close
  • To chevron_right

    ‘Pirating’ WOW! Subscribers Object to Having Their Identities Exposed to Filmmakers

    news.movim.eu / TorrentFreak · Yesterday - 20:32 · 2 minutes

pirate-flag WOW! is being sued by a group of movie companies including Millennium Media and Voltage Pictures.

The filmmakers accuse the ISP of failing to disconnect the accounts of subscribers who were repeatedly flagged for sharing copyrighted material. They hold WOW! liable for these pirating activities, which could lead to millions of dollars in damages.

The ISP challenged the claims and filed a motion to dismiss the case. Among other things, the company argued that an IP address is not sufficient to prove that subscribers downloaded or shared any infringing material. The filmmakers opposed this motion, which has yet to be decided on by the Colorado federal court.

Filmmakers Want Subscriber Details

In the meantime, another issue has raised its head. Both sides are gathering evidence to prepare for the case moving forward. As part of that process, the filmmakers have demanded the personal details of roughly 14,000 subscribers whose WOW! accounts were allegedly used to pirate content.

WOW! objected to this request, arguing that the names and addresses of its subscribers are irrelevant to the core question of whether it reasonably implemented a repeat infringer policy. The filmmakers disagreed, noting that the information can be cross-checked to determine whether the ISP notified its subscribers and terminated accounts in response to infringement notices.

After reviewing the arguments from both sides, the Court eventually came up with a compromise . The filmmakers offered to reduce the targeted IP-addresses to the 375 top pirating unique IP addresses, which the Court saw as a reasonable request, especially considering the damages at stake.

“This is a more reasonable and proportional request, particularly since Plaintiffs currently calculate their statutory damages at $13,950,000,” Judge Hegarty wrote.

Subscribers File Objections

Not all WOW! subscribers are pleased with this order, however. Over the past few weeks, more than 30 “John Doe” subscribers objected to having their personal details shared with the filmmakers.

restricted

The content of these objections is shielded from public view, and it’s not clear how the Court will respond. When Judge Hegarty issued the underlying order he noted that objections would be promptly resolved, but there’s no sign of that in the docket.

It’s understandable that the subscribers want to remain anonymous. They are suspected of repeatedly downloading and sharing pirated films, which can potentially lead to tens of thousands of dollars in damages claims. In this case, however, subscribers appear to have little to worry about.

Nothing to Worry About?

WOW! and the filmmakers previously signed a mutually agreed protective order which states that the subscriber information “shall be used solely for the purpose of preparation, trial, and appeal of this litigation and for no other purpose.”

The filmmakers said that they want to reach out to the subscribers directly in order to verify that WOW! took measures to address repeat infringers. This reason was also cited by Judge Hegarty when he ruled on the order.

“Plaintiffs want to be able to, in essence, cross-check whatever Defendant produces with information from the subscribers themselves.”

The filmmakers believe that the Internet provider isn’t being entirely forthright. Their complaint already cited two declarations from pirating WOW! subscribers, who state that the ISP never forwarded any notices to them, despite claims to the contrary.

Whether the Court will grant the objections and keep the identities of the objecting subscribers private has yet to be seen. In the grander scheme of things it shouldn’t matter too much, as the filmmakers still have hundreds of others they can “cross-check” things with.

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

  • To chevron_right

    Microsoft Sues Activation Key & Token Sellers For Enabling Customers’ Piracy

    news.movim.eu / TorrentFreak · Yesterday - 10:09 · 4 minutes

Pirate Windows Having spent billions on development and marketing over decades, companies like Microsoft dominate important sections of the software market.

As a result, in some business and educational environments use of Microsoft software is effectively mandatory, leaving consumers with little room to consider alternatives or negotiate a discount.

Pirate sites are always an option but many consumers feel that a genuine product bought at a discounted price is a safer and more honest option. What some don’t know is that through the actions of others, they may be paying to access unlicensed software that is no more legal than a download from The Pirate Bay.

Microsoft Files Copyright Lawsuit

In a complaint filed at a Washington court this week, Microsoft targets Canadian company The Search People Enterprises Ltd (TSPE), assumed director Mehtabjit Singh, and ‘John Doe’ defendants 1-10.

