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      Google: Piracy Shield Has Legal Limits, Anti-Piracy Chief: Think Ethics, Do More

      news.movim.eu / TorrentFreak · Monday, 12 February - 18:26 · 4 minutes

    Logo piracy shield While anti-piracy enforcement actions are likely to be at the highest level ever seen, there’s no shortage of sites and services surging to millions of monthly visits before appearing to attract negative attention.

    Piracy services slipping through the net may not have actually done so completely unnoticed, however. Finite anti-piracy resources or strategy may play a role in services staying online, and not every platform warrants immediate attention.

    That being said, when piracy-focused apps appear on Google Play and somehow manage to grow huge audiences for month, that can be puzzling. Google will take down obviously infringing apps in response to a DMCA takedown notice and since major rightsholders can file those in an instant, it’s difficult to know why popular apps don’t get taken down.

    Pirate Streaming Apps on Google Play

    As part of its coverage of the new Piracy Shield IPTV blocking system recently deployed in Italy, local tech news outlet DDAY.it recently highlighted pirate streaming apps on Google Play, some with hundreds of thousands of downloads. Those mentioned in the article focus on live football streams, the same priority content Piracy Shield is supposed to wipe out.

    While that lofty goal was never likely to be achieved in two weeks, DDAY asked Google why the apps hadn’t been delisted and, from Google’s response, the question seems likely to have mentioned Piracy Shield.

    The platform built by AGCOM, Piracy Shield, is used to notify providers who provide access to sites hosting infringing content with orders to disable such access. However, hosting service providers such as the Google Play Store are not subject to these orders.

    In any case and regardless of the legislation in question, it is always possible for authorities and users to report apps that allow activities in violation of the law or platform rules as described here . (Response from Google)

    As a statement of fact, Google’s response is non-controversial. In contrast, a subsequent comment from AGCOM significantly muddies the waters.

    Comply With The Law, But Do More

    Google accepts DMCA takedown notices from copyright holders and those authorized to act on their behalf, as the provided link demonstrates. That tends to suggest that takedown notices to remove the apps from Google Play may not have been sent by the relevant rightsholders.

    In his response, AGCOM Commissioner Massimiliano Capitano doesn’t address the possibility that an existing anti-piracy option wasn’t used. Instead, he says that others simply need to do more.

    In this historical moment we need an alliance for legality, which passes through respect for the rules but also through autonomous initiatives by private entities inspired by ethics and self-regulation. Nobody asks for an ex ante filter, nor to wear blindfolds. (Response from AGCOM Commissioner Capitano)

    If “respect for the rules” means compliance with the law, the law says that if Google receives a proper complaint, those apps would have to come down. If “autonomous initiatives” is a reference to private deals that go beyond the strict requirements of the law, Google would still need to know which content to remove and why.

    Since only the relevant rightsholders have that information, having them supply it in a takedown notice seems like a clear and efficient option.

    Law 93/2023, Article 2, Paragraph 5

    After suggesting that Google should ethically remove content without rightsholder involvement, Commissioner Capitano goes on to claim that the new law passed last year does indeed apply to the Play Store, contrary to Google’s earlier statement.

    [I] would like to remind you that law 93/2023 following the amendments prepared by the Caivano Decree, paragraph 5 of article 2 expressly provides that search engines and other sites, even if they are not directly involved in accessibility of Pirate sites subject to Agcom investigation, must adopt all technical measures useful to hinder the visibility of illicit content. (AGCOM Commissioner Capitano )

    The relevant section of the law ( art. 2, para 5 ), states that network access service providers, search engine operators and information society service providers “involved in any capacity in the accessibility of the website or illegal services” must within 30 minutes, disable DNS resolution of domain names and traffic routing to the notified IP addresses.

    Google Can’t Comply With The Above

    While AGCOM and Google argue over whether Google Play qualifies under the law, it’s beyond clear that Google’s ability to comply with the above terms in respect of an app is all but impossible.

