Tag: torrent

Torrent sites scuttled by DoS attacks

pirate-bayIt would appear torrent sites are being hammered by DDoS attacks and the reason is related to their banning of .’unofficial’ proxy services.

ExtraTorrent faced tons of cyberattacks over the last three days. Most of them were DDOS attacks. Cloudflare couldn’t help because we get 40 to 50 million requests from the US every hour.

The site temporarily limited several functions to save resources including login functionality so there were no fresh torrents. In addition, the site’s operators have removed the added protection against unofficial mirror and proxy sites.

It is believed that the added protection layer may be the reason why the site is under attack. A few days ago ExtraTorrent received an email threatening attacks, if its operators didn’t remove the encryption within 24 hours.

Blocking out “unofficial” proxy sites is a pain in the arse for many users who might be paying for a proxy so that they don not get caught by Big Content downloading material. However the site registered the proxy site as being unofficial because it is not a big name or registered.

The Pirate Bay is also down at the time of writing. Users who try to access the site get a CloudFlare downtime warning, or a new Captcha error.


Swedish Torrent site owner escapes “silly damages”

vikingThe former owner of SwePiracy was sentenced to 100 hours community service and told to pay $194,000 in a piracy case which will leave the movie industry gutted.

The site was subject to aggressive movie industry prosecution in Sweden and the big studios wanted millions in damages.

SwePiracy was one of the most famous private torrent sites on the Swedish scene. As such, it became a target for anti-piracy outfits. It was hit in 2012 by Antipiratbyrån, police in Sweden and the Netherlands.

Earlier this year the unnamed 25-year-old operator appeared in court to answer charges relating to the unlawful distribution of a sample 27 movies between March 2011 and February 2012. The prosecution wanted several years in prison and nearly $3 million in damages.

SwePiracy defence lawyer Per E. Samuelsson said the claims against his client were the most unreasonable he’d seen in his 35 years as a lawyer.

Norrköping District Court agreed. While they found SwePiracy’s guilty of copyright infringement they ignored the prosecution’s demands for extremely harsh punishment.

The torrent site operator avoided a lengthy jail sentence and was sentenced to probation and 100 hours’ community service instead. The prosecution’s claim for damages was dramatically reduced from millions to ‘just’ $148,000, payable to movie outfit Nordisk Film. This was on top of the money that the state confiscated $45,600 said to have been generated by SwePiracy.

Per E. Samuelsson told IDG that his client will still appeal both the conviction and the issue of damages. He thinks that the court went high with the damages,”

The movie studios were unhappy too saying that the District Court failed to apply principles previously applied in the trial of The Pirate Bay.

EU’s net neutrality will not stop ISPs throttling

Sam_and_Ralph_chokeWhile there are some good things in the EU’s net neutrality laws, they will not stop ISPs throttling those they think are heavy torrent downloaders.

The Body of European Regulators of Electronic Communication (BEREC) published its final guidelines for Europe’s net neutrality rules.

The rules, which are included in the Telecoms Single Market (TSM) regulation, would still allow targeted throttling of torrents and other traffic, by claiming that it is network management.

It says that internet providers are not allowed to offer a “sub Internet” service, where access to only part of the internet is offered for ‘free’.

ISPs are still allowed to throttle specific categories for “reasonable” network management purposes, as the second subparagraph of article 3 reads.

“In order to be deemed to be reasonable, such measures shall be transparent, non-discriminatory and proportionate, and shall not be based on commercial considerations but on objectively different technical quality of service requirements of specific categories of traffic.”

In other words, network management practices, including bandwidth throttling, could possibly target Torrents under a broader file-sharing category, or VPNs as encrypted traffic.

In other words, it would still be possible for ISPs to throttle BitTorrent traffic if that would improve the overall “transmission quality.” This is not a far-fetched argument since torrent traffic can be quite demanding on a network.

Net neutrality activists have said the rules are better than what was being mooted. They were worried that the EU would allow “fast lanes” and these had been banned. This would stop ISPs from throttling everyone and then charging sites or apps for a fast lane.

The new rules mean that ISPs will not have any incentive to throttle and regulators could stop ISPs from throttling in cases where it clearly had nothing to do with preventing future congestion.


India to jail people for “looking” at a torrent

15-days-yoga-meditation-and-trekking-retreat-in-the-indian-himalayasThe Indian government has capitulated to the powerful Bollywood Big Content movement and is going to jail anyone who looks at a movie torrent.

The daftly autocratic pirate law is just what the US studios have always wanted but never been able to get Western governments to carry out – presumably because it would criminalise the entire country.

