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The Pirate Bay’s Oldest Active Torrent Turns 16 Years Old Today

The Pirate Bay has weathered quite a few storms since its inception.

The notorious torrent site, which is a piracy icon today, was originally founded by Swedish anti-copyright think tank Piratbyrån during the summer of 2003.

In the years that followed, a lot has happened. The site was raided twice, had various changes in ownership, and the original co-founders were sentenced to prison. And in recent years, prolonged downtime issues, as the site currently faces, are the rule rather than the exception.

Despite all these setbacks and challenges, TPB is still here. It remains accessible on the Tor network, where the latest blockbusters, as well as some rare old torrents, remain readily available.

While torrents rely on at least one active seed to keep them alive, some files have proven to be quite resilient. In fact, quite a few torrents are older than some of the site’s younger users.

Today, The Pirate Bay’s oldest active torrent celebrates its sixteenth anniversary. The honor goes to an episode of the Swedish comedy show “High Chaparral,” which was uploaded by ‘kbdcb’ on March 25, 2004. At the time of writing, the file has one seeder according to TPB’s statistics, but various public trackers list more.

The oldest active torrent on TPB

The High Chaparral episode has been marked as the oldest active Pirate Bay torrent for a while. In the video category, it is currently followed by a copy of the 2001 documentary Revolution OS, which still has over a dozen seeders.

Looking at other categories, we see that the oldest active music torrent is an album from the Swedish pop group Gyllene Tider, titled “Samtliga hits!” The oldest game torrent is a copy of the Lord of the Rings strategy game War of the Ring, while a torrent for a really old version of ArcSoft’s photo editing software Funhouse leads the applications category.

If anything, this shows that no matter how much downtime a site like The Pirate Bay suffers, these torrents still survive.

That the High Chaparral episode is the longest surviving torrent on the site is remarkable for another reason as well. A few weeks after the torrent was uploaded, several people complained that they were stuck at 99%, which means that there was no seeder around at the time.

Years later, people started to notice that it had become the oldest torrent on The Pirate Bay, including MasterWAV, who dedicated an entry in his or her diary to this discovery.

“Dear diary, my heart burst of excitement to discover the oldest torrent in The Pirate Bay. I am happy to comment on this book and be part of the history of TPB. It’s like climbing Everest. Sincerely, thanks.”

Other commenters promised to keep seeding the file “forever,” which may be the prime reason why it’s still around today.

While sixteen years is impressive, there are even older torrents available on the Internet. “The Fanimatrix” torrent file holds the all-time record. It was created in September 2013 and, after being previously resurrected, continues to be available today with more than 100 people seeding.

Drom: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, torrent sites and more. We also have an annual VPN review.

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There’s Something Fishy Going on with Australia’s Piracy Numbers

Australia’s latest online copyright infringement report, released by the Department of Communications in December, suggested that piracy is falling.

The data pointed out that there’s been a steady decrease in the number of people who consume music, movies, and TV shows illegally. This follows a trend that was revealed in earlier reports.

According to the Government, a mere 16% of the population can be classified as pirates. This is a drastic drop compared to last year when a similar study found that 32% obtained content illegally. In 2015, when the first survey was taken, the number was even higher at 43%.

Like many other news outlets, we reported the numbers as they were presented. However, something didn’t feel right. This prompted us to step back and take a closer look at the reported data to see how this unprecedented drop took place.

Specifically, we want to see where this drop comes from and how it can be so massive.

The bar chart below provides a good starting point. It shows what percentage of a particular category of digital content is consumed 100% legally, 100% illegally, or a mix of both. The chart also shows the same data for “any of the four” content categories.

As reported, the bar on the far right shows that, across all categories, only 16% of the respondents consumed content unlawfully in any of the four categories. That is exactly as reported, so that’s good news.

The problem is, however, that this percentage doesn’t make much sense when we look at the individual categories.

Based on the reported sample numbers, the 16% across all categories translates to 314 respondents. In other words, 314 people pirated something from any of the four categories which includes music, games, movies and TV.