    Any app providing access to pirated streams will do so using IP addresses and DNS servers of which Google Play has no knowledge. Even if it had knowledge, Google Play could do nothing about that; it doesn’t supply internet connectivity and doesn’t control DNS. In the event the app relied on Google DNS, then Google DNS should be served with a blocking order, not Google Play.

    Google Play Could Do ‘Something’

    The law does provide a catch-all clause that requires platforms, “in any case…to adopt technological measures or the organizational measures necessary to prevent access to content disseminated illegally.”

    That could logically mean the removal of an app from Google Play. However, regardless of what action is eventually taken, the targets are first identified by rightsholders and then placed in a list, which is subsequently made available to the service providers to take action. Without that list, no action can be taken because, ethically or not, guesses are no match for facts.

    That leads to the conclusion that as well as likely receiving no takedown notices, Google Play has received no lists of targets to take action against under the new law, regardless of whether the law applies to it or not.

    Furthermore, the only reason those pirate streaming apps remain useful is purely down to the availability of streams accessible within the app. Since it’s Piracy Shield’s job to render those inaccessible, that might be a good place to start.

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

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      The Play Store preps remote app uninstall feature

      news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · Tuesday, 19 December - 18:06 · 1 minute

    The Play Store preps remote app uninstall feature

    Enlarge (credit: Google Play )

    One of the neatest features of the Play Store is remote app installation. If you have multiple devices signed into the same Google account, the Play Store's "install" button will let you pick any of those devices as an installation target. If you find an app you like, it's great to queue up installs on your phone, watch, TV, tablet, laptop , and car , all from a single device. It makes sense, then, that you might want to be able to uninstall apps from all your devices, too.

    The new feature coming to the Play Store will let you do exactly that: remote uninstalls from any device on your account. The first sign of the feature is in the latest Android patch notes , which list a "New feature to help you uninstall apps on connected devices." It doesn't seem like this has been activated yet, but the news site TheSpAndroid has photos of the feature, showing what you would expect. Opening the Play Store and uninstalling an app will bring up a list of devices, just like installing does now.

    It might not look like it, but under the hood, all installs from the Play Store happen via Android's push notification system . By default, the press of the Play Store install button requests Google to send an app push to your current device, but there's no need for the target device of a remote app install to be turned on and unlocked. Just like any other push notification, when the device connects to the Internet and sees the push, it will wake up and do whatever business it needs to do—usually, that's "show a message and beep," but in this case, that business is "install an app." Google has slowly exposed its remote install functionality to the world, first with the Android Market (now Play Store) website in 2011 . It took 11 years for a similar feature to come to the Play Store phone app.

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      Google’s Android app store monopoly violates antitrust law, jury finds

      news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · Tuesday, 12 December - 03:07 · 1 minute

    Artist's conception of Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney jumping for joy at news of the verdict.

    Enlarge / Artist's conception of Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney jumping for joy at news of the verdict. (credit: Epic Games)

    While Epic's antitrust arguments against Google had many similarities to those in the company's earlier case against Apple , the verdicts could not have been more different. A federal jury took only a few hours of deliberation Monday afternoon to determine that Google had an illegal monopoly in the markets for Android app distribution and in-app billing services.

    The jury unanimously answered "yes" to all 11 questions on the verdict form , indicating that Epic had proven those monopolies existed in every worldwide market except for China. Google "engaged in anticompetitive conduct" to establish or maintain the monopoly and illegally tied the Google Play store to the use of Google Play billing, according to the verdict. The jury also agreed with Epic's arguments that programs like "Project Hug" and agreements signed with Android phone OEMs represented an "unreasonable restraint on trade," harming Epic in the process.

    With the verdict set, U.S. District Judge James Donato will hold hearings next month to determine the best way to remedy Google's anticompetitive monopoly power. During the trial, Epic did not ask for monetary damages, but did ask that it and other developers be able to introduce their own Android app stores and use their own billing systems on Android devices "without restriction."

