Monthly Archives: August 2015

Torrenting “Manny” Pirate Must Pay $30,000 in Damages

pirate-runningWhile relatively underreported, many U.S. district courts are still swamped with lawsuits against alleged film pirates.

One of the newcomers this year are the makers of the sports documentary Manny. Over the past few months “Manny Film” has filed 215 lawsuits across several districts.

Most cases are settled without of court, presumably for a few thousands dollars. However, if the alleged downloader fails to respond the damage can be much worse.

District Court Judge Darrin Gayles recently issued a default judgment (pdf) against Micheal Chang, a Florida man who stood accused of pirating a copy of “Manny.”

Since Chang didn’t respond to the allegations the Judge agreed with the filmmakers and ordered Chang to pay $30,000 in statutory damages. In addition he must pay attorneys’ fees and costs bringing the total to $31,657.

While the damages are a heavy burden to bear for most, the filmmakers say that the defendant got off lightly. Manny Film argued that Chang was guilty of willful copyright infringement for which the damages can go up to $150,000 per work.

“Here, despite the fact of Defendant’s willful infringement, Plaintiff only seeks an award of $30,000 per work in statutory damages,” Manny Film wrote.

According to the filmmakers Chang’s Internet connection was used to pirate over 2,400 files via BitTorrent in recent years, which they say proves that he willfully pirated their movie.

“…for nearly two years, Defendant infringed over 2,400 third-party works on BitTorrent. In addition to Plaintiff’s film, Defendant downloaded scores of Hollywood films, including works such as Avatar and The Wolf of Wall Street.”

It is unlikely that the court would have issued the same damages award if Chang had defended himself. Even in cases without representation several judges have shown reluctance to issue such severe punishments.

For example, last year U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Rice ruled that $30,000 in damages per shared film is excessive, referring to the Eighth Amendment which prohibits excessive fines as well as cruel and unusual punishments.

“This Court finds an award of $30,000 for each defendant would be an excessive punishment considering the seriousness of each Defendant’s conduct and the sum of money at issue,” Judge Rice wrote.

On the other hand, it could have been even worse. The damage award pales in comparison to some other default judgments. In Illinois three men had to pay $1.5 million each for sharing seven to ten movies using BitTorrent.

Controversy aside, Manny Film believes that they are certainly entitled to the $30,000. They have requested the same amount in other cases which are still pending, arguing that the actual lost revenue is even higher.

Yandex Demands Takedown of ‘Illegal’ Music Downloader

githubYandex is a Russian Internet company that runs the country’s most popular search engine controlling more than 60% of the market.

Making use of the free music that could be found via its search results, in 2009 Yandex introduced its first music player. A year later the company launched Yandex.Music, a new service offering enhanced legal access to around 800,000 tracks from the company’s catalog.

In 2014 and after years of development, Yandex relaunched a revamped music platform with new features including a Spotify-like recommendation engine and licensing deals with Universal, EMI, Warner and Sony, among others. Today the service offers more than 20 million tracks, all available for streaming from music.yandex.ru.

1d-github

While the service can be reached by using an appropriate VPN, Yandex Music is technically only available to users from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan. Additionally, the service’s licensing terms allow only streaming.

Of course, there are some who don’t appreciate being so restricted and this has led to the development of third-party applications that are designed to offer full MP3 downloads.

In addition to various browser extensions, one of the most popular is Yandex Music Downloader. Hosted on Github, the program’s aims are straightforward – to provide swift downloading of music from Yandex while organizing everything from ID3 tags to cover images and playlists.

Unfortunately for its fanbase, however, the software has now attracted the attention of Yandex’s legal team.

“I am Legal Counsel of Yandex LLC, Russian Internet-company. We have learned that your service is hosting program code ‘Yandex.Music downloader’…which allows users to download content (music tracks) from the service Yandex.Music…,” a complaint from Yandex to Github reads.

“Service Yandex.Music is the biggest music service in Russia that provides users with access to the licensed music. Music that [is] placed on the service Yandex.Music is licensed from its right holders including: Sony Music, The Orchard, Universal Music, Warner Music and other,” the counsel continues.

“Service Yandex.Music does not provide users with possibility to download content from the service. Downloading content from the service Yandex.Music is illegal. This means that program code ‘Yandex.Music downloader’…provides illegal unauthorized access to the service Yandex.Music that breaches rights of Yandex LLC, right holders of the content and also breaches GitHub Terms of Service.”

As a result, users trying to obtain the application are now greeted with the following screen.

git-down

The Yandex complaint follows a similar one earlier in the month in which it targeted another variant of the software.

While the takedowns may temporarily affect the distribution of the tools, Yandex’s efforts are unlikely to affect the unauthorized downloading of MP3s from its service. A cursory Google search reveals plenty of alternative tools which provide high-quality MP3s on tap.

Court Orders Italian ISPs to Block Popcorn Time

popcorntBranded a “Netflix for Pirates,” the Popcorn Time app quickly gathered a user base of millions of people over the past year.

The application is a thorn in the side of many copyright holders who are increasingly trying to contain the threat.

In Italy this has now resulted in a new blocking order issued by the Criminal Court of Genoa. The Court ruled that Popcorn Time assists copyright infringement and has ordered local ISPs to block several domain names.

The domains listed in the ruling include those of the two most used forks, popcorntime.io and popcorn-time.se, as well as the localized download page popcorntimeitalia.com.

