EU Commission Deletes Article 13 Post Because 'Mob' Understood it Incorrectly

Last week the European Parliament and European Council agreed on the final text of the EU Copyright Directive.

Supporters of Article 13 say this will lead to a better deal for the entertainment industries at the expense of Google’s YouTube, since it will have to obtain proper licenses for content uploaded to platform, while taking responsibility for infringing uploads.

Opponents, on the other hand, believe that the Article 13 proposals will be bad news for the Internet as a whole, since they have the potential to stifle free speech and expression, at the very least.

It’s important to note that Article 13 opponents come in all shapes and sizes, some more militant than others. However, last Friday the EU Commission took the ‘one size fits all approach’ by labeling every dissenting voice as being part of a “mob”, one groomed, misinformed and misled by Google.

Given that the Commission’s own Code of Conduct mandates that “both Commissioners and Commission staff are bound to act objectively and impartially”, the publication of the piece was a real surprise. That it also appeared to demean and devalue the public protests of millions of its own citizens bordered on the outrageous.

Proponents and opponents of any pending legislation should be free to undermine the position of their opponents by any legal, non-violent means, but this intervention by the EU seemed flat-out wrong. Taking sides in this way – even if the piece had been against Article 13 – is inappropriate at this stage of the game.

Before we published our report on Friday, a short discussion here at TF concluded that a record of the piece should be taken. None of us here believed it would stay up for long and it transpires that gut instinct was right. Visitors to the Medium page where the piece was published now see the following text;

The people just don’t understand….

The piece appears to have been removed (archive copy here) following a torrent of complaints on social media, with supporters of Article 13 incensed that they were essentially being told they hadn’t made up their own minds about the proposed legislation, but had become mindless zombies hypnotized by an insidious Google campaign.

Whether there is any truth to claims that Google is behind some kind of ‘bot’ campaign will be for future dissection but organizations like the EU Commission shouldn’t go around implying that voters are stupid. They’re allowed to think it (don’t we all to a degree?), but saying it is incredible.

Quite why this line was crossed is anyone’s guess but someone reasonably important sanctioned this piece and it would be nice to know who – and why.

What is even more bewildering is that the Commission is not sorry for what was written. The article was removed not because it was incorrect, but because the public apparently doesn’t have the capacity to understand it. Evidently, a simple update and clarification wouldn’t have been understood either, hence the deletion of the entire piece.

Mentioning SOPA in the same breath as Article 13 always raises hackles among entertainment industry groups because there are plenty of legitimate reasons why they want it to be forgotten. Now, seven years on, they might finally get their wish because what is happening now is arguably much more ugly. This could be the new benchmark, the new low.

Let’s be absolutely clear and honest here. In common with every political campaign in history, there has been misinformation on both sides of the Article 13 debate. In the middle, however, are genuine people who either want to protect their creative revenues or keep their Internet free and open.

The bias presented in the piece by the EU Commission undermined the credibility of all of them. It doesn’t need to be explained, it speaks for itself.

If the music industries and the EU want to take on the dominance of Google, then they should do so. If Google is found to have done wrong in this campaign, then it should face whatever is coming. That said, why do hundreds of millions of citizens have to be caught in the crossfire?

George Carlin said we should never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups. Or was that the EU Commission, I forget now.

What i’m absolutely certain of is that it was David Brent, the world’s greatest living philosopher, who said that when we treat people greatly, they will show themselves to be great. I guess it’s a bit late for that now.

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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Dutch Filmworks Continues Quest to Identify Alleged Pirates

Piracy settlement letters have become a serious threat in several countries.

Until now, Dutch Internet users have been spared from this practice, but if it’s up to local movie distributor Dutch Filmworks, that will soon change.

Little over a year ago the company received permission from the Dutch Data Protection Authority to track the IP-addresses of BitTorrent users who shared pirated movies.

However, that was only the first hurdle, as Dutch Internet provider Ziggo didn’t want to share any customer data without a court order.

The case went to court, where the movie company requested personal details of 377 account holders whose addresses were used to share a copy of “The Hitman’s Bodyguard”.

