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      Games Publisher “Cracked & Pirated” ‘The Sinking City’, Developer Alleges

      Andy Maxwell · news.movim.eu / TorrentFreak · Tuesday, 2 March, 2021 - 10:54 · 5 minutes

    Over the past few days a drama has been developing around the videogame The Sinking City .

    Created by Ukrainian development team Frogwares, the company made the unusual step of taking to Twitter to warn consumers NOT to buy the version of its game that appeared on Steam.

    In its tweet , Frogwares wrote that it had “not created the version of @thesinkingcity that is today on sale on @Steam. We do not recommend the purchase of this version. More news soon.”

    Background: History of Legal Issues

    After being released in 2019, The Sinking City was pulled from Steam and other platforms in 2020, with Frogwares stating that it had been forced to end its contract with French publisher Nacon. Frogwares cited breaches of its licensing agreement and according to various reports, Nacon was still collecting revenue from sales of The Sinking City, something which prompted Frogware to pull the plug.

    The background is available in an open letter that was published on the Frogwares site in August last year. It stated that in return for a “financial contribution” to the development of the game, publisher Bigben/Nacon were given the rights to commercialize the game on Xbox One, PS4, Steam and Epic Games Store.

    “The intellectual property would still belong to Frogwares, which has always been the only producer and owner of its games, including The Sinking City,” the developer wrote.

    Frogwares launched legal action against Bigben/Nacon during August 2019 but in October 2020, the Paris Court of Appeal ruled that Frogwares should not have pulled The Sinking City from sale, adding that no further action should be taken until the dispute between the parties had been resolved.

    Game Appears on Steam, Disappears, Reappears

    In January 2021, Frogwares released The Sinking City on Steam but it was soon pulled , only to be replaced by Nacon last week. That move was met with disappointment from fans, who complained that the version being offered by Nacon was old and incomplete , with “no DLC, no cloud saves, no achievements.”

    This reappearance prompted Frogwares to deter fans from buying the version of the game uploaded by Nacon to Steam. Then, in an announcement made yesterday, Frogwares put some additional meat on the bones, stating in a blog post that Nacon had “Cracked and Pirated” The Sinking City.

    Frogwares notes that the final decision on whether it is required to deliver a Steam version of The Sinking City is set to be decided by the court “in the next months or even years”. However, it alleges that after giving Frogwares an ultimatum in December to upload a “new Steam master”, Nacon bought a copy of The Sinking City from Gamesplanet and uploaded it to Steam.

    Frogwares says it managed to stop this from being distributed but then last week, Nacon uploaded the game to Steam once again.

    “So on February 26th 2021 to our great surprise, we found a new version of The Sinking City was uploaded to Steam and launched. But Frogwares didn’t deliver such a version,” the company writes.

    “Nacon under the management of its president Alain Falc asked some of their employees, who we even identified, to crack, hack and pirate our game, change its content in order to commercialize it under their own name.”

    Frogwares’ Explanation of How ‘Crack’ Took Place Nacon Hacking

    “In order to make changes Nacon had only one way: to decompile or hack the game using a secret key created by Frogwares since the totality of the game’s content is archived with an Epic Unreal Engine encryption system,” the developer continues.

    “To be clear this is hacking and when hacking has the purpose to steal a product and make money with it, it’s called piracy or counterfeiting. In order to achieve this goal, programmers with serious skills need to be involved. This is not DIY work by inexperienced people, this is done by programmers who know Unreal engine well.”

    Nacon Obtained Encryption Key

    Frogwares says that in order to ‘crack’ its game, Nacon needed to obtain the encryption key. The developer says it knows how that was achieved and will inform the French court dealing with the dispute. Frogwares says it carried out its own checks by downloading the version Nacon uploaded to Steam and testing its own key, which worked.

    “The hackers didn’t even care to use a different encryption key than the one we created when recompiling,” the company says.

    “We therefore opened the packages and we identified immediately in the config files the version that was stolen and hacked: it is a commercial version coming from the site Gamesplanet that was purchased by Nacon like any other player.”

    Using information obtained from Steam, Frogwares argues that the ‘crack’ was carried out by someone at Belgian studio Neopica, which was acquired by Nacon in October 2020.

    “There are long term damages we need to take care of, Nacon unpacked our data, stole our source code and used it. Nacon can create a new version of The Sinking City using our assets; they can resell, reuse, recycle our content and our tools etc,” Frogwares writes.

