TorrentFreak Breaking File-sharing, Copyright and Privacy News Mon, 27 Mar 2023 08:26:23 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Twitter Hunts Down Github User Who Leaked Company’s Source Code Mon, 27 Mar 2023 08:26:23 +0000 On March 31, Twitter is set to open source its recommendation algorithm. Until then, someone on a more urgent timeline has published Twitter code in public. A GitHub repo containing Twitter's "proprietary source code"was taken down by Twitter last Friday. TorrentFreak can confirm that Twitter is taking legal action to identify the leaker.

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

pirate twitterOn February 21, 2023, Twitter chief Elon Musk published a tweet suggesting that Twitter’s algorithm would be “made open source” before the end of that month.

Before he took ownership of Twitter, Musk said that having the code out in the open would be a smart move, but the end of February came and went, without any code appearing in public.

On March 17, Musk raised the topic once again. “Twitter will open source all code used to recommend tweets on March 31st,” he tweeted. With the clock ticking on that event, someone with apparently similar plans but a more urgent publishing schedule, has taken Twitter by surprise.

FreeSpeechEnthusiast Presents: PublicSpace

On March 24, Twitter sent a DMCA takedown notice to GitHub targeting a repo named ‘PublicSpace’. The repo was created by a GitHub user called FreeSpeechEnthusiast, but with no description, nothing stood out as particularly interesting or out of the ordinary.


Logs obtained by TorrentFreak suggest that the allegedly infringing content appeared on the PublicSpace repo early Friday morning, around 02:25. When GitHub received the initial DMCA notice isn’t clear, but some interaction between Twitter and GitHub appears to have taken place before 10:15.

At 17:12 Friday afternoon, GitHub removed the repo and the code. Just one minute later, GitHub advised Twitter that the content was gone. That was a pretty swift removal but it appears Twitter was in a real hurry.

“Proprietary Source Code For Twitter’s Platform”

While the repo itself appeared without fanfare, Twitter’s DMCA notice is clear on why it should be taken down.

In response to GitHub’s request to identify the infringed content, Twitter revealed that it was “Proprietary source code for Twitter’s platform and internal tools.”


Knowing exactly what was made available isn’t straightforward without a live repo, but whatever the contents were, Twitter seems to be taking things very seriously.

Twitter Files DMCA Subpoena Application

On the same day the content was uploaded and then removed from GitHub, Julian Moore, Twitter Director and Associate General Counsel, filed an application for a DMCA subpoena at a federal court in California.

“On March 24, 2023, I submitted on behalf of Twitter a DMCA notification, via GitHub’s online DMCA notification form…identifying the Infringing Content on GitHub’s systems and providing the information required by 17 U.S.C. § 512(c)(3)(A),” Moore’s declaration reads.

“The purpose of Twitter’s DMCA Subpoena is to identify the alleged infringer or infringers who posted Twitter’s source code on systems operated by GitHub without Twitter’s authorization, which postings infringe copyrights held by Twitter.”

Identifying the Infringer

Not satisfied with simply taking the repo and content down, Twitter is now trying to identify the person behind the username FreeSpeechEnthusiast on GitHub. As the image below shows, Twitter believes GitHub may have a lot to offer.

twitter - github details

There’s no doubt that GitHub will have all of this information to hand, but whether it will be of use to Twitter remains to be seen.

Some basic information is easy to determine without any special help from GitHub, including the date when the account was created – January 3, 2023 – and when there was activity on the repo.

The note from Twitter claims they have no contact information for FreeSpeechEnthusiast but TorrentFreak was able to identify an email address linked to a specialist encrypted provider. Unsurprisingly, FreeSpeechEnthusiast did not respond to our request for comment.

Twitter’s DMCA subpoena application can be found here (1,2, pdf)

Image credit: geralt/pixabay

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

]]> 0
Major Publishers Mull Legal Action Against Pirate Ebook Platform Sun, 26 Mar 2023 10:45:47 +0000 With Sci-Hub and Z-Library making headlines over the past few months and the Internet Archive's legal battle still ongoing, publishers seem prepared to defend every last inch of their rights. That includes Cengage, Macmillan, McGraw-Hill and Pearson, as they investigate what appears to be a blatant pirate ebook platform. A closer look reveals even more dubious activity.

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

fenlitaThere’s something special about professionally produced textbooks. From the information inside to the tactile feel of the paper, textbooks can be items of beauty.

Unfortunately, reality rains on the parade more than just a little. Textbooks are bulky, woefully underpowered for mass research purposes, and then suddenly out date for any number of reasons. After factoring in the extraordinary expense, it’s no surprise that some turn to sites like the recently resurrected Z-Library.

Check Out The Bargains, Beware of the Scams

A student posting on Reddit’s /r/college earlier this year posed questions about digital textbooks. As a distance learner, digital copies made sense since they don’t have to be physically returned.

After spotting a website offering every textbook the student needed for ‘just’ $20 each, a question needed to be answered: Is really ‘legit’?

fenlita computer

As suggested by some of the responses, sites selling new textbooks for $20 should always be viewed with caution. Several people claiming to have used Fenlita say they pretty much got what they expected – a pirated copy of a textbook in PDF format, in some cases delivered via a Dropbox link.

Other reviews and reports suggest more serious problems for potential buyers.

One reported purchase consisted of a file that “took about an hour” to download and then turned out to be 400 pages of screenshots. Given the low price, that might’ve been tolerable; if the textbook in its original form hadn’t run to 650 pages.

Reports of multiple charges to credit cards and items appearing in baskets multiple times weren’t supported by proof but are still a concern. A report from a buyer, who complained that a download link went to an apparently ‘seized’ website, hardly inspires confidence.

Publishers Target

Given the above, it’s interesting to note that major educational publishers Cengage, Macmillan, McGraw-Hill, and Pearson were in court earlier this month on a mission to unmask the operator of via DMCA subpoena.

Court documents reveal that the publishers filed a complaint with domain registrar Namecheap on February 21, 2023. When the website remained operational, counsel for the publishers filed a second complaint on March 2, requesting an urgent response.

The application was accompanied by four-and-a-half pages of microscopic text listing hundreds of URLs where infringing textbooks were being offered.

A small sample of URLs

The publishers asked Namecheap to take action, including by disabling the domain. When that didn’t happen, Cengage, Macmillan, McGraw-Hill, and Pearson asked a Washington court to compel Namecheap to hand over the domain owner’s personal details.

Namecheap Ordered to Unmask Domain Owner

The court granted the request a few days ago, and after being served with the DMCA subpoena, Namecheap must now produce the following:

Identifying information for the person(s) responsible for the alleged infringing content listed in the attached Exhibit A, including but not limited to billing or administrative records that provide the name(s), address(es), telephone number(s), email address(es), account number(s), or any other contact information for such persons.

These requests for information aren’t always successful. Domain buyers are often aware of the trail they leave behind, so it’s possible that Namecheap has only false information to hand over. That being said, the publishers’ are likely to be aware of the bigger picture.

Commerical Pirates and Deception

Most pirate sites have no interest in passing themselves off as legal suppliers. For commercial operations like Fenlita, the impression of being a legitimate vendor offering discounts is helpful when offering pirate copies available for free elsewhere.

A physical address for the ‘company’ behind features prominently on the website. It leads to a residential property in Sedalia, Missouri, and is unlikely to be genuine. The same address is linked to ads promoting an ethical and environmentally aware seller of returned Amazon books.

Fenlita endeavor to redirect books from landfills, keep books reasonable, offer assistance support library maintainability and through their accomplices, give important arrangements to the worldwide issue of lack of education. That books are a ageless expression of disclosure, creative ability, and accomplishment. Fenlita let stories live on by guaranteeing books are perused once more, given to somebody in require, or reused as another valuable buyer great with a modern story to tell.

This entire pitch was ripped off from genuine booksellers, Discover Books, before being transformed into a mangled mess. That adds to the weight of evidence pointing to an operation people should really avoid.

Unfortunately, people seeking advice from the ‘People also ask’ section of Google search are likely to get the opposite impression. In fairness to Google, the structure of the linked article doesn’t help.


Google’s Transparency Report reveals that since January 2023, the publishers sent takedown notices requesting 12,113 URLs to be removed from search results. Unfortunately, 99.4% of those requests failed to remove anything because the URLs didn’t exist when Google processed the request.

It’s not hard to see why that might be annoying for the publishers but buyers might be a little annoyed too.

WHOIS records show that was registered with Namecheap in October 2021 and currently uses Cloudflare which hides its server IP address. In Fenlita’s case, it was possible to obtain an IP address of a server it had used in the past when Cloudflare wasn’t providing cover.

Payments Diverted, Spam Calls Accepted

When people buy books from Fenlita today, without their knowledge their payment is processed on a subdomain of another ‘book’ store located at, which uses the same IP address used by Fenlita in the past.

Whether people supply or have their phone numbers obtained by the platform in other ways is unclear, but in the tiniest of print, buyers agree to receive recurring automated text messages from an automatic dialing system which charges for the privilege.


The same IP address mentioned earlier shows hundreds of similar sites, all products of an instant online shopping website creation platform. We haven’t viewed them all but we did check a few dozen, and many show hallmarks of some type of scam; fake addresses and fake contact details, images culled from other sites, and the same bogus DMCA complaint page.

The publishers’ DMCA subpoena application can be found here (1,2,3,4, pdf)

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

]]> 0
Internet Archive is Liable for Copyright Infringement, Court Rules Sat, 25 Mar 2023 13:43:29 +0000 The Internet Archive's online book lending library is not protected by the fair use exception to copyright. Major book publishers successfully argued that the Archive's lending of scanned books amounts to copyright infringement. In a decision published Friday, a New York federal judge found that the Archive's fair use defenses weighed strongly against the digital book lending operation.

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

internet archiveIn 2020, publishers Hachette, HarperCollins, John Wiley and Penguin Random House sued the Internet Archive (IA) for copyright infringement, equating its ‘Open Library’ to a pirate site.