This turned out to be a disappointment for Dutch Filmworks (DWF). The court rejected the request, ruling that it's unclear how the movie company plans to approach the account holders, and whether it sees these people as the offending downloaders.

In addition, it is unclear whether the proposed settlements, which are expected to be around €150 per infringement, do indeed match up with the actual damages the movie company suffered. That number may be a 'fine' to some extent, which shouldn't be part of a settlement.

DWF was disappointed with the outcome but it’s not letting the case go. A few days ago, the company announced that it will appeal. According to the movie distributor, it should be entitled to find out who the ‘infringing’ subscribers are.

“In the verdict, the judge agreed with DWF on almost all points. In the end, after weighing all interests, the judge rejected the claim of DFW nonetheless,” the company writes.

“DFW is of the opinion that this decision should have been in favor of the rightsholder and it is convinced that the claim should be awarded on appeal.”

Since the initial request was denied because several issues were unclear, a win on appeal is certainly possible. DWF notes that while the court ruled that subscribers are not by definition liable for everything that happens on their connection, they do have a certain responsibility.

“Moreover, in its verdict, the court indicated that the fact that the IP address holder is not necessarily the infringer does not relieve the subscriber of the same IP address from his or her responsibility for what happens from that IP address,” the company adds.

As such, there may be a reason to hand over personal information of subscribers to the movie distributor. For example, to contact the account holder in an attempt to track down the actual infringer.

Overall, Dutch Filmworks is confident that the appeal will turn out in its favor. Ziggo hasn’t commented in detail on DWF’s decision. “We wait and see,” a spokesperson told the local news site Nu.nl.

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 - 02/18/19

This week we have four newcomers in our chart.

Creed II 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 (…) Creed II 7.5 / trailer
2 (…) Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald 6.8 / trailer
3 (…) Ralph Breaks the Internet 7.2 / trailer
4 (1) Robin Hood 5.3 / trailer
5 (2) Mortal Engines 6.3 / trailer
6 (3) Bohemian Rhapsody 8.3 / trailer
7 (4) Overlord 6.9 / trailer
8 (…) The Favourite 7.8 / trailer
9 (6) A Star Is Born 7.7 / trailer
10 (7) Aquaman (Subbed HDRip) 7.7 / 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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Torrent Sites Ban Popular Uploader 'CracksNow' for Sharing Ransomware

The entertainment industries regularly warn the public at large that pirate sites are riddled with malware and viruses, posing a threat to unwitting visitors.

While these comments are partly made out of self-interest, they’re not entirely overblown. There are indeed plenty of scammers who upload nasty content that is added to, or disguised as, popular files.

This is nothing new and generally speaking, these files are easy to spot and swiftly removed from well-moderated sites. However, in a recent case, this wasn’t as apparent, since it involved a well-known uploader that had a “trusted’ status on some sites.

The uploader in question is Cracksnow, who shared tens of thousands of cracked software titles in recent years. A dedicated group of followers watched these torrents and “Cracksnow” was previously listed as one of the most searched for terms on torrent sites.

In recent months, however, numerous reports claimed that these popular releases contained malware, or even ransomware, which can do serious harm to one’s computer. 

Below is an example of a now-removed torrent on 1337x.to which reportedly included a copy of the GandCrab ransomware.

Ransom?

A few of these reports are nothing out of the ordinary. Anti-virus vendors sometimes flag cracks as malicious, without good reason, for example. Also, “rival” uploaders may try to discredit the competition with fake malware reports.

However, in the case of CracksNow, the complaints were plentiful, persistent, and not without consequence.

Earlier this month, the popular torrent site 1337x took action and banned the account. This is quite unusual since it was a “trusted” uploader, but a senior staffer informs TorrentFreak that the reports were warranted.

“He was banned by myself because I found ransomware in his uploads,” the 1337x admin, who prefers not to be named, tells us.
 
“I also checked the same uploads from him on a couple other torrent sites and got the same results. I immediately alerted their staff about it so they could investigate and take appropriate action, which they did,” the admin adds.
 