    “We have to take the measure of what happened now and follow the best path on the legal side to prevent anything like this happening again. The owner of Nacon, Alain Falc will have to face the legal consequences of the decision of pirating and stealing Frogwares property,” the developer concludes.

    In a statement, Nacon said it regrets that Frogwares “persists in disrupting the release of The Sinking City” but puts the blame at the developer’s door.

    “It was Frogwares who came to Nacon to request financing for the development of the game, and to date, more than 10 million euros have been paid to Frogwares by Nacon. It was Frogwares that relied on our marketing and promotion teams, representing thousands of hours of work and several million euros worth of investment,” the statement reads.

    “Now that the game has been fully developed, and published, largely thanks to Nacon’s money and work, Frogwares would like to revise the terms of the contract to their sole advantage. It’s easy to play the victim, but all we seek is that Frogwares respect its commitments both in the contract and as demanded by the courts.”

    From: TF , for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

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      Earn $1 Million by Snitching on Companies that “Copy That Floppy’

      Ernesto Van der Sar · news.movim.eu / TorrentFreak · Sunday, 28 February, 2021 - 20:06 · 4 minutes

    don In the early nineties, software companies already realized that piracy posed a major threat to their business.

    Computers became more popular and millions of people broke the law by copying floppies, without the permission of copyright holders.

    Don’t Copy That Floppy

    This illicit activity was a thorn in the side of the Software Publishers Association. In an attempt to educate the masses, it released the “Don’t Copy That Floppy” anti-piracy campaign that’s still known to this day.

    The iconic video features ME Hart, starring as “MC Double Def DP,” and two teenagers who are about to tread on the piracy path. For a variety of reasons, the video struck a nerve with an entire generation.

    Today, almost thirty years later, people still refer to the campaign. The PSA has its own Wikipedia entry and became a meme by itself. It has generated millions of views on YouTube and the number is still rising.

    It’s safe to say that lot has changed since “Don’t Copy That Floppy” first came out. The software industry has long abandoned floppies and nowadays most piracy takes place on the Internet. However, unauthorized copying remains a problem.

    Current Anti-Piracy Focus

    Despite the ‘success’ of their anti-piracy campaign three decades ago, we haven’t heard much from the Software Publishers Association recently. The industry group, currently known as the Software and Information Industry Association ( SIIA ), hasn’t taken any pirates or pirate services to court, as far as we know.

    However, this doesn’t mean that SIIA is no longer concerned with copyright infringements. Instead of fighting casual users or pirate sites, it now focuses on corporate copyright infringement.

    This week we stumbled upon the group’s rather generous “rewards” program. While this has been in place for a while, it is worth highlighting.

    Report Piracy

    The industry group has a special section on its website that’s dedicated to reporting piracy. According to SIIA, unauthorized copying results in an estimated $8 billion in lost sales. To address this issue, they ask the public for help.

    “Piracy is stealing. We need your help to combat this crime. If you see something, say something. Report issues of piracy here. SIIA advocates for the industry and protects intellectual property from theft,” SIIA writes.

    SIIA report piracy

    While not everyone likes the idea of ‘snitching’ on pirates, SIIA has an offer that many will find hard to refuse.

    $1 Million Reward

    “By reporting software piracy to SIIA you could earn up to $1,000,000,” they promise. At the same time, they offer strict confidentiality to whistleblowers.

    Needless to say, this approach is quite different from the “Don’t Copy That Floppy” campaign. While rewards for reporting piracy are not new, $1,000,000 is a substantial sum of money that pales in comparison to the few hundred dollars or pounds theater employees can get .

    That being said, when we look at SIIA’s fine print it becomes clear that one has to get very lucky to hit this jackpot.

    For one, the reward only applies to situations where corporations use pirated software. If someone reports an issue at his or her employer, SIIA may choose to follow this up, which could ultimately lead to a settlement. The scale of this settlement will determine the award.

    “If all the eligibility requirements are met and the settlement amount paid to SIIA is at least $10,000, the source will be considered for a reward of $500. SIIA may increase the reward to as much as $1,000,000 depending on the amount of piracy reported by the source and the settlement amount collected by SIIA.”

    In other words, $500 is much more likely than $1,000,000, according to the terms and conditions.

    More Caveats

    There are several other caveats as well. For example, the rewards only apply to cases where SIIA reaches a settlement outside of court. If it goes to court, SIIA may still choose to “reimburse” the whistleblower for his or her time, but that’s not guaranteed.

    In fact, even when all requirements are met, SIIA may still choose not to pay anything.