IA’s library is operated by a non-profit organization that scans physical books and then lends the digital copies to patrons in an ebook format.

While ‘digital’ book lending is not uncommon, libraries typically loan out DRM-protected files after acquiring a license from publishers. In this case, IA sent physical books it owned to a scanning facility and made its own copies.

Fair Use or Mass Copyright Infringement?

These digital copies were subsequently loaned out to patrons, with IA ensuring that only one person at a time could access a single digital copy of a single physical book.

IA previously sought summary judgment in its favor, arguing that a digital copy of a physical book ‘transforms’ the original work, with lending limits and the absence of profit also supporting a finding of fair use.

In contrast, the publishers described IA’s library as a rogue operation engaging in willful mass copyright infringement. Claiming direct damage to their bottom line, the publishers’ lawsuit aimed to put an end to the “illegal” lending program once and for all.

The publishers went on to request summary judgment and a declaration that this type of copying is a clear case of copyright infringement.

Opinion and Order

Earlier this week, the parties had the opportunity to back up their arguments during a New York Court hearing. District Court Judge John Koeltl questioned both sides on their summary judgment requests, before deliberating on his final decision.

After weighing the arguments. Judge Koeltl published his opinion and order yesterday. His order clearly sides with the publishers, whose request for summary judgment was granted. IA’s fair use defense and summary judgment in its favor was denied.

ia summary judgment

Courts typically weigh four factors when determining fair use. Judge Koeltl concludes that all four factors weigh strongly in favor of the publishers.

Starting with the first factor – whether the use is transformative – the order stresses that IA failed to show that its book lending operation meets the standard. The fact that only one patron at a time can borrow a book is irrelevant to the fair use question, the order notes.

“The crux of IA’s first-factor argument is that an organization has the right under fair use to make whatever copies of its print books are necessary to facilitate digital lending of that book, so long as only one patron at a time can borrow the book for each copy that has been bought and paid for,” Judge Koetl writes.

“But there is no such right, which risks eviscerating the rights of authors and publishers to profit from the creation and dissemination of derivatives of their protected works.”

The court fails to see how IA’s operation transforms the original work. The fact that IA is a non-profit organization isn’t a strong defense either, as the lending program still allows IA to benefit through donations and other means, without obtaining an appropriate license from the publishers.

“IA’s wholesale copying and unauthorized lending of digital copies of the Publishers’ print books does not transform the use of the books, and IA profits from exploiting the copyrighted material without paying the customary price,” Judge Koetl notes.

Competing With Free?

Profits and revenue are also relevant in determining the fourth fair use factor, which questions whether the library affects the original book market and existing revenues.

IA argued that this isn’t the case, as sales volumes fail to show a negative correlation with its lending service. Unconvinced by the argument, Judge Koetl says that IA’s program amounts to direct competition for licensed alternatives.

“In this case, there is a ‘thriving ebook licensing market for libraries’ in which the Publishers earn a fee whenever a library obtains one of their licensed ebooks from an aggregator like OverDrive.

“This market generates at least tens of millions of dollars a year for the Publishers. And IA supplants the Publishers’ place in this market.”

IA’s library offers a vastly cheaper alternative to licensed platforms, which allows libraries and the public to save money. However, it does so at the expense of the publishers and their authors, according to the court.

“It is equally clear that if IA’s conduct becomes widespread, it will adversely affect the potential market for the Works in Suit,” Judge Koetl writes.

IA is Liable for Copyright Infringement

Since the remaining fair use factors weigh clearly in favor of the publishers, IA’s fair use defense fails. As a result, the court concludes that the Internet Archive is indeed liable for copyright infringement.

The scale of the damages has yet to be established. IA asked for statutory damages to be remitted, citing its status as a nonprofit library. Judge Koeltl says that at this time, any decision on damages is premature.

Based on this order, it’s clear that IA’s ebook lending library won’t be allowed to continue in its current form. That said, the Archive still has the option to appeal.

In response to the order, IA’s Director of Open Libraries, Chris Freeland, confirmed that an appeal is forthcoming.

“We will keep fighting for the traditional right of libraries to own, lend, and preserve books. We will be appealing the judgment and encourage everyone to come together as a community to support libraries against this attack by corporate publishers.”

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

]]> 0
Cloudflare Disables Access to ‘Pirated’ Content on its IPFS Gateway Fri, 24 Mar 2023 20:29:17 +0000 Cloudflare helps to provide access to millions of websites on the regular web. The company also offers an IPFS gateway, making it easier to access content on the censorship-resistant storage network. Unlike its CDN and DNS services, Cloudflare reports that it disables IPFS access in response to copyright abuse complaints.

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

ipfs cloudflareThe InterPlanetary File System, more broadly known as IPFS, has been around for a few years now.

While the name may sound a little alien to the public at large, the peer-to-peer file storage network has a growing user base among the tech-savvy.

In short, IPFS is a decentralized network where users make files available to each other. A website using IPFS is served by a “swarm” of users in much the same way BitTorrent users share content with each other.

Completely Decentralized

The advantage of this system is that websites can become completely decentralized. If a website or other resource is hosted on IPFS, it remains accessible as long as the computer of one user who “pinned” it remains online.

The advantages of IPFS are clear. It allows archivists, content creators, researchers, and many others to distribute large volumes of data over the Internet. It’s censorship resistant and not vulnerable to regular hosting outages.

IPFS is also a perfect match for ‘pirate’ sites. Due to its decentralized nature, IPFS sites are virtually impossible to shut down. This aspect was already highlighted by Pirate Bay co-founder Peter Sunde back in 2016. More recently, IPFS was promoted by Z-Library after its domain names were seized.

Cloudflare’s IPFS Gateway

IPFS has also been embraced by many legal services. Most notably, Cloudflare gave it a boost by launching its own IPFS gateway, allowing the public to access IPFS resources without having to install specialized software.

Cloudflare’s IPFS gateway has been running for a few years now. Technically, the internet infrastructure company has no control over any of the content being made available, but that doesn’t mean there are no complaints.

Apparently, some people or organizations have complained about the content that can be accessed through Cloudflare’s IPFS gateway.

While the accessed content is in no way controlled by Cloudflare, the San Francisco company takes these complaints rather seriously. The same also applies to the Ethereum gateway, which offers easy read-and-write access to the Ethereum network.

Cloudflare Disables IPFS Access

In its most recent transparency report, Cloudflare explains that it will respond to valid abuse requests by disabling access. This includes spam reports as well as copyright infringement complaints.

“Although Cloudflare does not have the ability to remove content on IPFS or Ethereum, Cloudflare may disable access through Cloudflare-operated gateways to certain content on IPFS and the Ethereum network in response to abuse reports, including reports of copyright, technical, and other abuse.”

“This action does not prevent access to that content through other gateways, which Cloudflare does not control,” Cloudflare clarifies.

In the first quarter of 2022, Cloudflare reports that this policy resulted in 1,073 IPFS actions. Presumably, this means that the company disabled access the same number of items on the IPFS network. No such actions were taken for the Ethereum gateway.

ipfs action

Cloudflare’s actions are notable for a couple of reasons. For one, it shows that decentralized and censorship-free networks lose their key feature when they are accessed through centralized gateways.

IPFS vs. DNS vs. CDN

What also stands out is that Cloudflare disables content in response to copyright complaints. The policy for its CDN service is different; it only forwards complaints to the affected users.

For example, when rightsholders send a complaint about The Pirate Bay, which uses Cloudflare, the company takes no action aside from forwarding the notification to The Pirate Bay team.

We asked Cloudflare about its motivation to take action in response to copyright complaints for its IPFS gateway, but the company didn’t immediately respond. If we had to take a non-informed guess, we expect that the lack of forwarding options for IPFS content might have something to do with it.

Cloudflare has no option to forward any complaints for IPFS content because it does not know who controls it.

That said, this raises the question of how the IPFS gateway is different from Cloudflare’s DNS resolver, which essentially operates as a gateway to the regular Internet. Cloudflare previously said that it will fight copyright-related DNS blockades, even if they’re backed up by a court order.

Apparently, that’s not the case for IPFS.

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

]]> 0
New Pirate IPTV Bill Moved to Senate as Italy Takes on ‘Digital Mafias’ Fri, 24 Mar 2023 09:34:57 +0000 A bill designed to crack down on pirate IPTV services has been unanimously approved by Italy's Chamber of Deputies. If passed by the Senate, telecoms regulator AGCOM, broadcasters, and anti-piracy affiliates are poised and ready to go. Pirate streams will be blocked within minutes, maybe even seconds, according to reports. Stream suppliers will face three years in prison and for those who watch them, 5,000 euro fines will be on the table.

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

footballItalian consumers’ love for pirate IPTV services and the alleged damage suffered by broadcasters and the country’s world-famous clubs at the hands of those services, have been on a collision course for some time.

Italy has operated an administrative pirate site-blocking program for years. It currently blocks around 3,200+ pirate domains, with telecoms regulator AGCOM sometimes issuing blocking instructions to ISPs within days of a rightsholder complaint.

Defending live sporting events from ubiquitous pirate IPTV streams demands a whole lot more, though. After gaining and maintaining momentum, alongside increasing political pressure, it seems likely that football clubs and broadcasters are about to collect.

Push For The Big Anti-Piracy Bill

By the middle of 2022, support for radical action to shut down the flow of pirate streams was building in Italy. Unprecedented blocking measures, new powers for telecoms regulator AGCOM, punishments for stream suppliers, even punishments for those in the telecoms sector who fail to block them, sat firmly on the table.

Working against the clock in December 2022, the new standards were laid out, one in particular. ISPs would be required to block pirate IPTV streams “without delay and in real time” most likely having been informed well in advance of what to shut down.

Anti-Piracy Bill Unanimously Approved

This week in the Chamber of Deputies, Italy’s lower house of parliament, the football and broadcasting industry-developed anti-piracy bill was unanimously waved through to the final.

