At least 17 countries in the European Union now have active site-blocking programs, at last count blocking more than 1,800 sites and 5,300 related domains. This week, action by several major Hollywood studios came to fruition, adding Romania to the list.

In July 2017, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal City Studios, Universal Cable, Warner Bros., Paramount Pictures, Disney, Columbia Pictures, and Sony Pictures targeted multiple Romanian ISPs with demands to block three pirate sites.

Of course, top of the list was The Pirate Bay, the torrent site with a reputation for being the galaxy’s most resilient, despite being blocked all around the world by dozens of ISPs. Also targeted were Filmehd.net and Filmeonline2013.biz, two movie and TV show streaming portals that are particularly popular with locals.

According to a brief decision published by the Romanian Ministry of Justice, several ISPs including market leader RCS & RDS, Telekom Romania, UPC Romania, Digital Cable Systems, AKTA Telecom, and Nextgen Communication were defendants in the case and are now required to block a long list of domains (see below).

The decision, which is underpinned by a ruling on site-blocking handed down by the European Court of Justice in 2017, is the first of its kind in Romania.

The decision is not yet final and can be appealed within 30 days to the Bucharest Court of Appeal. It is not clear if any of the ISPs intend to do so.

The decision requires the defendant ISPs to implement what appears to be a straightforward DNS blocking regime on fixed-line services. This means that customers of the affected ISPs may be able to switch to a secondary DNS provider (such as Google or OpenDNS) to evade the blocks, once they’ve been put in place.

As revealed earlier this year, The Pirate Bay is now being blocked in at least 19 countries, including Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Malaysia, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

As a result of this widespread blocking, there are now hundreds of ways to access the site, via alternative domains, mirrors, proxies, VPNs and even Tor. A huge ecosystem of third-party sites has sprung up to facilitate access to the site, with new domains appearing on a regular basis.

That goes some way to explaining why the Romanian order is so lengthy. Not only does it block ThePirateBay.org, but dozens of other domains, as listed below.

Domains to be blocked according to the latest Romanian decision

FilmeHD – filmehd.net

FilmeOnline2013 – filmeonline2013.biz

The Pirate Bay – thepiratebay.org, http://fbay.maik.rocks, http://bayproxy.net, http://thepiratebayz.org, http://tpb.portalimg.com, https://fastpiratebay.co.uk, https://gameofbay.org, https://ikwilthepiratebay.org, https://oldbayproxy.eu, https://pirate.trade, https://piratebay.click, https://piratebay.red, https://piratebayblocked.corn, https://piratebaymirror.eu, https://piratebayproxy.be, https://piratebayproxy.tf, https://piratebays.co, https://piratebays.co. uk, https://pirateproxy.cam, https://pirateproxy.dick, https://pirateproxy.sh, https://pirateproxy.tf, https://pirateproxy.wf, https://pirateproxy.yt, https://thebay.tv, https://thehiddenbay.cc, https://thehiddenbay.fi, https://thehiddenbay.info, https://thehiddenbay.ws, https://thepiratebay.bypassed.st, https://thepiratebay.co.in, https://thepiratebay.rocks, https://thepiratebay.uk.net, https://thepiratebay.unblocker.cc, https://thepiratebay-proxy.com, https://tpbbay.eu, https://tpbmirror.us, https://tpbunblocked.org, https://ukpirate.dick, https://ukpirate.org, https://ukpirateproxy.xyz, https://unblockedbay.info, https://urbanproxy.eu

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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These notices are traditionally nothing more than a warning, hoping to scare file-sharers into giving up their habit. In recent years, this has slowly changed.

In the past, AT&T and other ISPs said that they would never terminate accounts of customers without a court order, arguing that only a court can decide what constitutes a repeat infringement.

However, after rightsholders filed several high profile lawsuits against ISPs, many companies have revised their policies. This also appears to be the case at AT&T, which reportedly plans to terminate its first customers over piracy allegations.

The ISP, which is the third-largest broadband provider in the US, plans to terminate over a dozen persistent ‘pirates’ next week, Axios reports.

The customers in question have received repeated warnings for pirating through P2P networks, usually BitTorrent. AT&T states that it reached out to educate them about copyright infringement and prevent the issue from reoccurring, apparently without result.

“A small number of customers who continue to receive additional copyright infringement notifications from content owners despite our efforts to educate them, will have their service discontinued,” an AT&T spokesperson said, commenting on the news.

