Court Questions Whether Ebook 'Pirate' Site Operator Can Be Sued in Texas

Back in March, Travis McCrea, the former leader of the Pirate Party of Canada, faced mounting opposition against his eBook platform, Ebook.bike.

Following in the footsteps of his similar creation TUEBL (The Ultimate eBook Library), Ebook.bike allows users to upload and download eBooks, some of which have turned out to be copyright-infringing.

Despite McCrea taking content down following copyright notices, large numbers of authors weren’t impressed, with some urging legal action. McCrea responded by inviting someone to sue.

Author John Van Stry took on the challenge by suing McCrea and alleged business partner Francisco Humberto Dias (doing business as 'Frantech Solutions') in a Texas court for direct, contributory, and vicarious copyright infringement.

“Mr. McCrea has a long and proud history of pervasive, blatant, and egregious violations of other persons' intellectual property rights,” the complaint read.

After the complaint was filed on March 27, 2019, the docket reports that McCrea was served on May 20. Eight days later, Van Stry requested the clerk to file an entry for default, which was actioned a day later. In June, Van Stry’s lawyers filed for a default judgment.

Claiming direct, contributory, and vicarious copyright infringement in respect of 12 books written by Van Stry and allegedly distributed on eBook.bike, the author asked for $15,000 in statutory damages for each of the infringed works. He further demanded that McCrea should pay attorneys’ fees and costs.

From the proposed judgment

On Friday, Judge William C. Bryson handed down an order but it wasn’t a straightforward rubber-stamping of the proposed judgment and doesn’t lay the matter to rest. Since McCrea has chosen not to participate in proceedings thus far, the Judge writes that the Court must consider whether a default judgment can be handed down and if so, what form it would take.

To begin, the Court needed to determine whether McCrea has entered an appearance in the case. That standard was apparently met after McCrea reportedly sent a signed email indicating that he was prepared to accept email service in the case. A later email from McCrea reportedly had him threatening a countersuit for libel and proposing an offer to settle.

Email allegedly from McCrea presented to the Court

The Court also needed to determine whether it has subject matter jurisdiction. While that was quickly established, the question of personal jurisdiction over McCrea appears less straightforward, which is a problem because, without that, any judgment would be void.

In his order, the Judge explains that there are two bases for personal jurisdiction – general and specific.

“General personal jurisdiction is available when the defendant's contacts with the forum State are ‘continuous and systematic’,” the Judge notes, adding that specific personal jurisdiction “must be based on activities that arise out of or relate to the cause of action, and can exist even if the defendant's contacts are not continuous and systematic."

In this case, the Court found that it “plainly” does not have general jurisdiction over McCrea as the complaint offered no evidence of that. “The question, therefore, is whether this Court has specific jurisdiction over Mr. McCrea based on particular acts relating to the cause of action having a sufficient relationship with the forum to support a finding of jurisdiction.”

In summary, based on the claims and allegations in the complaint, Judge Bryson says he doesn’t have enough evidence before him to conclude that the Court has personal jurisdiction over McCrea and as such it will not be handing down a default judgment at this time.

Instead, the parties have been told to file simultaneous briefs within 14 days, each detailing whether the Court has personal jurisdiction over McCrea, considering whether the injury to the copyright holder occurred in Texas, whether that injury is sufficient enough to imply a “substantial connection” with the forum/state, and whether McCrea knew that “his acts would be felt” by Van Stry in Texas. The Judge specifically asks both parties to consider McCrea’s residence outside the United States.

All of that said and taking McCrea’s general non-participation in the process into consideration, the Court says that Van Stry’s factual claims are enough for it to find McCrea liable for copyright infringement in the 12 books. If personal jurisdiction can be established to the Court’s satisfaction, that leaves the matter of damages.

While the excerpt from the proposed judgment above shows that Van Stry is demanding $180,000 in damages, the Judge cites $150,000 in his order. However, he also writes that no documentary evidence has been submitted to the Court which would explain why the amount is appropriate.

Furthermore, Van Stry’s demands for a comprehensive injunction cause an additional complication, the Judge notes, since a copyright injunction cannot be served outside the United States and does not apply directly to conduct occurring outside the United States.

“Such an injunction, if issued, would have to be framed so that it is directed only to conduct occurring within this country, which would be narrower than the full scope of the injunctive relief sought in the complaint,” the Judge writes. And that might be tricky since the relief being sought is extensive.