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      Google Play Movies gets a new shutdown date: January 17

      news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · Monday, 11 December - 18:59 · 1 minute

    Google Play Movies gets a new shutdown date: January 17

    Enlarge (credit: Google)

    Google Play Movies & TV is getting a shutdown date, again. Google previously sent out an email to users saying "Google Play Movies & TV is going away on 05 October 2023," but 9to5Google spotted a new support page that now says January 17, 2024, is the new shutdown date. It's not entirely clear why we got two different shutdown dates, but the October 5 shutdown definitely happened in the US; perhaps this message is for international users.

    Google's page says that in January, "Google Play Movies & TV will no longer be available on Android TV devices or the Google Play website." This should be the last of the Google Play Movies brand. Phones and tablets have already switched over to a "Google TV" app (not to be confused with the Google TV OS), and the Play Store abandoned media sales in 2022.

    With the one-stop-shop Play Store dead, Google says your purchased content will now be in different apps, depending on what Google platform you're on. The support page says: "On TVs and streaming devices powered by Android TV," purchased content is in the "Shop" tab but on "cable boxes or set-top boxes powered by Android TV" the content will be in the YouTube app. On the web, purchased content is on YouTube.com.

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      Web browser suspended because it can browse the web is back on Google Play

      news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 29 November - 19:31

    A large Google logo at a trade fair.

    Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Alexander Koerner)

    Google Play has reversed its latest ban on a web browser that keeps getting targeted by vague Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) notices. Downloader, an Android TV app that combines a browser with a file manager, was restored to Google Play last night.

    Downloader, made by app developer Elias Saba, was suspended on Sunday after a DMCA notice submitted by copyright-enforcement firm MarkScan on behalf of Warner Bros. Discovery. It was the second time in six months that Downloader was suspended based on a complaint that the app's web browser is capable of loading websites.

    The first suspension in May lasted three weeks, but Google reversed the latest one much more quickly. As we wrote on Monday , the MarkScan DMCA notice didn't even list any copyrighted works that Downloader supposedly infringed upon.

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      Google Bans ‘Downloader’ Again Following Markscan DMCA Notice

      news.movim.eu / TorrentFreak · Tuesday, 28 November - 10:01 · 3 minutes

    downloader-logo Created by software developer Elias Saba and released on the Amazon Appstore in November 2016, ‘Downloader’ offered two things; an empty URL field and a download button.

    Downloader was intentionally basic but as a former Fire TV Product Manager at Amazon, Saba knew that a simple tool to transfer files would solve a fundamental shortcoming. Over 50 million installs of Downloader to date speak for the software’s popularity but in May 2023, progress came to a screeching halt.

    Several Israeli TV companies filed a DMCA complaint at Google Play alleging that Downloader offered copyrighted content. The companies supplied no details of the content allegedly infringed and said nothing about how ‘Downloader’ somehow managed to violate copyright law.

    Google suspended Downloader leaving Saba no other option than to file a DMCA counternotice. The developer was forced to wait 10 business days for the complainants to respond and a total of 20 days for Downloader to be restored. After almost three weeks offline, Downloader had lost 47% of its active users.

    Just six months later and it’s happening all over again.

    Another Baseless Copyright Complaint

    Speaking with TorrentFreak last evening, Saba calmly explained that a new DMCA takedown notice, filed by India-based anti-piracy outfit Markscan, had resulted in Google suspending Downloader once again. The news was delivered by Google on Sunday evening via the notice below.

    Deficient DMCA Notice, Entirely Deficient Claims

    Given Downloader’s limited capabilities, even a sensible discussion on the merits would’ve required Markscan to come up with something special. In the event, the DMCA notice filed at Google Play falls substantially short of the established minimum standard for removing a single URL, let alone an app boasting 50 million downloads.

    In response to a request to ‘Identify and describe the copyrighted work’ allegedly infringed, the response ‘Properties of Warner Bros. Discovery Inc.’ is especially unhelpful.

    In 2022, Warner revealed that its library consists of more than 145,000 hours of programming, including 12,500 feature films and 2,400 television series comprised of more than 150,000 individual episodes.

