Paradox

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  3. The Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment, the global anti-piracy coalition compromised of Hollywood, Amazon, Netflix and dozens of other companies, is taking a close interest in pirate IPTV services. As a result, the MPAA is now in control of the domains of at least three former providers, presumably following agreements with their operators. Unlicensed IPTV services have been running for many years, offering thousands of otherwise premium channels to consumers for a fraction of their market price. As recently as three years ago such services received little mainstream attention. However, the rise of piracy-focused Kodi add-ons has encouraged countless thousands of pirates to take a step up to sample the experience of a more reliable and generally higher-quality ‘pirate’ service. This rising popularity, which is inextricably linked to large volumes of people looking to stream live content, is being met with increasing resistance by anti-piracy groups. One of the main players is the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE), a global anti-piracy coalition headed up by Hollywood, Netflix, Amazon, and dozens of other huge media companies. Back in May, we reported how the domain of OneStepTV, a former ‘pirate’ IPTV provider, had been taken over by ACE and the MPAA. No official details have been made available by ACE but it seems likely there may have been some kind of cease-and-desist agreement reached with its operator. We can now report that further domains have also been scooped up. After being registered in September 2017, TVStreamsNow.com acted as the portal to another ‘pirate’ IPTV service. Offering more than 500 channels for ‘just’ $25 per month, the service gained traction among users who perhaps didn’t realize that superior products are available for far less. TVStreamsNow.com before the takeover While many customers would have enjoyed the content on offer, this ‘bargain’ would eventually come to an end. A couple of months ago the service disappeared after telling customers via email that another domain would be handling their transactions in the future. It’s unclear whether that shift ever took place but there is clear evidence that the original domain is now in the hands of ACE members. Not only does it redirect to the official ACE website, but WHOIS details also reveal the domain is now controlled by the MPAA. Another ACE victim can be found when visiting DoozerIPTV.com. As the image below shows, the platform offered “all the content you could ever want” while “eliminating extortionate monthly bills and contractual agreements.” DoozerIPTV – how it used to look Unfortunately for its former operators, DoozerIPTV no longer offers these services, at least from this domain. After being registered in July 2018, last month it appears to have been taken over by the MPAA. It currently redirects to the Alliance’s website like the other domains, along with a message that it’s no longer available “due to copyright infringement.” Quite how many more of these takeovers have taken place isn’t clear. However, it seems likely that these three services won’t be the last to hand their domains to the MPAA following threats from the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment.
  4. Following the surprise shutdown of the Supremacy kodi add-on repository on June 13, TorrentFreak can today confirm that its operator was indeed targeted by UK police. The decision to report the case to law enforcement was taken by the Federation Against Copyright Theft in association with the Premier League, Sky, BT Sport, and Virgin Media. On June 13, 2019, the Covert Development and Disruption Team of the UK’s North West Regional Organised Crime Unit arrested an individual said to be responsible for an allegedly-infringing Kodi add-on. The unit revealed that the 40-year-old man was detained in Winsford, Cheshire, following an investigation in cooperation with the Federation Against Copyright Theft. The add-on was unnamed but was reportedly configured to supply illegal online streams. When TorrentFreak tried to fill in the gaps, considerable circumstantial evidence pointed to the likelihood that the arrested man was connected to the Supremacy add-on repository. Today we are in a position to confirm that belief following discussion with FACT director general Kieron Sharp. Since there are limitations on what can be discussed when a case is ongoing, we asked Sharp why the matter had been referred to the authorities. There have been numerous instances of add-on developers in the UK being served with private cease-and-desist notices so why was this case different and why did it warrant an organized crime unit getting involved? “This was a decision taken by FACT who