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French Anti-Piracy Agency Generated €87,000 in Fines From €82m in Public Funding

Just over a decade ago, France stepped forward with a grand project to tackle the millions of individuals downloading content via peer-to-peer networks such as BitTorrent.

In 2010, via newly-formed government agency Hadopi (High Authority for the Distribution and Protection of Intellectual Property on the Internet), the country introduced the so-called “graduated response” system, with the aim of sending file-sharers escalating warnings carrying the threat of fines and even Internet disconnections.

Hadopi publishes regular updates on its progress in highly-detailed reports, which tend to emphasize the importance of the project, its successes, and justifications for continuing in the face of the online piracy threat. The latest edition continues that trend but some of the statistics raise the question of whether a system designed to tackle the problems of a decade ago remains fit for purpose.

Referrals By Copyright Holders Down

Hadopi’s sprawling 128-page report for last year (pdf) has just been published, revealing that in 2019, rightsholders – who track alleged pirates on BitTorrent-like systems – referred nine million cases to the authority for investigation, a significant decrease on the 14 million referrals made in 2018.

However, as highlighted by Next INpact, a referral does not automatically result in a corresponding warning sent to an alleged pirate. In fact, since October 2010, Hadopi has sent out just 12.7 million warnings, a fraction of the number of referrals received from rightsholders.

Lowest Number of Notices Sent

Approximately 830,000 warning notices were sent out to alleged pirates in 2019, the lowest number to date. This figure contains 619,687 ‘first strike’ and 208,104 ‘second strike’ notices which, according to Hadopi, is an indicator of success since only a third of first-time offenders go on to re-offend. Overall, just 4,210 notices were issued at the ‘third strike’ stage.

At the top end, 1,750 cases representing the most serious matters (in Hadopi’s opinion) were subsequently referred to the public prosecutor for potential further action, including maximum fines of €1,500.

Hadopi attributes this downwards trend mainly to “…changes in consumption of cultural works on the Internet and the unprecedented increase in legal offers.” While this assessment is entirely credible, it does warrant further explanation.

Changes in Consumption Habits and Mechanisms

Since the creation of the Hadopi agency, its mission to crack down on peer-to-peer pirates has undoubtedly been affected by shifts in consumer behavior. In terms of the positives for copyright holders, legitimate services are more accessible and numerous than ever, something that has begun to encourage people to buy more content, even if they still pirate some as well.

Nevertheless, there’s still no shortage of people sharing content on easily-monitored networks such as BitTorrent but, with the rise of no-logging VPNs and more secure torrenting methods (such as cloud services and seedboxes), many of the remaining users are harder to trace.

Perhaps more importantly, however, the massive shift towards streaming sites, file-hosting platforms, and pirate IPTV services in the past decade cannot be underestimated. Not only are the users frequenting these services exponentially harder to track, but they fall outside the warning notification system operated by Hadopi. With no ability to send these users even a first strike, they can never receive a second or a third.

Is the Huge Cost of Running Hadopi Worth it in 2020?

Finally, this brings us to the cost of keeping Hadopi running. As calculated by Next INpact, in the 10 years since it was founded, the anti-piracy agency has cost the French taxpayer 82 million euros to maintain.

While the agency argues that its main aim is to educate people away from piracy and towards behaving legally, those millions from the public purse dwarf the amount that persistent pirates have been fined in the last decade – a somewhat paltry 87,000 euros.

The full report can be obtained here (pdf, French)

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

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Hollywood Targets ‘Iran’s YouTube’ and Israeli Newspaper in Pirate Site Blocking Push

Pirate site blockades are the preferred anti-piracy tool for many copyright holders around the world. This is also the case in Australia, where blocking injunctions were made possible five years ago following amendments to copyright law.

Over the past years, many of the world’s largest torrent and streaming sites have already been blocked, but new threats continue to surface. This requires rightsholders to stay alert and file new blocking requests if needed, such as a new one they submitted late last month.

New Pirate Site Blocking Application

In a new application, filed at the Federal Court of Australia, several key movie industry players including Disney, Netflix, Village Roadshow, and Warner Bros. request ISPs to block over a hundred new domains. According to the filing, these sites are piracy havens.

“The primary purpose or effect of the Target Online Locations is to infringe or facilitate the infringement of copyright,” the movie companies inform the court.

The operators of these sites are apparently fully aware of their alleged wrongdoing and show a “disregard for copyright,” the court filing reads.

