Category Archives: News

Foxtel Obtains First ‘Dynamic’ Injunction Against Torrent, Streaming & Proxy Sites

Section 115a of Australia’s Copyright Act, which provides a mechanism for rightsholders to have ‘pirate’ sites blocked by ISPs, was long campaigned for as an essential tool to fight online infringement.

Since it came into force it has been used on a number of occasions, with the Federal Court handing down orders to restrict access to hundreds of sites said to provide access to entertainment content without permission from the rightsholders.

Back in June, media giant Foxtel filed a new statement of claim, the details of which were obtained by TorrentFreak from a third-party source. It revealed that the company was targeting 35 torrent, streaming and related proxy site domains for blocking by dozens of ISPs (full site list below).

This was the first time that a rightsholder had targeted proxy sites in Australia. A change in the law during 2018 allowed sites that have a “primary effect” of facilitating access to infringing content to be blocked, along with more direct sources such as regular pirate sites.

Following a case management hearing that took place in July, a hearing this morning resulted in Justice Nicholas handing down an injunction ordering 52 ISPs including TPG, Telstra, Optus, Vocus, Vodafone, plus their subsidiaries, to take “reasonable steps” to block the “online locations”.

A unique aspect of this application was that Foxtel had asked permission to add new domains and URLs to its orders, ones that in future might facilitate access to already-blocked sites, without having to return to court to detail them specifically.

Under legislative amendments put in place last year (Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill 2018)), these kinds of “dynamic orders” are permissible, but only when the Internet service providers listed in the application don’t file an objection.

According to ComputerWorld, the hearing this morning had Foxtel counsel stating that it wasn’t seeking to block fresh additional “online locations”, but only proxy and mirror-type sites those that spring up to facilitate access to already blocked sites.

However, Foxtel acknowledged that getting all of the respondent ISPs to agree to such supplementary blocking raised issues since TPG tends not to respond to any of the blocking injunctions it’s named in. That meant that formal agreement between all ISPs might be difficult to obtain.

With Justice Nicholas’ permission, Foxtel said it would amend its proposed orders to include a provision allowing an ISP to positively deny that a proxy, mirror, or similar facilitating site, provides access to a blocked site. This would likely overcome that particular stumbling block, the Judge agreed.

The associated court documents can be found here and here (pdf)

The list of domains to be blocked by ISPs in 15 days are as follows:

Sharemovies.net, seriesonline8.co, seriesonline8.com, movie4u.live, movie4u.cc, movie4u.co, seehd.uno, seehd.biz, streamdreams.org, streamdreams.me, streamdreams.co, streamdreams.online, streamdreams.video, stream-dreams.com, moviesonline.mx, wsmmirror.info, watchsomuch.info, watchsomuch.com, seventorrentsmirror.info, seventorrentsproxy.com, 7tmirror.info, torrentken.site, skytorrents.lol, unblocked.lol, unblocked.is, unblocked.ms, unblocked.win, unblocked.gdn, unblocked.vet, unblocked,sh, unblocked.mx, unblockall.org, unblocker.cc, unblock.win, myunblock.com

“Legal Options Are a Better Way to Beat Piracy Than Enforcement”

Piracy is an intriguing phenomenon. On the one hand, it is seen as an existential threat by the entertainment industries. However, pirates are often heavy consumers of legal content as well.

Over the past several years, a vast array of studies have tried to determine to what extent piracy hurts legitimate revenue streams and, equally importantly, how it can be stopped.

There are no definitive answers but each study adds a small piece of the puzzle. One recent article, published by University of Amsterdam researchers João Pedro Quintais and Joost Poort, suggests that affordability and availability are key drivers.

The researchers analyzed a wealth of data and conducted surveys among 35,000 respondents, in thirteen countries. What they found was that, between 2014 and 2017, self-reported piracy rates have dropped in all the European countries that were surveyed, except Germany.

In a 70-page paper, published in American University International Law Review, the researchers try to pinpoint the most likely explanation for this decline, starting with enforcement.

% Pirates on Internet population 2014 / 2017

In a detailed literature overview, the paper begins by discussing various enforcement activities, ranging from pirate site blockades, criminal enforcement, to civil suits against individual file-sharers. While some of these studies suggest that enforcement works, others reveal a limited effect or nothing at all.

This article doesn’t have space for a full review of all the literature, but the conclusion from the report’s authors is clear. Enforcement is not the silver bullet that will stop piracy.

“Despite the abundance of enforcement measures, their perceived effectiveness is uncertain. Therefore, it is questionable whether the answer to successfully tackling online copyright infringement lies in additional rights or enforcement measures,” the report notes.

Instead, the researchers believe that other factors are likely responsible for the decline in piracy rates. Specifically, they point to affordability and availability of legal content.

Through the extensive surveys, conducted in France, Germany, Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, UK, Brazil, Canada, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, and Thailand, they find several clues that this may indeed be the case.