AT&T is by no means the only ISP that terminates persistent pirates, but it’s a noteworthy step since the company is no longer convinced that a court order is required to do so.

This lack of clarity is, in part, due to the language in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) that deals with takedown notices.

The DMCA requires ISPs to “… adopt and reasonably implement a policy that provides for the termination in appropriate circumstances of subscribers and account holders of the service provider’s system or network who are repeat infringers.”

The term “repeat infringer” is open to interpretation. Are these infringers by a court’s standards, or merely based on allegations from copyright holders?

Where AT&T previously said that a court order was needed, it will now terminate customers based on allegations from copyright holders.

There is little doubt that many of the repeatedly flagged subscribers have a ‘pirate’ in their household. That said, without a proper judicial review of the evidence, there’s more room for error.

AT&T and several other ISPs previously took part in the Copyright Alert System. Together with the MPAA and RIAA, they agreed to send warning notices to alleged pirates, escalating repeat infringers through a series of “mitigation” measures.

Ironically, this scheme didn’t require any of the ISPs to terminate any subscribers, although AT&T threatened to do so.

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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Incredibles 2 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 Rank Rank last week Movie name IMDb Rating / Trailer
Most downloaded movies via torrents
1 (…) The Equalizer 2 6.9 / trailer
2 (…) The Meg 5.9 / trailer
3 (1) Incredibles 2 8.0 / trailer
4 (…) The Nun (subbed HDRip) 5.7 / trailer
5 (…) Mile 22 6.1 / trailer
6 (3) Alpha 6.9 / trailer
7 (…) Papillon 7.0 / trailer
8 (2) The Spy Who Dumped Me 6.2 / trailer
9 (10) BlacKkKlansman 7.7 / trailer
10 (4) Christopher Robin 7.6 / trailer

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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After being produced on a tiny budget, an almost unknown independent sci-fi film called “The Man From Earth” appeared on pirate sites after someone obtained a promotional screener and uploaded it to the Internet, weeks before its official release.

While this type of development is often labeled as disastrous by movie executives, The Man From Earth director Richard Schenkman was very upbeat indeed.

“A week or two before the DVD’s ‘street date’, we jumped 11,000% on the IMDb ‘Moviemeter’ and we were shocked,” Schenkman told TorrentFreak at the time.

Piracy had been labeled as a great promotional vehicle before but the team behind the movie really embraced it, with producer Eric Wilkinson writing to the operators of RLSlog, a once-popular piracy links site – to thank them for their support.

“Our independent movie had next to no advertising budget and very little going for it until somebody ripped one of the DVD screeners and put the movie online for all to download,” Wilkinson said.

“Most of the feedback from everyone who has downloaded ‘The Man From Earth’ has been overwhelmingly positive. People like our movie and are talking about it, all thanks to piracy on the net!”

The Man From Earth went on to win multiple awards and did really well on Netflix, so it was a nice development when the movie’s sequel – The Man from Earth: Holocene – appeared on The Pirate Bay upon release earlier this year. This time, however, the team had decided to ‘leak’ the movie themselves, hoping to follow the success of the original more than ten years earlier.

“It was going to get uploaded regardless of what we did or didn’t do, and we figured that as long as this was inevitable, we would do the uploading ourselves and explain why we were doing it,” Schenkman told TF.

“And, we would once again reach out to the filesharing community and remind them that while movies may be free to watch, they are not free to make, and we need their support.”

The team hoped that pirates would flock to the movie’s ‘tip jar’ while using word-of-mouth advertising to ensure that the sequel did as well as the original. When speaking to TF in January 2018, Schenkman was really upbeat and enthusiastic but somewhere on the way, something went wrong – very wrong indeed.

In a new piece published by pro-industry, anti-piracy alliance Creative Future, Schenkman rips into pirates big and small. While noting that the sci-fi sequel has been downloaded almost a million times with uncounted streaming views on top, just 7,000 people supported it with donations.

“If each one of the illegal downloaders (to say nothing of the streamers) had donated just one dollar, we would have already broken even on Holocene and been well on the road toward making our next film. Alas, most people aren’t willing – or able – to pay even that much,” Schenkman says.

But while individual pirates didn’t dig as deeply as Schenkman would’ve liked, he says his venture also fell victim to commercially motivated pirates who took his movie, hired actors, and had it professionally dubbed in Russian – all without permission.

“[I] learned through this experiment that there are people who don’t merely pirate a film, but who are willing to take full advantage of producers like us – who, remember, are offering our movie for free – for their own profit,” he explains.

