Verizon Fights Copyright Troll Demands in Court

verizon-progressMalibu Media, the Los Angeles based company behind the ‘X-Art’ adult movies, is one of the most active copyright trolls in the United States.

The company has filed thousands of lawsuits in recent years, targeting Internet subscribers whose accounts were allegedly used to share Malibu’s films.

These cases generally don’t go to trial. Instead, the adult movie studio obtains a subpoena from the court so it can ask Internet providers to expose the accused subscribers.

Verizon is one of the ISPs which is often targeted, and the company has responded to thousands of subpoenas from Malibu alone, without complaining. However, a broad subpoena that arrived a few days ago is a bridge too far for Verizon.

The subpoena was issued in a case currently before the Southern District of New York.

To prove that a Verizon subscriber is guilty, Malibu Media requested additional information from the ISP including private communications with the subscriber, technical details about its modems and a deposition of Verizon employees.

Verizon, however, does not plan to comply and has asked the court for support. The ISP begins its reply with a general overview of how copyright trolls work, noting that their practices cost providers a lot of time and resources.

“These ‘Doe’ cases impose undue burdens upon the ISPs, including Verizon, who have been asked to respond to thousands of subpoenas from Malibu Media. The subpoenas have required a large amount of Verizon’s employees’ time to evaluate and respond to competing and sometimes overlapping requests for information,” the ISP writes (pdf).

Verizon points out that these piracy lawsuits are increasingly being scrutinized by the courts, some of which have compared it to an “extortion scheme.”

Aside from the general burdens Verizon notes that Malibu should not be allowed to call in Verizon employees from another state for a deposition on such a short notice.

“The subpoena here improperly demanded that Verizon’s employees, who work in Arlington, Virginia, and reside nearby, travel to San Angelo, Texas, on short notice for a deposition and to bring documents with them.”

In addition, the information requested by Malibu Media is not relevant or outside the scope of the Cable Act, which prevents certain privacy sensitive data from being shared.

“The additional information now sought by Plaintiff’s subpoena — correspondence between Verizon and the subscriber, information about the rental of modems or other equipment, and Verizon’s general policies and procedures — is either irrelevant, more properly sought from a party to litigation, or outside the scope of discovery contemplated by the Cable Act,” Verizon writes.

The above clearly shows that Verizon is taking a stand. This could mean that Malibu Media’s request may hurt the company’s litigation efforts in the long run, as copyright troll watcher SJD suggests.

“The critical gear of the well-oiled extortion machine is the relationship between the troll and ISPs. We see a small crack in this gear, and I really hope this crack will grow over time,” she writes.

Currently, Verizon and other ISPs don’t oppose subpoenas that request personal details of subscribers based on an IP-address, but this may change in the future.

It’s now up to judge Katherine Forrest to decide whether the requested subpoena for additional information indeed goes too far. Forrest previously likened Malibu’s practices to “harassment,” which may be factored into the decision.

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

Source: TorrentFreak

The Pirate Bay Suffers Downtime

pirate bayThe Pirate Bay has become unreachable since this morning.

It’s currently not clear what’s causing the problems. There was a similar outage yesterday which lasted a few hours.

What we do know is that the site’s domain names are not the culprit.

The Pirate Bay currently displays a CloudFlare error message across all domain names, suggesting that TPB’s servers are unresponsive.


With the raid of last year still fresh in memory some fear the worst, but these concerns are unwarranted for now.

In fact, the site is still accessible via the Tor network (through http://uj3wazyk5u4hnvtk.onion/), including the popular Pirate Browser.

The Tor traffic goes through a separate server and works just fine.

TorrentFreak reached out to The Pirate Bay team for a comment on the situation and we will update this article if we hear back.

Update: The TPB team informed us that they’re aware of the problem and hope to have the site back online soon. It’s nothing major and people should just relax and wait it out.

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

Source: TorrentFreak

Ford, Toyota, Nissan, Microsoft ‘Shamed’ as Piracy Sponsors

ford-logoAs part of increasing efforts by the world’s largest entertainment companies to crack down on Internet piracy, various initiatives are seeking to deprive so-called ‘pirate’ sites of their income.

In addition to making it difficult for sites to process payments using credit card companies such as Visa and Mastercard, and receive and pay out funds using PayPal, pressure is also being applied to advertisers. Since many sites rely on advertising for much of their income the theory is that once those funds dry up, sites will begin to close.

The latest country indicating a readiness to take action on this front is Russia. Despite having a reputation for harboring dozens of large unlicensed sites, the Russian government says it is now preparing to ‘out’ some of the world’s largest companies as sponsors of piracy portals.

In the weeks to come the Ministry of Communications says it will publish a list of 100 companies that often advertise on pirate sites but in the meantime has provided a small sample of the kind of international businesses people should expect to find on the list.

Car manufacturers including Toyota, Nissan, Ford, Mazda and Volvo are all being accused of being pirate sponsors by the government, alongside technology giant Microsoft and personal grooming product company Gillette.

“We encourage people to come to their senses. Brands are proud of the fact that they are white and fluffy. We will publish a list of all those who advertise on pirate sites,” says Deputy Communications Minister Alexei Volin.

The Ministry says that together with representatives from the media industry it will create a “board of shame” which will publicize the names of companies who fail to pull their ads from sites.

The revelations were made during the ‘Cinema Expo’ film industry conference in St. Petersburg this week, where it was claimed that advertisers such as those detailed above are pumping in excess of $70m per year into local unlicensed sites.

In order to stop ads from reaching such sites in future, the government says it is ready to draw up a list of ‘banned’ domains.

“We are ready to take responsibility and to establish a commission at the Ministry, which, at the request of holders, will make sites blacklisted,” Minister Volin said.

A new industry group called “Media” formed by the Russian Association of Electronic Communications says it will then negotiate with agencies to stop them placing ads on sites appearing on the blacklist.

“If we can agree with the agencies, the pirate business will die by itself,” says Media chief Marina Surygina.

While the government and local industry may indeed succeed in forcing large companies to withdraw their support for pirate sites, there are plenty of smaller operations that are only too willing to take up the slack.

Emails recently obtained by TorrentFreak reveal that several ad networks are proudly promoting their partnerships with pirate sites and are very happy to take on more.

It has to be said, however, that the products these networks help advertise have much less kudos than those advertised by the companies detailed above. Ads for Ford cars are much more desirable than the typical ‘male enhancement’ offer, and Gillette definitely offers a better kind of close-shave than the kind associated with a barrage of aggressive popups.

Update: Alexey Byrdin of the Internet-Video Association informs TF that the pursuit of advertisers will be aggressive.

“Our ‘follow the money’ initiative was supported and announced by deputy minister Volin. We have detailed research on brand advertising on pirate sites including all campaign details, URLs, agencies etc,” Byrdin says.

“We’re going to go all the way with these brands and reveal either their hypocrisy or negligence.”

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

Source: TorrentFreak