advised rights holders such as PL [Premier League], Sky, BT Sport and VM [Virgin Media] that police action was the most proportionate response to the level of damage and harm that was being caused by these entities,” Sharp explains. “Other industry groups have used different tactics which are reasonable in certain circumstances, but FACT have the partnerships in LEA’s [law enforcement agencies] to enable this type of action to be considered.” Sharp says that when FACT presented its evidence to the police, they considered the case serious enough to take action, which resulted in the individual operating as ‘Supremacy’ being arrested. FACT’s director general rejects the notion that handing a case over to the police is the easy option, insisting that a referral to the authorities requires that an investigation takes place to particular standards. “To get any LEA to act in these matters requires a high level of evidence. Given the pressure on LEA resources and many other priorities, FACT are very careful in which cases they will approach LEA’s with and have many other strategies for disrupting illegal activity which are used constantly,” Sharp says. In the wake of the arrest, several other Kodi add-on repositories shut down, presumably due to fears of similar action. This hasn’t gone unnoticed by FACT, with Sharp noting that several strategies to disrupt piracy are deployed with the results taken on board. “t would appear, from their own comments, that the action has panicked the others. This is not uncommon but more often seen after a criminal conviction. It shows that action needs to be taken and that it can have an impact on the piracy problem. There is no one solution so a range of tactics have to be tried and implemented and the outcomes monitored,” Sharp concludes. There can be little doubt that the involvement of the police in the shutdown of a Kodi repository and associated add-ons is somewhat of a game-changer in the UK. Where once a sternly-worded letter may have been a warning sign, there is now a worrying precedent for those engaged in similar activity. What the final charges will be in this case, if any, remain unclear. However, FACT has a history of pursuing convictions under the Fraud Act, which can carry harsher sentences than those actioned under copyright law.
  5. Cybercrime police from Bulgaria's Ministry of the Interior supported by officers from Europol have carried out an operation against five local cable operators accused of illegally intercepting broadcasts. The signals were being captured for distribution worldwide via IPTV applications. A large volume of equipment has been seized. With pirate IPTV services continuing to gain traction around the world, moves to undermine their businesses are on the increase. Many publicized enforcement actions feature IPTV providers and their resellers but news coming out of Bulgaria indicates that a player higher up the chain has been targeted by authorities. Cybercrime officers from an anti-organized crime unit of the Ministry of the Interior have targeted five cable operators accused of intercepting and rebroadcasting foreign and local channels without permission from the rightsholders. Supported by Europol’s Intellectual Property Crime Coordinated Coalition (IPC3) and the Audiovisual Anti-Piracy Alliance (AAPA), the operation is said to have taken down a pirate IPTV service with an estimated 700,000 worldwide subscribers. Authorities say that following the raids across eight cities in Bulgaria, all of the hardware used in the operation was seized, including the servers that were used to provide content to the IPTV provider’s mobile applications. Images from the raids (Credit: Ministry of the Interior) According to the Ministry of the Interior, permission for the raids was obtained from several district courts. Eight teams were formed which carried out simultaneous actions on offices and other premises targeting technical equipment used by the cable operators. Several TV companies are reported to have suffered damage from the alleged intellectual property offenses, including private national broadcasting channel bTV, local TV network Nova, and US cable and satellite network HBO. The Ministry of the Interior reports that intellectual property crimes have caused damage to the country’s reputation overseas. Indeed, the USTR called out Bulgaria in its latest Special 301 Report, noting that “online and broadcast piracy remains a challenging copyright enforcement issue” in the country. A full investigation is underway in respect of intellectual property violations but the government says that alongside it will be looking for evidence of tax evasion. Moving forward, regular checks will be carried out at all cable operators, with those suspected of illegal activity treated as a priority.
