Android Pirate Agrees To Work Undercover For the Feds

snappzIn 2012, three Android-focused websites were seized by the Department of Justice. With help from French and Dutch police, the FBI took over applanet.net, appbucket.net and snappzmarket.com, a trio of so-called ‘rogue’ app stores.

Carrying out several arrests the authorities heralded the operation as the first of its kind, alongside claims that together the sites had facilitated the piracy of more than two million apps.

Last month the Department of Justice announced that two of the three admins of Appbucket had entered guilty pleas to charges of criminal copyright infringement and would be sentenced in June.

Yesterday the DoJ reported fresh news on the third defendant. Appbucket’s Thomas Pace, 38, of Oregon City, Oregon, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement and will be sentenced in July.

As reported in late March, the former operator of Applanet says he intends to fight the U.S. Government. However, the same definitely cannot be said about Kody Jon Peterson of Clermont, Florida.

The 22-year-old, who was involved in the operations of SnappzMarket, pleaded guilty this week to one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement. He admitted being involved in the illegal copying and distribution of more than a million pirated Android apps with a retail value of $1.7 million. His sentencing date has not been set, but even when that’s over his debt to the government may still not be paid.

As part of his guilty plea, Peterson entered into a plea agreement in which he gave up his right to be tried by a jury and any right to an appeal. He also accepted that he could be jailed for up to five years, be subjected to supervised release of up to three years, be hit with a $250,000 fine, and have to pay restitution to the victims of his crimes.

spyPeterson also agreed to cooperate with the authorities in the investigation, including producing all relevant records and attending interviews when required. However, in addition to more standard types of cooperation, the 22-year-old also agreed to go much further. A copy of his plea agreement obtained by TF reveals that Peterson has agreed to work undercover for the Government.

“Upon request by the Government, the Defendant agrees to act in an undercover investigative capacity to the best of his ability,” the agreement reads.

“The Defendant agrees that Defendant will make himself available to the law enforcement agents designated by the Government, will fully comply with all reasonable instructions given by such agents, and will allow such agents to monitor and record conversations and other interactions with persons suspected of criminal activity.”

The plea agreement also notes that in order to facilitate this work, Government attorneys and agents are allowed to contact Peterson on no notice and communicate with him without his own attorney being present. The extent of Peterson’s cooperation will eventually be detailed to the sentencing court and if it is deemed to be “substantial” then the Government will file a motion to have his sentence reduced.

But despite the agreements, Peterson has another huge problem to face. According to court documents he is an immigrant to the United States and as such a guilty plea could see him removed from the country. Whether he will be allowed to stay will be the subject of a separate proceeding but given his agreement to work undercover it seems unlikely the Government would immediately choose to eject such a valuable asset.

In the meantime, former associates and contacts of Peterson could potentially be talking online to him right now, with a FBI agent listening in over his shoulder and recording everything being said.

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

Game of Thrones Sets New Torrent Swarm Record

thrones Yesterday the second episode of Game of Thrones’ fourth season made its way onto the Internet. As expected, this generated quite a bit of activity on various torrent sites.

From all over the world people virtually gathered around the various pirated copies of the show, breaking the record for the largest BitTorrent swarm ever in the process.

A few hours after the second episode came online the Demonii tracker reported that 193,418 people where sharing one single torrent. 145,594 had a complete copy of the episode and continued to upload, while 47,824 were still downloading the file.

These are unprecedented numbers – never before have 193,418 people shared a single file simultaneously. The previous record was set last year, when the season finale of Game of Thrones had 171,572 people sharing on a single tracker.

Last week’s season opening, on the other hand, had “only” 140,000 people sharing the most active torrent. There wasn’t per se less interest in this episode, but at the time the downloaders were spread out more across different torrents.

Game of Thrones’ new file-sharing record

trackers-got-record

In addition to this record-breaking torrent, there were also several other Game of Thrones torrents out there with tens of thousands of people sharing.

Counting all the different releases it’s estimated that the latest Game of Thrones episode was downloaded roughly 1.5 million times during the first day. This makes the show the likely candidate to be crowned the most-downloaded TV-show at the end of the year.

As previously revealed, Game of Thrones downloaders come from all over the world. Data gathered during the first 12 hours after the release last week revealed that most downloaders came from Australia, followed by the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and The Netherlands.

Interestingly, Game of Thrones is available through legal channels in all countries listed above, albeit not cheaply.

The current record probably won’t last for long. The show’s ratings generally go up throughout the season, and so do the unauthorized downloads. This makes it likely that the barrier of 200,000 simultaneous file-sharers will be broken during the weeks to come.

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

Cinefi Streams Movie and TV-Torrents Straight to Your Browser

cinefiA few weeks ago a new piece of software called “Popcorn Time” made headlines around the world.