GandCrab 5.1, found by the admin
Indeed, several other torrent sites, including TorrentGalaxy,  have banned the CracksNow account as well. A Pirate Bay admin also confirmed that the uploader was purged from their site months ago, but no reason was specified. 
 
Every day moderators on torrent sites have to review a lot of reported torrents. These are all checked carefully and in many cases, there’s nothing malicious going on. That said, malware infested torrents are found on a daily basis. 
 
The 1337x admin informs us that they have a system in place to ensure that things don’t get out of hand. This includes an approval process for uploaders. However, this obviously isn’t perfect.
 
“It is a daily battle to sort the scumbags from the legit uploaders and staff work very hard but it’s not foolproof. What I will say is staff are very quick to adapt to all the new ways people try to beat our systems,” the admin says.
 
In the case of CracksNow, the moderators didn’t see it coming. That said, the account is banned now and the team believes that all malicious torrents have been deleted. 
 
“I must admit that it is rare for a trusted uploader of this caliber to go rogue. It’s normally new guys that have the infected files,” the 1337x admin notes.
 
“CracksNow was a trusted uploader and had been warned in the past but only for misdemeanors.  To the best of our knowledge, the remaining torrents are ransomware free but his account is due for removal.”
 
Banned!
Indeed, while many recent torrents have been deleted, the CracksNow account and many older torrents remain available. This is because the site has some built-in protections which makes it hard to delete accounts with this many torrents.
 
The moderation team doesn’t believe these older torrent are malicious but it’s working on a full removal of the account. This will take some time though.
 
While CracksNow is no longer welcome at several torrent sites, the uploader still has his own home at CracksNow.com. Plenty of new uploads still appear there regularly.
 
TorrentFreak reached out to the uploader to hear the other side of the story, but after a few days, we have yet to get a response. 
 

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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When Building a Torrent Site, Streaming Service, or App, Intent is Almost Everything

Several weeks ago, former BitTorrent Inc. executive Simon Morris published a series of articles on Medium, discussing his time at the company and thoughts for the future.

By any standard, his articles are absolutely first class and a must-read for anyone interested in the resilience of the BitTorrent protocol, decentralization, and how ‘breaking rules’ can create both winners and losers.

The third piece in the series raises an extremely important issue – that of initial intent when creating disruptive platforms or technologies.

Perhaps most notably and despite his technology facilitating the sharing and downloading of billions of dollars worth of content, BitTorrent protocol inventor Bram Cohen was never sued for his work. Cohen set out to solve the problem of transferring big files in an efficient way, there was never any talk of piracy.

The same can be said of BitTorrent Inc., which despite controlling uTorrent, the world’s most recognizable file-sharing client, has never been taken to court for its activities. Considering the scale of infringement that’s now accidentally associated with the work of Cohen and his now-former company, it’s notable – but not that surprising – that the lawyers have stayed away.

That didn’t happen by chance. Neither Cohen or his former company have ever advocated the use of their technologies for infringing purposes.

This valuable lesson, of not promoting a tool or service for illegal uses, should never be underestimated. Intent, as mentioned earlier, is almost everything. No matter if a product passes the test of having “substantial non-infringing uses”, incriminating statements made by its creator (even before a project even gets off the ground) can come back to haunt – indefinitely.

Regularly, on various online discussion platforms, technically gifted individuals report that they are about to launch a new torrent site, streaming service, app, or similarly functional platform. Invariably they explain their project’s progress thus far (sometimes with links to Github) and then seek opinions on what users might find useful in a finished product.

However, more often than not, they also shoot themselves in the foot by talking about piracy-related matters. While it’s undoubtedly useful to consider how the law might view such a platform in the future, very often the conversations step over the line, with the effect of forever associating the finished product with copyright infringement.

Admittedly, the odds of site/service/app operators getting sued are relatively small, given the large number of sites out there that continue to operate both blatantly and with impunity versus the number of lawsuits filed.

However, given the importance of intent, especially that which is made public in discussions when a project is getting off the ground, the chances of any subsequent prosecution being successful increases exponentially.

