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  1. What is TeaTV? The fastest, easiest way to find and discover movies, actors and shows. Login? No need. You don't need to have an account when using TeaTV. Awesome interface. TeaTV has been built from the ground up with performance in mind for a fast and efficient experience to surfing your collection. Join now Watch trailers, read reviews and get shows seasons details, get the latest information on upcoming movie releases. Choosing the right movie has never been so easy. Does it cost? TeaTV is working on your behalf and making entertainment free, at no cost to you. Simple and Elegant You can keep track of the movies you own, the movies you wish you had, the movies you saw and the movies you want to watch. FREE and 1080p HD TV Shows and movies Free Movies is the latest add-on with Movies and TV Shows in Full HD 1080p & HD 720p It provides almost any TV shows and movies. Many genre such as Drama, Crime, Comedy, Adventure, Family, Horror, Thriller, Romance, Western, Animation, Biography and more. All available on this site in full HD quality. You can also download the episodes in 480p, 720p and 1080p quality. If you are a true movies and TV shows enthusiast, then all you really need is Tea TV! TeaTV is an Android app which allows you to watch, stream and download FREE and 1080p HD TV Shows and movies on your Android devices. It provides almost any TV shows and movies. Absolutely free. You can download them on your Android device or watch online. Watching movies and TV shows are the best entertainment! If you are a true movies and TV shows enthusiast, then all you really need is Tea TV! TeaTV is working on your behalf and making entertainment free, at no cost to you. Watch trailers, read reviews and get shows seasons details, get the latest information on upcoming movie releases. Choosing the right movie has never been so easy. You can keep track of the movies you own, the movies you wish you had, the movies you saw and the movies you want to watch. What's New: v10.2.6r - Add Miradetodo; - Fix bugs; MoD Ads disabled / removed; Disabled / Removed unwanted Permissions + Receivers + Providers + Services; Optimized and zipaligned graphics and cleaned resources for fast load; Ads Permissions / Services / Providers removed from Android.manifest; Ads links removed and invokes methods nullified; Ads layouts visibility disabled; Debug code removed; Remove default .source tags name of the corresponding java files; Analytics / Crashlytics disabled; No active trackers or advertisements; News promo banner announcement removed; Promo Apps cleaned from menu; Choose Player popup disabled; Disabled choose subtitle dialog; No forced update to new version; Native adcolony ads removed completely; Languages: Full Multi Languages; CPUs: armeabi-v7a, x86; Screen DPIs: 160dpi, 240dpi, 320dpi, 480dpi, 640dpi; Original package signature changed; More Info: https://teatv.net/ Download: Site: https://www.mirrored.to Sharecode [?]: /files/0PIU43TK/TeaTV-v10.2.6r_build_141-Mod_Extra.apk_links
  2. NovaTV is a modular search tool for content. It crawls movie/tv shows hosting websites and can find and return the videos hosted on those sites. For example, NovaTV can find Avengers: Endgame, or complete Breaking Bad seasons, all using the Modules built by the amazing members of our community. Diversity Find any movie or tv show you want. Feature Trakt Support Sync watchlist, collection and watched history with trakt.tv. Feature High Quality Content 1080p and even 4K movie quality. Feature Innovative layout Light and beautiful design for both phone and tv. Feature Real-debrid Support Find super fast and high quality content with Real-debrid account. Feature SeriesGuide Support Find content in SeriesGuide and watch with NovaTV. What's New: v1.4.9b - Add bunch link providers; - Fix ads. - Fix Aparat, Clipwatching, Mixdrop link. Mod Info: Ads disabled / removed; Disabled / Removed unwanted Permissions + Receivers + Providers + Services; Optimized and zipaligned graphics and cleaned resources for fast load; Ads Permissions / Services / Providers removed from Android.manifest; Ads links removed and invokes methods nullified; Ads layouts visibility disabled; Debug code removed; Remove default .source tags name of the corresponding java files; Analytics / Crashlytics / Firebase disabled; News promo banner announcement removed; Promo Apps cleaned from menu; Choose Player popup disabled; Disabled choose subtitle dialog; No forced update to new version; Languages: Full Multi Languages; CPUs: armeabi-v7a, x86; More Info: https://novatv.app/ Download: Site: https://www.mirrored.to Sharecode: /files/WAHKQE0K/NovaTV_v1.4.1b_build_50.apk_links
  3. What is TeaTV? The fastest, easiest way to find and discover movies, actors and shows. Login? No need. You don't need to have an account when using TeaTV. Awesome interface. TeaTV has been built from the ground up with performance in mind for a fast and efficient experience to surfing your collection. Join now Watch trailers, read reviews and get shows seasons details, get the latest information on upcoming movie releases. Choosing the right movie has never been so easy. Does it cost? TeaTV is working on your behalf and making entertainment free, at no cost to you. Simple and Elegant You can keep track of the movies you own, the movies you wish you had, the movies you saw and the movies you want to watch. FREE and 1080p HD TV Shows and movies Free Movies is the latest add-on with Movies and TV Shows in Full HD 1080p & HD 720p It provides almost any TV shows and movies. Many genre such as Drama, Crime, Comedy, Adventure, Family, Horror, Thriller, Romance, Western, Animation, Biography and more. All available on this site in full HD quality. You can also download the episodes in 480p, 720p and 1080p quality. If you are a true movies and TV shows enthusiast, then all you really need is Tea TV! What's New: v10.2.1r - Add 5 link provider; - Fix bugs and optimize; Mod Info: Ads disabled / removed; Disabled / Removed unwanted Permissions + Receivers + Providers + Services; Optimized and zipaligned graphics and cleaned resources for fast load; Ads Permissions / Services / Providers removed from Android.manifest; Ads links removed and invokes methods nullified; Ads layouts visibility disabled; Debug code removed; Remove default .source tags name of the corresponding java files; Analytics / Crashlytics disabled; No active trackers or advertisements; News promo banner announcement removed; Promo Apps cleaned from menu; Choose Player popup disabled; Disabled choose subtitle dialog; No forced update to new version; Native adcolony ads removed completely; Languages: Full Multi Languages; CPUs: armeabi-v7a, x86; Screen DPIs: 160dpi, 240dpi, 320dpi, 480dpi, 640dpi; More Info: https://teatv.net/ Download: Site: https://www.mirrored.to Sharecode: /files/0IVYKDQJ/TeaTV_v10.2.1r_build_136.apk_links
  4. ACE Lawsuit: YouTuber ‘Touchtone’ Was Paid $500,000 To Market Pirate IPTV Last April, ACE - a coalition of entertainment companies headed up by Universal, Paramount, Columbia, Disney and Amazon - sued the alleged operator of pirate IPTV service Nitro TV. In a second amended complaint, ACE expands the list of defendants to include YouTuber 'Touchtone', who is said to have received more than half a million dollars to sell and market the service. With pirate IPTV services all the rage among millions of pirates, companies operating in the movie and TV show space are trying to bring the phenomenon under control. As part of this effort, last April companies owned by Columbia, Amazon, Disney, Paramount, Warner, and Universal (all members of the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment) filed a lawsuit in the US against the operators of Nitro TV. This ‘pirate’ provider had been gaining traction for some time and the lawsuit alleged significant wrongdoing. “Massive and Blatant Infringement” In a nutshell, the complaint claimed that Nitro TV, under the control of alleged operator Alejandro “Alex” Galindo, engaged in “massive and blatant infringement” of the plaintiffs’ copyrighted works, movies and TV shows including The Office, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Toy Story 3, Star Trek Beyond, Homecoming and Joker. According to the ACE members, Nitro TV logins were primarily sold through the website TekkHosting.com and acquired in one of two ways – either via a direct purchase or from a Nitro TV reseller. With Nitro apparently having obtained a significant part of the market, the lawsuit demanded huge damages – $150,000 per infringed work and an injunction. The latter was awarded last May but according to the plaintiffs, the service continued to operate, with Galindo later accused of destroying and withholding evidence. New names were also entering the mix. The plaintiffs identified a Richard Horsten as someone who worked with Galindo and received tens of thousands of dollars in payments from an account in Galindo’s wife’s name. Server company FDCServers revealed that it had an account under the name Martha Galindo – Alejandro Galindo’s mother – and PayPal revealed that other payments had been made in the name of Anna Galindo, Alejandro Galindo’s wife. In a second amended complaint made public this week, these people and more are named as defendants alongside an extremely interesting addition – Raul Orelanna – better known by his YouTube handle ‘Touchtone’. Touchtone Accused of Being an Integral Part of Nitro TV The amended complaint begins by adding more specific allegations against Anna, Martha, and Osvaldo Galindo. They are accused of playing key roles in Nitro TV by operating payment processor and bank accounts through which “millions of dollars’ worth” of Nitro TV reseller credits and subscriptions were sold. Anna Galindo is said to have paid tens of thousands of dollars to Dominican Republic resident Richard Horsten (aka Rik De Groot) and others involved in Nitro TV. The big standout here is that Anna allegedly paid Raul Orellana (known as ‘Touchtone’) more than half a million dollars to promote the service online. The funds were reportedly paid to Firestream LLC (a company that the plaintiffs claim is held in the name of Touchtone’s wife, Veronica Orellana) for, among other things, “their extensive promotion and marketing of the infringing Nitro TV service designed to expand the Nitro TV network of subscribers and resellers and the distribution of the infringing service.” Touchtone Marketed Nitro on YouTube, Gave Away Trials Regular viewers of Touchtone’s YouTube channel will have already noticed that Nitro TV was his preferred IPTV service and this certainly didn’t go unnoticed by the members of ACE. Their amended complaint notes that the YouTuber marketed Nitro TV as “the best hands down” while giving away seven-day trials of the service “to induce people to induce people to pay for subscriptions to the infringing service from which he profited.” “In his marketing, Orellana hyped Nitro TV as the most reliable streaming service on the market and emphasized the breadth of its channel offerings, including local channels from across the United States, all-sport packages, and pay-per-view channels offering special sporting events,” the complaint filed this week reads. “Along with displaying the overview of the offerings, as depicted in the screenshot below, he promoted Nitro TV by reviewing screen after screen of specific channels available on Nitro TV.” After TorrentFreak reported on the original complaint in 2020, Touchtone took to YouTube, informing users of Nitro that they shouldn’t believe everything they read. The stream was captured by another channel (here) and was also noticed by the plaintiffs. “In addition, Raul Orellana continued to promote Nitro TV, informing Nitro TV subscribers that they would be taken care of and encouraging them not to believe the news about the prospect of Nitro TV being shut down,” the amended complaint notes. With Touchtone now named as a defendant in the case, the lawsuit has clearly expanded in scope. It also suggests that, where appropriate, individuals promoting pirate services on YouTube and elsewhere, in order to profit from their sale, can become targets too. The second amended complaint can be found here (pdf, large download) ACE Lawsuit: YouTuber ‘Touchtone’ Was Paid $500,000 To Market Pirate IPTV
  5. ‘Pirate’ IPTV Provider and Reseller Hit With $31m Copyright Lawsuit A 'pirate' IPTV provider and reseller are being targeted in a copyright infringement lawsuit filed by DISH Network in the United States. The broadcaster claims that ChitramTV, which says it is located in Germany, the UK and US, obtains and distributes its channels online via a network of resellers, managed by a Canadian resident. DISH wants more than $31m in damages. US broadcaster DISH Network has built a reputation for going in hard against companies and individuals who offer unlicensed access to its channels. Over the years the company has gone after card-sharing (IKS) operations but more recently its focus has been on ‘pirate’ IPTV providers that offer DISH programming to the public at a cheap price. These cases rarely end well for the entities targeted by DISH, with courts happy to hand down large damages awards alongside broad, prohibitive injunctions. A new case filed in the United States this week sees DISH target yet another ‘pirate’ IPTV provider and the alleged manager of a reselling network, demanding considerable damages. Copyright Infringement Lawsuit Filed in Texas DISH’s lawsuit targets IPTV provider ChitramTV, which does business from the Chitram.tv domain. It also names Dinesh Vigneswaran, the alleged owner of ChitramTV Canada, who allegedly does business from the Chitram.ca website. According to DISH, ChitramTV obtains its broadcasts and streams, transfers them to its own servers, and then rebroadcasts them to subscribers of the Chitram service. ChitramTV distributes, sells and promotes ‘Chitram’ set-top boxes and subscription packages to users directly and through a network of resellers, including Vigneswaran. The IPTV service allegedly offers more than 500 live TV channels and 10,000 movies, with an offer to keep the public entertained “during quarantine”. Chitram also offers catchup and timeshifting services, which according to DISH means that it must be saving copies of its copyrighted content on its own servers. DISH says it has identified various content delivery networks (CDNs) being utilized by the Chitram service, which is offered via a set-top box and one-year subscription package for approximately $149, with renewals costing between $70 and $115, depending on duration. Investigation Has Been Running For Years DISH says it sent at least 134 copyright infringement notices to Chitram between July 2014 and November 2015, with instructions to cease-and-desist. In December 2015, Chitram “temporarily ceased” transmitting DISH content but by December 2017, it was back in business. Since then, DISH says it has sent at least 30 additional notices of infringement but the complaints were ignored. From April 2018, DISH also sent copyright notices to several CDNs associated with the Chitram service but according to the broadcaster, Chitram took evasive action by transmitting DISH content from other CDNs or locations. Precisely where the Chitram IPTV service operates from is unclear but the provider appears to have connections to Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In October 2020, a DISH investigator contacted the reseller behind the Chitram.co.uk domain to ask about becoming a reseller in the United States. The inquiry was referred to Chitram in Germany, where the IPTV provider claims to have its headquarters. Focus on Dinesh Vigneswaran When Chitram in Germany responded to DISH, the provider said its “US manager” would call to provide all of the information. On the same day, the DISH investigator received a call from Vigneswaran who offered a deal to supply Chitram devices at $109 each and an instruction for them to be sold at a minimum of $149. Vigneswaran allegedly told DISH that he was in Toronto (ChitramTV Canada) but had 60 resellers and a warehouse of devices in the United States. Early November 2020, the DISH investigator bought four Chitram boxes and six subscriptions from Vigneswaran and paid the money into his PayPal account. Later that month and in January 2921, several similar purchases were made. After testing the boxes, it was found that they infringed DISH’s exclusive rights. According to the complaint, DISH sent notices of infringement to Vigneswaran in November and December 2020, and in January 2021, demanding that he stop “distributing, selling, and promoting” the Chitram service in the United States. DISH received no response to the complaints. Copyright Infringement Claims DISH says that the Chitram IPTV service is responsible for direct infringement of its copyrights in violation of 17 U.S.C. § 501. “The copyrighted programs were transmitted from computer servers controlled by Chitram to Service Users who accessed the programs using the Chitram Service,” the lawsuit reads. “Chitram’s actions are willful, malicious, intentional, purposeful, and in disregard of and with indifference to the rights of DISH.” DISH adds that the defendants, including Vigneswaran, materially contribute to the infringements carried out by the Chitram service’s users by providing access to the protected channels and content, despite having the ability to prevent access to it. “Defendants also induce the infringement of DISH’s exclusive distribution and public performance rights by, among other things, creating the audience for that infringement in the United States,” the complaint adds. Claim for Damages, Permanent Injunction, Domain Seizures As a result of the above, DISH demands a permanent injunction against all defendants plus statutory damages of $150,000 per infringed work. DISH lists 207 registered works, leading to a claim in excess of $31 million, should the court see fit. On top, the broadcaster wants permission to seize all infringing devices under 17 U.S.C. § 503, an order to take control of all domains used to infringe its rights, plus attorneys’ fees and costs. The complaint can be found here (pdf) ‘Pirate’ IPTV Provider and Reseller Hit With $31m Copyright Lawsuit
