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expendables3You’d have to be enjoying a Mars residency not to know that all big (and most small) movies get leaked online. If it’s available in a cinema, someone, somewhere will have a copy in a matter of days and it’s just a question of when, not if, it appears on the Internet.

As such, these events aren’t particularly big news but every now and again one comes along to make people sit up and listen. Several hours ago, July 24, 2014, marked one such notable leaking event.

Featuring every action hero known to man, from Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Wesley Snipes, Jason Statham and Jet Li, to UFC stars Randy Couture and Ronda Rousey, Expendables 3 was always going to be a hit. However, the plan was to have it become a hit on the big screen before breaking into the home market.

That is not going to happen. Around twelve hours ago, a near perfect copy of The Expendables 3 appeared online and it’s already a smash hit with home audiences.


Screenshot from the leak

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Figures gathered by TorrentFreak reveal that more than 100,000 people have downloaded the presumed ‘DVD screener’ copy using BitTorrent alone, and at one point in excess of 65,000 users were engaged in transfers on a single torrent.

These stats push the leak well ahead of the initial pre-release popularity of the infamous X-Men Origins: Wolverine leak back in 2009 and once the news begins to spread today, things are only going to get worse.

Needless to say, the folks at distributor Lionsgate are going to be absolutely furious. While ‘cams’ are an annoyance, most movie-goers won’t want to destroy the movie experience by watching them. High-quality copies like this one are a different matter altogether and the soaring download numbers are a testament to that.


No blurry cams here, high-quality all the way

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So who is behind the leak? At this stage it’s impossible to point the finger at the person who obtained the DVD copy. However, we can take a look at who brought the copy to the wider public Internet.

When leaks come from a so-called ‘Scene’ source it’s possible to track the copy at least as far back as the group that placed it online but with so-called P2P releases, as is the case with Expendables 3, that’s not quite so easy. However, the initial and most popular copy appears to be attributable to an entity known as Drarbg.

Drarbg has accounts on several major torrent sites, including The Pirate Bay, and is one of the most prolific BitTorrent releasers online today. Many presume that this is a single person, but Drarbg has previously indicated that it’s a group of individuals working together as a team. Drarbg, as the name suggests, has affiliations with RARBG, a popular public torrent site.

It seems likely that this high-profile, high-quality leak will become a talking point in the hours, weeks and months to come and will probably be seized upon as a prime example of why piracy crackdowns are needed. However, there is also another angle to be aware of.

Nu Image, the production company behind all three Expendables titles, sued previous downloaders of its titles. Will history repeat itself? Time will tell….

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

lsuAnyone providing an Internet-access infrastructure to third parties needs to be aware of the online piracy issue. For service providers, whether that’s a regular ISP, web host, or the operator of a free open WiFi in a local coffee shop, knowledge of how other people’s actions can affect them is a useful asset.

For universities in the United States, awareness of how Internet piracy can affect their establishment is especially crucial. On top of the requirements of the DMCA, in July 2010, exactly four years ago, the U.S. put in place a new requirement for colleges and universities to curtail illegal file-sharing on their networks. Failure to do so can result in the loss of federal funding so needless to say, campuses view the issue seriously.

Yesterday the The Daily Reveille, the official news resource of the Louisiana State University, revealed that LSU’s IT Services receive between 15 and 20 complaints a month from copyright holders, an excellent result for around 30,000 students.

At the start of the last decade it was music companies doing most of the complaining, but Security and policy officer Craig Callender says that with the advent of services such as Spotify being made available, reports from TV companies are more common.

But no matter where they originate, LSU acts on these allegations of infringement. A first complaint sees a student kicked offline, with Internet access only restored after the completion of an educational course covering illegal file-sharing.

Those who breach the rules again have worse to look forward to, starting with a fine.

“LSU is effectively combating unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material by fining students implicated in a verified DMCA copyright violation,” the university’s official policy document reads.

“The $50 fine provides a mechanism for recovering costs incurred in reviewing and processing DMCA notifications, and funding programs for awareness (e.g., education and ad campaign costs).”