Van Stry’s motion demands that McCrea should refrain from directly, contributorily or indirectly infringing his rights in the future, not only for the 12 books in the complaint but any others written by him.

On top, there’s a request for caching and proxy services, web hosts, email providers, social media platforms and payment processors currently doing business with McCrea in connection with eBook.bike or similar platforms, to stop doing so, if those sites infringe Van Stry's rights.

A further request would require search engines to "prevent links to the Defendant's accounts or websites, which distribute or encourage the copying and distribution of Works or other titles by the same author, from displaying in search results, and removing such links from any search index."

All that considered and if personal jurisdiction can be established, the Court is prepared to award damages, but not immediately to the level demanded by Van Stry.

“[T]he Court would be prepared to hold that the plaintiff is entitled to a statutory award of $750 for each of the 12 works as to which he has alleged copyright infringement, for a total award of $9000, if the plaintiff were to elect to accept the statutory minimum damages award in lieu of a damages award calculated after a hearing,” the order reads.

In the absence of such an agreement, the Judge says that the Court would not be prepared to go any higher without a further hearing to determine the appropriate amount of damages. In an effort to keep costs down for both sides, the Court is prepared to hold that hearing over the phone.

The proposed motion for default judgment is available here, Judge Bryson’s order is available here (both pdf)

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.



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UK Pirate Site Blocking Requests Have Stopped, For Now

Website blocking is without a doubt one of the favorite anti-piracy tools of the entertainment industries.

The UK has been a leader on this front. Since 2011, the High Court has ordered ISPs to block access to many popular pirate sites.

Over time the number of blocked URLs in the UK has grown steadily to well over 1,000. This includes many popular torrent, streaming, and direct download sites, which remain barred today.

We have covered these efforts extensively here at TorrentFreak. However, since late 2016 something appears to have changed. The movie industry’s MPA(A) and the music industry’s BPI suddenly stopped submitting new requests.

The latest regular blocking order dates back nearly three years. While the Premier League did request some “dynamic” blockades of streaming related IP-addresses more recently, there have been no new efforts targeting traditional pirate sites.

This lack of new blocking requests is striking, especially since the UK model is often used as a prime example of anti-piracy enforcement around the world. Just a few months ago, MPAA and RIAA argued that it should become part of a possible US-UK trade deal.

"Website blocking has been successful in the United Kingdom with 63 music sites being ordered to be blocked following music right holders' initiatives. On average this produces a reduction in the use of those sites by UK users by approximately 75 percent," the RIAA said at the time.

Despite this effectiveness, UK piracy site-blocking efforts have been rather stagnant. While older court order are sill updated with new domain names, no new sites have been targeted by the MPA(A) and BPI in years. As such, new pirate sites can flourish.

TorrentFreak reached out to the MPA and BPI for a comment on this apparent slowdown. Neither organization gave a concrete reason for the absence of recent applications.

MPA informed TorrentFreak that it will continue to use a range of different methods for its enforcement efforts around the world. That includes working with local enforcement agencies to refer criminal cases, offering consumers new and innovative ways to access content, as well as seeking court orders to block access to pirate sites.

“The MPA will continue to use this range of methods as appropriate in the UK as we do around the world. Ensuring that filmmakers everywhere are compensated for their work and that revenues can be reinvested in new productions continues to be the number one priority for the MPA,” the group said.

BPI also stressed that site-blocking remains part of its anti-piracy toolbox.

"There are a very wide range of effective and complementary tools we use to reduce music piracy – site blocking is just a part of these,” a BPI spokesperson told us.

BPI’s other tools include delisting infringing URLs from search engines, site demotion under the search engine Voluntary Code of Practice, direct litigation against sites, criminal investigations, disrupting money flows to pirate sites, anti-piracy partnerships with online platforms, and consumer education.

The music group didn’t provide any details that explain why no new blocking orders were requested in recent years. However, it suggests that other tools are more appropriate at the current time.

"The mix of techniques we use varies over time and reflects the most appropriate strategy for dealing with a given problem at a given time,” the BPI spokesperson says.

“Having obtained High Court orders to block many of the major pirate brands, over the last few years other approaches have been effective to continue the reduction in music piracy. However, website blocking remains part of the mix and we will continue to use it in appropriate cases."

The question remains why site blocking is seen as less appropriate. Perhaps the rightsholders feel that requesting additional blockades is not worth the resources, compared to other anti-piracy initiatives.