“I’m talking about Green Ray, a Russian ‘distribution company’ that created a dubbed version of Holocene and offered it on their website. Not only did they do so without any permission, but they removed my donation preface and replaced it with an advertisement so they could monetize it.”

Schenkman says he wrote to Green Ray’s operators, suggesting that in the absence of them leaving the donation elements intact, a revenue-sharing arrangement might be in order. To date, the site has not offered a response.

While it could be argued that Green Ray’s adaption of The Man from Earth: Holocene ensured the movie could be enjoyed by a new audience, the commercial exploitation of the movie in this manner is extremely blatant, to say the least, so it’s hardly a surprise that Schenkman is disappointed.

“Clearly, there is an audience in Russia who cares about seeing a high-quality version of our movie. Perhaps this same audience would have even been willing to pay the actual filmmakers behind the movie to watch it. Now, we will never know,” he says.

Despite his early love affair with pirates (which appeared to still exist early this year), the director now finds himself singing the same anti-piracy tune as the majority of film creators around him. Movies aren’t free to make, he points out, so people need to understand they can’t be free to watch either.

“The lion’s share of films that get released aren’t studio blockbusters, but super low-budget projects from independent filmmakers who struggled just to get their films produced in the first place – and who are very lucky if they break even on them,” he says.

Of course, it’s difficult for Schenkman to deny that the original movie benefited greatly from pirates and that his team believed that the sequel could follow in its footsteps. But now, barely 10 months on, he’s done a complete 180, noting that if there’s no financial support for the people who make them, movies like his won’t be made.

“We need to educate our audience to understand that we are the same as them: working people who love cinema. Piracy poses an existential threat to all of us,” he 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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We hereby present you the fifth and last Beta build of Kodi v18 as we are heading towards the final release. Next step will be Release candidates where our focus will be on solving bugs and possible usability problems. So far it has been proven to be quite solid to use as a daily driver for those who were brave enough to try it out. Of course you should still keep in mind it’s not a final release yet and that on any upgrade a small glitch could happen as we are still doing rework. Once you decide to give it a try it is highly recommended that you create a backup first.

Currently included

A full changelog is nearly impossible to create and in this release article we will only cover the basics. For a more extensive list you can visit our wiki page v18 (Leia) changelog which will be update along the way. From now on all v18 releases will not contain any big new features as we are focussed on bug fixing or improvements only.

Most notable changes to mention in Beta 5:

  • Fix repository connection issues on Windows which affected certain CPU types
  • Some improvements to Android video playback
  • Some improvements to OSX resolution switching
  • Support for Radio Data RDS (RDS) if the PVR backend supports this
  • Try to find the best matching resolution automatically for refreshrate switching if the user has not made a selection in resosution whitelist setting
  • Update Chorus2 webinterface which contains security and general fixes
  • General code improvements and cleanup

Of course there are several more changes which are listed on our github repository found here: Beta5 changes.

Make sure to also go through our news sections which contain all past announcements regarding the Leia release and some highlights of what it will contain.

Stability and usability is key

In general the whole stability has been improved quite a lot. The times you still get glitches or occasional crashes haven been reduced due to just ripping out not so well coded parts and replaced with a more structured design and standard. Not that the old code was bad however over time new insights were gained and having newer code standards just make it better. Untangling all parts or components and make them behave better next to each other has been one of the biggest efforts done so far.

Current available skins

Due to changes in how Kodi works skins need to be updated for each release. As of this moment we have the following ones have been update by their developers and are readily available from our repository.

Adnoic, Aeon Nox 5, Andromeda, Black Glass Nova, ChromaConfluence, fTV, Grid, Mimic, NebulaOmni, Rapier, Sio2, Xperience1080

More will follow at a later point in time when we approach final release.

Python 2 & 3 compatibility will be enforced

Currently, Kodi includes the Python 2.7 interpreter to run addons written in Python programming language. However, Python 3 was released almost 10 years ago and the matter of implementing the Python 3 interpreter in Kodi has been brought up on the Kodi forum several times. Now, thanks to a successful GSOC 2017 project, we have a working Python 3.6 interpreter for Kodi, and on the latest DevCon 2017 in Prague Team Kodi decided that it’s time to move on and migrate Python addon subsystem to Python 3. <--break->There are several reasons for that:

  • Python 2 End of Life is planned for 2020.

