• chevron_right

      Disclosure of Pirates’ Identities “Compatible With EU Privacy Laws” / TorrentFreak · 07:00 · 6 minutes

    EU Copyright Following the creation of its Hadopi anti-piracy agency over 13 years ago, France monitored and stored data on millions of users suspected of infringing copyrights.

    The majority were BitTorrent users and the plan was to use evidence of their piracy activities as a basis for escalating actions including warnings, fines, and ultimately, internet disconnections.

    Operating the program for a decade cost French taxpayers 82 million euros ($86.5 million) but according to digital rights group La Quadrature du Net, Hadopi’s “mass internet surveillance” destroyed citizens’ fundamental right to privacy.

    In its quest to hold Hadopi to account, La Quadrature du Net highlighted one of the program’s implementing decrees, which authorizes the creation of files containing internet users’ IP addresses plus personal identification data obtained from their internet service providers.

    In the belief that represents a breach of EU data protection laws, the digital rights group, ISPs, and other like-minded supporters, took their fight to the French legal system.

    Referral to the EU’s Highest Court

    In the vast majority of cases, senior judges in EU member states have little need to consult Europe’s highest court. At least in theory, all countries are already in compliance with EU law but every now and again, the gravity of specific cases becomes apparent, resulting in a referral seeking clarification on how EU law should be interpreted.

    In advance of a full ruling, the conundrum posed by the French referral was evident in a non-binding opinion handed down last October by CJEU Advocate General Maciej Szpunar.

    Under EU law, member states may not pass national laws that allow for the general and indiscriminate retention of citizens’ traffic and location data. Retention of such data is permitted on a targeted basis, but only as a “preventative measure” for the purposes of fighting “serious crime.” In respect of the information held by Hadopi, the Advocate General found that when the data points are combined, it’s possible to link French citizens’ identities with the content they access.

    The CJEU’s top legal advisor described the Hadopi situation as “serious interference with fundamental rights” but short of accepting “general impunity for offenses committed exclusively online,” something would have to give. The compromise suggested last year would require “readjustment of the case-law of the Court” to allow rightsholders to enforce their rights when an IP address is the only means by which an infringer can be identified (CJEU, pdf ) .

    Advocate General Delivers Opinion (Case C-470/21)

    The opinion delivered Thursday begins with an overview of Hadopi and the methods it uses to deter online piracy. By monitoring initial and subsequent acts of infringement and maintaining relevant databases, it’s possible to identify repeat infringers eligible for the next deterrent steps. A decree adopted in 2010 allows Hadopi to request subscriber information from ISPs in response to the provision of IP addresses, mostly obtained from BitTorrent swarms.

    The legal proceedings brought by La Quadrature du Net and the Federation of Associative Internet Service Providers, French Data Network, and, seek to establish whether the collection of civil identity data corresponding to IP addresses, and subsequent automated processing of data to protect of intellectual property, are compatible with EU law absent a review by a court or independent administrative body.

    The short answer from the AG’s opinion is that Article 15(1) of Directive 2002/58 ( pdf ) must be interpreted as not precluding national legislation which allows ISPs and other electronic communications services to retain, and an administrative authority such as Hadopi to access, civil identity data corresponding to IP addresses for the purposes of identifying suspected infringers.

    No court or review body needs to be involved, but use of such data is only permitted when it is the only means of investigation that can enable a suspected infringer to be identified.

    Discussion and Reasoning

    In the opinion of AG Szpunar, there is a need to reconcile the rights at issue; the protection of private life and personal data on one hand, and the right to property enshrined in Article 17 of the Charter , which the graduated response mechanism seeks to uphold by protecting copyright and related rights.

    The opinion notes that “the great majority” of the IP addresses communicated by Hadopi are dynamic IP addresses, which only correspond to a specific identity at a single moment, which preclude any exhaustive tracking.

    “I must emphasise that the protection of fundamental rights on the internet does not in my view justify access to the data relating solely to the IP address, the content of a work and the identity of the person who made it available in breach of copyright not being permitted, but means only that the retention of and access to those data must be accompanied by guarantees,” his opinion continues.

    “To my mind, an analogy with the real world is telling: a person suspected of having committed theft cannot rely on his or her right to protection of his or her private life to prevent those responsible for prosecuting that offense from ascertaining what the content stolen is. On the other hand, that person may rightly rely on his or her fundamental rights to ensure that, during the proceedings, access will not be provided to more extensive data than just the data necessary for the classification of the alleged offense.”

    No Mass Surveillance But a Proportionate Response

    The digital rights groups’ legal action characterizes the Hadopi program as a general surveillance and data retention scheme, operating contrary to fundamental rights. AG Szpunar finds otherwise, noting that there doesn’t even appear to be general surveillance of the users present in peer-to-peer networks.

    “That procedure does not involve monitoring their entire activity on a given network in order to determine whether they have made a work available in breach of copyright, but rather determining, on the basis of a file identified as counterfeit, the holder of the internet access through which the user made the content available,” his opinion reads.