Part of the reason may be that the blocking orders can be quite expensive. Previously, it was estimated that  an unopposed application for a section 97A blocking order is roughly £14,000 per website, while maintaining it costs an additional £3,600 per year.

With well over a hundred sites blocked, the costs are quite significant, to say the least.

While there haven’t been any new requests, the previously ordered blockades are still in place, of course. That being said, we have to note that these are not effective everywhere. When we tried to access The Pirate Bay on a Virgin connection this week, it was freely accessible.

While the notorious pirate site may still be blocked on other ISPs, workarounds are not hard to find. At the time of writing PirateProxy.ch, a TPB proxy,  is among the 150 most-visited websites in the UK.

That said, rightsholders were never under the illusion that they can prevent the most determined pirates from accessing these sites. They simply want to dissuade casual pirates, and they feel that the current site blocking efforts are doing their job.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.



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Top 10 Most Pirated Movies of The Week on BitTorrent - 07/15/19

This week we have three newcomers in our chart.

Hellboy is the most downloaded movie.

The data for our weekly download chart is estimated by TorrentFreak, and is for informational and educational reference only. All the movies in the list are Web-DL/Webrip/HDRip/BDrip/DVDrip unless stated otherwise.

RSS feed for the articles of the recent weekly movie download charts.

This week’s most downloaded movies are:
Movie Rank Rank last week Movie name IMDb Rating / Trailer
Most downloaded movies via torrents
1 (3) Hellboy 5.3 / trailer
2 (2) Alita: Battle Angel 7.5 / trailer
3 (1) Shazam! 7.3 / trailer
4 (…) Lying and Stealing 4.9 / trailer
5 (…) Point Blank 5.7 / trailer
6 (4) Shaft 6.4 / trailer
7 (6) Dumbo 6.5 / trailer
8 (…) Missing link 6.4 / trailer
9 (7) Captain Marvel 7.1 / trailer
10 (8) Escape Plan: The Extractors 4.5 / trailer

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.



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Magnificent BitTorrent Speed or Half-Baked Magic Beans?

By now most people will be familiar with the news that BitTorrent Inc. recently released a new version of its dominant uTorrent client.

The claims are that this will revolutionize torrenting, with people able to earn BTT in exchange for seeding. The plan is that this will make swarms more healthy because there is more bandwidth available. This, in turn, should speed up downloads – for BTT-spending uTorrent users, at least.

The idea of a torrent client allocating bandwidth to peers via financial discrimination is contrary to the broad aims of the original BitTorrent protocol. As such it is a divisive and sensitive topic. Nevertheless, we wanted to find out more because if it does work, loyalty to tradition might be a thing of the past.

As reported during launch week, all downloaders of the new uTorrent were gifted 10 BTT to bootstrap the system. One way or another, we were determined to make this value change. However, despite extensive seeding of in-demand and low-seeded torrents alike, it stubbornly remained the same, despite the client insisting that there were plenty of BTT-enabled peers in the swarms.

Meanwhile, crypto-focused people appearing in BitTorrent CEO Justin Sun’s Twitter feed were apparently having huge success, raking in more than a dollar’s worth of BTT after seeding dozens of torrents during the first day.

This success raised a few eyebrows because one of our sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told us July 10 that after running two instances of the software, one with 6.5TB seeded and another with 1.1TB downloaded, he hadn’t made or lost a penny, with his BTT stubbornly sitting at 10 BTT. Some people just can’t catch a break, it seems.

Of course, these uploads and downloads have to be made to and from BTT-enabled peers to count, so it’s possible (although a little improbable) that not a single uTorrent user with the feature enabled entered any of the swarms being serviced by the expert torrent user mentioned above.

However, the crypto-minded Twitter user in Sun’s feed was kind enough to hand out some advice, including getting torrents from BitTorrent’s own ‘Now‘ index. That felt like a good idea since users of that resource might be more likely to be running uTorrent with BTT enabled than random torrent users elsewhere. Particularly those who prefer open-source software rather than the proprietary offering from BitTorrent.

To allow us to do some tests over a number of minutes, we needed a reasonably-sized torrent from the Now resource. We picked a 416MB file called “Live From Brixton and Beyond” since most of the other files were too small to measure beyond a few seconds.

Our aim was to find plenty of BTT-powered uTorrent users ready to boost our download speeds, spend some of our own BTT, potentially earn some BTT back, and test out exactly how much faster these downloads can go with this new system promising to change the world.

