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      Hollywood Studios, Amazon & Netflix Sue ‘Evasive’ Pirate IPTV Operator From Texas

      news.movim.eu / TorrentFreak · Thursday, 28 March - 18:23 · 4 minutes

    tvnitro Operating a pirate IPTV service can be a dangerous endeavor, no matter where one’s located. In the United States, home to Hollywood and other major entertainment outfits, the risks are arguably even higher.

    In the past, we have seen several pirate IPTV businesses being taken to court , with rightsholders almost always on the winning side. These cases can result in million-dollar damages awards or even multi-year prison sentences , if the feds get involved.

    Despite this backdrop, some people are still willing to take a gamble. According to a new lawsuit filed at a Texan federal court, Dallas resident William Freemon and his company Freemon Technology Industries, are a prime example.

    Hollywood Lawsuit Against IPTV Operator

    The complaint, filed by Hollywood majors including Disney and Warner Bros, as well as streaming giants Amazon and Netflix, accuses the defendant of widespread copyright infringement.

    This alleged illegal activity involves selling presumed pirate IPTV subscriptions through domains such as instantiptv.net, streamingtvnow.com,streamingtvnow.net, tvnitro.net, cashappiptv.com, livetvresellers.com, stncloud.ltd, and stnlive.ltd, some of which remain online today.

    “Freemon operates an extensive and commercially scaled network of illegal streaming services that offers unauthorized access to live channels and video-on-demand streams of Plaintiffs’ copyrighted movies and TV shows,” the complaint reads.


    The defendant is a familiar name for the entertainment companies, who have followed his actions for years.

    “Freemon has a long history of brazen disregard for copyright laws, and his early foray into internet piracy is the first link in the chain leading to his current web of illegal services,” they write.

    “Beginning in 2016 and continuing through 2019, Freemon sold illegally modified Fire TV Stick devices. These devices connect to a regular TV and allow customers to access unauthorized content.”

    Firesticks Lead to IPTV

    The ‘loaded’ Firestick business was promoted on X and Facebook and the complaint includes two dated screenshots from this activity. At the time, these devices were sold through firesticksloaded.com and firesticksloaded.biz, and Freemon was listed as the registrant for the latter domain.

    ads old

    These sites are long gone now but they offered a fruitful lead to other, potentially illegal, activities. The Firesticks domains were hosted on the same IP address as several other domain names and ultimately formed a trail to the controversial IPTV operations.

    Those IPTV services include ‘Streaming TV Now’, ‘Instant IPTV’, ‘Cash App IPTV’, and ‘TV Nitro’. Some of these were subsequently advertised through the YouTube channel @williamfreemon3378, which the plaintiffs believe belongs to the defendant.

    The YouTube videos are no longer online today as they were taken down following complaints from rightsholders, but they’re used as additional evidence to support the current lawsuit.

    “These YouTube videos —and their subsequent removal— nonetheless provide further evidence that Freemon is behind this web of services and that he knows he is committing infringement,” the complaint reads.

    freemon youtube

    TV Nitro and Other IPTV Endeavors

    According to the plaintiffs, ‘TV Nitro’ was the first IPTV service that Freemon was linked to. This service originally operated as ‘Nitro TV’ between 2019 and 2021. After subsequently going offline for two years, it recently reappeared.

    ‘Streaming TV Now’ is the most popular IPTV service according to the complaint. It first appeared online in 2020 and offers access to 11,000 live channels, as well as on-demand access to over 27,000 movies and 9,000 TV series.

    “Freemon offers customer subscription packages for Streaming TV Now at prices ranging from $20 per month to $150 per year—depending on the package and billing cycle selected. The money goes to Freemon.”


    In addition to offering IPTV packages to the public, the defendant is also accused of recruiting resellers through livetvresellers.com, presumably to expand the reach of his IPTV business.

    Warning Leads to Lawsuit

    Before taking the matter to court, Amazon, Netflix, and the Hollywood studios sent a letter to the defendant, asking him to stop all infringing activities. However, that didn’t yield the desired response. Instead of taking action, the defendant said he no longer controls the domains.

    “Freemon was not cooperative. He did not take down the Infringing Services and instead offered unsubstantiated claims that he transferred the associated domains,” the complaint reads.

    “Plaintiffs spent months negotiating with Freemon. Based on the lack of substantial change to the Infringing Services in the intervening times, including that the respective main domains are still hosted with the same hosting provider [Amarutu], Freemon is likely still controlling the Infringing Domains.