“The owners or operators of the Target Online Locations demonstrate a disregard for copyright generally, in that they provide easy access to the copyright works of others,” the application states.

The request is similar to the ones we have reported on in the past. It covers a wide range of pirate sites, totaling well over a hundred domain names. This includes the likes of 0gomovies.org, 1377x.to, best-series.me, pirateproxy.wtf, warez-bb.org, kissasian.sh, and bs.to.

‘Iran’s YouTube’ to be Blocked?

Many of the targets can indeed be classified as pirate sites. However, there are also some clear outliers, which are more controversial.

blocking application

The popular video platform Aparat, which is often referred to as Iran’s YouTube, provides one such example. Aparat is one of the most-visited sites in the world and the second most-visited site in Iran, where it’s only beaten by Google.com.

Aparat’s owners are not in hiding either. The site is owned by the company Saba Idea, which is a prominent startup that has been regularly featured in mainstream media such as The Guardian and the Wall Street Journal.

Like YouTube and other video services, Aparat relies on user-uploaded content. This means that copyrighted content may be added occasionally. However, the site also has premium publishers and paid videos from copyright holders, so it’s certainly not a typical pirate site.

Proposed Blocklist Includes Israeli Newspaper

Another odd entry in the new blocking application is the Israeli newspaper Kul al-Arab. The influential Arabic publication has all the earmarks of a regular news publication, but the movie companies believe that it should be classified as a pirate site.

While we haven’t seen a newspaper being targeted before, it may not be totally unwarranted, as the site has a VOD section where many Hollywood and Netflix titles are freely available.

Al Arab

Site blocking is generally used as a tool of last resort, and that’s also the case here, the movie companies suggest.

“No other remedy under the Copyright Act is reasonably practicable or reasonably likely to be effective for these infringements,” the blocking application reads.

If the blocking request is granted, the affected sites will be made inaccessible in Australia for three years. While the site operators are not being sued directly, they do have the opportunity to object to the request.

TorrentFreak reached out to Aparat for a comment on the inclusion of its video platform but we have yet to hear back. The attorney for the movie companies didn’t immediately respond to our request for comment either.

Below is a list of all sites and domains featured in the latest blocking application (pdf).

1. 0gomovies.org
2. 123putlocker.to
3. 1337xtorrent.net
4. 1337x.am
5. 1377x.to / 1337xto.to / 1377x.is / 1377x.to
6. 91mjw.com
7. alarab.com
8. aparat.com
9. azm.to
10. best-series.me
11. cmovies.ws
12. europix.pro / europix.biz
13. europixhd.io / europixhd.net / europixhd.pro
14. fsharetv.co
15. 123moviesoknow.co / all123movies.com
16. iyingshi6.tv
17. limetorrents.buzz / limetorrents2020.xyz
18. mlcboard.com
19. movieindoxxi.me
20. movies123.ag / movies123.sc
21. movies123.design
22. movies123.email
23. movies123.pics
24. movies123.sh
25. movies123.work
26. imybinoo.org / qooqootv.app
27. myflixer.com
28. noxx.to
29. ololo.to
30. piratebayproxylist.net / piratebayproxylist.se
31. pirateproxy.wtf
32. poku.tv /bowan.su
33. projectfreetv.fun
34. putlockers.bz
35. putlockers.date / putlockerss.vip
36. rezka.ag
37. soap2day.com / soap2day.im / soap2day.is / soap2day.se / soap2day.to / soapgate.org
38. sockshare.ag
39. tamilrockers.ws / tamilrockers.com / tamilrockers.ws
40. tinyzone.tv / tinyzonetv.to
41. torrentgalaxy.to
42. tvhay.org
43. unblockit.bid / unblockit.biz / unblockit.one / unblockit.red
44. vidcloud9.com
45. warez-bb.org
46. mywatchseries.stream
47. moviesonline.com.pk / movieswatch.com.pk
48. watchseries.net
49. watchserieshd.co
50. watch-serieshd.cc
51. watchserieshd.tv
52. world4ufree.work / world4ufree.blue / world4ufree.casa / world4ufree.host / world4ufree.icu / world4ufree.life / world4ufree.press / world4ufree.store / world4ufree.surf
53. x1337x.eu
54. Y2mate.com
55. Y80s.com
56. yifytorrent.pro
57. bs.to
58. s.to
59. animekisa.tv
60. anime4you.one
61. animeram.cc
62. 123anime.cc
63. Animeflix.io
64. 4anime.to
65. app.darkanime.stream
66. animepill.com
67. animesimple.com
68. animesim.com
69. animixplay.com
70. 14tv.com
71. bestdrama.net
72. dramanice.movie / dramanice.site
73. haitum.com
74. have8.tv
75. hktvdrama.com
76. kissasian.sh / kissassian.ch / kissasian.si / kissasian.es
77. loldytt.com
78. newasiantv.tv