  6. Cloudflare Must Block Pirate IPTV Services, Appeals Court Confirms Last year Cloudflare was ordered to block access to the sites of customers who provided illegal IPTV services. The CDN provider appealed the injunctions, arguing that it's merely a neutral intermediary, but without result. Two separate orders released over the past several days confirm that Cloudflare must block domain names and IP-addresses of the pirate IPTV services. CDN provider Cloudflare is one of the leading Internet companies, providing services to millions of customers large and small. The service positions itself as a neutral intermediary that passes on traffic while making sure that customers remain secure. Its userbase includes billion-dollar companies such as IBM, Shopify, and L’Oreal, but also countless smaller outlets. With a company of this size, it comes as no surprise that some Cloudflare customers are engaged in controversial activities. This includes some pirate sites and services, which have landed Cloudflare in court on several occasions. Last year there were two prominent cases against Cloudflare in Italy. In the first one, football league Serie A and Sky Italy requested Cloudflare to block the unauthorized IPTV service “IPTV THE BEST” and in a similar case, rightsholders wanted “ENERGY IPTV” blocked. Cloudflare Appeals Blocking Injunctions Cloudflare lost both cases and was ordered to block the services in question. While the company hasn’t commented on the legal actions in detail, it decided to appeal the two injunctions at the Milan court. Last Friday, the court ruled on the “IPTV THE BEST” case, confirming that Cloudflare is indeed required to block access. In its defense, Cloudflare argued that it doesn’t provide hosting services but merely passes on bits and bytes. In addition, it pointed out that the IPTV service could still remain active even if its account was terminated. Cloudflare Facilitates Access The court was not convinced by these arguments and concluded that Cloudflare contributes to the infringements of its customer by optimizing and facilitating the site’s availability. “It is in fact adequately confirmed that Cloudflare carries out support and optimization activities to showcase sites, which allow the visibility and advertising of illegal services,” the court concluded. That the IPTV service could continue without using Cloudflare is irrelevant, the court stressed. In addition, the court confirmed that copyright holders are entitled to these types of protective blocking measures, even if the activity of the online intermediary itself is not directly infringing. Dynamic Orders The Milan court reached the same conclusion in Cloudflare’s appeal against the “ENERGY IPTV” injunction, which was decided yesterday. In both cases, the court also confirmed that the injunctions are “dynamic”, which means that if the IPTV services switch to new domains or IP-addresses, these have to be blocked as well. While the ruling is a setback for Cloudflare, copyright holders are pleased. Attorney Simona Lavagnini, who represented Sky Italy, informs TorrentFreak that it will now be easier to hold online services accountable for infringing customers. “I am pleased to see the position taken by the Court, confirming that injunction orders can be addressed to all providers involved in the provision of services to those who offer illegal contents on the web. “This principle is now general and includes telecoms as well as passive hosting providers and other services such as CDNs,” Lavagnini adds. We also reached out to Cloudflare for a comment on these recent court orders but the company didn’t immediately reply. The CDN provider previously confirmed that it has been legally required to block several domains, without going into further detail. With regard to earlier blocking orders, Cloudflare said that it complies with these in the relevant jurisdictions. In other words, the targeted services remain available in other countries. Whether that’s also the case here is unknown. Cloudflare Must Block Pirate IPTV Services, Appeals Court Confirms
  7. PythonCrew Streaming Pack: Android One pack for all your android streaming needs. We have tested over 400+ different apk's for movies, tv series, iptv, music, vpn's, etc. As we find more that work good, they will be added and post updated. Most apk's are ad free and unlocked. All apks are focused on android tv boxes with landscape view. I hope everyone enjoys the Pack and have fun streaming. Special thanks goes out to PriSim, Delboy, UpGrade and Atasas for their contributions. Folder link: Site: https://drive.google.com Sharecode: /drive/folders/16381vE16N_0JFZrOaPRduLPrBPCYsUrx?usp=sharing Note: You are not obligated to download or install any of the included apk's within this pack. If you wish to use the free versions (containing ads and some limitations), go ahead. Disclaimer: I test and share with members here to reduce the need for searching and testing themselves. The modded apk's are included so users can see what the full featured versions consist of in order to make a purchase decision. If you like any of the apps you should purchase them. Support the developers so they can continue to improve their apps and services.
  8. Police in Italy are reporting a large operation against a network involved in IPTV. The Guardia di Finanza says that 58 sites and 18 Telegram channels have been blocked while four IT experts with familiar nicknames have been referred for prosecution along with 1,000 subscribers of pirate IPTV services. Over the past several years Italy’s Guardia di Finanza has been applying increasing pressure to various players in the piracy ecosystem. In addition to targeting distributors of movies, TV shows and live sports via subscription services, the authorities have also homed in on suppliers of pirated newspapers and periodicals. A new law enforcement operation revealed Wednesday continues along those same lines. Operation Evil Web The new action is being spearheaded by the Economic-Financial Police Unit of the Guardia di Finanza of Gorizia. The unit reports that following an investigation it was able to secure a preventative seizure order to block access to 58 websites and 18 Telegram channels. With combined annual traffic of around 80 million visits, the authorities claim that by blocking these platforms they have disrupted around 90% of the audiovisual and editorial piracy carried out in Italy. Given the availability of pirated content in the region, regardless of blocking, that figure sounds optimistic but the operation is clearly significant nonetheless. Investigation Into IPTV Expanded Overseas According to the GdF, the investigation began by targeting an IT expert operating under the online nickname of ‘Diabolik’. The authorities haven’t yet positively identified this developer but given the existence of a Kodi addon called Diabolik441 dedicated to Italian content with links to the Evil King branding (GdF’s operation is called ‘Evil Web’), it seems likely this was one of their targets. An Android application using the same name is also featured in a GdF video (see below). After reportedly identifying Diabolik, the investigation broadened to several regions of Italy and then overseas, including Germany, the Netherlands, and the United States. Three other IT experts also became part of the investigation, identified by GdF as ‘Doc’, ‘Spongebob’, and ‘Webflix’. Again, GdF hasn’t identified these alleged IT experts using anything other than their nicknames but nevertheless describes them as “real oracles” when it comes to the illegal distribution of movies, pay TV, live sports, cartoons, newspapers, magazines, manuals, and even pornography. All four developers have been reported to the “competent judicial authorities” for prosecution. Authorities Trying to Identify 1,000 IPTV Subscribers In Italy, piracy-enabled set-top devices are called ‘pezzotto’ and in common with many regions, are used by huge numbers of end users hoping to gain free or cheap access to pirated movies, TV shows, and live sports. GdF says work is now underway to identify around 1,000 pezzotto/IPTV subscribers – some local, some overseas – so that they can be prosecuted for breaches of copyright law and receiving stolen goods. According to the authorities, penalties can reach up to three years in prison and a fine of 25,000 euros. Similar penalties were mentioned back in Febraury when the Guardia di Finanza said it had reported 223 subscribers of pirate IPTV services to the judicial authorities. Enhanced Site-Blocking Procedures GdF reports that thanks to a new “procedural innovation”, it is now possible to more effectively block sites that facilitate access to previously blocked domains. “This procedural innovation is allowing, day by day, the immediate inhibition of hundreds of new web domains illegally created in order to circumvent the original provision of the Judicial Authority,” its announcement reads. “In addition, the procedures for international judicial cooperation have been activated – and are still in progress – in order to seize the servers from which multimedia contents are distributed in violation of copyright.” Source: TorrentFreak
  9. This week police in the UK targeted another IPTV provider, arresting a 24-year-old man. However, there are other cases too involving at least three arrests and the seizure of luxury vehicles. All targets were detained under suspicion of fraud and money laundering offenses. As reported early June, Spain’s National Police shut down a pirate IPTV operation that allegedly serviced two million customers. The operation was a multi-national affair, with participation from law enforcement authorities across Europe, Canada and the United States. Almost €5 million in funds plus €1.1 in bank assets were frozen. This was a big operation by most standards but it’s clear that this didn’t mark the end of anti-IPTV activity in Europe. Police Hit Another Supplier and ‘Hijacked’ its Streams This week, news of a particularly interesting enforcement action appeared in the UK. After arresting a 24-year-old man in the Hollesley area of East Suffolk under suspicion of involvement in a pirate IPTV operation, police hijacked the service’s streams to deliver an anti-piracy message to subscribers of the service. The image below, supplied to TF by Suffolk Police, shows what customers saw. This is the first time that police in the UK have used an IPTV service itself to deliver an anti-piracy warning and to our knowledge, this method has never been carried out in other countries either. If it had, perhaps the events we’ll mention now would’ve attracted more attention in the media. Another Raid, Another Arrest, High-Value Assets Seized On Thursday, June 25, Lancashire Police executed a search warrant at a house on Buckley Grove in the seaside resort of Lytham St Annes. Carried out under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, a 28-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of being involved in the supply of pirate IPTV services and illegal TV streaming devices. While these cases are increasingly common, particularly in mainland Europe, it is rare for police in the UK to immediately seize high-value assets in connection with local cases. As the images below show, police walked away with a couple of pretty nice vehicles. In addition to the Range Rover Sport SVR V8 and Audi A5 convertible shown above, police also seized designer clothing, bags and watches. “I hope this case shows people that we will work to find those responsible for what ultimately amounts to fraud, seeing people make thousands of pounds illegally. We will also look to seize what they spend their fraudulent profits on,” said DS Mark Riley from Lancashire’s Economic Crime Unit. The name of the service hasn’t yet been published by the police and with insufficient evidence to back up the rumors, we won’t name it here. Two People Arrested and Charged in Northern Ireland To the west of Lytham and across the Irish Sea, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has also been busy cracking down on the provision of pirate IPTV services. Details are scarce but it transpires that following an investigation in the Mid Ulster area, Criminal Investigation Department (CID) detectives and local officers in Bellaghy, County Londonderry, uncovered what is being described as the “sale of illegal subscriptions for TV channels”. “A 34-year-old man and a 30-year-old woman have been charged with a range of offenses including making or supplying articles for use in fraud, possessing articles infringing copyright, unauthorized use of a trademark and concealing criminal property,” a police spokesperson confirmed. Again, police haven’t named the service but online chatter points firmly towards an IPTV supplier that disappeared offline last month. Without direct confirmation we won’t publish its name here but there are some signs that should the case go all the way to a conviction and sentencing, it could be a less than straightforward matter. Fraud and Money Laundering Are the Common Factors For many years people considered the operation of torrent sites and streaming platforms only from the angle of copyright law but what we are seeing with most IPTV cases are continual references to offenses under the Fraud Act (defrauding rightsholders) and Proceeds of Crime Act (money laundering). These offenses not only attract significant custodial sentences in their own right but can also lead to those convicted being stripped of their property, if the authorities believe those assets were obtained from criminal activity. Source