However, when we look at the movies category on its own we see that 25% of the respondents consumed movies illegally. Based on the sample size for that category, that translates to 316 respondents.

How can it be that more people consume movies illegally than in the four categories combined, which also includes movies, and thus the same respondents?

Technically this can be chalked up as rounding variance. But even when that’s the case, it seems implausible that every person who pirated something also pirated movies.

That explanation is even more implausible when we look at the exact same data from the year before. That year 32% of the people consumed content from any of the four categories unlawfully (555 respondents). However, less than half of these were also movie pirates (240 respondents).

It seems very unlikely that when in 2018 less than 50% of the self-proclaimed pirates consumed illegal movies, this suddenly went up to 100% in 2019.

We shared our findings with the Australian Government’s Department of Communications and the Arts. Despite several back and forths, they were not able to explain these findings.

In previous years the report also included the raw numbers for all the categories, which could provide more insight. However, the most recent report no longer includes these and the Government informed us that it does not have permission to share the data.

And it doesn’t stop there. The further we delve into the numbers the weirder things get.

For example, there is a similar chart to the one shown earlier but in this instance detailing the consumption of “free” content (e.g. downloading from torrent sites).

As shown above, this indicates that 46% of all respondents who consumed free content in any of the four categories did so unlawfully.

This translates to roughly 678 respondents, which is much more than the number cited for all content consumers (paid and free), which presumably includes the same people.

There are many other examples to give but the above clearly illustrates that there’s something fishy with these numbers. According to the Government, the entire pirate population was slashed in half last year, but we doubt that this is really the case.

Drom: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, torrent sites and more. We also have an annual VPN review.

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New Anti-Piracy Campaign Piles On The Scare Tactics But Who’s Scared?

Anyone who creates creative content has the right to protect that work from unauthorized wholesale reproduction. It is their work, their investment, and they should be able to benefit from the toils of their labors, copyright law dictates.

The reality, of course, is that while people can claim their rights all day long, there are plenty of avenues to obtain that content online without paying for it. As a result, entertainment industry groups are relentless in their efforts to disrupt and discourage such behavior.

One of the tried-and-tested methods is the anti-piracy campaign. Often in the form of short videos, trailers and clips presented online, within physical media, and on TV, these presentations get around 30 seconds to make an impact on the public. That is not a long time and as a result, the creatives behind these projects have to get well….creative….for want of a better word.

In recent years, the many ‘creative’ approaches are now diverging into what appears to be a coordinated global effort to physically scare people away from piracy. All is fair and love and war, they say, but these campaigns take the truth and bend into another dimension. Take the headline message from the new anti-piracy campaign launched online and on TV by Creative Content Australia, for example.

“Accessing pirate sites to download movies and TV exposes your financial and medical details, passwords, photos and more to criminals. So not only is pirating illegal, you become a victim of your own crime. Is it really worth it, just for some free content?” the campaign material reads.

Here’s the accompanying TV advert for additional context;

The video appears to portray a member of the public seeking help from the ‘police’ after he got hacked and had his passwords and photos stolen. However, when the authorities find out he’d visited a pirate site they basically said: “Screw you, it’s your own fault, you’re on your own.”

Thirty seconds isn’t a long time to get your message over but claiming that “pirate sites expose you to hackers” simply can’t be the experience of the majority of people who use them. If this was indeed the case, people wouldn’t be flocking to them every day in their millions.

The fact that a succession of campaigns are declaring pirate sites as unsafe havens filled with hackers is a clear indicator that someone feels the message just isn’t getting through to pirates. Which, when you think about it, is pretty strange.

No campaign on planet earth will ever be able to drive the message home more effectively than actually being hacked and having your personal details stolen. Victims of such crimes rarely need to be told twice which is a fairly obvious indicator that this campaign is aimed at the vast majority who have no such problems. And if the vast majority have no issues, why all the panic?