  6. Video streaming service VidAngel, which allows users to filter objectionable content from movies and TV-shows, has to pay $62.4 million to Disney and Warner Bros. The company is liable for copyright infringement after it streamed movies without permission of the rightsholders. In addition, it violated the DMCA's anti-circumvention provision, by ripping DVDs. Founded in 2013, Utah-based startup VidAngelentered the video streaming market with a rather innovative business model. The company allowed its users to rent popular movies and TV-shows, with the option to filter out violence, sex, profanity, and other objectionable content. While there was plenty of demand for the service, it operated without permission from the major movie studios. Instead, the company acquired DVDs, which it would then rip using AnyDVD, so they could be streamed online. Users interested in a movie were able to rent it for $20, and then sell it back after a day for $19. This made rentals as cheap as $1 per streamed movie, effectively beating all legal competitors. VidAngel made sure that it would have physical DVDs in its archive for all movies and TV-shows that were rented out at any given time. This resulted in a rather extensive library of duplicate discs, as the massive collection of “The Revenant” DVDs below shows. “Thousands” of The Revenant DVDs (credit: VidAngel) After operating its service for a few months, VidAngel drew the attention of several major movie studios including Disney and Warner Bros. In 2016, they teamed up to file a lawsuit against VidAngel, accusing it of copyright infringement and violating the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provision. “VidAngel does not have permission to copy Plaintiffs’ movies and television shows or to stream them to VidAngel’s users,” the studios’ complaint read. “Instead, VidAngel appears to circumvent the technological protection measures on DVDs and Blu-ray discs to create unauthorized copies and then uses those copies to stream Plaintiffs’ works to the public without authorization.” VidAngel was convinced, however, that its business was legal. It argued that it was protected by the Family Movie Act, which allows consumers to skip objectionable movie content without committing copyright infringement. The movie studios disagreed and earlier this year were backed by the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. The Court granted summary judgment, ruling that VidAngel is liable for violating the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provision and committing copyright infringement. The only question that remained was the scale of the damages. This was determined yesterday, following a multi-day trial where the jury concluded that a $62.4 million damages award was appropriate. The bulk of the damages, $61.4 million, is for copyright infringement. With 819 titles mentioned in the suit, this amounts to $75,000 per infringed work, half of the maximum statutory damages. The additional million in damages is for circumventing the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provisions by ripping the DVDs. This cost VidAngel $1,250 per title. The movie studios are happy with the outcome. In a joint statement, they state that it sends a clear message to others who might consider operating a similar service. “The jury today found that VidAngel acted willfully, and imposed a damages award that sends a clear message to others who would attempt to profit from unlawful infringing conduct at the expense of the creative community,” the studios note. VidAngel, however, vows to fight on and is likely to appeal the case. “We find today’s ruling unfortunate, but it has not lessened our resolve to save filtering for families. VidAngel plans to appeal the District Court ruling, and explore options in the bankruptcy court. “Our court system has checks and balances, and we are pursuing options on that front as well,” VidAngel CEO Neal Harmon adds. As KSL’s excellent timeline shows, VidAngel filed for bankruptcy in 2017 to protect itself from the lawsuit. However, the company isn’t going anywhere just yet. VidAngel’s original video streaming operation was shut down following a permanent injunction, but it later introduced a new service that allows users to “filter” Netflix, HBO and Amazon content for a fixed monthly subscription.
  7. SET TV, which stands accused of selling pirate IPTV subscriptions, has stopped responding in the lawsuit filed against the company by several Hollywood studios, Amazon, and Netflix. The company's lawyer has also withdrawn from the case due to a lack of payments and the company is now in default, facing hefty damages. Last year the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment, the global anti-piracy alliance featuring several Hollywood studios, Amazon, Netflix, and other entertainment companies, sued Florida-based SET Broadcast, LLC. The company offered a popular software-based IPTV service and also sold pre-loaded set-top boxes. While it was marketed as a legal service, according to the ACE members, Set TV’ssoftware was little more than a pirate tool, allowing buyers to stream copyright-infringing content. “Defendants market and sell subscriptions to ‘Setvnow,’ a software application that Defendants urge their customers to use as a tool for the mass infringement of Plaintiffs’ copyrighted motion pictures and television shows,” the complaint read. The ACE members were not the only rightsholders that complained. June last year Dish Network tagged on with another copyright infringement lawsuit against the company, and soon after, the IPTV service went offline. This was a blow to SET TV’s more than 180,000 subscribers and the company itself was hit hard as well. Last November it reached a settlement with Dish, agreeing to pay more than $90 million in damages and sign over its domain name. The case against ACE is not over yet though. Over the past months, it moved into the discovery phase and the copyright holders requested to depose owner SET TV owner Jason Labossiere and its employee Nelson Johnson, who are both listed as defendants. However, both parties failed to respond, as did SET TV as a company. Meanwhile, the relationship with their attorney Joseph Shapiro also went south. Outstanding invoices were left unpaid which prompted Shapiro to withdraw from the case. “Defendants have not paid invoices for attorney fees for more than five months and are unwilling to make any payment at this time or to commit to any payment plan,” the court was informed. “Additionally, relations between Defendants and Mr. Shapiro have degraded such that it is no longer feasible for Mr. Shapiro to represent Defendants in this case.” In April the court agreed to remove the attorney from the case, instructing SET TV to find new counsel. Despite this clear instruction from the court, none of the defendants responded. This left the ACE members with few other options than to request an entry of defaultagainst Set Broadcast. This was entered by a court clerk a few days ago, and if the company remains dark, it will likely lose the case. Now that the company is in default the copyright holders will likely submit a motion for a default judgment, proposing what they believe is an appropriate damages amount. This will likely amount to millions of dollars. Considering the earlier $90 million settlement with Dish, it’s doubtful that there is any money left to take.