    “The decision whether to pay a reward and the amount of that award shall be within SIIA’s sole discretion. SIIA reserves its right to deny the payment of a reward or to revoke the source reward program at any time and without notice and for any reason,” the terms read.

    We reached out to SIIA to find out more about this program and how often the organization pays out rewards but after a few days we still haven’t heard back.

    These settlements don’t reach the news very often but they are relatively common. Over the years there have been various reports of successes and several years ago, the group settled nearly a dozen cases on one month, recouping $1 million in lost revenue.

    In the midst of all this serious business, SIIA didn’t completely ignore its roots. In 2009, it released a sequel to the “Don’t Copy That Floppy” campaign, titled: “Don’t Copy That 2.” Perhaps we’ll see the third installment of the PSA in the years to come?

    From: TF , for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

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      UK Govt. Parodies “You Wouldn’t Steal” Anti-Piracy Ad to Deter COVID Spreaders

      Andy Maxwell · news.movim.eu / TorrentFreak · Friday, 19 February, 2021 - 07:37 · 2 minutes

    piracy it When the Federation Against Copyright Theft and the Motion Picture Association teamed up in 2004 to create a new anti-piracy advert, neither could’ve believed it would still be getting press coverage close to two decades later.

    Even today, the phrases “You Wouldn’t Steal a Car” and “Piracy. It’s a Crime” remain familiar to millions, largely because the ad’s original tone has spawned parody after hilarious parody .

    Given that the original ad set the stage by coming across as a parody in itself, poking fun at it has never been difficult. Nevertheless, these little boosts have helped establish “You Wouldn’t Steal” as an enduring part of anti-piracy history that no other campaign has come close to matching. And the fun-poking isn’t over yet either.

    In a move designed to deter people from meeting up illegally in the UK during the coronavirus pandemic, the UK government has released a public service announcement of its own, one that is a clear parody of “You Wouldn’t Steal”.

    It was shared by the Home Office on Twitter, with the now-familiar message of “Stay Home. Protect The NHS. Save Lives.” The PSA consists of real video captured by police during raids on various locations recently including makeshift pubs , baby showers, and other illegal gatherings.

    Not generally known (at least publicly) for its sense of humor, FACT weighed in on Twitter, congratulating the Home Office on its video message and then suggesting that it might like to use one of FACT’s other videos as inspiration for its next campaign.

    FACT tweet

    As seen below, this anti-piracy PSA suggested by FACT is even more ridiculous than “You Wouldn’t Steal..” and we have a sneaking suspicion that they know that. But the unintentional comedy was only just warming up.

    As highlighted by users on Twitter, the anti-piracy PSA shared by FACT with the Home Office was uploaded to YouTube by a random user, not the anti-piracy group itself. That effectively makes it a pirated copy of a video that was originally designed to stop people from pirating – shared by the people who originally made it, to prevent people from pirating.

    Of course, that can only lead to one conclusion and a final message to pirates for which there can be no adequate comeback….


    From: TF , for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

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      Anti-Piracy Group: Copyright Trolling is a “Stain On The Fight Against Illegal Content”

      Andy Maxwell · news.movim.eu / TorrentFreak · Saturday, 23 January, 2021 - 11:01 · 3 minutes

    copyright troll This week it was reported that Njord Law, a prominent Danish law engaged in cash settlement demands against alleged BitTorrent pirates, is in serious trouble.

    Working with middle-man licensing companies CMS and MIRCOM, which have connections to German-based BitTorrent tracking company MaverickEye and notorious international trolling operation Guardaley, the company demanded that their targets pay sums of money, often in excess of US$1,200, to make potential lawsuits disappear.

    After hundreds of cases were kicked out of court, mainly due to CMS and MIRCOM having no standing to file a lawsuit, Njord Law and partner lawyer Jeppe Brogaard Clausen have now been charged with acting fraudulently . While both deny the allegations, the fallout in Denmark is so significant that leading anti-piracy group Rights Alliance is now voicing its own criticism of the companies’ business model.

    “A Stain on the Fight Against Illegal Content”

    It’s relatively rare for one anti-piracy group to criticize another but Rights Alliance chief Maria Fredenslund did just that Thursday, complaining that the CMS/MIRCOM/Njord business model is a “stain on the fight against illegal content”.

    “We have never been behind the methods and approach that Njord Law Firm has taken in these cases. There has been no cooperation between us and them,” she told Berlingske .

    Fredenslund has several concerns, including that the allegations of fraud will “cloud” the work of Rights Alliance and detract from the sustained effort the group has put in to reduce piracy levels in Denmark.

