This week we have three newcomers in our chart.

Gemini Man is the most downloaded movie.

The data for our weekly download chart is estimated by TorrentFreak, and is for informational and educational reference only. All the movies in the list are Web-DL/Webrip/HDRip/BDrip/DVDrip unless stated otherwise.

RSS feed for the articles of the recent weekly movie download charts.

This week’s most downloaded movies are:
Movie RankRank last weekMovie nameIMDb Rating / Trailer
Most downloaded movies via torrents
1(4)Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood7.9 / trailer
2(3)Rambo: Last Blood6.6 / trailer
3(1)Gemini Man5.7 / trailer
4(…)The Irishman8.4 / trailer
5(2)Angel Has Fallen6.5 / trailer
6(6)It Chapter Two6.8 / trailer
7(5)Joker (Subbed HDRip)8.8 / trailer
8(…)Hustlers6.5 / trailer
9(8)Ready or Not7.0 / trailer
10(…)Abominable7.0 / trailer

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Research released by the EUIPO last week revealed that pirate IPTV services generate nearly €1 million in revenue per year. That’s in Europe alone.

The figure confirmed that piracy remains a massive problem, but a second study also delivered some more positive news. From 2017 to 2018, access to pirated content across Europe dropped by more than 15 percent.

This headline figure was undoubtedly welcomed by copyright holders, but the broader report deserves more in-depth analysis.

For starters, the study only covers part of the piracy landscape. It is based on data provided by the piracy tracking company MUSO which solely looks at website visits. This means that apps, streaming devices, and IPTV services are not included.

This may shed a different light on the piracy drop, as these untracked piracy channels have grown explosively in recent years. According to some, these streaming tools are the largest piracy threat at the moment. As such, it’s entirely possible that overall piracy levels didn’t drop, or could even have grown.

When we asked EUIPO about this caveat, it informed us that MUSO’s data, together with that from the European Audiovisual Observatory and Eurostat, was chosen to get the most complete picture possible.

“The MUSO database was chosen as a source of data to enable us to get as full a picture as possible of online copyright infringement in the EU to which the methodology could be applied,” EUIPO informed us.  

That makes sense, as the newer piracy tools are simply harder to track, so there may simply be no data available.

While EUIPO’s ‘picture’ only covers part of the piracy landscape, it is very detailed and suitable for comparisons over time, based on a wide variety of variables. This provided some interesting insights, especially when it comes to regional differences.

For example, total piracy, specified by the number of site visits per user per month, is by far the highest in Latvia and Lithuania. The relative piracy volume there is more than six times as high as in Finland, as can be seen below.

Total piracy by country and content type, 2018

The logical conclusion would be that piracy is far more prevalent in countries on the left. However, caution is warranted, as this only covers site-based piracy.

Last week, the other EUIPO study showed that IPTV piracy is below average in Latvia, while it’s high in this report. On the other hand, site-based piracy is below-average in Spain, where IPTV piracy is thriving. And we haven’t even considered streaming boxes and apps.

One major difference between site-based piracy and IPTV piracy is that the latter usually requires a subscription. In other words, people have to pay to pirate. That may, at least in part, be due to regional differences, as countries differ in their average income per person.

The money element was also considered in the EUIPO study. Following statistical analyses, the researchers found that a lower income per capita is linked to more piracy. Again, this is solely based on website visits.

“Among the socio-economic factors, the level of income per capita and the extent of inequality seem to have the greatest impact on consumption of pirated content: high per capita income and a low degree of income inequality are associated with lower levels of illicit consumption,” the report concludes.

The link between income and piracy is not counterintuitive. That’s also true for the link that was found between social acceptance of piracy and piracy volume. What is surprising, however, is that awareness of legal services and piracy is absent for some content.

EUIPO found that more awareness of legal TV services was linked to more TV piracy. For music, a similar trend was found, albeit not statistically significant. More awareness of legal movie services, on the other hand, was linked to less piracy, as expected.