To do this we downloaded the file detailed above six times in total – three times with BitTorrent Speed enabled and three times without. Each Speed-enabled download was followed by a non-Speed transfer directly after, to ensure that the swarm conditions stayed roughly the same throughout.

Each ‘Speed’ download initiated would enable us to see the number of BTT-enabled peers in the swarm prepared to connect to us (the client provides this number), see the promised speed boost (it also provides that), then compare the promised boosts with the results of an equal number of downloads with everything turned off.

The rough images below show the following: Our download reference number at the top, BTT balance, promised Speed boost in MB/s, number of peers (we allowed this to reach a minimum of 15 before taking a screenshot) followed by the percentage Speed boost.

Underneath that are two further screenshots showing stats from the uTorrent client. The first reveals the download time elapsed with Speed turned on, the second with Speed turned off. All screenshots of transfers were taken as close to one second remaining as possible to show that no transfers were extended beyond the downloading phase, which would distort download times.

Downloads 1 and 2

As the image above shows, 24 BTT-enabled peers wanted to do business with the promise of increasing download speeds massively. However, the “download speed increase” bar is next to useless as a measurement tool (particularly when a torrent is just starting) and as the final elapsed times show, the Speed boost – if there is any at all as a result of spending BTT – is pretty small.

So, on to Downloads 3 and 4, the first with Speed, the second without. Again, it’s exactly the same file and as close to the same swarm as possible by executing both transfers immediately after the first batch.

Downloads 3 and 4

The results show that the Speed-enabled transfer took 28 seconds less than the one without, but given the promises of massive speed boosts when the torrent first started, we can conclude that the figures in the client are misleading at best. So, onto downloads 5 and 6 as quickly as possible, to ensure a consistent swarm.

Downloads 5 and 6

As the transfer stats for Download 5 show, the elapsed time (6m 16s) is remarkably consistent when compared to Download 1 (6m 14s) and Download 4 (6m 12s), a testament to the stability of the swarm. It’s worth noting that Download 4 (the fastest of the three) was a test with Speed turned off.

Importantly, we can also see that during this final test the results were reversed over the previous one, with the non-Speed Download 6 trumping the BTT-powered Download 5 by 43 seconds.

Finally, we decided to put two torrent clients into exactly the same swarm. One of the clients was uTorrent with Speed turned on, the other was a basic Deluge client. We loaded the same torrent into both and gave uTorrent a small head start, basically the time it took to move the mouse over to Deluge and trigger the start. This is what uTorrent promised as a boost;

More than 320% speed increase offered…

As the video below shows, uTorrent managed to connect to many more seeders than Deluge and the performance of each client differed quite a bit in other areas too. Crucially, however, the downloads in both clients finished within a second of each other.

It’s important to note that there are many moving parts in any torrent swarm but the bottom line here is that when a BTT-enabled uTorrent client was placed in a swarm with many other clients with the same ability, it performed no better than one without, despite lofty claims to the contrary.

Of course, we should also remind people that with Deluge (in this case) people won’t earn any BTT for seeding but we’ve already established that the figure of 10 BTT that we began with has never changed since the client was installed.

Magic beans? People should taste them themselves before making their own minds up. Maybe they’ll taste better in future….we’ll see.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.



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Fake MPAA Asks Google to Remove Thousands of URLs, Including MPAA.org

In 2012, Google first published a Transparency Report for search-related copyright takedown notices.

This rather enlightening database allows outsiders to check what URLs copyright holders want removed from the search engine.

In recent years Google has processed more than four billion URLs. While most of these requests are legitimate, there have also been plenty of errors, mistakes, and in some instances; clear abuse.

Most of the cases we covered in the past dealt with rightsholders targeting perfectly legal content, ranging from news articles, through open-source software, to Facebook’s homepage. Over the past year, however, we’ve noticed a different but equally disturbing trend.

Among the millions of notices Google receives on a weekly basis, there are now quite a few ‘fake’ submissions. Fake, in this case, means that the submitter pretends to be or represent someone else. Someone who it clearly isn’t.

We first spotted this late last year when imposters targeted many pirate sites with suspicious takedown requests. These were presumably sent by competing pirate sites, trying to remove the competition from Google’s search results. More recently, imposters even tried to remove a Netflix listing.

Today we have another example that’s perhaps even more blatant. It involves the name of Hollywood’s very own anti-piracy group, the MPAA.

