UK Govt. Met With Copyright Holders Dozens of Times in Just Three Months

While doing business with clients and suppliers is the usual day-to-day routine for most businesses, companies in the entertainment sector seem keener than most to spend time with those in power.

Whether there’s pressure to be applied in respect of upcoming changes in policy or long-term plans for modifying legislation, at least a few times a year news breaks of rightsholders having private meetings with officials. Most of the time, however, the head-to-heads fly under the radar.

This week, however, the UK government published a response to a Freedom of Information Request which asked for details of meetings between the government and copyright owner organizations, enforcement organizations, and collection societies (think BPI, MPA, FACT, Publishers Association, PRS, etc) including times, dates and topics discussed.

The request asked for details of meetings held between May 2016 and April 2017 but the government declined to provide all of this information since the effort required to extract the information “would exceed the cost limit.”

Given the amount of data published, this isn’t a surprise. Even though the government chose to limit the response to events held between January 16, 2017 and April 17, 2017, the meetings between the government and the above groups number in their dozens.

January 2017 got off to a pretty slow start but week three and beyond saw a flurry of meetings with groups and companies such as ITV, BBC, PRS for Music, Copyright Licensing Agency and several other organizations to discuss the EU’s Digital Single Market proposals.

On January 18, 2017 Time Warner had a meeting to discuss content protection and analytics, followed a day later by the Premier League who were booked in to discuss “illicit streaming devices” (a topic mirrored in March during a meeting with the Audiovisual Anti-Piracy Alliance).

Just a few days later the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit held a “Partnership Working Group Meeting involving industry” and two days after that the police, Trading Standards, and the EU Police Agency convened to discuss enforcement activity.

January 26, 2017 saw an IP Outreach Workshop involving members of the IP Crime Group. This was potentially a big meeting. The IPCG consists of several regional police forces, PIPCU, National Crime Agency, Crown Prosecution Service, Department of Culture, Media and Sport, Trading Standards, HMRC, IFPI, BPI, FACT, Sky TV, PRS, FAST and the Publishers Association, to name just a few.

As the first month of the year was drawing to a close, Amazon met with the government to discuss “current procedures for removing copyright, design and trademark infringing material from their platform.” A similar meeting was held with eBay on February 1 and on February 20, Facebook had its turn on the same topic.

All three companies had come in for criticism from copyright holders for not doing enough to stem the tide of infringing content available on their platforms, particularly so-called Kodi boxes that provide access to movies, shows, and live TV.

However, in the months that followed they each responded positively, with eBay, Amazon and Facebook announcing restrictions on devices sold. While all three platforms still have a problem with infringing device sales, the situation appears to have improved since last year.

On the final day of January 2017, the MPAA attended a meeting to discuss the looming Digital Economy Bill and digital TV piracy. A couple of days later they were back again for a “business awareness seminar” with other big shots including the Alliance for IP, the Anti-Counterfeiting Group, Trading Standards and the Premier League.

However, given the dozens that took place, perhaps one of the more interesting meetings in terms of the mix of those in attendance took place February 7.

Titled “Organized Crime Task Force Meeting – Belfast” it was attended by the Police Service of Northern Ireland, the National Crime Agency, Trading Standards, HM Revenue and Customs, the Border Force, and (spot the odd one out) the Federation Against Copyright Theft.

This seems to suggest that FACT (a private company) is effectively embedded at the highest level of law enforcement, something that has made people very uncomfortable in the past.

Later in February, there was a roundtable meeting with the Alliance for IP, MPAA, Publishers’ Association, BPI, Premier League and Federation Against Copyright Theft (again) to discuss Brexit, the Digital Single Market, IP enforcement and industrial strategy. A similar meeting was held in March which was attended by UK Music, BPI, PRS, Featured Artists Coalition, and many more.

The full list of meetings, which number in their dozens for just a three-month period, can be found here pdf. Whether the volume is representative of other three-month periods isn’t clear but it seems reasonable to conclude that copyright organizations have the ears of government officials in the UK on an almost continual basis.