“It appears that the relationship between legal offer and piracy is a complex one and merits further investigation,” EUIPO concludes.

Overall the EUIPO study provides some interesting views on the piracy landscape in the EU. While it only covers site-based traffic, it’s clear that piracy habits differ greatly from country to country, and that they’re not always easy to grasp.

A copy of the report titled: “Online copyright infringement in the European Union” is available here (pdf).

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For almost a decade, an anti-piracy group in Greece has been trying to bring the elusive operator of pirate sites to justice.

EPOE protects the rights of entertainment industry companies including those in the film and television sectors. It filed criminal prosecutions against the alleged operator of the site Greekstars four times since 2009 but the processes were never straightforward.

According to EPOE, each time a complaint was filed, the operator closed down his site and then reappeared under new domain names, which were variations on the original Greekstar branding. The final criminal action was filed way back in 2012 but has taken years to come to a conclusion. Now, however, it is all over.

After a legal process of years, in November an Athens court rejected the defendant’s protests of innocence, including that he was simply a user of the sites in question and had been wrongly accused.

The court found the man guilty of criminal copyright infringement and sentenced him to five years in prison for running sites including and He had previously been found guilty of running a pirate site located at All of the sites linked to pirated content hosted on other platforms.

This is the first time that an individual has been sent to prison for running a pirate site in Greece, a landmark event according to EPOE spokesperson Theodoros Petsinis.

“This convicted criminal had been sued four times by us. Each time a lawsuit was filed and the investigation was initiated, he would change his domain name, that is, the name of the website, and continue illegal distribution,” Petsinis told local media. “Identical content with another website name. He has been elusive for four years sharing movies, music, books and video games.”

According to Petsinis, the presiding judges decided not to levy a fine as part of the man’s punishment due to “mitigating factors”, including that fining someone already in prison would be “meaningless”.

While this first prison sentence is a key moment for Greece’s entertainment companies, the problem of piracy in the country is far from solved. EPOE believes there are between 40 and 50 sites active in the country, with around five attracting the most traffic.

The anti-piracy group previously entered a request for 38 domains to be blocked by ISPs but Petsinis complains that most of the sites simply changed their domains, effectively out-maneuvering the action. And, despite the efforts, Greece remains under the scrutiny of the United States for not doing enough to counter copyright infringement.

In its latest Special 301 Report (pdf), the USTR opted to keep Greece on the ‘Watch List’. It accused the government itself of using unlicensed software while conducting ineffective IP investigations and prosecutions. The USTR also criticized the country for having “persistent problems with criminal enforcement delays”, which could certainly apply to the Greekstars case.

However, with this five-year prison sentence, Greece does seem to have addressed the complaints from the US that the scale of sentences for persistent large-scale copyright infringers is “insufficient”.

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In 2010, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Homeland Security began their first rounds of domain name seizures.

Under the flag of “Operation In Our Sites” the authorities shut down a dozen file-sharing and streaming sites, as well as many sites that sold counterfeit goods.

The action had a massive impact at the time. It resulted in several high profile arrests, including those of several NinjaVideo operators. However, they were not without controversy either.

Several sites that were accused of piracy fought back. As a result, U.S. authorities had to return the domain name of sports streaming site Rojadirecta after a few months. And years later, the DoJ also dropped its case against torrent search engine Torrent-Finder.

Despite this rocky start, Operation In Our Sites continued. In fact, the number of seizures only increased and by 2012 the campaign expanded internationally as well, with Europe joining in.

Over the past years, the number of targeted domains continued to grow. Last year, the US National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center said it took down over a million domains in just a year. An unprecedented number, but one that didn’t draw any major headlines.

Yesterday Europol announced its latest efforts. With help from international law enforcement agencies, it seized 30,506 domain names. According to the organization, these domains distributed counterfeit and pirated items.