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

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Japanese Government Appoints Hello Kitty as Copyright Ambassador

From relatively humble beginnings way back in 1974, Hello Kitty is now one of the most popular media franchises of all time. Indeed, a report last year revealed that the cartoon character has generated an eye-watering $80 billion in sales.

Over the years, Kitty White – to cite her real name – has had her own clothing and toy lines, appeared in manga and anime, and featured in games and music. But despite being obviously busy, this week it was revealed yet more is on the horizon, this time working for the government in Japan.

According to local anti-piracy group CODA, Japan’s Agency for Cultural Affairs appointed Hello Kitty to the role of Copyright PR Ambassador. This week there was an inauguration ceremony during which Koichi Hagita, Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, welcomed Hello Kitty to her new role.

Hello Kitty

Masaharu Ina, CODA’s Director of Overseas Copyright Protection, informs TorrentFreak that he obtained a license from Hello Kitty owner Sanrio last year, paving the way for the new career move. We asked if anyone else was considered for the position. Apparently not.

“Are you serious? No way. We could think nobody but Kitty,” he said.

“She is one of the most well-known celebrities and is loved by everybody worldwide. And she respects and takes copyright seriously. We admire her for her motto ‘Everyone in the world is my friend.’ Isn’t she lovely and perfect for telling the importance of copyright protection to the world sweetly?”

Masaharu Ina says that Hello Kitty’s role is to “be the beacon for copyright protection.” She will be looking out for those not respecting the law and if people misbehave online, they will really disappoint her.

“She would not fancy people who patronize pirate sites. We believe that the benevolent Hello Kitty should persuade people with love to buy genuine products,” Ina predicts.

At the moment Hello Kitty will be working in Japan but she could end up anywhere in future.

“I will try my best to let everybody know the importance of copyright,” Hello Kitty says, commenting on her new job for which she won’t get paid.

“We heard that she volunteered for this honorary job because she really respects copyright,” Ina says. “Although she may not mind having some apple pie and tea in a peaceful afternoon.”

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

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Disney Obtains New ‘Dynamic’ Court Order to Block 118 ‘Pirate’ Domains

Major Hollywood studios and other rightsholders consider site-blocking an effective tool to combat rampant online infringement. Opponents, on the other hands, view the tactic not only as a blunt instrument but one that can be easily circumvented.

What is clear, however, is that site-blocking is more effective when it targets many sites. This helps to ensure that when one site is blocked, users don’t flood to other platforms that aren’t.

As a result, entertainment companies keep returning to courts around the world to obtain orders requiring ISPs to add even more sites to their blacklists. Following an order handed down by the High Court in Delhi this week, Indian ISPs will have to add almost 120 new ‘pirate’ domains to their filtering systems.

Disney’s Application to Block 118 ‘Pirate’ Domains

The action, filed by Disney Enterprises “and others”, was heard via video-conferencing due to the coronavirus pandemic. Defendants include dozens of pirate sites, Internet service providers, the Department of Communications (DoT) and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY).

The application notes that the plaintiffs are businesses incorporated in the United States and are all involved in the creation, production and distribution of motion pictures and other cinematographic works.

“The plaintiffs are aggrieved by the fact that certain rogue websites are enabling the down-streaming of their creative work which includes films and other entertainment programs, albeit, without requisite licenses. The plaintiffs aver that they have the copyright in the content of their creative works and, hence, need to be protected,” a judgment handed down on Monday reads.

Range of ‘Pirate’ Domains Offering Movies and Cartoons/Anime

The list includes 37 ‘pirate’ site defendants, none of whom were present to mount any kind of opposition. There appears to be a particular focus on sites specializing in anime and cartoons, including the massively popular Nyaa.si which took fifth position in our annual overview of the world’s most popular torrent sites.

Other notable entries listed in the application and specializing in this genre include Horriblesubs, Kisscartoon/Kimcartoon, Wcostream/watchcartoononline, kissanime, gogoanime, and 9anime. The majority of these platforms have multiple domains detailed in the application, so Disney and partners are probably hoping to wipe them out quickly to avoid a resurgence.