  10. A browser plug-in that aims to deter eBay and Amazon customers from buying pirate IPTV packages was launched this week ahead of the new Premier League season. While the tool does detect most illicit offerings as advertised, it also manages to attach warnings to completely legal sales and in some instances may be anti-consumer. Online marketplaces such as eBay and Amazon offer an impressive range of products but to the disappointment of various companies, some have the potential to infringe trademarks or copyrights. Rogue sales have traditionally taken the form of counterfeit clothing, perfumes and similar products. These days, however, troublesome listings are increasingly likely to involve piracy-enabled set-top boxes, pirate IPTV subscriptions, or similar tools used to access content without paying for it. New Anti-Piracy Browser Plug-In In an effort to counter this threat, this week Scotland-based Vistalworks announced the launch of a new browser plug-in which, according to its press release, “alerts consumers to illicit internet streaming services” ahead of the new English Premiership season. “Vistalworks has developed the free warning system which tells online shoppers about the risks of opening up their personal data to criminals through cut-price IPTV subscriptions. It is hoped the pop-up warning will discourage people from purchasing illicit IPTV, as well as make consumers aware that this is not a victimless crime,” the company says. Does the Plug-In Perform as Advertised? Available for Chrome, the plug-in (available here) demands access to all customer browsing activities on both eBay and Amazon to do its job. In our initial tests it performed reasonably well, spotting pirate IPTV packages on eBay along with streaming devices that have been modified to provide access to content without paying the legal provider. “This listing is associated with illegally streamed content. You won’t get your money back if the service ends without warning, your personal data is exposed to criminals and there is an extremely high risk of exposure to malware, phishing and spyware,” the warning reads. The warning is absolutely correct that pirate streaming services are prone to going down and not issuing refunds. However, as we’ve pointed out numerous times before, the claims of malware, phishing, and spyware are far-fetched when it comes to buying a simple username and password subscription (as most listings offer) on eBay or Amazon. Nevertheless, when the circumstances are known, these packages are illegal to sell, illegal to buy, and illegal to use, so the basic warning isn’t without some merit. Importantly, the plug-in was effective in spotting the majority of listings we tested, sometimes producing a ‘High Risk’ alert and sometimes erring on the side of caution with an appropriate ‘Caution’ alert. In other circumstances, however, the plug-in not only manages to get things wrong but also provides cautionary advice that’s detrimental to both consumers, legitimate sellers and official broadcasters alike. The Bad and the Ugly Somewhat ahead of its time, IPTV Crash Course was a book released in 2006 that aimed to educate people on the world of IPTV. Not pirate IPTV, of course, but simply the delivery of TV content over the Internet. It’s available on Amazon and gets a big green tick of approval from the plug-in. Search for the same on eBay, however, and users are warned against making a purchase. “Characteristics of this listing are often associated with fake or illicit products. There may be a higher risk of this product being poor quality, faulty or unfit for purpose,” the warning reads. While the words “often” and “may” give some room for maneuver, the registered business seller on eBay trying to sell this completely legal paperback book is unlikely to be pleased that his listing has been flagged as poor quality or unfit for purpose. The same goes for a pair of listings on Amazon and eBay, both offering the completely legitimate MAG 322 IPTV set-top box manufactured by Infomir. On Amazon, the product gets a green tick of approval but on eBay, it’s flagged as a device connected to illegal streaming. It comes with a warning of personal data being exposed to criminals alongside an “extremely high risk of exposure to malware, phishing and spyware.” Not only is device manufacturer Infomir known to work with copyright holders to prevent illegal access to content, but the company is also extremely sensitive when it comes to being associated with piracy. Mentions of malware, spyware, and personal data being exposed to criminals through their product is unlikely to sit well either, not least since it’s untrue. Unfortunately, Blunders Can Be Anti-Consumer Too With most people trying to cut costs these days, Amazon and eBay are well-known for their ability to direct consumers to a bargain. As a result, these platforms are often the first port of call for online buyers hoping to save a few dollars, pounds or euros on their purchase. Sadly, the plug-in manages to blunder here too, not only casting doubt over sales of completely legitimate IPTV-related products but in some cases, preferring Amazon over eBay for no good reason. For example, Now TV is a legal IPTV streaming service operated by broadcaster Sky, which is currently going to great lengths to prevent and deter piracy. People searching for its streaming device on Amazon again get a green tick, indicating that sales are legitimate. However, after searching for exactly the same thing on eBay, they are presented with a warning. This ‘Caution’ warning is a watered-down version of the ‘High Risk’ version seen earlier. It clearly says that the plug-in “can’t yet give a clear answer” on the product, which in isolation is perhaps fair enough. However, the additional advice, to check whether it’s plausible that “a seller could be offering legitimate products at this price” is really problematic in this instance. On Amazon, the price for the Now TV device and a free trial is currently £29.85. On eBay, the exact same product is being offered for just £19.99, representing a significant saving. What the caution does here is cast doubt over the validity of the eBay listing for being too cheap when compared to Amazon at £10 more. However, both listings are by exactly the same seller (Boss Deals), with the higher costs on Amazon most likely indicative of the extra charges incurred when selling on the platform. Obviously, if consumers compare these two listings and decide to buy from Amazon as a result of the caution, Boss Deals still gets the order. However, if this was a competitor, the company would be much less pleased. Not to mention, of course, that the consumer would be parting with more money for exactly the same thing, ‘thanks’ to the plug-in. Conclusion – Word Filters Are Notoriously Untrustworthy It’s clear that at some level the Vistalworks plug-in relies on word filters and considering the focus on IPTV, it’s obvious that the term is causing some of the issues here, no matter what products are searched for, even when they’re legal. The underlying systems currently aren’t smart enough to burrow into the details (especially on eBay) since it’s even possible to trigger a ‘caution’ alarm when buying a BitTorrent t-shirt or a Pirate Bay mug. This raises the prospect of plug-in users seeing too many false alarms and simply switching the thing off. For those who still want to test, the plug-in is available here Source: TorrentFreak
  11. The Hollywood studios of the MPA plus Amazon and Netflix have obtained an injunction against 'pirate' IPTV provider Crystal Clear Media. The action comes in response to a lawsuit filed in the US last month, in which the companies alleged copyright infringement of thousands of movies and TV shows. In addition to serving cease-and-desist notices on various players involved in the supply of pirated movies and TV shows, the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment often takes matters a step further. Mostly via copyright infringement lawsuits filed in the United States, the global anti-piracy coalition has accused several providers of acting outside the law, hoping to shut the services down and achieve a damages award or significant settlement. Copyright Infringement Lawsuit Against CCM During August, ACE sued pirate provider Crystal Clear Media (CCM) under its business name TTKN Enterprises LLC. It also named Todd and Tori Smith of Florida as defendants, identifying them as the operators of CCM. A key feature of the case is the emphasis placed on so-called VOD content. While CCM and other providers tend to provide thousands of live TV channels, they also delivered so-called 24/7 channels (which reportedly offered “marathons of Disney’s movie Frozen II and Warner Bros.’s Harry Potter movie collection”) along with other mainstream movies on-demand. According to the complaint, CCM knew this was a problem after ACE successfully shut down the Vaders IPTV platform last year. However, instead of backing away, CCM continued to provide access to video-on-demand while cultivating a network of resellers dedicated to servicing existing and prospective CCM customers. Lawsuit Demands Injunctive Relief and Damages The ultimate goals of the lawsuit against CCM are to win a permanent injunction to take it offline while obtaining a substantial damages award. With statutory damages running to $150,000 per title infringed, significant amounts are on the table. In the first instance, however, the ACE members – including Disney, Paramount, Amazon, Netflix and others – sought a preliminary injunction with a number of key elements. That was comprehensively achieved via an order handed down by Judge George H. Wu in a California district court this week. Preliminary Injunction Addressing the plaintiffs’ claims under 17 U.S.C. § 106 of the Copyright Act, Judge Wu ordered the defendants not to directly or secondarily infringe any of the rights owned or controlled by the plaintiffs in respect of their copyrighted works. While that effectively prevents the CCM service from operating, the Judge also responded to requests from the plaintiffs to render unusable a wide range of domain names previously deployed by the IPTV provider. “Except to as requested by Plaintiffs, Defendants shall not transfer or otherwise relinquish control to the domains: mediahosting.one, crystalcleariptv.com, ccmedia.one, ccbilling.org, cciptv.us, ccreborn.one, ccultimate.one, superstreamz.com and webplayer.us,” the order reads. Along those same lines, the Judge further ordered GoDaddy, One.com and their respective registrars to disable access to the above domains while preventing them from being modified, sold, transferred or deleted. The WHOIS information of the domains must also be preserved, including all contact and similar identifying information. Additionally, the listed domain companies, plus all others receiving notice of the order, must preserve all evidence that may be used to identify the people that used the domains in question to infringe copyright. Injunction Also Targets Resellers of the CCM Service The original complaint alleges that CCM operated an “extensive and expanding” reseller network. These people bulk-bought “credits” from CCM that were converted to subscriber login credentials when purchased by customers. “Defendants’ reseller program plays a pivotal role in their infringing enterprise. Defendants’ resellers market and promote CCM as a substitute for authorized and licensed distributors,” the lawsuit claims. After hearing that this expansion poses an exponential infringement threat, Judge Wu agreed that the network of sellers must also be prevented from operating. With that, he granted permission for the entertainment companies to complete service of process on anyone acting in concert with the defendants, including resellers of the service. “Upon receipt of a copy of this Order, these individuals and entities shall cease directly or secondarily infringing any of Plaintiffs’ Copyrighted Works through any means including publicly performing, reproducing, or otherwise infringing in any manner…any right under 17 U.S.C § 106 in any of Plaintiffs’ Copyrighted Works by continuing to provide access to Defendants’ service or by any other means,” the Judge added. While CCM is already believed to be out of action, the above paragraph indicates that if resellers of CCM are currently offering other IPTV packages from a different supplier that also offer illegal access to the plaintiffs’ content, they must stop doing that too after receiving a copy of the order. The preliminary injunction is available here (pdf) Source: TorrentFreak
  12. Following the arrest of a 24-year-old man in the UK late June, police used his pirate IPTV service to display a warning message to subscribers. To further press home the message that viewing pirate streams is illegal, police are now serving thousands of GE Hosting's subscribers with cease-and-desist notices, referencing theoretical prosecutions under the Fraud Act. Late June, officers from Norfolk and Suffolk Constabulary’s Cyber and Serious Organised Crime Unit arrested a 24-year-old man in the UK under suspicion of operating a pirate IPTV service. First of Its Kind Warning Message The unique aspect of this operation was that the targeted service, GE Hosting (GE, Global Entertainment), was not only taken down but was replaced by a warning notice that was displayed on subscribers’ TV screens. “This illegal stream has been seized By Norfolk and Sussex Police,” it began. “Watching illegal broadcasts is a crime. Your IP address has been recorded. You are instructed to cease and desist immediately from all illegal media streaming.” At the time, police did not mention that GE was the target but multiple sources informed TorrentFreak that it had indeed been taken down by the authorities. Now, however, customers of that service are being personally informed that their illegal subscriptions to GE Hosting have been noted by the police. Police Send GE Subscribers Cease-and-Desist Notices “This letter is intended as notification that Norfolk and Suffolk Constabulary Cyber, Intelligence and Serious Organised Crime Directorate are aware of your households use of an illegal TV streaming service, namely through a provider known as ‘GE Hosting’,” the letter reads. “By providing this illegal service, the operators of GE Hosting have committed criminal offenses contrary to the Serious Crime Act, the Proceeds of Crime Act and the Copyright Designs and Patents Act, these are serious offenses which carry a maximum sentence of 14 years’ imprisonment.” “Persons whom subscribe to services like the service provided by GE Hosting also commit a criminal offense contrary to s.11 of the Fraud Act which carries a maximum sentence of up to five years imprisonment, and/or a fine, and consequently results in a criminal record.” “We are aware that you/members of your household have been subscribing to this illegal service.” It isn’t yet clear whether the letter, which is reportedly being sent to thousands of subscribers, was delivered electronically or by physical mail. IPTV subscribers do not have to provide an accurate billing address but most people do hand over an active email address. In any event, the letter notes that it is not a notification of police action or the beginning of an investigation or criminal prosecution. However, it does make it clear that the letter should be considered a formal cease-and-desist notice which dictates that the subscriber stops illegally streaming using the GE Hosting service. Our understanding is that GE Hosting has already been shut down, a fact that was clarified as correct by Suffolk Police following our email inquiry this morning. As a technicality, therefore, a cease-and-desist notice isn’t needed as the service no longer exists. However, that obviously isn’t the point here. Sending a Powerful Message Using the Fraud Act Nationwide news of thousands of people receiving notices will send a strong message that IPTV subscribers’ personal details are just