Given that people launching such sites and services must be pretty familiar with the hostile legal environment surrounding these platforms, it seems entirely counter-intuitive to state from the outset that the intent is to infringe, or at least assist others in their infringing activity. But herein lies the problem.

As Morris suggests, those who set out to break rules (disrupting big business or even governments with cryptocurrency, to take his example) essentially have two choices.

They can either do so without displaying ‘evil’ intent while throwing plenty of positive reinforcement into the mix (promotion of legal activity). Or they can do so anonymously, so a potentially incriminating past doesn’t catch up with them later.

While anonymity is an option for those intending to create piracy-focused platforms, it isn’t a simple position to maintain long-term, especially for those whose aim is to generate and ultimately enjoy revenue.

Also, not promoting a ‘pirate’ service for piracy purposes means that the intended audience won’t easily flock aboard to make the site or service a success, since there are so many competitors obviously doing so already.

So, while the headline of this piece states that ‘intent’ is almost everything, in today’s environment it could be argued that for prospective ‘pirate’ site operators, anonymity is even more important.

A third option, which is generally underrated, is obscurity – but that’s way too boring for those seeking notoriety on the high seas.

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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Pirate Site Slammed for Meddling with DRM-Free Games, Circumvention Ensues

When piracy groups or sites release games online, consumers (despite paying nothing for the pleasure) expect certain standards.

On a base level the game must work as advertised, any DRM should be removed, and no one should add any unwanted extras – particularly not malware, spyware, or forced advertising.

In the vast majority of cases, pirate releases tend to conform to these standards but a popular pirate site called IGG-Games (Ranked the 1,500th most popular site in the world by SimilarWeb) has been widely accused of not playing by the accepted rules for quite some time now.

According to those familiar with the site’s releases, IGG-Games regularly includes some in-game extras of its own, to ensure that it gets the recognition for distributing (in many cases, re-distributing) pirated games.

In fact, if users try to remove any of the files placed in releases that contain or facilitate the displaying of advertising for the site, the pirated games break and will not run.

Removing credits for piracy breaks IGG-Games’ releases (Via Reddit user)

While this type of practice is frowned upon in pirate circles, IGG-Games seems to have hit the negative publicity jackpot by adding the above ‘system’ (which many are describing as a type of DRM) to what are ordinarily DRM-free games.

One example involves the relatively low budget title The Eternal Castle [REMASTERED] which is distributed via Steam and has been pretty well received by gamers. It isn’t protected as standard but the addition of custom code means that removing advertising placed in the release by IGG-Games actually stops the game from running.

People have been complaining of this and similar issues on IGG-Games itself for some time but reports suggest that those who get too vocal are finding themselves banned from the platform. However, a team member admitted this week that the code had been put there on purpose to ensure advertising for the site isn’t removed from ‘their’ pirate releases.

“The games that have that dynamic library [DLL], are those that were acquired with administration resources, it starts when the game is executed and verifies the existence of the text files of Igg,” the moderator wrote.

While some are describing this mechanism as DRM, that’s probably a step too far since the titles can still be easily copied as they stand. However, most pirates do not like releases being meddled with. Any code should be functional in a positive way and if any extras are included, they should enhance the experience, not detract from it. Messing with a DRM-free game is never accepted behavior.

There’s also a niggling belief among some pirates that when release groups or sites are prepared to go to this extent to protect ‘their’ content, other nefarious code might also be present in their releases. IGG-Games has been shown to put their own advertising, watermarks and logos in-game, as the site itself admits.

“We used the money to buy these games, so we added watermarks to restrict other sites to grab it and upload to their site. But we only add the watermark to the Menu or the Loading of the game, so it does not affect your game experience at all,” IGG-Games notes.

Despite claims to the contrary, we haven’t seen any solid evidence that IGG-Games releases contain any malware. That being said, the point of all the advertising is to drive traffic to the IGG-Games site, which is ‘interesting’ to visit without a decent ad-blocker, to say the least.