If the bill meets with the approval of the Senate, as it almost certainly will, the new law will attempt to strangle the availability of pirate streams and punish suppliers and consumers of those that get through.

Contrari: Zerochamber-anti-piracy vote

New powers bestowed upon AGCOM will see it rapidly respond to rightsholders’ complaints against all types of content, not just illegally streamed football matches.

AGCOM will be able to order the immediate shutdown of pirate IPTV streams and any associated platforms, and have internet service providers respond to those orders within 30 minutes. Search engines will be required to remove pirate platforms from their results.

That may be just the beginning for the telecoms regulator. Once the law is approved, an automated blocking system could be in place in just a few months, with the aim of blocking pirate IPTV streams almost instantaneously.

That type of system obviously can’t be built in just a few months, at least not from a standing start. Live IPTV blocking systems have been operating for several years, especially in the UK. Work in Italy is already underway.

Whether the positions are directly linked to developments in Italy is unclear, but the live IPTV blocking experts at anti-piracy company Friend MTS have been on quite the recruitment drive lately. From senior software engineers to automation, DevOps, and algorithm engineers, offers to swell the ranks have been numerous over recent weeks.

Italy Intends to Go Hard

According to official documentation (pdf), the bill seeks to punish anyone making illegal copies of any cinema, audiovisual, or publishing content (in whole or in part) with up to three years in prison and a fine of up to 15.5k euros.

If somehow the blocking mechanisms fail to do their job and pirate IPTV services aren’t driven out of business, people who subscribe to pirate TV packages will also face sanctions including fines of up to 5,000 euros.

AGCOM chief Massimiliano Capitanio seems pleased with progress thus far.

“Italy is the first country in Europe to challenge the digital mafia in this way,” he said, adding that Sky and Dazn will help fund additional staff at AGCOM.

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

]]> 0
Cloudstream Takes Site and Code Offline in Response to Hollywood Complaint Thu, 23 Mar 2023 21:22:24 +0000 The operator of popular pirate streaming app Cloudstream has voluntarily taken down its code and disabled its website. The developer took action after the Motion Picture Association targeted the open-source Android app in a complaint filed at GitHub. The MPA hasn't contacted the developer directly but the Hollywood group considers Cloudstream a prime enforcement target.

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

cloudstream logoLegal video streaming services such as Amazon, Disney, and Netflix are booming. At the same time, there’s a flourishing dark market of pirate streaming tools.

These unauthorized alternatives increasingly use slick designs and easy-to-use apps to appeal to a broad audience. And unlike the legal options, they offer all popular titles under the same roof, without charging a penny.

Cloudstream is one of the apps that made its mark in recent years. The Android-based software can aggregate pirated content from several third-party sources and is fully customizable through open-source extensions.

This hasn’t gone unnoticed by rightsholders. Sky UK targeted the software last year and across the pond, Cloudstream also appeared on the radar of the MPA, Hollywood’s anti-piracy group.

MPA Targets Cloudstream

This week, the MPA decided to take action. The organization, which represents the major Hollywood studios and Netflix, sent a DMCA notice to GitHub, asking the developer platform to remove several Cloustream-related files.

“We […] request your assistance in addressing, the extensive copyright infringement of motion pictures and television shows that is occurring by virtue of the operation of the domain, which is hosted on and available for download from your repository GitHub Inc.

“Specifically, at the URL, the Repository hosts and offers for download the APK CloudStream, which in turn is used to engage in massive infringement of copyrighted motion pictures and television shows,” the notice adds.

MPA DMCA notice to Github

When GitHub receives DMCA notices it typically informs developers of the targeted content, allowing them to address the problem on their own. That also happened in this instance and led to a drastic decision.

Cloudstream Takes Voluntary Action

Yesterday, Cloudstream developer “Lag” informed the app’s Discord followers that they had received a “very serious DMCA notice” that simply can’t be ignored. For that reason, the team will voluntarily remove the contested files from GitHub.

According to “Lag”, complying with the takedown request was the only viable option. The developer didn’t wait for GitHub to respond and decided to pull the plug, hoping to avoid legal repercussions.

“Having the absolute worst anti-piracy coalition on our asses is not preferable. They will undoubtedly fuck us legally if they have to. Think what you want but I do not want all of Hollywood after me because of some hobby project,” Lag wrote.

“At least they will never be able to shut down torrents :)”

Cloudstream explains on Discord that it will comply with MPA's DMCA notice

The MPA’s DMCA notice also mentioned the domain, which has gone offline too, and remains unreachable for the foreseeable future.

Speaking with TorrentFreak, “Lag” explains that the site linked to the reported repositories and was taken down for that reason. The developer is still waiting to hear from GitHub to see if his removal actions are sufficient, before making choosing how to go forward. However, challenging the MPA isn’t on the table.

A Prime Enforcement Target

The MPA’s head of Global Content Protection and Enforcement Operations, Jan van Voorn, confirmed the legitimacy of the takedown request, adding that it hasn’t contacted the developer directly, yet.

“The popularity of Cloudstream’s website, which received millions of visits in the last few months alone, and its Discord channel, with over 46,000 members, naturally made it appear on our radar as a prime target for enforcement,” Van Voorn says.

As we publish this article, all of the reported GitHub URLs are unreachable. Most return a 404 error, indicating that the developer removed the content voluntarily. In addition, a repo from ‘third-party’ developer “Eddy976” displays a DMCA removal notice, so GitHub likely intervened there.

Given the immediate response of developer “Lag”, it seems unlikely that they will stage a comeback under the same team. However, the door remains open for an external restart, according to the Discord message.

“The project may be handed off to another development team within a couple of days so I would refrain from calling it over yet,” Lag wrote.

That will likely ensure the MPA’s continued interest.

A copy of the MPA’s DMCA notice to GitHub is available here. Below is a list of all the targeted URLs.

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

]]> 0
SEC Charges Justin Sun, TRON & BitTorrent Companies With Fraud Thu, 23 Mar 2023 07:36:24 +0000 Justin Sun, crypto entrepreneur and owner of the company formerly known as BitTorrent Inc., has been charged by the SEC for the unregistered sale of TRX and BTT securities and market manipulation. Three of Sun's wholly owned companies, including uTorrent owner Rainberry Inc. have also been charged with fraud along with Lindsay Lohan, Jake Paul, Ne-Yo and porn actress Kendra Lust.

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

justinsun1After reporting on all things BitTorrent-related for the 13 years leading up to May 2018, TorrentFreak spotted something out of the ordinary.

BitTorrent Inc., the company founded by BitTorrent inventor Bram Cohen, and the owner of uTorrent, the world’s most recognized torrent client, suddenly had a new name. When asked about the change, Rainberry Inc. said it was a “corporate decision” not unlike the Alphabet/Google exercise.

Less than two weeks later, we were able to reveal that TRON founder Justin Sun was planning to buy BitTorrent Inc. Less than a month after that, Sun closed the deal with a reported offer of $140 million.

A shareholder quoted in a TechCrunch report revealed that one of Sun’s aims was to use the BitTorrent acquisition to “legitimize” TRON’s business.

According to a Securities and Exchange Commission announcement published a few hours ago, the plan failed in at least one key area. Most likely, many, many more.

Fraud: SEC Charges Justin Sun and Three Wholly-Owned Companies

Claims that the SEC had already opened an investigation into Sun’s business activities have been around for a long time. An extraordinary article written by Christopher Harland-Dunaway and published by The Verge last year left very little doubt.

In an announcement Wednesday, the SEC revealed charges against Justin Sun and three of his wholly-owned companies – Tron Foundation Limited, BitTorrent Foundation Ltd., and Rainberry Inc. (formerly BitTorrent Inc.) – for the unregistered offer and sale of crypto asset securities Tronix (TRX) and BitTorrent (BTT).

Sun and his companies were further charged with fraudulently manipulating the secondary market for TRX through extensive wash trading, described by the SEC as “simultaneous or near-simultaneous purchase and sale of a security to make it appear actively traded without an actual change in beneficial ownership.”

Alleged Crypto-Shill Celebrities

The SEC also charged eight celebrities for promoting TRX and/or BTT without disclosing they were being paid to do so.

Actress Lindsay Lohan, YouTuber/Boxer Jake Paul, DeAndre Cortez Way (Soulja Boy), and singer/songwriter Austin Mahone, are joined by porn actress Michele Mason (aka Kendra Lust), Miles Parks McCollum (Lil Yachty), Shaffer Smith (Ne-Yo) and Aliaune Thiam (Akon) on the SEC’s list.

Sun’s personal promotion site before it went offline (

The SEC’s complaint alleges that Sun and his companies sold TRX and BTT as investments via unregistered “bounty programs” that saw partners promote the tokens on social media while recruiting others to join Tron-affiliated Telegram and Discord channels.

Sun, BitTorrent Foundation, and Rainberry reportedly sold BTT in unregistered monthly airdrops to investors who purchased and held TRX in Tron wallets or on other crypto trading platforms. The SEC says that every offer and sale violated Section 5 of the Securities Act.

Fraud and Market Manipulation

The SEC alleges that Sun was also the architect of a scheme that sought to artificially inflate the volume of TRX on the secondary market.

During a 10-month period 2018/2019, Sun allegedly directed his employees “to engage in more than 600,000 wash trades of TRX between two crypto asset trading platform accounts [Sun] controlled, with between 4.5 million and 7.4 million TRX wash traded daily.”

Sun’s personal promotion site today (

Sun is said to have supplied a significant amount of TRX to facilitate the scheme while also selling TRX into the secondary market himself. These “illegal, unregistered offers and sales” reportedly generated $31 million.

Sun’s Stunts Slammed by SEC

“While we’re neutral about the technologies at issue, we’re anything but neutral when it comes to investor protection,” said Gurbir S. Grewal, Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement.

“As alleged in the complaint, Sun and others used an age-old playbook to mislead and harm investors by first offering securities without complying with registration and disclosure requirements and then manipulating the market for those very securities.