a step away from the police. More importantly, perhaps, the document clearly states that the authorities aren’t looking at copyright offenses, but those covered under the much more serious Fraud Act. “Section 11 makes it an offense for any person, by any dishonest act, to obtain services for which payment is required, with intent to avoid payment. The person must know that the services are made available on the basis that they are chargeable, or that they might be,” the relevant legislation reads. Section 11 also provides a clear-cut example, since it covers the situation “where a person attaches a decoder to her television to enable viewing access to cable / satellite television channels for which she has no intention of paying.” Offenses under the section can be varied, from obtaining online services without paying for them, to people using false credit card details to access the same. However, another offense punishable under the Act (perhaps an interesting one given the Premier League’s interest in these cases) is the situation “where a person climbs over a wall and watches a football match without paying the entrance fee.” While copyright charges would be available to the police, ‘fraud’ is a heavyweight term among the public. People tend to understand what fraud means and few would enjoy the worry of a fraud conviction hanging over them as it could be a life-changer, particularly career-wise. Comply With the Warning – Or Else GE Hosting is confirmed as closed, which makes it impossible for a letter recipient to breach the cease-and-desist order since it relates only to GE. However, police say that “subscribers shall be monitored” adding that police reserve the right to proceed to investigation and prosecution. “If this type of unlawful activity continues then you will receive no further warnings before criminal enforcement is taken. This letter should therefore not be read as precluding enforcement if you fail to heed this cease and desist letter. The fact that this letter was sent to you could also be cited in future criminal proceedings.” TorrentFreak asked Suffolk Police how this monitoring will be carried out but we are yet to receive a response. However, the fact that people have received a letter at all is quite remarkable. As far as we’re aware and following the on-screen warning, this is another world first for Norfolk & Suffolk Constabulary, not to mention an intriguing escalation of the deterrent message in the UK. A copy of the cease-and-desist, supplied by FACT, can be found here (pdf) Source: TorrentFreak
  13. Nova Scotia RCMP has charged two people in connection with Operation Hotwire, a federal investigation into illegal IPTV supply. The husband and wife team face a laundry list of charges that could result in a five year prison sentence, a CAD$1m fine, or both. The service in question hasn't been named but TorrentFreak understands that it operated under the Epic Stream branding. Large scale criminal prosecutions of alleged copyright infringers are relatively rare in Canada but according to information just revealed by the Nova Scotia RCMP, a big case is on the horizon. Operation Hotwire Targets Illegal IPTV According to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, in June 2019 the Federal Serious and Organized Crime Unit (FSOC) began an investigation after receiving a complaint from a local telecoms company that its content was being streamed for profit by an individual using IPTV. The telecoms company, which isn’t being named, reportedly carried out an investigation of its own and then referred the matter to the police. That generated enough interest for the police to begin their own inquiry and in August 2019, police supported by investigators from Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada searched a home on Shore Drive in Bedford, Nova Scotia, seizing electronic equipment and financial documents. A 35-year old man from Bedford was arrested at the home “without incident” and was later released from custody. Fast-forward exactly a year and on August 13, 2020, Nova Scotia RCMP FSOC filed court documents related to charges against two individuals in Nova Scotia. They are now being named as Riad Thomeh, 36, and Kayla Thomeh, 33, both of Bedford. Laundry List of Copyright Infringement Related Charges As per RCMP, Riad Thomeh is charged with the following: Possession of a Device to Obtain Use of Telecommunication Facility or Service Laundering the Proceeds of Crime Possession of Property Obtained by Crime x18 Distribute Copyrighted Material – Copyright Act Re-transmit Encrypted Programming Signal – Radiocommunication Act Decode Encrypted Programming Signal – Radiocommunication Act Kayla Thomeh is charged as follows: Laundering the Proceeds of Crime Possession of Property Obtained by Crime “Three companies operated by Riad and Kayla Thomeh are also facing 44 charges, including Possession of a Device to Obtain Use of Telecommunication Facility or Service, Laundering the Proceeds of Crime and Possession of Property Obtained by Crime, as well as charges under the Copyright Act and the Radiocommunication Act,” a police statement adds. Who Are the Alleged Offenders and What Were They Involved In? Riad and Kayla Thomeh are a husband and wife team. The information released by police thus far doesn’t include the name of the IPTV service allegedly being offered by the pair but after receiving additional information from a familiar source, it wasn’t hard for us to put together the pieces. Company information published by Dun and Bradstreet reveals that Riad Thomeh is/was the president of Nova Scotia-based company ‘Nova Scotia Limited’. Employing a total of three people and located in Shore Drive, Bedford, the company is listed as part of the IT sector and at last count generated US$517,503 in sales. Importantly, the company was given the registration number 3303398 after its founding in 2017, which leads directly to IPTV provider Epic Stream. Indeed, the information published by DNB clearly lists the trading name of Epic Stream located at the address in Bedford occupied by Nova Scotia Limited. Epic Stream used the domain epicstream.net, a site that remains active today. It clearly and repeatedly lists the Canadian company registration number 3303398 in both its privacy policy and terms and conditions (pdf). Just two weeks after Riad Thomeh was arrested in Bedford, an announcement on the epicstream.net site advised all users having problems with the service to “updated there user information to be able to connected and view….Please take time and Updated your information ASAP[sic].” The last service update on the site was during October 2019 and according to reports on Reddit around a year ago, the service went down around the same time. Further Action This Week Earlier this month, a Restraint Order and Special Search Warrant was issued in respect of the Thomeh’s assets. In response, this week a total of 14 properties were restrained, including two houses and 12 plots of land. Two vehicles were also seized. If found guilty the RCMP is warning that under the Copyright Act, the pair could each face a five-year prison sentence, a CAD$1m penalty, or even both. Source: TorrentFreak
  14. DISH Network has filed a new copyright infringement lawsuit in the United States against 'pirate' IPTV provider Universal IPTV. The complaint alleges that the defendants illegally transmitted the company's officially-licensed channels over the Internet and demands well in excess of $5 million in damages. US broadcaster DISH Networks is well known for its seemingly relentless pursuit of groups and individuals who access and rebroadcast the company’s content without permission. In recent years, DISH has targeted a number of ‘pirate’ IPTV providers, sometimes under the Federal Communications Act and in other instances under copyright law. A new lawsuit filed in the United States falls into the latter category and claims that unlicensed IPTV service Universe IPTV infringes its exclusive rights. Copyright Infringement Lawsuit Targets Universal IPTV The suit targets five ‘doe’ defendants, together doing business as Universe IPTV and Universe TV. The complaint alleges that the service’s business was carried out via several domains, including but not limited to World-Universeiptv.com, Uni-Update.com, and UniWeb.online. DISH explains that it has contracts and licensing deals to transmit more than 400 channels in the United States and also acquires copyrights for shows that air on various channels, whether transmitted via satellite or the Internet. Some of these works are registered with the Copyright Office in the US while DISH holds the exclusive distribution and public performance rights for others that are unregistered. Universal IPTV has not been authorized by DISH to distribute these protected works and channels, the suit claims, so has therefore breached the company’s exclusive rights. “Defendants distribute, sell, and promote Universe Subscriptions to consumers, including Service Users, and to resellers, including Universeonlinetv.co; Universeiptv.stream; Universeiptvs.com; Iptvuniverse.net; and Universe2iptv.com, with knowledge that these and other resellers distribute, sell, and promote Universe Subscriptions to Service Users,” the complaint reads. “Defendants promoted the Universe Service on their World-Universeiptv.com website, instructing consumers that ‘[t]here are more than 40,000 channels, films and series in every country in the world,’ ‘we are constantly expanding the number of channels,’ they have ‘[a]ll channels,’ and ‘we continuously update our service’,” DISH adds. Universe Advertised on Facebook and Instagram The complaint alleges that Universe advertised to consumers and potential resellers of its service on social media, including Instagram and two Facebook accounts, where it promoted the availability of channels including CBC and CBC Drama, among others. DISH says that the social media platforms removed these pages for violations of Facebook’s policy on copyright infringement. A Twitter account was also deleted but a Telegram page offering the service remains online. DISH Asked About Becoming a Reseller Via WhatsApp Via its websites and social media, subscriptions were offered at the rate of $70 for 12 months, $40 for six months and $22 for three months worth of access. The IPTV supplier also invited people to get in touch via WhatsApp to become a reseller, so that’s exactly what DISH did as part of its investigation. “In July 2020, DISH’s investigator contacted Defendants through WhatsApp at +43 [redacted] to inquire about becoming a reseller of Universe Subscriptions. “Defendants responded that the price for one three month Universe Subscription was 20 Euro (approximately $22) and the price for ten three month Universe Subscriptions was 200 Euro (approximately $220) with payments to be made to their PayPal account [redacted]@gmail.com,” the complaint reveals. Attempts to Take Down Universal IPTV Failed Universe IPTV reportedly told DISH investigators that they live in Austria but it appears that the broadcaster’s attempts to take their service down weren’t successful. Between August 27, 2019 and the filing of its lawsuit, DISH sent at least 10 cease-and-desist notices to the IPTV outfit, none of which received a response. During roughly the same timeframe, DISH also filed at least 14 complaints with CDN networks associated with the Universe service, some of which were forwarded to the defendants. However, DISH claims that even CDNs took action to remove content, Universe simply shifted to other CDNs or locations. Copyright Infringement Claims Running to At Least $5 Million In addition to demanding a permanent injunction against the defendants under 17 U.S.C. § 502 of the Copyright Act, preventing Universe IPTV from streaming, distributing, publicly performing, and selling or providing its content in the United States, DISH also demands substantial damages. “For 37 or more registered works, statutory damages as awarded by the Court up to $150,000 per registered work infringed under 17 U.S.C. § 504(c), or the Defendants’ profits attributable to the infringement of those registered works under 17 U.S.C. § 504(b),” the complaint requests. For any and all unregistered works (DISH lists more than 200), the company demands defendants’ profits attributable to the infringement of those works. When all is considered, the broadcaster is requesting well in excess of $5 million in damages and potentially, depending on the discretion of the court, substantially more. In common with other pending lawsuits of its type, DISH also seeks to take control of Universe IPTV’s domains. A copy of the complaint can be found here (pdf) Source: TorrentFreak
  15. The Players Klub was a popular IPTV service that initially offered live TV channels and a VOD package at prices starting at just $5. Over the years the prices began to rise then the service rebranded, reportedly due to a hostile takeover. It now transpires that the Alliance For Creativity and Entertainment has taken over the portals through which the service was sold. In 2020, people looking for a pirate IPTV supplier are presented with dozens upon dozens of options. While it’s believed there are relatively few groups supplying high-level sources for much of the content, many smaller providers plus sellers and resellers are saturating the marketplace, each looking for a piece of what has become a massive market. The Players Klub During 2017 or thereabouts, a new brand entered the market with a splash. Labeled The Players Klub (TPK), the service attracted a loyal following with pretty cheap plans (including what appears to have been limited free giveaways) offering a wide range of live TV channels plus a comprehensive movie and TV show VOD platform. Late 2019, The Players Klub reported ‘changes’ to the service, reporting that it had suffered a “hostile takeover within the business” and as a result would be rebranding under a different name. The new name, ‘TopDog’ (or TPKTopDog) didn’t appear to last long, however. It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly when the change took place but the ‘TopDog’ branding was later changed to ‘Game Masters’ but even that appeared problematic. According to the service, someone who used to work for the platform (but left under a cloud) was spreading fake information in order to cause trouble. In a tit-for-tat move, the warring parties asked users to report each others’ pages to Facebook for abusive practices. The Players Klub Declared Dead…. One thing that remained relatively constant (at least through early name changes and disruption which continued until recently) was the ability to acquire TPK/TopDog using various sites under the MintPanel branding. However, those domains proved themselves to be unreliable, with various options – MintPanel.net, MintPanel.co and MintPanel.digital – all appearing and then dropping out of use, to the apparent frustration of customers. The sequence of events is muddy, to say the least, but we can confirm without any shadow of a doubt that none of those domains remain in the possession of TPK/TopDog/Game Masters. In fact, they are all under new management at the Motion Picture Association (MPA), which is clearly not a good sign. Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment There’s no easy way of knowing when global anti-piracy coalition ACE, with MPA at the helm, started to put pressure on the variously-branded IPTV providers using the MintPanel domains. What we can be sure of, however, is that early this month they changed hands and now sport the ownership details of the MPA. While MintPanel.net was transferred on September 1, 2020, MintPanel.co took a little longer and was transferred over to Hollywood control four days later, the same day as Mintpanel.digital. All now show the familiar Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment seizure banner before redirecting users (including prospective and existing customers) to the ACE anti-piracy portal for an unwelcome surprise. Game Masters IPTV Lives On? Around three months ago, a long thread developed on Reddit after a Game Masters customer alleged that the IPTV supplier wasn’t providing service after taking payment. The problems appear to have raised their heads after the payment portal used at the time (Gmasterpanel.com) suffered difficulties along with a Discord support channel, that also disappeared. However, Gmasterpanel.com isn’t in the hands of the MPA/ACE, neither is its alleged replacement Gamers.services. It currently doesn’t seem possible to sign up to Game Masters from that domain itself but according to various reports, the underlying service is working, although who is providing that now is anyone’s guess. The ACE Juggernaut Rolls On As reported last week, ACE is currently pressuring Android piracy app TVZion to shut down but that action, like this against TPK/TopDog (and potentially Game Masters), has gone completely unreported by the anti-piracy group. In fact, just a tiny proportion of ACE actions are made public by the coalition itself, possibly due to confidentiality agreements reached with piracy players but, at least in some instances, because ACE isn’t ready to reveal its achievements in public yet. Part of the problem, at least potentially, is that some services agree to die then morph into something else. Source: TorrentFreak
