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      Biggest IPTV Piracy Trial in U.S. History Underway and Already Controversial

      news.movim.eu / TorrentFreak · Yesterday - 20:27 · 7 minutes

    Almost half a decade ago, eight Las Vegas men were indicted by a grand jury for conspiring to violate criminal copyright law via two IPTV services, Jetflicks and iStreamitAll.

    The indictment accused the defendants of reproducing tens of thousands of copyrighted TV shows without authorization, and distributing that content to tens of thousands of paid subscribers across the United States.

    At one point, Jetflicks was said to have made available more than 183,200 different TV show episodes. iStreamitAll allegedly made available more than 118,479 TV shows and 10,980 movies; at the time more content than Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime offered.

    The Road to Trial

    After pleading guilty to copyright infringement and money laundering, in 2021 a key defendant was sentenced to 57 months in prison and a $1m forfeiture order. In the same year, another pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit copyright infringement and was sentenced to one year and a day in prison.

    Other defendants dug in to fight a case that had become unusually complex , for a range of reasons, many of which are still not for public consumption.

    After reportedly generating 19TB of data and 175,000 pages of print discovery, the defense previously estimated that it would take “at least a couple of months” just to take a copy of the data needed for trial; by then a bewildering 63TB in total.

    Trial Begins in Las Vegas, Nevada

    Since instructions issued by District Judge Richard F. Boulware, II, state that transcripts must not be made available online for several weeks, reporting daily events in detail presents challenges. Nevertheless, there’s no shortage of general information available that shows the scale of the matter in hand and the mood of the parties involved.

    On May 28, day one of the trial, the government had four attorneys listed for appearance, alongside an FBI Special Agent and an IT expert. Listed for lead defendant Kristopher Lee Dallmann, three counsel, a paralegal, an investigator, and two interns. For Felipe Garcia, two counsel and a paralegal; for Douglas Courson, Jared Edward Jaurequi, and Peter H Huber, two counsel each.

    At 09:28, prospective jurors were called to the courtroom and at 09:43, a total of 85 were in attendance. By 11:00, they numbered ‘just’ 50.

    Day Two to Day Four

    After two jurors raised concerns at the start of day two, each spent some time with the Judge. The nature of those concerns and the outcome are absent from the docket.

    The government’s opening statement arrived just before noon, with defendants’ counsel delivering their statements early afternoon, before jury members were excused for lunch at 14:30. A direct examination of a Supervisory Special Agent at the FBI by counsel for the government brought the second day to a close.

    The fourth day of the trial began with counsel for Peter Huber informing the Court about an issue with her client. While that has no explanation either, counsel for Kristopher Dallmann advised the Court of a forthcoming motion on behalf of his client; details of that matter are substantial.

    Dallmann Files Motion For Mistrial

    On Saturday, May 25, the government provided a PowerPoint presentation to the defense that it intended to use in opening statements to the Court. Counsel for Dallmann notified the government on Monday, May 27, that they intended to object to the proposed use of the presentation, details of which were also provided to the Court.

    “Counsel for Mr. Dallmann specifically noted that they would seek a mistrial if the exhibits were permitted to be shown during opening statements,” Dallmann’s motion for mistrial notes.

    The government ultimately went ahead anyway, prompting counsel for Dallmann to respond as promised.

    “Here, a mistrial is warranted because the government was permitted to show inadmissible and highly credible legal conclusions to the jury during opening statements with no qualification or limiting instructions,” the motion continues.

    “Inadmissible and Impossible to Disregard”

    One of the exhibits shown to the jury was a letter dated July 22, 2011, sent by HBO to Jetflicks c/o Dallmann.

    “While the letter is framed as a notice, it is based on a finding that copyright infringement occurred (otherwise, the letter would not have issued). That finding constitutes a legal conclusion,” the motion continues.

    “Steven Rosenthall was not just any lawyer—he was the Director of Anti-Piracy in HBO’s legal department. There can be no question that someone who has ascended to that position is scrupulous, detail-oriented, and credible. Furthermore, the legal department at HBO is not some ragtag team of vagabonds. It’s the legal department within a massive, flagship American media organization. Consequently, a legal conclusion by HBO’s legal department carries significant weight.”

    In summary, counsel for Dallmann argues that the jury was exposed to an inadmissible legal conclusion that will be impossible to disregard, in a letter sent by someone who is not noticed as a government witness, so cannot be cross-examined. The only solution, therefore, is a mistrial.

    MPAA Infringement Notice, PayPal Correspondence

    Similar concerns are leveled at an infringement notice sent by the then-MPAA to Dallmann dated November 16, 2012. While not mentioned by the defense, it refers to infringement on jetflick.mobi, a domain for which no records appear to exist, since it may have never been registered. Jetflicks.mobi may have been the intended target, however.

    An email dated October 24, 2016, sent by PayPal to Dallmann to advise his account had been temporarily limited due to violation of the company’s Acceptable Use Policy, also came in for criticism.

    “The email is hearsay, and no PayPal witness has been noticed who can testify about the email. The email is prejudicial because the government used it to establish that Mr. Dallmann had engaged in copyright infringement,” the motion continues.