While streaming sites dominate the domains to be blocked, a handful of torrent sites are included in the application. In addition to Nyaa, large private torrent site IPTorrents also gets a mention, with the plaintiffs demanding that 11 domains/sub-domains are blocked by ISPs. TorrentDownload and YourBitTorrent2 complete the list.

Finally, the application demands that named proxy sites are also blocked by ISPs, including Unblockit.red and Proxyof.com. However, the judge’s order appears to consider a situation where the named sites deploy unblocking mechanisms of their own.

‘Dynamic’ Injunction Handed Down

The “injunction shall also operate in respect of the mirror/redirect/alphanumeric websites, which are put in play by [the defendant pirate sites] to grant access to the websites [referred to in the order],” the judgment reads.

Overall, the judge was happy to hand down the blocking order, noting that the plaintiffs are suffering “considerable damage” to their commercial interests. The balance of interests is in favor of the entertainment companies, the judge added, while handing down the following instructions;

“[The pirate site defendants] are restrained from, in any manner, hosting, streamlining, reproducing, distributing, making available to the public and/or communicating to the public or facilitating the same on their websites through the internet in any manner whatsoever, any cinematograph work, content, program and show in which the plaintiffs have copyright.”

While the injunction is unlikely to be followed by many or indeed any of the sites listed, the Department of Communications and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology are instructed to inform local ISPs that they must block the domains covered by the application. Furthermore, the plaintiffs can also file a new application if they need to block new domains, making this a so-called ‘dynamic’ order.

“The plaintiffs are given liberty to file an application…to array other rogue websites if the same are discovered after the issuance of the instant interim order. The purpose being that the Court, in these cases, needs to dynamically monitor such egregious illegality and, if necessary, pass interim orders to restrain similar rogue websites from illegally streaming the creative content in which the plaintiffs have a copyright,” the judge concludes.

The judgment of the Delhi High Court can be found here (pdf)

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

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UEFA Launches Tender for Multi-Faceted Anti-Piracy Partner

UEFA is the international body that governs football throughout Europe.

The organization, which is part of FIFA, has the rights to several major competitions and tournaments including the European Championship, the Nations League, and the Champions League.

These events are good for billions of dollars in broadcasting rights. With these types of figures at stake, UEFA is also keeping a close eye on piracy. This job has become increasingly complex, with newer forms of piracy including live streaming taking off in recent years.

In the past, we have covered some of UEFA’s anti-piracy efforts. For example, the organization obtained site and service blocking orders in the UK. In addition, it cracked down on pirate streams directly and even sent pre-piracy warnings to some sites.

UEFA Seeks New Anti-Piracy Partner

UEFA doesn’t do this alone. The organization enlists experts to help it protect its content and for the upcoming years, is looking for a new partner. In a request for proposals, published yesterday, UEFA invites anti-piracy experts to respond to a new tender that covers the upcoming years up to and including EURO 2024.

uefa request for proposals new anti-piracy partner

This period covers all the major UEFA events and competitions that are frequently pirated. The task of the prospective anti-piracy partner is to ‘minimize’ piracy where possible while striking a balance between effectiveness and cost. The tender shows that EUFA is concerned with both live and non-live piracy.

Targeting Live Piracy

Targeting live piracy includes real-time monitoring. In response, the anti-piracy partner will have to send takedown notices, issue cease-and-desist letters, and use other takedown tools.

These live takedowns should rely on fingerprinting. This will not just speed up the recognition of content but it will also avoid false positives where possible. False positives should also be avoided by using whitelists of approved broadcasters, UEFA notes.

“To enhance the speed and effectiveness of matching performance and to avoid any ‘false positives’, the relevant Bidder(s) shall be expected to operate a content verification system (e.g. fingerprinting) to guarantee that the identified content is UEFA material,” UEFA explains.

The live piracy ecosystem goes further than just individual streams. It also covers illegal apps, which must be removed from various marketplaces, piracy-enabled open-source media players, blocking orders that need to be updated, as well as illegal IPTV services.

uefa anti-piracy open source player

Concerning IPTV, UEFA requires the bidders to sign up with pirate IPTV services at their own cost. These services should be closely monitored to gather evidence and intelligence. Any further actions with regard to these services should be coordinated in cooperation with the football body.