  16. With IPTV piracy seemingly still on an upwards trajectory, the powerful Copyright Alliance is urging Congress to close a loophole in US law that places limits on how cases can be prosecuted. Despite being against copyright law, streaming piracy is currently just a misdemeanor, rendering it "virtually immune from meaningful prosecution." Last month, entertainment industry-backed group Digital Citizens Alliance and content protection company NAGRA published a new study that estimated the pirate IPTV market to be worth a billion dollars each year in the US alone. These types of piracy studies are nothing new but what is interesting about this particular market is that even the biggest ‘pirate’ US players, if they take caution in what type of content they offer and how, are unlikely to find themselves on the wrong end of an aggressive criminal prosecution. There are caveats and exclusions but in general terms, streaming piracy is not a felony in the United States. The ‘Streaming Loophole’ That such a loophole exists in the United States under what many believe are some of the most strict copyright laws in the world is a surprise in itself. But exist it does and here’s how it came to be. Under existing criminal copyright laws, felony penalties are only available for infringements that breach the exclusive rights of reproduction and distribution, i.e the unlawful copying of content and distribution to others. In many cases, however, streaming is viewed as infringing public performance rights, which is considered a misdemeanor. The end result is that, regardless of the scale of a pirate streaming operation and how much revenue is generated by it, the hands of the authorities are effectively tied in respect of offenses that would otherwise attract years in prison. Exceptions Exist, It’s Not a Complete Free-For-All As ongoing cases against Megaupload and Jetflicks demonstrate, streaming offenses can sometimes enter the criminal realm. While some streaming services exploit the loophole cited above, others can face criminal charges when they are deemed to have breached reproduction and distribution rights, by copying infringing content and distributing it to others. Also, as highlighted by the Department of Justice in a letter to the Senate last year, criminal prosecutions may also follow when unlicensed streaming operations are alleged to have committed other crimes, such as money laundering and racketeering, charges also being faced by Kim Dotcom and his Megaupload co-defendants. Pressure Building To Close The Loophole In an opinion piece published in The Hill yesterday, Keith Kupferschmid, chief of powerful industry group Copyright Alliance, again raised the issue of the loophole. Echoing the sentiments of law enforcement groups, entertainment companies, filmmakers and sports groups that have contributed to the debate thus far, he urged Congress to ensure that “in appropriate large-scale commercial cases”, felony penalties are available to federal prosecutors. “Virtually every significant form of willful, commercial piracy can be prosecuted as a felony under appropriate circumstances — including copying CDs, illegal file sharing, and even ‘camripping’ movies in the theater,” he wrote. “But unlike all of these, streaming piracy — no matter how widespread or organized, and regardless of the amount of damage done — can only be prosecuted as a misdemeanor simply because when the laws were drafted streaming video wasn’t an option.” Indeed, the laws that currently limit felony penalties to infringements involving reproduction and distribution were put in place almost three decades ago. At that time, widespread Internet use wasn’t yet a thing and the possibility of streaming movies or TV shows to the public was a distant dream. Congress “Working Hard” to Close the Loophole “Fortunately, Congress is working hard to solve this problem — convening negotiations and developing a simple two-page proposal that would close this ‘streaming loophole’ and ensure that in appropriate large-scale commercial cases, felony penalties are available to federal prosecutors,” Kupferschmid wrote. “The resulting proposal is a consensus product with broad-based support. It is narrowly tailored to address the serious problem of commercial streaming piracy ensuring ordinary internet users, legitimate businesses, and non-commercial actors have nothing to fear from this proposal.” The mention of ordinary Internet users remaining unaffected by these proposals is of interest. The last time a bill was presented to amend the relevant sections of the law – 17 U.S.C. § 506 and 18 U.S.C. § 2319 – to render criminal breaches of public performance rights punishable as felonies, things didn’t go well for copyright holders. The Commercial Felony Streaming Act Back in 2011, Bill S.978 – labeled the Commercial Streaming Felony Act – was introduced to the Senate in an effort to render unauthorized streaming of copyrighted content for “commercial advantage or personal financial gain” a felony punishable by up to five years in prison. However, despite assurances that the intent wasn’t to penalize regular Internet users, concern began to build that ‘normal’ people (such as Justin Bieber who launched his career by posting cover versions of songs to YouTube) could be considered felons under the amendments. Ultimately, however, the contents of the proposed amendments, which later formed part of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), were never passed due to unprecedented public outcry. Not a Done Deal, But Momentum is Building While companies that rely on streaming and physical product sales are desperate for the “streaming loophole” to be well and truly closed, this time around they will not have to contend with the scale of the uproar that accompanied the far-reaching SOPA bill. Indeed, there seems to be optimism that Congress will see fit to accept the proposals which, according to Kupferschmid, are being formed with the assistance of tech companies, not potentially at their expense as per last time around. “This highly transparent and rigorous process which included participation from groups and organizations of all perspectives — including the creative community and victims of streaming piracy as well as those representing internet users, technology companies, internet service providers and civil society — has been lauded across Capitol Hill as a model way to vet and develop new proposals,” he wrote in The Hill. “It’s time for Congress to close the streaming loophole.” Given all of the circumstances and developments of the last decade, particularly considering the rise of legal and illegal streaming, the environment today is literally and figuratively years apart from SOPA. As a result, it arguably presents the perfect opportunity for Congress to deliver. Source: TorrentFreak
  17. The latest IP Crime and Enforcement Report, published by the UK Government, signals a wide variety of ongoing and emerging piracy threats. Pirate IPTV services remain a growing problem that could become worse with the rollout of 5G, it reads. There are also concerns about the use of cryptocurrencies and the growth of stream-rippers. Last week the UK Government’s Intellectual Property Office published its annual IP Crime and Enforcement Report. The report provides an overview of the latest anti-piracy achievements of copyright holders and also signals emerging threats. Like every year, the general consensus is that piracy and counterfeiting remain a problem. However, specifics and priorities change over time. When the first report was published fifteen years ago P2P file-sharing was the top concern. Today, this is a relatively small part of the piracy landscape. The 120-page report covers a wide range of “IP crimes” but we will zoom in on some of the top piracy threats and responses as reported by the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT), the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU), and PRS for Music. The Growing IPTV Piracy Problem To begin, FACT highlights that the number of IPTV piracy complaints increased sharply over the past few years. In 2014 there were just three complaints but by last year this number had grown to 682. “Over the past 6 years, FACT has seen a steady year-on-year increase in public complaints regarding suppliers of illegal IPTV services,” the group notes, showing that its intel on these IPTV services has grown as well. As a result of this development, FACT’s enforcement efforts are prioritized on IPTV piracy. This has resulted in various successes including “Operation Saturn” where several people associated with IPTV services stopped their activities after a visit from FACT investigators. PIPCU, the dedicated IP-crime department of the City of London Police, also mentioned IPTV as a growing threat. According to the police, this problem may worsen when 5G is rolled out across the UK. “IPTV services are likely to increase, a reason for this is that 5G is being rolled out across the country allowing broadband to increase in availability,” the police unit forecasts in the report. Police Keep an eye on Cryptocurrencies The use of cryptocurrencies by pirate sites and services is far from new. The Pirate Bay, for example, started accepting Bitcoin donations many years ago and various pirate services have a cryptocurrency payment option. In the most recent IP Crime and Enforcement Report, cryptocurrencies receive several noteworthy mentions nonetheless. The report highlights these financial mechanisms as part of sophisticated business models that are used by copyright infringers. According to PIPCU, the police are keeping a close eye on these crypto transactions, which they signal as a threat that will get worse over time. “Payment using cryptocurrencies has now been a feature of PIPCU investigations. It is predicted that payment by cryptocurrency will be an increasing threat due to the level of anonymity cryptocurrency provides,” the report reads. PRS also mentions cryptocurrencies as a problem. The music group notes that the majority of the stream-ripping sites, which include YouTube rippers, rely on advertising as the prime source of revenue but cryptocurrencies are up and coming. “Donations by cryptocurrency have been observed for the first time as a revenue source for 3% of stream-ripping services,” PRS reports. Stream-Ripping is the Music Industry’s Main Piracy Threat These same stream-ripping sites remain the music industry’s top anti-piracy priority. They were identified as the top threat years ago but the problem has only increased. According to new data shared by PRS, stream-rippers account for more than 80% of all top music pirate sites. This is a significant increase compared to a few years ago. This dominance is also reflected in the graph below, where other pirate sites follow at a distance. The website y2mate.com is seen as the largest threat of all with the most traffic, according to PRS. Aside from dedicated sites, stream-ripping apps and browser add-ons are also viewed as a major threat. However, on this front, the enforcement efforts of PRS’s Rights Protection Unit have been rather effective. “By using a range of methods, the RPU’s greatest successes have been in tackling stream-ripping plug-ins and stream-ripping download apps where a 100% success rate in both areas was achieved. “Stream-ripping plug-ins were removed from the Google Chrome browser and stream-ripping download apps were removed or the ripping functionality was disabled from the apps available on the Apple App store,” the report adds. All in all, the latest IP Crime and Enforcement Report doesn’t include many surprises. It is mostly a summary of past achievements paired with a broad overview of the current piracy landscape. However, it does clearly show where the current priorities lie, and how these have changed over time. Source: TorrentFreak
  18. The new Premier League season will begin without crowds due to the coronavirus yet 160 games will not be televised in the UK, a gap that pirate IPTV providers will fill using broadcasts from abroad. The Premier League has recently obtained a new ISP blocking injunction but the Football Supporters' Association is begging for the obvious: Don't give fans no other option than to turn to illegal services. While there’s no doubt that humans have been kicking objects around for fun for thousands of years, organized football as we know it today has existed in the UK since the 19th century. Today, however, football faces a threat like never before. The coronavirus pandemic has thrown the sport into chaos, with schedules massively disrupted and leagues thrown into turmoil. In an effort to return to some kind of normality the new Premier League season is set to start on September 12. However, with social-distancing restrictions still in place, fans will be banned from stadiums for the foreseeable future. In the 21st century, the logical solution would be to air all Premier League matches on TV or via the Internet for UK fans to enjoy. At it stands, however, 160 of the planned 380 top-tier games will not be shown in the UK, leaving fans frustrated that they’re being left behind. And there are good reasons for that upset. If fans want to watch the limited matches that are available, they’ll have to subscribe to several services – Sky Sports, BT Sport and Amazon Prime – at a cost of around £100 per month. If they want the rest, there’s no legal option so combined with the price and lack of choice, some fans turn to pirate IPTV providers instead. That’s something the Premier League is working to prevent. Premier League Obtains a New Blocking Order Over the past several years, the Premier League has obtained blocking orders from the High Court, which give it permission to compel ISPs to block pirate streaming services. The last order, which aimed to cover the 2019/2020 season, ran out on July 27, 2020. However, ISP Virgin Media’s portal now reports that new permission has been granted by the High Court via a “sealed order”, which will cover the 2020/2021 season. Virgin will be required to block “Various Target Servers notified to Virgin Media by FAPL or its appointed agent for the duration of the FAPL 2020/2021 competition season.” While yet to publicly report the new order, all other major ISPs will be required to follow suit. We’ve previously covered how these blocking orders work from a technical perspective. Their sole aim is to prevent people from watching matches via illegal providers but the plans for limited legal airings in the UK under pandemic conditions places these efforts