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Spanish Netflix Competitor Filmin Partnered With Leading Pirate Site

In 2011 Hollywood’s MPAA highlighted SeriesYonkis as one of the most prolific pirate sites on the Internet.

“With a worldwide Alexa rank of 855, is one the most visited websites in the world for locating and streaming unauthorized copies of motion picture and television content,” Hollywood’s industry group informed the US Government.

While the MPAA was calling for tough enforcement actions, film industry partners in Spain came up with a different plan. They signed an unprecedented deal with the pirate site in 2011, hoping to convert its users into paying customers.

The main figures in this unusual episode are Juan Carlos Tous, the founder of the legal streaming platform Filmin, and SeriesYonkis owner Alexis Hoepfner, who operated the pirate site under his company Burn Media.

With help from lawyer Andy Ramos they negotiated a unique deal that would ‘merge’ both businesses. According to local newspaper El Confidencial, which has seen a copy of the agreement, SeriesYonkis company would get a 23% stake in Filmin, on the condition that pirate links were replaced with legal ones within a set period.

The entire agreement was kept secret by a confidentiality clause, which worked well until a few days ago.

SeriesYonkis also made two loans of 250,000 euros available, which were convertible into shares. In addition to the above, Filmin also offered compensation for every pirate it converted, up to 10 euros per user that signed up for an annual subscription.

The agreement further stipulated that SeriesYonkis had to apologize for its pirate ways. Point five stressed that SeriesYonkis and other Burn Media sites had to “carry out communication and awareness actions so that the users of the websites understand the need to legally access audiovisual content.”

Interestingly, SeriesYonkis wasn’t planning to go down and let other pirate sites take its traffic. The agreement included a clause that obligated Filmin to spend 25,000 euros to shut down or reduce traffic to other pirate sites.

The episode took place when Spain was about to implement its Sinde law, which would make it hard for local pirate sites in a country that was considered a “safe haven” at the time. However, not everything went according to plan.

The Sinde law didn’t destroy all Spanish pirate sites and six months after signing the agreement, SeriesYonkis stopped deleting pirate links. Even worse, its owner launched several new pirate sites, such as SeriesCoco and SeriesKiwi.

Filmin’s founder was outraged and sent an email demanding answers.

“I would like to hear your opinion on the progress and explanation of your plan with SeriesCoco! I do not understand anything! I thought you were going to decrease, and I see that you are opening portals!! WTF!” Tous wrote.

The deal eventually fell apart. Filmin kept its shares and stopped paying for new referrals. SeriesYonkis’ company Burn Media filed a lawsuit to get back its money, but thus far that hasn’t happened.

According to an insider close to the deal, the idea was brilliant. SeriesYonkis reportedly earned millions of euros at the time, more than Filmin, and used this money to go legal and destroy the competition ahead of a tough new anti-piracy law.

“The pirate not only abandons its weapons, but is integrated into the industry, and uses capital earned from piracy to fight against it,” a source told El Confidencial.

“It was a winning deal for everyone,” another source added, regretting that it didn’t work out. “It was a very bold agreement, something unusual in this sector, that would have changed the scenario if it had worked.”

Today, roughly seven years after the agreement was set into motion, Filmin is one of the larger streaming platforms in Spain. SeriesYonkis is also still around, but was sold by Hoefner in 2016 and no longer links to pirated content.

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Streaming Link Search Engine Alluc Shuts Down

With 80 million streaming links to more than 700 video services, Alluc sold itself as the premier streaming link site.

It offered a wide variety of content and over the past thirteen years it grew out to become one of the largest sites of its kind. This week, however, Alluc surprised friend and foe by shutting down.

“The alluc search engine has been discontinued. After 13 years of alluc, we decided to take a break and focus on other projects,” a message posted on the site’s homepage reads.

That the site was popular is not a secret. People used it to find streaming links to nearly everything, from old movies to the latest hit series. The operators mention that they served a billion unique visitors over the past decade, which is an incredible achievement.

Alluc says farewell

What’s less clear, however, is why the site decided to stop now. In the past, we’ve reported on similar sites that threw in the towel because revenue was dwindling, but Alluc told us that is not the case here.