    Other, apparently contentious, items include records provided by Google in response to a warrant, listing details of several searches allegedly carried out by Dallmann. An extract of a conversation that allegedly took place between Dallmann and Coulson, with the source listed as ‘IPhone 7 Plus/mobile/Library/SMS/sms.db’, appears to contain details of business planning.

    In any event, the defense insists that the slides are inadmissible on several grounds, including a lack of authentication and failure to adhere to rules governing coconspirator statements.

    Government Opposition to Motion

    In its 10-page opposition, the government notes that before these items were shown to the jury, they were previewed by the Court and defense counsel. In all instances, “..the Court determined that the slides could properly be displayed during opening statement.”

    In broad terms, the defense argues that the exhibits were presented as proof of copyright infringement, contrary to the government’s claim that they would be offered “for the effect on the listener and not for the truth of the matter.”

    What that means in practice is explained in a statement by the Court in response to the defense’s objection to the MPAA letter of infringement being shown to the jury.

    “The defense objected again during court proceedings, and the Court similarly responded, ‘If it’s being offered for the same reason, which is for your client’s state of mind, not for the fact that it’s true, but for the fact that he received it, then it wouldn’t be hearsay’,” the government explains.

    “The Court repeated its view that use of the exhibit in the opening as a demonstrative was acceptable ‘so long as I find that there’s a likelihood that the evidence would be admitted’.”

    In a nutshell, the documents were shown to the jury (the PayPal documents were apparently withheld) to demonstrate that Dallmann had received notice, that victims and/or their representatives believed his conduct was infringing, and they had ordered him to stop. The ‘effect on the listener’ amounts to Dallmann’s conduct after he took possession of those notices.

    Every Detail Subject to Challenge

    When viewing progression in this case from indictment to day one of the trial, with every detail a potential avenue for prolonged argument, the potential for some kind of derailment seems higher than normal for this type of case.

    That being said, the government is backed by heavyweight artillery, as this sample of witnesses heard thus far reveals.

    • Alexis Brown, Special Agent, FBI
    • Joseph Varani, Digital Investigative Analyst, DoJ, Cyber Crime Lab
    • Thomas Song, Deputy Director Cybercrime Lab, DoJ
    • Michael Housley, Senior VP, Counsel of Content Protection, Paramount Global
    • Matthew Andrews, Director of Global Content Protection, Netflix
    • John Kern, IT Specialist, Digital Forensic Examiner, FBI
    • Laura Peterson, Digital Forensic Analyst, Department of Homeland Security
    • Lucia Rangel, VP Content Protection, Warner Brothers Discovery
    • Jan van Voorn, Chief Executive Officer, IP House (previously MPA/head of ACE)
    • Daniel Cooper, Senior VP of Intellectual Property, NBC Universal
    • Daniel Ogden, VP Cyber Operations, OUR Rescue
    • Michael Poston, Supervisory Special Agent, FBI

    Dallmann’s motion for mistrial / government’s opposition available here and here (pdf)

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

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      ‘Operation 404’ Results in First Prison Sentence for Pirate IPTV Operator

      news.movim.eu / TorrentFreak · Wednesday, 27 March - 10:05 · 2 minutes

    operation 404 In the fall of 2019 , Brazilian law enforcement agencies launched the first wave of anti-piracy campaign ‘Operation 404,’ referring to the well-known HTTP error code.

    With help from law enforcement in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Argentina, the authorities took down more than a hundred sites and services, while several suspects were arrested.

    Following its initial successes, several new waves ‘Operation 404’ were initiated over the ensuing years. Each wave led to raids and takedowns across the country, with assistance from international law enforcement partners. It was clear that Brazil had its enforcement apparatus in order, but the outcomes of these efforts in terms of follow-up actions were largely unknown.

    This week, anti-piracy group ALIANZA booked its first ‘404’ related victory in court. Following a criminal complaint from the group, Judge Marina Figueiredo Coelho of the Fifth Criminal Court of Campinas, Sao Paolo, convicted the operator of a pirate IPTV service that was taken down in 2020.

    Prison for Flash IPTV Operator

    The operator of Flash IPTV, who is referred to by the initials A.W.A.P., was found guilty of criminal copyright infringement and sentenced to five years and four months in prison.

    Flash IPTV was a relatively large IPTV service with 13,547 active users at its peak. According to local news reports , the service generated R$4,542,034 ($912,000) in revenue over twelve months, before it was taken offline in 2020 as part of the second ‘Operation 404’ campaign .

    Speaking with TorrentFreak, ALIANZA says that this is a historic verdict, as it’s the first criminal IPTV prosecution linked to ‘Operation 404’ in Brazil.

    “We appreciate the commitment of the police and judicial authorities in resolving this important case. The conviction of A.W.A.P. is a milestone that reinforces our commitment to defending the rights of creators and fighting against illegal practices that harm the creative economy,” says Víctor Roldán, ALIANZA’s executive director.

    More to Come?

    A copy of the verdict wasn’t released to the public, as is common with these types of convictions, so further details are scarce.

    While Operation 404 resulted in many arrests over the years, follow-up prosecutions have been rare in Brazil. Previously, ALIANZA did score a similar victory in Ecuador , where the operator of the pirate IPTV service IPTVlisto.com was sentenced to a year in prison.