  8. The mysterious blocking efforts of popular file-hosting service Zippyshare continue to expand. After UK and German users were 'forbidden' from accessing the site, Spanish visitors are now getting the same treatment. The operators of the site, meanwhile, remain silent. Founded in 2006, file-hosting service Zippyshare has been around for well over a decade. The sharing hub, with an estimated 100 million users, is listed among the 500 most-visited sites on the Internet. However, in recent months Zippyshare began selectively closing its doors in several regions. In March we reported that UK visitors had been blocked, and a few weeks later German visitors got the same treatment. Instead of being welcomed by the regular homepage, they see a “forbidden” error in their browser, suggesting that the operators have specifically banned these regions. Forbidden! This month Zippyshare’s mysterious blocking efforts expanded to Spain. Visitors from Southern European countries, or anyone who accesses the site from a Spanish IP-address, can no longer access the site. The error message doesn’t explain what’s going on which has resulted in some simply presuming that the site has shut down, voluntarily or not. That’s certainly not the case though. Dead? Others believe Zippyshare is blocked or banned in Spain, noting that it can still be accessed through a French VPN server. Banned? While that’s closer to the truth, the site isn’t being blocked by ISPs. On the contrary, it appears that Zippyshare is responsible for the blocking here. For some reason, people from the UK, Germany, and Spain are no longer welcome. We tried to get a comment from the site’s operators this week but have yet to receive a response. Our previous inquiries also remained unanswered. One likely explanation is that Zippyshare took this step after some kind of legal pressure. It wouldn’t be the first time that a website has done this. Previously, several stream-rippers also blocked UK traffic, presumably over similar concerns. While we’re not aware of any concrete legal issues, the RIAA did report Zippyshare as a ‘notorious’ pirate site to the US Trade Representative late last year. That said, the site remains freely available in the US. Whatever the reason for or source of the localized blockade is, people can always find a workaround. The site can still be accessed through a VPN, as long as it’s not from a server in one of the blocked countries.
  9. The RIAA appears to be stepping up its campaign against sites offering features to rip content from YouTube. The music industry group has obtained permission from the court to force Cloudflare to unmask the operators of at least 14 new platforms, a handful of which appear to be straightforward pirate sites. For some time, the world’s leading record labels have complained that YouTube doesn’t pay the going rate for musical content streamed to its users. However, when consumers use so-called YouTube-ripping sites to obtain content, it’s claimed that the position worsens. By obtaining music in this fashion, users are able to keep local libraries which further deplete YouTube hits and by extension, revenue generated by the labels. To plug this hole, the RIAA is working to identify the operators of leading YouTube-ripping platforms. Via DMCA subpoenas, the industry group has been forcing CDN service Cloudflare and domain registries such as NameCheap to hand over the personal details of the people behind these tools. Two new DMCA subpoenas, obtained by the RIAA in recent days, reveal an apparent escalation in this activity. Mainly targeting Cloudflare but in one instance also NameCheap, the RIAA demands private information relating to several sites. 