“The decision was not driven by monetary reasons. We started alluc when we were still in high-school and it became into something bigger and better than we could have ever imagined when we started it,” Alluc’s Sebastian tells us.

“But now it’s time for us to move on. We hope to have contributed a lot to the video space and to have helped out a lot of people during these 13 years of running alluc full time.”

While Alluc could be used to find both authorized and unauthorized content, the movie industry saw it as a blatant pirate site. This resulted in a site blocking request in Australia, among other things.

Alluc, however, always rejected the ‘pirate’ label and saw itself as an “uncensored” search engine. While they are shutting down now, they still see a future for similar services.

“There will always be a future for uncensored search and I hope us shutting down alluc can help to create the vacuum needed to incentivize new sites of similar quality and scope or even a decentralized solution to be created by others,” Sebastian tells us.

Time will tell whether another site will indeed jump in to fill the gap.

Alluc’s API, which is used by third-party apps and services to find streaming links, will remain available until the end of the month when it will shut down. Meanwhile, Alluc’s search engine framework lives on at, an adult-themed site.

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ISP Wants EU Court Ruling on Identifying ‘Pirating’ Subscribers

In recent years Internet provider Bahnhof has fought hard to protect the privacy of its subscribers.

The company has been a major opponent of extensive data retention requirements, has launched a free VPN to its users, and vowed to protect subscribers from a looming copyright troll invasion.

The privacy-oriented ISP is doing everything in its power to prevent its Swedish customers from being exposed. It has even refused to hand over customer details in piracy cases when these requests are made by the police.

This stance resulted in a lawsuit in which Bahnhof argued that piracy isn’t a serious enough offense to warrant invading the privacy of its customers. The ISP said that this is in line with European privacy regulations.

Last month, the Administrative Court in Stockholm disagreed with this argument, ordering the ISP to hand over the requested information.

The Court ruled that disclosure of subscriber data to law enforcement agencies does not contravene EU law. It, therefore, ordered the ISP to comply, as the Swedish Post and Telecom Authority (PTS) had previously recommended.

While the order is a serious setback for Bahnhof, the ISP isn’t letting the case go just yet. It has filed an appeal where it maintains that disclosing details of alleged pirates goes against EU regulations.

Bahnhof says NO

To settle the matter once and for all, Bahnhof has asked the Swedish Appeals Court to refer the case to the EU Court of Justice, to have an EU ruling on the data disclosure issue.

“Bahnhof, therefore, requires the Court of Appeal to obtain a preliminary ruling from EU law so that the European Court of Justice itself can rule on the matter before the Court of First Instance reaches a final position,” Bahnhof writes.

Law enforcement requests for piracy-related data are quite common in Sweden. Bahnhof previously showed that more than a quarter of all police request for subscriber data were for cases related to online file-sharing, trumping crimes such as grooming minors, forgery and fraud.

The ISP is vowing to fight this case to the bitter end. While it has no problem with law enforcement efforts in general, the company doesn’t want to hand over customer data without proper judicial review of a suspected crime.

“This legal process has already been going on for two years and Bahnhof is ready to continue for as long as necessary to achieve justice. Bahnhof will never agree to hand over delicate sensitive customer data without judicial review,” the company concludes.

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Trump Promises Copyright Crackdown as DoJ Takes Aim at Streaming Pirates

For the past several years most of the world has been waking up to the streaming piracy phenomenon, with pre-configured set-top boxes making inroads into millions of homes.

While other countries, notably the UK, arrested many individuals while warning of a grave and looming danger, complaints from the United States remained relatively low-key. It was almost as if the stampede towards convenient yet illegal streaming had caught the MPAA and friends by surprise.

In October 2017, things quickly began to change. The Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment sued Georgia-based Tickbox TV, a company selling “fully-loaded” Kodi boxes. In January 2018, the same anti-piracy group targeted Dragon Media, a company in the same line of business.