In the meantime, however, pirates are fighting back against IGG-Games’ ‘DRM’. Two threads published on Reddit this week (here and here) detail techniques and software to remove the unwanted code, both of which have been met with enthusiasm by those who enjoy ‘clean’ piracy.

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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Filmmakers Want Phone Ban and Special Court to Tackle Indian 'Cam' Piracy

With Bollywood, India has a thriving movie industry that’s known all around the world.

On the other hand, the country also has one of the highest piracy rates, which is seen as a major threat by industry insiders.

Following pressure from U.S. movie companies, India’s government recently agreed to update its Cinematograph Act to outlaw ‘cam’ piracy. Anyone recording or transmitting movies in a movie theater without permission now faces a three-year prison sentence.

This change was welcomed by film industry insiders around the world. The Film Federation of India (FFI) is also happy, but the group notes that more may be required to effectively deter pirates.

Supran Sen, Secretary General of the Film Federation told IANS that enforcement authorities haven’t been very helpful in the past. Therefore, they would like to see a special court where these ‘cam’ piracy cases can be handled.

“We want the government to tackle the problem of piracy by creating special courts where our pleas can be considered seriously. Many a times when we approached police with complaints about issues like piracy, they ignored us,” Sen said.

FFI’s Vice-President Ramesh Tekwani affirms the call for a special court and adds that mobile phones should be banned from movie theaters as well.

”[The] announcement is fine but people should be stopped from recording films by asking them to deposit their phones before entering theaters,” Tekwani said.

”One single phone can shoot the entire film. People also know different ways to record the film,” he added.

It is not uncommon for movie theaters to implement strict anti-piracy measures and the movie industry could mandate a phone ban of its own, if they can convince theaters to do so.

While that will certainly burden the public at large, the Film Federation believes that it’s essential to get a grip on piracy.

The question is, however, how ‘urgent’ this matter is at the moment. According to new data released by the International Intellectual Property Alliance, India-sourced ‘cam’ piracy has dropped drastically in recent years.

Last year there were only two films that leaked from India, a significant drop compared to a year earlier. At the same time, unauthorized movie audio recordings decreased as well.

“In 2018, there were two camcorded videos sourced to Indian theaters, down from ten in 2017. There were 23 illicit audio recordings sourced to Indian theaters last year, down from 36 in 2017,” IIPA notes. 

With thousands of cinema screens and more than two billion tickets sold per year, these numbers are relatively low for the world’s leading film market.

That said, IIPA relies on data from the MPAA, and it’s unclear whether Bollywood films are counted as well. A quick search suggests that more than two Indian movies were cammed last year.

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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ACE Sues Cord-Cutting Service "Omniverse" For Copyright Infringement

Streaming set-top boxes and IPTV services have been selling like hot cakes over the past several years.

While some of these offer access legally, that’s certainly not always the case. The unauthorized services are a thorn in the side of mainstream entertainment industry companies, which are trying hard to address the problem. 

The Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE) has been particularly active on this front. The anti-piracy partnership between Hollywood studios, Netflix, Amazon, and more than two dozen other companies, has filed lawsuits against several services already, and this week they add a big one to the list. 

In a complaint filed at a Federal Court in California, ACE accuses the US-based company ‘Omniverse One World Television’ and its owner Jason DeMeo of copyright infringement.

Omniverse doesn’t offer any streaming boxes but sells live-streaming services to third-party distributors, such as Dragon Box, HDHomerun, Flixon TV, and SkyStream TV, which in turn offer live TV streaming packages to customers. 

“Defendants operate at a higher level in the supply chain of infringing content—recruiting numerous downstream services like Dragon Box into the illicit market and providing them with access to unauthorized streams of copyrighted content.

“Defendants function as a ‘hub’ of sorts, with the enlisted downstream
services as the ‘spokes.’ Omniverse's offering is illegal, it is growing, and it
undermines the legitimate market for licensed services,” the complaint adds.

According to the official website, Omniverse includes more than 70 top US TV channels and 8 premium channels. However, ACE and its members allege that some of the channels are offered without proper licenses. As such, they are illegal.