Let’s be clear here, this isn’t a pro-piracy rant at the expense of people simply trying to make some money off the back of their hard work. This is a reaction to scare tactics that are not only insulting to people’s intelligence but are also unlikely to reach their goals. Fact: if visiting pirate sites leads to all of the things being claimed, people wouldn’t use them. If people didn’t use them, the campaign wouldn’t be needed.

These claims of ‘people’ falling victim to criminals are problematic too. Last week we reported on a huge survey carried out in the UK, which also covered public attitudes towards various types of anti-piracy campaigns. One of the suggestions was that instead of making vague claims, it might help to present real-life examples of people who became victims of hacking as a result of visiting pirate sites.

Of course, this latest campaign – just like all the others – makes no effort to do that. Instead it uses actors and well-known activists to drive home the message that people who visit such platforms get what they deserve.

“If you visit pirate websites, even the law can’t protect you,” warns Graham Burke AO, Chairman of Creative Content Australia.

“You are going to a criminally dangerous neighborhood. Pirate sites are big businesses and exist solely to make money by robbing you, or worse. This is an area where your cyber security is in danger and malware, blackmail and identity theft are commonplace.”

It’s true that pirate sites can indeed have terrible ads and of course, malware can be present in downloads, most commonly software releases where such things are easily hidden. But blackmail and identity theft are such serious crimes that one would think that if a pirate site had been involved in such things, the police would’ve got involved and we would’ve heard about it. We haven’t.

On the other hand, it is extremely easy to find reports of people getting scammed via methods that have nothing to do with pirate sites, such as by telephone or phishing attacks. This is where things start to break down and make nightmarish anti-piracy campaigns lose credibility.

The awful experiences being described in most of these campaigns aren’t the experiences of the majority of people who use these sites. If truth be known, most people reading this article have probably had more attempts to have their identities stolen via email in the past three months than anywhere else on the Internet, pirate sites included.

Indeed, when we spoke to security company MalwareBytes on this topic in 2018, the company told us that pirate sites aren’t the biggest risk at all – email is.

“These days, most common infections come from malicious spam campaigns and drive-by exploit attacks,” said Adam Kujawa, Director of Malware Intelligence.

In response to claims in another dubious anti-piracy campaign in the same year, security expert Mikko Hypponen from F-Secure told us that it was false to claim that pirate sites are the number one source for malware online. He again pointed to email as the number one risk.

“Pirate sites are not the most common source for infections, and it hasn’t been since the early 1990s,” he informed TorrentFreak. “Today, the most common ways of getting infected are via malicious email attachments, browser plugins and extensions and web exploit kits.”

The bottom line here is that there is absolutely nothing wrong with anti-piracy campaigns per se but they must be believable and based in fact, not a twisted version of the truth. Also, the companies behind them might also consider being a little less cynical.

While one can’t expect a guide on how to pirate safely, campaigns that only warn of the dangers without offering some advice beyond “don’t use pirate sites” suggest that there’s no genuine concern about the safety of Internet users. In fact, the message in this campaign is actually “you’re on your own and nobody will help you.”

If only on a subconscious level, that won’t go unnoticed. Somehow, these messages need to move forward more positively. It’s become a cliche but all of the content in one place at a fair price from a legitimate source is the best way to stop people visiting pirate sites. Or at least powerful enough to stop a significant number from preferring them, especially when considering all of the horrors that lie within….

Drom: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, torrent sites and more. We also have an annual VPN review.

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Plex Slammed By Huge Copyright Coalition For Not Policing Pirates

In days gone by, living rooms around the world could be found stacked with video cassette tapes full of films and TV shows. Some bought, others recorded at home, these copies would need to be waded through, to find whatever content the owner fancied watching that day.

With the rise of digital technology, however, such physical collections have largely disappeared, replaced by copies that occupy virtually zero space, with thousands of movies, TV shows, music tracks, and photographs effortlessly stored on relatively cheap hard drives.

