate sites and is extrapolated into the totals.

While more than a billion downloads are pretty significant, to say the least, MUSO is not even looking at the full pirate landscape.

For one, Muso’s streaming data doesn’t include Chinese traffic, which usually has a very active piracy community. As if that’s not enough, alternative pirate sources such as fully-loaded Kodi boxes, are not included either.

It’s clear though, which doesn’t really come as a surprise, that Game of Thrones piracy overall is still very significant. The torrent numbers may not have grown in recent years, but streaming seems to be making up for it and probably adding a few dozen million extra, give or take.

Total Global Downloads and Streams by Episode

Episode one: 187,427,575
Episode two: 123,901,209
Episode three: 116,027,851
Episode four: 121,719,868
Episode five: 151,569,560
Episode six: 184,913,279
Episode seven (as of 3rd Sept): 143,393,804
All Episode Bundles – Season 7: 834,522
TOTAL (as of 3rd September) = 1,029,787,668

Total Breakdown By Type

Streaming: 84.66%
Torrent: 9.12%
Download: 5.59%
Private Torrent: 0.63%

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.





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With millions of visitors per day, YouTube-MP3.org is one of the most visited websites on the Internet.

The site allows its visitors to convert YouTube videos to MP3 files, which they can then listen to where and whenever they want. The music industry sees such “stream ripping” sites as a serious threat to its revenues, worse than traditional pirate sites.

In an attempt to do something about it, a coalition of record labels, represented by the RIAA, took YouTube-MP3 to court last year.

A complaint filed in a California federal court accused the site’s operator of various types of copyright infringement. In addition, the labels accused the site of circumventing YouTube’s copying protection mechanism, violating the DMCA.

“Through the promise of illicit delivery of free music, Defendants have attracted millions of users to the [YouTube-MP3] website, which in turn generates advertising revenues for Defendants,” the labels complained.

Today, a year later, both parties have settled their differences. While there haven’t been many updates in the court docket, a recent filing states that both parties have agreed to a settlement.

The details of the deal are not public, but YouTube-MP3 is willing to take all the blame. In a proposed final judgment, both parties ask the court to rule in favor of the labels on all counts of the complaint. In addition, the site’s owner Philip Matesanz agreed to pay a settlement amount.

On all counts

In addition to the order, a proposed injunction will prohibit the site’s operator from “knowingly designing, developing, offering, or operating any technology or service that allows or facilitates the practice commonly known as “streamripping,” or any other type of copyright infringement for that matter.

This injunction, which RIAA and YouTube-MP3 both agreed on, also states that the site’s domain name will be handed over to one of the record labels.

“Defendants are ordered to transfer the domain name www.youtube-mp3.org to the Plaintiff identified in, and in accordance with the terms of, the confidential Settlement Agreement among the parties,” it reads.

If the owner refuses to comply, the registrar will be ordered to sign over the domain name, which means that there’s no escaping.

While the court has yet to sign the proposed judgment and injunction (pdf), it is clear that YouTube-MP3 has thrown in the towel and will shut down. At the time of writing the site remains online, but this likely won’t be for long.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.





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Back in January, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology announced that due to Internet technologies and services expanding in a “disorderly” fashion, regulation would be needed to restore order.

The government said that it would take measures to “strengthen network information security management” and would embark on a “nationwide Internet network access services clean-up.”

One of the initial targets was reported as censorship-busting VPNs, which allow citizens to evade the so-called Great Firewall of China. Operating such a service without a corresponding telecommunications business license would constitute an offense, the government said.

The news was met with hostility, with media and citizens alike bemoaning Chinese censorship. Then early July, a further report suggested that the government would go a step further by ordering ISPs to block VPNs altogether. This elicited an immediate response from local authorities, who quickly denied the reports, blaming “foreign media” for false reporting.

But it was clear something was amiss in China. Later that month, it was revealed that Apple had banned VPN software and services from its app store.

“We are writing to notify you that your application will be removed from the China App Store because it includes content that is illegal in China, which is not in compliance with the App Store Review Guidelines,” Apple informed developers.