“At the same time, Sun paid celebrities with millions of social media followers to tout the unregistered offerings, while specifically directing that they not disclose their compensation.”

According to the SEC, six of those celebrities have already paid their way out. Lohan, Paul, Lust, McCollum, Smith, and Thiam agreed to hand over a combined $400,000 in settlements for their alleged roles in a magic bean business we called out almost four years ago.

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

]]> 0
BREIN Won’t Take Piracy Warning Dispute to The Supreme Court Wed, 22 Mar 2023 20:28:25 +0000 Last fall, a court of appeals in the Netherlands ruled that internet provider Ziggo is not required to forward piracy warnings to its subscribers. The ruling was a setback for local anti-piracy group BREIN, which wanted to warn frequent uploaders without knowing who they are. BREIN now says that it won't take the dispute to the Supreme Court, which might actually be bad news for pirates.

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

cautionDutch anti-piracy group BREIN has been at the forefront of the anti-piracy battle since the turn of the millennium.

For most of this period, unauthorized sharing via BitTorrent has been a prime concern. Traditionally, BREIN focused its enforcement efforts on website operators, but in recent years there’s been a shift to uploaders as well.

In late 2020, the anti-piracy group announced an elaborate program to monitor and warn some of the most active BitTorrent uploaders. The goal of this “FLU” scheme was to change the behavior of prolific pirates, without obtaining their identities.

The project received government research funding but BREIN had a major obstacle to overcome. Unlike ISPs in other countries such as the United States, Dutch ISPs are not required to forward piracy notices to their subscribers.

ISP Refuses to Forward Warnings

BREIN hoped that Internet providers would be willing to cooperate, but that wasn’t to be the case. When BREIN approached Ziggo, the largest ISP in the Netherlands, with a request to forward piracy alerts to its subscribers, the company refused to do so.

According to Ziggo, linking IP addresses to specific subscribers raises serious privacy concerns, even if personal information isn’t shared with BREIN.

The anti-piracy group was unhappy with the refusal and took Ziggo to court. BREIN argued that warnings are a relatively mild measure that would help rightsholders to address the piracy problem. The system wouldn’t result in any claims for damages either, as the identities of the alleged pirates would remain private.

BREIN lost the case last year. The court found that there is no legal basis to compel Ziggo to forward warnings. In addition, the ISP lacks a license to link IP-addresses to personal information.

This outcome was a disappointment for BREIN which appealed the ruling, but without result. The appeals court affirmed the lower court’s ruling, noting that there is no legal basis to require Internet providers to forward the notices.

No Supreme Court Challenge

This was yet another setback for the anti-piracy group, which considered taking the matter to the Supreme Court. However, after weighing the available options, it chose not to do so, which effectively means the end of the original FLU program.

In its most recent annual report, the group cites the ‘costs’ as the primary reason not to appeal the matter to the highest court.

“In light of the costs, BREIN decided not to appeal at the Supreme Court,” BREIN writes. “We don’t rule out that the FLU project will be adapted to the conventional form of enforcement. In that case, a claim will be filed if the summons is not heeded.”

Having spent years developing its piracy monitoring plan, BREIN leaving the door open for a revised warning scheme is to be expected. Aside from the technical investments, BREIN was also required to obtain a data processing license. Ideally, it would like to put that to use.

Piracy Fines Are on the Table Now

BREIN typically takes a pragmatic and reasonable approach. This was exemplified by its original plan to alert or warn prolific uploaders, without having to obtain their identities. Ironically, this benign approach must now be reconsidered after the court determined there is no legal basis to compel ISPs to forward warnings.

“We think anonymous warnings are a form of enforcement but Ziggo didn’t want to do it,” BREIN director Tim Kuik tells TorrentFreak.

“The appeal court said we need to be able to bring a claim to court if there is no compliance. So we will consider adapting the FLU protocol to that. A claim could be a cease-and-desist undertaking with a fine in case of recidivism.”

In other words, BREIN is considering whether to file more concrete claims against prolific uploaders because that’s the only way they can be approached. In that case, the alleged offenders will be identified, facing a potential fine for their wrongdoing.

Open Directory Case Pending

At the moment it remains unclear what type of claim is sufficient. In a related case, the court previously decided that Ziggo didn’t have to forward a notice or disclose the identity of a subscriber who shared 200 pirated ebooks in an open directory.

This open directory case does involve a claim, BREIN contends, and the case is currently under appeal. The decision on this matter is expected in a few weeks and could provide more clarity.

BREIN will likely await the ruling in the open directory case before it takes any further decision regarding the future of the BitTorrent uploader warnings. In the meantime, its other enforcement actions will continue, of course.

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

]]> 0
Anti-Piracy DNS Poisoning Blacks Out Media Group, ISP Refuses to Comment Wed, 22 Mar 2023 11:53:50 +0000 For several days last week, visitors to the website of tech-focused media group Heise were diverted to Germany's piracy-blocking portal instead. Users of ISP 1&1 were diverted to a page reserved for pirate site visitors, informing them that Heise had been rendered inaccessible for copyright reasons. Calls for an explanation are met with silence.

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

website not availableIn a world where clear and independent reporting struggles to get heard in a sea of sensationalized clickbait, the German Heise group is generally recognized as a reliable and accurate news source.

For several days last week, an unknown number of visitors to were denied access to the company’s reporting. Instead, they found themselves redirected to Germany’s anti-piracy website blocking portal and statements that had no basis in fact.

Silently Blocked For Several Days

A Heise analysis, published Tuesday, reveals that the publication first learned of issues affecting access to its website last Friday, March 17. More messages from readers were received on Monday, and all reported the same thing. When attempting to access, web browsers responded with a certificate error and an explanation.

A bright orange splash page informed Heise readers that due to copyright infringement, Heise had been rendered inaccessible. The message usually confronts internet users who attempt to access a specific set of sites previously identified as facilitators of mass online copyright infringement.

website not available

Heise had no idea why the message was being displayed but did find a common denominator. All of the readers reporting problems were using the same internet service provider – 1&1 AG, a €3.9 billion telecoms group servicing 15.6 million fixed line and mobile customers.

DNS Tampering/Poisoning

Heise reports that its editors and system administrators were getting closer to the source of the problem on Friday but then a reader provided crucial information.

“He had set up his provider’s standard DNS server with the IP address as the DNS server in his router,” Heise reports.

“This temporarily answered a question about with a CNAME entry that referred to the page. Other readers also confirmed that they were using the provider’s default DNS servers.”

Under normal conditions, web browsers accessing receive a response from the Domain Name System (DNS) to visit an IP address defined by the publication. In this case,’s domain had a surprise CNAME (Canonical Name) entry that mapped to, the location of the orange splash screen carrying the copyright notification.

Since Heise itself is a 1&1 customer, staff tried to replicate the issues experienced by customers on a 1&1 DSL connection in the company’s editorial office. That ultimately failed and the redirect eventually disappeared on its own.

Heise Requests Answers, Receives None

In an effort to get to the bottom of the mystery, Heise said it contacted 1&1’s press office. The publication was informed that the internet service provider’s technical department would investigate but as things stand, Heise has received no response.

“The case remains a mystery: Only a small proportion of the queries to 1&1 DNS servers seem to be affected, and it is also not a regional problem. The tips came from Berlin and Hesse, among others,” Heise reports.

Starting from the position that the Domain Name System shouldn’t be tampered with, the question is why that appears not to be the case here. The short answer is that, with assistance from 1&1, Germany has implemented a DNS tampering system that enables rightsholders to redirect 1&1’s customers to a blocking page when they attempt to access specific pirate site domains.

CUII and Site-Blocking in Germany

Copyright Clearing House on the Internet (CUII) was launched in 2021. It operates from and its blocking notification page is located at, the subdomain/domain that appeared in’s DNS CNAME records.

“The Copyright Clearing House on the Internet (CUII) is an independent body. It was set up by Internet access providers and rights holders in order to use objective criteria to check whether the blocking of access to a structurally infringing website is lawful,” CUII explains.

Current members of CUII: 1&1 AG (telecoms), German Book Traders’ Association, Federal Music Industry Association (BVMI), German Football League (DFL), Freenet DLS (telecoms), German Games Industry Association, Motion Picture Association (MPA), Sky Deutschland, STM (publishers), Telefónica Germany, Telekom Germany, German Film Producers Association (VDF), and Vodafone Germany.


“At the request of the rights holder, a review committee will examine and, if the requirements are met, recommend a DNS blocking of this structurally copyright-violating website,” the CUII website notes.

When a blocking decision is recommended, the matter is then referred to the German government’s Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) to confirm that a blockade will not violate net neutrality. Currently a small number of pirate sites are affected.

cuii blocking decisions

Code of Conduct

CUII’s stated purpose to recommend blocking of websites whose main purpose is to infringe copyright. The body is limited to handling “clear cases” where platforms have no real interest in supplying legal content.

Under its code of conduct, CUII observes the requirements laid down by the Court of Justice of the European Union to prevent internet service providers from encroaching on internet users’ freedom to access information online.

“For this reason, the Federal Network Agency is also involved in the process as the competent authority so that it can review the recommended blocking based on the requirements of the Net Neutrality Ordinance,” CUII notes.

Who Will Accept Responsibility?

Given all of the checks, processes and systems in place to prevent the blocking system from doing harm, what happened to Heise should’ve been impossible. As things stand, not only was it possible but nobody seems prepared to offer an explanation. That’s a big issue.

At the time of writing, Swiss DNS resolver Quad9 is being forced by a German court order to implement blocks after losing a case to Sony Music.

Sony Music is a member of BVMI, which in turn is a member of CUII. As things stand, a completely innocent website has lost traffic for 72 hours and the visitors who were redirected to the CUII blocking page were informed that Heise was blocked for copyright reasons.

Indeed, as per CUII’s own standards, Heise was labeled a “clear” infringer of copyrights with no interest whatsoever in providing legal content. That probably needs to be addressed with a clear explanation, sooner rather than later.