Paper-based indexing systems, for those who cared to maintain them in the analog age, have now been replaced by software that not only does all the hard work but also makes collections a thing of beauty. While there are alternatives, Emby for example, the clear market leader is Plex. However, the company behind the software is now facing a backlash for failing to control how people interact with its creation.

According to CreativeFuture, a pro-copyright coalition of more than 560 companies and organizations, Plex – which is basically a pretty media player – is helping to fan the flames of piracy. While there are some exceptions which we’ll come to shortly, people generally need to be in physical possession of movies or TV shows to watch them using Plex, with torrents providing the necessary material.

“[T]he problem now finds itself on a dangerous precipice where it could easily slip right back into becoming a crisis again, as it was in the mid-2000s – before streaming was all the rage,” Creative Future writes.

“Thanks to a rapidly growing media application called Plex, torrent-based piracy is back in vogue, and better than ever (for criminals who have no problem with profiting from content that doesn’t belong to them, that is).”

To set the scene, that Plex is some kind of ‘rogue’ application, CreativeFuture (CF) aligns the media player with another piece of software, one that has also suffered reputational damage as a result of its users’ activities. The choice of adjective to describe both is particularly interesting.

“To understand what Plex is and how it functions, it is helpful to look at Kodi – another dangerous digital media player that we have written about repeatedly here at CreativeFuture,” CF notes.

The claim that Plex is dangerous is supported by an article published in The Verge, which reported on so-called ‘Plex shares’. Without going into the minutiae, ‘shares’ effectively allow Plex users to access content on other users’ Plex servers which, in some cases, could have been obtained illegally.

That some Plex users allow others to access huge libraries of pirated content is a fact, with some being targeted by anti-piracy groups such as BREIN. But, in common with so many piracy controversies in recent years, CF feels that if Plex users are doing something illegal, then the company behind the Plex software should be held responsible for their actions.

In this respect, CF claims that like “most” tech platforms, Plex is doing what it can to avoid accountability.

“In turning a blind eye to its piracy problem, Plex has joined the ranks of internet heavyweights who refuse to take responsibility for the criminal behavior on their platforms,” the copyright coalition notes.

“With heightened scrutiny on the biggest platforms, lawmakers across the country, and abroad, have increasingly demonstrated less tolerance for tech companies that sidestep law and order in their relentless quest for user growth.”

Quite what CF believes Plex should do isn’t covered. If we take current industry strategies as a benchmark, we might guess that the organization would encourage the use of some kind of pro-active filtering mechanism, which would prevent Plex users from adding potentially infringing material to their own computers.

Of course, that would mean massive implications for end-user privacy, almost impossible calculations to determine who is allowed to add content to a library within the law in multiple jurisdictions, plus an inevitable backlash and migration to other platforms that reject such intrusions. It would also require the company behind Plex to get deeply involved and therefore acquire ‘knowledge’ of infringing user behavior, something that raises all kinds of red flags.

The piece, which deserves to be read in its own right, also accuses or Reddit of being a “notorious piracy-enabling outlet”. What it fails to mention, and probably should’ve done, however, is that Plex is already making progress with various entertainment industry groups to tackle piracy in the best way possible – providing users with easy access to licensed content.

In 2019, Plex announced it would begin streaming thousands of free movies, TV shows and music documentaries from within the app, after striking deals with relevant rightsholders. The content is ad-supported and the hope is to expand the offering in the future.

“Over time, we’ll be adding more stuff from different studios and creators — from Oscar-winning Hollywood movies to the latest from India, Russia, China, Japan, Africa, Latin America, Australia, New Zealand, and Europe to really cool independent movies fresh off the festival circuit,” the company said.

That Plex now finds itself in the firing line isn’t really a surprise – if Reddit is a “notorious” enabler of piracy, then any company with end users could find itself tarred with the same brush. TorrentFreak contacted the software developer for its opinion on the latest set of claims but at the time of publication, Plex chose to remain silent.

Drom: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, torrent sites and more. We also have an annual VPN review.