With an effort clearly underway to target VPNs, news today from China suggests that the government is indeed determined to tackle the anti-censorship threat presented by such tools. According to local media, Chinese man Deng Mouwei who ran a small website through which he sold VPN software, has been sentenced to prison.

The 26-year-old, from the city of Dongguan in the Guangdong province, was first arrested in October 2016 after setting up a website to sell VPNs. Just two products were on offer but this was enough to spring authorities into action.

A prosecution notice, published by Chinese publication Whatsonweibo, reveals the university educated man was arrested “on suspicion of providing tools for illegal control of a computer information system.”

It’s alleged that the man used several phrases to market the VPNs including “VPN over the wall” and “Shadow shuttle cloud”. The business wasn’t particularly profitable though, generating just 13957 yuan ($2,133) since October 2015.

“The court held that the defendant Deng Mouwei disregarded state law, by providing tools specifically for the invasion and illegal control of computer information systems procedures,” the Guandong Province’s First People’s Court said in its ruling, handed down earlier this year but only just made public.

“The circumstances are serious and the behavior violated the ‘Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China Article 285.”

Article 285 – don’t interfere with the state

“The facts of the crime are clear, the evidence is true and sufficient. In accordance with the provisions of Article 172 of the Criminal Procedure Law of the People’s Republic of China, the defendant shall be sentenced according to law.”

Under Chinese law, Article 172 references stolen goods, noting that people who “conceal or act as distributors” shall be sentenced to not more than three years of fixed-term imprisonment, or fined, depending on circumstances. Where VPNs fit into that isn’t clear, but things didn’t end well for the defendant.

For offering tools that enable people to “visit foreign websites that can not be accessed via a domestic (mainland) IP address,” Deng Mouwei received a nine-month prison sentence.

News of the sentencing appeared on Chinese social media over the weekend, prompting fear and confusion among local users. While many struggled to see the sense of the prosecution, some expressed fear that people who even use VPN software to evade China’s Great Firewall could be subjected to prosecution in the future.

Whatever the outcome, it’s now abundantly clear that China is the midst of a VPN crackdown across the board and is serious about stamping out efforts to bypass its censorship. With the Internet’s ability to treat censorship as damage and route round it, it’s a battle that won’t be easily won.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.





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At TorrentFreak we regularly write about website blocking efforts around the globe, usually related to well-known pirate sites.

Unfortunately, our own news site is not immune to access restrictions either. While no court has ordered ISPs to block access to our articles, some are doing this voluntarily.

This is especially true for companies that provide Wi-Fi hotspots, such as Datavalet. This wireless network provider works with various large organizations, including McDonald’s, Starbucks, and airports, to offer customers free Internet access.

Or rather to a part of the public Internet, we should say.

Over the past several months, we have had several reports from people who are unable to access TorrentFreak on Datavalet’s network. Users who load our website get an ominous warning instead, suggesting that we run some kind of a criminal hacking operation.

“Access to TORRENTFREAK.COM is not permitted as it is classified as: CRIMINAL SKILLS / HACKING.”

Criminal Skills?

Although we see ourselves as skilled writing news in our small niche, which incidentally covers crime and hacking, our own hacking skills are below par. Admittedly, mistakes are easily made but Datavalet’s blocking efforts are rather persistent.

The same issue was brought to our attention several years ago. At the time, we reached out to Datavalet and a friendly senior network analyst promised that they would look into it.

“We have forwarded your concerns to the proper resources and as soon as we have an update we will let you know,” the response was. But a few years later the block is still active, or active again.

Datavalet is just one one the many networks where TorrentFreak is blocked. Often, we are categorized as a file-sharing site, probably due to the word “torrent” in our name. This recently happened at the NYC Brooklyn library, for example.

After a reader kindly informed the library that we’re a news site, we were suddenly transferred from the “Peer-to-Peer File Sharing” to the “Proxy Avoidance” category.

“It appears that the website you want to access falls under the category ‘Proxy Avoidance’. These are sites that provide information about how to bypass proxy server features or to gain access to URLs in any way that bypass the proxy server,” the library explained.

Still blocked of course.