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

]]> 0
RIAA Hunts Pre-Release Music Pirates Behind Tue, 21 Mar 2023 19:55:56 +0000 Music streaming apps like Spotify offer more than 100 million tracks but for some, nothing sounds better than leaked, unreleased music. 'Unreleased Sounds' is a site dedicated to this type of content and already linked to many high-profile leaks. After an artist, linked to Avicii, asked fans not to buy "stolen" music last year, the RIAA now wants to know who's behind the site.

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

unreleasedsounds-gg-bsHuman beings have a tendency to want things they can’t have. A modest interest in a particular item or activity can inexplicably soar when it’s recognized as rare or unavailable. When strictly forbidden, even regular fruit can prove irresistible.

Spotify offers 100 million tracks to hear right now, including the vast majority of the greatest pieces of music ever written. Yet for some, the lure of an unreleased track can outweigh every single one of them; unattainable, forbidden and rare is a potent mix and may explain why pirates are paying silly money for leaked, pirated music.

Dozens of Avicii Leaks

When producer Tim Bergling passed away in 2018, the prospect of never hearing a new Avicii track was suddenly very real. Two albums and various tracks were eventually released, but then – PAB happened.

In 2022 the Public Avicii Buy Server (PAB) channel on Discord became a hot location for unreleased Avicii tracks. Faced with having to pay for them, fans worked to ‘groupbuy’ a long list of Avicii tracks including ‘Let’s Roll’ and ‘Lethal Drug V2’ which featured Chris Martin & SZA.

Sources Unknown But Some Files Were Apparently Stolen

How the music was obtained isn’t clear; some believed the PAB seller bought the tracks and then sold them to fellow Avicii fans at cost price. Others spoke of hacked accounts and big profits. Late 2022, after another ‘PAB’ release (‘Island’) appeared online, a Reddit user jumped in to comment

“Hey guys! My name is Jonas Wallin and my alias is The High,” the music producer posted on Reddit.

“I wrote Island and it’s coming out soon in fact. The leaked vocals are mine, my vocal stems. It’s the same with Loving Feeling. I would recommend you to not pay someone for these files since they were stolen from me. Thanks.”

RIAA Investigates Unreleased Sounds

According to various sources, the track made its way to PAB via a private leak site called Unreleased Sounds. It’s unclear whether the RIAA’s member labels have any interests in the dozens of Avicii tracks leaked so far, but they do want to know who runs the 15/16 month-old site.

Citing three previously leaked tracks – ‘Hot Saturn’ by Lil Nas X, ‘Rockstar Status’ by Juice WRLD, and PnB Rock’s ‘I Know They Mad’ — on March 13 the RIAA filed an application for a DMCA subpoena at a district court in Columbia, Washington.

“The purpose for which this subpoena is sought is to obtain the identities of the individuals assigned to these websites who have reproduced and have offered for distribution our members’ copyrighted sound recordings without their authorization,” the application reads.

In a letter to Cloudflare, the service targeted in the subpoena, the RIAA requests several pieces of information.

“As is stated in the attached subpoena, you are required to disclose to the RIAA information sufficient to identify the infringers. This would include the individuals’ names, physical addresses, IP addresses, telephone numbers, e-mail addresses, payment information, account updates and account history, as available.”


The DMCA subpoena, which also references two additional platforms ( and, has now been issued so it’s likely Cloudflare will hand over the information in the coming days, if it hasn’t already.

Unreleased Sounds

It’s not difficult to find reports of unreleased tracks being leaked by Unreleased Sounds. Operating from at least two domains – and – the platform became a members-only service last October, meaning that today’s prospective members need an invite code to sign up.

“Our website is now a closed/invite only marketplace,” the site’s operator wrote.


The screenshot above reveals Kanye West and Avicii as featured artists on Unreleased Sounds. While that doesn’t provide hard evidence that the platform was the source of previous Avicii leaks, comments from the site’s operator suggest that if fans have the money, more Avicii music is indeed available.


The DMCA subpoena also covers and, a stream-ripping platform with tens of millions of monthly visits.

DMCA Subpoenas and Links to Infringing Content

The RIAA previously sent DMCA takedown notices to Cloudflare asking for the allegedly infringing content to be removed. How Cloudflare responded to those notices is unclear but in one case, it may have been difficult to know exactly what to take down.


Unlike the URLs for the other sites, the three Unreleased Sounds links appear to be artist categories rather than links to specific content. Given the overall nature of the platform, that’s not particularly unreasonable, but it does raise the question of why the direct links were left out.

One possibility is that the links were external and carried the domain of a far less interesting hosting site. Another is that artist page URLs are much easier to guess from outside once the general format is known. But whatever the reason, RIAA subpoenas are relatively rare and being featured in one rarely ends well.

The RIAA’s DMCA subpoena application can be found here (1,2,3,4, pdf)

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

]]> 0
Internet Archive’s Copyright Battle with Book Publishers Nears Climax Tue, 21 Mar 2023 12:09:29 +0000 A copyright lawsuit filed by major book publishers against the Internet Archive is set to define the boundaries of digital book lending. The parties shared their positions at a New York federal court yesterday. The Internet Archive claims that its library is protected by fair use and does no harm to rightsholders. For their part, the book publishers see massive infringement and damages.

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

In 2020, publishers Hachette, HarperCollins, John Wiley and Penguin Random House sued the Internet Archive (IA) for copyright infringement, equating its ‘Open Library’ to a pirate site.

IA’s library is a non-profit organization that scans physical books, which can then be lent out to patrons in an ebook format.

Staying true to the centuries-old library concept, only one patron at a time can get a copy. These restrictions were temporarily loosened at the height of the Covid epidemic when IA launched the National Emergency Library.

Mass Copyright Infringement or Fair Use?

The publishers see IA’s library as a rogue operation that engages in willful mass copyright infringement, directly damaging their bottom line. As such, they want it permanently taken down.

“Without any license or any payment to authors or publishers, IA scans print books, uploads these illegally scanned books to its servers, and distributes verbatim digital copies of the books in whole via public-facing websites,” their complaint reads.

The publishers are not against libraries per se, nor do they object to ebook lending. When lending digital content, ‘authorized’ libraries typically obtain a license or negotiate specific terms. The Internet Archive has no such license.

The Internet Archive wholeheartedly disagrees with the copyright infringement allegations. Stressing that the library offers a vital service, Internet Archive’s defense centers on the legal concept of fair use.

The Archive states that making a digital copy of a physical book ‘transforms’ the original work before it is loaned to one patron at a time. That would qualify as fair use, they argue, especially since there is no profit motive.

Another factor in favor of fair use is the fact that there are numerous benefits to the public at large. There is also no evidence to show that the book publishers’ sales or traditional licensing revenues were impacted.

New York Court Hearing

Over the past two-and-a-half years, the parties have gone back and forth in court, disputing each other’s arguments. This eventually resulted in contrasting motions for summary judgment, with both sides hoping for a ruling in their favor ahead of the trial.

Yesterday, IA and the publishers had the opportunity to back up their positions during a New York District Court hearing. Both parties laid out their cases and were questioned by District Court John Koeltl.

The publishers’ attorney Elizabeth McNamara pointed out that the IA strives to make all knowledge available for free, but doesn’t want to compensate rightsholders for their works.

“IA does not want to pay authors or publishers to realize this grand scheme and they argue it can be excused from paying the customary fees because what they’re doing is in the public interest,” she said, quoted by The Register.

The publishers’ attorney added that IA’s lending platform directly harms authors and publishers, but Judge Koeltl didn’t see any direct evidence of harm. IA’s attorney Joseph Gratz said evidence of harm doesn’t exist.

“There’s no evidence that the publishers have lost a dime,” Gratz said, as quoted by Ars Technica.

Unauthorized Reproductions

The four-factor fair use test that applies in these cases isn’t straightforward, but a Reuters report highlights some interesting comments from Judge Koeltl.

Koeltl stressed that libraries absolutely have the right to lend books that they own but in this case, IA goes a step further by making a digital copy, a reproduction of the original work.

“You avoid the question of whether the library has the right to reproduce the book that it otherwise has the right to possess, which is really at the heart of the case,” Koeltl said, noting that “the publisher has a copyright right to control reproduction.”

IA’s attorney responded by pointing out that the reproductions serve a ‘transformative’ purpose in this case, while adding that every fair use case deals with copies or reproductions by definition.

Battle For Libraries

The above is just a fraction of the legal arguments under discussion. While in essence this is a copyright dispute subject to existing law and jurisprudence, it’s exemplary of a bigger problem.

The publishers are not only up against IA; a large public movement has formed in support. This includes Fight for the Future’s “Battle for Libraries” campaign, which argues that the publishers act as malicious gatekeepers, preventing the free flow of information and undermining libraries’ ability to serve their patrons.

library battle

The general complaint is that publishers want to control and restrict digital access to books through relatively expensive licensing agreements. This serves a commercial purpose, but can also be used to censor content and restrict access whenever they see fit.

The issue also attracted the attention of Creative Commons founder and Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Lessig, who describes this as a critical moment in the history of culture.

“The lawsuit that the Internet Archive faces will determine whether the business model of culture is the commercial model alone, or whether there will continue to be a place for libraries,” Lessig notes.

Lawmakers have taken an interest in the dispute too. A few months ago, U.S. Senator Ron Wyden and Congresswoman Anna Eshoo sent a letter to the major publishers, asking them about their restrictive lease terms for ebooks.

“Many libraries face financial and practical challenges in making e-books available to their patrons, which jeopardizes their ability to fulfill their mission,” their letter reads.

“It is our understanding that these difficulties arise because e-books are typically offered under more expensive and limited licensing agreements, unlike print books that libraries can typically purchase, own, and lend on their own terms.”

These comments show that this isn’t just another copyright lawsuit. Whatever the immediate outcomes of the pending motions and trial, this matter is likely to be contested all the way to the Supreme Court.