Non-Live Piracy is Addressed As Well

When it comes to non-live piracy there are similar requirements. Here, takedown notices and cease-and-desist letters have to be sent, and there’s a strong focus on illegal piracy apps as well.

In addition, the anti-piracy partner will have to ensure that unauthorized UEFA content is not available through popular search engines.

While targeting piracy directly is important, the proposed services of the anti-piracy partner go beyond that as well. The prospective partner will also assist in legal action by gathering evidence, providing witness statements, and assisting in police actions.

Support for Lobbying Efforts

Similarly, the company’s expertise will also be used to assist in UEFA’s lobbying efforts going forward.

“Supporting UEFA in any lobbying or corporate communication initiatives UEFA may wish to undertake in respect of the relevant form(s) of Internet Piracy including, for example, by collating supporting evidence, preparing presentations etc,” UEFA writes.

A copy of the full request for proposals is available here. The deadline ends early September after which UEFA will analyze the bids and invite several bidders to provide further information. This process may also include multiple rounds of anti-piracy tests and demonstrations.

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

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‘Pirate’ Anime Domains Seized By Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment

The Alliance For Creativity and Entertainment is a massive global anti-piracy coalition featuring dozens of global content companies including the MPA, Netflix and Amazon.

The aim of ACE is to tackle infringement of its members’ rights in a centralized fashion by pooling resources and sharing the costs of enforcement actions. While the group publicizes some of its lawsuits and settlements, a significant number fly under the radar for reasons that are never made clear.

It’s believed that at least in some cases, lawyers acting for ACE discover the identities of pirate site operators and app developers in order to pressure them to quietly shut down and settle. In some cases this involves signing over domain names to ACE or, more accurately, placing them into the hands of the MPA.

Today we reveal that at least 10 additional domains have recently been commandeered by the Hollywood group. Information is scarce on some of the platforms but given their names, they were most likely involved in anime piracy.

Seizure of ‘Animemovil’ domains

In recent weeks, animemovil.com and animemovil.net and animemovil.tv were all taken over the MPA and redirected to the ACE anti-piracy portal. A check of WHOIS records shows that the domains are now registered to the Hollywood group and secured, as always, by brand protection and anti-piracy partner MarkMonitor.

Animemovil

According to an article published last October, Animemovil and AnimeYT (more on that in a moment) were among the most popular sites for obtaining Spanish-subtitled versions of Japanese anime.

They were reportedly forced to close down early 2019 but even a cursory Google search reveals a large range of sites trading on the same branding so whether they actually closed or simply switched domains isn’t immediately obvious.

Seizure of ‘Animeyt’ domains

As mentioned above, when it came to subbed versions of Japanese anime, AnimeYT was reportedly popular in Spanish-speaking regions but now several domains linked to the platform are in the hands of the MPA.

During the past few weeks, animeyt.tv, animeyt.video, animeyt.link, and animeyt.online all fell into the hands of the Hollywood group and currently redirect users to the ACE anti-piracy portal.

Seizure of ‘AnimesoneHD’ domains

In common with many domains seized by ACE/MPA, it can be difficult to find out what the underlying sites were up to. By the time seizures go through, sites are often disappeared from search engines and in many cases, even the Wayback Machine struggles to come up with evidence of the activities.

However, Google’s transparency report is more comprehensive so we can see that animesonehd.com and animesonehd.net, another pair of seized domains, have attracted the attention of anime rightsholders over the years including Toei Animation, FUNimation Entertainment, and VIZ Media.

However, none of these companies are listed as members of ACE so in the absence of any comment by the anti-piracy group, we can only wonder whether the takedown notices previously sent by Warner Bros. were part of the problem.

Finally, Skanime.net completes the list of seizures. In addition to various blogs making references to the site in respect of offering free anime, we can confirm that in common with animesonehd, the site attracted the negative attention of many anime companies and ACE member Netflix.

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

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Russian Government Mulls Fines to Prevent Camming in Cinemas

Despite an increased desire to download and stream only the best quality copies of pirate movies, a significant number of pirates are still prepared to obtain so-called ‘cammed’ movies.

These copies are mostly obtained in cinemas by pointing a recording device, usually a camcorder or mobile phone, directly at the screen. The end result is often less than optimal but despite the regularly abysmal copies, people flock to download them, since this is often the only way to watch movies at home while they’re still in their theatrical windows.