At least we’re not the only site facing this censorship battle. Datavelet and others regularly engage in overblocking to keep their network and customers safe. For example, Reddit was recently banned because it offered “nudity,” which is another no-go area.

Living up to our “proxy avoidance” reputation, we have to mention that people who regularly face these type of restrictions may want to invest in a VPN. These are generally quite good at bypassing these type of blockades. If they are not blocked themselves, that is.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.





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When you make a documentary about Kim Dotcom, someone who’s caught up in one of the largest criminal copyright infringement cases in history, the piracy issue is unavoidable.

And indeed, the topic is discussed in depth in “Kim Dotcom: Caught in the Web,” which enjoyed its digital release early last week.

As happens with most digital releases, a pirated copy soon followed. While no filmmaker would actively encourage people not to pay for their work, director Annie Goldson wasn’t surprised at all when she saw the first unauthorized copies appear online.

The documentary highlights that piracy is in part triggered by lacking availability, so it was a little ironic that the film itself wasn’t released worldwide on all services. However, Goldson had no direct influence on the distribution process.

“It was inevitable really. We have tried to adopt a distribution model that we hope will encourage viewers to buy legal copies making it available as widely as possible,” Goldson informs TorrentFreak.

“We had sold the rights, so didn’t have complete control over reach or pricing which I think are two critical variables that do impact on the degree of piracy. Although I think our sales agent did make good strides towards a worldwide release.”

Now that millions of pirates have access to her work for free, it will be interesting to see how this impacts sales. For now, however, there’s still plenty of legitimate interest, with the film now appearing in the iTunes top ten of independent films.

In any case, Goldson doesn’t subscribe to the ‘one instance of piracy is a lost sale’ theory and notes that views about piracy are sharply polarized.

“Some claim financial devastation while others argue that infringement leads to ‘buzz,’ that this can generate further sales – so we shall see. At one level, watching this unfold is quite an interesting research exercise into distribution, which ironically is one of the big themes of the film of course,” Goldson notes.

Piracy overall doesn’t help the industry forward though, she says, as it hurts the development of better distribution models.

“I’m opposed to copyright infringement and piracy as it muddies the waters when it comes to devising a better model for distribution, one that would nurture and support artists and creatives, those that do the hard yards.”

Kim Dotcom: Caught in the Web trailer

The director has no issues with copyright enforcement either. Not just to safeguard financial incentives, but also because the author does have moral and ethical rights about how their works are distributed. That said, instead of pouring money into enforcement, it might be better spent on finding a better business model.

“I’m with Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales who says [in the documentary] that the problem is primarily with the existing business model. If you make films genuinely available at prices people can afford, at the same time throughout the world, piracy would drop to low levels.

“I think most people would prefer to access their choice of entertainment legally rather than delving into dark corners of the Internet. I might be wrong of course,” Goldson adds.

In any case, ‘simply’ enforcing piracy into oblivion seems to be an unworkable prospect – not without massive censorship, or the shutdown of the entire Internet.

“I feel the risk is that anti-piracy efforts will step up and erode important freedoms. Or we have to close down the Internet altogether. After all, the unwieldy beast is a giant copying machine – making copies is what it does well,” Goldson says.

The problems is that the industry is keeping piracy intact through its own business model. When people can’t get what they want, when, and where they want it, they often turn to pirate sites.

“One problem is that the industry has been slow to change and hence we now have generations of viewers who have had to regularly infringe to be part of a global conversation.

“I do feel if the industry is promoting and advertising works internationally, using globalized communication and social media, then denying viewers from easily accessing works, either through geo-blocking or price points, obviously, digitally-savvy viewers will find them regardless,” Goldson adds.

And yes, this ironically also applies to her own documentary.

The solution is to continue to improve the legal options. This is easier said than done, as Goldson and her team tried hard, so it won’t happen overnight. However, universal access for a decent price would seem to be the future.

Unless the movie industry prefers to shut down the Internet entirely, of course.

For those who haven’t seen “Kim Dotcom: Caught in the Web yet,” the film is available globally on Vimeo OnDemand, and in a lot of territories on iTunes, the PlayStation Store, Amazon, Google Play, and the Microsoft/Xbox Store. In the US there is also Vudu, Fandango Now & Verizon.