into a whole new light. UK Fans Are Being Backed Into a Corner With significantly higher prices, a limited legal offering, and a stadium ban in full effect, UK fans are not only being backed into a corner, on the world stage they’re being treated as second-class supporters of their own sport. All Premier League matches are available to watch live in other countries and at vastly cheaper prices. Citizens of the US, for example, will be able to use NBC channels and streaming services to watch all 380 matches at a vastly reduced price. Other international services showing matches unavailable in the UK include DAZN, Optus Sport, QQ Sports, Sport TV1, and fuboTV, but it is impractical and/or impossible for UK fans to access them all. Legally that is. Pirate IPTV Providers Are The Ultimate One-Stop-Shop By their very description, it’s clear that pirate IPTV providers are illegal. That aside, what they do very effectively is cut through all the red tape. Football fans are not only greeted with the live matches offered by Sky and BT Sport, but also all of the matches offered by NBC and, where necessary, any and/or all of those shown by the other legal providers mentioned above. While price is clearly a huge factor for UK fans, freedom to choose which matches to watch live is a massive draw too. The Premier League knows this, the government knows this, as does the Football Supporters’ Association, which is campaigning for all games to be shown live in the UK. “We all want to get back to games when it’s safe to do so,” said FSA Chief executive Kevin Miles in comments to the BBC this week. “But it’s not in anyone’s interests to have a situation where fans excluded from grounds for reasons of health or Covid-related capacity reductions feel they have no option but to resort to illegal pirate broadcast schemes.” Comments from an IPTV Insider Last evening TorrentFreak spoke with someone with inside knowledge of IPTV providers and he agreed that the new season will be covered in depth by pirate suppliers. “All the games will be available through different providers like the ones you mentioned and many more, and will almost definitely increase the amount of people using illicit options. It’s almost like [the Premier League] are trying to make more people use illicit options,” he said, demanding anonymity. “Illegal IPTV providers will use the legitimate sites to take the streams and redistribute them either via the original source URL or they will simply use HDMI encoders to do so. This is nothing new and in effect the illegitimate providers will continue most likely un-affected in obtaining the content. “We cannot forget however that many people who watch the Premier League illicitly actually have a legit subscription and only use these services to watch the content that they are not able to watch legitimately,” he added. What Next and Will the Premier League Change Its Position? At the moment, the Premier League has declined to comment but it does have a shareholders’ meeting today so it’s at least possible that something positive may come from that. Our IPTV insider is less optimistic, since he believes that any decisions made will be in the interests of the Premier League, not in the interests of fans. A glaring and persistent error, he says. Whatever the outcome, at some point in the future the Premier League and indeed all providers of live sporting content will have to realize that if they are underserving supporters, someone else will come along and exploit that service gap. Blocking and pirate supplier crackdowns have a limited effect so it seems logical that in order to defeat them holistically, the consumer has to be played onside. And that, as always, means putting all content into a convenient package and making that available to fans at a reasonable price. Until then, pirate suppliers have all the oxygen they need to keep taking a piece of the pie, not to mention a not insignificant slice of the revenue. Source: TorrentFreak
  19. When officers from Hungary's National Tax and Customs Administration raided a pirate IPTV provider they were unsurprised to discover large amounts of satellite and computer equipment for capturing and distributing live TV . However, what they also found was hundreds of pounds of food that had been stockpiled by the operator, who hadn't been outside for months due to fears of catching the coronavirus. 2020 has developed into one of the most memorable years in living memory for the entire planet but for mostly the wrong reasons. Not a day goes by without news of the coronavirus pandemic and its devastating effect on individuals, families, the economy, and health in general. In common with many industries, coronavirus has hit the entertainment sectors too, with few new films and TV shows coming out (with notable exceptions such as Mulan) as people are either forced or inclined to stay home and stay safe. Throughout all of this, however, pirate operations have remained mostly online, with notable spikes in interest reported earlier in the year. IPTV Raid and Arrest But Authorities Didn’t Expect This As part of European efforts to crack down on the supply of IPTV, a few weeks ago officers in the National Tax and Customs Administration raided a pirate IPTV provider. What they found was extraordinary to say the least. Situated in what appeared to be a fenced-off barbed wire compound with CCTV surveillance, the outside of the building was perhaps not much of a surprise. Adorned with a large number of satellite dishes used to source original programming from the skies, the walls of the structure gave away what may lie inside. Indeed, the main contents of the building were as expected, such as an office with desks, chairs and various computers, plus a separate area containing what appear to be rows of servers used for capturing TV content from official providers and redistributing it over the Internet. In total, the authorities seized 52 computers, several decoders, TV cards, plus six servers dedicated to redistribution. The image above suggests that the operation wasn’t set up on the large budgets usually witnessed in police footage from raids elsewhere in Europe but with at least 8,000 paying customers, it was clearly functional. However, in a video released by the authorities, it is apparent that on some of the server shelves also sit items of food, including dozens and dozens of packets of flour. A panning camera shot also reveals a large refrigerator and then a small mountain of stacked canned food. Another shot, possibly in another area, reveals little floor space due to yet more stacked cans, a significant area occupied by box upon box of dried pasta packets, plus additional shelves loaded with soft drinks, other foodstuffs, and the coronavirus pandemic staple – dozens of toilet rolls. An Operator of the Service Was Scared of the Coronavirus According to the National Tax and Customs Administration, the service was founded by a man from Nagykanizsa who first set out to “redirect” his mother’s paid TV package to his own home for free. He teamed up with a man from Budapest to create a service that was subsequently offered to close friends too. Over time, however, they realized they could make money from the operation and began offering it on an invitation-only basis to outsiders. The network of customers grew and ultimately became available worldwide via the Internet. However, earlier this year, when the coronavirus started to sweep across Europe, one of the people in charge of the operation reacted like many across the region. In fear of catching what could be a deadly virus, he stockpiled the mountains of food detailed Situated in what appeared to be a fenced-off barbed wire compound with CCTV surveillance, the outside of the building was perhaps not much of a surprise. Adorned with a large number of satellite dishes used to source original programming from the skies, the walls of the structure gave away what may lie inside.above – hundreds of pounds/kilos – so that he could keep the service running but without having to venture far outside. “In addition to IT equipment, durable food was in the Budapest property. The young man had accumulated hundreds of kilos of flour, canned food and pasta in fear of the coronavirus epidemic, and had not ventured into the streets for months,” the authorities explain. Damage to Copyright Holders But Also Paying No Taxes According to estimates provided by the tax authorities, the service is alleged to have generated around HUF 6 million (US$1.97m) for the pair but for reasons that aren’t explained, they “forgot” to pay the necessary duties to the state. This explains why the tax authorities were involved in the raid. “An illegal IPTV service that is provided without payment of royalties infringes copyright or copyright-related rights, which is a criminal offense. The offender can be sentenced to up to eight years in prison,” the National Tax and Customs Administration says. Whether the self-imposed prison sentence of a few months will now be extended to a forced sentence of a few years is currently unknown. Previous Post Source: TorrentFreak
  20. Users of pirate IPTV services in the UK and Ireland are most likely being monitored by one or more major ISPs. Secret traffic analysis, provided to the High Court in a recent blocking case involving UEFA, reveals that studies were carried out in connection with Sky which determined many subscribers were accessing pirate IPTV platforms via the ISP. Blocking of regular piracy websites has been a feature of anti-piracy enforcement in Europe for almost 15 years. The way these blocks are achieved is broadly similar, with entertainment industry companies filing “no-fault” injunctions against Internet service providers who stand before the courts accused of facilitating the copyright-infringing activities of their subscribers. Once this infringement has been identified and the ISPs put on notice by the courts, they are required to block access to the sites in question, using basic DNS techniques or in the UK, for example, more sophisticated methods that require a VPN or similar tool to tunnel through. IPTV Blocking – A More Sophisticated Beast In recent years, live sports groups such as the Premier League and UEFA have obtained similar injunctions that are more complex. These ‘dynamic’ blocking efforts require intricate work by the organizations’ anti-piracy partners, who identify the IP addresses of specific ‘pirate’ servers, including those that can be changed at short notice, in order for ISPs to block them at match times. While unpopular, there is nothing particularly surprising about these efforts. Content companies have obtained the necessary legal permissions and have a right to protect their businesses. And for the ISPs, it should be a simple case of them ‘firewalling’ the IP addresses in question so that subscribers cannot access them directly to watch live matches. However, it seems pretty clear that something else is going on too. ISPs’ Vested Interest in Stopping Pirates Now that they are both broadcasters and ISPs, companies including Sky have a vested interest in stopping piracy. This means that while blocking injunctions against ISPs used to be fiercely contested, that’s no longer the case. In fact, in a recent blocking case brought by UEFA in Ireland, it was revealed in court documents that Sky actually supported the action, despite being a defendant. While that’s the company’s prerogative, something more worrying was mentioned in the same case. It appears that in this matter, Sky or others acting on its behalf, have been monitoring the traffic of Sky subscribers who accessed the servers of pirate IPTV providers. Perhaps Not the ‘Dumb Pipe’ ISPs Are Usually Portrayed As In the order obtained by UEFA in the High Court of Ireland in September, comments made by Justice David Barniville revealed that the activities of Sky subscribers were used to support the application by UEFA to have pirate services blocked. “I am satisfied that the [blocking] Order is necessary for the purpose of protecting the Plaintiff’s copyright against infringement. I note from the evidence, and accept, that there has been a significant shift away from the use of websites in more recent years in favor of devices and apps, in particular, set top boxes that can be watched on televisions in people’s living rooms,” Justice Barniville wrote. “The affidavit of Jiajun Chen provides a confidential traffic analysis which evidences the use of the Sky network by Irish viewers to watch online illegal UEFA content.” That the traffic analysis itself is “confidential” feels just a little ironic, given that it apparently reports on communications that should have been confidential too. In this case, Mr. Chen appears to have obtained access to at least part of the Internet habits of some Sky subscribers. Any requests made from customers’ connections usually go straight from their devices via the ISP to the ‘pirate’ servers in question, meaning that only Sky should be in the middle. Reading between the lines, Sky appears to have monitored, logged, and made available information related to these communications to support the application of the plaintiff. Worryingly, this monitoring of customers’ traffic has been going on for some time, since it was briefly covered in previous blocking injunctions obtained by the Premier League. Precisely what information is being held is unclear but if it relates to attempts to access ‘infringing servers’, any and all data (if only metadata) is available to ISPs. No Expectation of Communications Privacy? Putting aside the issue of copyright infringement for a moment, this type of monitoring behavior is unlikely to sit well with the customers of ISPs who either demand or at least expect privacy. Neither does it sit well with Ed Geraghty, a Senior Technologist at UK-based charity Privacy International. “Censorship and monitoring of the Internet, generally, leads to chilling effects and violates our human right against arbitrary interference to our privacy, home, and correspondence. This is just another example that despite cries to the contrary from industries and governments alike, the Internet is a heavily surveilled and highly regulated space, where tracking is rampant,” Geraghty informs TorrentFreak. “In recent years there have been great strides in the roll out of end-to-end encryption and the safety and privacy it can offer the content of our communications whilst in transit, but fundamentally there’s still – necessarily – huge amounts of metadata attached to our every interaction online.” What Can Be Done to Prevent ISP Monitoring? While some will argue that privacy shouldn’t apply when subscribers are reportedly breaking the law, the big question relates to the slippery slope. If subscribers’ activities are apparently being monitored for one type of traffic today, how long before other types of traffic are considered fair game too? Preventing this, privacy experts insist, is not just possible but also necessary to prevent Internet surveillance from getting out of hand. “Depending on which point the ISPs are monitoring, there are various ways you can attempt to obscure your traffic – for instance, using third-party DNS over HTTPS, or a VPN – but be aware that this is merely shifting who can see your traffic away from your ISP to someone else,” Geraghty adds. Given their simplicity and wide availability, the use of VPNs to prevent monitoring is a natural choice and something that has been gaining traction in recent times. David Wibergh from OVPN says he believes that Sky is proposing the “black holing” of IP addresses instead of blocking DNS queries, which is problematic in itself. “As IP addresses are typically in temporary use and could be used by several sites simultaneously, it can lead to unexpected and obtrusive blocking of content that has nothing to do with piracy,” Wibergh says. “By using a VPN provider you remove the internet providers’ capabilities of performing blocking, surveillance and traffic analysis, as the only traffic originating from you is towards the VPN provider’s server. It’s crucial to choose a VPN provider that is trustworthy as VPN providers are able to perform the same form of traffic shaping as the ISP. But even if there is a risk that VPN providers log; it’s a guarantee that your ISP logs.” Daniel Markuson, Digital Privacy Expert at NordVPN, says that perceived privacy intrusions like these will only will lead to more uptake. “Blocks of services and the subsequent discoveries of traffic monitoring and trade will lead to an increased demand for VPNs,” Markuson says. “Whenever a government announces an increase in surveillance, internet restrictions, or other types of constraints, people turn to privacy tools. We saw similar spikes in different regions: for example, when the US repealed net neutrality, or the UK passed the law dubbed ‘The Snoopers’ Charter‘.” Finally, a simple, obvious, but nevertheless important comment from Harold Li, Vice President of ExpressVPN, that applies to all Internet users concerned about the privacy of their communications. “The onus is still on consumers to take action and protect themselves,” he concludes. Source: TorrentFreak