    “Freemon’s evasiveness is particularly concerning in light of his long history of willful infringement,” the plaintiffs add.

    The rightsholders allege that the defendant is liable for copyright infringement, either directly or indirectly. They therefore request a jury trial and appropriate damages.

    With 125 movies and TV shows listed in the complaint, maximum statutory damages can be as high as $18 million. The figure could increase further still, as the plaintiffs reserve the right to add more titles.

    For now, however, the priority seems to be to end the infringing activity. To that end, Amazon and the other plaintiffs request injunctive relief, including the handover of all infringing domain names and the destruction of all ‘pirate’ hardware.

    A copy of the complaint, filed yesterday at the District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas, is available here (pdf)

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

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      Premier League IPTV Piracy Clickbait Reaches New Low, But Will Go Lower

      news.movim.eu / TorrentFreak · Saturday, 23 March - 13:37 · 3 minutes

    clown-dmca Being able to receive and impart knowledge and ideas with other people is one of the most important things any human will ever do.

    The information shared or received won’t always be accurate, even if we believe it is. It might not be accurate even if it appears in several widely read online newspapers. All anyone really expects is a tiny effort to ensure that they aren’t being fed fabricated nonsense made up on the spot.

    Apparently, even that’s too much to ask; illegal streaming detector cars , really?

    Something Something PIRACY SHIELD WARNING

    The image below shows how Google responds to a search for a very specific term. The search term ‘piracy shield’ relates to an anti-piracy system that enjoyed its full launch in Italy on February 2, 2024. We’ve written about Piracy Shield and the legislation supporting it on dozens of occasions, including numerous times in the last few weeks.

    piracy shield news

    Of the available ‘Top Stories’ space, we get a quarter while the remaining 75% is allocated to three extremely popular, UK-focused publications, all of which expend considerable resources on SEO and here, tell exactly the same ‘story’.

    While TorrentFreak’s regular readers will already know what Piracy Shield is , who built it and why , exactly how it functions from a technical perspective, and all of its ‘secret’ targets thus far , it’s likely that readers of the publications above were less aware of it.

    After reading the articles, not much would’ve improved.

    Stand By Brits, This Will End Illegal Streaming, FOREVER

    The Piracy Shield system was donated by Italian football league Serie A to Italian telecoms regulator, AGCOM. The technical section of an Italian law firm worked on development, the system was accredited for use in Italy under Italian law, and is currently hard at work trying to block access to Italian content, in Italy.

    That obviously leads seamlessly and not at all unnaturally to headlines like these.

    Given these end-of-days headlines, some may have been comforted that the doom portrayed at the start of the articles had completely disappeared by the end.

    From “the crackdown may stop games being streamed illegally for good” at the start, to variations on “there are no plans for a similar procedure to be adopted in the UK” at the end. That’s either the most miraculous recovery seen recently, or the textbook definition of clickbait.

    Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter, because it’s still not entirely true. Or indeed true at all.

    Anyone Remember The Premier League?

    The Piracy Shield system in Italy exists in the main to block pirate sports streams, delivered by premium IPTV piracy platforms or those accessed via web-based streaming portals. To ensure the legality of blocking under Italian law, so-called ‘precautionary measures’ with the ability to adapt to changing circumstances, i.e evasive action by pirates, are issued against pirate sites.

    If these ‘dynamic injunctions’ and a Piracy Shield-type system turned up in the UK tomorrow, the scenarios outlined in the articles above definitely would not happen, and for very good reason.

    Always Credit The Source

    Dynamic injunctions for tackling live sports piracy were actually pioneered and developed in the UK, by none other than the Premier League.

    In fact, in Football Association Premier League Ltd v British Telecommunications Plc & Ors. (2017/2018) , the High Court of England and Wales issued the first ever dynamic injunctions for tackling live sports in favor of the Premier League. Since then, such injunctions have been in constant force at ISPs around the country, season in, season out, controlled and executed by the by Premier League’s own system.

    That’s six/seven years of experience for the Premier League. Piracy Shield launched four weeks ago.

    Think of it like the scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail where King Arthur tries to use the Holy Grail as leverage over the master of a French castle, but is informed that the master probably won’t be interested since “he’s already got one.”

    Or just make something up.