If that doesn’t work, then…

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.





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Right now, the English Premier League is engaged in perhaps the most aggressively innovative anti-piracy operation the Internet has ever seen. After obtaining a new High Court order, it now has the ability to block ‘pirate’ streams of matches, in real-time, with no immediate legal oversight.

If the Premier League believes a server is streaming one of its matches, it can ask ISPs in the UK to block it, immediately. That’s unprecedented anywhere on the planet.

As previously reported, this campaign caused a lot of problems for people trying to access free and premium streams at the start of the season. Many IPTV services were blocked in the UK within minutes of matches starting, with free streams also dropping like flies. According to information obtained by TF, more than 600 illicit streams were blocked during that weekend.

While some IPTV providers and free streams continued without problems, it seems likely that it’s only a matter of time before the EPL begins to pick off more and more suppliers. To be clear, the EPL isn’t taking services or streams down, it’s only blocking them, which means that people using circumvention technologies like VPNs can get around the problem.

However, this raises the big issue again – that of continuously increasing costs. While piracy is often painted as free, it is not, and as setups get fancier, costs increase too.

Below, we take a very general view of a handful of the many ‘pirate’ configurations currently available, to work out how much ‘free’ piracy costs these days. The list is not comprehensive by any means (and excludes more obscure methods such as streaming torrents, which are always free and rarely blocked), but it gives an idea of costs and how the balance of power might eventually tip.

Basic beginner setup

On a base level, people who pirate online need at least some equipment. That could be an Android smartphone and easily installed free software such as Mobdro or Kodi. An Internet connection is a necessity and if the EPL blocks those all important streams, a VPN provider is required to circumvent the bans.

Assuming people already have a phone and the Internet, a VPN can be bought for less than £5 per month. This basic setup is certainly cheap but overall it’s an entry level experience that provides quality equal to the effort and money expended.

Equipment: Phone, tablet, PC
Comms: Fast Internet connection, decent VPN provider
Overal performance: Low quality, unpredictable, often unreliable
Cost: £5pm approx for VPN, plus Internet costs

Big screen, basic

For those who like their matches on the big screen, stepping up the chain costs more money. People need a TV with an HDMI input and a fast Internet connection as a minimum, alongside some kind of set-top device to run the necessary software.

Android devices are the most popular and are roughly split into two groups – the small standalone box type and the plug-in ‘stick’ variant such as Amazon’s Firestick.

A cheap Android set-top box

These cost upwards of £30 to £40 but the software to install on them is free. Like the phone, Mobdro is an option, but most people look to a Kodi setup with third-party addons. That said, all streams received on these setups are now vulnerable to EPL blocking so in the long-term, users will need to run a paid VPN.

The problem here is that some devices (including the 1st gen Firestick) aren’t ideal for running a VPN on top of a stream, so people will need to dump their old device and buy something more capable. That could cost another £30 to £40 and more, depending on requirements.

Importantly, none of this investment guarantees a decent stream – that’s down to what’s available on the day – but invariably the quality is low and/or intermittent, at best.

Equipment: TV, decent Android set-top box or equivalent
Comms: Fast Internet connection, decent VPN provider
Overall performance: Low to acceptable quality, unpredictable, often unreliable
Cost: £30 to £50 for set-top box, £5pm approx for VPN, plus Internet

Premium IPTV – PC or Android based

At this point, premium IPTV services come into play. People have a choice of spending varying amounts of money, depending on the quality of experience they require.

First of all, a monthly IPTV subscription with an established provider that isn’t going to disappear overnight is required, which can be a challenge to find in itself. We’re not here to review or recommend services but needless to say, like official TV packages they come in different flavors to suit varying wallet sizes. Some stick around, many don’t.

A decent one with a Sky-like EPG costs between £7 and £15 per month, depending on the quality and depth of streams, and how far in front users are prepared to commit.

