Tag: pirate

Romans declare piracy sites legal

After years of backing the sinking of pirate content websites, the Roman Court of Appeal has overturned a 600,000 euro ruling against four unlicensed sites that offered streaming movies to the public.

For those who came in late, the ruling is unexpected.  Italian courts have passed down many decisions against unlicensed sites which have seen hundreds blocked by ISPs.

But now the Court of Appeal has defined a pirate site in a way which makes it difficult for shedloads of them to be shut down on the basis of a stiff letter coming from Big Content..

In 2015 when the operator of four sites that linked to pirated movies was found guilty of copyright infringement by a local court and ordered to pay more almost 600,000 in fines and costs. As a result, filmakers.biz, filmaker.me, filmakerz.org, and cineteka.org all shutdown.

However, an appeal was filed and heard by the Rome Court of Appeal in February. The site’s lawyer Fulvio Sarzana said that the Court ruled that the links do not qualify as distributing files protected by copyright law.

This means that sites can list links and not be prosecuted.

“The Judge has recognized as lawful the portals’ activities, and this is despite the presence of advertising banners,” Sarzana says.

It is no longer enough to simply show that the ‘pirate’ site generates income. The prosecution must show that profit activity is connected to an individual.

If it fails, the sharing aspect could be considered as merely avoiding an expense rather than a for-profit activity designed to generate “significant gain”.

The judge ruled that file sharing is an  expensive saving move and a not a for-profit business and in such cases you cannot apply the penal provisions of copyright law and the resulting administrative sanctions.


Streaming content is not piracy

Derbyshire Trading Standards has said that if users only stream and don’t download, they’re likely to be exempt from copyright law and can’t be considered pirates.

So far no one has been prosecuted for merely streaming content, mostly because it is hard to track, but the Standards body has suggested that while those selling streaming services are probably breaking the law, their customers are not.

Derbyshire Council Trading Standards said that Kodi was a legitimate piece of software and the developers do not support its use for illegal purposes.

“Derbyshire County Council trading standards officers believe it is illegal under copyright legislation to sell Kodi boxes installed with those add-ons that facilitate the illegal streaming of copyrighted material – although there are court cases pending elsewhere in the UK that will provide further clarification.”

“Accessing premium paid-for content without a subscription is considered by the industry as unlawful access, although streaming something online, rather than downloading a file, is likely to be exempt from copyright laws,” the spokesperson added.

Sky asks people nicely to stop piracy

8-380x280In a very British approach to online-piracy, the ISP Sky has asked its customers nicely to stop pirating content.

In an entry on its dedicated FAQs page, Sky has started sending out notices to those who have been sharing content on their broadband connection.

“However, if you continue to share content illegally using your broadband connection, Sky will request that you take immediate steps to remove or disable any file sharing software that is being used to share copyrighted content illegally.”

The whole thing is based on the premise that people who share online content don’t know it is illegal. Something which has been ruled as “somewhat silly” by recent studies which show that such notices are not worth the energy as people who know enough to load a torrent know exactly what they are doing.

The scheme, which falls under the Creative Content UK initiative, is supported by most of the major ISPs including BT, Virgin Media, TalkTalk, and Sky Broadband, they’ve all started sending out educational alerts to users suspected of engaging in piracy.

Aussies giving up piracy for legal streaming

pirate-bayAussie content pirates are giving up their torrenting now that big content has made legal streaming more available.

A report commissioned by the Australian government has found a drop in piracy rates for 2016 which is attributed to improved
availability of legal streaming alternatives.  In other words if Big Content stops being paranoid and starts being nice to people they are more likely to stop pirating. Who would have thunk it?

What is more amusing is that pirates are more likely to buy the legal streaming product.

This flies in the face of statements made by anti-piracy groups who insist that Aussies simply don’t want to pay for legal content. However, the report seems to confirm that Aussie pirates only download when they are being treated badly by content providers.

Down-under Big Content was been slammed for treating Aussies as second class citizens debuting material later, less conveniently, and at increased cost.  It appears to have been pulling up its socks lately and is being rewarded by drops in piracy.

The Department of Communications and the Arts sampled 2,400 people aged 12 and up. It aimed to understand consumption of four types of online content – music, movies, TV shows, and video games. It also sought to understand attitudes to piracy, including the role pricing plays in media consumption.

Six out of 10 Internet users consumed at least one item of digital content during the period, slightly up from in the same period 2015. Downloading had dropped from 43 percent in 2015 to 39 percent. Despite it being the most popular download category overall, the largest drops were witnessed in the music sector, from 29 percent last year to 26 percent in 2016.

Streaming increased from 54 percent to 57 percent since last year, with TV shows and movies making the biggest gains.

“The proportion of internet users who streamed TV programmes increased from 34 percent to 38 percent and the proportion of internet users who streamed movies increased from 25 percent  to 29 per cent ,” the report said.

The most-consumed content were TV shows (41 percent), music (39 percent) and movies (33 percent) and video games (15 percent).