"Omniverse's illegal services, and the downstream ‘Powered by Omniverse' entities, undermine the legitimate market for legal and licensed services, a harm that has grown as Omniverse has expanded,” ACE spokesperson   Richard VanOrnum informs TorrentFreak.

Omniverse

Omniverse’s owner Jason DeMeo previously insisted that his company had acquired the rights to stream some channels in the US. However, in an interview with Cord Cutters News, he was not willing to share any details on the underlying contract.

The complaint clearly disputes this, stressing that Omniverse and all "Powered by Omniverse” services are operating illegally.

“Plaintiffs have not granted licenses that permit Defendant DeMeo or
Omniverse to stream the Copyrighted Works or sublicense streams to whatever counterparty they wish,” ACE writes.

According to ACE, the public has plenty of options to watch movies and TV-shows through official channels, with 140 legal online services for film and TV content is the US alone. 

The movie, TV show, and distribution alliance is now asking the California court for an injunction to shut down the infringing service and impound all hardware. In addition, they're requesting statutory damages which can go up to several million dollars.

MPAA’s VP of Communications, Kaelan Hollon, informs TorrentFreak that lawsuits like this one are needed to protect the livelihoods of millions of people who depend upon a healthy film and television industry.

"I've seen firsthand how creators are economically harmed by piracy enterprises, which is why today's ACE litigation - and the MPAA's work helping make it happen - is another strong step forward protecting the rights of artists,” Hollon says.

We also reached out to Omniverse for a comment on the allegations but at the time of writing, we have yet to hear back. The Omniverse website, meanwhile, remains online.

A copy of the ACE complaint against Omniverse 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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Vox Targets The Verge Critic With Dubious YouTube Takedown

The Verge is typically known as a news operation that’s fairly critical of copyright abuse. 

The site has repeatedly highlighted problems with YouTube’s Content-ID and copyright takedown system. 

Just this week it reported how YouTube is being used for extortion scams, an issue that we covered last month. The site also covered the Article 13 plans in the EU, with a headline stating that it threatens the Internet as we knew it.

Given the above, it’s surprising that a video from The Verge is now at the center of the latest YouTube copyright takedown mess. 

The trouble started earlier this week when YouTuber Kyle was informed by YouTube that one of his videos was removed following a takedown request from Vox Media, the parent company of The Verge.

Kyle allegedly infringed the copyrights of The Verge’s “PC Build Video,” which was published last year. The video in question has been widely criticized as the “how to” made several crucial mistakes, according to experts.

The accompanying The Verge article remains online today, with corrections, but the video in question was pulled from YouTube. However, the numerous reaction videos, in which YouTubers responded to the mistakes, are still up. 

This included Kyle’s response video, which is typically covered by fair use. But, apparently, Vox saw reason to take it down. Not by some automatic Content-ID claim though. No, this was an actual takedown notice, which is typically done manually and results in a ‘strike’ on the channel. 

The notice Kyle received

The precise reason for the takedown is unclear but many people believe that Vox was trying to bury the negative responses. If that’s the case, it would be a typical example of takedown abuse, something The Verge may want to look into. 

If burying the criticism was the goal this certainly backfired, since what we have now is a typical example of the Streisand Effect. All of a sudden, hundreds of thousands of eyeballs are being drawn to the not-so-accurate how-to video, generating even more negative responses. 

Paul’s Hardware has a good overview of the original video, the response, and the early aftermath, and many others have jumped on the story since.
 
The good news is that all the public outcry has paid off, for Kyle at least. He filed a counter-notice and the video was swiftly restored. According to Kyle, YouTube sent the following message to The Verge. 
 
“Hi The Verge, We are very concerned that your copyright notification may not be valid for some or all of the videos identified in your notification.”
 
TorrentFreak reached out to Vox Media for a response but thus far we haven’t heard back. In the meantime, here’s the now-uncensored video in all its glory.
 
The now uncensored video 

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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EU Commission Portrays "Article 13" Opponents as a Misled and Misinformed Mob

This Wednesday the European Parliament and European Council agreed on the final text of the EU Copyright Directive.