10Convert.com With around two million visitors per month (SimilarWeb stats), this platform has a prime focus on YouTube-ripping. The majority of its traffic comes from Brazil (69%), with the United States accounting for a little over 2% of its users. Amoyshare.com Enjoying around 4.6m visits per month with most of its visitors coming from the United States (15%), this platform’s focus is offering downloadable tools that enable users to grab videos and music from a wide range of platforms. However, Amoyshare also offers “AnyUTube”, an online converter which is the element the RIAA is complaining about. Anything2MP3.cc This site, which enjoys a relatively low 300,000 visits per month, appears to be dual-use. While it is possible to download content from YouTube, Anything2MP3 also offers users the ability to convert their own audio files in the browser. IMP3Juices.com With around six million visits per month, this platform is one of the more popular ones targeted by the RIAA. Around 12.5% of the site’s traffic comes from Italy, with the US following behind with just under 10%. The site functions like a ‘pirate’ download portal, with users able to search for artists and download tracks. However, the RIAA provides a URL which reveals that the site also has a YouTube to MP4 conversion feature. Indeed, it seems possible that much of the site’s content is obtained from YouTube. BigConverter.com Down at the time of writing, possibly as a result of the subpoena, this site offered downloading functionality for a range of sites, from YouTube and Facebook through to Twitter, Vimeo, Vevo, Instagram, Dailymotion, Metacafe, VK, AOL, GoogleDrive and Soundcloud. YouTubeMP4.to Enjoying around 7.7 million visits per month, YouTubeMP4.to is a straightforward YouTube video downloader. Almost 23% of its traffic comes from the United States with the UK just behind at close to 11%. QDownloader.net This platform has perhaps the most comprehensive offering of those targeted. It claims to be able to download content from 800 sites, of which YouTube is just one. With more than 12 million visits per month, it’s not difficult to see why QDownloader has made it onto the RIAA’s hit list. GenYouTube.net Another big one, this multi-site downloader platform attracts around seven million visits per month. The majority of its traffic comes from India (14%), with the United States following behind with around 12%. Break.TV For reasons that aren’t immediately clear, YouTube and SoundCloud downloader Break.TV has lost a lot of its monthly traffic since late 2018. From a high edging towards three million visits per month, it now enjoys just over 1.6 million. Interestingly the site says it must only be used to obtain Creative Commons licensed material. MP3XD.com In common with IMP3Juices.com, MP3XD.com appears to be focused on offering pirate MP3 downloads rather than straightforward ripping services. However, its content does appear to have been culled from YouTube. Given that it defaults to Spanish, it seems to target Latin America. Indeed, with close to 10 million visits per month, almost a third hail from Mexico, with Venezuela and Argentina following behind. DL-YouTube-MP3.net This platform is a straightforward YouTube-ripping site, offering downloads of both video and audio content. It is one of the lower-trafficked sites on the list, with around 870,000 visits per month with most of its traffic (38%) coming from France. ConvertBox.net With around 150,000 visits, ConvertBox is the smallest platform targeted by the RIAA in this batch. It offers conversion features for YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, and SoundCloud via its website and mobile apps. Around a fifth of its traffic comes from France. Downloaders.io Another multi-downloader, Downloaders.io offers tools to rip content from a number of platforms, YouTube included. It’s traffic has been up and down since the start of the year but has averaged around 200K visits per month. Close to 30% of traffic hails from the United States. Hexupload.net A relative newcomer, this site doesn’t appear to fit into the ripping or general pirate site niche. Down at the time of writing, this 270,000 visit per month platform appears to have acted as a file upload site, from which users could generate revenue per download. Cloudflare and NameCheap will now be required to hand over the personal details they have on the users behind all of these sites. As usual, that will include names, addresses, IP addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, and more. It isn’t clear what the RIAA has planned for these platforms but since the request was made by the group’s Vice-President Online Piracy, it doesn’t take much imagination to come up with a few ideas. This latest move by the RIAA follows similar action against several other sites detailed in our earlier reports (1,2,3). The RIAA’s letters to Cloudflare and NameCheap can be found here and here.