The defendants are described as prolific distributors of “black market access devices”, aka activation keys and tokens for Microsoft software. Those who bought keys and tokens may have been under the impression that they were purchasing official software but as Microsoft explains, that is not only misleading but a mischaracterization of the things they were sold.

Background: Keys and Tokens Are Not Licenses

Microsoft says that it develops software and distributes digital downloads using its own site and those of other vendors. Importantly, Microsoft stresses that it does not sell software; it offers licenses that enable people to use its software, under a set of strict terms and conditions.

Products including Microsoft Office, Project, Visio, Windows 10, and Windows 11 are all subject to licensing terms that restrict how the products can be used. Microsoft can also provide a product activation key to be entered as part of the installation process, with data about the activation sent to the company’s servers.

Like software tokens, which enable downloads and automatic software activation, activation keys are anti-piracy tools, and exchanging money for them is not the same as buying a license. Indeed, Microsoft makes itself very clear – the activation of a piece of software means nothing in the absence of a license.

Microsoft’s problem is that product activation keys can be ‘decoupled’ from the software they were meant to authorize and then reused to activate more copies of the software, in some cases more copies than the attached Microsoft license permits. As a result, there is a global black market for activation keys which are sold to often unsuspecting consumers who then download official software from Microsoft, without buying a license.

Device Peddlers Enabled Piracy

According to Microsoft, the defendants engaged in “widespread marketing” that enabled the illegal sale of Microsoft’s activation keys and tokens through the websites softwarekeep.com, softwarekeep.ca, saveonit.com and catsoft.co. Once the keys were purchased, customers were given links to download the software either directly from Microsoft or from sites hosting counterfeit copies.

Between September 2020 and January 2022, Microsoft made a number of test purchases including Office Professional Plus, Office Home & Student, and Windows 10 and 11 Professional. These confirmed the sale of activation keys, software tokens, and the supply of instructions to illegally download Microsoft software.

“In either instance, copying software from these sites constitutes the infringement of Microsoft’s copyright-protected software which Defendants induced, enabled, facilitated, and proximately caused,” the complaint reads.

In other words, since people who bought keys did not buy a license, downloading the software from anywhere and making a local copy amounted to piracy. Microsoft doesn’t appear interested in chasing consumers but the software giant wants to hold the defendants liable for their customers’ unintentional piracy.

Contributory Copyright Infringement

“Defendants’ customers unwittingly have infringed and continue to infringe Microsoft’s copyright-protected software by using unauthorized access devices to download, copy, and activate Microsoft software,” Microsoft continues.

“Defendants and the Doe Defendants materially contributed to their customers’ infringement by knowingly and intentionally sourcing and reselling decoupled product keys to be used by their customers to facilitate the downloading, copying, and activation of Microsoft’s copyright-protected software from unauthorized and counterfeit download sites.”

Microsoft says it’s entitled to recover its actual damages and profits attributable to the defendants’ infringement. Alternatively, Microsoft is entitled to seek $150,000 in statutory damages under 17 U.S.C. § 504(c) for each willful infringement.

Additional Causes of Action

Microsoft continues with a claim for trademark infringement due to the defendants using its product logos to advertise and sell keys to activate counterfeit and unlicensed software.

“Defendants’ activities are likely to lead others to conclude, incorrectly, that the infringing materials that Defendants are advertising, marketing, installing, offering, and distributing originate with or are authorized by Microsoft, thereby harming Microsoft, its licensees, and the public,” Microsoft adds.

The complaint concludes with additional causes of action including false designation of origin, false and misleading representations and descriptions of fact, trade dress infringement , and a request for an injunction.

Microsoft’s complaint can be found here (pdf)

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

  • To chevron_right

    House of the Dragon Leaks: HBO Wields DMCA in Hunt For Mystery Reddit User

    news.movim.eu / TorrentFreak · 2 days ago - 20:25 · 3 minutes

house of the dragon Few people need to be reminded of the massive success story attached to HBO’s hit TV series, Game of Thrones.

