1 pointDutch anti-piracy group BREIN has targeted pirates of all shapes and sizes over the past several years. It’s also one of the few groups to systematically track copyright infringers on Usenet, which still has millions of frequent users. BREIN sets its aim on prolific uploaders and other large-scale copyright infringers. After identifying its targets, it asks providers to reveal the personal details connected to the account. Not all providers are eager to hand over this information. This is also true for Newsconnection. The Usenet provider was previously ordered by a Dutch court to hand over the IP-addresses, payment information, name and email addresses of three of its users. However, the company appealed the verdict. Newsconnection argued that, among other things, it doesn’t have direct access to the users’ IP-addresses because it’s merely a reseller The company added that the relevant jurisprudence in this area doesn’t apply in this case, since the company operates as an intermediary. In a verdict issued this week, the Court of Appeal rejected these arguments. The Court stressed that it’s not impossible for the Usenet provider to get access to the information BREIN demands. For example, Newsconnection can request IP-addresses of suspected pirates from its hosting provider. If a hosting provider refuses to hand over this information, then the Usenet provider can find another hosting partner that’s more cooperative. Furthermore, the Court also states that, even though it’s a reseller, the Usenet provider must hand over the personal details it has on file for the alleged pirates BREIN identifies. This includes the user’s name and email address. There is also some good news for Newsconnection and its users. BREIN requested the Usenet provider to organize its administration in such a way that it can identify users more easily while keeping more detailed personal information. The Court of Appeal argued that this goes too far as it might potentially violate the privacy of innocent customers. The Court made it clear that Usenet users have a right to privacy. However, those who are suspected of copyright infringement can’t be anonymous. Tweakers highlightsthat the court specifically notes that BREIN’s rights to protect creators prevail over the anonymity of Usenet users. During the appeal, BREIN suggested several steps Newsconnection should take to verify the accuracy of user data. The Court argued that it’s not up to BREIN to decide what steps the provider should take, but agreed that Newsconnection must take measures to ensure that the personal information provided by its users is verified. “The intermediary must take measures to verify customer identity. BREIN cannot dictate what such measures are, the intermediary must decide that itself,” BREIN director Tim Kuik informs TorrentFreak. “Also, the intermediary cannot hide behind dependency on a third party that is unwilling to cooperate. They must secure cooperation contractually or find another business partner,” Kuik adds. TorrentFreak reached out to Newsconnection for a comment on the ruling but at the time of publication, we have yet to hear back.
1 pointTwo men from the UK have been handed lengthy jail sentences for selling piracy-configured set-top devices. Glenn Burrows and Darren Wicks were behind the now-defunct Oobersticks operation which sold thousands of Kodi-powered devices through two UK companies. Burrows was jailed for 22 months while Wicks was sentenced to 20 months, suspended for two years. With the rise of programmable set-top boxes, companies have sprung up all over the UK to fulfil demand, with millions of devices now in the hands of the public. Directed by Norfolk man Glenn Burrows, Ooberstick Ltd was incorporated in February 2016 and was set up to sell relatively expensive devices containing a custom build of Kodi and various addons. TF was previously informed these boxes were shipped out only partly configured, with customers required to complete the final install themselves. A second company, Oober Media Ltd, was incorporated by Burrows during October 2016. Together with Oobersticks, the businesses amassed thousands of customers. However, on Tuesday 13 December 2016, Burrows and business associate Darren Wicks of Wiltshire were arrested. A source who requested anonymity told TF that around six officers and a Sky representative were present during the 7:20am raid. Both men were released on police bail with Burrows informing TF that he believed his business was legal. “I was running a successful business which was both VAT registered in the U.K. and with Worldpay as my payment merchant. For me to get both of those, those parties have to be sure that what I was doing was legal,” he said. Several months later, however, the position changed. On September 7, 2017, at Norwich Crown Court, Burrows pleaded guilty to intentionally encouraging or assisting the commission of an offense, along with a money laundering offense. On May 17, 2018, at the same court, Darren Wicks pleaded guilty to intentionally encouraging or assisting the commission of an offense. Last Friday, both appeared before Norwich Crown Court for sentencing. 33-year-old Burrows (right) was sentenced to 22 months in prison on two counts to run concurrently. He was also made subject to a Serious Crime Prevention Order which prevents him from selling products online for five years. He’s now required to notify police of his online usernames and identities. Wicks, 45, of Chippenham in Wiltshire, was sentenced to 20 months in prison, suspended for two years. He must also carry out 250 hours of unpaid work. “I hope these sentences send a clear message that the use of illicit streaming devices to watch content without the copyright owner’s permission is illegal,” says Detective Sergeant Samantha Shevlin of the Norfolk and Suffolk Police Cyber Crime Unit. “The sale of these boxes has a huge effect on the content owners, broadcasters and the wider public who will end up paying the price for others’ dishonesty. The message really is that simple – devices like this or using one at home to watch content you normally would pay for is breaking the law.” A Proceeds of Crime Act hearing for Burrows will take place in due course. In the meantime, both of his companies have been resigned to history, with Ooberstick Ltd having been dissolved during January 2018 and Oober Media Ltd shut down in March 2018. Neither company ever filed any accounts.
0 pointsA federal court in Florida has granted a temporary restraining order against 33 relatively small pirate sites. The order, requested by media conglomerate ABS-CBN, targets the sites' domain names, advertising revenue, as well as any associated PayPal and other bank accounts. ABS-CBN, the largest media and entertainment company in the Philippines, is continuing its legal campaign against pirate sites in the US. The company has singled out dozens of streaming sites that offer access to ‘Pinoy’ content without permission, both in the US and abroad. The company has already won several cases with damages ranging from a few hundred thousand to millions of dollars. However, the associated injunctions in these cases are perhaps even more significant. We previously covered how ABS-CBN managed to get court orders to seize domain names, without the defendants getting actively involved. In another case, it expanded on this strategy by also going after advertising revenue. This is also the case in a recent lawsuit, where a Florida federal court signed a temporary restraining order targeting more than two dozen sites. However, ABS-CBN takes it up another notch, going after the bank accounts of the sites involved. Last week Chief United States District Judge Kevin Michael Moore signed a temporary restraining order directed at 33 pirate sites. The targets are predominantly niche streaming sites specializing in Pinoy content, such as pinoy.live and pinoybay.se. While these sites serve a relatively small audience, the restraining order has broad implications. It orders domain registrars and registries to make the sites unavailable, for example. In addition, advertising networks are compelled to stop doing business with the sites and freeze any outstanding funds. Finally, and that’s new, the restraining order also targets payment processors. The court specifically mentions PayPal, but the order applies to other payment processors, banks, escrow services, and/or money transmitters as well. The court orders these companies to “…immediately identify and restrain all funds, as opposed to ongoing account activity, in the advertising or PayPal accounts related to Defendants, and their associated payment accounts and e-mail addresses…” From the TRO The advertising companies, including Google’s Adsense, and the other companies such as PayPal also have to provide a detailed overview of the funds they hold for each of the respective sites. Interestingly, the PayPal addresses were discovered through data provided by Cloudflare in response to a subpoena. The details of the relevant order are, unfortunately, being kept under seal. It’s clear, however, that the media giant is using all the legal tools at its disposal to target these pirate sites. The restraining order (pdf) will remain in effect until the court rules on ABS-CBN’s motion for a preliminary injunction. Based on previous cases it’s likely that the measures will remain in effect. At the time of writing, most of the targeted sites are still available, either on their original domain names or through a backup location. Some of the sites.