“In 2016, 27 per cent of consumers or sharers had used Netflix, up from nine percent  in 2015, and making it the third most popular service overall. The proportion using Netflix for movies increased from 16 percent in 2015 to 41 percent in 2016, and the percentage using Netflix for TV programs rose from 12 percent in 2015 to 31 percent in 2016, meaning it was the most popular service for both movies and TV programs,” the report reads.

The report estimates that, over the first three months of 2016, 23 percent of Australian internet users aged 12+ consumed at least one item of online content unlawfully, which equates to approximately 4.6 million people. This was a significant drop from the 26 per cent who had consumed unlawful content in 2015.

The survey indicates that pirates were also the biggest consumers of legitimate content. In 2016, just six percent of internet users exclusively obtained content from pirate sources.

This confirms Swedish findings which showed that people who pirate some content are also more likely to pay.

Half of the consumers cited convenience as the main reason to use paid services, with 39 percent citing speed. Wanting to support creators and not wanting to use pirate sites tied at 37 percent each but the former was down from 43 percent in 2015.

43 percent of infringers said that better pricing would be the factor that would be most likely to reduce their consumption of illicit content. Availability came second, with 35 percent  complaining about content not being available in Australia at the same time as elsewhere, and 31 percent  complaining about a lack of availability.

Pirates do well in Iceland

pirate-bayIceland’s Pirate Party has won ten seats in the nation’s 63-seat parliament which means that it is close to forming a rag-tag government with others holding similar views.

Píratar, to use the party’s Icelandic name, secured 14.5 percent of the vote. Since Píratar had three seats in the last Alþingi it has made some major strides.

The Independence Party, which has dominated Icelandic politics for decades, won 21 seats, two more than it did last time. However,  current coalition partner, the Progressive Party’s vote collapsed. Former Progressive Party prime minister Sigmundur Davið Gunnlaugsson resigned after being named in The Panama Papers.

Píratar’s chums, such as the Left-Green Movement scored 10 seats, Bright Future got four and the Social Democratic Alliance three.  If all those parties could form a coalition Píratar, they’d be five seats short of a majority.

Regeneration, a new party that recently splintered the Independence Party and took seven seats, has previously ruled out going into coalition with either the Independence or Progressive parties so they will probably sit by themselves sulking in the corner never invited to anyone’s party.

However, Regeneration also shares some Pirate values –  it’s pro-Europe, wants the nation to accept more refugees and favours a strong welfare and public health system.  It might change its mind if it gets a decent offer.

Warner Bros names itself as a pirate

Captain_Hook_(Hook)Dumb-arse legal enforcers working for Warner Bros ordered a takedown of studio’s own site on Google claiming it was a pirate site.

Vobile, a company that files hundreds of thousands of takedown requests every month asked the search giant to remove links to legitimate movie streaming websites run by Amazon and Sky, as well as the film database IMDB.

According to Torrent Freak Vobile had made some “glaring errors” including asking Google to remove links to the official websites for films such as Batman: The Dark Knight and The Matrix. Licensed online movie portals such as Amazon and Sky Cinema were also reported for copyright infringement.

 Companies such as Vobile typically work on behalf of major film studios, reporting illegally uploaded copies of movies and television programmes.

Google’s transparency report says Vobile has submitted more than 13 million links for removal. Most of this is done automatically and the links are never checked. For some reason Vobile does not white-list obvious sites like warnerbros.com and amazon.com – but apparently.

Fortunately for Warner Brothers Google decided not to remove links to Amazon, IMDB and Sky Cinema from its results. It would have been amusing if it had done what it was told, or that Vobile threatens to sue over its actions.

Police play up the antics of the Karaoke gang

seven_bttf_minor_04The City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) hit the headlines  claiming to have dismantled an evil gang “suspected of uploading and distributing tens of thousands of karaoke tracks online.”

PIPCU’s press release says “hundreds of albums have had their copyright uploaded by the men, leading to thousands and thousands of tracks being accessed illegally and depriving legitimate music companies of a significant amount of money.”

However the police’s dramatic claims have been questioned when it turned out that the three turn out to be three middle-aged blokes who are making tracks of songs which are not commercially available.

The “gang” KaraokeRG, said on its website “they were created primarily because they are not available from any professional karaoke manufacturers.” So no one is losing money on anything because the music companies are not providing a profit to lose money on.

KaraokeRG website did not sell any tracks and made them available for private use only and not intended for commercial use. So no-one has lost any money, no-one has been injured by the gang and there was nothing criminal taking place.

So why did the PIPCU go mental about the outfit, how is this considered a good use of taxpayer’s money, and why criminalise people for a harmless hobby?

The police press release quotes John Hodge, the British Phonographic Industry’s (BPI) Internet investigations chief, as saying, “Instances of commercial-scale copyright infringement are not exempt from investigation and anyone found to be facilitating such illegal activity is not immune from prosecution”.

So in other words the PIPCU is a tax payer funded enforcement arm for big content, and we all know how reasonable they are. But a phrase in the press release echoed the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), which was thrown out by the European Parliament in 2012 and the even more controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement.