With this growing type of piracy now firmly on the radar, momentum seems to be building. Yesterday, a panel discussion on the challenges associated with piracy from streaming media boxes took place on Capitol Hill.

Hosted by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), ‘Unboxing the Piracy Threat of Streaming Media Boxes’ went ahead with some big name speakers in attendance, not least Neil Fried, Senior Vice President, Federal Advocacy and Regulatory Affairs at the MPAA.

ITIF and various industry groups tweeted many interesting comments throughout the event. Kevin Madigan from Center for the Protection of Intellectual Property told the panel that torrent-based content “is becoming obsolete” in an on-demand digital environment that’s switching to streaming-based piracy.

While there’s certainly a transition taking place, 150 million worldwide torrent users would probably argue against the term “obsolete”. Nevertheless, the same terms used to describe torrent sites are now being used to describe players in the streaming field.

“There’s a criminal enterprise going on here that’s stealing content and making a profit,” Fried told those in attendance.

“The piracy activity out there is bad, it’s hurting a lot of economic activity & creators aren’t being compensated for their work,” he added.

Tom Galvin, Executive Director at the Digital Citizens Alliance, was also on the panel. Unsurprisingly, given the organization’s focus on the supposed dangers of piracy, Galvin took the opportunity to underline that position.

“If you go down the piracy road, those boxes aren’t following proper security protocols, there are many malware risks,” he said. It’s a position shared by Fried, who told the panel that “video piracy is the leading source of malware.”

Similar claims were made recently on Safer Internet Day but the facts don’t seem to back up the scare stories. Still, with the “Piracy is Dangerous” strategy already out in the open, the claims aren’t really unexpected.

What might also not come as a surprise is that ACE’s lawsuits against Tickbox and Dragon Media could be just a warm-up for bigger things to come. In the tweet embedded below, Fried can be seen holding a hexagonal-shaped streaming box, warning that the Department of Justice is now looking for candidates for criminal action.

What form this action will take when it arrives isn’t clear but when the DoJ hits targets on home soil, it tends to cherry-pick the most blatant of infringers in order to set an example with reasonably cut-and-dried cases.

Of course, every case can be argued but with hundreds of so-called “Kodi box” sellers active all over the United States, many of them clearly breaking the law as they, in turn, invite their customers to break the law, picking a sitting duck shouldn’t be too difficult.

And then, of course, we come to President Trump. Not usually that vocal on matters of intellectual property and piracy, yesterday – perhaps coincidentally, perhaps not – he suddenly delivered one of his “something is coming” tweets.

Given Trump’s tendency to focus on problems overseas causing issues for companies back home, a comment by Kevin Madigan during the panel yesterday immediately comes to mind.

“To combat piracy abroad, USTR needs to work with the creative industries to improve enforcement and target the source of pirated material,” Madigan said.

Interesting times and much turmoil in the streaming world ahead, it seems.

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Torrent Tracking Evidence is Flawed and Unreliable, Alleged Pirate Argues

Besides winning several prestigious awards, the people behind the movie Dallas Buyers Club are also known for their vigorous pursuit of online pirates.

The film’s copyright holders have sued thousands of people in recent years, resulting in numerous out-of-court settlements.

In Oregon, however, one defendant has proven to be a tough adversary. In a lawsuit that’s been ongoing for three years, defendant John Huszar was sued for an alleged copyright infringement that occurred via his Tor exit node.

Tor is an anonymity tool and operating a relay or exit node basically means that the traffic of hundreds or thousands of users hit the Internet from your IP-address. When pirates use Tor, it will then appear as if the traffic comes from this connection.

During the course of the legal proceedings, Huszar repeatedly denied that he personally downloaded a pirated copy of the film. However, he faces substantial damages because he failed to respond to a request for admissions, which stated that he distributed the film. This generally means that it’s seen by the court as true.

With this admission, Dallas Buyers Club (DBC) requested a ruling in its favor. A few months ago, the film company argued that the Tor exit node operator admitted willful infringement, which could cost him up to $150,000 in damages.

The Tor exit node operator then fought back pointing out several disputed claims and asked for a ruling in its favor. However, according to the filmmakers, this simply came too late, more than a year after the Court ordered the admissions.