The Indian government has banned thousands of websites and URLs. But if you visit these blocked URLs and view or down one you may get three year jail sentence and a fine. Being in a chowki in India is no laughing matter dot com.

It gets worse if you visit a site which had one of the banned URLs because you could also be jailed. You don’t have to download a torrent file, and then the actual videos or other files, which might have copyright.

If you visit such a URL, you will be shown the following warning.

“This URL has been blocked under the instructions of the Competent Government Authority or in compliance with the orders of a Court of competent jurisdiction. Viewing, downloading, exhibiting or duplicating an illicit copy of the contents under this URL is punishable as an offence under the laws of India, including but not limited to under Sections 63, 63-A, 65 and 65-A of the Copyright Act, 1957 which prescribe imprisonment for three years and also fine of upto Rs. 3,00,000/-. Any person aggrieved by any such blocking of this URL may contact at urlblock@tatacommunications.com who will, within 48 hours, provide you the details of relevant proceedings under which you can approach the relevant High Court or Authority for redressal of your grievance”

It is not clear how the it will be enforced unless the Indian government is monitoring the whole world wide web, looking for people may access or try to access a blocked URL.

What appears to have triggered all this is that the Indian courts are issuing John Doe requests at the request of Bollywood film makers. The lawyers of film studios often approach courts ahead of a movie’s release seeking preventive blocks on the URLs they compile in the list.

But the lists are pants and some of the blocks are there because a site had a name which could be connected to the Bollywood film title. However, the courts do what they are told because Bollywood is just so damn powerful.

Once this order is issued, the copies of the order along with the list of URLs to be blocked go to DoT, which them passes an order to internet service providers to block these sites. Once a site is blocked it remains blocked even after the film has been released and has been forgotten.


Kickass torrent “mastermind” arrested

arrestUS coppers claim to have arrested the “mastermind” of KickassTorrents (KAT) which is one of the largest BitTorrent distribution sites.

When we looked this morning the site was still up so we are not sure if  Artem Vaulin, 30, of Ukraine’s alleged mastermind status was incorrect or if the site is being run by his minions.

Vaulin has been charged   with one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, and two counts of criminal copyright infringement.

Vaulin was arrested in Poland and the DOJ will shortly seek his extradition to the United States.

Assistant Attorney General Caldwell said that Vaulin was charged with running today’s most visited illegal file-sharing website, responsible for unlawfully distributing well over $1 billion of copyrighted materials.

“In an effort to evade law enforcement, Vaulin allegedly relied on servers located in countries around the world and moved his domains due to repeated seizures and civil lawsuits. His arrest in Poland, however, demonstrates again that cybercriminals can run, but they cannot hide from justice.”

What appears to have miffed Hollywood was that Vaulin did actually have method of dealing with DMCA violations. Hollywood studios would send their complaint and demand that the content be removed from the site and they would get a note back which said the following:

Your request has been reviewed, but cannot be processed due to one (or
more) of the following reasons:
1) The Claim wasn’t written in English language;
2) You provided no evidence showing that you are the copyright holder
or that you are acting on behalf of the copyright holder;
3) You provided no evidence showing that the content is legally
4) There were more then [sic] 30 torrents mentioned in the Claim email;
5) Your content is hosted on a different website.
Please, make sure to fulfill all the conditions mentioned above before
sending a claim.
You can find more detailed information regarding the DMCA email
layout via the following article – https://kat.cr/dmca/
KAT team
Keeping mum

It has been estimated that the sites annual advertising revenue as being more than $16 million per year as of 2016 although those figures are nearly always presented to the media hyped beyond belief. In this case they are based on the fact that an  undercover IRS agent purchased an ad on KAT in March 2016 at the rate of $300 per day.

The KAT representative provided details for a Latvian bank but warned the American buyer to “make sure that you don’t mention KAT anywhere.”

HSI and IRS looked into the historical hosting records of KAT and found that for about 3.5 years, ending in January 2016, the operation was hosted out of Chicago, Illinois, which explains why the case is now being prosecuted out of the Northern District of Illinois. The site also used a Canadian hosting service—the two American agencies also used MLAT to get an image of the Canadian server.

More interesting was that the fruity cargo cult Apple, which normally does not turn over data on terrorists  provided a copy of Vaulin’s e-mail account (tirm@me.com), which included other incriminating information that establishes probable cause of a criminal conspiracy. So it looks like Apple’s privacy morals stop when it comes to crimes against its chums in Hollywood.

Swedish pirate sued because of poor quality film

It is bad enough to be fined for distributing an illegal movie torrent, but a Swedish movie pirate found himself fined extra for distributing copy that was poor quality.