  10. Leading Kodi add-on resource TVAddons has gone through some rough times in recent years. The site's founder was sued in the US and Canada, but despite the legal pressure, it remains online today. While some expected the 'cleaned up' addon repository to languish, it still 'serves' millions of people per month. Dedicated streaming set-top boxes, many of which are running on Kodi, have become increasingly popular over the past several years. The Kodi software itself is perfectly legal, but many third-party add-ons complement it to offer access to pirated movies, TV-shows, and live-streaming. These ‘pirate’ add-ons can be found on a variety of sites and resources. Some are blatantly offering infringing content, but it’s not always clear what’s permitted and what’s not. TVAddons, a popular repository of third-party Kodi add-ons, learned this the hard way. Previously the site used to offer many problematic add-ons. This lead to lawsuits in both the US and Canada, after which the company cleaned up its site and tightened its policies. When the site returned, during the summer of 2017, it had to start from scratch. Since some of the most popular add-ons were removed, many people thought, or even hoped, that the comeback would be destined to fail. However, this is not the case. New statistics released by TVAddons show that its repository is still widely used. “There are many groups that wish to see TV ADDONS die. They include Hollywood, copyright bullies, preloaded box sellers, paid IPTV sellers, Kodi ‘blogs,’ and probably cyber-lockers too. They’d be free to continue their profit-seeking, without us getting in the way,” TVAddons says. “Unfortunately for the haters, we aren’t going anywhere. We continue to grow, maintaining a healthy number of daily active users.” The site revealed its most recent ‘visitor’ statistics for May. These are not site visits, but the number of connections that ping TVAddons servers by using its add-ons. Last month, TVAddons received up to 1.76 million unique calls to its update server per day, and over 14 million for the entire month. This means that every 24 hours, roughly one-and-a-half million ‘Kodi boxes’ with their add-ons are online, checking for updates. TVAddons repo stats for May 2019 These numbers are indeed quite significant. However, what TVAddons doesn’t mention is that they are down quite a bit compared to a few years ago, before the legal trouble started. During September 2016, TVAddons had roughly 24.7 million users a month and a rough average of 5.6 million per day. This shows that daily usage has dropped significantly. The number of website visits also shows a downward trend, although that’s never been very high. According to the TVAddons team, this is in part due to the removal of the old add-on library. “We lost website ranking when we upgraded our site, because our old add-on library is down which had over 800 pages in it. We have the new and hugely upgraded version almost ready to go public,” TVAddons informs TorrentFreak. It is clear, however, that TVAddons isn’t done yet. Since the legal trouble started it has settled its U.S. lawsuit with Dish. However, the Canadian lawsuit through which the repository lost its old domain, remains ongoing. That lawsuit is not a threat to the current site, according to TVAddons. The suit in question targets TVAddons’ founder Adam Lackman who has since distanced himself from the Kodi-addon repository. “There’s no update on the Canadian lawsuit yet, but it’s really Adam Lackman’s personal problem at this point. We continue to support him as much as we possibly can, but his lawsuit has no bearing on our community,” TVAddons says. While there are no official figures available, the interest in Kodi, in general, appears to be waning. Traffic to the official Kodi site is dropping and the number of Kodi searches on Google is on a downward spiral too.
  11. Publishing giant Shogakukan has obtained a DMCA subpoena compelling YouTube to hand over the personal details of several alleged manga pirates, including their names, addresses, IP logs, and financial information. However, significant details in the subpoena could have even broader consequences. Users of YouTube upload millions of pieces of content to the platform every month, much of it without incident or irritation to third-parties. However, there are those who upload copyright content, most of it music and videos, that infringe on the rights of the original owners. When that happens, copyright holders can file claims with YouTube to have the content removed, via the platform’s Content ID system or by filing a manual claim. Users are generally aware that these complaints have the potential to lead to a ‘strike’ against their accounts but a publishing giant in Japan seems to want to take things much further. Founded in 1922, Shogakukan Inc. is one of Japan’s largest publishers offering more than 60 magazines, 8,000 books, and 13,000 manga titles (comics/graphic novels), to name a few. It’s also part owner of Viz Media, the largest publisher of comic books and graphic novels in the United States. Shogakukan’s manga publications are often pirated in digital formats (PDF documents, for example) but they also get uploaded to YouTube. These take the form of