When online piracy first hit the masses with Napster, Limewire, and later torrent sites, it wasn’t really a concern for sports leagues.

Most sports fans want to see their favorite players or teams live, not a day later when they already know the result.

Over the past years, live-streaming piracy has caught up with traditional media piracy. Pretty much every significant sports event can now be seen for free, through streaming websites or dedicated pirate set-top boxes.

This means that sports leagues have also taken an interest in anti-piracy enforcement. This became apparent once again last week when the Sports Coalition, which represents MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL, and others,  sent an overview of piracy threats to the US Trade Representative (USTR).

The submission is part of the annual Special 301 Review, where the USTR uses input from various stakeholders to make a list of countries that could do more to protect the copyright industry. According to the Sports Coalition, live-streaming is one of the threats that should be highlighted.

“Sports organizations, including Sports Coalition members, are heavily affected by live sports telecast piracy, including the unauthorized live retransmission of sports telecasts over the Internet,” the submission reads.

Live streaming piracy is a persistent problem, according to the sports leagues, but also a global one. It involves “bad actors” in a wide variety of countries, they note.

“Pirate services and those complicit with them (such as content distribution networks and hosting services) are believed to be located in many nations including the Netherlands, Hong Kong, Switzerland, Ukraine, Saudi Arabia, and Russia.

The six mentioned countries are the worst offenders, the Sports Coalition writes, urging the US Government to take appropriate action in response. The Netherlands and Saudi Arabia deserve priority, they say, due to the prevalence or severity of the piracy problem in these countries.

The sports leagues identify several “infringing services” in the Netherlands, which contribute to the streaming piracy problem.

These include sportshd.me, strikezone.co, wiz1.net, vip7stream.pw, livebar.ow, 9stream.pw, ucasterplayer.com, Quasi Networks, Severius Holding, Leaseweb, Server Hosting Pty, and SNEL, which either pirated or provided services contributing to the piracy of a material number of Sports Coalition game and event telecasts.

This overview includes dedicated streaming sites and services, but also general purpose hosting providers. Leaseweb is an example of the latter. While the company may indeed have bad apples among its clients, it has many legitimate customers as well.

We see the same pattern with other countries, where both dedicated streaming platforms as well as hosting companies are mentioned among the infringing services.

Saudi Arabia is an outlier in this regard. The Sports Coalition mentions that the country deserves a priority mention because of BeoutQ. This service operates as a commercial venture offering “pirate “sports broadcasts through dedicated boxes.

“During 2018, an Infringing Service, beoutQ, operating either in whole or in part in Saudi Arabia pirated Sports Coalition game and event telecasts via unauthorized IPTV streaming devices and the beoutQ.se website,” the Sports Coalition writes.

BeoutQ is a thorn in the side of many other rightsholders as well. It launched in 2017 and for more than a year, various parties have tried to stop the infringing activity. 

The service is also mentioned in several other USTR submissions, including the one from Sky, which links it to ArabSat and the Saudi Arabian government.

“[T]he speed of proliferation of the illegal beoutQ service is particularly alarming, as is the evidence suggesting that the Riyadh based satellite operator, ArabSat, whose main shareholder is the Saudi Arabian government, provides satellite services to enable beoutQ’s distribution,” Sky writes.

Given the sheer volume of mentions, live-streaming piracy will likely end up in USTR’s 2019 Special 301 Review, which is expected to be released in a few weeks.

A copy of the Sports Coalition’s submission for USTR’s 2019 Special 301 Review is available here (pdf) and Sky’s version can be found here (pdf).

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TVAddons is perhaps the best well known Kodi add-on resource around today.

Over the past couple of years, however, the site has battled lawsuits in both Canada and the United States, something that has proven a huge drain on both the site and founder Adam Lackman.

Given the nature of some Kodi add-ons, it’s no surprise that they are regularly linked with copyright infringement. However, a takedown notice received this week by TVAddons doesn’t mention the word ‘copyright’ once.

Sent to TVAddons by anti-piracy outfit Copyright Integrity, the notice begins by stating the company is acting on behalf of Cricket Australia (CA), the governing body for cricket in Australia. Copyright Integrity’s client page confirms the connection with CA and other cricket organizations around the world.

The complaint targets a now-deleted page on TVAddons listing details of the Cricket Australia Kodi Addon, an add-on that scraped Cricket Australia’s free-to-air cricket streams and made them available within Kodi for convenience, but without permission from CA.