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

]]> 0
Major Labels Want ISP to Pay Additional $12 Million in Piracy Liability Case Mon, 20 Mar 2023 21:13:36 +0000 In 2022, a group of major recording labels won $47 million in damages from Internet provider Grande Communications. Now, just a few months later, the music companies say they're entitled to more. To compensate for attorneys fees and interest, the labels are seeking over $12 million, a request that has sparked opposition from Grande.

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

grande astoundLast fall, several of the world’s largest music companies including Warner Bros. and Sony Music prevailed in their lawsuit against Internet provider Grande Communications.

The record labels accused the Astound-owned ISP of not doing enough to stop pirating subscribers. Specifically, they alleged that the company failed to terminate repeat infringers.

The trial took more than two weeks to complete and ended in a resounding victory for the labels. A Texas federal jury found Grande guilty of willful contributory copyright infringement, and the ISP was ordered to pay $47 million in damages to the record labels.

U.S. District Court Judge David Ezra confirmed the judgment on January 31st, but the legal dispute is not over yet. Grande asked the court to either overrule the verdict or grant a new trial. If those options fail, the Internet provider plans to file an appeal.

Music Labels Want $12 Million Extra

While Grande is playing defense, the major music labels are taking a more offensive approach with demands for more compensation. In addition to the previously awarded $47 million in damages, they recently requested an additional $12.7 million in attorney fees, interest, and other costs.

Courts have the freedom to issue this type of compensation when warranted. The labels say this is a prime example of when such an award is appropriate.

In a detailed motion, the music companies explain that Grande was well aware of its misconduct. The company willingly ignored piracy notifications and stopped terminating subscribers based on these accusations, as was admitted at trial.

“[R]ather than acknowledge its wrongdoing and address its role in contributing to the widespread infringement of Plaintiffs’ copyrights, Grande litigated this case aggressively from start to finish.

“At trial, Grande still did not acknowledge any wrongdoing, but instead manufactured arguments about the reliability of the notices of infringement it received that were admittedly never asserted (or even considered) by Grande during the relevant time period.”

Flouting Of And Disdain For The Law

Grande has repeatedly argued that it didn’t act on the notices sent by tracking firm Rightscorp because it doubted their accuracy. The ISP was under the impression that it didn’t have to act on the notices and suggested that it would continue to ignore them if the jury agreed.

The labels say that Grande made no attempts to determine the accuracy of the notices before the ISP was taken to court. According to the music labels, the suggestion that the ISP might not have to act on piracy notices is illustrative of Grande’s “disdain” for the law.

“Most egregiously, Grande even argued to the jury that, if it were found not to be liable in this case, it would again ignore the infringing conduct of its subscribers,” the labels write.

The labels conclude that since Grande’s “intentional flouting of and disdain for the law” must be deterred, the additional $12.7 million in attorney fees, interest, and other costs is warranted.

Grande Responds

Grande opposed the request a few days ago. Calling on the court to deny the music companies any additional money, the ISP says that the statutory damages awarded by the jury already represent a windfall for the labels.

Grande believes the $47 million award is already more than any actual losses attributable to piracy activity.

“Plaintiffs have already obtained a recovery that far exceeds any reasonable estimation of actual harm they suffered — indeed, Plaintiffs never even attempted to prove the amount of any loss. Thus, there is no rationale supporting an additional monetary award,” Grande writes.

The ISP also rejects suggestions that it flouted the law or that its defense was unreasonable. On the contrary, whether the copyright notices sent by Rightscorp were sufficient to establish liability was a key question to be answered at trial.

Based on these and other arguments, Grande believes that the court should reject the labels’ motion for attorneys fees, interest, and additional costs.

Whatever the court decides, this case is far from over. And with dozens of millions at stake, both sides are expected to fight tooth and nail.

A copy of the music labels’ motion is available here (pdf) and Grande’s response can be found here (pdf)

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

]]> 0
Zippyshare Quits After 17 Years, 45m Visits Per Month Makes No Money Mon, 20 Mar 2023 11:34:06 +0000 After almost 17 years online, file-hosting veteran Zippyshare will shut down at the end of the month. Founded in 2006, Zippyshare was known for its free, no-nonsense, no-frills approach to storing files online. Having changed very little over the years, Zippyshare's operators say the platform is now a dinosaur that costs too much to run in a world where ad-blocking is widespread.

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

zippylogoWhen file-hosting service Zippyshare showed its first signs of life in September 2006, accessing the site using an iPhone was impossible; the smart phone’s existence wouldn’t be announced for another four months.

Zippyshare’s success was built on solid yet basic foundations; straightforward free hosting of files, via a clean interface, at zero cost to the user. With relatively few options available elsewhere, Zippyshare was a huge success and to celebrate its first birthday, Zippyshare went BIG.

“A few days ago turned one year old,” its operators wrote in 2007. “For Zippyshare’s first birthday we are raising the filesize limit to 100mb.”

Upgrade After Upgrade

After repeatedly upgrading to meet rising demand, Zippyshare launched Zippyshare Uploader, a software application that allowed users to upload files without using a web browser.


Almost three years after the surprise 100mb limit was introduced, Zippyshare doubled its filesize limit to 200mb. A little later, when the internet was consumed with Megaupload being taken down, Zippyshare carried on as if nothing had happened, or it did once its email servers had been fixed.

Zippyshare Breaks Five-Year Silence With Bad News

When Zippyshare’s operators announced the shutdown of the site yesterday, that was the first update posted to the site for almost five years.

“We’ve decided that we’re shutting down the project at the end of the month. Please make backups of your important files, you have about two weeks to do so. Until then, the site will run without any changes,” the announcement reads.

zippyshare shuts down

In addition to hardware upgrades, Zippyshare also received visible updates over the years, but in broad terms, the view for users stayed much the same. As the file-hosting market developed and competition increased, being zippy was still good but wasn’t enough.

Simple Formula Meets Innovation and Mass Ad-Blocking

“Since 2006 we have been on the market in an unchanged form, that is, as ad financed/free file hosting. However, you have been visiting in less and less over the years, as the arguably very simple formula of the services we offer is slowly running out of steam,” Zippyshare continues.

“I guess all the competing file storage service companies on the market look better, offer better performance and more features. No one needs a dinosaur like us anymore.”

Zippyshare Dashboardzippy-dashboard

While Zippyshare was never likely to return to its heyday, it still receives tens of millions of visits every month. The problem is that even when users get a free service, they continue to block ads. For sites like Zippyshare, that almost guarantees a downward spiral, one exacerbated by today’s rising energy costs.

“Sure, we all use [adblockers], but they take away any control the site owner has over the site. Eventually we get to the point where a vicious cycle begins, in order to pay for the server infrastructure you are forced to place more and more ads, then users fire up more and more adblockers and we get to a point like today,” the site continues.

“Over the past year, electricity prices have gone up 2.5 times, which, with a large number of servers, gives a significant increase in costs that we have no way to balance. There are still a bunch of smaller reasons [for closing down], but we could write a book on this, and probably no one would want to read it.

“To sum it up, we can no longer afford to maintain the site.”

Odds Always Stacked Against Zippyshare

That Zippyshare survived this long is a minor miracle in itself. While the platform survived the shutdown of Megaupload, traffic volumes took a dive over the next few years to a background of copyright-related complaints by entertainment industry groups.

Nominated for “notorious market” status by the RIAA in 2013, Zippyshare became a magnet for rightsholder complaints, regular referrals to the U.S. government, and millions of DMCA notices.

To date, rightsholders have requested the removal of more than 14.5 million Zippyshare URLs but for internet users in Europe, worse was on the horizon.

In March, April and June 2019, Zippyshare blocked users from the UK, Germany, and Spain, respectively. Why this action was taken remains unclear but it seems likely that copyright issues were a factor and geo-blocking was seen as the solution.

If Zippyshare closes as promised at the end of the month, it will still have considerable assets at its disposal. The site still enjoys around 45 million visits per month and is one of the top 1000 most-visited domains on the internet today.

We asked Zippyshare what will happen to the domain when the site closes down, but at the time of writing, we’re yet to receive a response. As for the team behind the site, they’ve rarely appeared from the shadows but will live on…somewhere.

“Thanks for being with us over the years. See you in the depths of the Internet.”

Zippyshare (2006-2023)

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

]]> 0
Top 10 Most Pirated Movies of The Week – 03/20/2023 Sun, 19 Mar 2023 23:09:40 +0000 Every week we take a close look at the most pirated movies on torrent sites. What are pirates downloading? 'Cocaine Bear' tops the chart, followed by 'Everything Everywhere All at Once'. ‘Operation Fortune: Ruse de guerre' completes the top three.

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

bearThe data for our weekly download chart is estimated by TorrentFreak, and is for informational and educational reference only.

These torrent download statistics are only meant to provide further insight into the piracy trends. All data are gathered from public resources.

This week we have four newcomers on the list. “Cocaine Bear” is the most downloaded title, beating Oscar winner Everything Everywhere All at Once.

The most torrented movies for the week ending on March 20 are:

Movie Rank Rank last week Movie name IMDb Rating / Trailer
Most downloaded movies via torrent sites
1 (…) Cocaine Bear 6.1 / trailer
2 (…) Everything Everywhere All at Once 7.9 / trailer
3 (1) Operation Fortune: Ruse de guerre 6.5 / trailer
4 (8) The Whale 7.8 / trailer
5 (3) A Man Called Otto 7.5 / trailer
6 (2) Luther: The Fallen Sun 6.5 / trailer
7 (…) Babylon 7.2 / trailer
8 (4) Puss in Boots: The Last Wish 7.8 / trailer
9 (5) Black Panther: Wakanda Forever 7.0 / trailer
10 (…) Boston Strangler 6.5 / trailer

Note: We also publish an updating archive of all the list of weekly most torrented movies lists.