Among other things, the sites reportedly offered pirated movies, illegal television streaming, music, software, counterfeit pharmaceuticals and other illicit goods. In addition, officials also arrested three individuals while freezing more than €150,000 from various bank accounts and online payment providers.

While these numbers are impressive, today’s Operation In Our Sites doesn’t have the media impact it had in the early days. Of course, there are news outfits rehashing Europol’s press release, noting that thousands of pirate sites have been taken offline, but that’s about it.

What stands out most is that, in recent years, we haven’t been able to spot any pirate sites that were affected by such seizures. This, despite the fact that well over a million domains were seized.

There’s no separate breakdown for the number of pirate and counterfeit domains. We assume that the majority of the affected domain names were linked to counterfeiting instead of piracy, but still, both categories are mentioned.

The lack of visible impact stands in major contrast to the first year when only a few dozen domains were targeted. At the time, that lead to months of news coverage, lawsuits, and even questions from high profile politicians, including US Senator Ron Wyden.

TorrentFreak reached out to Europol to find out what the most recent piracy targets were, but at the time of writing, we have yet to hear back. It’s clear, however, that Operation In Our Sites hasn’t targeted any major pirate sites in recent years.

The big question is why. How does Europol pick its targets? And if it’s so easy to seize tens of thousands of domains, why do these major enforcement agencies only focus on smaller sites?

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Many countries around the world have systems in place to block access to copyright-infringing content and even entire sites.

Russia’s system is particularly streamlined and has resulted in large volumes of pirate sites being rendered inaccessible to the country’s citizens.

However, Russia’s blocking system isn’t only used to protect rightsholders. It’s regularly used to prevent access to terrorism-related material and other content considered dangerous to the public or even insulting to the state.

On November 28, 2019, US-based stock footage site Shutterstock appeared on Russia’s registry of banned domains. Authority for the blocking was granted by the Prosecutor General’s Office on November 13, 2019, and as shown in the image below, covers one domain and two IP addresses.

At first view, one might consider this to be a copyright infringement issue. However, those who visit the URL detailed at the top of the notice will find what appears to be an image of a Russian flag placed in the middle of a pile of excrement. Russian authorities do not take kindly to their national symbols depicted in such a fashion and have laws in place to prevent it.

As a result, Russian ISPs are now blocking two Shutterstock-related IP addresses (one in Germany, one in the Netherlands) which are both operated by cloud company Akamai. Whether other sites using the same IP addresses are also being affected is currently unclear.

For good measure, Russia is also targeting the domain. As highlighted by Russian digital rights group Roskomsvoboda, which first reported the news, this is particularly problematic since rather than tackling just a single URL, a whole HTTPS subdomain is in the register.

While overblocking is never welcome, the great irony here is that while the Russian blacklist is often used to protect the rights of content creators, it is now effectively restricting their ability to do legitimate business in Russia via Shutterstock. Whether the company will remove the image to resolve the matter remains to be seen.

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The so-called ‘Six-Strikes’ Copyright Alert System was once praised as an excellent tool to address online piracy.

Under the agreement, which included the major rightsholder groups MPA and RIAA, several large Internet providers in the US sent copyright infringement warnings to pirating customers.

After repeated alerts, these subscribers would face a variety of ‘mitigation’ measures but their accounts would not be terminated. Although rightsholders and ISPs appeared happy with the deal, it was shut down nearly three years ago.

Instead of cooperating with ISPs, several RIAA members then took another approach by filing lawsuits against Internet providers for not doing enough to curb piracy. This also happened to Cox, which was sued for failing to disconnect repeat infringers.

The lawsuit between several music companies and Cox is scheduled to go to trial later this month. Interestingly, the ISP is now planning to use the aforementioned Copyright Alert System (CAS) as evidence in its favor.

Cox was asked to participate in the voluntary anti-piracy scheme years ago but chose not to do so. According to the company, its own “strike” policy was already functioning well and perhaps even better than the industry-approved alternative.