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

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      New UK Police Unit Announces Two Arrests Following Pirate IPTV Investigation

      Andy Maxwell · news.movim.eu / TorrentFreak · Friday, 5 March, 2021 - 10:43 · 3 minutes

    IPTV In summer of 2013, TorrentFreak learned that City of London Police had begin sending warning letters to torrent and streaming sites, advising them to shut down or face the consequences.

    In December 2013, the launch of the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit was officially announced, with the news that the unit had secured £2.56m in initial funding from the UK government’s Intellectual Property Office (IPO).

    Just a few months later, PIPCU announced the creation of the “ Infringing Website List “, an official blacklist that is regularly used by advertisers in order to disrupt cash flow to allegedly infringing sites. Since then, PIPCU has been involved in dozens of operations against piracy, including modified set-top box and IPTV suppliers, plus counterfeiting operations. More recently, however, another player began making its presence known.

    North West Regional Organised Crime Unit

    Starting in 2019, the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit (NWROCU) began announcing actions against various entities involved in the Kodi add-on scene and the supply of pirate IPTV

    It was fairly clear that NWROCU had become involved in PIPCU-type work and there is now official confirmation that the pair have teamed up to form a brand new police unit focussed on tackling intellectual property crime.

    North West Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit

    “The City of London Police, the lead force for fraud, has partnered with the Intellectual Property Office and the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit to set up the North West Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit,” City of London Police has now revealed.

    “This is an extension of its intellectual property capability, based in the City, which is focussed on intellectual property crime, ranging from copyright offenses to fake goods.”

    The unit (‘NWPIPCU’) will combat intellectual property crime in North West England, which has already seen fairly significant action against operators and other players in the pirate device and unlicensed IPTV markets. The unit says it will support existing partners in an effort to disrupt and prosecute existing and new offenders.

    And work is already underway.

    New Operation Targets IPTV Offenders

    Following an investigation, NWPIPCU says that on Thursday March 4, it executed five warrants for IPTV offenses. This resulted in two arrests plus the seizure of electrical items, cash and counterfeit goods. While no further details have been revealed, actions of this type have become increasingly common in recent months.

    Last June, Lancashire Police executed a search warrant at a house on Buckley Grove in the seaside resort of Lytham St Annes. Carried out under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, a 28-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of being involved in the supply of pirate IPTV services and illegal TV streaming devices. High-end cars, expensive jewelry and designer clothes were also seized.

    In December, the Lancashire Police Cyber Crime Unit announced it would begin sending warning letters to around 7,000 users of the raided service, warning them that they should stop watching pirate services or face the possibility of prosecution.

    NWPIPCU Launch Welcomed By PIPCU and NWROC

    “The world of intellectual property crime is constantly evolving and the formation of the North West Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit clearly demonstrates that police, Government and industry are committed to protecting the UK from both established and emerging threats, many of which are now operating from online platforms,” says Superintendent Pete Ratcliffe at City of London Police.

    “Intellectual property crime costs our economy hundreds of millions of pounds a year and threatens thousands of jobs. The unit has ongoing investigations with an estimated potential loss to industry of £2.3m. Through launching the NWPIPCU, we are sending out a clear warning to organized crime groups that IP crime won’t be tolerated.”

    Superintendent Paul Denn of the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit warns that yesterday’s action against those involved in illicit IPTV represents just the start of a series of operations aimed at discovering the true scale of the IP crime problem in the North West.

    The launch of the unit set to carry those out is welcomed by Intellectual Property Office CEO Time Moss.

    “We are delighted to be further strengthening our partnership with City of London Police and building a new one with North West Regional Organised Crime Unit,” Moss says.

    “Effective collaboration is vital for success in combatting IP crime. We are excited about the vital role the new IP crime hub will play in supporting the already impressive capability of this partnership, helping to reduce counterfeit goods and copyright offenses in the north west.”

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

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      Canada Court Asked to Ban Staples & Best Buy From Selling ‘Pirate’ Boxes

      Andy Maxwell · news.movim.eu / TorrentFreak · Wednesday, 3 March, 2021 - 20:48 · 3 minutes

    Streaming Key In September 2019, Super Channel owner Allarco Entertainment filed a lawsuit in Canada’s Federal Court targeting Staples Canada, Best Buy Canada, London Drugs, Canada Computers, several related companies and up to 50,000 ‘John Doe’ customers.

    The controversial legal action saw Allarco accuse the retailers and their staff of promoting, encouraging and instructing in the use of set-top boxes that could enable buyers to access copyright-infringing content.