    “[I]t is not a question of monitoring the activity of all users of peer-to-peer networks, but only that of persons uploading infringing files, as the uploading of those files reveals much less information about the person’s private life because files may be uploaded for the sole purpose of enabling those users then to download other files.”

    Inevitable Outcome in Favor of Rightsholders

    The overall conclusion reached by the Attorney General considers the purpose for which the data is harvested and the challenges of identifying suspected online infringers by other means. The inability to establish a detailed profile of a person’s private life via a dynamic IP address is cited on one hand, while the critical value of an IP address in an investigation sits somewhat uncomfortably on the other.

    “[I]t follows from the actual case-law of the Court that, where an offense is committed exclusively online, such as an infringement of copyright on a peer-to-peer network, the IP address may be the only means of investigation enabling the person to whom that address was assigned at the time of the commission of the infringement to be identified,” the AG continues.

    In closing, the retention and access to civil identifying data, corresponding to an IP address for the purposes of prosecuting online infringements, is described as “strictly necessary” and “wholly proportionate” to the objective pursued

    “Such an interpretation is in my view inevitable,” the AG notes, “unless it is accepted that a whole range of criminal offenses may evade prosecution entirely.”

    The CJEU’s summary and AG Szpunar’s full opinion are available here ( pdf ) and here .

    CJEU note: The Advocate General’s Opinion is not binding on the Court of Justice. It is the role of the Advocates General to propose to the Court, in complete independence, a legal solution to the cases for which they are responsible. The Judges of the Court are now beginning their deliberations in this case. Judgment will be given at a later date

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

    • chevron_right

      Authors: OpenAI’s Fair Use Argument in Copyright Dispute is Misplaced / TorrentFreak · Yesterday - 19:15 · 4 minutes

    openai Generative AI models such as ChatGPT have captured the imaginations of millions of people, offering a glimpse of what an AI-assisted future might look like.

    The new technology also brings up novel copyright issues. For example, several rightsholders are worried that their work is being used to train and exploit AI without any form of compensation.

    These concerns have triggered numerous AI-related lawsuits in the United States, many of which target OpenAI. Just a few days ago , the Author’s Guild and several prominent members including George RR Martin and John Grisham joined in on the legal action.

    The allegations in their complaint are similar to others aired over the past few months. The first case was filed in a Californian federal court by authors Paul Tremblay and Mona Awad, who were later joined by writer/comedian Sarah Silverman and other authors in a similar suit.

    According to the plaintiffs, large language model training sets shouldn’t be permitted to use every piece of text they come across online. They accuse OpenAI of using books as training data, without permission, relying on datasets that were sourced from pirate sites.

    The complaints mention the controversial Books2 and Books3 datasets that are believed to be sourced from shadow libraries such as LibGen, Z-Library, Sci-Hub, and Bibliotik.

    OpenAI’s Motion to Dismiss

    In August, OpenAI responded to these complaints, asking a California federal court to dismiss nearly all claims. According to the tech company, there are no viable claims for vicarious copyright infringement, DMCA violation, unfair competition, and unjust enrichment.

    The only claim that wasn’t contested by OpenAI is direct copyright infringement, which the company plans to address at a later stage.

    Among its arguments to dismiss the claims, the AI company cited fair use. It argued that the use of large amounts of copyrighted texts could be seen as ‘fair’ because it helps to facilitate progress and innovation.

    “Numerous courts have applied the fair use doctrine to strike that balance, recognizing that the use of copyrighted materials by innovators in transformative ways does not violate copyright,” OpenAI wrote.

    Authors Respond

    The authors responded to those arguments this week. While the ‘Tremblay’ and ‘Silverman’ cases are not yet officially merged, both submitted the exact same opposition briefs, asking the court to deny OpenAI’s motion to dismiss the claims.

    According to the authors, it is “telling” that OpenAI makes no attempt to dismiss the direct copyright infringement claim. This issue is best suited to be discussed at trial and the same applies to the other claims.

    “Nevertheless, OpenAI still tries to leverage its motion to pre-litigate issues it thinks will carry the day in the future. This is improper on a motion to dismiss and should be disregarded,” they write.

    The Fair Use Urban Legend

    The authors note that OpenAI’s detailed interpretation of fair use in an AI context is irrelevant, at least at this stage. Fair use is a defense that is typically not used to dismiss copyright infringement claims before they’re properly argued.

    “Fair use, of course, is an important—yet limited—feature of U.S. copyright law. Importantly, however, fair use is an affirmative defense, and is “inappropriate to resolve on a motion to dismiss.” Given that, OpenAI’s arguments regarding fair use are wholly misplaced.

    To bolster their argument, the authors refer to a recent ruling in a Thomson Reuters lawsuit, which also deals with AI-related copyright claims. In that case, the court rejected the fair use argument and referred the matter to trial.

    In addition, the plaintiffs note that using copyrighted works for AI purposes isn’t always considered fair use; that’s an urban legend.

    “Contrary to widespread urban legend in the AI industry, no U.S. court has squarely ruled on the question of whether training an AI model with copyrighted expression is fair use,” plaintiffs write.