    Last fall, Brazilian authorities conducted the sixth wave of Operation 404 and more are expected to follow in the future. These enforcement initiatives are broadly praised by rightsholders and the recent conviction will only strengthen their support.

    There’s always room for improvement, of course. A few weeks ago, the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) recommended Brazil to remain on the US ‘ Special 301 ‘ Watch List of countries with IP-related challenges.

    IIPA saw various positive developments, especially regarding Operation 404. However, disagreement between rightsholders over enforcement action could still improve.

    “Brazil still suffers from a lack of specific norms and regulations regarding the enforcement of copyrighted works over the Internet and a lack of resources and staff to support enforcement actions considering the reach and amount of content piracy in the region,” IIPA wrote.

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

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      Judge Blocks 8M Telegram Users After Platform Failed to Help Identify Pirates (Updated)

      news.movim.eu / TorrentFreak · Monday, 25 March - 13:31 · 9 minutes

    telegram -2-2024 Sports leagues and their broadcasting partners across Europe believe that their piracy problems begin with the existence of illicit suppliers.

    It follows that if those illicit suppliers can be prevented from reaching their subscribers, reasons for buying TV packages from the black market will be mostly eliminated and legal subscription sales will ensue.

    As the legal owners of the rights in question, these corporate giants have the luxury to frame the issue however they choose. However, when the war on piracy begins to take a toll on those not even remotely involved, it raises the question of who has the authority to step in and where the threshold for intervention lies.

    On Friday, a judge handling a copyright case concluded that since messaging platform Telegram had failed to help rightsholders identify the operators of certain Telegram channels, something needed to be done. Insisting that there was no other option available, the judge issued an order for Telegram to be blocked by ISPs throughout Spain.

    The judge described the measure as “necessary” and “proportional” and in a few hours’ time, if not already, around eight million users of Telegram in Spain will have a chance to chime in with their opinions, but not via Telegram, obviously.

    Update: March 25, 2024 : Amid a huge backlash in Spain, including criticism of the decision and the government by opposition parties, the blocking order has been suspended. See update below.

    Media Giants Want to Unmask Telegram Channel Operators

    Existence of the order and some general details were revealed by Telecinco on Friday.

    The publication reported that as part of a copyright complaint previously filed by anti-piracy group EGEDA, Mediaset España, Atresmedia, and Movistar Plus, the rightsholders had demanded information from Telegram that could help them identify the operators of piracy-linked Telegram channels.

    Despite the involvement of the court, Telegram failed to respond; Judge Pedraz concluded that since the investigation would now take more time, in the interim Telegram would have to be blocked by ISPs throughout Spain.

    Telegram has previously been blocked by Iran, China, and Pakistan, among others, but the addition of Spain came as a surprise. Expecting to find considerable unreported nuance, TorrentFreak tracked down the order; issued by Juzgado Central de Instrucción Número 5 and dated March 22, 2024, it begins with a section marked “Factual Background.”

    Case Background as Reported in the Order

    The order describes the present proceedings in connection with the “continued infringement of intellectual property rights,” carried out by “owners of various channels created on the Telegram social network,” and an ongoing investigation involving the prosecutor’s office.

    In a report dated March 8, 2024, the prosecutor’s office requested a six-month extension of the investigation period. This followed an EGEDA request and a writ filed on behalf of rightsholders Telefónica Audiovisual Digital (TAD), Movistar+, and Movistar Plus+.

    After detailing the rules concerning investigations and time limits, the Judge notes in the absence of an extension, the current investigation is set to expire on March 29, 2024, having run for the maximum 12 months allowed under Article 324.1 LECrim .

    Request for Judicial Assistance

    The order then turns to the corporate entity operated by Telegram in the British Virgin Islands and the letters rogatory (letters of request) sent by the Spanish court to the Virgin Islands seeking judicial assistance.

    “For the successful completion of the investigation, it is necessary to carry out the proceedings contained in the rogatory commission sent to the Virgin Islands, but so far there has been no news of compliance with the aforementioned instrument of cooperation,” the order reads.

    “Numerous diligence of investigation will be pending depending on the information that will be provided by the execution of the above-mentioned international rogatory commission. Therefore, the period of investigation should be extended for six months in order to carry out the pending proceedings.”

    Information Required For a Private Criminal Prosecution

    The order reveals that non-compliance with the international rogatory commission sent by the Judge to the Virgin Islands on July 28, 2023, has effectively brought the investigation to a halt. The information sought by Judge Pedraz is required to support a private criminal prosecution brought by the media companies, not the state.

    Private prosecutions in criminal cases are favored by sports rightsholders in the UK; as the alleged victim, rightsholders conduct their own investigations, harvest their own evidence, then act as the prosecution in the same case. There are no restrictions on the amount of legal firepower they’re permitted to deploy, meaning that in most cases defendants face the best lawyers money can buy.

    Lack of Cooperation from Virgin Islands

    Whether this aspect of the request is known to Telegram isn’t clear from the order. Indeed, the order makes no comment on whether Virgin Islands authorities even passed on the request, raising the question of what Telegram knows, or even if it knows anything at all.

    “Telegram was requested to inform about certain technical data that would allow the identification of the holders of the accounts used for the infringement of the intellectual property rights of the entities appearing as Private Prosecutor. The lack of collaboration of the authorities of the Virgin Islands, who are only requested to communicate with the managers of the social network TELEGRAM, leads to the adoption of the precautionary measures requested by the private prosecutors,” the order reads.