Aside from massive viewing numbers, the fantasy drama generated headlines due to various piracy-related controversies, including leaked episodes and the setting of piracy records , with the latter responsible for a global surge in internet traffic.

HBO took all of this in its stride early on and at one point an executive even described massive piracy as a ‘ compliment ‘. Almost a decade later a new controversy has hit HBO’s Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragons, even before its official release.

This time around, HBO seems done with the flattery.

Reddit User Spills The Beans

Reddit’s /r/freefolk subreddit describes itself as a “wide open and minimally moderated subreddit” where Game of Thrones and related leaks can be discussed. Minimal moderation may be the aim but there are limits on what people can post to Reddit and live to tell the tale.

Last week a user called ‘hotdleaks’ kicked up a storm with a post titled: ‘Leaked plot summary for every episode of House of the Dragon’. According to various comments, the post delivered on its promises but not everyone was convinced of its credibility.

Soon after, however, Reddit suspended the ‘ hotdleaks ‘ account.

An account suspension can be a pretty good sign that a nerve has been touched somewhere. Brand new user ‘hotdleak2’, who posted just after ‘hotdleaks’ was suspended, seemed to agree. “HOTD LEAKS VERIFIED BY COPYRIGHT STRIKE” they declared , before continuing the suspended user’s work.

Not long after ‘ hotdleak2 ‘ was suspended too. “My original account just got removed by Reddit’s legal team. How do you address this?” they wrote.

Perhaps the bigger question related to who ordered the account suspensions. After scouring court records in the US, we can now confirm that this time around, HBO isn’t taking copyright infringment as a compliment.

HBO Sent Multiple DMCA notices to Reddit

Documents filed at a court in California by Home Box Office, Inc. feature a declaration by Patrick Perkins, Senior Vice President, Chief Intellectual Property Counsel for Warner Bros. Discovery Inc. Perkins reveals that one of his responsibilities is anti-piracy enforcement for HBO.

The filing includes 20 pages of communications with Reddit beginning August 4, 2022, and relate to several DMCA takedown notices sent by Warner. The initial notice targets the original post made by ‘hotdleaks’ alongside a claim that it contained a “Leaked full summary of episode 1 of the upcoming HBO series HOUSE OF THE DRAGON”

“Please remove immediately,” the notice added.

Subsequent DMCA notices targeting dozens of Reddit posts are less specific, citing “Leaked plot information for the upcoming HBO original series HOUSE OF THE DRAGON” as the reason for takedown. But in this context, that’s not the most important thing about these notices.

By first sending notifications to Reddit and then presenting them to the court, HBO can request a DMCA subpoena that requires Reddit to hand over the details of alleged infringers. And that’s exactly what the company is doing.

HBO Wants The Leaker’s Personal Details

Technically speaking HBO could do a sweep of the many users responsible for posting or reposting House of the Dragon leaks on Reddit but instead it appears to have just two users in mind. The accounts probably relate to the same person but if the court grants the DMCA subpoena and Reddit doesn’t fight it, HBO will be in a good position to find out for sure.

Citing 17 U.S. Code § 512 , HBO says the court must order Reddit to disclose identifying information on the operators of the above usernames, from “any and all sources.” In any event the information should include names, addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, account numbers, IP addresses and all other contact information.

What HBO will do with the information is unknown, but it must only be used to protect its copyrights. For the Reddit user/s targeted, that probably won’t be much of a comfort.

The application and proposed DMCA subpoena can be found here ( 1 , 2 , 3 , pdf)

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

  • To chevron_right

    Software Company Still Fighting U.S. Navy Over Millions in Piracy Damages

    news.movim.eu / TorrentFreak · 2 days ago - 09:59 · 3 minutes

old ships navy pirate The U.S. Government regularly goes after copyright-infringing companies and individuals, both domestically and abroad.

That doesn’t mean that there are no copyright issues within its own ranks.

Six years ago the US Navy was sued for mass copyright infringement by German software vendor Bitmanagement, which requested hundreds of millions of dollars in damages.

Software Company Sues US Navy

The lawsuit is not a typical piracy case in the sense that Navy officers downloaded software from shady sources, but the end result is the same.