    Piracy as a Source

    The authors also double down on their piracy allegations and mention three types of copyright infringement. In addition to using copyrighted works for training data, the LLM models themselves are also infringing derivative works, and the same applies to the output of the models.

    These accusations and claims largely rely on the suspicion that OpenAI used hundreds of thousands of copyrighted books as training material. While the company never mentioned its source, the authors believe that the models are trained on pirated books from shadow libraries such as LibGen, Z-Library, Sci-Hub, and Bibliotik.

    “The book datasets used by OpenAI for training language models included thousands of copyrighted books, including books written by Plaintiffs,” they write.

    “Given the size of these book datasets, the most likely source of these books is one or more of the notorious ‘shadow library’ websites that host massive numbers of pirated texts that are not in the public domain.”

    The direct and vicarious copyright infringement claims rest on this suspicion, and the same is true for the DMCA violations. The authors hope that they will be able to prove this at trial and ask the court not to dismiss any claims prematurely.

    Copies of the authors’ identical opposition briefs in response to OpenAI’s motion to dismiss are available here ( Tremblay et. al / Silverman et al )

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

    • chevron_right

      Two Pirate IPTV Sellers Sentenced Following Sky Investigation / TorrentFreak · Yesterday - 09:27 · 4 minutes

    IPTV Despite widespread publicity and overt campaigns warning of the criminal consequences, there’s still no shortage of people prepared to openly sell piracy-configured set-top boxes and pirate IPTV subscriptions.

    In broad terms, awareness has improved over the last couple of years but, for those who got involved many years ago, historic perceptions may have been somewhat different. In the case of two men from Northern Ireland, an investigation by Sky and the police shouldn’t have come as a surprise but the fact that it took five years to reach its ultimate conclusion probably wasn’t anticipated.

    Pirate Set-Top Boxes, Pirate IPTV Services

    free-tv-ni This week the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) revealed that detectives and broadcaster Sky carried out an investigation into the sale of devices “used for provision of pirated TV channels” and the “supply of streaming services (IPTV).”

    Between September 2018 and January 2019, the operation focused on a Belfast business run by two local men, 43-year-old Padraig McVicker and 27-year-old Gary Doherty. While PSNI provide no further details on the nature of the business, Companies House data reveals that McVicker was the sole director of a company involved in various aspects of the satellite TV trade.

    A second company, Free TV NI Limited, in which McVicker and Doherty both held directorships, was initially registered as a seller of second hand goods. While that may have been the case, adverts on platforms including Yell show that the company was also involved in satellite TV sales, installation, and repair.

    According to the ads, the company also sold various IPTV devices . In terms of legality, that’s not an issue provided they’re not configured for piracy but when they are, prosecutors have several opportunities available to them.

    Prosecutions and Guilty Pleas

    PSNI notes that after being arrested and charged, McVicker and Doherty both entered guilty pleas to a number of offenses under various legislation.

    Under Section 297A(a) of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, both men admitted “Selling, Distributing Or Letting For Hire Or Exposing For Sale Or Hire An Unauthorized Decoder.”

    The legislation states that “a person who makes, imports, sells or lets for hire any unauthorized decoder shall be guilty of an offense.” Those who can prove they didn’t know that a decoder was unauthorized do not commit a crime, but that doesn’t appear to have been the case here.

    McVicker also pled guilty to an offense contrary to Section 126(1) of the Communications Act 2003, which relates to the possession of “apparatus” for dishonestly obtaining electronic services.

    Under that legislation , a person is guilty of an offense “if he has in his possession or under his control” anything that may be used for obtaining an electronic communications service or connection with obtaining such a service. Again, intent plays a key role here.

    McVicker further admitted possessing criminal property, contrary to Section 329 (1)(c) of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

    Sentencing at Belfast Crown Court

    At Belfast Crown Court on Tuesday, McVicker was sentenced to eight months in prison, with a further eight months on license for offenses under Section 297A(a) of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act.

    For possession of apparatus for dishonestly obtaining services contrary to Section 126(1) of the Communications Act, he received a prison sentence of six months, although that will be served concurrently.

    Gary Doherty’s offenses contrary to Section 297A(a) of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act earned him 175 hours of community service.

    PSNI and Sky Welcome Convictions

    Commenting on the sentences, Detective Chief Inspector Tom Phillips, Police Service Lead on Intellectual Property Crime, highlighted the key differences between standard IPTV devices and those that have been modified.

    “IPTV devices are legal when used to view free or legitimate paid-for subscription services and channels, but once adapted or reconfigured to stream content without the appropriate licenses and consent of creators, they become illegal,” he said.

    “People think these are victimless crimes but often behind these services are international organized crime gangs, who engage in the most serious of offenses,” he added.

    PSNI made no claims that the Belfast men were part of an international organized crime gang but took the opportunity to extend a warning to users of IPTV services.

    “Users and subscribers of illegal services should also be aware that they too are committing an offense for which they can be prosecuted,” he said.

    Broadcaster Sky said it welcomed the sentences and joined PSNI in issuing a warning to users.

    “We were pleased to support the Police Service of Northern Ireland in taking this action, both to prevent access to stolen Sky content and also to protect consumers from the real risks of accessing content in this way,” said Matt Hibbert, Sky’s Director of Anti-Piracy, UK and Ireland.