Educational campaigns include the promotion of legal services, such as those outlined on the university’s chosen official resource list. Interestingly, while the links for music and books work, the MPAA page for legal TV shows and movies (for which the university receives the most notices) no longer exists.

But while the $50 fine might be harsh enough for a student on a limited budget, LSU warns of even tougher sanctions. Allegations of illegal file-sharing are noted on the student’s academic record which can have implications for his or her career prospects.

In addition, complaints can result in a referral to the Dean of Students’ office for violation of the LSU Code of Student Conduct. According to official documentation, the Student Conduct Office keeps Student Conduct files for seven years after the date of the incident, or longer if deemed necessary.

It’s clear that the work of the RIAA and MPAA in the last decade seriously unnerved universities who have been forced to implement strict measures to curtail unauthorized sharing. LSU says it employs filtering technology to eliminate most P2P traffic but it’s clear that some users are getting through.

Almost certainly others will be using VPN-like solutions to evade not only the P2P ban, but also potential complaints. Still, universities will probably care much less about these users, since they don’t generate DMCA notices and have no impact on their ability to receive federal funding.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

tomskabinetPeople who buy an MP3, digital movie or an eBook assume that they have the right to do whatever they want with it, but copyright holders see things differently.

Platforms that allow people to resell digital goods are meeting fierce resistance from the entertainment industries, who view them as a threat to their online business models.

For example, the major record labels previously pointed out that MP3s are simply too good to resell, as they don’t deteriorate in quality. Similarly, movie studios complained that the ability to sell “used” videos would kill innovation.

The book industry is also concerned and in an attempt to counter this threat several publishers launched a lawsuit against Tom Kabinet, an online marketplace for used eBooks based in the Netherlands.

The publishers fear that the site will negatively impact their business, and that it can’t prevent people from reselling pirated copies. The companies asked the Amsterdam Court for a preliminary injunction against Tom Kabinet, but the request was denied this week.

The Amsterdam Court concluded that selling used eBooks is a legal grey area and not by definition illegal in Europe.

Previously the EU Court of Justice previously ruled that consumers are free to resell games and software, even when there’s no physical copy. That case applied to licensed content, which is different from the Tom Kabinet case, so further investigation is needed to arrive at a final verdict.

The court therefore dismissed the publishers’ claims and ordered them to pay €23.469,56 in legal fees. Tom Kabinet, meanwhile, is still allowed to facilitate the sale of used eBooks.

It’s clear that the publishers didn’t get the result they hoped for. In fact, things have gotten worse, as Tom Kabinet’s visitor numbers have exploded. Shortly after the verdict was announced the site went offline because it couldn’t handle the surge in traffic.

These connectivity issues have been fixed now, and the site’s owner is happy with the outcome thus far.

“There is still a long way to go before legislation is clear on eBooks, but we’ve made a pretty good start,” Tom Kabinet informed TorrentFreak.

The publishers on the other hand are considering further steps, and it’s likely that the case will head to a full trial in the future.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

pirate bayOne of The Pirate Bay’s strengths has been its resilience. No matter how hard the movie and music industries try, the site remains operational.

Over the years the Pirate Bay site has undergone many changes to make it harder to shut down. The tracker was put into retirement, torrents were traded in for magnet links, and the site moved its servers to the cloud.

What remained the same, however, was the site’s general appearance and its lack of support for mobile devices. That changes today.

The Pirate Bay has just debuted a new site for mobile devices. The Mobile Bay offers a much more usable interface to browse the torrent site on mobile devices.

Previously mobile users were simply presented with a smaller version of the regular Pirate Bay site, which was coded long before smartphones and tablets became popular. With banners on both sides it was rather hard to navigate on smaller devices.

The mobile version doesn’t change the overall appearance much, but it’s definitely more readable and easier to navigate.

The new vs. old mobile look

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Users on mobile devices are now redirected to the new Mobile Bay domain, which will exist next to the regular site. People have the option to continue using the old layout if they prefer, but The Pirate Bay team doesn’t see any reason why people would.