According to the TPP rules, “any act of willful copyright infringement on a commercial scale renders the infringer liable to criminal penalties, even if they were not carried out for financial gain, provided that they have a substantial prejudicial impact on the rightsholder. You can be sent to prison for sharing files online even if no money was involved—exactly the kind of disproportionate punishment that the copyright industries have been wanting and never got.”

Fortunately for KaraokeRG, the European Commission explicitly excludes “criminal sanctions” in this area, and the trio will only go to jail if they make the mistake of ever going to the US. It will be interesting to see if the KaraokeRG gang have the stomach to take this to the European court where there is a good likelihood it will be thrown out.

French government wants to surrender to Big Content

GermanSurrender2The French Government, which is desperate to surrender to Big Content, is trying to enable the credit card companies to stop payments to businesses the movie and music business do not like.

Fleur Pellerin, France’s Minister of Culture and Communication, initially suggested that payments to and from pirate sites should be blocked where possible. Now it seems the plan is that Big Content provides a list of whoever it does not like and these are automatically blacklisted by credit card companies.

Several leading online payment processors including PayPal, Visa and MasterCard discussed a possible pirate blacklist agreement with copyright holders. Most services already prohibit copyright infringing services in their terms of use, but the new plan would go beyond current measures.

Basically it would mean that without a police investigation, trial, or any due process, a content holder can make an allegation based on spectral evidence and shut down a business.

According to Minister Pellerin both parties are working on a voluntary agreement which would see copyright holders create and maintain a “pirate site” blacklist. The payment providers will then use this list to prevent sites from signing up or to terminate current accounts.

“The copyright holders will be able to report structurally infringing websites to payment processors, using their own skills and tools,” Pelerin claims.

He claims that the copyright holders are the experts when it comes to spotting pirates so effectively their word should be good enough.

“In other words, the lists will be made by educated professionals and the actual blocking will follow soon after,” Pellerin claimed.

So the new plan differs in that the blacklist would not receive Government oversight. Some people fear that without proper oversight the blacklist may become too broad and destroy businesses which are not deemed illegal by any court.

Pirate sites ban Windows 10

spyPirate sites are so worried about their users visiting their sites with Windows 10 that they are starting to ban them.

According to TorrentFreak the bans are because of a belief that Microsoft would wipe torrents and pirated software from people’s hard drives. So far this is proving to be rubbish, but some sites are carrying out the bans anyway because of fears of Volish spyware.

The controversy originates from a single line in Microsoft’s Service Agreement which allows the company to download software updates and configuration changes that may prevent people from “playing counterfeit games”,

This change isn’t limited to Windows 10 but covers many services. Also, there is no indication that this will ever be used to target third-party games, which is highly unlikely.
The staffers at iTS explain that Windows 10 is off-limits now because of the extensive amount of data it shares.

Vole appears to be sharing data with MarkMonitor, the brand protection company which is also involved in the US Copyright Alert System.

“Unfortunately Microsoft decided to revoke any kind of data protection and submit whatever they can gather to not only themselves but also others. One of those is one of the largest anti-piracy company called MarkMonitor,” iTS staff note.

“Amongst other things Windows 10 sends the contents of your local disks directly to one of their servers. Obviously this goes way too far and is a serious threat to sites like ours which is why we had to take measures,” they add.

But Vole has been working with MarkMonitor for years and it helps to keep scammers at bay. There is no evidence that any piracy related info is being shared

“We have also found [Windows 10] will be gathering information on users’ P2P use to be shared with an anti-piracy group,” BB staff told its users.

“What’s particularly nasty is that apparently it sends the results of local(!!) searches to a well known anti-piracy company directly so as soon as you have one known p2p or scene release on your local disk … BAM!”

Cameron’s lock up pirate’s law is risky

cameronDavid Cameron’s plan to lock up pirates for 10 years to keep Big Content happy has been slammed by those who know a little about how the law works.

Cameron wants to increase the maximum jail term for online piracy from two to ten years because… claiming that only people who make money out of piracy need to worry.

The law concluded that the criminal sanctions for copyright infringement available under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (CDPA 1988) could be amended to bring them into line with related offenses, such as counterfeiting.

However legal experts say that the law as worded will end up locking up file sharers and the proposed extension is disproportionate and ineffective.

The British and Irish Law, Education and Technology Association (BILETA) has said that changes to the current law were not needed.

BILETA argues that the proposal is not affordable, not feasible and incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.

“The freedom of expression may be interfered with if there is a ‘pressing social need’ and is proportionate to the legitimate aim pursued,” the group notes, adding that the standards for a pressing social need are often not met in piracy cases.

The Open Rights Group Executive Director Jim Killock warned Torrent Freak that the law wraps up businesses and people who ‘affect prejudicially’ a copyright owner.

“There is no requirement of intent to harm, merely that the user should have known that they were violating copyright law.

This means that anyone who uploads to Pirate Bay uploaders or even those who merely share files could potentially be targeted.

“The result is that people who are not really criminals, but are rather just naive users, may face punitive claims. At the very least, the risk of criminal claims means naive infringers can be pushed into accepting heavy punishments to remove the risk of long jail sentences,” Killock said.

The consultation is open until this coming Monday and the Government will release the individual responses and publish a summary report afterwards.