  • Python 3 is mature enough and more and more Python libraries either convert their codebase to Python 3-compatible or drop Python 2 support completely (Django is the most notable example).

  • Most current Python books, tutorials and courses are focused on Python 3.

  • Python 2 is not actively developed. It receives only security patches while Python 3 gets all the cool new features with every minor version.

However, Python 3 is not backward-compatible with the 2nd version so some transition process is required. Currently the plan is the following:

  • Kodi 19 (M*) will be released with Python 3 interpreter for running Python-based addons.

  • After the release of Kodi 18 (Leia) only addons that are compatible with both Python 2 and 3 will be accepted to the official addon repository. Also, Python 3-only addons will be accepted to the repositories for Kodi 19 (M*) and above.

  • Addon developers are highly encouraged to convert their addons to Python 2/3-compatible so that after the release of Kodi 19 (M*) we will have enough addons that work with the new version.

  • Test builds based on Kodi 18 with the Python 3 interpreter will be provided continuously so addon developers can test their addons for compatibility with Python 3. Test builds for Windows are already available for downloading from here and test builds for Ubuntu can be obtained from this PPA.

  • One the v18 version has been branched off for final release the nightlies will become Python 3 only while the release builds will still be Python 2.

Writing Python code that is compatible with both 2 and 3 versions is totally possible and the “big” Python world has been doing it for years since the release of Python 3.0. There are a number of tools and best practices developed to simplify this process. Please read this Kodi Wiki article for more information and technical details about the migration process. Also a special Wiki section has been created that will be updated with new information. You can post questions about converting your addon code to Python 3-compatible or share your experience in “Python 3 migration” subforum on the official Kodi forum.

Binary repository

We can now finally say binary repostory has been finalised for Android, OSX and Windows and are happy to say we can finally split off the binary add-ons from our main Kodi installer which reduces it to half the normal size. For users this means that as already mentioned the installer is much smaller and the Kodi version they get is just enough to get started. Once they decide to get extra functionality like a using PVR they simply go to the repository and only install what they need unlike now where we preinstall them all. Next is the fact that for example a PVR add-on received some fixes you don’t have to wait till we release a new Kodi version. Just like Python and Skin add-ons you will just received the updated PVR add-on and can enjoy the improvement straight away.

Read more here Kodi v18 – Binary add-ons repository

 

The story continues

Although we don’t really have a clear future plan or clear cut goals (except making a great media center) we would welcome any developer who wants to spend time on getting Kodi better in every way. Either improving the core code to newer standards, fixing bugs or implementing a new feature we haven’t thought of. Compared to years ago the code has become better to understand and follow for newcomers to get started. Once we get something written down of certain to reach goals we will certainly share them.

A great improvement has been made on the documentation that explains how to compile and work on the core code for Kodi. We highly recommend to read the article Kodi’s GitHub codebase new face and better documentation.

 

Release time

Since we now started the Beta cycle a final release will be on the near horizon. When the final release will actually be is yet unknown as it all depends on the stability now more people will start using the v18 builds.

That’s about it for now and we’ll go back at improving this upcoming v18 release. Should you wish to give it a try a new version is readily available each day as well as nightly version. We can certainly recommend trying it out however take in mind that it’s not fully production and living room ready yet (take a backup). So far a guestimate of several tens of thousands users already use it so it can’t be that bad can it. You can get it from the download page clicking on the platform of choice and hitting the “pre release” tab. For Android and Windows we have an easy to use download add-on which you can find in our repository.

Go to the Official download page and choose the platform of choice and you will find these builds under the pre release tab.

If you do appreciate our work feel free to give a small donation so we can continue our effort. Just find the big “Donate” button at the top of the website.

May the force be with you…..





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For almost as long, entertainment industry companies and groups have been trying to stem the tide. Litigation against P2P software companies was soon accompanied by lawsuits against end users, with the latter gaining in popularity in more recent times after it became clear that money is to be made from the practice.

Over the years, hundreds of so-called ‘copyright troll’ cases have been reported and countless thousands of individuals have chosen to pay a settlement fee, in order to make a supposed lawsuit disappear. For some companies, the practice has proven lucrative but others have found it less so, with more knowledgeable defendants fighting back, causing costs to rise and profits to plummet.

In the UK, several companies have attempted to generate revenue from alleged file-sharers. The business model doesn’t appear to have varied much since its inception around 2006, with most players seemingly backing away in the face of adverse publicity and informed defendants fighting their corners.