    “We have not had any collaboration on the letters that Njord Law Firm has sent out. On the contrary, we have been out and publicly saying that we do not support it,” Fredenslund said.

    Rights Alliance Prefers To Target Operators and Block Sites

    Rights Alliance is engaged in a wide variety of anti-piracy measures, including the targeting of various torrent sites recently, something which has resulted in a number of arrests.

    Back in 2016, Rights Alliance reported DanishBits, the country’s largest tracker, to the police and in October 2020 it shut down . Just this week further arrests were reported in connection with now-shuttered site Asgaard.

    However, one of the anti-piracy group’s favorite strategies is site-blocking which Fredenslund believes is a more effective strategy than copyright-trolling.

    “Our strategy is based on approaches that we know from many years of experience, and Denmark is known for having an effective blocking system. It is a long, tough move, but that hard work means that today we can see the fruits of the work we started ten years ago,” she added.

    Unfortunately for Rights Alliance, however, copyright-trolling can influence pirates’ behavior in ways that have the potential to disrupt this disruption too.

    Copyright Trolling is Undermining Anti-Piracy Group

    With allegations of fraud in the air, Rights Alliance is keen to distance itself from the actions of Njord Law and its partners. Perhaps more importantly though, copyright-trolling operations don’t exist in a bubble and have the potential to drive pirates underground.

    Speaking with local publication K-News , Fredenslund says that Rights Alliance doesn’t support the Njord model because after ten years of experience, they know that it has “no effect” on reducing piracy. However, while it may not drive down piracy rates, settlement schemes are causing pirates to hide their identities using anonymization tools.

    Fredenslund doesn’t elaborate on why this is an issue for Rights Alliance (the group doesn’t target end-users anyway) but the implications are very clear. When consumers of pirated content sign up to a VPN or similar anonymization service, they are not only protected from copyright-trolling schemes but they can also evade Rights Alliance’s site-blocking measures too.

    Copyright-Trolling and Site-Blocking Have Different Goals

    At this point, it’s important to recognize the differences between the efforts of Rights Alliance and Njord Law and its partners. While Rights Alliance’s actions are designed to deter and prevent piracy in order to protect revenues, copyright-trolls view piracy as a money-making opportunity.

    Indeed, the entire troll model requires piracy to exist, providing another source of revenue for often third-rate content that would otherwise have little commercial value. The issue of pirates hiding themselves using VPNs to avoid trolls then becomes a thorn in the side of efforts to block sites, effectively nullifying court injunctions obtained by Rights Alliance.

    It seems then that copyright-troll schemes are not only ineffective but also undermine genuine efforts to bring piracy down to more manageable levels. Only time will tell whether the courts in Denmark and elsewhere are prepared to do something about them but it’s pretty clear that just for once, pirates and anti-pirates actually agree on something.

    From: TF , for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

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      Sci-Hub Founder Criticises Sudden Twitter Ban Over Over “Counterfeit” Content

      Ernesto Van der Sar · news.movim.eu / TorrentFreak · Friday, 8 January, 2021 - 12:31 · 3 minutes

    Sci-Hub By offering free access to millions of ‘paywalled’ research papers, Sci-Hub is often described as “The Pirate Bay of Science”.

    The site is used by researchers from all over the world, to access papers they otherwise have a hard time accessing.

    Academic publishers are not happy with the service. They see the site as a threat to their multi-billion dollar businesses and have tried to shut it down through several lawsuits. At the same time, publishers work to have the site blocked by ISPs around the world.

    Blocking Lawsuit in India

    In recent weeks, Sci-Hub has become the focus of a high-profile lawsuit in India where Elsevier, Wiley, and American Chemical Society want the site blocked. The case isn’t as straightforward as in other countries, in part because access to Sci-Hub is seen as vital by many local academics.

    Earlier this week, the Indian High Court declared the case an “ issue of public importance ,” inviting experts and scientists to testify on the matter. Meanwhile, however, the pressure on Sci-Hub grows.

    Twitter Suspends Sci-Hub Permanently

    This morning, Sci-Hub founder Alexandra Elbakyan informed us that Twitter has suspended the site’s official account , which had over 185k followers and operated without notable issues for nine years. Elbakyan believes that it may be directly related to the legal action in India.

    “It happened right after Indian scientists revolted against Elsevier and other academic publishers after Sci-Hub posted on Twitter about the danger of being blocked – thousands of people spoke up against this on Twitter.