The now-deleted page on TVAddons

The complaint, however, doesn’t mention the add-on at all, even in passing. Instead it majors on the unlicensed use of Cricket Australia’s trademarks and logos.

“[P]lease note that any unlicensed commercial use and exploitation of the names ‘CA’, ‘Cricket Australia’, or any combination thereof; or CA’s proprietary trademarks, logos or images constitutes an infringement of CA’s intellectual property rights,” the complaint reads.

“Further, any unlicensed commercial utilization of CA’s names, proprietary
logos/trademarks or images is in violation of the exclusive rights granted to CA’s licensees, sponsors and partners. No entity is permitted to commercialize any of CA’s names, trademarks, logos or images in a manner that suggests an association between a third party and such of CA’s intellectual property rights.”

While the use of the CA logo is clear to see, the complaint then goes off on an odd tangent, claiming that TVAddons should not only remove the page within 48 hours (the site actually deleted it within five) but also stop listing “unlicensed Cricket Australia merchandise” on TVAddons and “remove and disable access to all existing listings and classified advertisements which pertain to the sale and distribution of unlicensed CA merchandise.”

While TVAddons quickly complied, it remains unclear whether Cricket Australia actually has a problem with the add-on itself, which is not even hosted on TVAddons but on Github. In any event, the end result is the deletion of the page and disappointment from TVAddons, who believe that users should have access to content in the most convenient manner.

“Preventing users from viewing free and publicly accessible content through their own choice of medium signals an unfortunate trend for the state of individual rights and freedoms,” a TVAddons representative told TF.

“The Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Privacy Badger reports that watching a video on cricket.com.au exposes a user to over 26 different trackers ranging from Facebook to Google, Gigya to Roy Morgan. A total of 27 cookies are downloaded to the user’s computer without consent.

“Users should have the right to view publicly accessible content without having ‘legal’ malware downloaded to their computer, streaming through Kodi was one of many available options. We hope that the move towards decentralized technologies will put control back into the hands of the people who matter the most, away from privacy violating corporations.”

While Cricket Australia was never specifically mentioned as the cause, development of the (unofficial) Cricket Australia Kodi Add-On was actually shelved in April 2018 by developer Aussie Add-Ons following complaints from rightsholders.

“It’s with our greatest displeasure to announce that Aussie Add-ons will no longer be operating,” the shutdown notice read.

“After being contacted by some content providers about copyright violations, we believe it’s best that we stop supporting all of our add-ons. Our aim was to support those users wanting to use free and Open Source software to enjoy Australian free-to-air content on their Kodi installations, which I think we managed to do.

“Unfortunately it seems we have crossed a line, and therefore we must comply and remove all of our add-ons and code.”

TorrentFreak reached out to Copyright Integrity for more information but at the time of publication we were yet to hear back.

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ISP blocking has become a prime measure for the entertainment industries to target pirate sites on the Internet.

In recent years sites have been blocked throughout Europe, Asia, Latin America, and even Down Under.

The first blocking order was issued by a Danish court in 2006 against the music download store AllOfMP3 and, after two years, local ISPs were also the first to block The Pirate Bay.

These efforts were later followed by similar orders in the UK, Belgium and other European countries, with the rest of the world following behind. During an anti-piracy conference in France this week, Hollywood’s Motion Picture Association (MPA) provided an overview of the progress thus far.

Okke Delfos Visser, head of MPA’s legal department in the EMEA region, informed the audience that pirate sites are now blocked in 31 countries around the globe. As the map below shows, the list is dominated by European countries.

Global blocking efforts (image:MPA)

Together, Internet providers in these countries block a total of 3,966 websites and 8,150 ‘actual’ domain names.

The map above also reveals some blocking ‘holes.’ Africa, for example, is still completely blank. Similarly, the United States and Canada remain block-free as well, although there are calls to change this moving forward. 

Western Europe is the best-covered area. However, the MPA’s presentation revealed that there are significant differences in the scope of the blockades there. 

Portugal and Italy appear to be most thorough, with 944 and 855 blocked websites respectively. The Netherlands and Lithuania, meanwhile, are stuck on one site, as shown below. 

EU blocks (image:MPA)

Not all pirate site blockades take place through the courts. In Italy, Russia, and Portugal, for example, there are administrative procedures in place through which sites are blocked. Roughly 42% of the global blocking proceedings take place through administrative procedures, and civil (53%) and criminal court cases (5%) make up the rest.