In 2015, a company called Hatton and Berkeley entered the arena. Working with well-known copyright troll partner MaverickEye and several movie producers, the company threatened a huge wave of lawsuits. After an initial flurry of developments over several months, things went quiet. However, there are signs the company is eyeing the space once more.

In a recent email to TorrentFreak, Hatton and Berkeley founder Robert Croucher pointed us to a somewhat tricky to digest article, but with an undoubtedly interesting core.

“A ‘mutual assured destruction’ scenario was previously an inevitable outcome to any civil litigation in the UK, bringing with it the real risk of creating a zero-sum game where both claimant and defendant would be equally penalized financially creating an economic ‘non-solution’,” the piece reads.

“To counter the potential risk to rights holders, we opted for an attritional loss model, a proxy battle of sorts, designed to consolidate intellectual property interests – focussing combined efforts and greatly reducing adverse risk exposure to get over of the zero-sum hurdle.”

In common with previous announcements from the company, straightforward language is eschewed in favor of an elaborate overview. However, the main take-home from the release is that there is a new facet to be considered in the mass litigation landscape – Internet piracy insurance.

Offered via UK-based insurance broker Integro and sourced from an unnamed “‘A’ rated, multinational insurer”, Piracy Protection cover claims to assist copyright holders to recover lost revenues by making mass litigation against file-sharers (read: BitTorrent users) a less risky exercise.

“This Insurance is the first of its kind to cover the Rights Holder in their pursuit of Copyright Infringers against three main elements of risk: ISP Adverse Costs; Defendants Costs; Own Court Fees on Loss,” Integro writes (pdf).

“Previously Rights Holders have pursued defendants through court, however until now, they have had to bear the significant risk of Adverse Costs which in many cases would be too high to consider.

“By purchasing this Insurance, 1) you transfer all this risk to the Insurer, 2) you transfer the administrative burden to the Wrapper, and 3) our panel of Specialist
Tier 1 Intellectual Property Lawyers will pursue the infringers through IPEC (Intellectual Property Enterprise Court – A division of the High Court) on your behalf,” the broker adds.

Croucher informs TF that the ‘Wrapper’ is a limited liability partnership (LLP), an entity incorporated to run a business with two or members. Those members can be people or even a company.

“Hatton & Berkeley is the architect and manager of the insurance wrapper,” he explains.

“The LLP is a standard insurance wrapper model, if you can imagine it is similar to managing a fund, principally – multiple capital accounts, structured reporting to members, and generally reduced overheads as the rights holders consolidate and coordinate their efforts under one banner.”

Or, as the UK government phrases it, “Each member pays tax on their share of the profits, as in an ‘ordinary’ business partnership, but isn’t personally liable for any debts the business can’t pay.” Instead, liability is limited to the capital members invest into the LLP.

We put it to Croucher that while there have been plenty of threats to take file-sharers to court, in reality it rarely happens in the UK. It appears that this new type of insurance could be aiming to change that.

“The scarcity of applications to the Courts (specifically in the UK) are born of the high cost and risk associated with issuing litigious proceedings. This is something that rights holders have been battling against for years, and the core of our involvement to date has been to fix this very problem,” Croucher notes.

One of the key business areas of Hatton and Berkeley appears to be the formation of companies and indeed, LLPs.

The idea of piracy insurance isn’t new. More than a decade ago, a Swedish company offered insurance to file-sharers for around $20 per year, in the event they were ever sued for copyright infringement. It wasn’t particularly popular, mainly because people didn’t think they were likely to be sued. Croucher seems to believe the new product can be more successful.

“This type of insurance (Before The Event / After The Event / Legal Expenses hybrid) shares lots of commonality with litigation funding, which is essentially what it is.

“Attritional loss models are quite common, this is however the first in the world market like this that targets torrent activity specifically and is leveraged to fund legal action at court, and of course covers any adverse risk of loss to the rights holder,” he concludes.

Whether this type of approach will prove attractive to rightsholders will remain to be seen, as will its effectiveness under pressure. On the other side, the best risk management strategy for current and future BitTorrent users is not to get monitored doing something illegal in the first place.

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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Some of these are free to use, but in most cases, permission from the creator is required to publish photos in public.

The same is true for images that float around on news sites or social networks. It’s easy to make a copy of a photo and use it elsewhere on the web but more often than not, people are not supposed to do so without permission.