    Sky did not clarify what risks, if any, users of the convicted men’s devices were exposed to.

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

    • chevron_right

      Under Hollywood Pressure, Vietnam Cracks Down On….Live Sports Piracy / TorrentFreak · 2 days ago - 18:54 · 4 minutes

    pirate tv When Hollywood sets its sights on something it wants to achieve in the piracy landscape, victory may not come this week or even next year. The MPA has been around for 100 years; it definitely has patience to see out a few more.

    In Vietnam, despite changes in the law and visits by high-ranking MPA and ACE representatives, patience will be required to reduce piracy. The world’s largest pirate sites seem to operate freely there and even when giants like and 9anime came under direct pressure from ACE recently, immediate respawning under new domains was hardly conducive to confidence building.

    MPA/ACE have enjoyed success, the closure of 2embed is just one example. But with Vietnam-based movie streaming giant Fmovies also announcing a domain switch/minor rebranding to Fmoviesz recently, more progress is needed and in an announcement this week, the authorities reported just that.

    1,000 Piracy Websites Blocked

    During an anti-piracy seminar held in Hanoi on Tuesday, data compiled by the Authority of Broadcasting and Electronic Information, a department under the Ministry of Information and Communications revealed that, during the past 12 months, 1,000 copyright-infringing sites were blocked in Vietnam.

    The blocking reportedly took place between August 2022 and August 2023, but there’s not much for the MPA to celebrate, at least not in the short term.

    It appears that most of the targets were sites offering pirate football streams, not the platforms offering movies, TV shows, manga, and anime that the MPA would like to shut down. Reading between the lines, these blocking efforts are considered a step in the right direction but were probably ineffective overall.

    Blocking is 98% Successful Until it Immediately Isn’t

    A representative of the state-run Vietnam Digital Copyright Center said that blocking of the 1,000 sites (a closer view reveals that’s actually the number of domains) was carried out in coordination with Vietnamese internet service providers. A similar approach last year allegedly reduced visits to pirate streaming sites by 98%, but general commentary on the scheme tends to undermine that.

    Current blocking efforts are described as inconsistent, with some ISPs quickly blocking sites but others taking a much more leisurely approach. Given that sites reportedly switch to new domains in a claimed five to 10 minutes, blocking faces immediate challenges. A football streaming site known as ‘Xoi Lac TV’ is claimed to be the most notorious repeat offender and by ignoring bans and switching domains, it has remained online for around five years.

    Pirate Sites Funded By Illegal Advertising

    Media reports from 2018 indicate that Xoi Lac TV and many other sites were blocked on copyright grounds. And when 500 sites were reportedly blocked in 2021/22, copyright was again the headline reason.

    Indeed, Vietnam already has a site-blocking mechanism in place; a verified complaint from a rightsholder can lead to the Authority of Broadcasting and Electronic Information (AEBI) instructing an online platform to remove content. If that doesn’t happen within the allocated timeframe, ISPs can be instructed to block the sites. Why that doesn’t happen to more sites more often isn’t clear, but there are other ways pirate sites can find themselves in more immediate trouble.

    When football streaming sites are blocked in Vietnam, discussion of illegal betting advertising on the platforms usually appears as part of the discussion. Xoi Lac TV has appeared on lists of domains blocked due to illegal gambling promotions and the government seems very willing to bring those involved to justice .

    Late 2022 an expert with Vietnam’s National Cyber Security Center said that the operators of local streaming sites obtain foreign streams, embed their own logos, and then use the content to promote gambling and fraud.

    “The general method of these websites is to steal TV copyrights, ‘push’ the search engine optimization (SEO) to the top on Google to attract traffic, and then receive ads for gambling and fraud channels,” the expert said .

    Xoi Lac TV streams reportedly promote the gambling game portal Zovip and sports betting sites including 1bet88 and fun88.

    Vietnam Faces “Overseas Challenges”

    This type of gambling-focused business model is largely absent from the large sites the MPA would like Vietnam to shut down. Whether that helps them to survive is up for debate but based on comments before and during the event on Tuesday, Vietnam isn’t averse to highlighting enforcement difficulties it faces in ‘other’ countries.

    Xoi Lac TV is reportedly among around 70 football piracy sites that together generated around 1.5 billion views in 2022/23. However, figures cited by authorities in Vietnam claim that 200 local pirate movie sites only attract 120 million visits per month overall. Fmovies – now known as Fmoviesz – receives around 119.5 million visits each month in its own right.

    Traffic estimates aside, Pham Hoang Hai, Director of the Digital Content Copyright Center, notes that all of these sites have something in common; they use foreign domain names and services to hide their identities. It was previously highlighted that when Xoi Lac TV operated from, it was difficult to trace its operator due to the domain’s registration in the United States. That wasn’t made any easier by the site allegedly using a U.S. IP address and U.S. hosting.

    Blocking or shutting down websites isn’t something to be taken lightly and it appears Vietnam will take its time before deciding how to proceed against the largest pirate platforms. Meanwhile, it’s being reported that the government has been drafting new rules that will compel ISPs to kick citizens off the internet if they share “law-breaking information.”