This line of reasoning is also relevant for the ongoing legal dispute, Cox believes. The RIAA members disagreed and previously asked the court to exclude it from the trial. However, according to a recent ruling from Judge Liam O’Grady, the ISP is permitted to use it in its favor.

“Defendants are permitted to put on evidence about the Copyright Alert System as well as its own graduated response system, the Cox Abuse Ticket System,” O’Grady writes.

In addition, Cox is also allowed to present evidence about the policies at other ISPs, as identified in related reports, as long as it is relevant to the case.

This is a clear setback for the music labels which argued that the policies and actions of other ISPs and the CAS are irrelevant. It doesn’t matter whether Cox’s own anti-piracy system was reasonable or effective in comparison with other providers, they said.

The court disagreed, however, but it also brought some bad news for Cox.

The ISP planned to cite internal research to suggest that 96% of subscribers stopped receiving notices after the 5th warning. This was concluded in 2010 and resulted in the ISP’s belief that its “graduated response” system was effective.

According to the music companies these conclusions, of which the underlying data is no longer available, were based on a “mess of misleading calculations.” As such, they wanted it excluded from the trial.

Judge O’Grady agreed with the music companies. After reviewing the arguments from both sides, he concludes that there is no adequate foundation for the information presented in the “96% Stop By 5 Notices” evidence.

“Defendants have had ample time to produce such a foundation, and failed to do so. Discrepancies in numbers and figures as detailed in Plaintiffs’ briefs raise an alarming number of questions that demand the underlying data be produced, not just the emails Defendants offer in support,” O’Grady writes.

With these and various other motions dealt with, the trial will soon get underway. While some boundaries have been set, there is still plenty left to argue over.

A copy of U.S. District Court Judge Liam O’Grady’s order is available here (pdf).

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With the rise of convenient web-based live streaming, in recent years the Premier League has found itself on the front lines of anti-piracy enforcement.

While a significant proportion of its actions are targeted at illicit offerings available in the UK, the Premier League doesn’t shy away from tackling those who offer live games in other areas of the world too.

The group, which operates top-tier football in England, says it launched an investigation which was taken on by Thailand’s Department of Special Investigation in 2015. That developed into a covert investigation in Hong Kong during 2017 targeting individuals behind various websites operating under the banner

The trail eventually led back to an operation in Thailand which offered pirate streams and preloaded set-top boxes across southeast Asia including Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam and Malaysia.

Raids were subsequently carried out by Thailand’s DSI at five locations including a residential address in Bangkok on May 11, 2017. Two British men were arrested and a Thai woman was detained at a later date.

One of the men subsequently skipped bail but the remaining pair faced charges, including copyright infringement, relating to the unlicensed distribution of Premier League content and running a major ‘piracy network’ across Asia. Both pleaded guilty and have now been sentenced.

The Premier League reports the pair have paid damages to them totaling THB 15 million (around £385,000) which, according to the League, is one of the highest damages awards for copyright infringement ever paid in Thailand.

This is an addition to funds of almost THB 7 million (£180,000) that were seized by the state, THB 3 million (£76,800) in fines, plus suspended prison sentences totaling 3.5 years.

“This is one of the most substantial compensations for piracy-related crimes in Thailand and is a stark warning to anyone involved in the illegal supply of Premier League streams,” says Premier League Director of Legal Services Kevin Plumb. 

“Attitudes towards, and acceptance of, these types of operators in Asia is changing, which is good news for fans who watch Premier League content through legitimate channels.”

This latest success for the Premier League can be added to the growing list of anti-piracy victories reported by the football group in recent times which include dynamic blocking injunctions and dealing with the sprawling problem of premium IPTV services.

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To many people, the Pirate Bay logo is the icon of free entertainment. For more than 15 years, the site has been the goto place for pirate content.