    “This repeated commission of the crime against intellectual property rights justifies the adoption of the requested precautionary measures, since the principles of necessity, suitability, and proportionality are met. The requested precautionary measures are the only possible measures in view of the lack of collaboration of the Virgin Islands authorities. There is no other type of measure that could stop the reiteration of the facts denounced.”

    From this statement it’s clear that the rightsholders requested a complete block of Telegram in Spain and the Judge considered that a reasonable request.

    Blocking Millions of Telegram Users is Acceptable

    “The measure is suitable because its execution could put an end to the infringement of intellectual property rights denounced to prevent access through the TELEGRAM network to the contents of the aforementioned rights. The measure is proportional to the seriousness of the conduct denounced and in this analysis is related to the necessity of the measure,” the order continues, with the legal justification (translated from Spanish) as presented below.

    The ISPs instructed to carry out the blocks within three hours of receiving the order are: Vodafone España, Orange Espagne, Orange España Virtual, MASMOVIL IBERCOM, Digi Spain Telecom, Telefónica España, Telefónica Móviles España, AVATEL TELECOM, ADAMO TELECOM IBERIA, AIRE NETWORKS DEL MEDITERRÁNEO, and PROCONO .

    The Telegram assets to be blocked are: Telegram Web (https://web.telegram.org/k/), Telegram Messenger (https://telegram.org/), and Telegram Apps for Android and iOS. It appears the rightsholders were well-prepared since they mandate the following:

    Apps: disable and block the connection [IP addresses, protocols, ports and any other connection element], to suspend the operation of the ‘Telegram’ application (app) of the connections from Smartphone and/or Tablet of the Operators’ users who have the “Telegram” “app” installed on their devices, operated from any operating system (Android, iOs).

    Blocking Telegram or Denying Access to Non-Infringing Users

    Judge Pedraz frames these measures as the blocking of Telegram but the mechanism chosen clearly shows that Telegram can still reach Spanish ISPs but the blocks they’re required to put in place prevent Telegram users from accessing the platform. That’s especially the case in respect of the apps where interference is directed towards functionality of apps on users’ devices.

    While some may dismiss this as semantics on the basis that blocking pirate sites operates similarly, Telegram is not a pirate site and most Spanish users of Telegram are not pirates.

    Whereas it might be reasonable to assert that most Spanish visitors to The Pirate Bay do so to infringe and therefore have no legal basis to visit the site, most visitors to Telegram do not visit the platform to infringe. Even of those that do, only a tiny minority will visit the channels in question. Nevertheless, millions of innocent Telegram users will soon be prevented from going about their entirely legal business.

    That raises the fundamental question of the nature of the scales used to weigh the competing interests in this case and, more fundamentally, who is actually being punished here; Telegram as claimed, or non-infringing Spanish users?

    Three Days to Appeal, Including Weekend

    “An appeal for reform may be filed against this order, within a period of three days, before this Central Preliminary Examining Court, and/or, if applicable, an appeal, in a single effect, before the Criminal Chamber of the National High Court,” the order concludes.

    As far as we’re aware there’s no recent news to indicate an appeal. These types of cases have traditionally seen ISPs step in but since the major ISPs in Spain are either rightsholders in their own right or have a commercial interest in blocking going ahead, an appeal from that direction seems unlikely.

    We’re currently unaware of any comment from Telegram but given the scale of the response versus the problem to be solved, this matter is likely to attract international attention and scrutiny. Common wisdom suggests that when an adversary is making a mistake, he should be allowed to do so without being interrupted, so we may hear from Telegram in due course.

    Update: March 25, 2024 : Amid a huge backlash in Spain, including criticism of the decision and the government by opposition parties, the blocking order has been suspended. National Court Judge Santiago Pedraz has requested a report from the General Information Commissioner’s Office (Comisaría General de Información) to provide data on the characteristics of Telegram and an assessment of the impact the measure could have if implemented.

    A statement from the Podomos party criticized the government for failing to act in the face of “genuine censorship” at the hands of the “oligopoly of complainant communication companies” whose interests are “taking precedence” over the “freedoms of many citizens.”

    Update: Official statement from the communications office of the National Court (translated from Spanish)

    The judge of the National Court Santiago Pedraz issued an order this Monday in which he agreed, prior to the temporary suspension of the resources associated with Telegram, to request a report from the General Information Commissioner’s Office on the Telegram platform. The magistrate requests information about its characteristics as well as the impact that the temporary suspension, that he agreed to in an order last Friday and whose execution remains suspended, may have on users.

    In the aforementioned order, the magistrate ordered the telecommunications and Internet access operators to temporarily suspend Telegram in the framework of a procedure against the owners of various channels created on the social network, for continued violations of intellectual property rights.

    In his resolution, Pedraz explained that the measure has legal support contemplated in article 13.2 of the LECrim: “In the investigation of crimes committed through the internet, telephone or any other information or communication technology, the court may agree, as first steps, ex officio or at the request of a party, precautionary measures consisting of the provisional removal of illicit content, the provisional interruption of the services offered by said content, or the provisional blocking of both when they are located in a foreign country.”