    The complaint was supported by 100 hours of undercover recordings that purported to show retailers’ staff showing prospective customers how to use software such as Kodi, or offering advice on where to get devices configured for piracy.

    Allarco demanded an injunction to prevent the defendants from “communicating or facilitating the communication” of its works without permission, including by “configuring, advertising, offering for sale or selling Pirate Devices.”

    Allarco Ends Federal Court Lawsuit, Launches Another

    A month after the lawsuit was filed, Canadian lawyer Howard Knopf wrote that in nearly four decades of being an intellectual property lawyer, he had never seen a more unusual Statement of Claim.

    He noted that it claimed copyright infringement in unspecified works, circumvention, making available, unspecified “pirate devices”, trademark infringement, the Criminal Code, through to theft, stealing, interference with the economic and business relations of the Plaintiff, and conspiracy.

    After the retailers fought back, Allarco discontinued its Federal Court lawsuit on January 6, 2020. However, Allarco had already filed another similar lawsuit on December 6, 2019, this time at the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta (Alberta’s superior court). The complaint added unknown suppliers of ‘pirate’ devices as defendants and demanded CAD$50m in damages.

    “It’s too early to speculate about what Allarco will attempt to do and what the Court might let it do about the 50,000 John Doe Customers or the now added John Doe Suppliers and how their interests will be represented if things ever get anywhere near that far,” Knopf wrote at the time.

    However, several months later, a new report indicates that matters are now progressing.

    Allarco Demands ‘Pirate’ Set-Top Device Ban

    Doubling down on its allegations of wrongdoing at the retailers, Allarco is now demanding an injunction from the Court that would prevent them from offering the set-top boxes for sale.

    Whether the Court will find such a request reasonable in respect of devices that are used by millions to access entirely legal services such as Netflix is yet to be determined. Allarco, meanwhile, believes that people buy them for only one thing – piracy.

    “The only reason why people buy these boxes is to steal content,” says Allarco president and chief executive officer Donald McDonald, as quoted by Globe and Mail.

    Interestingly, in common with his counterparts right across the streaming industry, McDonald says that the ‘pirate’ devices – which are largely Android-based and imported from China – are often preloaded with malware that targets consumers and puts their security at risk.

    “These devices are dangerous to your home network, dangerous to your personal data and could end up costing you a lot more money in the end,” he says, showing concern for the people his company is hoping to sue.

    Retailers Deny The Allegations

    Ever since the first lawsuit was filed in 2019, Staples Canada, Best Buy Canada, London Drugs, and Canada Computers have vigorously denied the Allarco/Super Channel allegations. All were reportedly sent cease-and-desist notices before the actions were filed but all claim to have acted within the law.

    “We offer technology from reputable manufacturers and leading brands. We take claims of intellectual property infringement seriously, but we believe that Super Channel’s claims are without merit, and intend to defend this action vigorously,” an earlier Best Buy statement reads.

    While Staples and Best Buy are opting not to comment at this stage, London Drugs said it would “never intentionally take or condone” any action that would infringe intellectual property rights.

    “London Drugs has always respected the rights of content creators and holders of copyright in all forms. We sell products and provide services for many parties engaged in content creation and distribution and recognize and fully support their right to fair compensation,” the company says.

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

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      Police Around Asia Crack Down on Pirate IPTV With Raids & Arrests

      Andy Maxwell · news.movim.eu / TorrentFreak · Saturday, 13 February, 2021 - 11:47 · 3 minutes

    Streaming Key While pirate streaming operations around the United States and Europe attract the most headlines, unlicensed IPTV and similar platforms are now mainstream in most parts of the world.

    Authorities in the West are tackling this problem using quiet ‘behind-the-scenes’ agreements through to civil litigation and criminal enforcement. The situation in Asia is similar and over the past couple of weeks a number of cases have been made public.

    Police in Taiwan Arrest Nine

    As reported by Japan-based anti-piracy group CODA , authorities in Taiwan carried out an operation through the latter part of January and early February targeting what is described as a “criminal organization” involved in the supply of illegal streams. With assistance from the prosecutor’s office, police, and detective agencies, officers arrested nine people.

    Taiwan IPTV Raids

    Taiwan established a dedicated team in early 2020 to tackle the illegal streaming of TV shows to pirate devices and since then 18 locations have been searched, resulting in the seizure of hundreds of set-top devices and computer servers. After analysis, it was found that some of the devices provided illegal access to broadcasts from Taiwan and Japan.