    “Now Twitter said to all of them, SHUT UP!” Elbakyan adds.

    One of Sci-Hub’s Latest Tweets

    sci-hub tweet

    The reason for the suspension is related to Twitter’s “ counterfeit policy .” The social media platform doesn’t list any concrete takedown requests but simply mentions the policy violation and the fact that its decision can’t be appealed.

    “Your account has been permanently suspended due to a violation of Twitter policies, in particular the Counterfeiting Policy. This decision is not subject to appeal,” Twitter writes, translated from Russian.

    Twitter’s email to Sci-Hub

    sci-hub twitter

    According to Sci-Hub’s founder, the suspension is an effort to censor her and all those who support the site in its legal battle against the powerful publishers.

    Massive Support From Academics

    Over the past several days, many Indian researchers and academics voiced their support of the site in replies to Sci-Hub’s tweets. While the tweets from these researchers are still up, they’re harder to find. And Sci-Hub can no longer call for support either.

    “Now after the Sci-Hub Twitter ban that’s all gone. Now they can lie and pretend, that there was no support and there will be no easy way to check that!”

    Before the suspension, Elbakyan already started archiving Sci-Hub’s tweets and responses. Not just for the historical record but also to use in court, where they will be used as evidence.

    “I collected these responses and forwarded them to my lawyer in India, Nilesh Jain. We were planning to read them aloud in court to prove that Sci-Hub should not be blocked,” Elbakyan tells us.

    Some responses, more here , archived by Sci-Hub

    researchers support sci-hub

    While there are some academics who would prefer to see Sci-Hub gone, the site is supported by researchers all over the world. This is no different in India, where many scholars don’t have access to expensive subscriptions.

    Damaging Paywalls

    A lot of the top research papers are hidden behind paywalls, which is a continued source of frustration for many.

    “The only reason students from egregiously underfunded institutions in India manage to do quality research is because of platforms like Sci-Hub and Libgen. If you block them, you block research. Period,” writes Sushmita Pati, Assistant Professor of Political Science.

    TorrentFreak reached out to Twitter asking for clarification on their decision to ban the account but the company didn’t immediately reply.

    Questions Remain, as does Sci-Hub

    As far as we know, Sci-Hub’s Twitter account didn’t link directly to infringing content. There were some tweets linking to the Sci-Hub site, but these have been around for a long time. Nothing seems to have changed substantially.

    Twitter is known to terminate repeat infringers but Elbakyan notes that this account suspension came out of the blue. At this point, it’s unclear if Twitter acted on its own or if rightsholders complained.

    With Sci-Hub removed from Twitter, the site has lost its presence on the social media platform. However, whether that will do much to stop researchers from accessing the site is doubtful. If recent history has shown anything, it’s that increased legal pressure on the site only increases its popularity .


    sci hub suspended

    From: TF , for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

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      Judge: Sci-Hub Blocking Case “Important” For Science, Community Representations Will Be Heard

      Andy Maxwell · news.movim.eu / TorrentFreak · Thursday, 7 January, 2021 - 18:42 · 2 minutes

    Sci-Hub On December 21, 2020, academic publishers Elsevier, Wiley, and American Chemical Society filed a lawsuit demanding that Indian ISPs block access to Sci-Hub and Libgen.

    The companies accuse the platforms of engaging in large-scale copyright infringement and note that preventing citizens of India from accessing the platforms is the only real option available to prevent their rights from being further abused.

    In similar blocking applications, there has been relatively little difficulty in getting the court onside. All have targeted torrent and streaming sites offering movies, TV shows, and similar content without permission. However, while the case against Sci-Hub and Libgen is materially similar, there are additional factors that make the case more complex.

    Protests By Scientists, Academics, Teachers and Students

    As reported this week, scientists, academics, teachers and students have been applying pressure to have their voices heard in the case. According to them, any blocking of Sci-Hub and Libgen would amount to a denial of access to information crucial to the wellbeing of not only the scientific and research communities but also of India as a whole.

    During a hearing yesterday at the Delhi High Court, the publishers hoped to obtain an order to have the platforms and their many domains blocked. However, the presiding judge listened to the calls of the scientific community and agreed that a delay to allow more detailed consideration would be appropriate in this case.

    “It is an issue of public importance. It’s very important to the scientific community,” said Justice JR Midha.

    Representations of Scientific Community Will Be Heard

    The Court’s decision to delay the hearing for around six weeks came following intervention applications filed by nineteen scientists , including a virologist and several physicists specializing in multiple research areas, plus the Delhi Science Forum and Knowledge Commons .