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

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      DoodStream: Hollywood, Netflix, Amazon & Apple Sue “Rogue Cyberlocker”

      news.movim.eu / TorrentFreak · Sunday, 24 March - 20:28 · 4 minutes

    doodstream The Motion Picture Association’s interest in file-hosting platform DoodStream first came to light in a submission to the USTR in October 2022 .

    The MPA described DoodStream as a video hosting service offering free storage and premium services including priority encoding and an ad-free experience. Videos uploaded to the platform were embedded on many other streaming sites, the MPA reported, and as a result, traffic was booming.

    The MPA estimated the site received 82.7 million visits in August 2022, while using the services of DDoS-Guard in Russia and OVH in France.

    “DoodStream operates a partner program that offers financial remuneration, either per download or stream depending on the country of origin,” the MPA informed the USTR in its ‘notorious markets’ submission.

    DoodStream rates doodstream-partner

    A year later in a new submission to the USTR, the MPA described DoodStream as a ‘top priority’ for its anti-piracy efforts.

    DoodStream in the Spotlight

    In its October 2023 submission to the USTR’s notorious markets report, the MPA’s cyberlocker and video streaming category listed DoodStream front and center as the priority problem. The MPA still believed the site was operating from OVH in France but also listed other companies as hosts, including Online S.A.S., Hetzner Online GmbH, and Interkvm Host10 SRL.

    The MPA noted that the Delhi High Court had ordered ISPs to block DoodStream in 2023, a measure also handed down by a French court during the same year. The Paris court noted that the site “encouraged the infringement of copyright and related rights by setting up tools specifically designed for the mass and illicit sharing of protected content.”

    “The operators are located in India,” the MPA informed the USTR.

    Entertainment Giants Team Up Against DoodStream

    Two months later, Karyn Temple, Senior Executive Vice President and MPA Global General Counsel referenced DoodStream before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet ( pdf ) . DoodStream continued, business as usual, until now.

    In a lawsuit being heard at the High Court of Delhi, eight plaintiffs are listed as follows: Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., Amazon Content Services LLC, Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc., Disney Enterprises, Inc., Netflix US, LLC, Paramount Pictures Corporation, Universal City Studios Productions LLP and Apple Video Programming.

    A total of six defendants include the domains doodstream.com, doodstream.co, dood.stream and their underlying websites (defendants 1-3), plus a server (defendant 4) used by defendants 1 to 3 which allegedly facilitates storing and dissemination of illegal content. Defendants 5 and 6, neither of whom have been named, are reportedly site operators.

    According to counsel for the plaintiffs, “rogue cyberlocker websites provide an infrastructure specifically designed to incentivize hosting, uploading, storing, sharing, streaming, and authorize the downloading of copyrighted material without obtaining authorization from the plaintiffs.

    Claims Against The DoodStream Defendants

    The plaintiffs allege that a massive amount of infringing content to which they have exclusive rights, is uploaded by users on the defendants’ websites.

    “Counsel for plaintiffs say the studios approached defendants upon noticing this infringing content, first in June, 2023, after they discovered the identity as to who was operating these websites, who happen to be individuals based in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India, arrayed as defendants nos. 5 and 6,” an order from the court reads.

    “This, according to plaintiffs’ counsel, was achieved after some effort since the WHOIS details of defendant nos. 1 to 3 were masked.”

    The court notes that the plaintiffs continuously pursued the defendants to take the infringing content down. However, despite promises to comply, a mechanism built in to the site simply generated new links whenever content was supposedly removed.

    “Further, uploaded content would also generate a link which could be disseminated by the uploader and therefore, potentially could be disseminated through parallel websites. Thus, as per counsel for plaintiffs, the takedown itself was elusive and of no effect, since the system immediately permitted generation of a new link.”

    The court notes that through this mechanism, DoodStream becomes a “hydra-headed monster” that is difficult to police through takedowns alone.

    Plaintiffs Want DoodStream Shut Down

    The plaintiffs submit that DoodStream should either be comprehensively blocked or a Local Commissioner should be appointed to take over the administration of the sites. However, counsel for the defendants told the court that their clients are prepared to “exhaustively and completely” remove the plaintiffs’ content from the platform.

    Due to the link generation mechanism in operation on the site, the plaintiffs expressed concern that content taken down would nnot stay down. The defendants offered assurances that they would “change the features on their websites’ architecture” to ensure that once the process of takedown is complete, regeneration would not be allowed.

    In view of this undertaking, the court ordered ( pdf ) all content belonging to the plaintiffs to be taken down within 24 hours, and ordered the defendants to hire a chartered accountant to disclose all revenue generated by the sites since their launch.

    The case is listed for hearing on April 8, 2024.

    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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      US Court: Pirate Streaming Sites Operator Must Pay $16.8m in Damages

      Andy Maxwell · news.movim.eu / TorrentFreak · Monday, 1 March, 2021 - 18:35 · 4 minutes

    Streaming Key In November 2019, US broadcaster DISH Network filed a lawsuit in a Texas district court targeting the operators of 15 domains used to illegally stream DISH content to the public.