    “It is believed that the criminal organization deciphered the broadcast signals of each major TV station through network servers installed in domestic telecommunications equipment rooms and sent them to infringing set-top devices via the Internet,” CODA reports.

    Thai Police Raid Five Premises Linked to Illegal Streaming

    Over the past several years Thailand’s Department of Special Investigation (DSI) has carried out numerous actions against individuals involved in the supply of pirate IPTV and similar streaming services.

    Two Brits and a local were arrested in 2017 under suspicion of violating the rights of the Premier League and in 2019, DSI shut down the country’s most popular pirate site, Movie2free.com, following a request from the Motion Picture Association.

    Last weekend, the DSI unit was in action again, raiding five premises linked to the illegal movie streaming. According to Pol Lt Col Korawat, among the items seized were 100 receivers, decoders, satellite dishes, computers, notebooks, hard disks and mobile phones. It’s believed that the equipment was used to supply pirated movies and TV content to the website fwiptv.cc. That site is currently down.

    According to the Bangkok Post , the main players behind the streaming operation were not discovered during the raids and the authorities were only able to arrest technicians hired to run the operation.

    Fwiptv.cc was reportedly founded in 2012 and was Thailand’s largest broadcaster of pirated movies and sport, including content owned by the Premier League.

    Prosecution in Malaysia

    Over in Malaysia, a company director behind the operation to supply ‘Long TV’ pirate TV devices to the public pleaded guilty on Monday. According to local reports, the individual was charged with selling the devices and breaching intellectual property rights last September.

    “The company, located at I-City, Persiaran Multimedia, Section 7, Shah Alam, Selangor has violated Section 41(1)(ha) of the Copyright Act 1987 for selling any technology or device for the purpose of bypassing any effective technological measures stated under subsection 36A(3) of the same Act,” a statement from the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs reads.

    According to the Ministry, the yet-to-be-named individual faces a fine of up to RM40,000 (around US$9,900) and a prison sentence of up to 10 years.

    Educational Initiatives in Japan

    Last August, Japan’s Agency for Cultural Affairs, a body of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, hired Hello Kitty to become its Copyright Ambassador. Since then, local anti-piracy group CODA has been releasing educational content featuring the famous character in an effort to keep people away from sources of pirated content.

    Masaharu Ina, CODA’s Director of Overseas Copyright Protection, recently sent TorrentFreak a new video to promote compliance with Japan’s brand new anti-piracy law along with a Hello Kitty quiz designed to test people’s knowledge of copyright.

    The video is embedded below and the quiz can be found here .

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

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      Xtream-Codes: We Have Nothing To Do With Resurrected IPTV System Xtream UI

      Andy Maxwell · news.movim.eu / TorrentFreak · Saturday, 9 January, 2021 - 11:27 · 5 minutes

    IPTV In September 2019, the pirate IPTV market was thrown into turmoil when the Guardia di Finanza (GdF), an Italian law enforcement agency under the authority of the Minister of Economy and Finance, targeted Xtream-Codes as part of a huge law enforcement operation.

    Xtream-Codes, which was operated by a Bulgarian company, was not a pirate IPTV service. What the company provided was a software services package that allowed people to manage their own IPTV reselling services and customers. This did not deter the Italian authorities from describing Xtream-Codes as a pirate operation.

    While in complex cases the devil is often in the detail and may yet reveal an element of wrongdoing (or otherwise), Xtream-Codes itself was a tool that helped people manage IPTV services and from a technical perspective, it did not matter whether those services were legal or illegal. In the same way that torrent clients have the ability to download and distribute infringing content, like Xtream-Codes they may also be put to legitimate uses that do not involve piracy.

    Since the authorities are staying tight-lipped on the important details of the case as the investigation continues, information regarding potential intent or complicity (or otherwise) has yet to enter the public domain. However, for the second time in two months the former operators of Xtream-Codes have broken their silence to complain that behind the scenes, justice isn’t being done.

    Xtream Codes Denies Being Part of Xtream UI

    In the wake of the Xtream-Codes shutdown, hundreds of entities involved in the supply of IPTV that also relied on the company’s software were left without the necessary tools to do their work. That left an immediate gap in the market for replacement panels such as those offered by Streaminy, Fastocloud, Ezhometech, and the interestingly-named Xtream UI.

