Monthly Archives: December 2015

Pirate Bay is Back to Square One After Months of Domain Hopping

hydragoneHow time flies. Just over a year ago The Pirate Bay was going through some of the most turbulent times in its entire history.

Following a raid at a Swedish datacenter the site stayed offline for several weeks, an event that fueled the rise of endless ‘replacement’ sites.

While many of the sites stepping up to fill the gap left by The Pirate Bay looked like the real deal, many were simply incomplete copies. To their credit, the operators of some of these sites were upfront about their status but others did everything they could to claim their place as the real Pirate Bay reincarnated.

Of course, when the real Pirate Bay returned at the end of January 2015, many of these other sites questioned their place in the market. Were they needed anymore? Were they even wanted? As time pressed on many simply dissolved but others carried on either as a clone, proxy or mirror.

While this kind of behavior had previously been encouraged by the operators of The Pirate Bay, it ended up causing huge confusion among casual users who had no idea which domains to trust. As previously highlighted, it contributed to a growing branding crisis among ‘pirate’ sites.

However, after returning to its full glory in February 2015, The Pirate Bay put faith in its trusted ThePirateBay.se domain and watched its users do the same. But by May the site was in trouble again when the Stockholm District Court ordered that domain to be seized, pending an appeal.

In response TPB moved to a ‘hydra’ of new domains including .GS, .LA, .VG, .AM, .MN and .GD TLDs but during the months that followed problems began to eat away at them. This week came the icing on the cake when the site’s registrar disabled a batch of active domains.

While it’s possible that the issues with these domains may be solved at some point in the future, The Pirate Bay needed to do something quickly to keep the show on the road. As a result the site is now mainly using its .SE and .ORG domains. The irony here is that these have worked all along and it was only the fear of losing them that prompted all the domain hopping in the first place.

So where is The Pirate Bay today and how does one identify it among all the clones, mirrors and proxies? Verified Pirate Bay domains that can be trusted to link to the real version of the site are shown below.

hydrabaynew

Most domains should already look familiar but for now it seems likely that of the standard domains ThePirateBay.SE will remain most stable and least likely to be taken down on short notice. ThePirateBay.org has had its own problems recently but they appear to be over, at least for now.

The TOR/Onion address uj3wazyk5u4hnvtk.onion should also be fine longer term but it’s hardly the most memorable set of digits for anyone to recall.

While still operational, ThePirateBay.LA currently seems most vulnerable after being given ‘clienthold‘ status earlier in the week.

In addition to those listed above the TPB crew have many other domains held in backup which could be introduced should any key domains experience further issues. Most do not currently link or divert to The Pirate Bay so there’s little point in listing them right now.

Overall it’s been a turbulent 12 months for The Pirate Bay and there’s little to suggest that 2016 will be any easier. While hosting has been surprisingly stable in recent times at a bare minimum one should expect more domain issues. But as history as shown us, other surprises could be just around the corner.

Pirate Zeitgeist: What People Searched for in 2015

2015-top-torrent-sitesDuring December, all self-respecting search engines produce an overview of the most popular search terms of the past year.

These lists give insight into recent trends, and in 2015 Lamar Odom, Paris and American Sniper were among the top trending searches on Google.

But what about torrent search engines? With billions of searches every year it’s worth taking a look at the most-entered keywords on the dominant file-sharing network.

A few years ago we started the ‘Pirate zeitgeist’ tradition with help from one of the largest torrent sites around. Based on a sample of hundreds of millions of searches, this list should give a decent overview of what people are looking for.

2015’s number one query is the same as last year’s, YIFY the name of the popular movie release group which was forced to shut down in October after a legal threat. This means that its popularity is expected to fade in the new year.

In second place we find NeZu, another popular movie release group that made it into the top 50 for the second year. Interestingly, NeZu’s releases are not wildly popular, which might suggest that this high ranking may have been boosted somehow.

The term 2015, often used to find recent movies, comes in third place, followed by Hindi. Other movie related terms such as 1080p, YIFY 720p and YIFY 1080p show that users are increasingly looking for high quality video.

The first content related search query is Game of Thrones in seventh place. Other popular TV searches are The Walking Dead and The Big Bang Theory taking 10th and 16th place respectively.

Movies also remain popular with Star Wars in 27th, Fifty Shades of Grey in 29th and Interstellar in 32nd place. Perhaps surprisingly, there are no searches related to music titles in the top 50. The only music related terms are Discography in 11th place and Flac in 26th.

Finally, various regional searches also remain popular, as they are often used to find localized releases. The terms Hindi, French, Tamil, Telugu, Ita and NL all have a spot in the top 20.

