Authors Guild: ISPs Should Monitor and Filter Pirated Content

piratkeybWith a growing demand for digital books, the publishing industry is increasingly confronted with the issue of online piracy.

The piracy problem is high on the agenda of the Authors Guild as well, and the organization has sent a letter to Congress voicing its concerns.

The letter is addressed to the House Judiciary Committee which reviews the current state of the DMCA takedown procedure to see what can be done to bring the interests of copyright holders and Internet service providers closer together.

Claiming that piracy results in $80 to $100 million in losses annually, the authors emphasize that online copyright infringement is rampant. Not just on shady sites but also on legitimate platforms such as Google Play.

“Online book piracy, once the province of shady offshore websites, has migrated to mainstream American distribution platforms,” they write, adding that the current takedown process is “just not working.”

Instead of the current system where rightsholders have to report URLs of all infringing content, Internet services should implement measures to ensure that pirated content doesn’t reappear elsewhere.

“What we need instead is a ‘Notice and Stay-Down’ regime: once a webhost knows a work is being infringed, it should not receive continued ‘safe harbor’ immunity from claims of infringement unless it takes reasonable measures to remove all copies of the same work.”

The Guild notes that individual authors often don’t have the time or means to scour the Internet for pirated material. ISPs, on the other hand, can monitor and filter pirated content more easily, they claim.

“Technology that can identify and filter pirated material is now commonplace. It only makes sense, then, that ISPs should bear the burden of limiting piracy on their sites, especially when they are profiting from the piracy and have the technology to conduct automated searches and takedowns,” the Authors Guild writes.

The authors stress that Google and other Internet service providers are not doing enough to combat piracy. Instead, they allow piracy to flourish and share a part of the loot.

“In reverse Robin Hood fashion, the safe harbor rules allow rich companies to become richer at the expense of the poor, robbing creators of hard-earned income and the creative economy of hundreds of millions of dollars a year,” the write.

The Authors Guild asks the lawmakers to revise copyright law by making ISPs partly responsible for identifying pirated content. ISPs should only enjoy safe-harbor protections if they implement measures to ensure that pirated content remains inaccessible.

In theory, this means that widespread monitoring of shared content, something most companies are not too keen on. However, according to the authors it’s the only option to tackle the piracy problem.

A copy of the Authors Guild letter to the House Judiciary Committee is available here.

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Sky Customers Receive New Movie Piracy Threat Letters

Copyright trolls are companies that make a business out of monitoring file-sharing networks for illegal downloads and instead of trying to prevent them, try to cash in instead.

In letters sent to alleged file-sharers, copyright trolls use often complex and threatening language in order to imply something terrible will happen if recipients don’t pay between hundreds of pounds and thousands of dollars to make supposed lawsuits go away.

During September 2014, TorrentFreak became aware of a UK court case titled TCYK LLP v British Sky Broadcasting Ltd. TCYK stands for The Company You Keep and is the title of a film of the same name directed and starring Robert Redford, appearing alongside Susan Sarandon and Shia LeBeouf.

In court, TCYK LLP forced Sky to hand over the names and addresses of subscribers alleged to have downloaded the movie without permission. Earlier this year the ISP warned affected subscribers of what might come next.

“It’s likely that TCYK LLC will contact you directly and may ask you to pay them compensation,” Sky noted.

Sky were correct on both counts. Before the weekend TorrentFreak obtained a copy of the letter now being sent out to Sky subscribers by TCYK. It’s the usual framework of veiled and direct threats, designed to intimidate users into handing over hard cash.

“Our forensic computer analyst has provided us with evidence that on the following UK date and time, [redacted by TF], all or part of the Work was made available from the internet protocol (or IP) address [redacted], specifically for the purpose of downloading by third parties,” the letter reads.

We have redacted the time and date to protect our source but it is noteworthy that the alleged offense was carried out more than two years ago in April 2013.

In a common feature of these claims, TCYK go on to admit that they have no proof that a specific person committed the offense and that they have simply targeted the bill payer instead. They then pressure that person to help them build a case.

“In the event that you were not responsible for the infringing acts outlined above because, for example, another member of your household was the user of the computer, you should make full disclosure to us of the other parties at your residence using your internet connection to make the Work available for download,” TCYK note.

“A failure to make such disclosure may lead to the claim being made against you with the court being asked to conclude, on the balance of probabilities that you were the user of the computer.”

Of course, no subscriber is under any obligation to tell TCYK anything and, as we have pointed out before, if the subscriber didn’t carry out the offense and did not authorize anyone using his connection to do so, he or she is not liable under the Copyright Act.