“The normal version of the site renders like crap on mobile devices,” the TPB team told us.

The Mobile Bay is one of the largest visible updates to the site in years, but according to The Pirate Bay it’s only the beginning. Behind the scenes the TPB team is working on a series of new niche sites that will provide extra features and make it easier to find content.

The TV, movie and music sections on The Pirate Bay will each get their own dedicated sites. The TV site, for example, will allow users to see a complete overview of all episodes per show, download season packs, and more.

Another new project in the pipeline is the RSSbay which will support personalized RSS feeds enabling people to launch torrents remotely.

“We will add more features later on, such as personal RSS feeds so users can browse torrents at work or school, and start the downloads at home,” the TPB team tells us.

Aside from improving the user experience, the other advantage of these separate domain names is that TPB can’t be taken out as easily.

“We’re trying to separate the site into different domain names to make it more resilient. In the event one domain get taken down, there will be plenty others left,” the TPB team says.

As always with the Pirate Bay, it will be hard to predict how long it will take before these new sites will see the light of day, but the mobile edition is live now.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

suzyDutch movie director Martin Koolhoven sent out an unusual request on Twitter a few days ago.

While many filmmakers fear The Pirate Bay, Koolhoven asked his followers to upload a copy of his 1999 film “Suzy Q” to the site.

“Can someone just upload Suzy Q to The Pirate Bay?” Koolhoven asked.

The director doesn’t own all copyrights to the movie himself, but grew frustrated by the fact that his film is not available through legal channels.

The TV-film, which also features the film debut of Game of Thrones actress Carice Van Houten, was paid for with public money but after the music rights expired nobody was able to see it anymore.

The main problem is with the film’s music, which includes tracks from popular artists such as The Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix. This prevented the film from being released in movie theaters and on DVD, and the TV-network also chose not to extend the licenses for the TV rights.

Since the music was no longer licensed it couldn’t be shown anymore, not even on the websites of the public broadcasters.

“To me, it felt like the movie had died,” Koolhoven tells TorrentFreak.

Hoping to bring it back to life, Koolhoven tweeted his upload request, and it didn’t take long before the pirates delivered. Within a few hours the first copy of the film was uploaded, and several more were added in the days that followed.

“I had no idea the media would pick it up the way they did. That generated more media attention. At first I hesitated because I didn’t want to become the poster boy for the download-movement. All I wanted was for people to be able to see my film,” Koolhoven says.

Unfortunately the first upload of the movie that appeared on The Pirate Bay was in very bad quality. So the director decided to go all the way and upload a better version to YouTube himself.

“I figured it would probably be thrown off after a few days, due to the music rights issue, but at least people could see a half decent version instead of watching the horrible copy that was available on The Pirate Bay,” Koolhoven tells us.

Interestingly, YouTube didn’t remove the film but asked the director whether he had the right to use the songs. Since this is not the case the money made through the advertisements on YouTube will go to the proper rightsholders.

“We’re a few days later now and the movie is still on YouTube. And people have started to put higher quality torrents of Suzy Q on Pirate Bay. Even 720p can be found, I’ve heard,” Koolhoven notes.

While the director is not the exclusive rightsholder, he does see himself as the moral owner of the title. Also, he isn’t shying away from encouraging others to download and share the film.

In essence, he believes that all movies should be available online, as long as it’s commercially viable. It shouldn’t hurt movie theater attendance either, as that remains the main source of income for most films and the best viewing experience.

“I know not everybody cares about that, but I do. The cinema is the best place to see movies. If you haven’t seen ‘Once Upon a Time in the West’ on the big screen, you just haven’t seen it,” Koolhoven says.

In the case of Suzy Q, however, people are free to grab a pirated copy.

“Everyone can go to The Pirate Bay and grab a copy. People are actually not supposed to, but they have my permission to download Susy Q,” Koolhoven said in an interview with Geenstijl.

“If other people download the movie and help with seeding then the download time will be even more reasonable,” Koolhoven adds.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

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