The United States has cracked down on camming with strict legislation that can, in appropriate circumstances, lead to perpetrators being put behind bars. Other countries are still playing catch-up though, including Russia where current law isn’t much of a deterrent. However, the authorities there have been showing signs of a shift and this week revealed that tougher anti-camming legislation is on the horizon.

Filming a ‘Fragment’ of a Movie Would be Illegal

A draft proposal from the Ministry of Culture presented to the government earlier this month aims to outlaw not only obvious camming in cinemas but also any kind of filming during a presentation. Minister of Culture Olga Lyubimova described the problem of camming as “serious” and one that requires a tough response, particularly to protect local producers.

“This is not just a ban on any kind of recording, we are used to these warnings before each film,” Lyubimova said, as cited by TASS.

“If at the time [when a movie is showing the viewer] is filming a fragment or filming himself in some kind of video, then this is also filming inside the cinema. I think that the appeal to the audience will bring change, we will talk about it with cinemas.”

Lyubimova warned that people playing with their phones during a presentation could face fines under the proposals but added in a Facebook post that previous discussion on the topic hadn’t been easy.

Long Road to Draft Bill

“Almost two years ago, our committee held a round table in the State Duma dedicated to improving legislative mechanisms for combating piracy,” she explained.

“Following the meeting, recommendations were made. One of which sounded like this: ‘The Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation, together with the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, will prepare proposals for establishing responsibility for video recording of films on household devices (cameras, telephones) when they are shown in cinemas’.”

It appears that the Ministry of Internal Affairs initially had reservations about the proposal on the basis that recording a film only amounted to “preparing for a crime” and it seemed “excessive” to introduce criminal liability for the act in isolation. This is because subsequent use of the footage is already a crime under the Criminal Code and so can be dealt with that way.

Selfies Would Be Banned, Treated as Harshly as Camming

Under the current regime, punishment for recording in cinemas is moderated according to intent, meaning that someone who isn’t acting for financial gain can escape prosecution. The current proposals, which are now with the lawmakers, would certainly change that, even scooping up people taking videos of themselves during a performance.

That being said, Lyubimova says that it’s unlikely that the passage of the bill will be easy, adding that the precise financial penalties for those caught filming are yet to be decided. A ball-park figure of between 50,000 to 100,000 rubles is being discussed but even at the higher end of the scale, that’s just shy of US$700, a drop in the ocean compared to the punishments available in the United States.

Russia’s ‘Camming’ Problem According to the USTR

According to the United States Trade representative, 26 illegally camcorded movies were traced back to Russian cinemas in 2015. In 2016, this increased to 63 cammed copies and in 2017 the figure rose again to 78 movies, a 300% increase over the number reported in 2015.

By 2018, however, ‘camming’ was on the way down, with the USTR’s Special 301 Report noting that ‘just’ 48 titles were recorded and subsequently appeared online. For movie studios that’s still 48 too many.

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

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Google Takes No Action for 99.2% of Copyright Notices Targeting Internet Archive

The Internet Archive (IA) is a massive content resource by any metric. In addition to its Wayback Machine that archives 330 billion web pages, IA operates a huge media repository too.

According to the site’s data, it currently offers 20 million books and texts, 4.5 million audio recordings (including 180,000 live concerts), 4 million videos, (including 1.6 million Television News programs), 3 million images and 200,000 software programs.

Internet Archive can’t proactively police every piece of content that ends up on its servers (anyone can upload with a free account) so with four million unique IP addresses accessing the site every day, some infringement is bound to take place. Those complaints are dealt with via the platform’s abuse team and its registered DMCA agent but some copyright holders go to Google instead, hoping the search giant delists IA URLs from its indexes.

Filing Complaints with Google is Probably a Waste of Time

According to the latest data made available by Google, the Archive.org domain has had 10,840 delisting requests made against it, covering 100,075 URLs. Given the scale of the Internet Archive, this isn’t particularly surprising but Google’s overall response is interesting.

As the image below shows, in the vast and overwhelming majority of cases, Google takes absolutely no action in response to 99.2% of the complaints it receives, clearly marking them with “no action taken”.

Internet Archive DMCA

Google’s data further reveals that in addition to the 99.2%, a further 0.6% of complaints are rejected as being duplicate requests. Currently a couple of handfuls of complaints are marked as pending meaning that of all complaints, just 0.1% result in content being delisted.

So Are All Complaints Bogus Then?