Also of note is that these days it’s common, considering access for both family and friends, for more than a dozen people to use a residential WiFi. It’s certainly possible (“on the balance of probabilities”) that a court would recognize that too.

Another common feature of UK cases (and upcoming Aussie cases) is that the courts ask trolls not to ask for money in their first letter. TCYK stick to that format but clearly advise that their next letter will contain a demand.

After inviting the letter recipient to confess (or snitch on someone else), TCYK says it will arrive at a settlement figure based on what it gets told.

“We will propose an appropriate figure to you in the subsequent letter after we have received your response to this letter and carefully considered its contents,” TCYK writes.

“It is therefore in your interests to respond to this letter, because a failure to do so may lead the claimant to invite you to pay a figure which is higher than the amount it might ask for if it is persuaded that any unlawful conduct has been inadvertent or minor.”

As always, letter recipients are invited to read the Speculative Invoicing Handbook (pdf) and remain acutely aware that everything revealed to companies like TCYK will be used as leverage against them.

The really wise advice is not to communicate with them at all. UK solicitor Michael Coyle from Lawdit Solicitors is again stepping up to the mark to defend those affected by this latest wave.

“I’ve been sent many emails from people who have received a letter of claim from TCYK. The letters are very similar in format to the letters sent in previous campaigns and once again assume that copyright infringement based on the identity of the person who pays the bill,” Coyle informs TF.

“TCYK has paid £32,000 in respect of Sky’s costs and their solicitors costs so that is a considerable sum to recover in terms of damages from those individuals. My advice is to decline to make a payment as copyright infringement cannot be established on the basis set out in the letter.”

Letter recipients in need of assistance should contact Michael at Lawdit Solicitors. A charitable donation to his fund-raising campaign will secure legal advice.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and the best VPN services.

Source: TorrentFreak

Top 10 Most Pirated Movies of The Week – 07/13/15

jurassThis week we have only one newcomer in our chart.

‘Jurassic World is the most downloaded movie.

The data for our weekly download chart is estimated by TorrentFreak, and is for informational and educational reference only. All the movies in the list are BD/DVDrips unless stated otherwise.

RSS feed for the weekly movie download chart.

Ranking (last week) Movie IMDb Rating / Trailer
1 (2) Jurassic World (TS/Subbed HDrip) 7.7 / trailer
2 (9) Spy (Subbed HDrip) 7.5 / trailer
3 (7) Home 6.8 / trailer
4 (3) The Longest Ride 7.1 / trailer
5 (1) Mad Max: Fury Road (WEB-DL) 8.5 / trailer
6 (4) Minions (TS) 7.0 / trailer
7 (…) Ted 2 (Subbed HDrip) 6.9 / trailer
8 (6) Get Hard 6.1 / trailer
9 (10) Furious 7 (Subbed HDrip) 7.6 / trailer
10 (5) Cinderella 7.3 / trailer

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Nintendo Shuts Down Browser Based Game Boy Emulator

gameboyemulatorPlaying old console games through browser-based emulators is a niche pastime of some of the most dedicated gamers.

For Game Boy Advance fans there are a few websites that offer such a nostalgic trip down memory lane, free for all.

Unfortunately, Nintendo is less pleased with the fan-made projects. This week the company took down a popular Game Boy Advance emulator that was hosted on the developer platform GitHub.

The website in question offered JavaScript-powered versions of many popular titles including Advance Wars, Dragon Ball Z, Super Mario Advance, Pokemon Emerald and The Sims 2.

While fans may like it, Nintendo sees the site as blatant copyright infringement.

“Nintendo requests that GitHub, Inc., disable public access to the web site at,” Nintendo writes in their takedown notice.

“This web site provides access to unauthorized copies of Nintendo’s copyright-protected video games and videos making use of Nintendo’s copyrighted Pokémon characters and imagery in violation of Nintendo’s exclusive rights.”

Nintendo’s takedown noticenintendogit

Shortly after GitHub received the takedown notice the Game Boy Advance emulator was shut down. The user who hosted the files also appears to have removed his GitHub account, possibly to avoid any further trouble.

The above means that nostalgic Game Boy Advance fans will have to dust off their old consoles again or find another way to play their classics.

Interestingly, the code for the Game Boy Emulator itself, without the pre-loaded games, is open source and still hosted elsewhere on GitHub. Several copies of the full site are also still floating around.

This is not the first time that Nintendo has gone after a Game Boy emulator. The same happened with the popular iOS application GBA4iOS, which the company nuked in a similar fashion last year.

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Free Music Streaming Site Revives Grooveshark Magic, And More

streamsquidEarlier this year the long running lawsuit between the RIAA and music streaming service Grooveshark came to an abrupt end.