    The domains – Freetvall.net, Freetvall.xyz, Freetvall.me, Freetvall.live, Livetvcafe.com, Livetvcafe.net, Livetvcafe.me, Time4tv.com, Time4tv.net, Time4tv.me, Cricket-tv.net, Crickettv.me, Tv4embed.com, and A1livetv.com – offered a wide range of embedded TV channels, not only from DISH but other broadcasters including Sky and ESPN.

    DISH’s Exclusive License to Broadcast in the United States

    In its complaint , DISH listed around two dozen channels offered by the network of sites. Through licensing agreements, DISH holds the exclusive rights to distribute and publicly perform the channels in the United States. The sites had no such permission.

    As the lawsuit progressed, DISH concluded that all of the sites were operated by one person, who was subsequently named as Nauman Khalid.

    DISH claimed that the defendant provided users in the United States with links to unauthorized streams of its protected channels by collecting them from other locations on the Internet and organizing them on his websites. The whole operation was monetized with advertising.

    DISH Notified Defendant of Infringement Dozens of Times

    During a period spanning several years, DISH notified Khalid “at least” 49 times that he was infringing the company’s rights by providing infringing links to a US audience. DISH backed up this effort by sending similar notifications to Internet services utilized by the sites but Khalid “intentionally interfered” with these by changing providers or using new links.

    DISH alleged that Khalid “induced and materially contributed” to offenses carried out in breach of US copyright law. Khalid was served in Pakistan but chose not to participate in the legal action against him in the US. As a result, DISH sought to obtain a default judgment from the court.

    Court’s Decision – Direct and Contributory Infringement

    In a memorandum opinion and order signed last week, the court found that the works at issue in the suit were authored in countries outside the United States but because those countries are all signatories to the Berne Convention , all are protected under US copyright law. In any event, all works were registered with the US Copyright Office.

    In respect of the allegations of direct infringement, the court found that when Khalid provided links that enabled the retransmission of DISH content, that infringed the company’s rights to publicly perform those works. The court further found that Khalid had knowledge of these infringements since he had received at least some of the takedown notices sent by DISH.

    Moving to DISH’s allegations of contributory copyright infringement, the court found that by selecting infringing links to channels and by organizing and maintaining them, Khalid “created the audience” to complete the direct infringement carried out by the unlicensed provider of the channels. As such, the allegations of inducement and material contribution were found to valid.

    Question of Damages

    When claiming damages, DISH had the option to choose actual damages and profits or statutory damages – the company settle on the latter. That meant the broadcaster could obtain $30,000 per infringed work and up to $150,000 if the infringement was committed willfully.

    DISH elected to pursue statutory damages for 112 works registered with the US Copyright Office, to the maximum of $150,000 per infringement. The company alleged that even after sending takedown notices, Khalid continued to provide access to the broadcaster’s channels.

    In support of its claim for maximum statutory damages, DISH told the court that Khalid had been infringing its rights for between five and nine years, claiming that its channels were viewed over 5.5 million times. The court agreed that the websites had caused DISH to incur substantial losses, adding that the offending was considerable.

    “Because of the sheer breadth and duration of the infringement, the failure of Khalid to participate in this proceeding, his willingness to defy almost 50 notices of infringement and to evade service providers’ attempts to halt the infringement, and the likelihood that he profited from the infringement and caused substantial losses of revenue to DISH, the court finds that an award of maximum statutory damages — $150,000 per registered work — is appropriate,” the decision reads.

    “Therefore, the total amount of damages that Khalid must pay DISH for the infringement of the 112 registered works is $16,800,000.”

    Permanent Injunction

    In addition to damages, DISH demanded a permanent injunction and the court was happy to comply. First turning to Khalid and anyone acting in concert with him, the court issued an injunction enjoining all parties from transmitting, streaming, distributing, linking, hosting, promoting or advertising any of DISH’s protected channels in the United States.

    Moving to non-parties, such as those providing any kind of technical service enabling the defendant to infringe, the court permanently enjoined all entities providing servers, hosting (including data centers), domain hosting/registration/proxy services, CDNs, advertising and social media, from doing business with Khalid that involves breaching DISH’s rights.

    Specifically, the court ordered VeriSign and any other registry or registrar of the listed domains to transfer them to DISH within 48 hours so that the broadcaster may “fully control and use” them. Additionally, registries and registrars were ordered to restrict any future domain names used by Khalid to provide access to DISH works by disabling them within 48 hours of receiving a complaint from DISH.

    “Such domain names shall remain disabled so that the websites and content located at the domain names are inaccessible to the public until further order of this Court, or until DISH provides written notice to the registry or registrar that the domain names shall be reenabled,” the order concludes.

    The memorandum opinion and order and final judgment can be found here and here (pdf)

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

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      Cloudflare Must Block Pirate IPTV Services, Appeals Court Confirms

      Ernesto Van der Sar · news.movim.eu / TorrentFreak · Wednesday, 17 February, 2021 - 15:14 · 3 minutes

    IPTV CDN provider Cloudflare is one of the leading Internet companies, providing services to millions of customers large and small.

    The service positions itself as a neutral intermediary that passes on traffic while making sure that customers remain secure. Its userbase includes billion-dollar companies such as IBM, Shopify, and L’Oreal, but also countless smaller outlets.

    With a company of this size, it comes as no surprise that some Cloudflare customers are engaged in controversial activities. This includes some pirate sites and services, which have landed Cloudflare in court on several occasions.