What’s clear though, is that site blocking is becoming more and more prevalent. During the first ten years there were less than 1,000 sites blocked, but over the past three years, more than 3,000 new sites were added to the global total.

Blocked per year (image:MPA)

The burning question is whether these efforts actually help to decrease piracy rates. It is no secret that dedicated pirates have plenty of options to circumvent them, but the MPA points out that, on the whole, site blocking works. 

In his presentation, Visser cited several studies and polls that back this up. While it’s no silver bullet, site blocking leads to fewer visits to the targeted sites, it decreases overall piracy rates, and drives some casual pirates to legal options instead.

The presentation and figures will undoubtedly be used to expand site blocking efforts even further. Canada and the United States appear to be the most high profile targets. But, history has shown that it’s a rather sensitive issue there, so it’s likely to meet some fierce resistance.

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In order to counter the ever-present threat of Internet piracy, countries all around the world are tightening their copyright laws.

These new regulations aim to help copyright holders, often by creating new obligations and restrictions for Internet service providers that host or link to infringing material.

Many Silicon Valley companies are not happy with these developments. This week the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA), which includes Amazon, Cloudflare, Facebook, and Google as members, sent a stark warning to the US Government.

The submission, sent to the US Trade Representative (USTR) as input for the 2019 Special 301 Report, highlights several “onerous” copyright laws and regulations.

“Foreign countries are increasingly prone to imposing onerous intellectual property-related regulations, aimed at U.S. Internet companies. These countries are pursuing legislation that disadvantages American Internet platforms, and online and cloud services,” CCIA writes.

The tech companies support a strong intellectual property system but note that this should reflect the needs of all participants, including those in the distribution supply chains.

This is not what CCIA is experiencing at the moment. The European Union and individual countries including Australia, Greece, Italy, and Ukraine, are creating new rules that hurt the operations of US companies abroad. In particular when it comes to liability for copyright infringement.

“U.S. firms operating as online intermediaries face an increasingly hostile environment in a variety of international markets. This impedes U.S. Internet companies from expanding services abroad,” CCIA writes.

“These adverse conditions manifest through court decisions and new copyright regulations that depart from global norms on intermediary responsibility,” the group adds.

In some cases, it is very clear that these new regulations are created to target US companies. The tech companies cite the op-ed the EU’s copyright rapporteur Axel Voss wrote earlier this week, where he framed Article 13 as a defense against “large US platforms.”

CCIA counters this and states that Article 13 “disrupts settled law,” making Internet platforms “directly liable for the actions of Internet users,” and requiring “unworkable filtering mandates” as well as automated “notice-and-stay-down” procedures.

“If adopted, the Directive would dramatically weaken these longstanding liability protections and exclude many modern service providers from its protections,” CCIA warns.

Article 13 is just one of a growing number of regulatory threats the CCIA views as detrimental to its members.

It also cautions against a new Australian law, which makes it possible to order search engines to block sites that are generally seen as facilitating piracy. This may lead to overblocking, the group warns.

In Ukraine, a revised article of the local copyright law now imposes 24 and 48-hour “shot clocks” for Internet services. If they don’t remove reported copyright infringements within that timeframe, they can be held liable. This can be particularly problematic for small services with limited resources.

“This deadline may be feasible at times for some larger platforms who can devote entire departments to takedown compliance, but will effectively deny market access to smaller firms and startups, and is inconsistent with the ‘expeditious’ standard under U.S. copyright law,” CCIA writes.

The group’s submission for the USTR’s 2019 Special 301 Report provides a detailed overview of these and other liability threats around the world, as well as other issues, including ancillary copyright protections.

Generally speaking, the USTR points out shortcomings in foreign copyright protections in their annual list, but the tech companies urge the US Government not to ignore the flip side of the coin.

“USTR should recognize the concerns of U.S. Internet services who not only hold intellectual property and value its protection, but also rely on innovation-enabling provisions that reflect the digital age,” CCIA concludes.

A copy of the CCIA submission for USTR’s 2019 Special 301 Report is available here (pdf).

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Last September, international cyber-security firm Group-IB revealed that almost all movies released in 2018 had been leaked online.

While that isn’t particularly surprising, the company went on to highlight the activities of an organized group of “camcording” pirates in Russia.