    “The move threatens to throttle web access further in a country where an estimated 1,000 websites, from those of the BBC to Freedom House, are already blocked,” Nikkei reports .

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

    • chevron_right

      Man Faces Prison Sentence for Reselling Hacked Streaming Service Accounts / TorrentFreak · 2 days ago - 11:20 · 3 minutes

    There is little doubt that video and music streaming services have taken the Internet by storm over the past decade.

    An entire “on-demand” generation is growing up, with the streaming business model now generating billions of dollars in revenue.

    Competing With Piracy

    This growth was spurred on by piracy. When Netflix first launched its streaming services, the company openly positioned itself as a piracy competitor. And indeed, in the early years, many casual pirates were drawn to streaming platforms.

    In recent years, this early selling point has been pushed into the background. With the launch of many more streaming services targeting the same audience, attractively broad content selections have given way to exclusive releases in a bid to lure customers.

    The video streaming wars have reached a point where many people can no longer afford to pay for everything they want to see. Ironically, this drives them back to illegal options such as pirate sites and platforms where hacked accounts are listed for sale.

    Streaming Service Reseller Faces Prison

    These ‘hacked’ accounts, which belong to third-party customers, are sold through a wide variety of sites. Many people fall for these cheap offers without asking questions. The resellers, however, are not so innocent.

    This week, the Danish National Unit for Special Crime (NSK) announced that a 29-year-old man from Odense has been charged with illegally reselling 500,000 leaked login credentials and now faces a potential prison sentence.

    A subsection of these accounts are logins for streaming services including HBO Max, Paramount+ and Viaplay. Thee accounts were sold through a dedicated website at a fraction of the official price.

    According to Brian Kaas Borgstrøm, Deputy prosecutor at NSK, the accounts on sale were likely obtained through data leaks.

    “It is our opinion that the defendant has used a data leak to obtain the login information of random paying customers at a number of popular streaming services and then sold the information both collectively and individually. This has given buyers the opportunity to abuse the accounts of real customers.”

    This doesn’t mean that the mentioned streaming services were compromised. People often use the same credentials across various sites, so hackers can use third-party leaks to hijack streaming accounts.

    Not an Incident

    The Danish Rights Alliance is pleased with the police action and notes that this isn’t the first time that someone has been caught reselling login credentials.

    In July, a 31-year-old man from North Jutland was arrested for a similar offense. He is believed to be part of a bigger group that, in addition to hacked logins, also sold pirate IPTV subscriptions.

    “Cases like this help to make visible that criminals are constantly developing new models to illegally make content available for their own profit – regardless of the fact that their crime goes beyond unsuspecting people,” says Rights Alliance Director Maria Fredenslund.

    Major Streaming Services Unite

    These types of criminals are able to run their profitable businesses because consumers are eager to save on streaming subscription costs. These types of enforcement actions may deter some criminals, but it doesn’t solve the underlying problem.

    Interestingly, several of the largest streaming services including Netflix, HBO, and Disney launched a new coalition yesterday that has “affordability” high on the agenda.

    The “Streaming Innovation Alliance” ( SIA ) conducted a detailed survey which suggests that more than half of all consumers believe that streaming services are too expensive, while 75% indicate that costs are highly important.


    This sentiment explains why some consumers resort to illegal options such as piracy and cheap hacked accounts.

    Unfortunately, however, the Alliance informs TorrentFreak that it’s not their goal to make services cheaper. Instead, it’s an effort to push back against taxes and costly regulations that could make the services even more expensive.

    Affordability as a piracy driver is not on the agenda yet. That’s a shame perhaps, as the Alliance could be a great way to find creative bundling solutions to make progress on the cost front in other ways.

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

    • chevron_right

      Russia’s Manga Pirates Face Publisher’s Lawsuit & Increasing State Censorship / TorrentFreak · 3 days ago - 19:58 · 4 minutes

    remanga Signed by some of Russia’s most powerful tech and entertainment companies in 2018, a Memorandum of Cooperation saw the creation of a centralized database of pirated content.

    Internet companies agreed to query the database every few minutes and then remove corresponding content from their indexes. Those who benefited from the system declared it a success but not all types of content enjoyed protection. Book publishers and music companies were excluded from the memorandum and despite repeated calls for equivalent protection, they were left outside in the cold.

    Early this month, Vadim Subbotin, Deputy Head of telecoms regulator Roskomnadzor, announced that book publishers and music companies will be able to participate moving forward. Subbotin claims it currently takes between 15 and 20 minutes to remove a pirate link from search results and, thus far, over 100 million have been deleted following rightsholders’ complaints.

    Steep Rise in Manga Consumption

    Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, discussion of copyright protection in Russia has trended towards the chaotic. With Hollywood and other major rightsholders still not releasing entertainment products in the region, enforcement measures appear to have taken a back seat. There are some outliers, however.