While the ISP blockades will prevent people from downloading Popcorn Time from these sites, applications that have been downloaded already will continue to work for now.

Also, many other sites offering the same Popcorn Time software are still available. This means that the blockades will only have a limited effect.

Fulvio Sarzana, a lawyer with the Sarzana and Partners law firm who specializes in Internet and copyright disputes, informs TF that Popcorn Time could successfully fight the order.

Sarzana references a recent case in Israel where the Popcorn Time block was overturned because it hinders freedom of speech and says he’s willing to represent the developers.

For now the developers of the main .io Popcorn Time fork are showing little interest in fighting the decision. Instead, they’d rather put their efforts into making sure that the blockade has minimal impact.

“While they are able to block the website, Popcorn Time is a standalone program, so once a user has it downloaded it is unlikely that blocks will cause many issues other than new users getting the program from our site directly or in some cases updates.”

“However, we try our best to have things in place to make these blocks effectively null and void,” the Popcorn Time teams says.

Just a few days ago the same developers urged Hollywood to start competing with Popcorn Time. However, for now we expect that blocking efforts and other legal actions will remain top priorities.

Top 10 Most Pirated Movies of The Week – 08/31/15

avengThis week we have five newcomers in our chart.

Avengers: Age of Ultron is the most downloaded movie.

The data for our weekly download chart is estimated by TorrentFreak, and is for informational and educational reference only. All the movies in the list are BD/DVDrips unless stated otherwise.

RSS feed for the weekly movie download chart.

Ranking (last week) Movie IMDb Rating / Trailer
torrentfreak.com
1 (2) Avengers: Age of Ultron (Web-DL) 7.8 / trailer
2 (1) Mad Max: Fury Road 8.4 / trailer
3 (…) San Andreas (Web-DL) 6.4 / trailer
4 (…) Self/less 6.5 / trailer
5 (2) Aloha 5.3 / trailer
6 (…) Magic Mike XXL (HDRip) 6.2 / trailer
7 (…) Southpaw (HDrip) 7.8 / trailer
8 (…) Minions (HDRip) 6.7 / trailer
9 (5) Terminator Genisys (Subbed HDTV rip) 7.0 / trailer
10 (7) Pitch Perfect 2 6.8 / trailer

When You’re Calling Culture Content, You’re Reinforcing The Idea Of A Container

copyright-brandedThe copyright industry has consistently used the word “content” for anything creative.

Just like most other things the copyright industry does, there’s a thought behind the choice of wording – a choice they hope that other people will copy, because it reinforces their view of the world, or rather, what they would like the world to look like.

When we use certain words for metaphors, the words we use convey meaning of their own. This is why you see the pro-choice vs pro-life camps on opposite sides of the abortion debate: both camps want to portray the other camp as anti-choice and anti-life, respectively.

In the liberties debate and the culture debate, there’s nothing of the sort. The copyright industry has been allowed to establish the language completely on its own, and therefore, we’re using terms today that reinforce the idea and the notion that the copyright industry is good and that people who share are bad.

That’s insane.

Stop doing that.

Stop doing that right now.

Language matters.

You’re on the other side of the pro-life camp and you’re willingly calling yourself “anti-life”. How are you expecting to win anything from that position?

One thing you can stop saying immediately is “copyright”. Call it “the copyright monopoly”, for it is a monopoly, and that should be reinforced every time the abomination is mentioned. Also, use the term “the copyright industry” – as in manufacturing copyright monopolies and profiting off them – as often as possible. Never ever talk about “Intellectual Property”, except when describing why it’s bad to do so, as using that term reinforces the idea that ideas can not just be contained, but owned – something that’s blatantly false.

If you have to use the IP term, let it stand for Industrial Protectionism instead. That’s a much more correct description. Never ever ever use the word “property” when you’re referring to a monopoly. Doing so is so factually incorrect that courts have actually banned the copyright industry from using terms like “property” and “theft” – and yet, they keep doing so. Playing along with that game is stupid, dumb, and self-defeating.

Today, I’ll focus on the word “content”.

You’ll notice that the copyright industry uses this word consistently for everything. There’s a reason for that: If you have content, you must also have a container.

Do you need a container for a bedtime story? Do you need a container for a campfire song? Do you need a container for a train of thought? Do you need a container for cool cosplay ideas?

Of course you don’t. They’re ideas shared, songs sung, stories told. The idea that they must have a container – because they’re “content” – is so somebody can lock up those stories told and those songs sung, and so we can buy the container with the “content” we desire, instead of just singing the songs and telling the stories unfettered.

Compare the mental imagery evoked by these two sentences:

“We need to fill this website with content.”

“We need to fill this website with the stories of people in the area.”

One is locked up, controlled, locked down, devalued. The other is shared, cultural, told.

The word “content” means that there must also be a “container”, and that container is the copyright industry.

Don’t ever use the word “content”. It’s as improductive as describing yourself as “anti-life”. Talk about songs, articles, stories, and ideas. Doing so brings new life to the stories you tell.

Above all, be aware of terms that have been established by the adversary to the Internet, to liberty, and to culture – and refuse using them. The copyright industry is not your friend.

About The Author

Rick Falkvinge is a regular columnist on TorrentFreak, sharing his thoughts every other week. He is the founder of the Swedish and first Pirate Party, a whisky aficionado, and a low-altitude motorcycle pilot. His blog at falkvinge.net focuses on information policy.

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