videos, often set to music, featuring static views of the pages of each title, timed for easy reading. YouTube users who uploaded the company’s content in this fashion now need to look over their shoulders. On May 24, lawyers acting for Shogakukan requested a DMCA subpoena at a California district court to help it identify several YouTube channel operators who allegedly uploaded images of the company’s content. DMCA subpoenas are not reviewed by a judge and only require a signature from a court clerk. As a result, Shogakukan may shortly be in receipt of some very sensitive information, at least according to its letter to YouTube. In addition to requiring YouTube to disable access to the infringing works as listed by the publisher, the Google-owned video platform must also hand over the personal details of several channel operators identified as LNDA, Kile Russo, Anime FightClub, and Optimistic Neko, among others. The subpoena requires YouTube to hand over information it holds on the alleged infringers “from the time of user registration with any and all of the Infringer’s Accounts”, including names, addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, IP address logs, account and credit card numbers and the names of financial institutions connected to them. According to the subpoena, the information above shall be obtained “from any and all sources” including YouTube accounts, Google AdSense accounts, “or any other service accounts(s) registered with or linked to the infringer’s account” with YouTube. Interestingly, however, the term “infringer” appears to apply to a broader range of YouTube users than just the handful of individuals listed in the subpoena. The letter contains a list of Shogakukan works and then states that, in addition to the named channels/users, YouTube must hand over the details of “any other users registered with www.youtube.com who uploaded and/or posted any Infringing Work specified under the column entitled as “Infringing Work” in Exhibit A.” Exhibit A (DMCA subpoena to YouTube) Given the broad nature of the subpoena, it seems that YouTube is not only being asked to provide targeted information but is also required to work pro-actively by searching for the content in question and then handing over the personal details of anyone who may have uploaded it. While the DMCA subpoena process may be quick, a judge’s experience might have proven valuable in this case, given its potential scope. The subpoena and associated documents can be found here (1,2)
  12. A new reported agreement between the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice brings the threat of antitrust action a bit closer to reality. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg appears before a Senate hearing about privacy and election meddling on Capitol Hill on April 11, 2018.David Butow / for NBC News file June 3, 2019, 12:33 PM EDT / Source: CNBC.com By Lauren Feiner, CNBC and Sara Salinas, CNBC Shares of leading tech giants slid Monday on reports that antitrust regulators are taking steps that could lead to greater oversight. Shares of Amazon fell more than 4 percent Monday following a Washington Post report that the top U.S. antitrust enforcement agencies have a new agreement over tech oversight. The drop shaved about $35 billion from its market cap, bringing it to $839 billion. Shares of Facebook were down Monday morning, but slid even further after The Wall Street Journal reported that the FTC will be able to examine the effect of Facebook’s practices on digital competition. View image on Twitter 104 people are talking about this Twitter Ads info and privacy The stock closed the day down 7.5 percent following the report, shaving more than $33 billion from its market cap and bringing it to about $472 billion. Facebook is already under investigation by the FTC over its handling of user data and has said it is expecting a fine of up to $5 billion. Shares of Google parent company Alphabet finished the day down more than 6 percent after The Wall Street Journalreported the Justice Department is readying an antitrust investigation. The stock lost about $47 billion from its market cap, bringing it to around $721 billion. Apple also declined on Monday after Reuters reported the Justice Department has been given jurisdiction to probe the company’s practices as part of a broad review into potential anti-competitive behavior among big tech companies. The stock dropped about 1 percent following the report, after trading higher earlier in the day. Apple and CEO Tim Cook are presenting updates to the company’s central software at the annual Worldwide Developers Conference. Antitrust regulation has remained a distant threat in recent years as scandals like Cambridge Analytica brought the scale of tech power into focus for the public. In the lead up to the 2020 presidential election, “break up big tech” has become a rallying cry for some, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. But a new reported agreement between the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice brings that threat a bit closer to reality. The FTC will take the lead on oversight of Amazon, which the DOJ will have greater jurisdiction over Google, according to the Post. The FTC previously closed an investigation of Google without taking action, but now the DOJ will take another look into Google’s practices in search and other areas, according to the Journal. Lauren Feiner, CNBC Sara Salinas, CNBC