    With Russians reportedly losing interest in comics produced by U.S. companies such as Marvel, appetite for Asian comics produced by companies in Japan, South Korea and China is reportedly on a steep upward trend. According to, consumption is up 20% in annual terms so for South Korean manga producers, that’s an opportunity to develop business in Russia, minus competition from pirates.

    Manga Companies Target Pirate Manga Sites

    Manga platform My Comics was launched in November 2022 by South Korean company MStoryLink. A Kommersant report published Monday reveals that with support from the state-controlled South Korean Creative Content Agency (KOCCA), My Comics is preparing to sue ReManga, a large manga piracy site focused on the Russian market.

    KOCCA’s Russia representative, Kim Si-Woo, says that My Comics sent letters to several platforms last year which demanded the removal of unlicensed comics, but the outreach was only partially effective.

    “Most have removed them, but ReManga is still ignoring the letter, undermining the activities of Moi Comics in Russia,” Kim Si-Woo says.

    On one hand, KOCCA admits that “piracy is a natural step in the formation of a market.” On the other, it says that without intellectual property protection and enforcement, development of the South Korean creative industries won’t be possible in Russia. Unfortunately, if those creative industries get a little too creative, development might be curtailed by Russia itself.

    Manga Sites Face Two Attack Vectors

    ReManga is one of the most popular pirate manga sites focused on Russia. It currently enjoys around 17.8 million visits per month according to SimilarWeb data, with 71% of its traffic coming from inside Russia.

    The platform has appeared on Russia’s ‘register of prohibited information’ three times previously, with the most recent entry dating back to 2021 attributed to telecoms watchdog Roscomnadzor. While that was probably due to an infringement of intellectual property rights, two other entries in the same year are attributed to Rospotrebnadzor, the Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing.

    The exact reasons for these entries are unclear, but there’s no doubt that recent legal amendments present obvious risks for both pirate sites and their legal counterparts, My Comics included.

    Manga Content Meets Legal Restrictions

    In December 2022, Vladimir Putin signed a new law which among other things bans “LGBT propaganda.” Manga site was one of the early casualties and its permanent blocking is detailed on RuBlacklist , a portal maintained by digital rights group Roskomsvoboda .

    The site was blocked by Rosmolodezh, Russia’s Federal Agency for Youth Affairs, for spreading “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations.” It wouldn’t be the last manga site to suffer that fate. In March, was permanently blocked and two months later, was added to the list. On September 21, appeared six times on the ‘prohibited information’ list and is now blocked.

    Other manga sites blocked in Russia this month include MangaHub (3.6m visits per month) and MintManga (11m), but falling foul of Russian legislation isn’t a pirate site exclusive.

    Russian anime encyclopedia ‘Shikimori’ was blocked on September 21 . Platforms like these enable anime fans to learn more about the genre which in turn informs upcoming purchases. If these kinds of resources can be disappeared overnight, market growth may face sudden challenges in Russia. After receiving a fine for listing films containing ‘LGBT people’ without displaying adult age restrictions, even Yandex can face punishment.

    My Comics and KOCCA seem prepared to overlook this threat, even though it’s directly related to discrimination against minorities. Russia’s actions in Ukraine and elsewhere also seem to be of limited concern , so for now at least, selling comics takes priority.

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

    • chevron_right

      Filmmakers Distribute Fake Movie Leak to Tease Pirates / TorrentFreak · 3 days ago - 12:34 · 2 minutes

    fukrey A few hours ago, social media activity in India lit up when a ‘leak’ of the highly anticipated film “Fukrey 3” started to circulate.

    This third installment in the “Fukrey” comedy franchise is scheduled to premiere in theaters later this week, but pirates appeared to get it early once again.

    Local news media outlets were quick to jump on the topic and over the past several hours, numerous headlines eagerly informed readers that the film had leaked. According to some reports, this advance release has the potential to hurt box office revenues.

    These types of clickbait headlines are a great way to grab attention and drive traffic. However, “Fukrey 3” didn’t leak on pirate sites. Instead, the filmmakers distributed fake leaks as part of an anti-piracy campaign, suggesting that people should watch the film on the big screen instead.

    “Redacted Copy”

    With a running time of two and a half hours, the leak seemed promising. The timestamp and a “redacted copy” tag are a nice touch as well, but the intro shatters all pirates’ dreams.

    Instead of a leak, the actors encourage the audience not to pirate the film. After that, there’s a continuous loop of “Fukrey 3” trailers with the actors’ anti-piracy messages added throughout.

    The Fukrey 3 “Leak”

    There are reports that the orchestrated leak appeared on popular torrent sites but we haven’t been able to confirm that on our end. It was circulated through Telegram though, as shown below.

    Telegram Leak Channel

    fukrey3 leak

    Subtle Dig

    In a statement shared with local media , the filmmakers explain that their goal is to send an anti-piracy message in a ‘subtle’ way. They believe that it will ultimately help to deter piracy.

    “The makers manage to take a subtle dig at those who encourage and indulge in piracy. Fukrey 3, a delightful comedy entertainer, is meant to be experienced on the grandeur of the big screens.” the Fukrey 3 team notes.