    Last year there were two prominent cases against Cloudflare in Italy. In the first one, football league Serie A and Sky Italy requested Cloudflare to block the unauthorized IPTV service “IPTV THE BEST” and in a similar case, rightsholders wanted “ENERGY IPTV” blocked.

    Cloudflare Appeals Blocking Injunctions

    Cloudflare lost both cases and was ordered to block the services in question. While the company hasn’t commented on the legal actions in detail, it decided to appeal the two injunctions at the Milan court.

    Last Friday, the court ruled on the “IPTV THE BEST” case, confirming that Cloudflare is indeed required to block access.

    In its defense, Cloudflare argued that it doesn’t provide hosting services but merely passes on bits and bytes. In addition, it pointed out that the IPTV service could still remain active even if its account was terminated.

    Cloudflare Facilitates Access

    The court was not convinced by these arguments and concluded that Cloudflare contributes to the infringements of its customer by optimizing and facilitating the site’s availability.

    “It is in fact adequately confirmed that Cloudflare carries out support and optimization activities to showcase sites, which allow the visibility and advertising of illegal services,” the court concluded.

    That the IPTV service could continue without using Cloudflare is irrelevant, the court stressed.

    In addition, the court confirmed that copyright holders are entitled to these types of protective blocking measures, even if the activity of the online intermediary itself is not directly infringing.

    Dynamic Orders

    The Milan court reached the same conclusion in Cloudflare’s appeal against the “ENERGY IPTV” injunction, which was decided yesterday. In both cases, the court also confirmed that the injunctions are “dynamic”, which means that if the IPTV services switch to new domains or IP-addresses, these have to be blocked as well.

    While the ruling is a setback for Cloudflare, copyright holders are pleased. Attorney Simona Lavagnini, who represented Sky Italy, informs TorrentFreak that it will now be easier to hold online services accountable for infringing customers.

    “I am pleased to see the position taken by the Court, confirming that injunction orders can be addressed to all providers involved in the provision of services to those who offer illegal contents on the web.

    “This principle is now general and includes telecoms as well as passive hosting providers and other services such as CDNs,” Lavagnini adds.

    We also reached out to Cloudflare for a comment on these recent court orders but the company didn’t immediately reply. The CDN provider previously confirmed that it has been legally required to block several domains, without going into further detail.

    With regard to earlier blocking orders, Cloudflare said that it complies with these in the relevant jurisdictions. In other words, the targeted services remain available in other countries. Whether that’s also the case here is unknown.

    Update: The legal team representing the Lega Nazionale Professionisti Serie A (LNPA), which includes Bruno Ghirardi, Stefano Previti, Alessandro La Rosa, and Riccardo Traina Chiarini, is happy with the outcome and told us the following:

    “Cloudflare participates in activities that allow the visibility of the illicit services IPTV THE BEST and ENERGY IPTV – also through the storage of data from these sites – and participates in the flow of data in violation of the rights of LNPA.”

    “This implies the legitimacy of targeting Cloudflare as a passive subject of the precautionary order, despite the possibility that, in the absence of Cloudflare’s services, illicit access to the protected content would be also possible.”

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

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      Court: Texas Man Must Stop Selling Pirate Boxes on Facebook

      Ernesto Van der Sar · news.movim.eu / TorrentFreak · Sunday, 10 January, 2021 - 21:25 · 2 minutes

    facebook 404 thumb ABS-CBN is the largest media and entertainment company in the Philippines but also has a strong presence in the US.

    This reach isn’t just limited to its online news and media , the company is active in the courts as well.

    In recent years the company has singled out dozens of streaming sites and services that offer access to ‘Pinoy’ content without permission, demanding substantial damages.

    Selling Pirate Boxes on Facebook

    The defendants are often ‘John Doe’ site operators but in December 2018, ABS-CBN identified a very specific target; a Texas man named Anthony Brown. According to a complaint filed at a US federal court, Brown sold pirate streaming boxes through Facebook.

    Some pirate box sellers take extreme measures to conceal their identities. In this case, however, the defendant was easily identified through an undercover operation which arrived at several damning conclusions.

    According to the complaint, Brown didn’t just sell pirate boxes to the ABS-CBN representative. In private messages, chatting as “Ann Ong,” he also shared the name and address of his company, which matched the information tied to his PayPal address.

    A Cut of The Business

    On top of that, the defendant explained the ins-and-outs of his business, offering the investigator a piece of the action for referring new clients.

    “‘Ann Ong’ stated ‘I hope you can also refer more when you have the box and then I give you a cut in the market in California’,” ABS-CBN previously informed the court.

    After ABS-CBN filed the lawsuit in the Southern District of Texas not much happened. Brown was served last January but never responded to the allegations. As a result, the media company requested a default judgment.

    Default Judgment

    The media company accused the Texas man of selling pirate boxes “that have been designed or modified to circumvent ABS-CBN’s encryption technology,” allowing customers to “unlawfully intercept and access ABS-CBN’s copyrighted programming.” To cover the alleged damages, the company demanded compensation.

    While copyright infringement plays a role in the case, the requested damages are based on trademark infringement and a violation of the Communications Act, which Brown violated by importing and/or selling pirate devices.