This is a cause of frustration for many creators and some are now drawing the line. In the past, we have covered several lawsuits filed by photographers against major news outlets that use their work without permission, but there’s another development worth noting – Pixsy.

Pixsy offers a dedicated product that helps creators to find where their images are being copied without permission. Optionally, they can then request to send a takedown notice, or take it up a notch and demand compensation from the infringer, via email.

The artists see the images Pixsy finds and can ‘submit’ the infringing one for further action. The site will then take care of the rest and only gets paid if the artist gets paid too.

“Once submitted our expert case managers handle everything. From preparation to evidence collection, negotiation, settlements, and payouts,” Pixsy notes.

Fight image theft

Pixsy officially launched its services in 2014 and has already processed over 55,000 cases worldwide. The company doesn’t specify how many licensing demands have been sent, but they appear to be quite common.

The Internet is littered with mentions of these emails with varying demands. In some instances they’re asking for $750, but we’ve also seen $575 and various other figures floating around, also in pounds.

TorrentFreak spoke to a person who was recently targeted by a Pixsy license request. He prefers to remain anonymous, fearing more repercussions, but we’ll call him Frank. He was utterly surprised when the email came in.

“I had no idea you could get in trouble for taking a picture off Google search results,” Frank told us.

The trouble, in this case, refers to an email requesting hundreds of pounds in licensing fees. The email stresses that the creator of the image hasn’t given permission, and there’s an “evidence report” that summarizes the findings.

The licensing request doesn’t come without a proper stick, however, as Pixsy warns that legal action may follow if the demands are not met within a set deadline.

What’s next?

“In the event that resolution with a license fee is not possible, our next steps are to forward this matter to a legal partner in your local area to secure the highest fees recoverable for copyright infringement,” Pixsy writes.

“These fees include actual damages or statutory damages, and can include legal costs, expenses, costs affiliated with filing a lawsuit, and ensuing litigation.”

The image Frank used wasn’t an actual photograph but a mocked-up Photoshop image that appeared rather generic. When writing this article a reverse image search revealed that it appears on hundreds of sites.

Interestingly, none of the sites credit the author, nor could we find any way to officially license the image.

Despite the strong language, Frank tells us that he has no intention to pay. And he’s not the only one. The letters have been described as an “extortion scam” by some, and others note that the legal threat may not be as imminent as it seems.

That said, it’s no surprise if many of the recipients choose to pay the license fee (as this woman did), if only to get rid of the looming threat of things getting worse.

While not everyone agrees with the tactics, the scheme certainly is a wake-up call that people should not randomly use images they find online. Many creators who struggle dealing with copyright infringing also see it as a useful service.

TorrentFreak also spoke to Pixsy which informs us that they “fight image theft” with the help of 26 different legal partners across the world. They stress that their service doesn’t target all websites randomly. They pick selected targets which seem to be professional businesses, major publications, or government agencies.

In Frank’s case, the professional business was a blog that was set up a few months ago, offering a certain service. Not a typical company, but Pixsy presumably saw it as a legitimate target.

Our source had no experience with creating websites and maintains that he had no clue that the image he used required a license. To avoid confusion, he urges search engines to make this more clear going forward. Most mention that images “may” be copyrighted, but a starker warning could be appropriate.

While Frank doesn’t deny that creators of photos and other images should be able to protect their rights, he’s no fan of Pixsy’s model.

“I think their email threats come across as a scam or extortion. Only after googling Pixsy I could see that other people have run into them and their methods, and most call them copyright trolls.

“I’ve not replied to their emails as I’m hoping they’ll go away to catch bigger fish than little old me,” Frank adds.

Talking about bigger fish – Pixsy recently offered help to catch one.

The company reached out to photographer Sean Heavey who is currently suing Netflix for the infringing use of a photo. While Heavey didn’t use Pixsy to find the infringing use, the company referred him to a legal partner, and is helping him to track other infringers through their service.

“I now believe all photographers need to have a service such as Pixsy as part of their normal business plan,” Heavey told Alpha Universe.

“We have taken action on not only the Netflix case but others as well — some of which I knew about and others I discovered while using the Pixsy platform,” he adds.

We’re pretty sure Netflix won’t be able to make that go away for $750…

Whether any infringements found through Pixsy have ever resulted in full-blown lawsuits is unknown. The company informs us that it can’t provide exact numbers on licensing requests and legal cases.

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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The company has also argued the matter in court recently, after academic publisher Elsevier applied for an order to ban a series of domain names, including Sci-Hub.