    Arguing that open access to scientific research is absolutely vital for the advancement of scientific knowledge, the scientists believe that the publishers are making excessive profits while effectively restricting access only to the “elite institutions” that can afford their prices.

    “Unfortunately, scientific publication is controlled by an oligopoly of publishers who charge exorbitant fees and practice anti-competitive business models that seriously hamper the ability of the scientific community to access and share research,” they write.

    According to Bar and Bench , Senior Advocate Amit Sibal appeared for the publishing houses and Senior Advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan appeared for Sci-Hub. The scientists were represented by Advocate Jawahar Raja and Advocate Rohit Sharma appeared for Delhi Science Forum.

    After consideration, the Court rejected pleas for the sites to blocked immediately and instead ordered pleadings to be completed within the next six weeks.

    According to SpicyIP , Sci-Hub received a two-week extension to fulfill its procedural obligations and was granted permission to file an application for exemption from formal compliances. This is due to the unusual nature of the case and Sci-Hub founder Alexandra Elbakyan currently living in Russia.

    Interestingly, the publication further notes that while there is an arrangement to prevent any of the publishers’ content from appearing on Sci-Hub while the matter is under consideration, a request to have this ‘ban’ extended to Libgen was rejected by the Court. Libgen is reportedly yet to be properly served by the publishers, excluding it from the interim direction.

    The case will now be heard on February 23, 2021 (link to order here )

    From: TF , for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

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      Police “Seize” Pirate IPTV Platform, Prepare to Identify 50,000 Users

      Andy Maxwell · news.movim.eu / TorrentFreak · Tuesday, 22 December, 2020 - 07:41 · 2 minutes

    IPTV While rightsholders and authorities all around the world are working to disrupt pirate IPTV platforms, in 2020 Italian law enforcement entities have been more involved than most.

    Every few weeks agencies including the Guardia di Finanza have announced fresh action to try and reduce the use of piracy-enabled set-top devices, often referred to by the term ‘pezzotto’.

    New Legal Action Against 50,000-User IPTV Platform

    According to an announcement by the Provincial Command of the Guardia di Finanza of Milan, an operation coordinated by the Public Prosecutor of Milan has resulted in the “preventative seizure” of an IPTV platform through which more than 50,000 users were accessing TV content without permission.

    The name of the platform hasn’t been directly released by the authorities but a video claiming to show aspects of ‘Operation: The Net’ shows the URL Webnet.cam (currently down) apparently involved in IPTV.

    Considering sports broadcasters are some of the entertainment companies hardest hit by the proliferation of piracy-enabled devices, it is no surprise that the action follows preliminary investigations carried out by Sky Italia and football league Serie A.

    These entities filed complaints with the authorities, triggering an investigation by the Milan Economic-Financial Police Unit and the Computer Crimes Team of the local Public Prosecutor’s Office.

    Large Pirate IPTV Operation Uncovered

    “Subsequent investigations revealed the existence of an interconnected organization, operating in different regions of the national territory, dedicated to the sale and distribution of decoding devices suitable for allowing access to the IPTV encrypted service to enjoy television content, without payment of the applicable fees,” GdF’s statement reads.

    GdF IPTV Seizure Notice GdF IPTV Seized

    According to the law enforcement entity, the investigation against the platform was made more complex due to the suspects’ use of VPNs to “anonymize communications”.

    Nevertheless, three individuals have now been reported to the prosecutor’s office for breaches of Art. 171 of Italy’s Copyright Law, which for criminal infringements can mean fines and/or imprisonment.

    Serie A Welcomes Action, Warns Subscribers

    “We are extremely satisfied with the results we are achieving in synergy with the Public Prosecutor’s Office in the field of combating audiovisual piracy. The work carried out has completed an operation of great importance,” says Serie A CEO Luigi De Siervo.

    According to Siervo, after identifying those at the top of the “criminal organization” with the assistance of anti-piracy company Digital Content Protection , attention is now being turned to the people who subscribed to the illegal service.

    “It is a further step forward in our daily battle because thanks to the seizure of the database of these criminals, the final users are being identified who will, in turn, be reported and prosecuted with penalties ranging from 2,500 to 25,000 euros,” the Serie A chief warned.

    Whether this threat will be carried out at scale will remain to be seen but Italy has already shown a willingness this year to go after pirate IPTV subscribers. In February, the Guardia di Finanza said it had reported 223 subscribers of pirate IPTV services to the judicial authorities.