In recent weeks Google received a flood of notices claiming to be from the Hollywood group. While the MPAA is based in the U.S., the notices in question are sent on behalf of “MPAA UK” and “MPAA Member Studios DE”. 

However, none of the listings below, including “MPAA Member Studios US,” are legitimate. It appears that someone is pretending to be the MPAA, sending takedown requests for tens of thousands of URLs. 

Fake MPAA’s

Looking more closely at the takedown requests, we see a familar pattern emerge. The notices mainly target a small group of ‘pirate’ sites. For example, over 10,000 URLs of the Turkish movie streaming site Filmifullizle.tv were targeted in just one week, with most notices coming from fake MPAA’s.

Filmmodu.com, and other Turkish streaming portals such as Yabancidizi.org, Fullhdfilmizleten.org, and Filmionlineizle.tv, get the same treatment, either by a fake MPAA or another scammer.

Interestingly, these imposters are rather sloppy at times. On several occasions they put the infringing URLs in the “original works” box, labeling the MPAA’s homepage as the infringing content. Luckily for the real MPAA, Google didn’t remove it.  

Pirate MPAA?

As we have highlighted in the past, these imposters are likely to be competing pirate sites, who want to take out the competition by making their opponents’ sites unfindable in Google’s search results. A clear case of abuse. 

At the time of writing, Google has complied with several of the fake takedown requests, removing the allegedly-infringing URLs. However, the search engine does appear to be aware of the problem, and has labeled some submissions as being fake. 

The imposter situation definitely doesn’t help the credibility of the takedown process. Google has its hands full and we imagine that the MPAA isn’t happy with the misuse of its name either. 

That said, the Hollywood group certainly isn’t alone in this. Several other rightsholders and anti-piracy organizations have imposters as well, including Marvel, Warner Bros., MarkMonitor, DigiGuardians, Marketly, and many others.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.



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Aptoide Removes 'Popcorn Time' and 'Showbox' Apps Following Piracy Lawsuit (Updated)

Aptoide is a third-party alternative to Google’s official Play Store. Among other things, it allows users to install a variety of apps on their Android devices.

The marketplace, which is operated from Portugal, recently accused Google of anti-competitive behavior after is was flagged as being insecure.

The brawl with Google is not Aptoide’s only concern though. A few weeks ago the company was sued by two movie outfits; TBV Productions and Hunter Killer Productions. These are the companies behind the movies “I Feel Pretty” and “Hunter Killer” respectively.

The movie outfits, which are not new to piracy-related lawsuits, accuse Aptoide of facilitating massive piracy. Specifically, the complaint states that the company induces, encourages and promotes the use of Popcorn Time and Showbox for blatant copyright infringement.

Popcorn Time and Showbox are free applications that allow users to stream video. They both support BitTorrent streaming and are regularly linked to piracy. This has led to legal issues for developers in the past, and the two movie companies are now expanding this to the app marketplace.

“Plaintiffs bring this action to stop the massive piracy of their motion pictures brought on by the software applications Show Box app and Popcorn Time,” the complaint reads.

The movie companies note that Aptoide marks both apps as “Trusted” which means that they are “100% safe.” While that refers to potential security issues, the Plaintiffs see it as an endorsement. 

According to Aptoide’s stats the two apps are quite popular. Popcorn Time was reportedly downloaded between 500,000 and 3 million times, while Showbox is credited with 5 to 25 million downloads. No surprise, perhaps, as both apps are described as great sources to get free movies.

The Showbox app is described as “all you'll ever need to watch movies and tv shows for free" and "The app supports torrent downloads…” Popcorn Time’s description reads "The legendary app lets you stream and watch movies and TV shows for free…"

Showbox on Aptoide

According to the movie companies, it’s clear that Aptoide promotes the apps for infringing uses. 

“Defendant Aptoide promotes Popcorn Time and the Show Box app
overwhelmingly, if not exclusively, for purposes of infringing Copyright protected content, including Plaintiffs',” they write. 

From the complaint

As such, the rightsholders demand statutory damages for the alleged infringing activities, which could reach $150,000 per work, as well as an injunction to stop Aptoide from offering these apps to the public. 

However, it seems that the injunction is no longer required as Aptoide has already removed the apps from its marketplace. The original Showbox and Popcorn Time URLs, which are listed in the complaint, now return an error

“We could not find the App you are looking for. Try to use the search form above to find your App,” the error reads.