    Earlier this week, United States District Judge Jeffrey V. Brown ruled on the default judgment, ABS-CBN’s demands in part.

    $1.6 Million?

    ABS-CBN initially listed four trademark violations, requesting $500,000 in damages each. On top of that, it asked for $100,000 for a violation of the Communications Act, bringing the total to $2.1 million.

    However, during a hearing last week this demand was lowered to $1.6 million, effectively removing two trademark violations. While this appeared to be a kind gesture, it raises questions with the court.

    “In support of this lower figure, the plaintiffs alleged that the defendant was infringing on their two trademarks in two distinct services: cable services and online streaming services. Yet in the plaintiffs’ complaint, default-judgment motion, and evidence in support of that motion, there is no distinction made between these two services.”

    “In light of the uncertainty about the amount of damages the plaintiffs request, and the relationship these damages have to the defendant’s sale of goods or services, the court invites the plaintiffs to file supplemental briefing to clarify this issue.”

    This means that the court can’t grant any damages at this point. However, Judge Brown did issue a permanent injunction preventing the defendant from infringing ABC-ABS’s rights. That obviously includes a ban on selling pirate streaming boxes.

    A copy of the order and the permanent injunction is available here (pdf) .

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

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      Hollywood, Netflix & Amazon Agree $40m Judgment With Pirate IPTV Provider Crystal Clear Media

      Andy Maxwell · news.movim.eu / TorrentFreak · Friday, 13 November, 2020 - 21:15 · 3 minutes

    IPTV Back in August, members of the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE), an anti-piracy coalition featuring the major Hollywood studios, Netflix, Amazon, and more than two dozen other companies, filed a lawsuit against US company TTKN Enterprises, LLC.

    Better known online as IPTV service Crystal Clear Media (CCM), TTKN and owners Todd and Tori Smith of Florida were accused by Disney, Paramount, Amazon, Warner, Universal, Netflix, Columbia and StudioCanal of operating a pirate service providing access to thousands of live and title-curated television channels in breach of their copyrights.

    “Blatantly Infringing Service”

    Citing blockbusters including Disney’s Frozen II, Warner Bros’ Harry Potter collection, Columbia Picture’s Bad Boys for Life, and Universal’s Mr. Robot, the companies alleged that TTKN/CCM’s operators had gone to great lengths to hide their roles in an operation that had illegally streamed these titles and more to the public. Domains including mediahosting.one, crystalcleariptv.com, ccmedia.one, ccbilling.org, cciptv.us, ccreborn.one, ccultimate.one, superstreamz.com, and webplayer.us, were mentioned as supporting the operation.

    Describing CCM as a “blatantly infringing service”, the entertainment companies noted that despite being acutely aware that rival service Vaders had previously come to an untimely end for similar actions at the hands of the same plaintiffs, CCM continued to provide an illegal VOD service to the public. Furthermore, the service also continued to expand its reach via a network of resellers.

    “Defendants’ reseller program plays a pivotal role in their infringing enterprise. Defendants’ resellers market and promote CCM as a substitute for authorized and licensed distributors,” the lawsuit claimed.

    Alleging willful direct copyright infringement, the plaintiffs demanded the maximum statutory damages of $150,000 per infringed work plus the same amount per work as a result of CCM inducing others by “encouraging, and promoting” the use of CCM for copyright infringement purposes.

    Parties Reach Settlement Agreement

    While these kinds of cases have the potential to roll on for some time, it transpires the plaintiffs and TTKN/CCM plus named defendants Todd and Tori Smith have agreed to settle their dispute. The agreement was reached on November 2, 2020, and as a result, they are together asking the court to sign off on a judgment in favor of the plaintiffs, awarding a permanent injunction and damages.

    In respect of the injunction, the defendants comprehensively agree not to distribute any copyrighted content owned by the plaintiffs or their subsidiaries in any manner, including via streaming. All operations of Crystal Clear Media must be completely shut down within five days of any injunction and its operators are barred from distributing or otherwise releasing any of its source code, domain names, trademarks and other assets.

    “Defendants irrevocably and fully waive notice of entry of the Permanent Injunction, and understand and agree that violation of the Permanent Injunction will expose Defendant to all penalties provided by law, including contempt of Court,” it reads.

    “Defendants consent to the continuing jurisdiction of the Court for purposes of enforcement of the Permanent Injunction, and irrevocably and fully waive and relinquish any argument that venue or jurisdiction by this Court is improper or inconvenient.”

    Proposed Judgment Includes a Massive Damages Award

    The original complaint included references to the now-defunct Vaders IPTV service that was also targeted by the same plaintiffs in a largely secret lawsuit in Canada. However, while the Vaders/Vader Streams matter ended in a $10 million damages award in favor of the studios, TTKN/CCM has agreed to pay substantially more than its former rival.

    “Damages are awarded in favor of Plaintiffs and against Defendant TTKN Enterprises, LLC d/b/a Crystal Clear Media, in the total amount of forty million dollars ($40 million),” the proposed judgment reads.

    While the proposed consent judgment and permanent injunction are yet to be signed off by Judge George H. Wu in a California court, the nature of the agreement means that is likely to be a formality in the days to come.

    The proposed orders can be found here ( 1 , 2 , 3 pdf)

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