Fairly typical IPTV with EPG (VOD shown)

Paying for a year in advance tends to yield better prices but with providers regularly disappearing and faltering in their service levels, people are often reluctant to do so. That said, some providers experience few problems so it’s a bit like gambling – research can improve the odds but there’s never a guarantee.

However, even when a provider, price, and payment period is decided upon, the process of paying for an IPTV service can be less than straightforward.

While some providers are happy to accept PayPal, many will only deal in credit cards, bitcoin, or other obscure payment methods. That sets up more barriers to entry that might deter the less determined customer. And, if time is indeed money, fussing around with new payment processors can be pricey, at least to begin with.

Once subscribed though, watching these streams is pretty straightforward. On a base level, people can use a phone, tablet, or set-top device to receive them, using software such as Perfect Player IPTV, for example. Currently available in free (ad supported) and premium (£2) variants, this software can be setup in a few clicks and will provide a decent user experience, complete with EPG.

Perfect Player IPTV

Those wanting to go down the PC route have more options but by far the most popular is receiving IPTV via a Kodi setup. For the complete novice, it’s not always easy to setup but some IPTV providers supply their own free addons, which streamline the process massively. These can also be used on Android-based Kodi setups, of course.

Nevertheless, if the EPL blocks the provider, a VPN is still going to be needed to access the IPTV service.

An Android tablet running Kodi

So, even if we ignore the cost of the PC and Internet connection, users could still find themselves paying between £10 and £20 per month for an IPTV service and a decent VPN. While more channels than simply football will be available from most providers, this is getting dangerously close to the £18 Sky are asking for its latest football package.

Equipment: TV, PC, or decent Android set-top box or equivalent
Comms: Fast Internet connection, IPTV subscription, decent VPN provider
Overal performance: High quality, mostly reliable, user-friendly (once setup)
Cost: PC or £30/£50 for set-top box, IPTV subscription £7 to £15pm, £5pm approx for VPN, plus Internet, plus time and patience for obscure payment methods.
Note: There are zero refunds when IPTV providers disappoint or disappear

Premium IPTV – Deluxe setup

Moving up to the top of the range, things get even more costly. Those looking to give themselves the full home entertainment-like experience will often move away from the PC and into the living room in front of the TV, armed with a dedicated set-top box. Weapon of choice: the Mag254.

Like Amazon’s FireStick, PC or Android tablet, the Mag254 is an entirely legal, content agnostic device. However, enter the credentials provided by many illicit IPTV suppliers and users are presented with a slick Sky-like experience, far removed from anything available elsewhere. The device is operated by remote control and integrates seamlessly with any HDMI-capable TV.

Mag254 IPTV box

Something like this costs around £70 in the UK, plus the cost of a WiFi adaptor on top, if needed. The cost of the IPTV provider needs to be figured in too, plus a VPN subscription if the provider gets blocked by EPL, which is likely. However, in this respect the Mag254 has a problem – it can’t run a VPN natively. This means that if streams get blocked and people need to use a VPN, they’ll need to find an external solution.

Needless to say, this costs more money. People can either do all the necessary research and buy a VPN-capable router/modem that’s also compatible with their provider (this can stretch to a couple of hundred pounds) or they’ll need to invest in a small ‘travel’ router with VPN client features built in.

‘Travel’ router (with tablet running Mobdro for scale)

These devices are available on Amazon for around £25 and sit in between the Mag254 (or indeed any other wireless device) and the user’s own regular router. Once the details of the VPN subscription are entered into the router, all traffic passing through is encrypted and will tunnel through web blocking measures. They usually solve the problem (ymmv) but of course, this is another cost.

Equipment: Mag254 or similar, with WiFi
Comms: Fast Internet connection, IPTV subscription, decent VPN provider
Overall performance: High quality, mostly reliable, very user-friendly
Cost: Mag254 around £75 with WiFi, IPTV subscription £7 to £15pm, £5pm for VPN (plus £25 for mini router), plus Internet, plus patience for obscure payment methods.
Note: There are zero refunds when IPTV providers disappoint or disappear

Conclusion

On the whole, people who want a reliable and high-quality Premier League streaming experience cannot get one for free, no matter where they source the content. There are many costs involved, some of which cannot be avoided.