Below is the full list of the 50 most-entered search queries on one of the most popular torrent sites on the Internet.



1. yify
2. nezu
3. 2015
4. hindi
5. 1080p
6. yify 720p
7. game of thrones
8. yify 1080p
9. ripsalot
10. the walking dead
11. 3d
12. french
13. discography
14. tamil
15. 2014
16. the big bang theory
17. telugu
18. ita
19. hindi 2015
20. nl
21. malayalam
22. android
23. the flash
24. movies
25. arrow
26. flac
27. star wars
28. the blacklist
29. fifty shades of grey
30. gotham
31. walking dead
32. interstellar
33. batman
34. mac
35. insurgent
36. wwe
37. telugu 2015
38. mad max
39. fast and furious 7
40. jurassic world
41. avengers
42. sword coast legend
43. american sniper
44. gta v
45. dual audio hindi
46. vikings
47. lynda
48. apk
49. avengers age of ultron
50. ettv

Movie Studios Sue Fan-Funded Star Trek Spin-Off

anaxarParamount Pictures is generally not that protective when in comes to fan-made projects that involve the Star Trek franchise.

However, the well-received short film Star Trek: Prelude to Axanar and the planned follow-up feature film Anaxar has crossed a line. This week both Paramount and CBS Studios sued the makers of the Star Trek inspired fan film, accusing them of copyright infringement.

Prelude to Axanar is an idea from Alec Peters who started working on it half a decade ago. After a few years he and his team decided to launch a Kickstarter campaign to get it funded, with an initial goal of $10,000.

The project turned in to a massive hit and quickly raised more than $100,000 for the short film, and a similar campaign for a follow-up feature that will soon start filming raised another $638,000 on Kickstarter alone.

That’s a healthy budget for a fan-art project and the success prompted the attention of both Paramount Pictures and CBS Studios.

In a complaint filed (pdf) at a federal court in California the movie studios accuse the people behind the Anaxar project of various counts of copyright infringement.

“This is an action for copyright infringement arising out of Defendants’ unauthorized exploitation of Star Trek, one of the most successful entertainment franchises of all time. Since its inception, Star Trek has become a cultural phenomenon that is eagerly followed by millions of fans throughout the world,” the complaint reads.

“The Axanar Works infringe Plaintiffs’ works by using innumerable copyrighted elements of Star Trek, including its settings, characters, species, and themes,” it adds.

Through Kickstarter and Indiegogo crowdfunding campaigns the projects raised over a million dollars. In their complaint Paramount Pictures and CBS Studios believe that they are entitled to any profits the films make as well as $150,000 in statutory damages.

In a response to the lawsuit, Anaxar’s Alec Peters states that they are not trying to exploit the Star Trek franchise since their work is a harmless fan film project.

“Axanar is a fan film. Fan films – whether related to Star Trek, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Power Rangers, Batman or any other franchise – are labors of love that keep fans engaged, entertained, and keep favorite characters alive in the hearts of fans.”

“Like other current fan films, Axanar entered production based on a very long history and relationship between fandom and studios. We’re not doing anything new here,” he writes on Facebook.

Peters remains open to discussion and hopes that the parties involved can come to a mutually beneficial solution, so it’s likely that the lawsuit will eventually steer toward some form of settlement deal.

Google Asked to Remove 558 Million “Pirate” Links in 2015

google-bayIn recent years copyright holders have overloaded Google with DMCA takedown notices, targeting links to pirated content.

The majority of these requests are sent by the music and movie industries, targeting thousands of different websites. In recent years the volume of takedown notices has increased spectacularly and this trend continued in 2015.

Google doesn’t report yearly figures, but at TF we processed all the weekly reports and found that the number of URLs submitted by copyright holders last year surpassed the 558 million mark – 558,860,089 at the time of writing.

For the first time ever the number of reported URLs has surpassed half a billion in a 12-month period. This is an increase of 60 percent compared to last year, when the search engine processed 345 million pirate links.

The majority of the links are being removed from the search results. However, Google sometimes takes “no action” if they are deemed not to be infringing or if they have been taken down previously.

This year most takedown requests were sent for the domains chomikuj.pl, rapidgator.net and uploaded.net, with more than seven million targeted URLs each. The UK Music industry group BPI is the top copyright holder of 2015, good for more than 65 million reported links.

takedownsurge

Looking at the totals for this year we further see that 329,469 different domain names were targeted by 27,035 copyright holders. Interestingly, these staggering numbers are interpreted differently by Google and various copyright holders.

A few weeks ago Google told the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator that it has taken various measures to help copyright holders, including swift removals.

“We process more takedown notices, and faster, than any other search engine,” the search giant commented.