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What Type of Anti-Piracy Campaign Is More Likely to Work on Infringers?

Over the past couple of decades, campaigns aimed at discouraging people from accessing infringing content online have come in all shapes and sizes. Whether they are effective is still up for debate.

It could be argued that since copyright infringement is now easier than ever, with even novices able to access almost any content they like without paying, none of these campaigns have really worked. On the other hand, however, who knows where infringement would be today without a certain level of overt discouragement.

This week the UK’s Intellectual Property Office published its latest Online Copyright Infringement Tracker report, aspects of which we covered in an earlier article. Interestingly and in addition to a truckload of statistics, the report also covers consumer opinions on what type of anti-piracy campaigns might be effective with the general public.

Framed as “behavior change” mechanisms, the report looked at two broad types of anti-piracy campaigns – those that make it clear that downloading or streaming infringing content is illegal and others that set out to highlight the consequences or repercussions of the illegal behavior.

“Responses to campaigns depended somewhat on the level of experience and frequency of infringing, as well as moral standpoint. Two broad segments emerged,” the report reads.

“Cautious Infringers: Those who worry about infringing the law and the risks of illegal activity [and] Savvy Infringers: Those who are more tech savvy and knowingly access content illegally without much concern over related dangers or consequences.”

It makes perfect sense that different types of campaigns would work on these two groups. Those who are less well-informed and worry more about the chances of getting caught are probably easier to convince. The more tech-savvy bunch often have a tendency to see past scare-tactics, for example, and may even have the means to mitigate most threats.

According to the research, campaign imagery was effective in several areas, such as when the campaign was made more personal by centering it around an everyday scenario, such as watching a football match.

Relevancy is also listed as a matter of importance. For example, it was considered more effective to elicit an emotional response from the viewer (becoming a victim of identity theft) than to err more towards facts, such as being infected by malware.

Furthermore, campaigns must be clear.

“Campaigns with straightforward and uncomplicated messages are preferred. Any form of confusing rhetoric or double meaning runs the risk of taking attention from the core message (e.g. ‘You wouldn’t buy a digital virus…’),” the report notes.

Perhaps most importantly, the tone of campaigns must be carefully considered. The report states that while most believe that detailing the consequences of accessing content illegally needs to be spelled out, “a few take issue with the use of ‘scare tactics’
and feel the ads are too accusatory.”

Perhaps the most obvious example of scare tactics and overly-dramatic tone to date is the ‘You Wouldn’t Steal/Piracy is a Crime” campaign. It has been the subject of various parodies, such as the most well-known one featured in the IT Crowd.

Interestingly, another even more outrageous example surfaced just recently on Reddit and while intentionally offensive in parts, it really drives home the message that going over the top is more likely to elicit mockery rather than change.

So how best to deal with the different types of infringers?

For ‘Cautious Infringers’ it’s suggested that simple messages are best, particularly ones that identify which behavior is illegal and then sign-posting further information and detail. “This is especially important for those who are sent content by others and/or use services where there is some ambiguity around legality (e.g. Kodi boxes),” the report notes.

When it comes to ‘Savvy Infringers’, it’s suggested that giving real-life examples of people who were caught and fined (or were victims of hacking) may help to address the perception that “it will never happen to me.” It’s also noted that simply stating that the behavior is illegal or that people could become a victim of fraud may not be enough.

Instead, there may be some mileage in talking about “potential impact on credit score, losing money, or accessing personal photos etc.”

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

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Don’t Use the Word ‘Did’ or a Dumb Anti-Piracy Company Will Delete You From Google

Every hour of every day of every week of every year, anti-piracy companies send out DMCA notices to remove supposedly infringing content from the Internet.

Many of these are legitimate takedown requests, targeting everything from movies and TV shows, to music, games, software and anything else that can be digitally reproduced. For copyright holders it’s a herculean task and as a result, mistakes can happen. The scale is such that it’s almost inevitable.