  13. A veteran uploader of cracked software to sites like The Pirate Bay and 1337x says that nine years of uploads have resulted in millions of downloads. 'Thumper' began on TPB in April 2010, later achieving 'Trusted Uploader" status. The motivation? "Sharing is Caring," she insists. Probably not Thumper Every week, millions of pirates head off to popular torrent sites for their software fix. Whether they’re looking for the latest operating systems, graphics tools, or DVD/Blu-ray burning software, most things are available for free download. What most people never question is why these tools are available for free and indeed, who puts them online. Today we can put a little meat on those bones. We recently spoke with Thumper, aka ThumperTM, one of the longest-standing uploaders on public torrent sites like The Pirate Bay and 1337x. But this isn’t just any uploader. Thumper is responsible for almost 1,000 torrent uploads over the past nine years, leading to millions of downloads across the Internet. Thumper identifies as female (impossible to confirm, but we’ll proceed on that basis) and sports the profile picture as seen top right. It’s an image used by many Internet users so probably isn’t an accurate depiction. Thumper also claims to be from Switzerland but in this game, such ‘facts’ should be taken with a pinch of salt alongside a knowingly obvious nod to security. What cannot be denied, however, is the popularity of Thumper’s torrents. If we take her Microsoft Office Pro Plus 2016 release as an example, that has received more than 801,000 downloads on 1337x alone. 801,864 downloads on 1337x alone “This torrent has been download a few million times from all sites, because Office is one of the must-have programs for most of us,” Thumper informs TF. Of course, not all torrents are this popular but Thumper’s history goes back around 14 years, when torrents weren’t even a priority for her. Things began on so-called “one-click” hosting sites in 2005, with a progression to torrents in 2007. “I started uploading torrents at H33t, Demonoid, 1337x, ThePirateBay, and RARBG. Then I started my own site in 2010 (ThumperDC.com and TechTools.NET). Now all of those sites redirect to our legit Windows forum, TheWindowsForum.com,” she explains. Over the past 12 years, Thumper’s torrents (mainly Windows software uploads) have spread far and wide. She has been uploading on The Pirate Bay since April 2010 and on that site alone has a confirmed 946 torrents, as the private user panel screenshot below shows. 946 torrents at the time of writing The Pirate Bay is obviously a very high-profile site but Thumper is a bit of a celebrity elsewhere too. More than nine years ago she joined 1337x and for the last eight has been a trusted moderator there. In the interim, Thumper was also an uploader at the now-defunct original KickassTorrents, but still continues over at that platform’s namesake, KATCR. Uploading and seeding so many torrents is a big undertaking, especially over a large number of years. There’s also a bit of a stigma attached to software uploads because unlike movies and TV shows, they have the potential to contain a virus or malware. However, since reputations can be gone in a flash if an uploader lets something nefarious slip through the net, Thumper says that precautions are carried out in advance. Most uploaded software is obtained from friendly crackers (people who remove copy protection) before being run through a virtual machine and then scanned for viruses. Only then is it uploaded. This perhaps contributed to Thumper earning a “green skull” from The Pirate Bay team around 2011, which is a small logo next to a user name which informs potential downloaders that while releases aren’t guaranteed to be flawless, they are more trusted than others without. This is particularly important when one considers that people sometimes try to masquerade as Thumper in order to gain traction. We independently confirmed her status on one of the torrent sites she uploads to but most people don’t have that luxury so should proceed with caution when seeing her ‘brand’ online. “The Pirate Bay has a ton of fake uploads lately, even some of them are infected and uploaded by other users with our tag ‘Windows app name v1.0 [ThumperDC] or [TechTools] or [TheWindowsForum]’, for example,” Thumper explains. “1337x has other rules for new uploaders, you must apply for uploader status, then we review and decide if x_User is legit. People should always use torrent sites which are safe: 1337x, TPB, KATCR, RARBG, or TorrentGalaxy. And make sure to download from trusted uploaders.” Finally, one of the biggest questions is why someone like Thumper keeps releasing torrent after torrent, year after year. What’s in it for her? Each release does contain links to her own site (which now specializes in discussions and technical support for Windows software), so there’s obviously some benefit there. However, she insists that this isn’t the main motivation. “Sharing is caring,” she concludes, citing the years-old ‘pirate’ mantra.