Huszar is not letting DBC off easy though. Before the court ruled on the filmmakers’ request, the defendant submitted a request for summary judgment of non-infringement a few days ago.

Among other things, the defense argues that DBC misled the court about the quality and integrity of the evidence gathering software ‘MaverickMonitor,’ which was created by the German company MaverickEye.

The defendant asked Dr. Kal Toth, a qualified software verification expert, to take a look at the system to see if it’s as reliable as claimed. According to his findings, it is not possible to “conclude that MaverickMonitor detects the IP addresses of infringing BitTorrent users correctly, consistently and reliably.”

From the declaration

In addition, the defense points out that DBC’s own expert never ran the software, suggesting that the filmmakers have no idea how it works.

“Bizarrely, DBC’s fact and expert witness, Robert Young, testified that he never installed and ran the MaverickMonitor software on any server despite being designated by DBC as its designee on software.

“DBC, a company that used software to sue thousands of people, has no idea how this software works,” the defense argues in its motion.

Huszar’s legal team argues that the BitTorrent monitoring system that was used to sue thousands of people is “flawed and unreliable.” While it may produce accurate findings, there could be many false positives as well, their motion explains.

“Perhaps Maverickmonitor worked 50% of the time. The problem is that we have no idea for this case which side of the coin was up for Huszar, nor does DBC, or MaverickMonitor.

“It is, technically speaking, simply the equivalent of a random number generator, and as such any data generated from the MaverickMonitor system should be excluded,” the motion adds.

While the filmmakers have the admission as their main ammunition, the Tor exit node operator points the finger at the evidence gathering software, hoping to find the court on his side.

“[H]ere Huszar demonstrated with an inspection of the code that MaverickMonitor’s claim of ‘100% accuracy’ is a complete fraud. Huszar respectfully requests this Court grant his motion for summary judgment and deem him the prevailing party,” the motion concludes.

It’s now up to the court to decide which side prevails.

A copy of the motion for summary judgment is available here (pdf).

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Judge Issues Mixed Order in RIAA’s Piracy Case Against ISP Grande

Regular Internet providers are being put under increasing pressure for not doing enough to curb copyright infringement.

Last year several major record labels, represented by the RIAA, filed a lawsuit in a Texas District Court, accusing ISP Grande Communications of turning a blind eye on its pirating subscribers.

According to the RIAA, the Internet provider knew that some of its subscribers were frequently distributing copyrighted material, and accused the company of failing to take any meaningful action in response.

Grande disagreed with this assertion and filed a motion to dismiss the case. The ISP argued that it doesn’t encourage any of its customers to download copyrighted works, and that it has no control over the content subscribers access.

The Internet provider admitted that it received millions of takedown notices through the piracy tracking company Rightscorp. However, it believes that these notices are flawed and not worthy of acting upon. It was not keeping subscribers on board with a profit motive, as the RIAA suggested.

A few days ago US Magistrate Judge Andrew Austin issued his “report and recommendation” on the motions to dismiss, which brings some good and bad news for both sides.

First of all, Judge Austin recommends granting the motion to dismiss the piracy claims against Grande’s management company Patriot Media Consulting, which is also listed as a defendant.

According to the order, the RIAA failed to show that Patriot employees were involved in the decisions or actions that led to the infringements, only that they may have been involved in formulating Grande’s infringement related policies.

“This is a far cry from showing that Patriot as an entity was an active participant in the alleged secondary infringement,” Judge Austin writes.

Moving to Grande Communications itself, Judge Austin recommends dropping the vicarious infringement claim, as Grande requested. To show vicarious infringement, the RIAA would have to prove that the ISP has a direct financial interest in the infringing activity. That is not the case here.

The record labels argued that the availability of copyrighted music lures customers, but the Judge found this allegation too vague, as it would apply to all ISPs.

“There are no allegations that Grande’s actions in failing to adequately police their infringing subscribers is a draw to subscribers to purchase its services, so that they can then use those services to infringe on UMG’s (and others’) copyrights,” Judge Austin argues.