If people aren’t screwing around with annoying and unreliable Kodi streams, they’ll be paying for an IPTV provider, VPN and other equipment. Or, if they want an easy life, they’ll be paying Sky, BT or Virgin Media. That might sound harsh to many pirates but it’s the only truly reliable solution.

However, for those looking for something that’s merely adequate, costs drop significantly. Indeed, if people don’t mind the hassle of wondering whether a sub-VHS quality stream will appear before the big match and stay on throughout, it can all be done on a shoestring.

But perhaps the most important thing to note in respect of costs is the recent changes to the pricing of Premier League content in the UK. As mentioned earlier, Sky now delivers a sports package for £18pm, which sounds like the best deal offered to football fans in recent years. It will be tempting for sure and has all the hallmarks of a price point carefully calculated by Sky.

The big question is whether it will be low enough to tip significant numbers of people away from piracy. The reality is that if another couple of thousand streams get hit hard again this weekend – and the next – and the next – many pirating fans will be watching the season drift away for yet another month, unviewed. That’s got to be frustrating.

The bottom line is that high-quality streaming piracy is becoming a little bit pricey just for football so if it becomes unreliable too – and that’s the Premier League’s goal – the balance of power could tip. At this point, the EPL will need to treat its new customers with respect, in order to keep them feeling both entertained and unexploited.

Fail on those counts – especially the latter – and the cycle will start again.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.





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Every day, copyright holders send out millions of takedown notices to various services, hoping to protect their works.

Pirate sites are usually at the receiving end of these requests but apparently, they can use it to their advantage as well.

A few days ago the operators of sports streaming site soccerstreams.net informed the developer platform GitHub that a copy of their code was being made available without permission.

The targeted repository was created by “mmstart007,” who allegedly copied it from Bitbucket without permission. The operator of the streaming site wasn’t happy with this and sent a DMCA takedown notice to GitHub asking to take the infringing code offline.

“It’s not an open source work its [a] private project we [are] using on our site and that was a private repo on bitbucket and that guy got unauthorized access to it,” Soccerstreams writes.

The operators stress that the repository “must be taken down as soon as possible,” adding the mandatory ‘good faith’ statement.

“I have a good faith belief that use of the copyrighted materials described above on the infringing web pages is not authorized by the copyright owner, or its agent, or the law. I have taken fair use into consideration,” the complaint reads.

GitHub responded swiftly to the request and pulled the repository offline. Those who try to access it today see the following notification instead.

The people running the Soccer Streams site, which is linked with a similarly named Reddit community, are certainly no strangers to takedown requests themselves. The website and the Reddit community was recently targeted by the Premier League recently for example, which accused it of providing links to copyrighted streams.

While soccerstreams.net regularly links to unauthorized streams and is seen as a pirate site by rightsholders, the site doesn’t believe that it’s doing anything wrong.

It has a dedicated DMCA page on its site stating that all streams are submitted by its users and that they cannot be held liable for any infringements.

While it’s a bit unusual for sites and tools with a “pirate” stigma to issue takedown requests, it’s not unique. Just a few weeks ago one of the popular Sickrage forks was removed from GitHub, following a complaint from another fork.

This episode caused a bit of a stir, but the owner of the targeted Sickrage repository eventually managed to get the project restored after a successful counter-notice.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.





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This is the second BETA of our 8.2 release; a mid-year version bump to enhance hardware support and capabilities. This beta addresses issues in our OVA image, a Broadcom WIFI firmware vulnerability for Raspberry Pi 3 and Zero W users, and MPEG issues seen with some nVidia cards. It also adds support for the inexpensive Xbox ONE (DVB-C/T/T2) USB tuner (about €12 on eBay), and LibreELEC settings gains new options for changing the embedded Samba server Workgroup and adjusting the SMB protocol versions supported for security and SMB share compatibility. Kodi is bumped to 17.4 final. Changes since LibreELEC 8.1.0...



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Earlier this week, TF reported on the surprise retirement of established and respected Kodi addon developer, MetalKettle.

After several years of producing and distributing a wide range of addons for the popular media center, ‘MK’ threw in the towel.