    This latest operation against the 50,000-subscriber platform follows on the heels of two others involving Italian authorities in recent months.

    In September, the Guardia di Finanza said that 58 sites and 18 Telegram channels had been blocked for their involvement in pirate IPTV. Then last month, a massive law enforcement operation (“The Perfect Storm”) carried out across Europe reportedly shut down 5,500 servers used to stream pirated TV broadcasts, live sports, and movies to the public.

    From: TF , for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more. We have some good VPN deals here for the holidays.

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      Court: Mass “Copyright Troll” Lawsuits Targeting Danes May Be Illegal

      Andy Maxwell · news.movim.eu / TorrentFreak · Sunday, 20 December, 2020 - 16:07 · 5 minutes

    copyright troll So-called ‘copyright trolling’ campaigns against alleged file-sharers is huge business in both the United States and Europe.

    The goal is to have courts order ISPs to hand over the personal details behind an IP address so that subscribers can be put under pressure to pay a settlement or face punishing legal action. In Denmark, especially considering its relatively small population, such schemes are now extremely prevalent. But all is not well for the main players.

    Cases Undermined Due to Rookie Mistakes

    It’s not always easy to tell the difference between a regular copyright lawsuit and one filed by a supposed ‘copyright troll’. However, when middle-man companies appear in the mix, those which appear to have no place in the proceedings other than to provide some kind of shield for the real rightsholders, red flags start to get raised. For those on the receiving end, however, that’s not always bad news.

    As reported in April, a High Court in Denmark threw out three copyright infringement cases against alleged pirates. The problem was that Copyright Management Services, a UK middle-man company working with Danish law firm NJORD Law, attempted to squeeze around US$1,000 from the defendants to prevent further action from their movie company partners.

    Unfortunately for them, however, the Eastern High Court found that CMS had absolutely no right to sue. As a result, the cases were dismissed and the opportunists were sent on their way. But that wasn’t the end of the road.

    Dozens and Dozens of Cases Collapse

    The findings of the Eastern High Court created momentum. Since then, it’s believed that around 100 other cases have been dismissed on the same grounds, including three reported by the Court of Frederiksberg this week.

    The three cases emerged following judgments obtained against three defendants, one of whom reportedly torrented an adult movie and another London Has Fallen, a common title in similar lawsuits elsewhere. After failing to appear last year to defend themselves, each was ordered to pay 7,500 kroner (US$1,237) in default damages.

    All three failed to pay, so each found themselves pursued through the bailiff’s court by the ‘plaintiffs’. However, the court in Frederiksberg has booted out all three cases ( 1 , 2 , 3 ), referencing earlier cases that found that CMS had no right to sue.

    In fact, not only did the court reference the failed case in April, it also referred to another 39 rulings by the same court and another 60 handed down by the Copenhagen City Court, all of which found that CMS had no right to bring these copyright cases as it had no standing to be the plaintiff.

    Hundreds of Thousands of Danes Potentially Affected

    These types of lawsuits have been ongoing for several years in Denmark and despite warnings, very little has been done to prevent their spread. In 2018, ISPs Telenor and Telia put up a fight but the damage had already been done.

    According to a report by Berlingske this week, at least 2,500 Danes could be affected and potentially up to 200,000.

    “It’s a big money machine where you treat the courts as ATMs,” lawyer Allan Ohms told the publication. “Njord Law Firm is a reputable law firm, so I do not understand why they are involved.”

    The Berlingske report catalogs many horrors, including the targeting of an 84-year-old woman with dementia and a 41-year-old man who had to sit in court while being accused of downloading porn, because his age and gender “matched the profile” of someone who would’ve carried out the crime. The case was dismissed but a family member recalls that the case took its toll.

    “I clearly remember when he came home after the trial. He was completely devastated. As an ordinary citizen one stands completely defenseless in this situation. That can simply not be right,” the person said.

    But many people have already settled with NJORD law and its apparently shadowy partners, about which very little is known.

    Lawyer Nikolaj Linneballe said that no one really knows who is pulling the strings behind the scenes and, importantly, who is collecting all the money from cases that should have never been brought. He believes the settlement money should be returned when it has been shown that plaintiffs had no right to bring a case but whether that will ever happen is unknown.

    Court Suggests That The Lawsuits May Be Illegal

    As reported by Berlingske , the Court of Frederiksberg appears to be of the opinion that the lawsuits in these ‘false plaintiff’ cases may be illegal. Indeed, the suggestion is that Danes affected by the action may be able to file a claim for damages via a criminal complaint.