  21. An Italian court has ordered Cloudflare to block current and future domain names and IP-addresses of the pirate IPTV service "IPTV THE BEST." The order, which follows a complaint from the football league Serie A and Sky Italy, is the first of its kind in the country. Cloudflare put up a strong defense, arguing that it merely passes on traffic, but that didn't convince the court. In recent years, many copyright holders have complained that Cloudflare does little to nothing to stop pirate sites from using its services. The US-based company receives numerous DMCA notices but aside from forwarding these to the affected customers, it takes no action. Cloudflare sees itself as a neutral intermediary that simply passes on bits. This approach is not welcomed by everyone and, as a result, the company has been placed on the EU piracy watchlist alongside familiar pirate sites such as The Pirate Bay, Seasonvar and Rapidgator. Despite this callout, Cloudflare maintains its position. The company doesn’t want to intervene based on allegations from copyright holders and requests a court order to take action. These orders are very rare, but a few days ago the Court of Milan, Italy, set a precedent. Sky and Serie A Sued Cloudflare The case in question was filed by the TV platform Sky Italy and Lega Serie A, Italy’s top football league. The organizations requested a court order to stop various third-party intermediaries from providing access to “IPTV THE BEST”, a popular IPTV service targeted at an Italian audience. Since the IPTV service is a Cloudflare customer the US-based CDN provider was also sued. The copyright holders demanded Cloudflare and several other companies including hosting provider OVH, and ISPs such as Vodafone, TIM, Fastweb, Wind and Tiscali, to stop working with the pirate service. Last September, the Court of Milan sided with Sky and Serie A. It issued a preliminary injunction ordering the companies to stop working with the IPTV provider, regardless of the domain name or IP-address it uses. Cloudflare objected to the claim. In its defense, the company pointed out that it isn’t hosting any infringing content. As a CDN, it simply caches content and relays traffic, nothing more. In addition, the Italian court would lack jurisdiction as well, the company argued. Cloudflare’s Defense Falls Flat Despite the fierce defense from Cloudflare, which extended the case by more than a year, the court didn’t change its position. In a recent order, it explained that it’s irrelevant whether a company hosts files or merely caches the content. In both cases, it helps to facilitate copyright-infringing activity. This is an important decision because services like Cloudflare are hard to classify under EU law, which makes a general distinction between hosting providers and mere conduit services. The Italian court clarified that such classification is irrelevant in this matter. “The ruling is unique in its kind because it expressly addresses the issue of the provision of information society services that are difficult to classify in the types outlined by the European eCommerce Directive,” attorney Alessandro La Rosa informs TorrentFreak. Together with Mr. Bruno Ghirardi, his colleague at the law firm Studio Previti, La Rosa represented the football league in this matter. They worked in tandem with attorney Simona Lavagnini, who represented Sky Italy. ‘Unique and Important Ruling’ Lavagnini tells us that the ruling is important because it’s the first blocking order to be issued against a CDN provider in Italy. “The order is important because, at least to my knowledge, it is the first issued against a CDN, in which the CDN was ordered to cease the activities carried out in relation to illegal services, also including those activities which cannot qualify as hosting activities,” she says. “The recent order clearly says that the services of the CDN shall be inhibited because they help to allow third parties to carry out the illegal action which is the subject matter of the urgent proceeding, even if there is no data storage by the CDN,” Lavagnini adds. TorrentFreak also reached out to Cloudflare for a comment but at the time of writing the company has yet to respond. Cloudflare Blocking Becomes More Common While the attorneys we spoke with highlight the uniqueness of the ruling, Cloudflare previously noted in its transparency report that it has already blocked 22 domain names in Italy following a court order. It’s not known what case the company was referring to there, but it affects 15 separate accounts. The blocking actions will only affect Italians but in theory, they could expand. There are grounds to apply them across Europe or even worldwide, Lavagnini tells us, but that will likely require further clarification from the court. This isn’t the first time that Cloudflare has been ordered to block a copyright-infringing site in Europe. Earlier this year a German court ordered the company to block access to DDL-Music, or face fines and a potential prison sentence. In Italy, the CDN provider was also required to terminate the accounts of several pirate sites last year. However, in that case, Cloudflare was seen as a hosting provider due to its “Always Online” feature. Also, that court order didn’t mention geo-blocking or blocking in general. Source: TorrentFreak
  22. DISH Network has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against individuals who reportedly sell access to a pirate IPTV supplier that was previously targeted by police in Sweden. In that matter, several people were sentenced to years in prison and ordered to pay around $24m in damages. According to DISH, however, the provider is still in business and supplying content to the United States. Founded way back in 2008, ATN (Advanced TV Network) was an IPTV business in Sweden supplying more than a thousand TV channels to customers via the Internet. The company was incorporated, paid its taxes, and in 2013 generated around $7m in sales with a decent profit margin. In 2016, however, ATN was raided by the police and its operators were eventually charged with copyright infringement offenses for distributing unlicensed TV, among other things. ATN Operators Sentenced to Prison In 2018, the Stockholm Patent and Market court found three operators of ATN guilty of copyright infringement and other offenses. ATN owner Hamid al-Hamid was sentenced to two and a half years in prison. His son and another accomplice both received one-year prison sentences. In addition, they were ordered to pay over 209 million Swedish kroner (then $24m) in damages to rightsholders. According to a lawsuit filed by broadcaster DISH Network this week, ATN is now based in the United Arab Emirates and through distribution partners, is currently doing illegal business in the United States. DISH is hoping to shut these partners down and obtain substantial damages, alleging that they breach the broadcaster’s copyrights. Lawsuit Targets Sellers/Partners of ATN in United States According to a new lawsuit filed in a Florida district court, Alfa TV Inc. is operated in the United States by a number of individuals associated with ATN. Florida resident Hisham Manse Ibrahem is the company’s president, Haitham Mansi is its vice-president, Nezar Saeed Hammo is Alfa’s marketing manager, and Mohammed Abu Oun acts as general manager. All are named defendants. The complaint alleges that the men and Alfa TV Inc. together do business as ElafnetTV, a ‘pirate’ IPTV service that provides access to the ATN service to customers in the United States. Documentation cited by DISH has ElafnetTV marketing itself as the official distributor of ATN in the country. “Defendants continued to distribute the ATN/Elafnet Service to customers in the United States, even after the 2016 raid and 2018 criminal convictions against ATN’s operators, and to this day refer to ElafnetTV as the ‘Biggest Arabic IPTV Provider in the World’,” the lawsuit reads. “Defendants demonstrated the willfulness of their copyright infringement by continuing to distribute the ATN/Elafnet Service that provides unauthorized access to channels exclusively licensed to DISH, despite receiving numerous demands to cease and despite the criminal copyright convictions against ATN’s operators.” “Long History of Willful Copyright Infringement” The DISH lawsuit claims that Ibrahem, Mansi, plus a now-deceased individual launched ElafnetTV in 2010 with the aim of distributing the ATN service. While the outfit has changed its business names a number of times (eventually ending up as Alfa TV Inc., DISH has been sending copyright infringement notices (more than 110 according to the lawsuit) to the defendants and the ATN service raided in Sweden since 2013. Indeed, DISH claims strong links between ATN and the defendants. After sending a copyright infringement notice in 2015, ATN founder Hamid al-Hamid (who was later sentenced to prison in Sweden) stated that Alfa TV/ElafnetTV’s Mansi was ATN’s sales director in the United States, stating that a meeting could be arranged with DISH to “find a formula for cooperation”. “Defendants have a close relationship with ATN and al-Hamid. Hammo and al-Hamid are friends on Facebook and Mansi and al-Hamid appear together in photos posted to al-Hamid’s Facebook account,” the lawsuit adds. “Despite the criminal convictions, ATN has continued to operate and Defendants likewise have continued to advertise, promote, sell, and distribute the ATN/Elafnet Service to customers in the United States, thereby providing them with access to the [DISH] Protected Channels.” Inducing and Materially Contributing to Copyright Infringement According to DISH, ATN/Elafnet advertised their IPTV product as a means of accessing the company’s channels and had actual knowledge that subscribers of the unlicensed service were breaching DISH’s exclusive distribution and performance rights. The defendants could have taken “simple measures” to remove DISH content after receiving copyright complaints but chose not to, the broadcaster adds. “Ibrahem, Mansi, Hammo, and Abuoun are jointly and severally liable for each act of infringement of Alfa TV because they personally directed, authorized, supervised, or participated in, and financially benefited from such infringing conduct as alleged herein,” the complaint reads. “Defendants’ actions were willful, malicious, intentional, and purposeful, and in disregard of and with indifference to the rights of DISH.” Demands For Millions in Damages Plus Permanent Injunction The DISH lawsuit demands $150,000 in statutory damages for at least 107 registered works infringed under 17 U.S.C. § 504(c) and an award for defendants’ profits attributable to the infringement of unregistered works under 17 U.S.C. § 504(b). Together, these claims could easily run to several million dollars in overall damages. In addition, DISH demands an order requiring the defendants to hand over their domain names to the broadcaster and the impoundment of all infringing articles under 17 U.S.C. § 503. On top of attorneys’ fees and costs, DISH also requests a permanent injunction, restraining the defendants and those acting in concert with them from transmitting, streaming, distributing or publicly performing its copyrighted content in the United States via the ATN/Elafnet service and/or any of the apps and processes associated with it. The DISH complaint can be found here (pdf) Source: TorrentFreak
  23. US-broadcaster DISH Network is suing a former reseller of IPTV services SET TV and Simply-TV in a Florida court. It's alleged that the defendant continued to sell pirate IPTV subscriptions under various brands, even after DISH obtained damages awards of $120m and an order to prevent ongoing violations. Back in 2018, broadcaster DISH Network sued pirate IPTV service SET TV for offering numerous TV channels that had been illegally obtained from DISH’s satellite service. In November 2018 that particular lawsuit came to end when SET TV’s operators were ordered by a Florida court to pay $90 million in statutory damages. However, DISH wasn’t convinced its work was done when it came to similar if not identical services still in operation. DISH Targets Pirate IPTV Service Simply-TV In March 2019, DISH and NagraStar filed another lawsuit in Florida, targeting several individuals and companies collectively doing business as Simply-TV, a $20 per month service which several users described as having many similarities to SET TV. DISH complained that Simply-TV worked with SET TV-related entities that capture DISH content without permission, with Simply-TV also re-selling the service to others under their own brands and pricing structures. The Florida court quickly handed down a temporary restraining order and later in April, converted that to a comprehensive preliminary injunction. In August 2019, DISH was awarded $30 million in statutory damages and an order that permanently enjoined the Simply-TV defendants “and anyone acting in active concert or participation” with them from “retransmitting or copying, or assisting others in retransmitting or copying, any of DISH’s satellite or over-the-top Internet transmissions of television programming or any content contained therein.” DISH Sues Former SET TV and Simply-TV Reseller Lisa Crawford According to yet another IPTV lawsuit filed in Florida, DISH is now continuing its battle against an individual it claims was not only a reseller of the SET TV service but also of Simply-TV. DISH claims that an individual called Lisa Crawford along with business entities including LC One LLC, LC Pryme Enterprises LLC, LC Pryme Holdings LLC, LC Pryme One Enterprises LLC, and several others, ignored the orders of the Court in the previous cases by continuing to breach the broadcaster’s rights. Noting that Crawford initially acted as a reseller for SET TV, when that was shut down she began reselling Simply-TV packages. When that service was ended she moved on again by allegedly selling and supporting new pirate IPTV services including Prime Tyme TV, Lazer TV Streams, Griff TV, and Flix Streams. “Just like the SET TV and Simply-TV pirate streaming services, the new Pirate IPTV Services being facilitated by Crawford and the Pirate IPTV Entities are, and have been retransmitting DISH programming received from DISH’s satellite television service without authorization from DISH,” the complaint reads. DISH Demands Damages & Injunction Under the FCA DISH’s claims against Crawford, the LLCs, and the various IPTV brands are being actioned under the Federal Communications Act, specifically 47 U.S.C. § 605(a) and 47 U.S.C. § 605(e)(4) which relate to illegal reception/retransmission and selling devices that facilitate access to DISH’s satellite programming. In common with the lawsuits against SET TV and Simply-TV, DISH also demands a permanent injunction preventing Crawford and the various entities from illegally obtaining and distributing its television content, and manufacturing or selling configured devices and/or subscriptions. DISH also seeks an order that will remove advertising and social media pages promoting Prime Tyme TV, Lazer TV Streams, Griff TV, and Flix Streams, and an order that will allow it to take control of any and all websites used to offer the services. DISH also wants access to all records relating to IPTV devices and subscription sales, including the details of those who purchased them. In respect of damages, DISH demands up to $100,000 for each violation of 47 U.S.C. § 605(a) and up to $100,000 for each violation of 47 U.S.C. § 605(e)(4). As the earlier cases show, potential awards can easily reach tens of millions of dollars. The full complaint can be found here (pdf) Source: TorrentFreak