It all started in 2011 when the US Navy began testing Bitmanagement’s 3D virtual reality application ‘BS Contact Geo’. After some testing, the Navy installed the software across its network, assuming that it had permission to do so.

bs contact geo

This turned out to be a crucial misunderstanding. Bitmanagement said it had never authorized this type of use and when it heard that the Navy had installed the software on 558,466 computers, the company took legal action.

Bitmanagement Wins Appeal

At the United States Court of Federal Claims, the German company accused the US Navy of mass copyright infringement. The Court initially dismissed the complaint but Bitmanagement appealed, with success.

Last year, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit sided with the software company, concluding that the US Government is indeed liable .

This meant that the matter was referred back to the Federal Claims court, to determine the appropriate damages amount. This resulted in a legal back and forth and after a trial, held behind closed doors earlier this year, the case is about to reach its conclusion.

600,000 ‘Infringing’ Copies

Unfortunately, most of the legal paperwork is sealed. However, a redacted “post-trial” brief submitted by Bitmanagement a few days ago sheds some light on the main disagreements that remain.

According to the software vendor, the court’s task is fairly straightforward. It’s a simple calculation that should lead to a damages award of many millions of dollars. This is based on the installed copies and the price both parties would have reached in a ‘fictitious’ negotiation.

“Before the Court is a simple matter of arithmetic. The Court should determine that the Navy made 600,000 infringing copies of BS Contact Geo, and that the parties would have agreed to a price of $259 per copy, for a total of $155,400,000 in damages,” the company writes.

bitmanagement-damages

This negotiation, which never happened, includes a 30% volume discount. That is a reasonable percentage, Bitmanagement argues, as it’s based on an AutoCAD software deal that actually took place.

“The best estimate for this volume discount is 30%, based on a similarly large Department of Defense software purchase contract for AutoCAD, a computeraided design program that enables the creation of two- and three- dimensional drawings.”

579 ‘Infringing’ Copies

The U.S. Government’s official position is not public, but the plaintiff’s filing shows that they are aiming for a substantially lower damages amount. A few weeks ago the court opened the trial record to hear Mr. Kennedy, a Government witness whose testimony was previously excluded.

In Mr. Kennedy’s view, the hypothetical negotiation between the Navy and Bitmanagement would have resulted in a price of up to $200 per license for just 579 licenses. These would reflect the “actual uses” of BS Contact Geo instead of the number of installs.

This estimate would result in ‘just’ $115,000 in damages, which is a far cry from the $155,400,000 estimated by the German software vendor.

Needless to say, Bitmanagement disagrees. The company says that Mr. Kennedy’s testimony shouldn’t be part of the record and characterizes his approach to damages as legally improper and unreliable. However, since it’s on the record now, the Court will take it into consideration.

The post-trial brief lists a variety of reasons why the “actual uses” argument is not valid. For one, it is unclear how many copies the U.S. Navy actually used as Mr. Kennedy’s calculation is based on incomplete data.

In addition, Bitmanagement notes that the Court has previously made it clear that the royalty base must be linked to the number of copies the Navy made, not how often they were used.

Even without reading the Government’s official position, it is clear that the US Court of Federal Claims has quite an important decision to make. For a relatively small company such as Bitmanagement, it will be a history-defining decision.

A copy of Bitmanagement’s post-trial brief is available here (pdf)

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

  • To chevron_right

    Cheat Seller AimJunkies Uses Subpoenas to Fire Back at Bungie

    news.movim.eu / TorrentFreak · 3 days ago - 20:34 · 3 minutes

aimjunkies Last summer, Bungie filed a complaint at a federal court in Seattle, accusing AimJunkies.com of copyright and trademark infringement, among other things.

The same accusations were also made against Phoenix Digital Group, the alleged creators of the Destiny 2 cheating software.

AimJunkies argued that cheating isn’t against the law . In addition, it refuted the copyright infringement allegations; these lacked any substance and were ungrounded because some of the referenced copyrights were registered well after the cheats were first made available.

Dismissal and Do-Over

In May, U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Zilly largely sided with AimJunkies . The original complaint didn’t provide sufficient evidence for a plausible claim that the ‘Destiny 2 Hacks’ infringed any copyrights.

