MPAA Takes Legal Action To Force ISP to Block Newzbin: “Three months ago, TorrentFreak discovered that the Motion Picture Association were about to make an unprecedented move against file-sharing in the UK. Their targets were ISP BT and Usenet indexing site Newzbin.com. In discussions the MPA refused to confirm our suspicions. Yesterday, however, the MPA went to court to obtain an injunction to have BT block Newzbin in the UK.
In mid September this year, TorrentFreak received word from a previously reliable source and another anonymous one whose credentials we could not confirm, that the MPA/MPAA had the resurrected Newzbin site in their crosshairs.
The first tip said that the movie industry would try to force UK ISPs to block Newzbin in the UK. The second was more specific – that target would be one of the leading ISPs, BT.
After trying to gather more information, we contacted the MPA with what we knew and asked them if they could confirm our suspicions. At that stage, no information was forthcoming and Newzbin were also in the dark. The trail ran cold but in the last 24 hours the picture clarified somewhat.
Yesterday, the MPA went to court seeking an injunction against BT in order to force them to block Newzbin2, the resurrected version of the original Newzbin which lost a High Court battle earlier in the year.
In a statement sent to TorrentFreak, the MPA explain the process it has undertaken.
‘The law which the Court referred to is Section 97A of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, which provides for possible injunctions against internet intermediaries. Article 8.3 of the European Union’s Copyright Directive, of which S97A is the UK implementation, has been used successfully in Denmark to block rogue sites hosting illegal material, with further cases pending in Germany, Holland and Belgium.’
‘In launching this case, the MPA is aiming to secure an order that will enable BT to block Internet access to the site, thus preventing the site from using the Internet to make money through infringement,’ the MPA adds.
In order for the MPA to obtain an injunction under section 97A it is believed that they must have approached BT already with a request to block Newzbin, but had it denied.
At this stage, BT have confirmed they have received paperwork but refused to comment further.
John McVay, Chief Executive of Producers Alliance for Cinema and Television (PACT), a UK trade association representing and promoting the commercial interests of independent films and television, welcomed the news.
‘PACT supports today’s announcement. It is a shame that a legal action has to be taken, but illegal websites such as Newzbin2 pose a grave threat to our membership who do not have the resources to combat online copyright infringement.’
In a response to the news, Newzbin state the following:
‘This is just an application and not yet a decision of any court. We will be looking to instruct lawyers to fight this on behalf of our UK users. The MPA application to engage in censorship of the Internet for their own petty interests would, if granted, set a dangerous precedent in a Western democracy.
‘We don’t want to engage in a polemic but we have fully cooperated with DMCA requests from content owners and we are careful to act lawfully: ‘drive-by’ litigation such as this will cut off access to substantial legitimate content and is entirely unwarranted & disproportionate.’
Article from: TorrentFreak.
Post from: TorrentFreak
April 1st. What fun. Everywhere you look torrent sites and release sites are being shut down, that’s if they aren’t teaming up with the movie studios. But what if there’s some really serious news to report? What if one of the summer’s biggest sci-fi movies leaked out onto the Internet way before its release, and before it was even completed? Still unconvinced?
This is the reality today with Fox’s ‘upcoming’ X-Men Origins: Wolverine and it’s spreading with determination on BitTorrent. At the time of writing there are at least three different ‘workprint’ versions, presumably from the same source. One is reported to be a few minutes longer than the others but all are missing special effects. The film, penned for a May 1 2009 release, was due to compete alongside the likes of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Star Trek in this year’s summer blockbuster campaigns but has ‘premiered’ a little earlier than planned.
Here at TorrentFreak we’ve been monitoring this leak and since the movie hit BitTorrent just a few hours ago it has been downloaded at least 75,000 times, a rate comparable to that of the DVDrip ‘release’ of The Dark Knight. Interest is likely to be significant. X-Men’s target audience are tech-savvy people who are likely to have heard about BitTorrent. Multiply this by the desire to see something unusual and something you’re not supposed to have (like an unfinished Hollywood sci-fi movie) and things got hot – quickly.
The leak is the source of much speculation, but one particularly interesting discussion surrounds the source of the leak of this ‘workprint’ copy. Many early ‘reviewers’ of the movie noted that not only was the video and audio of a high quality (screenshots), but there were no ‘watermarks’. This is not strictly true. A little way into the movie from the top of the screen pops a very brief message which names Rising Sun Pictures and a date, 2nd March 2009.
Founded in 1995, Rising Sun Pictures (RSP) is an Australian visual effects company which has previously worked on the Harry Potter, Superman and Batman movies, so they have quite a pedigree. Of course RSP would absolutely not endorse any leak and the leak could have happened before the print even reached them, but somehow a print marked with their company name has made it onto the Internet and the downloads are mounting quickly.