“We receive notices for a tiny fraction of everything we host and index, which nonetheless amounts to millions of copyright removal requests per week that are processed, on average, in under six hours.”

The company rejects broader actions, such as the removal of entire domain names, as this would prove counterproductive and lead to overbroad censorship.

Many copyright holders, however, don’t share these concerns. Over the years groups such as the MPAA and RIAA have repeatedly argued that clearly infringing sites should be barred from Google’s index. In addition, they want Google to make sure that pirated content stays down.

While Google believes that the billion reported URLs are a sign that the DMCA takedown process is working properly, rightsholders see it as a signal of an unbeatable game of whack-a-mole.

As this stalemate continues we can expect the number of reported pages to continue to rise in the future, adding millions of new URLs on a daily basis. Perhaps there will be a billion reported pirate links in 2016?

Hive-CM8 Apologizes For Leaking Hateful Eight DVD Screener

quen-sorryWithout doubt the biggest piracy story of December was the drama surrounding the relentless stream of movies hitting the Internet from release group Hive-CM8. All more-or-less perfect copies of awards screeners, the leaks attracted attention from studios and even the FBI.

As law enforcement presumably continues to track the release group, leaks from Hive-CM8 have faltered somewhat, with sources pointing to a potential security breach as the reason.

However, after maintaining almost total silence, the people behind Hive-CM8 have not only released a couple more movies but have also broken their silence.

Their statement, aimed at close colleagues in private channels, is surprising to say the least. It accompanies the release of the Christian Bale movie The Big Short and begins with an admission that errors have been made. (some typos/grammar corrected by TF)

“We held back this title till 1 week after [theatrical release] to give the movie a fighting chance to play in the budget, we learned from our mistake,” Hive’s statement begins.

“We didn’t plan to comment at all on recent events, but we feel now that we should.”

First off, the group attempts to dispel rumors that the leaked screener copies had been sourced after some kind of hack.

“We got the copies sold from a guy on the street, no decryption was needed. We were definitely not the only ones [to have obtained copies]. A couple of other movies had been on the net days before, not done by us,” they note.

hateful

While the group has certainly released content in the past for notoriety, this time around Hive said it wanted to help those too poor to get the movies through official channels.

“So we wanted to share [these] movies with the people who are not rich enough or not able to watch all nominated movies in the cinema. Of course [these files] are not representing the movies how they can be enjoyed in the cinema.”

It’s not uncommon for release groups to request that those viewing ‘their’ movies should support the producers by enjoying content through official channels and in the cinema where possible. Hive is no different, noting that creators “need the money from ticket sales to get back [their] production costs.”

However, what then follows is a clear apology to Quentin Tarantino and those behind his movie The Hateful Eight. Hive leaked this title before it had even opened in cinemas, something which they now regret.

“We feel sorry for the trouble we caused by releasing that great movie before [it’s release date] had even begun. We never intended to hurt anyone by doing that, we didn’t know it would get that popular that quickly,” Hive explains.

“The Hateful Eight is an excellent, thrilling and entertaining Western that combines terrific direction, a fantastic cast, a wonderful script, beautiful photography and a memorable score. All of those elements make The Hateful Eight an unforgettable film that is Quentin Tarantino at his best.”

But while acknowledging that tickets sales fund production costs and apologizing for their actions, Hive say they believe the leak of The Hateful Eight won’t do long-term damage to the title and has probably even helped it.

“Since everyone is now talking about this movie we don’t think the producers will [lose] any money [upon theatrical release]. We actually think this has created a new type of media hype that is more present in the news, radio and in the papers than Star Wars, and the promotional costs for this were free,” Hive says.

And here’s the math…..

“If let’s say 5% of the people planned to watch this movie at cinema date, due to this media push we unintentionally created, we believe that now 40% of the people will watch this movie in the cinema [because] everyone is talking about it and everyone wants to see the movie that created so much noise. This will push the cinema ticket sales for sure.

“We really hope this helped out the producers in the long-run, so that the production costs are covered and more.”

After thanking Quentin Tarantino for a “wonderful movie”, Hive notes that The Hateful Eight should be the top awards candidate and will “win by a mile” over its rivals. However, it’s pre-release will mark the last time that Hive leaks content before it appears in cinemas and for those waiting for the 40 leaks the group promised earlier, disappointment lies in wait.

“We won’t do another movie before its [theatrical release], and we definitely won’t go up to 40 as planned, we think we have done enough already,” Hive concludes.

That being said, two further screener releases have appeared in private channels during the past couple of days – The Big Short as previously noted and Golden Globe nominee Anomalisa. Both are now available publicly too, but without being attributed to Hive. Instead, both carry a generic ‘P2P’ tag.