Although the site has faced regular downtime and connectivity issues in recent years, it remains online today.

In recent weeks, however, we noticed that The Pirate Bay’s logo was regularly replaced with something else. This isn’t entirely new, as the site often used to swap the iconic pirate ship graphic to send a message.

The more recent changes are noteworthy though, as they are – at least in part – used to generate revenue.

The Pirate Bay never displayed standard ads on the site’s homepage. And while there are still no network ads, TPB has swapped its logo several times to promote the “Pirate Bay approved” VPN provider AzireVPN, as shown below.

The VPN provider confirmed to TorrentFreak that The Pirate Bay asked to join its affiliate program, which it uses to generate some extra revenue. In addition to the homepage banner that appeared several times, there’s a “VPN” link to AzireVPN on all TPB pages as well.

Another new logo that showed up recently promotes the file-hosting service It’s not clear whether this is an advertisement, or perhaps a promotion for a ‘friend,’ but there must be a good reason to show the banner.

We reached out to to find out more but, at the time of writing, we have yet to hear back. As with the VPN, also has a sitewide link on the site, under the “filehosting” tag.

Finally, there’s The Pirate Bay’s promotion of the blockchain project Hex, which describes itself as the first high-interest savings account on the blockchain. Like most crypto projects it’s not without controversy. However, TPB believes it can get something out of it.

The torrent site currently displays a banner on its homepage which comes with a referral link. This means that TPB gets a 20% bonus minted for everyone who signs up through the site.

It’s unclear whether the logo swaps are a temporary thing or if they will happen more frequently in the future. Over the past few weeks, the ‘promo’ logos have been appearing on an off, with Hex being the most recent addition.

In any case, people shouldn’t be surprised to see a slightly different look when they access the TPB homepage.

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In March, US-based author John Van Stry filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Travis McCrea, the operator of eBook download platform

To say early progress in the case was disorganized is something of an understatement. With a relatively inexperienced McCrea opting to defend himself, things were never likely to go particularly smoothly.

Nevertheless, in September things appeared to get back on track, with McCrea eventually filing an answer to the complaint, pushing matters on to the next stage. Since then, however, the plaintiff and his attorney have grown increasingly frustrated with McCrea’s alleged conduct and tactics.

Back in August during a scheduling conference, the court indicated a desire to keep costs as low as possible during the discovery process, to the benefit of both plaintiff and defendant. According to a motion to compel discovery filed by the plaintiff this week, however, McCrea is allegedly frustrating the discovery process.

“Defendant has been acting at cross-purposes with the Court; bringing all progress in the case to a standstill by providing no response to discovery requests, much less any discovery; delaying by habitually requiring weeks and numerous emails from Plaintiff before Defendant responds to simple inquiries, such as indicating whether Defendant received the discovery requests,” the motion reads.

What follows is a laundry list of complaints, too numerous to cover here in detail. In summary, however, there are many accusations that McCrea promised to do things he subsequently didn’t, including missing deadlines, failing to communicate properly, if at all, and generally bogging the process down.

Van Stry’s attorney further accuses McCrea of “needlessly” driving up costs by “propounding discovery that Defendant never collected, and proposing a settlement requiring Plaintiff’s counsel to draft an agreement quickly, and then ignoring communications from Plaintiff regarding the same once drafted.”

In respect of the settlement, McCrea is said to have proposed terms that suited Van Stry and a draft was drawn up and sent to McCrea in advance of the required date of October 11, 2019. On October 9, counsel for the plaintiff reached out to McCrea to confirm receipt of the agreement and asked when a reply could be expected.

After McCrea’s own deadline passed without communication, on October 15 Van Stry’s legal team set a deadline of their own – October 18. McCrea reportedly got in touch on the day but then requested an amendment to the agreement, which was accepted and redrafted within hours.