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

]]> 0
Filmmakers Want Owner of Defunct VPN Arrested in Piracy Case Sun, 19 Mar 2023 20:27:01 +0000 Last year, a group of independent filmmakers obtained a multi-million default judgment against VPN service LiquidVPN, which stood accused of facilitating piracy. Since the owner of the now-defunct service has paid nothing, the movie companies are calling for his arrest. Meanwhile, a waste company has been added to the dispute.

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

liquidvpnOver the past two decades, online piracy has proven a massive challenge for the entertainment industries.

Some copyright holders have pursued legal action against individual pirates, but today it’s not uncommon for third-party intermediaries to also be considered legitimate targets.

Over the past several years, internet service providers, hosting companies, and VPN providers have faced infringement liability lawsuits. Most of the VPN companies chose to settle disputes but when LiquidVPN was sued, the provider simply ignored the lawsuit.

Filmmakers Win $15m in LiquidVPN Lawsuit

LiquidVPN was previously owned by David Cox, who was initially listed as a defendant. As the case progressed it emerged that Cox had sold the VPN provider before the lawsuit was filed, with Puerto Rico company 1701 Management identified as the buyer.

Despite facing serious allegations, 1701 Management and its alleged owner, Charles Muszynski, failed to answer the claims filed at a federal court in Florida. This prompted the film companies to request a default judgment of more than $15 million, which was eventually granted a year ago.

The default judgment marks the end of the road on the question of liability but doesn’t necessarily mean that the filmmakers automatically get the money. As it turns out, that can be quite a challenge.

Chasing The Money

Over the past several months, the filmmakers’ attorney Kerry Culpepper has submitted several writs of garnishment to the court. Through these requests, the court can order the seizure of property owned or controlled by the debtors.

In this case, those efforts targeted a yacht, docked at a Florida harbor, and various other types of properties. In addition, the filmmakers obtained a worldwide restraining order against the assets of Mr. Muszynski, 1701 Management, and the third defendant AUH2O.

This hunt for assets connected several companies to Muszynski, including the New Mexico company “WasteResources LLC.” According to the legal paperwork, there is evidence to show that the company is owned and controlled by the defendant.


In January, the filmmakers filed a request to apply the $15 million default judgment against garnishee WasteResources. Part of this judgment also includes trademark infringement damages in favor of a company owned by Kerry Culpepper, the attorney in this case.

$15m Judgment Against WasteResources

After considering the presented evidence, and without the waste company showing up at a court hearing, this week District Court Judge Beth Bloom granted the default judgment.

“At the Hearing, WasteResources did not appear. Plaintiffs presented multiple exhibits demonstrating that WasteResources is an alter ego of Defendants which the Court accepted into evidence,” Judge Bloom writes.

“Pursuant to the evidence presented […] the Court finds that Default Judgment in favor of Plaintiffs and against WasteResources is appropriate in the full amount of the unsatisfied Final Judgment against Defendants which is $15,172,403.00,” the judgment adds.

The default judgment is a big deal for the filmmakers, as it allows them to seize the company’s assets, including any payments owed by its customers.

Filmmakers Want Mr. Muszynski Arrested

The waste company isn’t alone in being targeted, there are other garnishees as well. Meanwhile, the filmmakers submitted a motion for an order to show cause why the defendants shouldn’t be held in contempt.

As part of this request, the rightsholders suggest that Mr. Muszynski should be arrested and held until he complies with the court’s orders.

In January, the court issued an order that requires the debtors to pay a fine of $500 per day, for as long as they fail to comply. The filmmakers note that this failed to move the needle.

“Neither a multi-million dollar judgment or a $500/day fine has persuaded Muszynski to comply with Court Orders. Accordingly, confinement of Muszynski will be the only means to coerce him to comply with the Court order,” the motion reads.


Two sides, Two Lawsuits

The above mostly represents the perspective of the complaining parties but in a rare move, Mr. Muszynski also made an ‘appearance’ in court, via letter (pdf) last month.

The former VPN operator noted that he doesn’t have any funds available, not even to pay for a lawyer. In addition, he maintains that the court doesn’t have jurisdiction over him, since he’s a citizen of St. Kitt’s & Nevis.

Mr. Muszynski further stressed that he isn’t, and never was, the owner of the companies held liable in the initial judgment.

“I have made this letter to avoid ‘appearing’ in the US court and to avoid lending legitimacy to any claim that I ever so appeared. I have been, since 2019, a citizen and resident of St. Kitts & Nevis, have never been served in this matter, and was not an owner of 1701 Management, LLC or AUH2O.”

The letter also mentions that the filmmakers filed a separate lawsuit in St. Kitt’s & Nevis, asking the Florida federal court to await the result of that proceeding before taking any further steps.

Tip of the Iceberg

These events represent just the tip of a legal iceberg. The U.S. case alone has hundreds of docket entries, most of them filed after the final judgment was issued.

All in all, this lawsuit shows that after an initial judgment, a case can continue for months or even years. Whatever the outcome, it’s clear that the filmmakers are willing to go to extreme lengths to collect what they’re owed.

A copy of the default judgment, issued by Florida District Court Judge Beth Bloom this week, is available here (pdf) and the associated order can is available here (pdf). A copy of the motion for an order to show cause why the defendants shouldn’t be held in contempt is can be found here (pdf)

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

]]> 0
BREIN Shut Down 449 Pirate Sites & Services in 2022 Sat, 18 Mar 2023 22:02:10 +0000 Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN has been fighting pirates of all kinds for the last 25 years. BREIN's latest annual report covering 2022 reveals that it completed 458 investigations and shut down 449 pirate sites. That's 100 more than BREIN reported for 2021. Pirates are clearly persistent but BREIN is always up for the fight.

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

BREIN logoPredicting whether specific torrent sites, streaming portals, or IPTV services will still be around in five years time, is difficult at best. At worst, almost impossible.

Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN has been tackling pirates of all types for the last 25 years. Not only has it seen huge numbers come and go, BREIN can claim direct responsibility for thousands going offline. A relentless production line of pirate platforms means that BREIN being around in five years’ time seems easier to predict.

458 Investigations, 449 Sites/Services Removed

Published this week, BREIN’s annual report for 2022 covers enforcement actions carried out on behalf of rightsholders across most sectors, including movies, TV shows, music, games, and publishing.

BREIN says it completed 458 investigations in 2022, leading to 449 illegal sites/services being removed from the internet. BREIN refrains from publicly naming its targets but these figures certainly aren’t unusual. BREIN reported the shutdown of 349 infringing platforms in 2021 and 466 in 2020.

While sites returning under new branding may play some role in these persistently high numbers, the fact that full-blown pirate sites can now be deployed in minutes could be a more significant factor. But whatever the circumstances, BREIN has a tool for every occasion.

Preventing Big Sites From Getting Bigger

The Netherlands has long been associated with large piracy platforms but not necessarily because they were operated or hosted there. BREIN’s persistence on the legal front means that some of the largest torrent sites – The Pirate Bay, RARBG, 1337x, YTS, EZTV, LimeTorrents and KickassTorrents variants – are now dynamically blocked by major ISPs under the terms of a Website Blocking Covenant.

At the end of 2022, 196 proxies and mirrors were also blocked by IP address and/or DNS. BREIN further reports that an additional 328 proxies were ‘stopped’ by other means last year.

Until relatively recently the sites mentioned above could still be found in Google’s search results, but BREIN helped to change that too.

In cooperation with Google late 2021, Pirate Bay domains were deindexed from search results. By the end of 2022, Google had deindexed all seven torrent sites mentioned above – 341 unique domains according to BREIN.

For domains and URLs not covered by the above, BREIN sends takedown notices directly to Google. In 2022, BREIN removed 290,324 results from Google search.

Other Strategies and Enforcement Action

In the event that users manage to circumvent the above, landing on a blocked site or any number of larger (and smaller) platforms, BREIN has a number of options available.

One is to interfere with a platform’s ability to generate revenue through advertising. In 2022, BREIN says it “addressed” 36 advertisers doing business on pirate sites and carried out 2,869 interventions against adverts promoting infringing content.

Since all pirate sites and services need people to run them, supply content, and in some cases sell a particular product, BREIN also targets key people in these roles.

Last year, BREIN says it brought the activities of 19 major uploaders, administrators, and ‘scripters‘ to an end. It also stopped 19 traders of IPTV/VOD subscriptions.

During the year, BREIN reached 45 settlements with individuals accused of various types of infringing activity. This included 16 unwelcome home visits, otherwise known as ‘knock and talks’.

In some of these cases, BREIN had already obtained an ex parte court order to restrain infringing activity so not answering the door wouldn’t have helped.

BREIN’s Annual Report 2022 can be found here

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

]]> 0
‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’ Piracy Skyrockets After Oscar Win Fri, 17 Mar 2023 22:04:51 +0000 Last weekend, 'Everything Everywhere All at Once' dominated the Oscars by winning seven awards, including one for Best Picture. The independent film had already enjoyed a great run at the box office but the renewed exposure is a game changer. Success at the Oscars elevated awareness to new heights and according to data collected by TorrentFreak, piracy skyrocketed.

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

everythingThe Oscars are the most anticipated movie awards show of the year, closely followed by hundreds of millions of movie fans around the world.

This year’s Academy Awards ceremony received plenty of attention as well, with one film standing out from all the rest.

With seven awards overall, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actress, ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once‘ was the star of the night. The independent film impressed the voters, despite having a relatively tiny budget compared to competitors including ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ and ‘Avatar: The Way of Water.’

The success didn’t come as a complete surprise. The film had already scooped up dozens of accolades, including two Golden Globes, but winning seven Oscars was an entirely different level.

Oscar Boost

Renewed attention from the press and film fanatics boosted interest among the broader public. This typically increases legal sales and views on streaming platforms, especially for relatively small releases.

‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’ is no longer running in theaters, so there is no bump there. That said, there is another area where we observed a massive spike in interest, although that’s unlikely to please the filmmakers.

