Monthly Archives: January 2017

Ahashare ‘Disappears’ After Domain Name Suspension

ahasharelogoWith tens of thousands of visitors per day, torrent site Ahashare has built a decent sized community in recent years.

The site has an active team of uploaders and many regular visitors, or should we say had? For the past few days, the site has been unreachable on its regular Ahashare.com domain.

Roughly a week ago the site vanished without a trace. After some digging, it appears that the site’s domain name has been suspended by Public Domain Registry (PDR), with a “clienthold” status.

We have seen this status on suspended domains before. According to ICANN the clienthold tag is uncommon and “usually enacted during legal disputes, non-payment, or when your domain is subject to deletion.”

Clienthold….

ahashareclinethold

TorrentFreak contacted the site’s team via the publicly listed address hoping to find out more, but we have yet to hear back.

The site’s operators are quiet on social media as well. The Twitter account posted the last site update more than five years ago. Two weeks ago a new tweet was posted linking to what seems to be a counterfeit sunglasses site, suggesting that it’s compromised.

Generally speaking, domain name suspensions are easily countered if sites switch to a new domain. Thus far it looks like the Ahashare team hasn’t done this yet, so it’s possible that more is going on.

Ahashare.com in better times

ahashare

Ahashare registered its domain through the Indian domain registrar PDR, which is no stranger when it comes to suspensions.

The company previously seized the domains of ExtraTorrent and several other popular torrent sites. However, in recent years there might have been less compliance. The MPAA now lists PDR as a non-cooperative registrar in a recent recommendation to the Government, but it’s possible this doesn’t apply universally.

Whether Ahashare will return in the future is unknown, but in the meantime, the site’s users will have to look elsewhere for their daily torrent fix.

Swedish Govt. Mulls Tougher Punishments to Tackle Pirate Sites

law-hammerWhen most country’s copyright laws were first laid down, the Internet simply did not exist. So, when the world-changing network began to develop, the law was often left playing catch-up.

Through various amendments and interpretations, many developed countries have found a way to shoehorn existing legislation to apply to the Internet era. But the fit is rarely perfect and for copyright holders keen to protect their interests, not nearly tight enough to deal with the rise of pirate sites.

Among others, Sweden is now considering its options when it comes to its future prosecutions of large-scale copyright infringement cases. As part of a review now underway, the government is accessing the powers it needs to deal with more serious cases of copyright infringement.

Police national coordinator for intellectual property crimes Paul Pintér hopes that any changes will enable police to operate more efficiently in the future.

“If you have a felony, you can get access to a whole new toolkit. In the terms of reference for the inquiry, the government mentions almost all of the points that we have previously proposed,” he told IDG.

Considering the way anti-piracy enforcement has developed over the past several years, few of the suggestions from the police come as a surprise.

At the top of the tree is treating pirate site operators as more than just large-scale copyright infringers. The Justice Department says that due to the manner in which sites are organized and the subsequent development of revenue, treating them as self-contained crime operations may be appropriate.

“With the help of well-organized sites, infringement is made fast, easy, and both openly and more or less anonymous,” says Anna Enbert, legal adviser at the Department of Justice.

“Not infrequently, there is a business motive for the major players, which is roughly comparable to organized crime. This has made infringement more extensive, difficult to investigate, and harmful in relation to both rights holders, consumers, and society at large.”

Like the UK, the current maximum sentence for online copyright infringement in Sweden is two years in prison. The UK is about to boost this to ten years via the Digital Economy Act but in recent years has seen many prosecutions carried out under fraud legislation.

This kind of amendment has caught the eyes of Sweden. By viewing ‘pirate’ sites as platforms for commercial and organized crime, harsher sentences may also become available. Currently, punishments are often limited to fines and suspended sentences.

Also on the table for discussion are domain seizures and site-blocking. In a memorandum submitted to the government last year, Pintér said that websites that violate copyright or trademark law should be blocked by ISPs. Furthermore, while preliminary investigations are underway, domain names should be seized by the authorities.

While specific provisions in law for both blockades and seizures would undoubtedly be welcomed by both police and rightsholders, current law may yet be up to the job. Attempts to seize The Pirate Bay’s domains are still ongoing and ISPs are digging in over demands to block the site. Nevertheless, both could still succeed.

In the meantime, however, the review will press ahead, although not at a speed that pleases the police. IDG notes that the investigation is to presented in February 2018, a time-scale that Paul Pintér finds unacceptable.

“The only thing is, is that the review will take far too long. It should be completed faster than a year,” he concludes.

Denuvo Piracy Crisis as Resident Evil 7 Gets Cracked in Record Time

denuvoDeath. Taxes. Immediate PC games piracy. That was pretty much the state of play before anti-piracy technology company Denuvo Software Solutions came along a few years back.

With its anti-tamper system of the same name, Denuvo took the inevitability of day-of-release PC games piracy and pushed back the boundaries in a way never seen before. Indeed, some older Denuvo-protected games are still piracy free to this day.

In recent times, however, the company has found itself under increasing pressure. In August 2016, cracking group CONSPIR4CY (CPY) dumped a Denuvo-removed version of Rise of the Tomb Raider on torrent sites, some five months after its release. Despite the long delay, it was a landmark moment. Denuvo had been defeated.