    Xtream UI appeared in the wake of Xtream Codes’ demise and carries broadly the same features, having been based on the Xtream-Codes panel software. Given the name and history of the base tool, it now appears that authorities in Italy are making connections between the original and its apparent successor. That’s according to the former operators of Xtream-Codes who say the authorities’ assertions are wrong.

    “Once again we are forced to issue a statement regarding the judicial events that unfairly involve us. It emerged that the investigating authorities are comparing the name of Xtream-Codes to that of another company, called Xtream UI, deducing that we are continuing to operate under the name of the latter,” the company said in an announcement this week.


    In an effort to sever the links, the company has reportedly instructed its lawyers to take legal action to prevent Xtream UI from using its name moving forward. There is currently no mention of action against entities that rely on elements of Xtream-Codes’ software to provide a similar service.

    Xtream-Codes: We’re Not Serving the IPTV Market

    Last November, when the company first spoke in public after the raids in 2019, Xtream-Codes condemned its characterization by the authorities as a pirate service. It also explained how it had worked with “international judicial authorities” in order to “stop the phenomenon of piracy, to identify and stop those who illegally used our platform.”

    However, that work did not extend to cooperation with the authorities in Italy, who saw no difference between Xtream-Codes and a number of customers who used the platform to infringe copyright. In November, Xtream-Codes said that there was never any attempt at collaboration to “intercept” around a dozen abusive users, a number that now appears to have grown.

    “We are involved in an unfair trial for the mere fact that about 20 users out of 4000 are accused of illegally using our software without our knowledge, despite the lawfulness of the software and the company, on whose dividends we obviously paid taxes to the state of Bulgaria, where we are based,” the platform’s former operators explained.

    “Since we suffered the forced closure of our company, we have been forced to exit the market, both because we were fully confident that the obvious conclusion that Xtream-Codes is totally unrelated to the work of some of its users would emerge in a short timeframe, and because materially our economic and mental resources must necessarily be used in this unfair process that involves us.”

    Why Hasn’t the IPTV Market Collapsed?

    The picture painted by the authorities at the time of the raids in 2019 was that Xtream-Codes was vital to the pirate IPTV market, providing the necessary backbone to make it function. However, while traffic did indeed collapse in a big way immediately after the systems were taken down, recovery wasn’t far away.

    Indeed, pirate IPTV services in 2020 were still being described by many rightsholders as a major threat and as Xtream-Codes quite rightly points out, its demise at the hands of the authorities doesn’t appear to have achieved much.

    “Beyond the serious injustice that emerges from this information, it should however be noted that according to the thesis of the investigators, Xtream-Codes should be the backbone of the illegal IPTV market. Yet, we cannot help but notice, also thanks to what the media reported, that more than a year after the closure of Xtream-Codes, the illegal IPTV market seems more flourishing than ever,” the company noted.

    “Could it be that Xtream-Codes, as well as any other company offering software similar to ours, is not the cause of the spread of the illegal IPTV market? Could it be that the investigators are following a totally wrong path that irremediably involves our company which could be considered a European excellence at the time of closure?

    “Time will give us the answer to these questions. Meanwhile, we remain at the disposal of the investigating authorities and remain confident in the work of the judiciary,” the company concludes.

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

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      Pirate IPTV Community Raises The Alarm Over Hacks and Extortion

      Andy Maxwell · news.movim.eu / TorrentFreak · Wednesday, 6 January, 2021 - 11:11 · 6 minutes

    hacker Due to their nature, pirate IPTV service operators and resellers tend to operate in the shadows, cautiously guarding their own identities and those of their users.

    Aside from the few cases where such entities find themselves targeted by legal action or even the police, exposure is a rare event. However, a couple of years ago a new threat emerged after several IPTV providers were targeted by a hacker.

    High Profile Attacks Against Helix and PrimeStreams

    Late 2019, we reported on a pair of attacks against two of the more recognizable IPTV brands on the market. Warning signs first appeared on the homepage of Helix Hosting, when the alleged hacker revealed that the provider had been given the option to pay a “small amount” in order to prevent all of his customers’ details from being leaked online.

    On top, the hacker threatened to leak the personal details of at least one owner or staff member, along with their names, addresses, phone numbers and IP addresses. There was no question that this was a serious problem for Helix. But the hacker wasn’t happy with just a single target.

    Just days later, PrimeStreams was under attack by the same person, who again demanded that a ransom be paid to prevent customer details from being leaked online. The amount was significant – $70k payable in bitcoin – but that was not the full extent of the attacks. Several other providers were targeted too, always with the same modus operandi but differing amounts.