This was a major setback for Bungie but the court did offer the developer the option to file a new complaint to address these shortcomings, which it did soon after .

As time progresses, it’s becoming clear that both sides intend to fight this case tooth and nail. Through discovery, they hope to obtain additional information to support their respective positions. Bungie, for example, subpoenaed PayPal requesting copies of account information and other documents related to the cheat seller.

AimJunkies, meanwhile, is also keeping itself busy. The defendant has prepared several subpoenas, targeting Google, PayPal, and Valve, through which it hopes to gather evidence against Bungie.

Valve Subpoena

Through Valve, AimJunkies want to obtain information from the Steam platform. This includes the monthly number of Destiny 2 players going back to 2017, as well as monthly sales including merchandise.

aim subpoena

The subpoena doesn’t explain what AimJunkies plan to do with this information but through a press release , the company behind the cheat seller informs TorrentFreak that it could help to disprove Bungie’s argument that cheaters hurt the company.

“Bungie claims that we caused grievous harm to their game when in fact some of their most popular months of player counts and sales were during the time Aimjunkies offered their software products. We believe and intend to gather actionable proof of that and disprove another one of their wild assertions,” Phoenix Digital notes

In addition to the sales figures, AimJunkies also request all information held by Steam and Valve on Phoenix Digital and several key people involved with the cheat developer.

Decompiling and Overlays

The PayPal and Google subpoenas are harder to interpret at first glance. They request information on a person named “Martin Zeniu,” who has no web presence. The Google subpoena also targets someone with a “jesuslover” username.

The same two targets, one of whom appears to be connected to Bungie, also show up in the Valve subpoena. While AimJunkies is yet to reveal its concrete intentions, there’s a suggestion that someone may have violated the terms of service of their cheat software.

“Phoenix Digital Group will prosecute individuals or companies who violated our Copyrights and Terms Of Service to the fullest extent of the law and this is the first step down that path,” the company notes.

“We believe on information and belief an un-named employee/contractor for a un-named company purchased Aimjunkies software and turned it over to their employer to decompile and analyze. We intend to subpoena documents with actionable information to answer these questions.”

The cheat maker further suggests that the in-game “overlays” its software offered are not illegal. Other services, including Steam, offer the same. To show this, the Valve subpoena requests overlay source code used by the Steam platform, including that relating to the file “GameOverlayRenderer.dll”.

The above shows that AimJunkies isn’t intimidated by the legal battle. The company believes that Bungie has a rather weak case and seems confident that it will emerge victorious.

The subpoena documents referenced in this article are available here ( 1 , 2 , 3 )

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

  • To chevron_right

    Brazil’s New IPTV Anti-Piracy Blocking Plan Prepares to Bypass Judiciary

    news.movim.eu / TorrentFreak · 3 days ago - 10:08 · 4 minutes

blackhole Despite taking significant action to reduce all kinds of online piracy, Brazil remains on the United States Trade Representative’s ‘ Watch List ‘. Lack of effort doesn’t appear to be the problem, however.

The São Paulo Court of Justice ordered major ISPs to block file-hosting platform Mega in 2019, but within days the ruling was overturned . That didn’t matter too much though as much bigger things lay ahead.

Last year Brazil filed a criminal complaint against Yout.com, a stream-ripping site currently in a legal spat with the RIAA in the United States. The platform was blocked by ISPs and this June, Yout’s operator was offered a deal that would see him avoid prison but take on additional risks.

Brazilian authorities are currently immersed in Operation 404, a campaign to seriously disrupt the IPTV and web streaming piracy landscape. This year alone there have been multiple arrests , domain seizures , and claims that hundreds of apps have been taken down or blocked.

But with basics such as removing piracy apps from Google Play apparently still an issue, Brazil says its now ready to commit to a program of ISP blocking to prevent IPTV and other streaming-based piracy. In previous cases the courts were involved and while that might still be required initially, so-called ‘administrative blocking’ could be just around the corner.