“This group is financed by online-casinos, which support online-pirates as well. Online-casinos integrate their ads in the pirated copies and TV-shows in the form of logos, captioning or even as audio tracks,” Andrey Busargin, Director of Brand Protection at Group-IB, told TorrentFreak.

Pirated ‘Destination Wedding’ featuring Azino777 watermark

According to Group-IB, the major player utilizing this tactic is Azino777. The gambling service is unlicensed and therefore illegal in Russia. Under orders from the court, it is currently blocked by local ISPs along with hundreds of its own mirror sites. Nevertheless, the business is doing everything it can to recruit new customers.

In 2018, Azino777 was reported to be one of Russia’s top advertisers, outspending leading search engines Yandex and Google, and even Coca Cola and Pepsi. Now, however, a crisis could be looming following a blunder by a court in neighboring Ukraine.

Online casinos are illegal in Ukraine, so the authorities there have been taking a keen interest in Azino777. Following a criminal investigation by local police, it’s reported that the casino’s alleged offices in Kiev were raided in June 2018 and equipment seized.

This week, Russian news outlet The Bell discovered that a court in Kiev had failed to redact the name of 33-year-old Russian IT expert Albert Valiakhmetov from documents relating to that operation. The publication’s investigation, which references Ukraine court documents, indicates that the Russian is the suspected creator of Azino777.

While Azino777 is still operational, it’s clear that the heat is being turned up on the operation, both in Russia and Ukraine, which could have a potential impact on the piracy landscape in both countries.

Last week, TorrentFreak reported on data provided by Group-IB, which indicated that streaming piracy in Russia is dominated by professionals operating ‘pirate’ CDNs ( Content Distribution Networks) that not only supply movies and TV shows, but also additional services that make it easy to setup and maintain a pirate site. According to Group-IB, Azino777 is deeply involved.

“Azino777 has become an integral part of the existing ecosystem of pirated content in Russia. Azino777 closely cooperates with key pirated resources, placing advertising on such pirate CDNs as Moonwalk (the largest in Russia) and HDGO (second most popular),” says Dmitry Tyunkin, Deputy Director Anti-Piracy at Group-IB.

“In the case of Moonwalk, most often pre-roll and mid-roll ads are bought
(excluding ad inserts in the body of the video). In the case of HDGO, a unique precedent was achieved; the advertising network was built into the player. This meant that, apart from the classic pre-roll/mid-roll ads, all new content uploaded into the player is marked with a watermark and advertising within the video file itself.”

The amount of advertising in each title depends on the popularity of the release. Tyunkin says that the number of ads can vary between one and four, and can even include audio ads that are dubbed at the request of Azino777. Given the number of releases, the scale is impressive.

According to Group-IB data, in 2018 a total of 218 movies appeared in ‘cam’ format, with more than 90% of them containing advertising. TV shows posted with exclusive voiceovers exceeded 540 titles. Overall, the company believes that Azino777 is responsible for around 1,415 movie releases and 1,835 TV shows.

Group-IB says it can’t put a value on the revenues generated by these activities but says that the advertising format (via pirated content) is effective. The content spreads naturally and advertising on pirate sites is cheap – four to five times less than on equivalents in the US or EU – and the number of sites is huge.

“The estimated number of existing portals that are indirectly (through advertising networks and pirate CDNs such as HDGO) or directly linked to this casino is approximately 6,100 portals,” Tyunkin says.

Interestingly, Azino777 isn’t the only – or indeed first – company to embark on this kind of mass marketing. Group-IB says that JoyCasino was the first to experiment with the pirate model, with 1XBet trying the same in India and English speaking countries.

In short, there are takers around to fill the niche, even if Azino777 somehow falls.

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It is no secret that copyright holders are monitoring unauthorized BitTorrent downloads around the world.

In most cases, this results in harmless takedown notices but increasingly, these warnings are triggering settlement demands or automated fines.

Movie distributor Dutch Filmworks is planning similar action in the Netherlands.  The company initially hoped to send the first settlement demands more than a year ago, but this plan was stalled.

Without voluntary cooperation from ISPs, the movie company had to get a court order to request the personal details of account holders whose IP-addresses were caught pirating. It turns out that this is not going to happen, at least not yet.

In a decision published today, the Central Netherlands Court denied the request from Dutch Filmworks, following an objection from local Internet provider Ziggo.