    Alleging infringement of just one of these copyrighted works would’ve been trivial, had the DMCA notice stated a valid claim against an app that carries and indexes zero content, and is substantially less functional than a web browser.

    Google says that it was notified that Downloader “allegedly infringes upon the copyright of others, and violates applicable copyright laws in the relevant country/jurisdiction.” Logic suggests that any alleged infringement would indicate a violation of United States copyright law. However, if we take Markscan’s home turf as an example, are vague allegations acceptable in India?

    Just two examples picked at random ( 1 , 2 , pdf) show that takedown notices filed by the same team offer a level of detail likely to meet standards almost anywhere. Why this wasn’t replicated in the complaint against Downloader raises serious questions.

    Another DMCA Counternotice, More Time Offline

    On Monday evening, Saba filed an appeal at Google Play and 24 minutes later received notification that it had been rejected.

    As a result the developer followed up with a DMCA counternotice . No response had been received at the time of writing.

    Shortly after, Saba was contact by Google AdMob who informed him that ads in the Downloader app will stop being served if it isn’t restored by Tuesday (today). The background to this message is interesting, as Saba explains.

    “You see, I never had ads in my app and relied solely on donation buttons in the app. But when the app was suspended last time, I learned those donation buttons stop working, even for people that already had the app installed,” he informs TorrentFreak.

    “As a backup plan, in case the app was suspended again, I added ads to the app for the first time. Now I know it was a mistake going with Google for the ads since, evidently, they break those as well when the app is suspended. I just can’t catch a break.”

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

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      Google Play keeps banning the same web browser due to vague DMCA notices

      news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · Monday, 27 November - 23:10

    Screenshot of the Google home page displayed on Downloader, an Android app with a built-in browser.

    Enlarge / The Downloader app that was suspended from Google Play. (credit: Elias Saba )

    App developer Elias Saba has had some bad luck with Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedowns. His Android TV app Downloader, which combines a web browser with a file manager, was suspended by Google Play in May after several Israeli TV companies complained that the app could be used to load a pirate website.

    Google reversed that suspension after three weeks. But Downloader has been suspended by Google Play again, and this time the reason is even harder to understand. Based on a vague DMCA notice, it appears that Downloader was suspended simply because it can load the Warner Bros. website .

    Downloader is similar to standard web browsers in that it lets users access both legal and illegally shared content. The app can be used for general web surfing and can download files from a website when a user inputs the desired URL. According to Saba, the app itself contains no infringing content, nor does it direct users to infringing content.

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      Pourquoi des smartphones Huawei, Honor et Vivo recommandent de désinstaller Google

      news.movim.eu / Numerama · Tuesday, 31 October - 09:38

    De nombreux utilisateurs ont reçu des alertes de sécurité sur les smartphones Huawei, Honor et Vivo, leur recommandant de désinstaller Google. L'hypothèse d'un faux positif est pour l'instant la plus probable. [Lire la suite]

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      Android will now scan sideloaded apps for malware at install time

      news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 18 October - 18:32 · 1 minute

    Google's new malware scanner for sideloaded apps.

    Enlarge / Google's new malware scanner for sideloaded apps. (credit: Google)

    The Google Play Store might not be perfect for stopping Android malware, but its collection of scanning, app reviews, and developer requirements makes it a lot safer than the wider, unfiltered Internet. The world outside Google's walled garden has no rules at all and offers a countless number of questionable apps available for sideloading. To help combat the surge of sideloaded malware, Google Play can now pop up a malware scanner at install time if it decides the app you're trying to sideload is interesting.

    Google Play's malware system, called "Google Play Protect," has always been able to check sideloaded apps for malware, but it used faster techniques like a definition file, and this happened quietly in the background. This new technique will delay your app installation with a full-screen "scanning" interface while Google runs a deep scan of the app code. Google's blog post says this is "real-time scanning at the code-level to combat novel malicious apps" and that Google Play Protect can "recommend a real-time app scan when installing apps that have never been scanned before to help detect emerging threats."

    The scan will involve sending bits and pieces of the app to Google for analysis. Google says:

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