Agencies Team Up to Streamline Blocking

The project is the work of ‘ Ancine ‘ (Agência Nacional do Cinema) and telecoms regulator Anatel (Agência Nacional de Telecomunicações). Both are administratively independent agencies, with the former operating under the supervision of Brazil’s Ministry of Culture and the latter operating under powers inherited from the Ministry of Communications.

Since 2018, Brazil’s Plano de Ação de Combate à Pirataria (Action Plan to Combat Piracy/PACP) has sought to counter the country’s piracy problems but with support from ABTA, the Brazilian Pay TV/Telecom Association (Associação Brasileira de Televisão por Assinatura), Ancine and Anatel want a rapid and streamlined ISP blocking system.

Commenting on the agency’s involvement in Operation 404, last month Anatel’s Superintendent of Inspection, Hermano Tercius, said that site-blocking had been taking place “in a judicial way” but a system without such complications would be better placed to combat piracy. Those sentiments have been around for some time but the pieces are now falling into place.

Blocking Program Formalized

During the Pay-TV Forum event in São Paulo last week, a joint Anatel/Anacine announcement revealed that the proposal had cleared Ancine’s technical department and been approved by its directors. From there it was received by Anatel, with Vice-President Moisés Queiroz confirming that following a consolidation process, things should move quickly.

“We are formalizing the technical cooperation agreement, which has already been approved by Ancine’s board, is now in Anatel’s technical area and will go up to the Board of Directors, where it will certainly be approved as well,” Queiroz said.

Ancine director Tiago Mafra dos Santos said that a strategy that takes advantage of the tools available to both regulatory agencies will prove most effective.

“Ancine cannot walk alone, and neither can Anatel. There are functions of both that compliment each other. There is no content distribution without going through telecommunications,” he said.

The details of the blocking program were not revealed but given that executives from Anatal will travel to Europe in September, that provides more than a nod towards the model they hope to emulate.

Portugal – The ‘Gold Standard’ in ISP Blocking

It’s not just the shared language that makes Portugal a destination for Anatel. Portugal’s administrative site-blocking scheme is operated with assistance from the Inspectorate General for Cultural Activities (IGAC) and is designed to deal with copyright complaints quickly and without judicial oversight.

Each month, anti-piracy group MAPiNET is able to report up to 100 websites to IGAC, which carries out an evaluation within 48 hours. Once approved for blocking, the list is sent local ISPs to implement a DNS blocking regime within another 48 hours. In 2018, the program was updated to deal with “live blocking”, i.e dealing with IPTV providers offering live sports and similar time-sensitive content.

This entirely voluntary system is supported by rightsholders, advertisers and trade associations, plus every major ISP in Portugal. It is viewed by rightsholders as a particularly effective system to reduce infringement and due to standardization, is both predictable and cheap, especially when compared with court processes that can turn out to be neither.

Anatel representatives will also travel to Spain where the country’s Sinde Law and voluntary arrangements facilitate administrative blocking. It’s a little early for certainties but it seems likely that rightsholders would prefer Brazil to follow the Portuguese model when blocking is implemented in 2023, as the current plan envisions.

WIPO – Advisory Committee on Enforcement

In the meantime, Brazil is one of four countries set to share its anti-piracy experiences during the fifteenth session of WIPO’s Advisory Committee on Enforcement which begins late August in Geneva.

A document made available in advance of the event features contributions from Eduardo Luiz Perfeito Carneiro, Head of Anti-Piracy at Ancine, and Brazil’s National Council for Combating Piracy and Intellectual Property Crimes (CNCP).

Summary of key points as follows (all in respect of Ancine activities):

  • Full access to data held by federal government agencies
  • Access to data held by movie and TV show companies on piracy activities
  • Already blocked 1,000+ streaming sites (Operation 404)
  • Assists police during the execution of search-and-seizure warrants
  • 1.5 million illegal streaming devices seized in 2020-2021
  • Some ‘illegal devices’ donated to schools, hospitals, police
  • Since joining WIPO Alert, 300 pirate sites listed for advertising boycotts
  • Brazil’s site blocking plans ‘inspired’ by blocking in the UK and Portugal
  • Quick and Effective site blocking may be the only way to contain piracy

The WIPO document is available here ( pdf )

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

  • To chevron_right

    PrimeWire Replacement HydraWire Sacrifices Itself to Hollywood

    news.movim.eu / TorrentFreak · 4 days ago - 18:59 · 4 minutes

mpa In April 2022, several Hollywood studios and Netflix won an injunction to shut down PrimeWire, a long-standing illegal streaming site and continuous thorn in the side of the MPA.