The movie company requested the personal details connected to 377 IP-addresses which allegedly shared a copy of‘ ‘The Hitman’s Bodyguard,’ a title that has come up in so-called “copyright trolling” cases in the US as well.

In its conclusion, the Court states that is it indeed against the law to upload or download movies without permission. As such, Dutch Filmworks is entitled to damages. And to request damages, it does indeed require the personal details of account holders.

However, the Court adds that, in this case, Ziggo is not required to share any personal information. The verdict notes that it’s unclear how the movie company plans to approach the account holders, and whether it sees these people as the offending downloaders.

According to the Court, an account holder who’s linked to an IP-address is not necessarily the downloader. This is an argument we’ve seen in many foreign cases as well.

On top of that, it is unclear whether the proposed settlements, which are expected to be around €150 per infringement, do indeed match up with the actual damages the movie company suffered. That number may be a ‘fine’ to some extent, which shouldn’t be part of a settlement.

“The amount that [Dutch Filmworks] DFW now wishes to receive, presumably € 150, – is, however, in no way substantiated and it is not excluded that in the amount of damage to be requested by DFW also elements of a fine,” the verdict reads.

All in all, the Court sides with Ziggo. The ISP doesn’t have to expose its users and Dutch Filmworks is ordered to pay the costs for the court proceedings.

A spokesperson for Ziggo told the Dutch news site Nu.nl that the company is “satisfied” with the result. Dutch Filmworks refrained from commenting at this time and will issue a statement next week.

Considering the time and resources that have gone into the data collection, as well as the fact that local anti-piracy group BREIN plans to go after frequent BitTorrent uploaders, this is probably not the last we’ve heard of it.

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Dedicated anime pirate sites are popular around the globe, but in Latin America they are huge.

AnimeYT has been one of the main players in the area. With millions of regular visitors, it was the top pirate site in countries including Argentina Chile, Peru, and Mexico.

The site is among the top 50 most-visited websites on the entire Internet in these countries, beating traditional streaming and torrent sites by a landslide.

The massive reach of these sites is a thorn in the side of copyright holders, which are increasingly taking action in response. Over the past weeks, several Brazilian anime sites folded after legal threats and this weekend AnimeYT shut down as well.

In a goodbye message, AnimeYT’s operator “TioYT” mentions the situation in Brazil as the reason for the decision. He doesn’t point a finger at a specific legal threat and chooses to end with a personal message instead.

“I spent many years translating animes, arguing with fans, watching anime girls on this page. So much that when I look back at my life, I think that at least a quarter of my memories are linked to this site, to this community,” the operator writes.

“Remember that behind the dude you call ‘TioYT’ there’s a common and ordinary guy who has his own problems, his family, who has other responsibilities and who is more than anything very grateful for all the love and the support they everyone has shown to the website in general,’ he adds.

Farewell AnimeYT

The shutdown has created a lot of uproar on social media and many of the site’s former users are taking out their anger on the legitimate anime streaming platform Crunchyroll, which is seen as the driving force behind many of the recent shutdowns.

Crunchyroll has reportedly gone after several Brazilian anime sites but, thus far, we haven’t seen any official confirmation that it approached AnimeYT directly. It could also be that there are other rightsholders involved.

The anime battle (@haslaisfeed)

Another popular anime site that shut down last week is AnimeMovil. This site currently redirects to Crunchyroll. The site reportedly took this decision after the Japanese studio Toei Animation went after it for publishing a copy of  Dragon Ball Super Broly, shortly after it premiered.

The shutdowns have resulted in a surge of new traffic flowing to AnimeFLV, another popular anime site in Latin America. In addition, inventive users have also started to upload Dragon Ball episodes to porn sites, hoping that they’re safe there.

While AnimeYT and AnimeMovil could certainly be classified as pirate sites, many people relied on them to get the latest anime shows quickly. 

That anime is more than a simple pastime for kids was made clear last year when local Mexican authorities planned to premiere the 130th episode of Dragon Ball Super in football stadiums and other public places, even though they had no license to do so.

Although several massive anime sites have now fallen, it’s expected that others will fill this gap, as is usually the case. That doesn’t mean, however, that AnimeYT and the others aren’t missed dearly; a quick search on social media makes that quite clear.

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In memoriam…

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While India has a thriving movie market that is loved both at home and overseas, it also has serious problems with piracy.

With around 1,000 films produced every year, most major titles are quickly pirated and distributed on the black market, whether on physical media (for around $1 per copy) or for free via the Internet.