This, of course, is the million-dollar question. Even with the massive resources at its disposal, not even Google is in a position to check every single complaint for validity. However, most notices sent to the company are available on the Lumen Database which reveals complaints being sent by industry giants including Springer Nature, Viacom, Macmillan, RIAA, Warner Bros., SiriusXM, Adobe, Paramount, Disney and a couple of hundred others.

Tackling some of the bigger names and recent senders, we can see that a complaint sent by Sirius XM in June targeted what appears to be hundreds of episodes of the Howard Stern Show, none of which were removed by Google and remain on the Internet Archive today.

Interestingly, however, the same notice demanded that episodes of the same show indexed by torrent site MagnetDL should be removed too. According to Google’s data, these were all processed, with 43 episodes/links delisted and others marked up as duplicate requests. This tends to suggest that Google treats certain categories of sites differently.

A complaint sent late May by Macmillan reveals the publisher trying to have links to eBooks taken down. However, the links – while still live on the Internet Archive – reveal only limited previews of books that must be loaned from the Archive as part of its controversial program that currently has publishers up in arms. None were delisted by Google.

No Shortage of Screw-Ups in DMCA Notices Sent to Google

Another notice sent in May, this time by Disney, targets hundreds of URLs on other sites but just three on the Internet Archive. Unfortunately, however, all three complaints are erroneous.

The first, which attempts to take down copies of the movie ‘Stuber’, actually asks for the removal of the movie’s classification document. The second, in an effort to remove a copy of an episode of ‘American Horror Story’, actually targets a podcast talking about the show. The third request makes a similar error.

Another notice, again sent by Disney, seeks to remove copies of the movie ‘Tolkien’ but again misidentified a podcast and an image of some Tolkien-related icons.

Plenty of Legitmate Claims Too

During the dive into the archives it was clear to see that, at least in some cases, copyright holders must’ve also contacted IA directly with duplicate takedown notices.

When following complained-about links to the site, some showed the following message: “This item is no longer available. Items may be taken down for various reasons, including by decision of the uploader or due to a violation of our Terms of Use.” This would account for Google taking no action in relevant cases.

However, there are some cases where contentious content has stayed up, music tracks by NWA/Eazy-E and anti-virus software published by Avast, to give just two examples.

Overall, however, it does seem rather pointless sending complaints about the Internet Archive to Google as its own stats reveal that in only a tiny minority of cases does it ever act on them.

Copyright holders would be better off sending complaints directly to the site itself but only if they target the correct content which is not always the case.

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

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French Torrent Giant YggTorrent Changes Domain to Avoid ISP Blocking

Most large torrent sites are published in the English language, with sites like The Pirate Bay and RARBG attracting massive international audiences. However, others can also build significant userbases by concentrating on local audiences.

Published entirely in French, YggTorrent provides a prime example of a site that has achieved remarkable success, despite not catering to the masses in the United States and Europe where English is broadly spoken. The site has in excess of 3.5 million registered members but that also ensures it’s a target for copyright holders.

Domain-Hopping During 2020

Earlier this year the site’s then-main domain, YggTorrent.ws, was suddenly disabled by its registrar Tucows without any advance warning, leaving the ominous ‘serverHold’ message behind. Given the levels of traffic to this domain, the suspension would’ve proven an irritant to the site, despite it having many other domains in backup to cater for this kind of action.

What followed was a switch to its Sweden-based YggTorrent.se domain, which was subsequently promoted as the main way to access the site. However, after just a few months since this change, that domain is also being targeted by copyright holder action.

Switch to a Brand New Slovenian Domain – YggTorrent.si

According to an announcement by Ygg, several ISPs in France recently began blocking the .se domain so rather than watch traffic levels fall, the site’s operators decided to take evasive action. With a switch to yet another new domain – the Slovenia-based YggTorrent.si – the site hopes it can mitigate blocking attempts, at least for a while.

The full list of ISPs now blocking the .se domain (which remains in use and acts as a redirect) isn’t clear but one of YggTorrent’s other domains, the Iceland-based YggTorrent.is, is reportedly on the blacklists of several providers including Free, VOO, Telenet, Brutélé, and Proximus.

The site’s Swiss-based domain is also affected by blocking. In 2019, following a complaint from local anti-piracy group SCPP, a Paris court ordered five French ISPs to block access to more than a dozen websites that link to pirated content. Included in that blocking order was YggTorrent.ch, a domain that is still being used by the site but only for redirection purposes.