A moderator and uploader of Swebits has been hit with a huge damages award. For uploading a single pre-release movie the 28-year-old is now required to pay $652,000, the equivalent amount the studio would have charged for a license to distribute the movie for free.

 He also received a suspended jail sentence plus 160 hours community service.

Anti-piracy outfit Antipiratbyran claimed that the man was Sweden’s “worst ever” pirate which is a bit of an insult to the vikings who managed to actually capture whole countries or Martin Pechlin. The prosecution demanded at least one year in jail. 

The damage award was inflated by the fact that he issued a poor quality copy of the flick, which the film makers claimed lowered the standard of the brand.

The Pirate Party is outraged by the decision, which exceeds the $150,000 per title statutory damages possible in the United States, where courts roll over to Big Content and give silly infringement penalties.

Gustav Nipe, chairman of the Young Pirates, told Torrent Freak that it was wrong to have such a harsh penalty for doing something carried out by millions of Swedes.  It shows how outdated Swedish legislation is and the only way forward is a radical reform of copyright law that allows for the sharing of culture.

WordPress makes it easy to set up your own pirate site

A WordPress plugin makes it dead easy to uncensor blocked websites and set up your own proxy site.

While the tool is designed to allow free speech in repressive regimes, it can also be used to stop ISPs blocking sites like Pirate Bay.

Pirate sites are blocked in Italy under former Prime Minster Silvio Berlusconi. Berlusconi made money from running a telly empire so leaning on ISPs to enact a voluntary form of SOPA law was a vested interest.

However following the SOPA and PIPA protests politicians which are seen supporting similar censorship are being seen as self-serving weasels who take bribes from Big Content to take away the freedoms of ordinary people. And there is support for those who would otherwise be called pirates.

According to Torrent Freak one of these projects is the RePress plugin for WordPress. It is developed by the hosting company Greenhost and allows everyone with a WordPress blog to start a proxy for sites that are censored elsewhere in the world.

Greenhost have setup a Pirate Bay and Wikileaks proxy. By adding the plug-in to your WordPress website it will start functioning as a proxy and uncensor any blocked website you’d like,” Greenhost explains.

All you need is a WordPress website and the ability to install new plug-ins. After that you can maintain a list of websites you’d like to keep open freely available on the web.

So far the outfit has provided people in the Netherlands full access to The Pirate Bay when the recent court order is enforced.

The plugin can’t prevent domain names from being seized, it will bypass all of the common blocking measures that are used today.

The software can be downloaded in the WordPress repository.

Google blasted by RIAA

Search engine Google has been blasted by the RIAA for not doing enough to stop piracy.

A year ago Google said that it would take four specific anti-piracy steps including responding to takedowns quicker, removing piracy-related terms from autocomplete, make it harder for infringing sites to participate in AdSense, and make it easier to find ‘legitimate content’ in search results.

A year on the RIAA has issued what it calls its report card on what it thinks is Google’s slow progress towards making this happen.

In the report, the RIAA claims that Google’s efforts are “incomplete.” It’s important to understand what the RIAA means by this because it gives a clear indication about what it really wants.

The group moans that if you type in a torrent related phrase,  the autocomplete still gives you answers instead of automatically stunning you, calling the police and ordering an airstrike on your location.

It thinks that Google should prioritise sites which sell RIAA blessed material over “unauthorised sites”. This sounds harmless enough but Google would be justified in pointing out that gives the RIAA power to decide which of its members should be at the top of any search.

It added that Google “needs to be more proactive” about blocking infringing sites from using Google’s AdSense advertising program. At the moment if the RIAA sees a site it does not like, it has to go through all the bother of sending a take down notice to Google. What it would like is for Google to censor its own results by psychically working out what the RIAA doesn’t like and taking it down without it asking. This would save the RIAA all the bad press when it fingers the wrong site such as it did in the recent Megaupload and Hotfile SNAFUs.

But the report moans the most about Google’s promise to respond quickly to takedown requests.

While Google kept its promise to provide faster takedowns in its Blogger and search sections, it does not censor Android Marketplace. The RIAA claims that it does not adequately screen apps before accepting them in its app store. It also complains that apps removed from the Marketplace aren’t automatically blacklisted from AdSense and Google Wallet.

What the RIAA fails to point out is that Google does not have to actually do anything to help it at all, as Ars Technica points out.

The big word that the RIAA keeps using is “proactive”, which seems to mean do what we want without us having to tell you, or go to court.