    “By orchestrating this unexpected release, the makers have ingeniously crafted a move that is bound to bring joy to everyone. Not only does it capture attention, but it also serves as a powerful promotion to combat piracy and protect the hard work and creativity of the film industry.”

    This anti-piracy message is certainly more entertaining than traditional PSAs, but whether it will help to deter piracy has yet to be seen. Research previously indicated that acknowledging the popularity of piracy is typically counterproductive.

    There is no doubt, however, that “Fukrey 3” will leak onto pirate sites at some point. Let’s hope, for the makers of the Hindi movie, that this doesn’t happen before the official premiere.

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

    • chevron_right

      Romi’s Revenge: Notorious Manga Pirate Launches Explosive Book, Demands Retrial / TorrentFreak · 4 days ago - 18:24 · 5 minutes

    Romi Hoshino While some pirate sites will obviously slip through the cracks, the overwhelming majority of piracy platforms that exist today are already known to the rightsholders they affect.

    Actions taken against specific pirate platforms are shaped by policy, resources, and other practicalities, meaning that less significant sites may face no immediate threat. Others aren’t so lucky.

    In Mangamura’s case, a site founded in 2016 targeting the Japanese market became extraordinarily successful in a very short space of time. That it did so by exploiting culturally-valuable manga content, in the backyard of the world’s largest manga publishers, pushed Mangamura to the top of the enforcement list.

    Mangamura mysteriously shut itself down in April 2018 but after just two years online, the site had reportedly caused $2.91 billion in losses to publishers. A criminal investigation into Mangamura’s activities eventually led to the arrest of the site’s operator, Romi Hoshino, in Manilla.

    Hoshino was later deported to Japan and arrested by the authorities. A guilty verdict in a subsequent criminal trial saw Hoshino sentenced to three years behind bars .

    Publishers and Hoshino Have Unfinished Business

    Released from prison last year, the 31-year-old is now facing a civil lawsuit for damages filed by several Japan-based manga publishers. They were at court in the U.S. recently seeking Mangamura traffic data held by Google and Cloudflare. While that information could be useful for progressing their civil lawsuit, it appears that over the next 48 hours, things will become rather more complicated.

    On September 26, Hoshino will launch his new book, The Truth About Mangamura . The author says it will reveal how a “shut-in NEET” (Not in Education, Employment, or Training) somehow created a hugely successful website only to become an internationally wanted man.

    One of the book’s promotional images shows Hoshino’s progression through life from childhood to arrest, including the now-infamous mugshot that appeared in media all around the world.

    The book’s promotional material suggests that Hoshino’s technological successes may be presented alongside allegations of “digital defeat” in Japan, such as poor growth in IT and the failure of law to keep up with reality. It also promises to expose “behind-the-scenes judicial deals, fake trials, show punishments, and copyright issues.”

    This is a “controversial book that indicts Japan’s judicial problems!” the description on Amazon reads.

    Hoshino Will File an Application for Retrial

    Whether Japan’s judicial system has any appetite or ability to revisit Mangamura-related problems is unclear, but this week Hoshino will attempt to find out. On Wednesday he is expected to file an application for a full retrial at the Fukuoka District Court, a rare moment for a case that ran its course without any appeal, by a defendant who has completed his sentence.

    According to a report in Asahi , Hoshino was prohibited from using a computer in detention so was unable to collect any evidence to prove his innocence. While denying a prisoner access to the internet is hardly uncommon, Hoshino’s allegations make for interesting reading.

    In very broad terms, the criminal case found that Hoshino was liable for uploaded copies of popular manga titles ‘Kingdom’ and ‘One Piece’ that were made available to the public via Mangamura. Hoshino doesn’t deny the manga titles were made available; he’s contesting the mechanism by which that took place.

    Hoshino Claims He’s Innocent

    From the limited details available, Hoshino appears to be arguing that the manga titles were uploaded to another site, not on Mangamura. He claims that a reverse proxy enabled the content on third-party sites to appear as if it was displayed on Mangamura, without any of the images actually being stored locally.

    On the one hand, these claims could be dismissed as semantics intended to distract from a clear intent to profit from piracy. On the other, Hoshino may have some type of case, at least in theory.

    In English-speaking countries, sites that utilize content hosted elsewhere through the provision of links to external platforms are often described as ‘indexing’ sites. They act as an index to content found elsewhere but host none of their own. In Japan, the terms ‘leech’ or ‘reach’ are used to describe the same type of site and at least functionally, they provide illegal access to copyrighted material just like any other.

    However, operators of leech or reach sites were only rendered criminally liable by legal amendments that came into force on October 1, 2020. On that day, indexing site operators or those publishing apps with the same function faced the same punishments as their directly-infringing counterparts for the first time. Mangamura had been offline for two-and-a-half years at this point.

    Reverse Proxy Defense Detailed in Original Judgment

    The judgment handed down by the Fukuoka District Court in 2021 covers submissions by the prosecution and defense relating to the two manga works Hoshino alleges were made available via reverse proxy.

    The judgment substitutes the names of defendants and or witnesses, plaintiffs, site names and third-party platforms with letters. The ‘defendant’ is Hoshino and A, B and C refer to individuals who uploaded content to servers that was later consumed by users of ‘G’, aka Mangamura. ‘P’ appears to be a reference to Cloudflare.