Facing hundreds of millions in damages, Grooveshark shut down agreeing to pay the record labels $50 million. This was a huge blow to the site’s users, many of whom had spent years carefully curating their playlists.

Among the affected users was a group of music loving web developers including Ofir Yosef, Itzik Ben-Bassat and Ziv Waksman, who decided to come up with a solution without breaking the law.

“It was devastating at first as we thought that we’d lost our personal music hub. The huge effort that took many years to build and collect songs and playlists was gone in a single court decision,” Yosef tells TF.

The initial thought was that all playlists were gone forever. However, there was still a Grooveshark backup server online and Yosef and his team quickly secured all playlist data.

That’s when the real challenge stated. A collection of .XLS files is useless if they can’t be linked to the actual music track, so Yosef and his team started coding. Now, several weeks later StreamSquid was born.

“StreamSquid is a free music streaming service that lets you discover, create and share the music you love. It’s the easy way to play the music you want online, legally and free,” Yosef says.

“And now it also lets you import your lost Grooveshark music and start listening to it almost immediately,” he adds.

The service is indeed quite impressive considering that it’s a mashup of various sources. It has an intuitive user interface that makes it easy to discover and curate music. Grooveshark users will be delighted as well, as they can restore their old playlists in one click.

StreamSquid’s Grooveshark importstreamsquidimp

To present the music in an appealing format, with album lists and prearranged playlists, StreamSquid partnered with In addition the site also allows users to easily discover related artists and browse through various top charts.

For the long-term StreamSquid is planning to add support for mobile listening as well, including apps, but currently the focus lies on implementing features to improve the general user experience.

“In the coming days and weeks we are going to add features like songs queues and listening history, which will allow users to arrange their daily music stream.”


As for legality, StreamSquid doesn’t anticipate any problems. The service pulls its music from YouTube and SoundCloud and doesn’t host any media content on its servers.

“StreamSquid is legal. We use YouTube and SoundCloud APIs to stream music legally and meet all requirements and terms of services. Everything is double checked,” Yosef says.

Similar to Grooveshark, the service will remain free of charge. The self-funded team may consider adding monetization options in the future, such as offering links to Amazon and iTunes stores, but these will be aimed at adding value to the users.

Aside from the occasional bug StreamSquid seems to work rather well. And for former Grooveshark users it will be a welcome reunion with the tunes they deemed lost.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and the best VPN services.

Source: TorrentFreak

Bogus “Copyright Trademark” Complaint Fails to Censor the BBC

censorshipGoogle receives millions of requests every week to have links delisted from its search results, largely following claims from third parties that the referenced content infringes their rights.

While it’s difficult to say what proportion of these claims are erroneous or duplicate, it’s likely to run into thousands per month. Other claims, like the one we’re highlighting today, underline why we absolutely need Google’s Transparency Report and the DMCA notice archive maintained by Chilling Effects.

The episode began on July 1, 2015 when an individual contacted Google with a complaint about a page hosted by the BBC. Found here, the page carries a news report from 2009 which reveals how a man called Kevin Collinson with two failed disability scooter businesses behind him was allegedly (and potentially illegally) running a third.

The article is a typical “rogue trader” affair, with tales of aggressive sales techniques, broken promises, faulty goods, out-of-pocket customers and companies that dissolve only to reappear debt-free shortly after. Unpleasant to say the least.

So what prompted the complaint to Google that was subsequently published on Chilling Effects? Well, it was sent to the search giant by a gentleman calling himself (you guessed it) Kevin Collinson. Nevertheless, the important thing is this – has the BBC infringed his rights? Collinson thinks so.

The notice sent to Google by Collinson


As highlighted by the image above, when asked for the source of the infringed material, Kevin Collinson links to a page on his domain It contains the image below which apparently proves that Collinson owns a “copyright name trademark” to his own name, whatever one of those might be.


Reading between the lines, Collinson seems to suggest that since he has a trademark on his name (searches in UK databases draw a blank incidentally), outlets such as the BBC aren’t allowed to report news containing his name. Complete nonsense of course, and Google hasn’t removed the page either.

That said, under UK law people are indeed allowed to trademark their names.

Perhaps surprisingly, trademark UK00002572177 (EU009734096) is registered to Wikileaks’ Julian Assange and protects him in the areas of public speaking, news reporting, journalism, publication of texts, education and entertainment services.

Professor Stephen Hawking also has a couple of trademarks protecting his name. Coincidentally (and possibly of interest to Mr Collinson) one of those covers mobility scooters and wheelchairs.

KEVIN JOSEPH COLLINSON did not respond to TorrentFreak’s request for comment.

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Source: TorrentFreak