Several other Popcorn Time apps were removed as well, even though they were not listed in the complaint. 

It’s not clear when the apps were removed but it happened after the lawsuit was filed. The movie companies mention that TBV Productions, Inc. tried to get the apps removed before the complaint was filed, but to no avail. 

It appears that the legal action may have motivated Aptoide to spring into action. We reached out to the company for a comment on the app removal and the lawsuit, but at the time of writing we haven’t heard back. 

While the case remains ongoing for now, Aptoide’s recent actions suggest that it’s willing to resolve the matter. However, that likely means that they will have to keep a close eye on other apps as well, because a new Showbox was just added to their repository. 

Update: A motion to dismiss the case against Aptoide was submitted shortly after we published this article. According to the filing, the parties "have resolved" the matter.

A copy of the complaint TBV Productions and Hunter Killer Productions filed against against Aptoide is available here (pdf).

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.



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Aptoide Removes 'Popcorn Time' and 'Showbox' Apps Following Piracy Lawsuit

Aptoide is a third-party alternative to Google’s official Play Store. Among other things, it allows users to install a variety of apps on their Android devices.

The marketplace, which is operated from Portugal, recently accused Google of anti-competitive behavior after is was flagged as being insecure.

The brawl with Google is not Aptoide’s only concern though. A few weeks ago the company was sued by two movie outfits; TBV Productions and Hunter Killer Productions. These are the companies behind the movies “I Feel Pretty” and “Hunter Killer” respectively.

The movie outfits, which are not new to piracy-related lawsuits, accuse Aptoide of facilitating massive piracy. Specifically, the complaint states that the company induces, encourages and promotes the use of Popcorn Time and Showbox for blatant copyright infringement.

Popcorn Time and Showbox are free applications that allow users to stream video. They both support BitTorrent streaming and are regularly linked to piracy. This has led to legal issues for developers in the past, and the two movie companies are now expanding this to the app marketplace.

“Plaintiffs bring this action to stop the massive piracy of their motion pictures brought on by the software applications Show Box app and Popcorn Time,” the complaint reads.

The movie companies note that Aptoide marks both apps as “Trusted” which means that they are “100% safe.” While that refers to potential security issues, the Plaintiffs see it as an endorsement. 

According to Aptoide’s stats the two apps are quite popular. Popcorn Time was reportedly downloaded between 500,000 and 3 million times, while Showbox is credited with 5 to 25 million downloads. No surprise, perhaps, as both apps are described as great sources to get free movies.

The Showbox app is described as “all you'll ever need to watch movies and tv shows for free" and "The app supports torrent downloads…” Popcorn Time’s description reads "The legendary app lets you stream and watch movies and TV shows for free…"

Showbox on Aptoide

According to the movie companies, it’s clear that Aptoide promotes the apps for infringing uses. 

“Defendant Aptoide promotes Popcorn Time and the Show Box app
overwhelmingly, if not exclusively, for purposes of infringing Copyright protected content, including Plaintiffs',” they write. 

From the complaint

As such, the rightsholders demand statutory damages for the alleged infringing activities, which could reach $150,000 per work, as well as an injunction to stop Aptoide from offering these apps to the public. 

However, it seems that the injunction is no longer required as Aptoide has already removed the apps from its marketplace. The original Showbox and Popcorn Time URLs, which are listed in the complaint, now return an error

“We could not find the App you are looking for. Try to use the search form above to find your App,” the error reads.

Several other Popcorn Time apps were removed as well, even though they were not listed in the complaint. 

It’s not clear when the apps were removed but it happened after the lawsuit was filed. The movie companies mention that TBV Productions, Inc. tried to get the apps removed before the complaint was filed, but to no avail. 

It appears that the legal action may have motivated Aptoide to spring into action. We reached out to the company for a comment on the app removal and the lawsuit, but at the time of writing we haven’t heard back. 

While the case remains ongoing for now, Aptoide’s recent actions suggest that it’s willing to resolve the matter. However, that likely means that they will have to keep a close eye on other apps as well, because a new Showbox was just added to their repository. 

A copy of the complaint TBV Productions and Hunter Killer Productions filed against against Aptoide is available here (pdf).

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.



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DISH Sues Hosting Company & 'Pirate' IPTV Customer

Broadcaster DISH Networks is emerging as one of the most litigious companies in the world when it comes to tackling unlicensed IPTV providers.