The injunction was granted after the studios filed a massive copyright infringement lawsuit against PrimeWire in 2021. It aimed to close the platform down for a good after close to a decade of disruption activity against the site produced somewhat limited results. This time around the studios have the upper hand but not without some complications.

PrimeWire Inactive But Domains Mostly Intact

After the injunction was handed down the US, PrimeWire initially took no action but eventually modified its operations and pledged to offer a legitimate service .

The studios didn’t believe a single word and moved to seize new domain PrimeWire.tf, hoping to add it to a list of other PrimeWire domains already subject to disabling and seizure. On that front, PrimeWire.ag and .vc are non-operational but PrimeWire.li and PrimeWireStatus.org remain in use.

At the time of writing the same is true for PrimeWire.tf but last month a new domain entered the mix.

The Rapid Rise and Fall of HydraWire

At the end of May, the MPA’s anti-piracy team became of a new site called HydraWire. Its .tv domain had been registered a day after the MPA won its preliminary injunction in April and as far as the studios were concerned, this was just PrimeWire by another name.

Evidence presented in court made that assertion difficult to challenge but with the site gaining traffic, it needed to be stopped as soon as possible. The studios decided that HydraWire.tv should be added to the now permanent injunction but perhaps didn’t anticipate what came next.

On July 19 and on behalf of the studios, an attorney at law firm Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP submitted a message via the contact form at HydraWire giving notice of their upcoming motion.

In common with the people behind PrimeWire, who haven’t appeared in court but have communicated anonymously with the plaintiffs, the alleged owner of HydraWire also responded anonymously two days later. The message was that the intentions of HydraWire’s operator had been misunderstood by the plaintiffs.

“The sender of this email claims to have launched HydraWire. They say they did so because they ‘saw an opportunity to have a website with lot[s] of visitors’ and ‘wanted to continue [PrimeWire’s] legacy’,” the studios informed the court this week.

“The emailer then said they had ‘shut down hydrawire for good’ and offered to ‘transfer the domain’ to Plaintiffs.”

HydraWire Throws in the Towel

Swift resolutions haven’t featured prominently in the case thus far so the MPA’s anti-piracy team wasted no time in seizing the opportunity.

“In an effort to put a temporary stop to this latest infringement of their rights, Plaintiffs accepted the transfer of the domain and took control of the domain, which is now offline,” the studios reveal.

Jan Van Voorn, Executive Vice President and Chief of Global Content Protection, reveals the process began quickly and was over in a week.

“On or about July 23, 2022, GCP investigators used the authorization code provided in correspondence from [email address] to initiate a transfer of the hydrawire.tv domain to the MPA’s control. On or about August 1, 2022, GCP investigators confirmed that hydrawire.tv has been transferred to the MPA,” his declaration reads.

MPA Still Wants HydraWire.tv Added to Injunction

While this domain takeover was comparatively easy, the studios are still taking time to keep the court informed of every new detail. They’re also building a pretty solid picture of the plaintiffs doing everything by the book and the defendants falling short in every possible way.

Aside from PrimeWire’s general failure to appear, the studios strongly suspect that by following the PrimeWire ‘playbook’ of apparent capitulation in the face of an injunction, those behind HydraWire betrayed their connections. The MPA’s anti-piracy team appear unable to prove they’ve been talking to the same people but for now at least, that doesn’t matter.

The plaintiffs say that HydraWire was inspired by PrimeWire and was designed to continue its legacy. Text from PrimeWire was duplicated on HydraWire and there was a feature for PrimeWire users to migrate their libraries across. The very appearance of HydraWire showed disrespect for the court injunction and at any minute it could reappear under a new domain to rinse and repeat, they add.

“For these reasons, as well as those stated in Plaintiffs’ motion, Plaintiffs respectfully request that the Court grant their motion to modify the permanent injunction and extend the time for Defendants to take discovery in support of their damages claims,” the motion concludes.