    The judgment notes that Hoshino set Mangamura’s server “not to cache data, and on that basis, the manga and other image data posted on G by way of reverse proxy would exist on the recording device of the third-party server and not be stored on the recording device of G’s server.”

    The judgment further notes that, “for a certain period of time, the defendant used a CDN server provided by P located in the U.S. as a reverse proxy between G’s server and the viewers, so that when ordinary users viewed G’s manga, they accessed the CDN server, not G’s server.”

    The judgment also reveals statements by one or more of the uploaders (A,B,C) who recalled certain facts about the two works in question sufficient for the court to conclude the works were uploaded by them.

    The judgment further notes “that the reverse proxy setting by the defendant constitutes an infringement of the right of public transmission under Article 23 (1) of the Copyright Act, as it makes a work available for transmission.”

    Hoshino recently answered questions during a press conference, the video is embedded below. The original judgment handed down by the Fukuoka District Court can be found here ( pdf )

    Amazon’s listing for Hoshino’s new book, out tomorrow, can be found here .

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

    • chevron_right

      X Clearly Profits from Widespread Music Piracy, Labels Argue / TorrentFreak · 4 days ago - 10:33 · 3 minutes

    x twitter Earlier this year, Universal Music, Sony Music, EMI and others filed a complaint at a Nashville federal court, accusing Elon Musk’s X Corp of “breeding” mass copyright infringement.

    The company behind X allegedly fails to properly respond to takedown notices and lacks a proper termination policy for repeat infringers.

    As a result, X is reportedly rife with music piracy. This activity generates many millions of views which are monetized by the social media platform, while rightsholders receive no compensation for the use of their works.

    Motion to Dismiss

    X doesn’t agree with these characterizations at all. A few weeks ago, the social media platform filed a motion to dismiss , refuting all piracy allegations.

    The complaint argues that X is liable for direct infringement, and is contributorily and vicariously liable for the copyright-infringing activities of its users. However, X’s attorneys contested all three claims.

    With more than a quarter billion dollars in potential piracy damages on the line, the music companies are not backing down. They responded to X’s motion to dismiss by pointing out that all counterarguments fail. As such, the case should continue as is.

    “The motion to dismiss filed by Defendant X Corp. should fail in its entirety,” the music companies write, before going into further detail.

    Different Interpretations

    Both parties highlight existing jurisprudence from different angles. X, for example, insists that a direct copyright infringement claim requires non-automated and intentional acts by a defendant, while its alleged wrongdoing mostly relates to passive and automated algorithms.

    The music companies see things differently. Citing the Aereo case, among others, they note that automation doesn’t shield online platforms from infringing public performance rights.

    “Aereo and the cases cited below foreclose X’s argument that the automated aspects of its system or the end user’s role in selecting which content to upload or access insulate it from direct liability here.

    “[A]utomation is not a talisman that precludes direct liability, as X asserts,” the music companies add, concluding that X violated their public performance rights.

    Even if volitional conduct is required to support a direct copyright infringement claim, the music companies believe that their complaint is sufficient. For example, X intentionally created a feature that supports music streaming and encouraged users to upload content directly to the platform.

    In addition, X’s alleged failure to properly take down infringing content and the subsequent uploads of repeat infringers can also be seen as direct infringements of public performance rights.

    Contributory and Vicarious Infringement

    The parties also differ in their interpretations of contributory and vicarious copyright infringement. Musk’s lawyers argue that the plaintiffs failed to show that X took active and intentional steps to encourage infringement, something the music companies contest.

    In their opposition brief, the publishers point out that intent isn’t a requirement under U.S. copyright law; material contribution to copyright infringement should be sufficient to state a claim.

    Responding to the vicarious copyright infringement allegations, X disputes the notion that it financially profits from copyright infringing activities on is platform and that it has the ability to do anything about it.

    Again, the music companies see things differently and argue that their claims are sufficient to survive a motion to dismiss.

    ‘Profiting from Piracy’

    For vicarious liability to exist, a rightsholder must show that financial benefits are triggered by the infringing activity. That is the case here, the music companies argue, due to the presence of advertising.

    The complaint showed how advertisements were shown next to copyright infringing content. This suggests that more infringements should directly lead to more advertising revenue.

    “The causal relationship between the infringement of Plaintiffs’ works and X’s profits could not be more direct. When X runs ads in connection with infringing video content, money flows into its pockets,” the music companies write.

    Music Companies Oppose

    In addition, these infringements could draw more users to the platform or create more engagement. Both have the potential to increase advertising revenues.

    “The ability to view and post infringing content draws users to X’s platform, the increased engagement brings X more advertising revenue, and X’s service would be less attractive if it properly policed infringement on its platform.”

    All in all, it’s clear that both parties have an entirely different view on the copyright infringement claims. It is now up to the District Court in Nashville, Tennessee, to decide whether the case can move forward.

    A copy of the music companies’ opposition to X’s motion to dismiss is available here (pdf)

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