    TF previously received information on extortion demands down to around a single bitcoin, with the hacker appearing to tailor the amount based on the size of the provider or reseller’s customer base. What was clear, however, is that many attacks were going unreported in public, most probably due to the sensitive nature of the businesses being targeted.

    New Warnings: More Hacks, More Extortion

    With so many hacks appearing in a short space of time, those under attack began to suspect that a common vector was being exploited by the hacker. Very early on, at least one provider publicly suggested that billing software (provided by WHMCS Smarters and used by hundreds perhaps thousands of providers/sellers) could’ve been part of the problem.

    A new announcement by a moderator of Reddit’s /r/IPTV community is now putting more meat on the bones that supports that theory while putting more worrying information into the public domain.

    “Over the last couple years numerous IPTV providers were hacked by someone exploiting the WHMCS billing module. Some major providers paid up to $70k USD to the hacker and some of these exploits were covered on Torrent Freak. The hacker has probably hit at least 50 smaller IPTV providers, maybe more, that’s only the ones we know of, always asking for Bitcoin as a ransom,” the moderator reveals .

    Also of interest is that the hacker reportedly caused damage to the sites in order to pile on more pressure to pay. But of course, those targeted didn’t have the luxury of seeking legal support or even protection from the police, so the extortion scheme continued and the pressure mounted for a while, before eventually tailing off.

    Unfortunately, the hacker appears to have resumed his activities in recent months and members of the IPTV community are now pooling their resources to gather information on the individual and sound the alarm. The allegations coming out now are a concern, to say the least.

    “He knows the IPTV business and has inside info that most wouldn’t,” the warning continues. “But here is the most important thing you should be aware of. He knows Smarters better than many. Ask yourself why.”

    This theme, that the hacker could have some connection to Smarters, however obscure, continues with additional allegations that seem to suggest more than just a casual relationship.

    “The [Reddit /r/iptv/] mod team has seen substantial evidence that points to this hacker being someone involved with Smarters, possibly on their staff, or related in some way to their operation. Seems to be a strong connection.”

    “We are NOT accusing Smarters, but we urge you to use CAUTION if dealing with them especially if it involves server access. Don’t ever provide them passwords to your servers for any reason. He will know,” the warning adds.

    WHMCS Smarters Responds to Allegations

    Given the potential severity of the allegations, TorrentFreak contacted WHMCS Smarters for a response and a statement on whether the company would be prepared to carry out a security audit to check for any issues of concern.

    Company owner Amanpreet Singh responded quickly, thanked us for bringing the matter to his attention, and assured us that he had discussed the matter with his team and had come up with several security recommendations.

    – Always use a strong password and keep changing it after a few months
    – Use the SSL (HTTPS): Always on HTTPS
    – If you have WordPress installed at the front then ensure there are no unknown plugins
    – Change your server Access Passwords once Smarters has finished the installation.
    – File permissions should be accurate

    In our initial contact, Singh told us that he wasn’t sure what more he could say, since he has no idea whether the allegations raised by the Reddit moderation team are true. In response, we again asked whether he would commit to carrying out a security audit within the company as part of an investigation.

    “There is no chance of the hacker being involved with Smarters,” Singh informs TF.

    “I have already discussed this with my team and there is nothing to be worried about at our end. My real brother and cousin brother and my one sister are working as team leaders and they are responsible for the installation and updating of billing panels.

    “The second major thing is if we change the passwords then there is nothing to be worried about. I told my team to force the clients to change the password when the installation is done.”

    Paying a Ransom Doesn’t Guarantee The Hacker Will Withdraw

    Considering the very nature of blackmail, paying a ransom to a hacker may seem like a good idea at the time but when easily duplicated digital information is involved or attack vectors remain available, there’s no guarantee that a hacker will honor his or her side of the bargain. Indeed, according to the Reddit moderator (who has good connections in the IPTV community), paying up may not be the end of the story.

    “Don’t pay the hacker if he hacks your site cuz it won’t do you any good. He has hit many people several times. Comes back for more, too. It’s no guarantee that he won’t leak your info if you pay him,” he adds.

    “Don’t pay this asshole if he hits you. [By the way] he can hack the newest WHMCS version if you give Smarters any server passwords. You were warned.”

    Finally, it’s claimed that members of the IPTV community have additional evidence up their collective sleeves but are holding back from publishing now, in order to protect sensitive information. However, they aren’t ruling out revealing that in the future, if the hacker persists.