“Instead UMG only alleges that the existence of music and the BitTorrent protocol is the draw. But that would impose liability on every ISP, as the music at issue is available on the Internet generally, as is the BitTorrent protocol, and is not something exclusively available through Grande’s services.”

While the above is good news for the Internet provider, the report and recommendation opt to keep the contributory infringement claim alive. Contributory copyright infringement happens where a defendant intentionally induces or encourages direct infringement.

Grande argued that Rightcorp’s notices were not sufficient to show that copyrighted material was ever downloaded, but Judge Austin disagrees. The RIAA has made a “plausible claim” that the ISP’s subscribers are infringing the labels’ copyrights.

“It would be inappropriate to dismiss the case based on factual allegations Grande makes about the Rightscorp notices and system, without any evidence to back those up,” Judge Austin’s recommendation reads.

In addition, Grande also argued that it’s protected from a secondary copyright infringement claim under the “staple article of commerce” doctrine, as “it is beyond dispute” that ISPs have numerous non-infringing uses.

Referring to the legal case between BMG and Cox Communications, Judge Austin says that this isn’t as clear as Grande suggests.

“The Court acknowledges that this is not yet a well-defined area of the law, and that there are good arguments on both sides of this issue,” the recommendation reads.

“However, at this point in the case, the Court is persuaded that UMG has pled a plausible claim of secondary infringement based on Grande’s alleged failure to act when presented with evidence of ongoing, pervasive infringement by its subscribers.”

The recommendation, therefore, is to deny the motion to dismiss the contributory infringement claim against Grande. If the U.S. District Court Judge adopts this position, it would mean that the case is heading to trial based on this claim.

Judge Austin’s full report and recommendations filing is available here (pdf).

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ACE Warns Kodi Addon Developer to Sign Settlement Agreement, Or Else

The Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE) is a coalition of 30 companies that reads like a who’s who of the global entertainment market.

All of the major Hollywood studios are members, plus Amazon, Netflix, BBC, Hulu, and Village Roadshow, to name a few.

ACE was launched last year to present a united front against online infringement and since then has been involved in various anti-piracy actions.

ACE has made the third-party Kodi addon scene one of its early priorities, targeting developers with home visits and lengthy letters demanding that they cease and desist their activities. This has led to several pulling back from the scene but in some instances, this doesn’t appear to have been enough for ACE.

The letters received by the developers also include a requirement for them to sign a settlement agreement which binds them to a particular course of future behavior set out by ACE. It’s unclear how many developers have signed but TorrentFreak is aware that several have not.

One of those is JSergio123 who last November announced he would be discontinuing development of several Kodi addons after being targeted by ACE.

“Sorry to say but I am stopping all development of the urlresolver, metahandler, and my other addons,” he said.

JSergio123’s reluctance to sign an agreement with ACE hasn’t gone unnoticed by the anti-piracy group. In a letter dated March 5, 2018 and signed by Kelly Klaus of US-based lawfirm Munger, Tolles & Olson, the developer is reminded of what transpired last year and what is expected of him moving forward.

“I understand that ACE counsel have discussed with you various of your “Addon” software applications and related software and services, including URLResolver (collectively, the “[redacted] Addons”) and other actions you have undertaken to induce and contribute to the mass infringement of the ACE members’ copyrighted works,” Klaus writes.

“I also understand that ACE counsel have provided you with a proposed settlement agreement, pursuant to which you would end your infringing activities and provide cooperation and other consideration in exchange for ACE agreeing not to pursue legal action against you arising out of your infringing activities. To date, you have not signed the settlement agreement.”

JSergio123’s precise reasons for not signing the settlement agreement aren’t being made public. However, TorrentFreak understands that some of the terms presented to addon developers last year have caused considerable concern. In some cases they are difficult to meet, not to mention unpalatable to the people involved.

They include promises to ensure that specified addons and indeed any developed in the future can no longer infringe copyright. For those that scrape third-party sources, this could prove impossible to absolutely guarantee. This could effectively put developers out of the addon game – legitimate or otherwise – for good.