One of the key problems is the swift availability of Indian movies on pirate sites, often within hours of their theatrical debut. Aside from the so-called screener copies that sometimes leak out, around 90% of ‘pirate’ releases can be tracked to unauthorized in-theater recordings, usually via camcorders or cellphones.

To target this unlicensed copying, earlier this year the Indian government proposed amendments to the Cinematograph Act to deter people from undermining the local movie industry. On the table were three-year jail sentences for pirates and/or a maximum fine of Rs.10 Lakhs (US$14,000), with the aim of plugging a claimed $US2.7 billion hole in the market.

As it transpires, things move quickly in India. In an announcement Wednesday by Sitanshu Kar, Principal Spokesperson for the Government of India, it was revealed that the amendments to the 1952 Act have been passed by the Union Cabinet.

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As detailed above, no one will be able to legally make audio or video recordings of a movie (or part thereof) without first obtaining permission from copyright holders.

Also outlawed is the use or attempted use of a device (likely a cellphone or similar) to record or transmit any part of a movie, something which immediately rules out any type of live streaming or transfer.

As detailed in the January 2019 proposals, punishments will indeed go ahead on the basis of a potential three-year jail sentence and/or a maximum fine of Rs.10 Lakhs (US$14,000) for infringers.

While the new punishments will likely act as a deterrent to some, they are unlikely to tame India’s big online boogeyman.

Despite massive court-ordered blocking by dozens of ISPs against a long list of its domains, torrent site TamilRockers looks set to continue business as usual, both with its high-profile cam-sourced leaks and regular taunting of the authorities.

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Over the past two years, there’s been a wave of copyright infringement lawsuits against alleged cheaters or cheat makers.

Take-Two Interactive Software, the company behind ‘Grand Theft Auto V’ (GTA V), is one of the major players involved. The company has filed several lawsuits in the US and abroad, targeting alleged cheaters.

Last August the company filed a case against Florida resident Jhonny Perez, accusing him of copyright infringement by creating and distributing a cheating tool. The software, known as “Elusive,” could be used to cheat and grief, interfering with the gameplay of others.

The “Elusive” cheat was previously sold online at prices ranging from $10 to $30, depending on the package. Before filing the lawsuit, Take-Two attempted to find out exactly how much money was made in the process, but Perez failed to hand over detailed financial records.

Initially, the game company was open to negotiating a settlement but, due to the lack of response, it saw no other option than to take the cheat maker to court. Perez, however, did not respond to the complaint which prompted Take-Two to file for a default judgment.

According to the company, it’s clear that the cheat maker is guilty of both direct and contributory copyright infringement. As such, it asked the New York federal court for the maximum statutory damages amount of $150,000, plus $69,686 in attorney’s fees.

Take-Two argued that these damages are warranted because the cheating activity resulted in severe losses. According to an estimate provided by the company, the harm is at least $500,000. In addition, the maximum in damages should also act as a deterrent against other cheat developers.

This week the court ordered on the motion for default judgment, siding with the game company.

“Take-Two has been irreparably harmed by Mr. Perez’s infringing conduct and will continue to be harmed unless enjoined,” US District Court Judge Kevin Castel writes in his order.

“Mr. Perez’s Elusive program creates new features and elements in Grand Theft Auto which can be used to harm legitimate players, causing Take-Two to lose control over its carefully balanced plan for how its video game is designed to be played,” he writes.

In addition, the Judge notes that the cheat discouraged users from future purchases and gameplay and that the unlimited currency cheat undermined Take-Two’s pricing and sales of legitimate virtual currency.

The Court, therefore, finds the cheat maker guilty of both willful direct and willful contributory copyright infringement, as well as breaching Take-Two’s user agreement.

Judge Castel ordered Perez to may the maximum statutory damages of $150,000 and an additional $66,868 in attorney’s fees. To our knowledge, this is the highest damages amount that has ever been awarded in a game cheating case.

In addition to the monetary damages, the Court also issued a permanent injunction prohibiting the cheat maker from continuing infringing activities moving forward.

Elusive hasn’t been available for sale since last year. It was taken offline after Perez was contacted by Take-Two.

“After discussions with Take-Two Interactive, we are immediately ceasing all maintenance, development, and distribution of our cheat menu services,” a public announcement read at the time.