A lawsuit filed this week in a Delaware federal court has the company targeting Serverlogy Corporation and several John Does, “together doing business” as East IPTV.

The twist here is that Serverlogy Corporation is a hosting company, reportedly offering bandwidth to a client running an IPTV service, but one that failed to act following numerous copyright infringement complaints regarding its customer.

East IPTV’s website is a professional affair, giving visitors the impression that it’s a legitimate service. DISH sees things differently, however, stating that the service is guilty of direct copyright infringement due to channels licensed to DISH being illegally broadcasted via the East IPTV service.

The suit claims that the people behind East IPTV capture live DISH programming and transcode it for streaming over the Internet, shifting it to other servers operated by the company for delivery to end-users. Customers can buy a set-top box with a one-year subscription for $199.99 and additional $99.99 subscriptions for each subsequent year.

The lawsuit states that DISH has been sending infringement notices concerning East IPTV to content delivery networks (CDNs) for some time, with at least two CDNs removing DISH’s content in March and June 2018. However, the broadcaster says that East IPTV interfered with these efforts by moving their channel offerings to other providers.

Overall, 34 infringement notices demanding that East IPTV cease and desist its activities were sent by DISH between January 2017 and the date of the lawsuit. This means that East IPTV as “actual knowledge” of its infringements, DISH says.

Shifting to Serverlogy, DISH describes the company as a CDN that markets and sells hosting solutions, through which is has “knowingly contributed to, and reaped profits from, copyright infringement committed by East,” causing great harm to the broadcaster.

“Since September 11, 2018, Serverlogy has deliberately refused to take reasonable measures to stop East from using its services and servers to infringe on DISH's copyrights —even after Serverlogy became aware of East's specific and repeated acts of infringement,” the lawsuit reads.

“DISH and Networks sent eight notices of infringement to Serverlogy advising Serverlogy of East's blatant and systematic use of Serverlogy's services and servers to transmit, distribute, and publicly perform the Protected Channels to Service Users.

“Rather than work with DISH to curb this infringement, Serverlogy willfully blinded itself to East's repeat infringement, failing to terminate them or take any action to remove or disable the infringing content.”

As a result, DISH says Serverlogy cannot rely on the DMCA’s ‘safe harbor’ provisions. Not only did it fail to take steps in response to copyright complaints, the hosting provider does not have a registered DMCA agent either. On top, it has failed to adopt and reasonably implement a repeat infringer policy, DISH says.

In summary, DISH is suing East IPTV for direct infringement and Serverlogy for contributory and vicarious infringement, while describing the hosting company’s actions as “willful, malicious, intentional, purposeful, and in disregard of and with indifference to the rights of DISH.”

Alongside, DISH demands a permanent injunction against all defendants and statutory damages of up to $150,000 per registered work infringed, plus legal fees. At the time of writing, the East IPTV website remains in operation.

The complaint filed by DISH can be downloaded here (pdf)

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.



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Judge Denies $10K Default Judgment Against Alleged Pirate

In recent years, file-sharers around the world have been pressured to pay significant settlement fees, or face legal repercussions.

As the most active copyright litigant in the United States, adult entertainment outfit Malibu Media has been on the frontline of these efforts in recent years..

The company, widely known for its popular "X-Art" brand, has gone after thousands of alleged offenders. Many of its targets eventually pay up and those who fail to respond can face costly default judgments.

New Jersey resident Joe Park found himself in the latter category. The man was named in a Malibu Media lawsuit last year and failed to respond. Not just to the settlement requests, but also to the lawsuit filed at the New Jersey District Court.

Without a response, the complaining party can request a default judgment. This is exactly what Malibu Media did. It submitted a motion arguing that it's entitled to $10,500.00 in statutory damages for copyright infringement and an additional $559.99 in costs.

In many cases, courts grant default judgment requests, as there is no defense. This has allowed Malibu Media to collect dozens, if not hundreds of default judgments. However, in the present matter, U.S. District Court Judge John Michael Vazquez decided otherwise.

In an opinion released this week, Judge Vazquez denied the motion, concluding that Malibu Media isn't entitled to anything.

The denial is based on a culmination of rulings in similar BitTorrent piracy cases. While Malibu Media portrayed the defendant as a persistent copyright infringer, the Court is far from convinced.

"The Court is not satisfied that Plaintiff has sufficiently demonstrated that the named Defendant actually committed the complained of acts of infringement," Judge Vazquez writes.