    In response to the report of additional information being available, Singh is offering his help, should IPTV providers need it.

    “If they have particular evidence then I would ask [them] to share it with me then I can help [them] with it more,” he concludes.

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

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      Pirate IPTV Won’t Be Stopped in 2021 But User Fatigue Could Be Crucial

      Andy Maxwell · news.movim.eu / TorrentFreak · Saturday, 2 January, 2021 - 10:16 · 4 minutes

    IPTV During December, on the day world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua was preparing to retain all three of his belts by defeating Bulgaria’s Kubrat Pulev at Wembley, someone looking to watch the fight cheaply asked which pirate IPTV service would be the best to choose.

    From the discussions seen by TF, this person had already subscribed to a package with another provider. However, for reasons that aren’t entirely clear, after handing over money to that supplier and receiving the login details, all that appeared on the screen was…well…nothing. It was blank, no EPG, and certainly no picture.

    Faced with a seller that had suddenly decided to stop responding to support questions by email, the person was directed to a Discord channel. With no experience of Discord, this additional hurdle for an individual with a busy schedule and a small child was an unneeded hassle. Nevertheless, after working out how to get Discord working and getting advice through the channel, support was forthcoming.

    Initial advice suggested that his Internet service provider may be blocking the service. This is common in the UK so the customer was advised to sign up to a VPN, which in the vast majority of cases circumvents ISP blocking and allows access to the service. The increasingly frustrated user was provided with instructions to install the VPN on a Amazon Firestick or similar set-top device, but as the owner of straightforward smart TV, didn’t have the suggested hardware.

    Reaching a point where he “couldn’t be bothered” to jump through any more hoops, the customer sought out a new IPTV provider, which according to online forums had performed well in the past. However, it transpired this service also required a VPN but was offering a workaround to exploit a VPN provider’s free trial.

    Nevertheless, a Firestick or similar was still advised and several hours later, after obtaining one and installing the necessary software, the service was up and running, ready for the fight. As things turned out, everything ran without a hitch but the hoops jumped through to get there were certainly noted.

    Messing around for hours on a Saturday in preparation for a 45-minute fight isn’t everyone’s idea of fun. Not to mention that it took not one but two IPTV subscriptions to get the desired result. Add in that the free VPN ‘trick’ no longer works and it’s not hard to see how some people (albeit not all) might be put off by the experience.

    Indeed, if we switch around the circumstances a little and sprinkle on some creative license, this doesn’t sound a million miles away from the hoops that some legitimate providers require their customers to jump through in order to watch an event. If we add in all the of the pirate costs, presuming they aren’t to be spread over future viewing experiences, there aren’t many savings either.

    Of course, more seasoned IPTV pirates would’ve already had their ducks in a row. They’ll have done all of the research, have a couple of providers to choose from, the necessary hardware already, plus a VPN kicking around that could be put to further use. But for the more casual or one-off type user, none of this represents a particularly streamlined or enjoyable experience.

    This state of play is largely due to the disruption activities of copyright holders and the authorities. Where once it was simply a case of visiting a website, signing up, paying and watching, accessing an IPTV service today is a much more complicated affair.

    More public services, with a website and the option to pay simply by PayPal, for example, are much rarer. Indeed, it is widely believed that these sellers and resellers are likely to attract negative attention much more quickly, and that certainly isn’t conducive to a long-term business relationship for anyone involved.

    On the other hand, those with more secure operational setups, with contact only available through invite-only chat channels and payments accepted only via cryptocurrencies, may prove to be much more reliable and durable. However, these present a whole new set of barriers to entry, ones that are likely to put off novices, casual customers, and/or those with less time on their hands.

    With the majority of users falling into these categories, it’s not hard to make the connection between various anti-piracy strategies, enforcement actions, and other disruption activities favored by the police, for example. All of these entities are under no illusions that piracy can be easily stopped. However, with strategies that are designed to disrupt in any number of ways, the aim is to create enough irritation and inconveniences among customers that cause costs to rise and valuable time to be expended.

    Somewhere along the way, it’s possible that the pirate business proposition starts to feel less of a bargain. Couple that with reduced prices and more convenience for official offerings and the gap closes further still. None of this may be enough to make pirate IPTV a thing of the past but with competition in the form of disruption and more sensible pricing, the playing field could improve for rightsholders in 2021.

    Until the next set of pirate innovations, of course.

    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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      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.