The key to this success was the app’s sheer simplicity, something that was missing from most of the earlier torrent streaming services. Today, a new torrent streaming service launched, one that’s just as simple, but doesn’t require any extra software.

Using only HTML5 technology, Cinefi can stream video torrents directly to a browser. There is no need to install any software or plugins and it works on every platform. This is not limited to PCs and laptops either, since it also includes mobile devices and game consoles.

TorrentFreak caught up with the main developer Rich, who says that the main motivation to develop the service was to see if it was possible to make a torrent streaming tool without any additions.

“We started the project for the sheer challenge of seeing if we could stream torrents directly to the browser without any other software,” Rick explains to TF.

The result is a web service that looks awfully simple, but works as advertised. Similar to Popcorn Time, it taps into a database of YTS movies, but users can also stream other videos by pasting a magnet link into the search box.

“Right now you can search for movies, which come from YTS, but Cinefi will play any torrent or magnet link, except videos encoded in AVI. Just paste and click,” Rich says.

As can be seen below, a trailer of the fourth Game of Thrones season plays just fine after a few seconds of loading time. As with any torrent streaming service, the playback is the smoothest for files that have relatively many seeders.

Cinefi: Game of Thrones Trailer

cinefy-gottrailer

Cinefi is closed source and uses a “patent-pending technology” which blends several HTML5 technologies. According to the developer, this makes it the first torrent streaming service of its kind, and since it doesn’t depend on extra software, it can be used by pretty much anyone, anywhere.

Of course, the entertainment industries are not going to cheer on this development, but the technology itself isn’t infringing on any copyrights according to the Cinefi team. In fact, they advise people not to use the service in any way that might break the law.

“As stated on the site, the site is legal to use, but downloading illegal torrents isn’t. We don’t encourage any illegal activity on the site. We do not host or store any torrents,” Rich tells TF.

“We merely provide the technology and it is up to the user’s discretion,” he adds.

Those who are interested can head over to Cinefi.com and take the service for a spin, with this torrent for example. It’s free to use, and will remain so for the foreseeable future.

Update: Cinefi appears to have some trouble loading every now and then, probably due to the sudden increase in vsitors.

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

Why People Pirate Game of Thrones, a Global Cost Breakdown

game of thronesIn a few hours a new episode of Game of Thrones will appear on BitTorrent, and a few days later roughly four million people will have downloaded this unofficial release.

Those who pirate the show have several reasons for doing so. In some countries there is simply no legal option available, however, the price tag that comes with many of the legal services is almost as big of a hurdle.

So what does it cost to access Game of Thrones legally in the countries where the show is most frequently pirated? We decided to take a look based on the list of countries that had the most Game of Thrones file-sharers last week.

Below is a selection of the options people have in Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and the Netherlands.

Australia

In Australia, Game of Thrones fans need a Foxtel subscription. When we look at the packages offered on the website the cheapest option appears to be the movie and drama combo, which costs $74 AUD (~ 70 USD) per month.

However, the minimum subscription term is six months, which with the added costs adds up to $520 AUD (~ 490 USD).

Assuming that someone’s only interested in watching Game of Thrones, an Australian fan will have to pay $52 AUD (~ 49 USD) per episode, which is rather expensive.

While it’s not advertised as any of the standard options, there’s also the Foxtel Play subscription. This allows people to watch Game of Thrones on demand on a variety of devices. The regular cost of this plan is $50 AUD (~ 50 USD) per month, and there’s currently an offer to get the first three months for $35 AUD (~ 33 USD). The Foxtel website notes that there is no long contract, which makes this option considerably cheaper.

The United States

In the United States there are several options available, which vary per cable provider. The cost of most HBO subscriptions are between $15 and $25 per month, depending on where you live and what your current plan is.

The downside, in addition to being locked in for several months sometimes, is that the HBO deals require a cable/Internet subscription. This makes the total package considerably more expensive, more than $100 per month in some cases.

But then again, pirates need an Internet subscription anyway.

The United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom Game of Thrones is available via Sky Atlantic. The costs are £21.50 (36 USD) a month, but with a minimum contract period of 12 months. This means that for those who are only interested in Game of Thrones, there’s a price tag of £25.80 per episode.

The good news is that UK viewers can watch the episodes simultaneously with the US broadcast, which 9,000 people did this past Sunday.

Update: Sky also offers an online “Now TV” entertainment pass without a contract. Now TV is currently available at an introductory rate of £4.99 per month.

Canada

In Canada, Game of Thrones comes in a package of The Movie Network. The price is roughly $20 CAD (~ 18 USD) per month on both Bell and Rogers. This also requires a digital or satellite TV subscription, which drives the price up to over $60 CAD per month for those who don’t have one.