Domain Whac-a-Mole

Overall it appears that YggTorrent is getting used to the domain name whac-a-mole game it’s now engaged in. In addition to the .si domain now being touted as its primary access point, the site has many alternatives up its sleeve including the previously mentioned .se, .is and .ch domains, plus .gg and .to variants.

The site first experienced domain issues in 2018 when it was forced to abandon its .com domain following a complaint from French anti-piracy outfit SACEM. Considering what has happened since, it seems likely that the latest switch won’t be the last.

Finally, another big player in the French-language piracy scene has also announced a domain change. Previously known simply as Zone-Telechargement and rebranded as Zone-Annuaire earlier this year, this month the file-sharing giant consolidated under the ZT-ZA banner.

“We are aware that the fact of changing domain name ‘every four mornings’ is starting to weigh heavily BUT Google and the [copyright holders] are not the only ones to put obstacles in our wheels and therefore for the survival of your / our site, it is again with a powerful aversion that we are going to have, once again, to change the domain name: ZT-ZA.COM,” an announcement from the site reads.

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

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Police Target Pirate IPTV With 72 Searches Against Operators & Financial System

While authorities all around Europe are cracking down on the supply of pirate IPTV, a disproportionate number of large-scale actions center on providers operating in Italy and Spain.

Police in the former have just announced yet another large operation against a pirate IPTV network which reportedly offered illegal access to subscription content usually offered by Sky, DAZN, Mediaset and Infinity at a premium price.

No further details have yet been made available but somewhat unusually, Spotify is also mentioned among the list of companies whose rights have been infringed.

Authorities Carry Out Raids in 72 Locations

The investigation was launched by the Economic and Financial Police Unit of Venice in early 2019. Then, late last week, the Guardia di Finanza of Venice, a law enforcement agency connected to the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance, executed a preventative order.

Issued by the Public Prosecutor of Teramo, the order allowed for the blocking of an as-yet-unnamed website and the seizure of Postepay pre-payment cards used to collect subscriptions and finance the IPTV operation.

Overall, the GdF reports carrying out 72 searches across 32 Italian provinces, targeting 71 people involved in the IPTV operation. The service’s customers were reportedly required to top-up pre-payment cards with 10 euros per month so in response, two offices where these payments were processed were also targeted.

65,000 Customers Paying One Million Euros Per Year

The investigation claims to have uncovered a large network of individuals involved in the IPTV platform, including 22 people who decrypted the signals of pay-TV operators in order to distribute it on the Internet. The GdF has not revealed the fate of these individuals.

A further 48 people, described as “resellers” of that service by the GdF, are claimed to have retransmitted the streams to customers over the Internet. In all, the authorities say that more than 65,000 people received content illegally after paying subscriptions via the pre-payment cards.

It is unclear whether the authorities will take any action against any of the service’s customers. Earlier this year, Italian police reported 223 customers of pirate IPTV services to the judicial authorities, warning of fines and potential prison sentences.

According to the information released thus far, pre-payment cards appear to have played an important role in financing the service targeted last week.

Customers Paid One Million Euros Per Year in Subscriptions

Replaced at least once every month to make it less easy to identify the holders, the cards were managed by 11 people. In total, the sum credited to these cards was found to be in excess of one million euros per year, which was transferred to accounts in Lithuania and Italy.

“[These] interventions, carried out in collaboration with numerous departments of the Guardia di Finanza and with the technical collaboration of SIAE (Italian Society of Authors and Publishers) and FAPAV (Federation for the Protection of Audiovisual and Multimedia Content), have made it possible to obscure the website, allocated to a provider in Milan, preventing further use,” GdF says.

The action was welcomed by FAPAV Secretary-General, Federico Bagnoli Rossi.

“The activity conducted by the Guardia di Finanza of Venice, to which our most heartfelt thanks go, is of particular importance since it goes against one of the main and most harmful forms of audiovisual piracy, that is, illegal IPTV,” Rossi says.

“In the FAPAV / Ipsos study, which we recently published, it was highlighted that audiovisual piracy is a phenomenon far from underestimated, with an incidence of 37% among the adult population.

“Illegal IPTVs, in particular, represent one of the fastest-growing forms of illicit use: its incidence at the end of 2019 is 10%, about a quarter of the total number of pirates.”

Earlier this month, following a complaint by football league Serie A, an Italian court ordered ‘preventative measures’ that require the country’s ISPs to block 56 servers connected to pirate IPTV services. A similar order was previously handed down in January.

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.