Another interesting development is that Devin Faraci over at Chud.com said that he’d been told that the Wolverine DVD had been ‘switching hands’ over the last couple of weeks.
TorrentFreak contacted Rising Sun Pictures but as yet we’ve had no response.
Update: Fox has released a statement confirming the leak. The FBI and MPAA are investigating the case.
Post from: TorrentFreak
On reading the report’s summary, there is a strong wave of deja-vu. It hardly seems like 4 years have passed similar claims put out by a UK industry group were debunked. Worse still, the same old tricks are being used again to cloud the issue. The only difference is that instead of just concentrating on the situation in UK and Ireland, they’ve now gone global.
The MPAA funded report report titled ‘Film Piracy, Organized Crime, and Terrorism’ claims that terrorist groups use film piracy to finance their activities, while organized gangs see it as a significant revenue stream. Selling pirated goods is a ‘low-risk, high-profit enterprise’ which attracts criminals of all sorts according to the report. And, as if that is not bad enough, in some areas the influence of these pirating gangs extends into law enforcement and political leaders, who are bought, intimidated, or induced to create ‘protected spaces’ where crime flourishes.
Something that jumped out during the first glance at the report is the blurring of terms. On page 3 of the report, one of the reasons things can, and are, overstated is explained as a footnote.
‘The terms ‘piracy’ and ‘counterfeiting’ are used interchangeably in this report, although they can mean different things.’
Unfortunately for the study, they do mean VERY different things. ‘Piracy’ in this context tends to refer mostly to digitally representable items, while counterfeit goods can run the gamut from aircraft parts, to cigarettes. In France, you can’t sell certain brands of handbag on eBay easily, because they might be counterfeit. Fake aircraft parts (which don’t meet specs) are a major problem for the airline industry (also counterfeiting) and fake cigarettes are a commonly seized item at international borders. If you want another example, just look no further than your spam folder – count the number of Viagra, and other medications you are offered – all counterfeit.
It only goes downhill from there. Early in the report, it moves on to talk about definitions of organized crime, including some that are so loose it’s hard to see anything except a lone person’s opportunistic crime as being ‘organized’. In fact, by the definitions given, the RIAA may be an organised crime gang, or the UMP party in France, making 3-strike Sarkozy, the head of a crime syndicate.
Digression aside, the case studies that underpin these findings also fail to pass scrutiny. The very first one mentions a seizure of 9400 discs in a shipment. Using a standard weight of a DVD (60g, with box), it comes to about half a ton, and assuming each disc can be sold for $10 (a high price) that’s only $94,000. A kilo of cocaine has a higher street value (about $160,000 right now, according to Cleveland Police), and is much easier to transport. In addition, drugs don’t tend to suffer from the ‘do it yourself’ aspect that gives sites like the Pirate Bay and Mininova such heavy traffic. No value is ever given for the ‘profit’ made either, only..
The combined proceeds from CD/DVD piracy and drug sales were estimated, for the purpose of assigning asset forfeiture, at $3 million.
Throughout many of the case studies listed, there is little hard evidence to actually link crimes. One cites packages arriving at a location containing copied DVDs, and when the police arrived, several men with false papers attempted to run. This leads the author to the assumption of using immigrants to work a copying operation, despite the only evidence mentioned being a single person trafficked.
If movies are the easy, safe and profitable way, as the report suggests, then someone’s not telling these gangs. A little chart is even produced, which lists gangs worldwide and the work they’re involved in. There are no prizes for guessing that they all apparently participate in DVD copying, but more surprisingly, its the only activity they all share.
The true purpose of the report is of course to force authorities worldwide to do something about piracy, or criminal gangs and terrorist groups will take over. We have no doubt that the MPAA will cite this study in nearly every press release they issue from now on, and bring it onto the political agenda. Here are a few recommendations the report gives.
* Piracy should be made a priority offense within anti-gang strategies.
* Laws should be enacted to grant investigators greater authority to sustain investigations, conduct surveillance, and obtain search warrants.
* Key piracy cases should be fought in the organized-crime or money-laundering divisions of prosecutors’ offices.
* Governments should share intelligence with industry-led anti-piracy efforts.
It is likely that the MPAA will use these findings to get tougher anti-piracy laws. This wouldn’t really be a problem if it would only affect commercial piracy. However, as a side-effect people might have to prove that the music on their iPod is legit when they go through customs, and at home their ISP might be looking into their download behavior.
Unsurprisingly, a large percentage of sources given in footnotes, happen to be the very groups that have funded the story, the MPA(A) and FACT, which should seriously dent the credibility of the report. However, it is to be expected that this report will be given the same credibility as other MPAA-financed studies, despite their dubiousness. As a result, expect more laws to tackle this ‘threat’, which will only ever be used against everyday citizens, and that’s just how the likes of the MPAA like it.