Unfortunately, however, some ‘mistakes’ are so ridiculous as to be unforgivable, especially when they target completely innocent individuals hoping to make a difference with the positive spread of knowledge and information. Case in point: Sinclair Target, the owner of computing history blog, Two-Bit History.

In 2018, Target wrote an article about Ada Lovelace, the daughter of Lord Byron who some credit as being the world’s first computer programmer, despite being born in 1815. Unfortunately, however, those who search for that article today using Google won’t find it.

As the image below shows, the original Tweet announcing the article is still present in Google’s indexes but the article itself has been removed, thanks to a copyright infringement complaint that also claimed several other victims.

While there could be dozens of reasons the article infringed someone’s copyrights, the facts are so absurd as to be almost unbelievable. Sinclair’s article was deleted because an anti-piracy company working on behalf of a TV company decided that since its title (What Did Ada Lovelace’s Program Actually Do?) contained the word ‘DID’, it must be illegal.

This monumental screw-up was announced on Twitter by Sinclair himself, who complained that “Computers are stupid folks. Too bad Google has decided they are in charge.”

At risk of running counter to Sinclair’s claim, in this case – as Lovelace herself would’ve hopefully agreed – it is people who are stupid, not computers. The proof for that can be found in the DMCA complaint sent to Google by RightsHero, an anti-piracy company working on behalf of Zee TV, an Indian pay-TV channel that airs Dance India Dance.

Now in its seventh season, Dance India Dance is a dance competition reality show that is often referred to as DID. And now, of course, you can see where this is going. Because Target and at least 11 other sites dared to use the word in its original context, RightsHero flagged the pages as infringing and asked Google to deindex them.

But things only get worse from here.

Look up the word ‘did’ in any dictionary and you will never find the definition listed as an acronym for Dance India Dance. Instead, you’ll find the explanation as “past of do” or something broadly along those lines. However, if the complaint sent to Google had achieved its intended effect, finding out that would’ve been more difficult too.

Lo, here it is in its full glory.

As we can see, the notice not only claims Target’s article is infringing the copyrights of Dance India Dance (sorry, DID), but also no less than four online dictionaries explaining what the word ‘did’ actually means. (Spoiler: None say ‘Dance India Dance’).

Perhaps worse still, some of the other allegedly-infringing articles were published by some pretty serious information resources including:

-USGS Earthquake Hazards Program of the U.S. Geological Survey (Did You Feel It? (DYFI) collects information from people who felt an earthquake and creates maps that show what people experienced and the extent of damage)

– The US Department of Education (Did (or will) you file a Schedule 1 with your 2018 tax return?)

– Nature.com (Did pangolins spread the China coronavirus to people?)

Considering the scale of the problem here, we tried to contact RightsHero for comment. However, the only anti-piracy company bearing that name has a next-to-useless website that provides no information on where the company is, who owns it, who runs it, or how those people can be contacted.

In the absence of any action by RightsHero, Sinclair Target was left with a single option – issue a counterclaim to Google in the hope of having his page restored.

“I’ve submitted a counter-claim, which seemed to be the only thing I could do,” Target told TorrentFreak.

“Got a cheery confirmation email from Google saying, ‘Thanks for contacting us!’ and that it might be a while until the issue is resolved. I assume that’s because this is the point where finally a decision has to be made by a human being. It is annoying indeed.”

Finally, it’s interesting to take a line from Target’s analysis of Lovelace’s program. “She thought carefully about how operations could be organized into groups that could be repeated, thereby inventing the loop,” he writes.

10 DELETE “DID”
20 PROFIT?
30 GOTO 10

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Record Labels Question TorrentFreak’s Reliability in Court

Last weekend, we reported on a rather peculiar legal request from a group of major record labels.

The companies, which will go to trial against Internet provider Grande later this month, want to know whether potential jury members read TorrentFreak.

In theory, it could be an attempt to get well-informed jurors on the bench. However, it’s also possible that the labels see our reporting as biased. That second scenario seems more likely based on some new information we have received.