    While that may be the case, by design these middle-man companies seem primed to collapse like chocolate teapots should the battle turn sour. But nonetheless, things are certainly in a mess.

    Aside from CMS’s lack of standing to bring any of these cases, NJORD law stands accused of requesting an arbitrary amount of 7,500 kroner to settle each case, regardless of the costs incurred in the matter. This raises the question of how “real” these claims for compensation are, despite the fact they should’ve never been brought at all.

    “[The] amount is arbitrarily fixed for the occasion, and not an amount where there is an expression of a real claim for compensation, remuneration or allowance,” the court previously said, noting that the actions constitute a potentially significant “legal security problem” for Danes.

    One of the problems is the starting point of the law firm and its partners. Those accused are considered guilty unless they are able to prove their innocence, which in most cases is not possible, since the companies involved hold all of the ‘evidence’, including who is supposed to have shared what, when, and with whom.

    Indeed, the collection and presentation of evidence is held in a tightly closed-loop, since it’s all handled non-transparently by entities acting in concert with the plaintiffs and rightsholders. The defendants have no access to the audit trails so are faced with the problem of arguing against a spreadsheet.

    In many respects, copyright-trolling has rarely been any different. The smoke and mirrors are fairly standard, as are the strong-arm tactics. But maybe Denmark has had enough now, which is usually a signal for the trolls to move to another territory and start the same thing all over again.

    From: TF , for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more. We have some good VPN deals here for the holidays.

    • chevron_right

      “Freedom to Share” Launches EU Citizens’ Initiative to Legalize File-Sharing

      Ernesto Van der Sar · news.movim.eu / TorrentFreak · Thursday, 17 December, 2020 - 08:46 · 2 minutes

    sharing is caring Millions of people around the world use torrent sites and forms of file-sharing to share copyrighted material on a regular basis. In most countries, this is against the law.

    This restrictive stance toward ‘sharing’ is problematic according to a group of activists, who have launched the “ Freedom to Share ” initiative.

    One Million Signatures

    The campaign is a European Citizens’ Initiative . This is a form of direct democracy that allows the public to take part in the development of EU law and policies. With enough support across various EU member states and at least one million signatures, the EU Commission will have to officially consider the proposal.

    This is certainly not the first time that activists have called for the legalization of file-sharing. However, this campaign has substantial backing . It has support from the Italian Wikimedia Foundation, for example, and various Pirate parties are taking part as well.

    Current EU law restricts the freedom of access to science and culture, according to the organizers. It is overly restrictive as the interests of major rightsholders are often put before those of regular people.

    Right to Share

    “We see the legalization of file-sharing as part of the ‘right to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits’ described in Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” Freedom to Share informs TorrentFreak.

    “We also think that this approach would make some invasive laws obsolete. Examples of such laws span from the infamous ‘upload filters’ described in Article 17 of the EU Copyright Directive, that monitor uploads for copyright infringements, to regulations in some countries that limit open WiFi hotspots on the same ground.”

    freedom to share

    The Italian attorney Marco Ciurcina acts as a spokesperson for the initiative. He believes that current laws hinder freedom of access to science and culture. Sharing files should not be illegal anywhere, whether that’s via P2P networks such as BitTorrent, email, or other sharing tools.

    “The question is: is it fair for copyright, related rights, and sui generis database rights to prevent the sharing of works and other material?” Ciurcina asks.

    What About Creators?

    The Freedom To Share initiative answers this question with a resounding NO. However, fearing that revenues will plunge, some major copyright holders will see things differently. The group doesn’t believe that artists will be harmed by sharing though, quite the opposite.

    “We believe modern technology is an opportunity for authors, not a problem. We also believe that it’s harmful for authors to depend on and support the very unfair and unpopular status quo of copyright laws. Some authors might be appreciated and known by people much more thanks to file-sharing.”

    The proposal doesn’t come with any solutions for how creators should be compensated. However, file-sharers can and will still consume legally. Research has shown, for example, that ‘pirates’ spend more on legal entertainment than those who don’t share.

    In addition, Freedom to Share suggests that there could be other options to bring in additional revenue. For example, through taxes, or through collecting societies that are dedicated to file-sharing.

    The first priority, however, is to bring the legalization proposal into the EU spotlight. Freedom to Share hopes that it will be able to gather enough signatures in the coming weeks. And to reach that goal, it encourages all file-sharers to sign and share their initiative.

    From: TF , for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.