Post from: TorrentFreak
For years, TorrentSpy has been a well known player in the BitTorrent community. In 2006 the site attracted more visitors than any other BitTorrent site, but this quickly changed in 2007 after a federal judge ruled that the site had to log all user data.
The judge ruled that TorrentSpy had to monitor its users in order to create detailed logs of their activities. Even worse, the BitTorrent site was ordered to hand these logs over to the MPAA. TorrentSpy owner Justin Bunnel didn’t want to give up the privacy of the site’s users, and decided that it was best to block access to all users from the US instead. In March 2008 he went further still, taking the decision to shut down completely.
‘We have decided on our own, not due to any court order or agreement, to bring the TorrentSpy.com search engine to an end and thus we permanently closed down worldwide on March 24, 2008,’ Bunnel wrote in a message to users of the site. A month after this decision the case against the MPAA was terminated and his company was ordered to pay a $110 million fine, which it has now appealed.
The MPAA wont be too happy that TorrentSpy hasn’t given up the fight yet. At the time, MPAA’s Dan Glickman was very pleased with the outcome of the case, as he said: ‘The demise of TorrentSpy is a clear victory for the studios and demonstrates that such pirate sites will not be allowed to continue to operate without facing relentless litigation by copyright holders.’
With the appeal, filed at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, TorrentSpy aim to overturn this earlier judgment, and restore hope for other BitTorrent site owners in the US.
Post from: TorrentFreak
Last year we took a look at the excellent research carried out by Waxy’s Andy Baio, as he provided detailed piracy stats for every Oscar-nominated movie since 2003. Andy contacted us to announce that he’s been working hard again in 2009 – we take a look at his findings.
For the 2009 Oscars, 26 movies were nominated. In alphabetical order they are: Australia, Bolt, Changeling, Defiance, Doubt, Frost/Nixon, Frozen River, Happy-Go-Lucky, In Bruges, Hellboy II, Iron Man, Kung Fu Panda, Milk, Rachel Getting Married, Revolutionary Road, Slumdog Millionaire, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Dark Knight, The Duchess, The Reader, The Visitor, The Wrestler, Tropic Thunder, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Wall-E and Wanted.
Of these 26 movies, 25 were available online by yesterday’s nomination day – only Rachel Getting Married made the date piracy-free. An MPAA-worrying 23 of these were downloadable in either DVD Screener or Retail DVD format (Region 5 included). In the past months many of the nominees appeared in our weekly download charts, with The Dark Knight as the absolute winner topping 7 million downloads in 2008.
Of course, the MPAA is always keen to point to the ‘evils’ of camcorder piracy and has clamped down heavily on this in recent years. However, it doesn’t seem able to deal effectively with its own internal issues. Of the 26 nominated films, 20 were distributed to Oscar voters in DVD Screener format. Many of them leaked onto the web, with the exceptions countable on one hand.
In 2003 the MPAA temporarily banned Oscar screeners to prevent them from leaking, but this decision was eventually reversed. Since then, the industry has touted technical solutions such as Cinea to protect their content, but for various reasons it hasn’t stopped the leaks. This year the average time from DVD Screeners being delivered to voters and subsequently leaking out to the web, was just 6 days.
MPAA Urges Obama to Embrace Internet Filtering: “The Motion Picture Association of America, Hollywood’s lobbying arm, is urging the incoming Obama administration to embrace internet filtering to crack down on online piracy. The announcement comes weeks ahead of an Obama inauguration. Obama is set to become the nation’s first chief executive with a cabinet-level copyright czar.
(Via Wired News.)
Post from: TorrentFreak
An amendment designed to protect Internet users from the anti-piracy lobby has been rejected by President Sarkozy of the European Council. The rejection goes against the will of the European Parliament, where 88% of the members already voted in favor of the amendment, which was originally destined to protect file-sharers from Internet disconnection under the ‘3 strikes’ framework.
When the European Parliament accepted the amendment this September, it did so to protect the rights and freedoms of Internet users. This was much needed, as in recent years, anti-piracy lobby groups have called for tougher monitoring of Internet users and are actively working to erode their rights further.
The amendment, drafted by Guy Bono and other members of the European Parliament, was supposed to put a halt to the march of the anti-piracy lobby. However, despite the fact that is was adopted by an overwhelming majority, with 573 parliament members voting in favor with just 74 rejections, the European Council went against this democratic vote.