Again, as with the previous examples, some plans require a several-months-long contract which makes it less interesting for those who only want to watch Game of Thrones.

The Netherlands

In the Netherlands HBO can be ordered as an add-on to most standard cable TV subscriptions. The standard price is roughly 15 euros (~ 21 USD) per month, and several providers allow subscribers to cancel after a month.

The cheapest cable subscriptions in the Netherlands average around 10 euros, which brings the total package to roughly 25 euros (~ 35 USD) per month.

Interestingly, HBO NL offers the first episode of season 4 for free, on YouTube. Of course, this is only available to people from the Netherlands.

Conclusion

The above shows that Game of Thrones certainly doesn’t come cheap, especially not for the true cable-cutters who have no interest in the other content it’s bundled with.

While most people will agree that paying for content is the right thing to do, it’s not always an intuitive choice when a single episode is twice as expensive as a box office ticket for the average Hollywood blockbuster.

So do all these pirates have a point or not?

According to Bruce Meagher, corporate director of “$52 AUD per episode” Foxtel, they do not.

“What we are left with is an argument at the margins about a few dollars. Yet some people still feel that they should be entitled to take this show for free without the consent of its creators rather than pay a reasonable price for an extraordinary product,” he says.

“The Lannisters may not be a pleasant lot, but they, at least, always pay their debts,” he adds.

So what do you think?

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

Why Are Porn Perfomers Scared to Talk About Internet Piracy?

Internet porn is big – extremely big – and one of the reasons often cited for the rapid growth of the Internet. Every second there is an average of 28,258 Internet users watching porn online, together accounting for an estimated 35% of Internet downloads.

Over the past few years, porn industry claims that its very existence has become threatened by piracy have only increased. In addition to the hundreds of torrent sites offering content for no charge, a new type of site has emerged offering a staggering and immediately accessible range of content, at an entry price of absolutely free.

Due to their similarity with YouTube, these sites are known as ‘tube’ sites. They operate in much the same way as YouTube, with content being uploaded by their users for viewing by others.

The space is dominated by giants including YouPorn and Pornhub, sites which have been heavily criticized due to the endless quantities of unauthorized content they host. But in the ever-evolving adult industry, things are not what they seem.

Tube giant takeover

youpornpornhub‘Mindgeek’ may not sound familiar to everyone, but this is the new name for one of the biggest companies in the adult industry.

Formerly known as Manwin, Mindgeek is a huge company that has scooped up some of the biggest tube sites in the world including YouPorn, Pornhub, Tube8, XTube, RedTube, ExtremeTube and SpankWire to name a few. All in all, Mindgeek is reported to be one of the top three consumers of bandwidth in the world.

While Mindgeek sites act within the law by operating an efficient DMCA process that removes user-uploaded content at the request of copyright holders, many adult producers and performers feel that the sites are hitting their bottom line. But while that might be true for some, for others a much more complex situation is emerging.

A report this week from ABC showed the news outlet attempting to solicit comments from adult industry performers. However, when the topic turned to piracy on tube sites, suddenly they didn’t want to talk.

“I can’t talk about THAT part,” said one actress walking away from the camera. “I really don’t want to say anything because I don’t want them to ban me.”

“Them” in this context is Mindgeek, the operator of the tube sites offering unauthorized copies of porn movies uploaded by their users. So why are these actresses scared to talk about Mindgeek and what possible control could it have over them?

Spending tube money

dollar-moneyAfter making huge quantities of cash via its tube sites, Manwin/Mindgeek bought up several top studios including Brazzers, Digital Playground, Mofos, MyDirtyHobby and Twistys. The company also sucked up the Reality Kings brand and became an online partner of Playboy. This means that some of the performers complaining about piracy on tube sites are actually being paid by the company running them.

“Some people have asked me why i’m being a hypocrite and working for [Mindgeek companies],” one actress told ABC. “As a performer, boycotting these companies is not going to take any time, money or anything away from them because if I say no there are another hundred blondes who are willing to do it.”

Providing yet another twist, the report also shows adult actress and outspoken piracy critic Tasha Reign arranging to have one of her illegally uploaded videos taken down from Mindgeek-owned PornHub.

Reign then admits that she too works for Mindgeek.

“It’s like we’re stuck between a rock and a hard place in a way, because if I want to shoot content then I kinda have to shoot for [Mindgeek] because that’s the company that books me because they own…almost…everything,” Reign says.

In the meantime, it’s reported that a new porn video is made in the United States every 39 minutes. How many will be produced by Mindgeek companies or distributed via their tube sites remains to be seen, but in any event the company could be making money at one end, the other, or intriguingly – both ends at once.


ABC US News | ABC Business News

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

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