That, of course, includes the hugely controversial Article 13, which critics insist will lead to upload filtering, censorship, plus all kinds of unintended consequences that could change the shape of the Internet forever.

Urgent claims have been made on both sides, including that the music industry could be brought to its knees if Article 13 doesn’t pass, and the Internet will break if the worst fears of the legislation come true. In the end and as predicted by many, it appears that the EU Commission sided with those claiming the former.

A bigger surprise came from the EU Commission itself when it waded in Thursday with a stinging article of its own, one which implies that the millions who objected against Article 13 were misled and therefore misinformed. It was also a surprise to see the Commission itself suggest that “paid-for campaigns” were at least partly to blame.

It has to be stressed that the Commission piece seems intentionally loose at times, perhaps to avoid direct accusations towards any particular company. However, when it begins by stating that searches for the ‘EU Copyright Directive’ on YouTube renders results that are mostly “passionately against it”, the tone is well and truly set.

Pointing out headlines such as 'Today Europe lost the Internet', 'How the new copyright laws will destroy the internet', and 'Censorship machines', the Commission says that the campaign against Article 13 is being driven by “catchy slogans”, not the truth. It even manages to squeeze in what appears to be a reference to the UK’s decision to leave the EU.

“Of course, we know from recent elections and referendums that simple memorable slogans?—?however untrue or unobtainable?—?can go a long way to winning over hearts, minds and voters. And so it was, that the wholly inaccurate phrases 'link taxes' and 'censorship machines' started to be part of the campaign against the proposed Copyright Directive,” the Commission writes.

What follows is a familiar outline of why the Commission feels that Article 13 is needed, arguing that big tech companies such as Google/YouTube and Facebook shouldn’t be allowed to make money by placing ads against infringing content on their platforms. It then steps in to discredit the ‘meme ban’.

Oh and by the way,” the Commission continues. “No matter what some people (and paid-for campaigns) may tell you, you will never be prevented from having a laugh online. WE ARE NOT BANNING MEMES. On the contrary, there will be a guarantee that platforms respect your right to self-expression. That includes pastiche, critique and parody.”

Then, however, things begin to get a little more gritty.

The Commission says that despite having overwhelming dominance online, the “largest search and video platforms” (fill in the blanks yourself) are “afraid of regulation”. Furthermore, these companies have skewed the campaign against Article 13 in their favor by “creating” (subtle sarcasm there, perhaps) “grassroots campaigns” to make it look and sound as if the EU is acting against “the will of the people.”

That, the Commission says, is nonsense, because “unlike Google and Facebook, the EU is answerable to the public and to democratically elected politicians.”

The underlying tone from the EU Commission is that meddling by tech giants led to members of the public being misled, stirred up, and forced into opposition over Article 13, but not based on the true facts.

“So next time, when you get a sponsored message on your timeline, which says something like 'the EU will kill the world wide web as we know it', stop, pause and consider for a moment. Ask yourself: Cui Bono? Who really benefits from this message or this wider negative campaign?” the Commission adds.

These comments are probably a little insulting to the people who have followed this from the beginning and have formed their own opinions based on solid research and facts as written in EU documentation. However, the EU Commission seems to believe that the majority have simply acted like sheep, herded up by US tech giants.

“Do Google, Facebook or others really need to pay to persuade? Are we in a world where ordinary people side with the fire breathing dragon against the knight with a blue and yellow shield?” it asks.

Some supporters of Article 13 are already celebrating the EU Commission’s piece as validation of their theories that this wasn’t a fair fight, that tech companies did indeed unfairly meddle in the process that led up to Wednesday’s agreement.

The problem, however, is that this isn’t over yet, and the suggestion that people who opposed Article 13 are poorly informed may only serve to pour yet more fuel on the fire by infuriating everyone, informed or otherwise.

Whether one agrees or disagrees with the Commission’s assertions, it might have been prudent to keep these opinions behind closed doors, at least until this is all over. The timing doesn’t seem great but pretty much nothing about this entire campaign has been.

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