Many of the data presented by the researchers have been published before. For example, they show that piracy rates are higher when the gross national income of a country is lower. This effect is particularly visible for lower incomes, as shown below.

Pirates per legal user / GNI in 2014 and 2017

The authors further observe a clear increase in spending on legal content where piracy rates dropped. In addition, they point to an earlier study that shows how music piracy declined in the Netherlands between 2008 and 2012, while piracy rates were still increasing for films and series. By 2012, Spotify had been introduced in the Netherlands (early 2010) but Nexflix not yet and HBO only just.

Based on their analysis, the researchers conclude that affordability and availability are indeed key drivers for declining piracy rates. In particular, they found no conclusive evidence that anti-piracy enforcement is effective.

“The main takeaway from our research is that online piracy is declining. The key driver for this decline is the increasing availability of affordable legal content, rather than enforcement measures,” their paper concludes.

When the conditions are right, people will eventually consume more content legally, it’s argued. This is also backed by the finding that 95% of the self-proclaimed pirates in their survey were legal consumers as well. Many of these turn to piracy due to lacking availability or high costs.

“Where the legal supply of content is affordable, convenient and diverse, there is increasing consumer demand for it. Under the right conditions, consumers are willing to pay for copyright-protected content and to
abandon piracy,” the paper reads.

This means that policymakers and copyright holders should direct their efforts more to the supply side, instead of enforcement activities.

“The crucial policy implication here is that policy makers should focus their resources and legislative efforts on improving those conditions. In particular, they ought to shift their focus from repressive approaches to tackle online infringement towards policies and measures that foster lawful remunerated access to copyright-protected content,” the researchers conclude.

This isn’t a new thought. Over the past several years, many people have hammered on the importance of appealing legal options. The new research confirms this. However, it is worth noting that the paper itself doesn’t provide any data showing that the recent drop in piracy is in fact caused by improved legal availability.

In other words, the empirical evidence doesn’t back either anti-piracy strategy conclusively.

For example, when we look at a graph of the piracy rates among legal users and the gross national income in different countries between 2014 and 2017 (shown above), we see that Sweden experienced the most pronounced piracy drop. However, there’s no clear change in legal availability compared to other countries, as far as we know.

TorrentFreak spoke to Joost Poort, one of the authors of the paper, who agreed that the lack of direct evidence is indeed a weak point. While there are several hints that the recent drop in piracy is mostly caused by better legal options, there is no hard data to back it up in this specific case.

Analyzing the effects of piracy is complicated, and there are signs that enforcement might also work in some cases. For example, just last week we reported on a study that showed how website blocking can motivate some pirates to sign up for a paid streaming service.

For many, however, it’s tempting to conclude that focusing on the carrot rather than the stick is the way forward.

That said, it’s also possible that the solution to piracy includes a little bit of both. While one may be more effective than the other, it’s safe to conclude that the puzzle isn’t solved yet.

The full paper by João Pedro Quintais and Joost Poort titled: “The Decline of Online Piracy: How Markets – Not Enforcement – Drive Down Copyright Infringement”, is available here.

Movie Company Sues Hawaiian ISP Over ‘Repeatedly Pirating’ Hotel

The “repeat infringer” issue is a hot topic in US Courts that has resulted in several lawsuits already.

Under the DMCA, companies are required to implement a reasonable policy to deal with frequent offenders. Those who don’t, risk being held liable.

Thus far we have seen lawsuits targeting ISPs including Cox Communications, Charter, and Grande Communications. These companies were all sued by music industry companies and most cases remain ongoing.

In Hawaii, a new ISP was targeted a few days ago, this time by a movie outfit. In a complaint filed at a Hawaiian federal court, Bodyguard Productions accuses Internet provider Pacific DirectConnect of failing to terminate a repeat infringer.

The movie outfit, which is the copyright holder of “The Hitman’s Bodyguard,” is a familiar player in US courts. The company has previously sued many individual BitTorrent pirates. With the latest lawsuit, it breaks from this trend by going after the Internet provider itself.

Pacific DirectConnect is not a typical consumer ISP. It mainly targets hotels and resorts in Hawaii, offering integrated network solutions including Internet access. According to the complaint, one of these clients is Aston Waikiki Sunset, a large hotel in Honolulu.

According to the movie company, one of the hotel’s IP-addresses was repeatedly caught pirating. The ISP was made aware of this, both directly and through notices that were sent to its own bandwidth supplier, but apparently failed to take any meaningful action in response.

“Despite multiple notifications of infringements from Plaintiff, Hawaiian Telcom and third parties, Defendant has failed and steadfastly refused to terminate the account of subscriber Aston,” the complaint reads.

“Said infringements would have been stopped if Defendant merely terminated subscriber Aston’s service,” the movie company adds.

Bodyguard Productions argues that the ISP purposely failed to terminate the account of the Hawaiian hotel, despite knowing that it was a repeat
infringer. As such, the company is liable for the copyright infringements of its ‘subscriber.’