TF is also informed that ACE demanded a high-level of cooperation, including that the developers should supply what amounts to a full confession, detailing all the projects they’ve been involved in, past and present.

Furthermore, the ACE agreement reportedly requires developers to inform on their colleagues by providing personal information such as identities and contact details. There’s also a requirement to indicate whether and how developers been making money from their activities.

The new letter from ACE, which is shown below after being published by JSergio, refers to a “most recent draft of the settlement agreement that ACE members would be willing to sign.”

Whether this contains any amendments from the settlement agreements sent out last year isn’t clear but Mr Klaus, who is a veteran of several large infringement lawsuits in the US, says that JSergio should take the offer seriously.

“I strongly urge you to consider the gravity of this situation and sign the agreement,” the lawyer concludes.

ACE Letter (credit: JSergio123)

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Spotify Owned uTorrent Before BitTorrent Inc. Acquired It

When Spotify launched its first beta in the fall of 2008, we described it as “an alternative to music piracy.

From the start, the Swedish company set out to compete with pirate services by offering a better user experience. Now, a decade later, it has come a long way.

The company successfully transformed into a billion-dollar enterprise and is planning to go public with a listing on the New York Stock Exchange. While it hasn’t completely evaporated music piracy, it has converted dozens of millions of people into paying customers.

While Spotify sees itself as a piracy remedy, backed by the major labels, its piracy roots are undeniable.

In a detailed feature, Swedish newspaper Breakit put a spotlight on one of Spotify’s earliest employees, developer Ludvig Strigeus.

With a significant stake in the company, he is about to become a multi-millionaire, one with a noteworthy file-sharing past. It’s unclear what is current stake in Spotify is, but according to Swedish media it’s worth more than a billion Kroner, which is over $100 million.

Strigeus was the one who launched uTorrent in September 2005, when the BitTorrent protocol was still fairly new. Where most BitTorrent clients at the time were bloatware, uTorrent chose a minimalist approach, but with all essential features.

This didn’t go unnoticed. In just a few months, millions of torrent users downloaded the application which quickly became the dominant file-sharing tool.

Little more than a year after its launch the application was acquired by BitTorrent Inc., which still owns it today. While that part of history is commonly known, there’s a step missing.

Strigeus’ coding talent also piqued the interest of Spotify, which reportedly beat BitTorrent Inc. by a few months. Multiple sources confirm that the streaming startup, which had yet to release its service at the time, bought uTorrent in 2006.

While some thought that Spotify was mainly interested in the technology, others see Strigeus as the target.

“Spotify bought μTorrent, but what we really wanted was Ludvig Strigeus,” former Spotify CEO Andreas Ehn told Breakit.

This indeed sounds plausible as Spotify sold uTorrent to BitTorrent Inc. after a few months, keeping the developer on board. Not a bad decision for the latter, as his Spotify stake makes him a billionaire. At the same time, it was an important move for Spotify too.

Ludvig (Ludde) is still credited in recent uTorrent releases

In addition to having a very talented developer on board, who helped to implement the much needed P2P technology into Spotify, the deal with BitTorrent Inc. brought in cash that funded the development of the tiny, but ambitious, streaming service.

It might be too much to argue that Spotify wouldn’t be where it is without uTorrent and its creator, but their impact on the young company was significant.

The file-sharing angle was also very prominent in the early releases of Spotify. At the time, of all the tracks that were streamed over the Internet by Spotify users, the majority were streamed via P2P connections.

And we haven’t even mentioned that Spotify reportedly used pirate MP3s for its Beta release, including some tracks that were only available on The Pirate Bay.

Spotify’s brief ownership of uTorrent isn’t commonly known, to make an understatement. When BitTorrent Inc. announced that it acquired “uTorrent AB” there was no mention of Spotify, which was still an unknown company at the time.

Times change.

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Kodi v18 Leia – Alpha 1

A new hope dawns and it is finally time to start heading towards a final release. Today we are happy to announce that we are bringing you the first official pre-release Alpha build to a galaxy near you.

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