  24. The entertainment industry-backed group Digital Citizens Alliance and content protection company NAGRA have published a new study which estimates the pirate IPTV market in the US to be worth a cool billion dollars. So who is making the big bucks from illicit live TV and VOD content and how? In June, TorrentFreak published an article which gave a very brief outline of the pirate IPTV business, in particular how those services are sold and how customers are serviced. The report scratched only the service of what is a highly organized industry, one that over the past several years has developed into a global phenomenon – not to mention a thorn in the side of major entertainment industry groups. A new report from content protection company NAGRA takes a much deeper dive, outlining not only the structure of pirate IPTV supply but also providing estimates on the size of the market in the United States and who’s making money from it. Right off the bat, it’s worth noting that the report is co-presented by the Digital Citizens Alliance, a Hollywood-funded group that has produced highly-critical studies in the past, focusing variously on the so-called ‘cyberlocker’ market and alleged connections between pirate content and malware. US Pirate IPTV Market Estimated to Be Worth a Cool Billion Dollars Titled “Money for Nothing”, the headline figure in the report is that the pirate IPTV market in the United States generates a billion dollars every year. This is the revenue from subscriptions alone and excludes the costs associated with buying hardware (set-top boxes etc) to play the content. NAGRA says that subscription costs vary quite wildly ($2pm to $25pm) but most average between $10pm to $15pm. For the purposes of the study, NAGRA presumes $10pm ($120 per year) for a typical sunscriber. The researchers believe that nine million households in the US currently have a pirate subscription, meaning that when other household residents are accounted for, around 30 million individuals are watching content from these sources, which is roughly nine percent of the population. The stated aim of the report is to determine whether this poses a major threat to legitimate providers, one that “should draw the immediate and sustained attention of policymakers and law enforcement.” How the Pirate IPTV Market is Structured “The consumer’s point of contact with the piracy ecosystem is the PS IPTV [Pirate Subscription IPTV] Retailer. The Retailer advertises to the public, often through social media, driving users to a storefront website where they can download the app, buy a device with the app pre-installed, or otherwise receive instructions on how to access and pay for the services,” the report reads. “Typically, the Retailer purchases its service from a PS IPTV Wholesaler. Often, the Retailer buys ‘credits’ from a Wholesaler to sell a certain number of subscriptions to consumers. The Retailer relies on the Wholesaler’s technical infrastructure and access to stolen content to deliver the service to subscribers. The Retailer spends little in upfront costs, and can purchase additional credits from the Wholesaler whenever its customer base expands.” The report shies away from providing lists of retailers and wholesalers but one well-known service, Rocketstreams, gets a particularly clear and prominent mention, as the image below shows. “In some instances, a Wholesaler may be a fully integrated operation, gathering the feeds of the stolen channels, developing its own proprietary technology, and using its own servers and software to scrape internet sources for stored movies and television shows for Video on Demand (VOD) services. More commonly, a Wholesaler will outsource or barter for one or more of these functions,” the NAGRA report adds. It’s common knowledge that most ‘wholesalers’ don’t have direct source access to all of the channels they provide to their customers, since the logistics are both complex and expensive. Instead, as the report notes, it’s common for them to work with other ‘wholesalers’ to either share channel packages to fill gaps in their respective offerings or buy the rights to restream them outright. Pirate IPTV Retailers: Costs and Profits Beginning with the customer-facing retailers, NAGRA estimates that in the US alone, they operate via 3,500 storefront websites, social media pages, and stores within online marketplaces. A large retailer could have as many as 100,000 subscribers, NAGRA says, while highlighting YouTube star and former IPTV seller Bill Omar Carrasquillo, a.k.a. OMI IN A HELLCAT, as one of the most high-profile. Categorizing Carrasquillo as a ‘retailer’ could be up for debate, however, since he’s on record as stating that he captured his own content, meaning that he could also be considered a wholesaler under the report’s definition. However, it’s likely that at times he did both and anyway, the main point being highlighted is that he sold to the public and reportedly made millions doing so. Of course, not everyone operates on the scale that Carrasquillo did, a point acknowledged by NAGRA. Due to the low barriers to entry, retailers/resellers may have only a few thousand customers or less and for the study, the company analyzed a retailer with around 5,000 subscribers buying subscriptions at $10pm/$120 pa, generating around $600,000 per year. NAGRA looked at the investment and costs involved (including web development and buying ‘credits’ from wholesalers and arrived at profits of $265,000 per year. “In this example, a PS IPTV Retailer with just 5,000 subscribers can expect to make a yearly profit of over $335,000 on an estimated $600,000 in annual revenues. That’s a robust 56 percent profit margin. Moreover, because this is an illegal business, it is highly unlikely that the PS IPTV Retailer is reporting this income to the Internal Revenue Service, so that profit may be tax-free,” NAGRA notes. Pirate IPTV Wholesalers: Costs and Profits “NAGRA estimates that a large Wholesaler may serve streams — through multiple retailers — to millions of subscribers worldwide. This research is rooted in close scrutiny of these operators. For example, NAGRA assisted the investigation that led to the June 2020 Spanish National Police raid that took down dozens of related PS IPTV brands, serving over 2 million subscribers worldwide. “NAGRA discovered 566 domain names pointing to the raided servers, many of which included terms that suggest that they are used to sell or deliver PS IPTV services,” the report reads. For the purposes of the report, NAGRA looked at what it believes to be a typically-sized wholesaler serving around 30,000 subscribers through retailers, meaning that it had no associated retail costs. NAGRA estimates that a typical wholesaler sells restreaming connections for $6 per subscriber per month, with one connection servicing as many consumers as needed. If the wholesaler sells restreaming connections to 10 other wholesalers, it can generate revenues of $144,000 per year. In respect of retail sales, when offered to retailers/resellers at $4 per credit (1 credit = 1 month subscription), the cost is $48.00 to the retailer. “Assuming the 30,000 subscribers are all acquired through its Retailers, the Wholesaler’s revenue would be ($48 x 30,000) = $1,440,000 per year, bringing the Wholesaler’s total revenue to $1,584,000 per year.” Of course, no business exists without costs and NAGRA provides a fairly detailed overview of its estimates, available as images here and here. The bottom line, however, is that wholesalers are more profitable than retailers/resellers, at least when their setup costs are gradually removed as their business gets into full swing. “Once the service has ramped up and capital expenditures have been amortized, this typical Wholesaler would make a yearly profit of over $1,345,200, with a profit margin of 85 percent, also likely tax-free,” the company adds. Legitimate Companies Are Supporting Illegal Business Over the past several years there have been growing demands for legitimate companies to stop doing business with pirate sites and services. At least in part, the report – which will no doubt be used as a lobbying tool in the months and years to come – aims to put those entities under pressure. Payment processors, credit card companies, hosting providers, CDN companies, website services and social media companies all get a general mention for playing a role, from directly processing subscription payments through to tolerating marketing campaigns that drive traffic to pirate services. Alleged Harms to the Consumer While there doesn’t appear to be any major or fundamental issues with NAGRA’s industry overview, no Digital Citizens Alliance report would be complete without claims of piracy hurting the consumer. Indeed, the report speaks loosely of malware issues in respect of pirate apps being unsafe and some pirates collaborating with “hackers and other bad actors” to steal or hijack data, mine cryptocurrency, and other nefarious activities. However, the section is worth reading closely since most references do not relate to premium pirate IPTV subscriptions, with NAGRA only noting that “PS IPTV operators may, either currently or in the future, engage in the same behavior.” Another observation appears to be targeted at government and lawmakers. It has little to do with piracy but has the potential to throw fuel on the fire in the corridors of power since it links terrorism with IPTV providers. “[O]ut of the hundreds of PS IPTV services monitored in NAGRA labs over recent years, nearly 50 percent included Al-Manar in their channel list. The Al-Manar channel was labeled in 2004 by the U.S. government as a ‘Specially Designated Global Terrorist entity.’ It is banned in the United States and in a number of European countries,” the report reads. Al-Manar, of course, is a Lebanese-based TV station owned and operated by political party/militant group Hezbollah which is not only considered a terrorist group by many countries around the world, but also receives backing from Iran. It’s a small point in the report but is almost guaranteed to make headlines in the future. The full report can be downloaded here (pdf) Source
  25. Several major Hollywood studios plus Amazon and Netflix have filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against 'pirate' IPTV provider Crystal Clear Media (CCM). The lawsuit claims that, in addition to offering thousands of live channels, CCM provides a VOD service carrying 14,000 movies and 3,000 TV shows. Members of the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE), an anti-piracy coalition featuring Hollywood studios, Netflix, Amazon, and more than two dozen other companies, are targeting a large IPTV provider via the US courts. Filed yesterday by Disney, Paramount, Amazon, Warner, Universal, Netflix, Columbia and StudioCanal, the lawsuit names TTKN Enterprises, LLC, better known online as IPTV service Crystal Clear Media (CCM). It further names Todd and Tori Smith of Florida as defendants and identifies the pair as the owners of TTKN and operators of CCM. Massive and Ongoing Infringement “Defendants own and operate the Crystal Clear Media service, an infringing streaming service that sells — directly and through an expanding network of resellers — unauthorized access to copyrighted movies and television programs through thousands of live and title-curated television channels (Internet Protocol television (‘IPTV’)) and video-on-demand (‘VOD’) offerings,” the complaint reads. “Defendants’ title-curated channels stream the Copyrighted Works in packaged offerings that are not available through legitimate services. These offerings include, among many others, 24/7 marathons of Disney’s movie Frozen II and Warner Bros.’s Harry Potter movie collection, newly-released movies including Paramount’s Like a Boss and Columbia Picture’s Bad Boys for Life, and enormously popular television series such as Universal’s Mr. Robot.” The plaintiffs describe the defendants’ ongoing infringement as willful, noting that they have engaged in “concerted efforts” to conceal their roles while profiting from their “blatantly infringing service”, offered from websites including mediahosting.one, crystalcleariptv.com, ccmedia.one, ccbilling.org, cciptv.us, ccreborn.one, ccultimate.one, superstreamz.com, and webplayer.us. The comprehensive VOD service offered by CCM appears to be central to the complaint. It’s alleged that the defendants knew that offering VOD was a major security risk but went ahead anyway. Warning Signs About VOD Were Ignored In May 2019, TorrentFreak published an article revealing that the Vaders IPTV service had been taken offline. The complaint states that after this news broke, the defendants issued an urgent announcement, stating they would “BE ELIMINATING VOD, CATCHUP SERVICES, AND TV SERIES…IN LIGHT OF RECENT EVENTS.” However, the lawsuit says that despite noting the problems experienced by Vaders, VOD was still offered by CCM. “Defendants did not stop their VOD offering. Instead, Defendants continue to sell subscriptions to their VOD service for $10 a month under the false label of ‘Virtual Reality Gaming…Addon.’ The Virtual Reality Gaming label is a deliberate effort to hide what Defendants are really providing,” the entertainment companies state. “Extensive and Expanding” Reseller Network In common with many similar operations, CCM allegedly reaches its customer base by running a network of resellers who bulk buy “credits” from CCM. These are converted into subscriber login credentials when sold to customers looking to watch IPTV. “Defendants’ reseller program plays a pivotal role in their infringing enterprise. Defendants’ resellers market and promote CCM as a substitute for authorized and licensed distributors,” the lawsuit notes. “If left unchecked, Defendants’ infringing conduct will continue to grow. Defendants’ network of resellers and subscribers will continue to expand, and with it the infringement of Plaintiffs’ Copyrighted Works will grow exponentially.” Copyright Infringement Claims Alleging willful direct copyright infringement, the plaintiffs demand the maximum statutory damages of $150,000 per infringed work and an injunction preventing the ongoing infringement. In the event that the defendants claim that third-parties are directly violating the plaintiffs’ rights, the lawsuit alleges contributory copyright infringement, since the defendants have “actual knowledge” that infringement is taking place in respect of the content being offered. Again, the maximum statutory damages of $150,000 per work are demanded. The same sum is requested due to CCM inducing others by “encouraging, and promoting the use of CCM” for copyright infringement. In addition to preliminary and permanent injunctions to effectively shut down the CCM service, the entertainment companies request that all resellers are prevented from offering its products to the public. They also want the platform’s domain names and an eventual trial by jury. The complaint is available here (pdf) Source
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