A new deadline of October 21 passed without communication so on October 23, counsel for the plaintiff asked McCrea, “If there is some impediment to executing the agreement, please let us know.” According to the filing, a response to that statement was never received.

“Plaintiff can only speculate why Mr. McCrea would propose a settlement, making Plaintiff’s counsel scramble in order to achieve the objective after Plaintiff agreed to the settlement, and then ignore communication regarding the same, but such speculation by Plaintiff leads only to harmful motives on Mr. McCrea’s part,” the motion reads.

According to counsel for Van Stry, McCrea “is simply failing to prioritize” the litigation he’s involved in. McCrea is reportedly moving house but the plaintiff believes that the case is “at least on par” with the former Pirate Party leader’s commitments in respect of moving and working.

To highlight that McCrea isn’t taking things seriously, Van Stry’s team indicate they have been watching McCrea’s Reddit activity, noting that he’s had time to post “over 100 times” on the platform during October and November but not deal with the lawsuit efficiently.

In closing, the author’s attorney asks the court to set McCrea a quick deadline to deliver his discovery responses.

“Plaintiff is asking the Court to recognize Mr. McCrea’s behavior as unacceptable, and asking that Mr. McCrea be given a tight and strict deadline to fully respond to the interrogatories and RFPs or face consequences,” the motion concludes.

The response from the court was swift. Two days later an order appeared on the docket ordering McCrea to take action or face the consequences.

“Because of the apparent lack of progress in the discovery process in this case and the impending deadlines for the close of discovery and the filing of dispositive motions, the defendant is ordered to respond to the motion by 5:00 pm, Central (U.S.) Time, on December 2, 2019,” Judge Bryson writes.

“In the absence of a response from the defendant by that time, the motion will be treated as unopposed, and the Court will take action based on the allegations in the motion.”

The motion to compel and subsequent order can be found here and here (pdf)

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The entertainment industry is a major driver of the US economy, good for millions of jobs and billions in revenue.

To protect this industry the US Government is keeping a close eye on copyright policies around the world.

This often happens following referrals from industry groups. For example, earlier this year the US Trade Representative (USTR) was asked to take a close look at South Africa’s copyright track record.

This request came from the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA). This coalition of prominent rightsholder groups, including the MPA and RIAA, informed the USTR that it’s not happy with how South Africa addresses copyright issues.

In its submission the IIPA called for trade sanctions, recommending that the U.S. Government should suspend South Africa’s GSP trade benefits. According to the group, the country doesn’t do enough to protect the interests of copyright holders.

“South Africa does not meet the GSP eligibility criteria primarily due to its weak copyright law and enforcement regime,” the IIPA noted.

The USTR took the matter seriously and recently launched an official review of South Africa’s intellectual property rights protections, asking the public for input. If these protections are not deemed to be “adequate and effective” the country faces trade sanctions.

“USTR has accepted a petition filed by the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA). The petition alleges that the Government of South Africa does not provide adequate and effective copyright protection for U.S. copyrighted works,” the USTR announced.

In recent years, copyright issues have already been on the political agenda in South Africa. Lawmakers have been working on a new copyright bill, which is close to being signed into law. However, according to the IIPA, this hasn’t delivered any progress. On the contrary.

“This legislation will move South Africa further away from international norms by failing to establish a clear legal framework to provide adequate and effective protection of copyrighted material, especially in the digital environment,” the IIPA noted.

The group strives for modern copyright laws and enforcement regimes around the world and notes that the African country falls short. Among other things, the IIPA would like South Africa to appoint special cybercrime inspectors and develop a cybercrime security hub, recognizing copyright as a top priority.

While the US Government can’t write South Africa’s laws directly, trade sanctions might just help motivate the local Government to take action in the interest of US companies. That would certainly not be the first time.

In 2017 the US Government sanctioned Ukraine following a similar referral from the IIPA. This triggered a wave of copyright-related actions in the country, after which President Trump decided to lift the sanctions last month.

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