This week the same record labels, including Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music, and Warner Bros Records, mentioned TorrentFreak again. This mention is part of a motion in another lawsuit, the one against ISP Bright House. This case also revolves around liability for pirating subscribers.

Before we highlight the TorrentFreak mention, some background information on the lawsuit is required.

In short, the labels argue that the ISP is liable for pirating subscribers because it failed to disconnect repeat infringers. Bright House disagrees. Among other things, it pointed out that under the Copyright Alert System, which the labels took part in, ISPs were not required to disconnect repeat infringers.

Last month. the ISP asked the court to take “judicial notice” of several documents related to the Copyright Alert System. This included the memorandum of understanding, as well as several news reports – including one of our articles – that reference statements from participating ISPs such as AT&T and Verizon.

These “judicial notices” basically ask the court to accept certain facts into the record that can’t be reasonably doubted. With regard to the news articles, Bright House doesn’t ask the court to accept that all information in them is factual, but simply that the ISPs did indeed make these statements.

This request wasn’t well-received by the record labels, for a variety of reasons.

In their response, the labels point out that three of the five documents are not “press releases” that were “issued by the Internet service providers.” Instead, they point to news articles or blog posts of which the “reliability” is “suspect.”

As an example of these suspect articles, the record labels highlight one of our articles but also reports from Ars Technica and Business Insider.

“Exhibit 5 is another article, this one written by ‘Ernesto’ (no last name provided), for a website called ‘TorrentFreak.’ Far from being a press release issued by AT&T, the article purports to describe leaked AT&T documents that TorrentFreak obtained,” the response reads.

We fully stand behind the accuracy of the reported information, which was never disputed and is certainly reliable. That said, the record labels do have a point. Our report is not a direct press release from an ISP and that applies to the other news reports too.

We simply reported on information that we received from an employee. The two other news articles are not press releases either, although they do include statements that were attributed to ISPs that participated in the Copyright Alert System.

That said, the labels don’t even want to accept the ISPs’ official press releases (e.g.), as these apparently aren’t “self authenticating.” Even the publicly published memorandum of understanding (MOU) doesn’t pass muster, the companies write.

“Taking judicial notice of this document is inappropriate, as there is no indication from the document itself that it in fact is the final MOU or that the MOU was not amended, terminated, or qualified at some later point in time,” the labels write.

What we have here is an ISP that is trying to show that other ISPs who participated in the music industry sanctioned Copyright Alert System did not terminate any subscribers. The record labels are trying to block this, as they do not agree with or indeed like this argument.

As said before, the labels do have a point about the news articles not being press releases. That said, Bright House may not have to jump through hoops if they simply want to argue that copyright alerts didn’t automatically lead to terminations.

If we pull up an archived version of the official Copyright Alert System website, which was backed by the music industry, we read the following:

“While the ISPs can modify the Mitigation Measures in a manner consistent with their own policies, ISPs will not use account termination as a Mitigation Measure.”

Even better, perhaps, the same site also archived all of the ‘final’ MOU, including all the amendments that were later made.

We’re not legal experts, but this appears to be fairly solid, coming directly from the source. That said, the record labels will likely disagree. In any case, it’s not up to us to present any arguments.

Finally, we want to briefly come back to the record label’s comment that our reliability is suspect. That’s an interesting argument, as our reporting has repeatedly been cited by copyright holders in the past.

For example, the RIAA used our coverage as evidence in comments it made to the U.S. Copyright Office. Similarly, the International Intellectual Property Alliance mentioned our reporting repeatedly in public submissions to the US Government.

In fact, even Sony Music Entertainment, which today questions our reliability, cited our reporting in an earlier submission to the US Trade Representative. Apparently, our coverage about Google’s takedown efforts was pretty solid according to the company.

While we realize that the stakes and circumstances are different in this case, we just want to set the record straight.

A copy of Bright House’s request for judicial notice is available here (pdf). The response from the record labels can be found here (pdf).

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