Today, Bahnhof announced that it has been ordered to block the sites in question.

This is the worst possible outcome for Bahnhof. TorrentFreak spoke to CEO Jon Karlung who describes it as a “horrifying” decision that “goes against the soul of the Internet.”

The result, starting today, is that sci-hub.tw, sci-hub.mu, sci-hub.se, libgen.io, and several other domains are being blocked by the ISP. But Bahnhof wouldn’t be Bahnhof if it went down without a fight.

The company has no faith in an expensive appeal, which another ISP lost last year in a similar blocking case. However, it does have another ace up its sleeve. Now that they are blocking anyway, they can easily an extra domain name to make a point.

So, in addition, Bahnhof has gone ahead and banned its visitors from accessing the official Elsevier.com website as well. Elsevier wanted a site blockade – it now has one.

Visitors attempting to visit the domains now see a 90s style website explaining what’s going on, complete with an old dial-up tone in the background.

“Bahnhof opposes censorship in every way, shape and form, but it looks like we won’t be able to dodge Elsevier’s blocking requirement. That’s why we have placed this barrier in front of Elsevier’s website – to make sure that they themselves also get a taste of the blocking they’re currently evoking against others,” it reads.

Elsevier.com banned

The page goes on to explain what Elsevier is, making note of the controversy surrounding the company’s role in academic publishing. This is one of the reasons why the blocked “pirate” sites have become so popular.

Bahnhof’s CEO informs TorrentFreak that the company sees no point in appealing the case. The Patent and Market Court, which handles these matters, is made up of people who are biased towards copyright holders, he believes.

To make another point, the Internet provider also decided to send the court a message. Starting today, users of the court’s network can no longer access Bahnhof’s website.

“The computer or network you are using belongs to the Patent and Market Court and is therefore blocked from the domain bahnhof.se. You at the Patent and Market Court have recently decided that operators should block certain domains so their customers can no longer visit them,” the message reads.

Court banned

While the ISP is clearly disappointed with the court’s decision, it will not stop its protests. It may not be able to undo the blocking order but the company will continue to make its voice heard.

“Bahnhof has repeatedly demonstrated how copyright law is being abused and exploited by greedy opportunists, and in the end it is always ordinary people who have to pay,” Bahnhof notes.

“This page you’ve got before you right now is the result, this is what awaits in a future where private interests can regulate community information. Is our legal system really being used in this way?

The ISP also hopes that its subscribers will help with its efforts. On the blocking page it provides a form allowing them to send a letter to Justice Minister Morgan Johansson, to share their outrage.

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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Using software without an appropriate license ranges from flat-out simple to relatively complicated. In the case of unprotected software, users simply avoid paying for a license. When DRM techniques are deployed, so-called ‘cracks’ (software tools that circumvent restrictions) are the weapon of choice, activating full packages or upgrading limited demos.

In many cases, ‘cracked’ software works like the real deal. In this Internet-connected world, however, some software has the ability to ‘phone home’ to its creators. For those who don’t take precautions (with firewall rules or an isolated offline machine) unexpected consequences could be lying in wait.

This is the case for unauthorized users of software offered by Foundry. The creative minds behind graphics tools including the popular NUKE, Foundry reportedly supplies software to companies including Disney, Sony, and Blizzard. It does not like its software being pirated and is going to fairly extreme lengths to enforce its rights.

While many companies monitor torrent swarms for unauthorized sharing, it appears that Foundry prefers a more straightforward approach, by analyzing data sent back from the computers of alleged pirates and then making an approach, which includes an offer to settle for hard cash.

Unlike many file-sharing cases where copyright trolls demand a few hundred dollars, pounds, or euros to make a case disappear, Foundry demands much larger sums of money. Documents and emails reviewed by TorrentFreak reveal demands reaching multiple tens of thousands.

On top, Foundry also attempts to levy large fees to cover its “investigation costs”, meaning that companies and in some cases regular individuals face punishing bills for what they believed to be a free and consequence-free download.

For those who care to read it, Foundry’s EULA appears to cover end-user data harvesting.

“The Software may include mechanisms to collect limited information from Licensee’s computer(s) and transmit it to Foundry, including the ability to locally cache such information on Licensee’s computer,” the EULA reads.

“Such information (the ‘Information’) may include details of Licensee’s hardware, details of the operating system(s) in use on such hardware, the location of the Licensee’s computer(s) and the profile and extent of Licensee’s use of the different elements of the Software and other Foundry software.”