The Court doesn't deny that it has jurisdiction or that the defendant was properly served, as it required. However, after reviewing several relevant decisions in similar cases, it is not convinced that there is enough evidence to show that the defendant is liable.

Among other things, the opinion cites a ruling from U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth, who previously denied a subpoena requested in a similar case filed by Strike 3. This highlighted that the IP-address evidence used in these cases is "famously flawed" and not trustworthy.

Judge Lamberth also criticized the litigation effort in general, accusing the "copyright troll" practice as a "high-tech shakedown" where courts are used "as an ATM."

Judge Vazquez further cites last year's Cobbler Nevada v. Gonzales case. Here, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that identifying the registered subscriber of an IP-address by itself is not enough to plausibly claim that this person is also the infringer.

"Plaintiff will have to show something more than merely tying Defendant to an IP address in order to sufficiently establish copyright infringement," Judge Vazquez notes.

This 'something more' can be quite a stumbling block for these cases, as the rightsholders often have little or no evidence to tie the infringements to a person, other than an IP-address.

The Court realizes that this puts Malibu Media in a tough spot, but sees no other option than to deny the motion for a default judgment.

The ruling is significant in the sense that, without any defense arguments from the accused pirate, a court refused to grant a default judgment. While this is by no means the end of these type of lawsuits, it certainly represents another setback for the ‘copyright troll’ efforts.

A copy of U.S. District Court Judge John Michael Vazquez’s order is available here (pdf)

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.



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Apple Needs to Tackle 'Pirate' Music Apps, Labels Insist

The popularity of smartphones and their accompanying software ecosystems have given rise to large volumes of applications that appear to infringe copyright.

With its side-loading ability, Android is by far the most affected platform, with apps easily installable on millions of devices granting access to unlicensed content, including music, movies, and TV shows.

However, even when apps are pre-vetted for availability on Google Play or Apple’s App Store, some rogue tools slip through the net. This situation is unacceptable to most rightsholders but given the manner in which music is often consumed these days, recording labels tend to be the most dissatisfied.

This has prompted a large coalition of music-focused industry groups, headed up by the Recording Industry Association of Japan (RIAJ), to write to Apple demanding change.

In a joint request the RIAJ, the Japan Association of Music Enterprises, the Music Publishers Association of Japan, and the Federation of Music Producers Japan, to name just four, seek assurances from the US-based tech giant that it will “tighten up” its processes to prevent “unauthorized” streaming apps ending up on its platform.

According to the industry groups, “unauthorized” means any app that allows a user to stream music in “ways that fall beyond the intention of the music’s copyright and neighboring right holders.”

The groups don’t offer any specifics but it seems extremely likely that given the pressure on sites and tools that rip, source, or otherwise cull content from YouTube, these are prime candidates for Apple’s attention.

“The recent torrent of Unauthorized Music Apps flooding the industry is enabling users to listen to music for free, resulting in these app operators to gain unfair profits through advertising sales,” the groups write.

“These operators are not only committing copyright infringement, but also stealing profit from the music’s rightful copyright owners and legitimate service providers—profit that they would have otherwise gained through CD sales, downloads, and streaming.”

That CD sales are placed at the head of the list is unsurprising. Despite much of the world ditching plastic discs in favor of digital streaming, Japan still has a love affair with the format, albeit one that’s on the wane.

According to figures published by the RIAJ, 88.65 million CDs were produced in Japan during 2018, down 13 percent on the previous year. That’s compared to 52 million units sold across the entire US during 2018. In 2014, around 85% of music sales in Japan came from CDs. Around 54% of consumption now comes from streaming.

The RIAJ acknowledges that Apple removes “unlicensed apps” from its App Store in response to takedown requests. However, removed apps sometimes reappear on the platform after being disguised as new tools. As a result, the RIAJ wants to be involved in the app approval process, to ensure that rogue software doesn’t appear on the App Store.

Calling for Apple to “strengthen its review process”, the RIAJ says the US company should begin “contacting and working with RIAJ for apps suspected to be Unauthorized Music Apps” while expediting takedowns for tools that violate Apple’s own terms and conditions.

“The music industry associations and music streaming service providers will continue to discuss and engage in efforts to tighten control over Unauthorized Music Apps, strive to build an honest and fair market, and demand speedy amendment of the Copyright Act that regulates leeching sites and apps,” the RIAJ concludes.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.



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