Just days later, CPY doubled down by giving puzzle-platformer ‘Inside‘ the same treatment, but in a record time of just six weeks from launch. What followed was a cascade of cracked games, including Doom, Mirror’s Edge Catalyst, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, and Watch Dogs 2, to name just a few. Now, however, Denuvo is facing its biggest threat yet.

Yesterday, just five days after its January 24th retail date, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard was cracked by CPY. The self-proclaimed Italian group placed RE7 on a so-called top site, with the ‘piracy pyramid‘ doing the rest of the work by cascading it to torrent sites in a matter of minutes. Currently, tens of thousands of pirates are grabbing the 23GB download.

resident-evil

In its defense, Denuvo has never marketed its product as an uncrackable system. The plan, the company insists, is to give games producers a piracy-free window of opportunity, from the day of launch to some undefined point in the future. Protecting those lucrative early months from pirates is the aim.

In some respects, Denuvo is still doing its job, with AAA titles such as Just Cause 3 still protected from piracy months after launch. No one but groups like CPY know why JC3 has avoided the same fate as the other titles. It could just be that they can’t be bothered to crack it. Clearly, the same cannot be said about Resident Evil 7.

Denuvo is obviously a tough system to crack but less than a week’s protection is only marginally better than having no protection at all. Pirates are notoriously impatient but a sizeable majority can probably wait a handful of days for a free game, if they believe CPY can keep pulling this off. That in itself is a problem for Denuvo and the games publishers it’s attempting to protect.

In December, Denuvo refuted claims that it gives publishers refunds if the protection it offers subsequently gets removed.

“We can’t comment on our deals with specific customers, but we do not have any deals in place that offer refunds if a game is cracked within a specific time frame,” Denuvo co-founder Robert Hernandez said.

That being said, publishers must be paying something to have Denuvo protect their titles so it’s reasonable to assume that a year’s protection must be worth more than a month. But when we get down to five days? That surely must involve some kind of discount to deter a debate over whether the protection is worth having at all.

Tax Authority Grilled VLC Player Over Link From a Torrent Site

vlcconeVideoLAN’s VLC Media Player(*) is installed on hundreds of millions of devices around the world.

It’s widely regarded as the best tool to play videos and audio in just about any format. When something can’t be played, VLC Media Player almost always provides the answer.

The application has a wide variety of legal uses, but pirates are also pretty keen on the tool. In fact, some sites actively recommend it to their users, including the French torrent site Torrent9 who list it in their help section.

Of course, these type of links are only a one-way endorsement. However, for some reason the National Tax Investigation Branch of the French Ministry for the Economy and Finance, was concerned that something more was up.

A few hours ago, Next INpact reported that VideoLAN had received a letter from the tax authority, asking for detailed information on Torrent9.biz.

The reason for the inquiry is that the site in question, also accessible via Torrent9.me, has a help section that explains how people can download torrents. This guide ends with a link to the VLC Media Player, as can be seen below.

Torrent9’s help page

helpsection

While the Internet is full of links, the National Tax Investigation Branch suspected that VideoLAN was closely involved with the torrent site, asking the organization to hand over all sorts of documentation.

Specifically, they requested “complete customer details,” “bank details,” “payment methods of the customer and date of last payment,” and a copy of the “referencing contract” for the Torrent9.biz and Torrent9.me domains.

When confronted with the usual request by a reporter, the Ministry of Economy and Finance didn’t give in. Instead, it reportedly stated that “if they have a link to your website, it’s because you pay them: SEO is not free..,” suggesting some kind of active cooperation.

VideoLAN received quite a bit of support after the news broke as many people had trouble wrapping their head around the absurd situation.

After a storm of protests, the authorities eventually decided to back down. In a response on Twitter, the ministry described the situation as an ‘error of judgment,’ adding that failures like this can always happen.

For VideoLAN this means everything will return to normal now. They initially planned to reply to the request with a blank piece of paper, but even that’s no longer needed.

* Disclaimer: VideoLAN did not compensate TorrentFreak for the link in this article.

Top 10 Most Pirated Movies of The Week – 01/30/17

doctorstrangeThis week we have three newcomers in our chart.

Doctor Strange, of which a leaked screener was released, 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 Web-DL/Webrip/HDRip/BDrip/DVDrip unless stated otherwise.

RSS feed for the weekly movie download chart.

This week’s most downloaded movies are:
Movie Rank Rank last week Movie name IMDb Rating / Trailer
Most downloaded movies via torrents
1 (10) Doctor Strange (DVDScr) 8.0 / trailer
2 (3) La La Land (DVDscr) 8.8 / trailer
3 (2) Arrival (DVDscr) 8.3 / trailer
4 (9) Hacksaw Ridge (DVDscr) 8.5 / trailer
5 (…) Allied (DVDscr) 7.1 / trailer
6 (1) Jack Reacher: Never Go Back 6.3 / trailer
7 (…) Manchester By The Sea (DVDscr) 8.3 / trailer
8 (…) Live By Night (DVDscr) 6.6 / trailer
9 (4) Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (Subbed HDRip) 7.1 / trailer
10 (5) The Girl on The Train 6.6 / trailer