Perhaps the most striking aspect of this and earlier motions is the determination of the MPA to punish any move designed to breathe new life into PrimeWire. It’s certainly possible that other ventures under different branding are already making headway but, given the pressure, the original PrimeWire seems unlikely to have a future in any obviously recognizable form.

The motion and supporting documents can be found here ( 1 , 2 , 3 , pdf)

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

  • To chevron_right

    Netflix Piracy Thrives as Subscribers Rethink Their Streaming Subscriptions

    news.movim.eu / TorrentFreak · 4 days ago - 09:17 · 3 minutes

pirate stream As the first major legal subscription streaming service on the Internet, Netflix paved the way for a streaming revolution.

The company began competing with piracy from the get-go, branding itself as a superior alternative. In the early years, the strategy paid off.

Millions of subscribers switched from casually consuming pirated content on unlicensed platforms in favor of a convenient and reasonably-priced legal alternative. Piracy never went away, but downloading Netflix content illegally seemed silly.

Streaming Wars

In the years that followed the legal streaming landscape became more crowded. Inspired by Netflix’s success, new streaming portals such as Amazon, Disney+, HBO Max, Hulu, Paramount+, and Peacock started competing for a share of the lucrative streaming market.

The media often refers to this competition as the “streaming wars,” but the real threat may not come from legal streaming services but illegal pirate sites.

The suggestion that “subscription fatigue” may motivate people to start pirating again isn’t new. We have highlighted this issue in the past and it has been confirmed by research , but it’s now reaching a point where it’s hard for Hollywood to ignore.

Piracy tracking firm MUSO recognizes the problem too. In addition to doing anti-piracy work for major copyright holders, the UK company also helps major players such as Amazon, Lionsgate, and Sony, to understand the latest piracy trends.

Piracy is Appealing Once Again

In an op-ed , MUSO CEO Andy Chatterley highlights that increased fragmentation in the streaming ecosystem, paired with higher prices, is starting to make piracy more appealing again. And without an option to pay for everything, people are seeking out alternatives.

“[F]aced with an increasingly fractured streaming landscape, the consumer does the math and realizes that having access to all the shows they want to watch is not a justifiable expense when their grocery bill has doubled and they’re cycling or carpooling to work to save money on fuel,” Chatterley says.

“And in the absence of a one-stop shop like Spotify is to music lovers, and now that piracy sites have evolved to become sophisticated, easy-to-use experiences, people who have never resorted to piracy before are finding it more appealing than ever. Everything you could ever want to watch, all in one place, only a few clicks away and all for free. What’s not to like?”

Netflix Piracy Thrives

Chatterley notes that copyright holders should be aware of this potential shift in user behavior, which is backed up by data. Earlier this year Netflix reported that its subscriber numbers had dropped for the first time in history and piracy continues to grow.

According to MUSO’s data, Netflix content was good for an 11.4% U.S. piracy market share in June. Globally, this number is even higher, with Netflix content making up 16% of the worldwide piracy demand.

“Now, imagine if they could convert those pirate consumers into paying customers,” Chatterley comments.

MUSO’s messaging is in part out of self-interest as the company offers piracy insights as a commercial service. This is serious business for Muso. Just last week the company announced that it had secured a $3.9M investment from Puma Private Equity.

A One-Stop Streaming Solution?

That said, the fact that a company working with several Hollywood players is prepared to highlight the dangers of too many subscriptions is quite something. Especially when that company started as a fairly traditional anti-piracy outfit roughly a decade ago.

Instead of pointing a finger at pirates, Chatterley focuses more on the shortcomings of the TV and movie industry. Piracy can be lowered by offering a one-stop solution for a fair price but somehow that seems to be a pipe dream.

“By offering a service that is both comprehensive and good value for money, you render piracy a much less attractive option,” he writes.

“But with content providers investing billions in their platforms and determined to keep their shows exclusive to them, this seems fanciful. And so the drop off in subscribers seems set to continue, with piracy sites continuing to welcome them with open arms,” Chatterley concludes.

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