At the time, the cheat maker informed its users that it would donate the proceeds to a charity which Take-Two could pick. However, the default judgment makes it clear that this money should go directly to the game company instead.

A copy of the order granting Take-Two’s default judgment against Mr. Perez is available here (pdf).

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When it comes to civil anti-piracy enforcement, BREIN is without a doubt one of the best-known players in the industry.

Backed by Hollywood and other content industries, the group has been active for more than two decades in the Netherlands.

Aside from shutting down sites and going after sellers of pirate streaming boxes, BREIN is also planning to go after BitTorrent users. By using in-house software that automatically gathers IP-addresses of seeders, hundreds if not thousands of copyright infringers can be easily pinpointed.

At first sight, this practice is very similar to the “copyright trolling” efforts that are common around the world. However, the Dutch anti-piracy group is taking a more reserved approach.

Instead of going after the IP-addresses of anyone who’s connected to a torrent swarm, BREIN is mostly interested in structural seeders who upload content for a longer period of time. In other words, the group wants to target those who frequently offer pirated content.

This decision was brought up by BREIN director Tim Kuik in the Dutch podcast “Met Nerds om Tafel” recently.  There, he explained that his organization represents a wide variety of rightsholders and not all of them support the idea of going after casual downloaders.

“Our enforcement efforts apply to all these copyright holders. Therefore, they all have to agree on how this takes place. At the moment there is no consensus within that group on how to deal with individual end-users,” Kuik says.

BREIN’s director believes that focusing on structural uploaders is the best approach in the case anyway.

“Personally, I have always had my doubts about going after individual downloaders. I believe you have to focus on the supply side,” he notes.

In theory, it’s possible for rightsholders to go after casual downloaders but that’s not something BREIN can do collectively. They work with funds that come from various parties who all have to agree on an approach.

TorrentFreak reached out to Kuik to clarify who the main targets are. Kuik says that pirate sites and services are the prime focus and that the planned mass settlement effort will focus on the most prolific uploaders in this ecosystem.

“We focus on early and large uploaders that function as a source of unauthorized content and we will expand that to frequent and prolonged uploaders that function as a lubricant keeping unauthorized content available over time,” Kuik tells us.

“Hit & run end users are at the end of the chain. We think they can best be approached with measures that raise their awareness, such as blocking access to illegal sites with referral to a landing page that explains why,” he adds.

Sending informative alert emails to users whose IP-addresses are linked to sharing pirated material is also an option. However, that’s something ISPs will have to cooperate with.

Enforcement may eventually shift to downloaders if there’s a situation where it’s impossible to go after the suppliers, Kuik notes. Then it makes sense to target downloaders as well.

This could also apply to torrent users. Kuik tells us that if other enforcement measures, such as site blocking or going after a hosting company, fail structurally the demand side could get more into the spotlight.

For now, however, uploaders are the targeted only. When BREIN plans start its campaign is yet unknown.  That said, Dutch torrent users have more to fear than BREIN alone.

Movie distributor Dutch FilmWorks (DFW) also received permission from the Data Protection Authority to monitor and track BitTorrent pirates. They are expected to target downloaders as well.

In the podcast, Kuik also provided some further insight and commentary on piracy in general. The issue of availability also came up. In particular, the fact that Game of Thrones is only available through a single telecom provider in the Netherlands, Ziggo.

This means that some people can’t access it legally, even if they wanted to. Kuik agreed that this is “strange,” but also noted that it’s one of the exceptions.

“That’s a particularly strange situation, in my opinion, but that’s something that should be taken up with Ziggo,” he says.

For BREIN’s director, it was never a preconceived plan to become a public copyright enforcement figure. After his law study, he took a summer job at a joint venture between the movie studios Paramount and Universal. This is where it all started.

“That’s when ‘E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial’  premiered in theaters, which was heavily pirated on videotapes. This also happened with other movies but E.T. made a lot of money and Steven Spielberg was extremely concerned. In a meeting, he burst into tears about it. Something had to be done,” Kuik says.

As a young legal expert, Kuik was called in to help. That would eventually turn him into a leading figure in the copyright enforcement world who helped to found dozens of local anti-piracy outfits around the world.

This work is appreciated by many rightsholders, but it also results in quite a few hateful comments from people who disagree with BREIN’s efforts. That doesn’t really bother Kuik much through.

“My fans are at the copyright holders. If you don’t have any enemies then you never stood up for something,” Kuik concludes.

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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