The Oscars typically have a direct impact on piracy activity, and the big Oscars winner is no exception. Based on a sample of torrent activity tracked by IKnow, we can report that pirated downloads of ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’ skyrocketed this week.

Oscar Piracy

Before discussing the numbers, it’s important to highlight that pirated copies of the Oscars winner have already been circulating for months. The first high-quality copy leaked last May and it was in the top ten most pirated films for several weeks in a row.

Since its release, the film has been illegally downloaded and streamed millions of times. In January of this year, we observed two modest spikes in downloads, once after the Golden Globes win and again when the Oscar nominations were announced. After that, downloads leveled off again.

These earlier piracy boosts are notable, but they pale in comparison with the download boost observed in our sample this week. On Monday, pirated downloads of ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’ increased by 761% compared to the week before.

everything downloads

This isn’t just a relative increase either; serious demand from pirates made the Oscar winner the most pirated film worldwide on Monday, beating many newer releases and blockbusters.

Interest dropped off on Tuesday, but there was still a five-fold increase in downloads compared to a week earlier. By then, however, Cocaine Bear had taken over the spot for the most pirated film.

More Oscar Effects

Oscar-related surges are nothing new. Last year we spotted a similar effect for Best Picture winner ‘CODA’ with a tenfold increase in downloads. In absolute numbers, it didn’t come close to this year’s winner, even when correcting for sample size.

The Oscar boost isn’t limited to the Best Picture winner either. Runner-up ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ won four Academy Awards and a 268% boost in pirate downloads. Meanwhile, Best Picture nominee ‘The Triangle of Sadness’, which didn’t win an award, failed to see a massive download boost.


The chart above shows the estimated number of pirated downloads for each of the three films over the past weeks, with ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’ standing out with the most pronounced download surge.

In closing, we should stress that all data reported here are estimated based on a large sample of millions of global daily torrent connections. These numbers are not exact nor do they include other forms of piracy, such as pirate streaming sites and direct downloads.

It’s clear, however, that the Oscars continue to be a defining event for film enthusiasts, including those who can’t or don’t want to pay.

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

]]> 0
HeheStreams IPTV Admin Sentenced to Three Years in Prison, $3m Restitution Fri, 17 Mar 2023 12:02:56 +0000 Joshua Streit, the former operator of IPTV service Hehestreams, has been sentenced to three years in prison and ordered to pay almost $3m in restitution. Known online as Josh Brody, Streit's service granted access to official streams offered by MLB, NHL, NBA and NFL, among others. Earlier, Streit had discussed security vulnerabilities with MLB, which responded by calling in the FBI.

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

hehestreamsFocusing on MLB, NBA, NFL, and NHL content, Hehestreams was no ordinary IPTV service.

Instead of copied streams, captured from broadcasts, HeheStreams users were directed to genuine streams offered by sports broadcasters.

On one hand, that meant that HeheStreams didn’t run up huge server bills. On the other, streams were as reliable as any official stream, because they were official streams.

After being noticed by the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment, HeheStreams shut down mid 2021. A settlement agreement was reached but the terms remain confidential.

Bug Bounty Deal Gone Bad

When TorrentFreak reached out to Streit in the summer of 2021, he informed us that some official services had vulnerabilities. (Update: Specifically, MLB’s ticket inventory was being available for anyone, which was fully disclosed). He informed us that he’d been in discussion with one or more providers about disclosure.

A subsequent criminal complaint filed by the US Government confirmed that Streit had been in talks with MLB. Vulnerabilities were disclosed to the baseball organization and when Streit indicated that he should be paid for his work, the MLB asked for a specific amount. Streit indicated his work was worth $150K but was also informed there was no ‘bug bounty’ program at the baseball league.

An FBI agent later wrote that Streit had indeed made an approach and presented as helpful. However, he concluded that a “simultaneous intrusion” and “illegal streaming of MLB content” via HeheStreams indicated that the intent was “to extort MLB.”

Charged With Several Crimes, Pleaded Guilty to One

In October 2021, the Department of Justice charged then 30-year-old Streit with several crimes; accessing a protected computer in furtherance of a criminal act for financial gain, accessing a protected computer in furtherance of fraud, wire fraud, sending interstate threats, and illicit digital transmission.

After consulting with his attorney, Streit concluded that signing a plea deal was the most sensible course of action. The Minnesota man pleaded guilty to one count of ‘Computer Fraud – Unauthorized Access to Obtain Information From a Protected Computer’ and to the forfeiture of $500,000, an amount said to represent proceeds traceable to the commission of the offense.

Streit still faced a potential prison sentence of 51-60 months.

Pre-Sentencing Submissions

In advance of a sentencing hearing Thursday, family and friends shared letters with the court recalling their personal experiences with Streit.

One explained how Streit formulated a plan, hired a photographer, and built a website and reservation system for a family business in financial trouble, all for free. More personal submissions from those closer to Streit spoke of his kindness, generosity, and support in their difficult times, and of his support for those no longer around to thank him in person.

Another was submitted by Streit’s current employer; an “embarrassed and remorseful” Streit disclosed his predicament during the interview process, yet still landed the job. A good decision for the tech company since Streit went on to save the company $600,000 annually. Another spoke of how Streit had helped out with schoolwork, without which they would not have made it through class.

Streit Sentenced to Three Years in Prison

Streit appeared yesterday in a New York district court for sentencing. His plea agreement established guilt, all that was left was to determine his punishment. The Department of Justice claimed that “one of the victim sports leagues” sustained losses of approximately $3 million due to Streit’s conduct.

We understand that was MLB, the company that had reported Streit after he’d contacted them to discuss vulnerabilities in their systems.

“[A]t the same time STREIT was illicitly streaming copyrighted content from MLB, STREIT engaged in an attempt to extort approximately $150,000 from MLB via a threat from STREIT to publicize unrelated vulnerabilities in MLB’s internet infrastructure,” a Department of Justice statement reads.

“Specifically, in multiple communications with MLB employees, STREIT claimed that he knew MLB reporters who were ‘interested in the story,’ and stated that it would be bad if the vulnerability were exposed and MLB was embarrassed.”

United States District Judge Andrew L. Carter sentenced to Streit to three years in prison and three years of supervised release. In addition to $500,000 in forfeiture, Streit was ordered to pay $2,995,272.64, an amount previously determined by his plea agreement.

TorrentFreak understands the sentence will be appealed.

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

]]> 0
Denmark’s Piracy Blocklist Adds YouTube Rippers & Expands to 239 Sites Thu, 16 Mar 2023 20:58:05 +0000 Denmark is one of the leading countries when it comes to pirate site blocking orders. The first blocking case started 17 years ago and since then, over 200 sites have been added to ISP blocklists. This week, nine new sites were added, and with targets such as, and there is a heavy focus on YouTube rippers.

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

denmark flagIn recent years, site blocking has emerged as a preferred anti-piracy solution in dozens of countries.

These blocking measures are not bulletproof but pose a hurdle for casual pirates, which can bring down overall piracy rates.

In many countries blocking is a relatively new measure, but Denmark has years of experience. The first Danish blocks date back to 2006, when music industry group IFPI filed a complaint targeting the unlicensed Russian MP3 site AllofMP3.

Not much later, Denmark became the first European country to force an ISP to block access to The Pirate Bay. Since then, many other pirate sites have received the same treatment.

Denmark Expands Piracy Blocklist

This week, a new batch of sites was added to this ever-growing blocklist. The Court in Næstved issued an order targeting nine music piracy sites that reportedly had hundreds of thousands of monthly visitors from Denmark.

The Court’s verdict isn’t yet publicly available, but the complaint was filed by local anti-piracy group Rights Alliance, which acted on behalf of several prominent music industry organizations including IFPI, Sony Music, Universal Music, and Danish music group KODA.

Rights Alliance informs TorrentFreak that the order includes stream ripper domains,,,,,,, and All of these sites can convert YouTube videos into downloadable MP3 files.


The ninth site,, is a clear outlier as it’s a music streaming site, instead of a stream ripper. This service appears to mimic services such as Spotify, by playing embedded YouTube videos.


Playing embedded YouTube videos is fine as long as the rightsholder permits it. However, also offers full album downloads for registered users, charging $1 a piece. That’s something artists and labels certainly won’t be happy with.

The Court in Næstved agreed that all nine music sites should be blocked. On paper, the blocking requirement is limited to Internet provider Fibula. However, based on a ‘code of conduct‘ agreed between rightsholders and ISPs, other providers will follow suit.

239 Sites and 1146 Mirrors Blocked

The ‘code of conduct’ is illustrative of a blocking process that’s constantly being improved. The parties involved try to make the experience more effective, flexible and less cumbersome, except for the pirates. This also includes dynamic orders that allow rightsholders to add mirror domains of previously blocked sites.

Thus far, court orders have resulted in the blocking of 239 pirate sites. In addition, another 1146 mirror site domains have been added. This list continues to expand with new mirrors on a regular basis.

Rights Alliance is pleased with the latest blocking order. According to the anti-piracy group, it will help to reduce traffic to these sites.

“It is the Rights Alliance’s experience that blocking the illegal services contributes to the fact that the traffic to the services falls by 75 percent on average. This significantly reduces the scope of copyright infringements,” the group notes.

No Silver Bullet

In 2018, Denmark became the first country to target YouTube rippers with a blocking order. With the latest court ruling, rightsholders hope to make it harder for the public to download from streaming sites. However, history also shows that blocking is no silver bullet.

While some people may kick the piracy habit when they run into blockades, many others will simply switch to sites that remain available. This comes as no surprise to Rights Alliance and underlines why new blocking orders are still needed.

“Here, 5 years later, the technology is still widely used to illegally download music from YouTube,” Rights Alliance notes, referring to the stream ripper situation.

Even in the ideal situation where all pirate sites and mirrors are effectively blocked, piracy will remain a concern. According to a recent survey, 38% of all Danish pirates use VPNs to access blocked sites, while 36% switch to alternate DNS servers to do the same.

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

]]> 0