“Over the past year or so Kodi has become more mainstream and public we’ve all seen the actions of others become highlighted legally, with authorities determined to target 3rd party addons making traction,” MK announced.

“This has eventually caused me to consider ‘what if?’ – the result of which never ends well in my mind.”

The “what if?” here is whether MK himself would ever find himself targeted by legal action. As the recent case filed against Kodi addons site TVAddons by Bell, Videotron, Groupe TVA, and Rogers shows, copyright holders are prepared to act aggressively to protect their rights.

While we don’t doubt MK’s reasons for retirement, it now transpires that MK was already in the spotlight of Plex Inc., the company behind Plex. They seem particularly unimpressed with some of his recent work.

Plex is a system which allows users to manage and organize their entire media library, import artwork and all kinds of metadata, and then stream it to any device, such as TVs, phones, and set-top boxes.

For people with content already around it’s a beautiful Netflix-beating system that’s free to use up to a point, but it also comes with premium features as part of a $5pm Plex Pass subscription. Those extras include a Kodi addon.

“Currently available as a preview to our premium Plex Pass subscribers, the Plex for Kodi add-on gives users the best of both worlds; the advanced customization of Kodi home theater and the beauty and simplicity of Plex for access on any device, anywhere, anytime,” the Plex site reads.

MK Plex, the addon produced by MetalKettle, unlocks the restrictions. Installable in Kodi with just a few clicks, the addon allows users of Plex to achieve the above without the need for a Plex Pass subscription. The addon was submitted by MK to the TVAddons repository last week but it took only days for Plex’s legal department to swing into action.

TorrentFreak obtained a copy of the company’s letter to TVAddons from a source close to the platform.

“We represent Plex, Inc. of Los Gatos, California, USA (‘Plex’) in trademark and other intellectual property legal matters. Plex recently learned that you offer a software product called MK Plex that is promoted on [your] website,” it begins.

“The designation MK Plex infringes on Plex’s intellectual property rights and therefore Plex hereby demands that you remove all web pages that use the designation MK Plex, delete all software branded MK Plex and disable all downloading, and cease all other use of Plex’s trademarks immediately.”

While this request would’ve been enough for TVAddons to respond, the lawyers went on in some detail about trademark issues, reiterating that “the designation ‘unofficial plugin’ indicates that your use of MK Plex is intended to trade on the reputation and goodwill of the Plex brand.”

In summary, Plex said that by presenting itself as an unofficial plug-in, MK Plex infringes trademark and unfair competition law in the United States. There was no mention at all of the features provided by the software, the entire issue was framed as a trademark dispute.

Plex’s lawyers continued by threatening formal legal action against TVAddons, including a claim for damages and a court order to shut down the entire site. That’s pretty aggressive for a letter that references an addon that was completely produced by a third-party. Nevertheless, TVAddons informs TF that it had no problem complying with Plex’s takedown request as a matter of urgency.

“We love Plex and would never do anything to cause them grief. The user generated addon in question should never have made its way into our repository in the first place and we apologize for that,” a site representative said.

“We’d like to stress, however, that we took swift action as soon as Plex made us aware of the issue. This is why it’s so important that all web sites with user generated institute a legitimate takedown notice system, so that issues like this can be amicably resolved much faster than they could be in court, without any harm done to either party. TV ADDONS has always and will continue to respect the rights of others.”

TVAddons doesn’t know if MK himself is fully aware of the problem Plex has with his addon or whether he’s going to put it into retirement along with himself. However, the undertone in our conversation indicated that might be a prudent course of action.

TVAddons said they responded immediately to all of Plex’s demands and were thanked for dealing with the matter comprehensively, so it’s at least possible that MK has similar options available.

While a trademark dispute for a Kodi addon is interesting enough, this case offers a perfect illustration of how problems with intellectual property can be worked through, if the parties are prepared to work together. In the ongoing case of the Canadian broadcasters against TVAddons, not a single takedown notice or piece of correspondence was sent to TVAddons in advance of super-aggressive legal action.

Had a simple email been sent, the problem could’ve been solved in a day, rather than the years currently expected.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.





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