In September, Bono stated in a response to the vote: ‘You do not play with individual freedoms like that,’ going on to say that the French government should review its three-strikes law. Sarkozy had other plans though, and in his position of President of the European Council, he convinced his friends this Thursday to reject the proposal.
The rejection also goes against conclusions from the EU culture ministers last week, who sided with the more balanced view of the European Commission, by encouraging copyright holders to work on offering ‘high quality, accessible, easy to use and consumer friendly’ content online – instead of chasing pirates.
Guy Bono was appalled by the recent decision of the Council, which he referred to as ‘an arrangement between friends.’ Not all is lost though, the amendment might pass in January or February 2009, when it will be proposed again. However, as Bono noted, this initial rejection is likely to result in a negative image of European democracy.
It seems that the lobbying efforts of the MPAA, RIAA and others have paid off, and for France and other European member states the road to a ‘three-strikes law’ for alleged pirates is now wide open again.
In France, Sarkozy will now go forward with implementing his controversial three-strikes law. We can only hope that other European countries wont follow this example. What a great demokarzy Europe has.
Post from: TorrentFreak
Hitting US theaters this week, the latest Bond movie ‘Quantum of Solace’ has already been released in the UK. However, despite searching the bags of paying customers, monitoring movie audiences with Bond-style night vision goggles and proffering misinformation, the industry has failed to stop the movie leaking to the Internet.
There’s no doubt about it, Bond movies are very big business indeed and MGM will be hoping James’ latest outing in ‘Quantum of Solace‘ will prove no different. However, movies of this importance are usually released in the US first and, on the whole, they enjoy the first couple of days at the box office without pirate copies being widely available. Inevitably, and within a short period, copies do appear on the Internet – certainly by the time the movie migrates to other territories. However, Quantum of Solace was released in the UK first, so additional effort has been made to stop the movie appearing online in advance of the US theatrical release.
Last week, the extent of the measures became clear, when reporter Kathryn Carr spoke with Alan Coward, a team leader at Vue Cinemas in the UK. ‘We have staff going in for the first 20 minutes with the goggles, and the last 15 minutes. They also make regular checks in between,’ said Alan, adding, ‘We have also been searching people’s bags on the way in.’
Spying on theater audiences is not an unusual event – US theater-goers have been subject to this treatment for a while now, but such actions are comparatively rare in the UK. Not that the UK is completely innocent when it comes to being a source for camcorded movies. It has been in the past, with movies such as X-Men: The Last Stand, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Pirates of the Carribbean 2 and V for Vendetta, all rumored to have first hit the ‘net from a UK cammer. But despite this handful of high-profile leaks, UK theaters are not a hotbed of camcorder piracy.
The fact that the UK is not a major source of camcorded movies is probably down to most movies being released elsewhere first. ‘Cammers’ like to get the movie quickly, and that usually means recording it from a US or Canadian source, so a UK release is usually unattractive since it comes too late.
However, there are other attractions for those looking to cam a movie in Britain. ‘If someone is found to be recording the film they would be banned from the cinema for life, and they would probably be arrested,’ said Alan Coward. One can’t argue with the ban, but Mr Coward’s assessment of an arrest is fanciful. While criminal law in the UK makes it illegal to offer for sale (or rent) an infringing copy of a copyrighted movie, unlike the United States, Canada and Japan (and much to the disappointment of the MPAA), simply ‘camming’ a movie on its own is not a criminal offense in Britain.
In September 2007, Dan Glickman of the MPAA visited the UK to have meetings with senior people from the UK government and representatives of the UK Film Council. His mission was to persuade the government to introduce legislation to change ‘camming’ from a civil infringement, to a serious criminal offense. So far, that legislation has not appeared. Since theater staff cannot detain a suspected ‘cammer’ by force because the law simply does not allow it, they instead attempt to disrupt the recording by ‘peaceful means’ and notify FACT for further instruction.
However, all the lobbying, bag searches and James Bond-style night vision goggles in the world don’t seem to make any difference to the availability of pirate material. Quantum of Solace is already available on the Internet in Telesync format (video recorded via a good camcorder, with audio added from a ‘direct’ source, such as a T-Loop). It has been available for a few days in French and maybe even another couple of languages but it is now fully available in English, with what many will consider to be a half-decent picture quality.
I’d end this post with a Bond catchphrase, but for Quantum they banned them all. Shame.
MPAA Says No Proof Needed in Copyright Infringement Lawsuits: “The Motion Picture Association of America says intellectual-property holders should have the right to collect damages, perhaps as much as $150,000 per copyright violation, without having to prove infringement. Having to prove violations, which are nearly impossible on peer-to-peer networks, would deprive copyright owners of a practical remedy against massive copyright infringement in many instances, the group tells a federal judge in a case brought by the Recording Industry Association of America.
(Via Wired News.)