Crucially, the EULA (pdf) adds a clause which reads: “[Foundry may use the Information] to ensure that the usage of the Software by Licensee is in accordance with the Agreement and does not exceed any user number or other limits on its use.”

EULA for Foundry products authorizes ‘snooping’

While some people are ignoring Foundry’s emails, others who do respond appear to trigger a kind of ‘fishing’ exercise. Foundry licensing compliance officers ask respondents to provide additional details such as IP and MAC addresses of their own machines, apparently to “eliminate people” from their inquiries.

Precisely why this information should be provided isn’t made clear but it at least seems possible that Foundry is making an assessment whether software could have been used by an outsider, perhaps utilizing an individual’s WiFi connection without their knowledge.

In at least some cases, Foundry appears able to connect the dots when a company or individual has a licensed product and then uses an unlicensed one too. Documents obtained by TorrentFreak shine light on the Foundry system, which appears to log instances of infringement, such as how many times a piece of ‘cracked’ or otherwise unlicensed software has been used.

While companies should always take care to ensure their software is licensed, TF has also spoken with private individuals caught up in the sweep who do not have the means to pay the huge sums of money demanded by Foundry. The company seems to presume that all uses of its software are of a commercial nature, something which could aggravate the scale of the settlement demanded.

TorrentFreak asked Foundry to contribute to this article by explaining a little about why they choose to use this system of monitoring and settlements. At the time of publication, the company had not responded, other than to acknowledge receipt of our questions.

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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The situation was serious, with Yandex facing blocking by all of the country’s Internet service providers. Yandex eventually complied with the demands and avoided a catastrophe but it seemed clear that moving forward, something would have to be done.

Local telecoms watchdog and defacto mediator Roscomnadzor said the solution could be found in a voluntary agreement between the country’s largest tech platforms and rightsholders. To that end, a meeting took place September 19 between the parties at Roscomnadzor headquarters.

While discussions had been underway for months, things appear to move pretty quickly in Russia. Earlier this week, the deputy of Roscomnadzor announced that a memorandum of cooperation between search engines and copyright holders “to combat the proliferation of pirated content” would be signed today in Moscow.

A few minutes ago that event took place, with Channel One, the National Media Group, Gazprom-Media, the Internet Video Association, the Association of Film and Television Producers, Yandex, Rambler Group, Mail.Ru Group, vKontakte, and RuTube signing up. Google did not immediately sign, in part because it already follows the requirements of the DMCA.

Details made available so far indicate that within three weeks, a Roscomnadzor-maintained database will be created and populated with links to sites that the entertainment industry groups claim are infringing their intellectual property rights.

Then, every five minutes, the operators of search platforms will be required to query the database to obtain updates. Within six hours, infringing URLs will have to be removed from search results visible in Russia. In addition, signatories that host video content (Yandex.video and RuTube, for example) will have to remove pirated content from their platforms.

In the period before the database is established, Internet companies will remove pirate content within 24 hours following a request. The approach is similar to the requirements of the DMCA in the United States and is currently followed by both Google and Mail.ru.

If a dispute arises between the signatories, the aim is to reach a negotiated agreement with the assistance of Roscomnadzor. If problems aren’t solved within a month, the aggrieved parties can either fight things out in court or remove themselves from the memorandum.

The memorandum will be valid until September 1, 2019. By this time, the signatories expect that Russian anti-piracy legislation will have been amended to encompass the terms of the agreement.

After first making a successful application to Roscomnadzor, it’s hoped that other rightsholders and tech companies will sign the memorandum. Google is expected to enter into talks during the coming month, with a view to joining.

Alexander Zharov, head of Roskomnadzor, welcomed today’s agreement.

“As a result of quite a lot of work, we have arrived at a historic moment when both content producers and content distributors unite their efforts in the fight against piracy,” Zharov said.

“As a result of this work, the [Russian Internet] will become the cleanest space for piracy in the world.”

A couple of the signatories to the memorandum show that lines between rightsholders and Internet companies can be blurred. Movie portal Kinopoisk signed on the side of the rightsholders, yet is owned by Yandex. RuTube, which is a YouTube-like video platform, signed on the side of the tech companies. It is co-owned by Gazprom-Media.

While the agreement is a welcome achievement for rightsholders in the video field, some companies will be missing out. Book publishers reportedly took no part in the negotiations preceding today’s signing, so will not initially benefit from the agreement.

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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