Through the lawsuit, the movie company requests an injunction requiring the ISP to terminate the account of the hotel. It accuses the company of both contributory and direct copyright infringement, asking the court to grant “any and all other relief” that’s appropriate in this case.

According to the complaint, Pacific DirectConnect is not protected by the DMCA’s safe harbor because it willingly failed to terminate the alleged repeat infringer. In addition, the ISP doesn’t have a registered DMCA agent, which is a requirement to enjoy safe harbor protection.

As far as we know, this is the first time that an ISP has been sued for providing Internet services to a hotel. This sets the case apart from the other repeat infringer cases that mostly deal with ordinary consumer providers.

Needless to say, the lawsuit has the potential to create another shockwave in the industry. If an Internet provider can indeed be liable for servicing hotels, resorts, or other large companies that have hundreds of users themselves, it will have to be much more careful.

The complaint doesn’t mention whether Bodyguard Productions reached out to the resort directly to address the repeat infringer issue.

A copy of the complaint filed by Bodyguard Productions against Pacific DirectConnect is available here (pdf).

DISH Sues ‘Pirate’ IPTV Suppliers One Box TV & Miracle Box

Unlicensed IPTV services are now billed as one of the biggest threats faced by producers of movies and television shows.

There are numerous cases pending against alleged operators of ‘pirate’ services actioned under copyright law.

However, in the United States, DISH Networks and NagraStar are increasingly using the Federal Communications Act to target companies and individuals who it claims are involved in the capture and subsequent rebroadcasting of its satellite signals via ‘pirate’ IPTV services.

The latest targets are One Box TV, LLC and alleged sole manager Donna Fogle, both of Florida. It’s alleged that One Box TV sold $19 per month IPTV subscriptions containing unlicensed DISH programming and Android-style boxes configured with the same features for around $275.

In common with another recent DISH case filed against unlicensed IPTV provider IPGuys, the broadcaster claims that it was able to use technical means determine that at least some of the content offered by One Box TV was illegally sourced from its satellite broadcasts.

“The DISH Programming distributed on the OneBox service was received from DISH’s satellite communications without authorization from DISH,” the complaint reads.

“During testing of the OneBox service, encoded messages incorporated into DISH’s satellite communications of the Willow Cricket channel, for example, were detected on the Willow Cricket channel retransmitted to customers of the OneBox service, thereby confirming this content originated from DISH’s satellite communications.”

While One Box TV is an LLC, the company doesn’t appear to have particularly grand premises. According to DISH, the company operates from a booth at a flea market and websites including OneBoxLive.com and OneBoxTV.com.

OneBoxTV.com..before it disappeared

A note in the complaint indicates that DISH had a “pre-suit discussion” with One Box TV during which the company said that it had the ability to “remove channels” from its service. It’s not clear when that communication took place but if customer complaints posted to the Better Business Bureau website are any indicator, One Box TV went down during May.

“When we purchased our TV streaming box, we were promised lifetime updates. Our box needs updated [sic], and we can’t find this seller. E-mails returned. We paid $175 cash for the OneBox about 2-3 years ago. Model No. OneBoxTVPlus. We were promied lifetme updates [sic], but we cannot find the seller,” one reads.

Another complainant indicated that they went to the company’s place of business, but left disappointed.

“We received notice of them stopping their business. We went to see what’s up and the booth they were at is empty. We are out over $350 on our equipment. Sales rep was Donna F. She sold us 2 boxes and a monthly service and now we get an email saying they are discontinuing their business. We are out $350 for equipment,” a complaint posted May 13 reads.

Yet another complaint says that the company took back a previously-sold box to update it, but then closed down without returning the device. Subsequent phone calls went unanswered and the company’s voicemail was reportedly full.

DISH is now demanding a broad permanent injunction against One Box TV and its alleged operator, plus actual or statutory damages of between $10,000 and $100,000 per violation, plus costs.

Finally, the DISH case against IPGuys reported last week listed Miracle Box Media as a reseller of that service. Court records indicate that Virginia-based Miracle Box Media LLC and alleged operator Melvin Crawley Jr. are also being sued by DISH along broadly similar lines.

The One Box TV and Miracle Box complaints can be found here and here.

Top 10 Most Pirated Movies of The Week on BitTorrent – 08/26/19

This week we have one newcomer in our chart.

Men in Black: International 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 articles of the recent weekly movie download charts.

This week’s most downloaded movies are:
Movie Rank Rank last week Movie name IMDb Rating / Trailer
Most downloaded movies via torrents
1 (…) Men in Black: International 5.6 / trailer
2 (9) John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum 7.8 / trailer
3 (1) Aladdin 7.3 / trailer
4 (3) Avengers: Endgame 8.7 / trailer
5 (2) Godzilla: King of the Monsters 6.5 / trailer
6 (5) The Secret Life of Pets 2 6.5 / trailer
7 (6) Rocketman 7.6 / trailer
8 (8) Ma 5.8 / trailer
9 (4) The Hustle 5.3 / trailer
10 (back) Avengers: Endgame 8.6 / trailer