Big Content does have some success in getting people to do its job for it. Thanks to those nice people in Congress, the FBI has been arresting people the RIAA has fingered as pirates. In some cases perfectly legitimate sites have been offline while the mess gets sorted out.

Even if Google wanted to become the RIAA’s chum it would be tricky. The Report moans that Google “raises alarmist, self-serving criticism to any legislative proposal to deter or thwart rampant copyright infringement.”

Google has probably worked out that the RIAA is never going to be friendly to it. While it touts voluntary codes, the RIAA is dismissive of Google’s own efforts. It is probably better for the search engine to obey the law rather than go down the rather messy road of trying to butter up Big Content.

When reading the report card you can’t help but see the not-so veiled threats against the search engine: “Despite its steps, the simple fact is that Google continues to both (i) receive financial benefits from sites and applications that engage in piracy and (ii) place artificial road blocks in rights holders’ efforts to protect their content online, contrary to the DMCA,” which sounds to us like a court brief where the prosecution outlines the “charges”. 

Citizens think piracy as commonplace as the internet

The Social Science Research Council (SSRC) has released its 436-page study “Media Piracy in Emerging Economies”.

35 researchers spent three years compiling data and working on the report, which is set to become the new, definite benchmark for all future studies and, hopefully, for laws and policies related to media piracy and consumer rights.

“Media Piracy in Emerging Economies” focuses on how “piracy” has grown many-fold since the advent of digital technology, and how the industry started to lobby for tougher laws and law enforcement. According to the SSRC, “piracy”, or sharing of copies, is seen by citizens to be as commonplace as the internet.

Industry lobbyists and education efforts have failed miserably in telling consumers they shouldn’t be doing the nasty things they have been doing since cassette recorders appeared.

Nonetheless, lobbyists have been succesful in persuading hapless and clueless politicians and lawmakers to conjur up bills to shove through parliament and down the throats of voters, despite the latter not asking for them.

According to the study, high prices are in part to blame for piracy of media goods – “relative to local incomes in Brazil, Russia, or South Africa, the retail price of a CD, DVD, or copy of MS Office is five to ten times higher than in the US or Europe,” claims the study.

This is due to the absence of domestic companies distributing goods for a price designed to be competitive in a local markets. Instead, large corporations set prices no one can afford, thus piracy thrives. Or, put simply, people will download if there aren’t outlets selling DVDs, CDs etc. for five quid or less, such as HMV or Amazon.

On the enforcement side of the matter, the judicial systems in every country can certainly do without the extra burden of having to follow-up petty downloading cases, especially considering “piracy” is seen as a matter of course by citizens. “Enforcement hasn’t worked. After a decade of ramped up enforcement, the authors can find no impact on the overall supply of pirated goods,” bluntly states the SSRC.

Another myth is also done away with, namely that there is some sort of link between media piracy and organised crime, or even terrorism. “Today, commercial pirates and transnational smugglers face the same dilemma as the legal industry: how to compete with free.”

Time Warner Cable tells porn baron to go sling his hook

Time Warner Cable has told porn baron  Larry Flynt that it will not turn over its customers accused of piracy so that they can be subjected to a vigorous seeing too by his lawyers.

Flynt’s lawyer Evan Stone claimed he had a bulky dossier and was not afraid to use it against Time Warner Cable customers who pirated one of the company’s porn films.

In October, a Dallas-based attorney Stone thrust three separate lawsuits against more than 4,000 “John Does,” alleging the defendants illegally shared the movie “This Ain’t Avatar XXX.”

The copyright suit was on behalf of Hustler’s Larry Flynt Publishing.

TWC said it “had a headache” over the number it had to process was “too tired” to go through the list of IP addresses that Stone sent them and match them to customers. It could only manage about 10 names a month and that was pushing it.

Stone said that was not good enough and TWC needed to turn over and face the music.

However Stone found himself hard up against Flynt’s management who also did not want to take on TWC, who is one of their business partners. In the end it seems that Stone and Flynt have agreed to pull out.

Cnet  points out that the case is typical of what happened this year to lawyers trying to have a shot at the money out of P2P piracy.

Several law firms from across the country file copyright suits on behalf of independent film studios and porn studios. Each complaint named thousands of defendants and went no-where. Some of it was due to the courts and other times it was ISPs which were not set up to handle these kinds of mass suits.

Take for example the case of Kenneth Ford who filed a complaint against 22,000 unnamed individuals. A couple of weeks ago the Judge dismissed all but one defendant and told Ford he would have to file a separate lawsuit for each defendant.

This means that it would cost Ford and his client $7.7 million in court fees to pursue all the defendants.

It looks like while the P2P users are in big numbers, they are still untouchable.