Antigua Government Planning to Open Legal Warez Portal

Legal piracy might become a reality soon, if the Antigua Government goes through with its plans. Antigua has been trying for more than a decade to get United States to repeal its prohibition of cross-border gambling services. Gambling revenues, which forms a significant chunk of Antigua’s GDP, fell from $2,392 million in 2001 to $948 million in 2007 as a result of the US ban. Now, Antigua is looking to fight back by striking at the US entertainment industry.

Antigua Government wants to run a pirate site, which will offer movies, music, and software for free. TorrentFreak is reporting that in a meeting held in Geneva, the World Trade Organization authorized Antigua’s request to suspend U.S. copyrights. This confirmed the preliminary authorization Antigua received in 2007, after the WTO found the Internet Gambling Ban to be illegal. The original ruling had basically granted Antigua a free ride in matters of copyright violations, as well as patent and trademark infringements.

“These aggressive efforts to shut down the remote gaming industry in Antigua has resulted in the loss of thousands of good paying jobs and seizure by the Americans of billions of dollars belonging to gaming operators and their customers in financial institutions across the world,” Antigua’s Finance Minister Harold Lowell explained to TorrentFreak.

Antigua-Piracy

Ideally, the Caribbean island hopes to resolve the dispute before having to open the warez site. However, so far, USA hasn’t shown any inclination to comply with the 2007 WTO ruling. Antigua’s piracy website will be more about registering its protest than causing real harm. Downloaders seeking pirated material already have plenty of sources, including the notorious ThePirateBay. However, that hasn’t stopped music records from going platinum and movies from raking in hundreds of millions of dollars. It’s unlikely that Antigua’s website will.

Hackulous Shuts Down Due To Stagnant Community

iOS users who pirate apps, here is some bad news for you. Hackulous is shutting down! Hackulous has acted as a gateway for all jailbroken iOS devices to install pirated apps on their devices using Installous or AppSync.

The reason behind the shut down according to the Hackulous team is the lack of activity on their forums. Below is their official statement -:

Goodnight, sweet prince.

We are very sad to announce that Hackulous is shutting down. After many years, our community has become stagnant and our forums are a bit of a ghost town. It has become difficult to keep them online and well-moderated, despite the devotion of our staff. We’re incredibly thankful for the support we’ve had over the years and hope that new, greater communities blossom out of our absence.

With lots of love,
Hackulous Team

While the death of Hackulous does not mean that iOS piracy is dead, it will definitely help in reducing piracy. Keep in mind that Hackulous itself did not host pirated iOS apps. Instead, it had in its repos two of the most popular and easiest way of installing pirated apps on iOS – Installous and AppSync. Since Hackulous repo is already down, there is no way to install Installous or AppSync for now.

It is just a matter of time and some work from developers before Installous or AppSync once again make an appearance on jailbroken iOS devices.

Megaupload Preparing to Return as Mega

Speaking to Wired, Kim Doctom – the dynamic founder of Megaupload, detailed his plans for a comeback. Earlier this year, in a controversial move, the United States Department of Justice seized and shut down the file-hosting site Megaupload.com and moved criminal cases against its owners. However, Dotcom is already out on bail and working on his next venture – Mega.

Kim-Dotcom-Megaupload

Like Megaupload, Mega will be a cyber-locker that will be driven by a subscription model, allowing users to upload and share files with ease. However, there will be a few crucial differences. Having been burnt once, Dotcom is trying to work around the legal pitfalls that led to the Megaupload’s downfall. Mega will automatically encrypt all uploaded files with AES algorithm and provide a key to the user. Mega itself won’t have the key, and hence won’t have any idea about the content of the files uploaded to its servers. Dotcom hopes that this will allow Mega to avoid liability for the uploaded content. However, if a content owner discovers that his content is being illegally shared through Mega, he can file a complaint with Mega and get his content removed. Dotcom informed the Wired that according to his legal experts, the only way to stop such a service from existing is to make encryption itself illegal. “And according to the U.N. Charter for Human Rights, privacy is a basic human right,” he elaborated. The presence of encryption algorithms will also mean that de-duplication, which is a technique used by file lockers to identify duplicate files and store only a single instance on their server, is not going to be possible. So, copyright owners will have to remove infringing content one instance at a time. Fingerprinting content to automatically remove copyrighted material is also out of the equation. As with Megaupload, Mega will allow content owners special privileges to directly remove infringing material themselves. “But this time, if they want to use that tool, they’ll have to accept, prior to getting access, that they’re not going to sue us or hold us accountable for the actions of our users,” Dotcom added.

Dotcom believes that his new entity will be on the right side of the law. However, he is not taking any chances. He is also making sure that Mega cannot be brought down by a single raid as it happened with Megaupload. Mega will store all data on two sets of redundant servers, located in two different countries. Additionally, in the long run, Dotcom wants Mega to become a network hosted by thousands of different entities with thousands of different servers, in countries all over the world. “We’re creating a system where any host in the world — from the $2,000 garage operation to the largest online host — can connect their own servers to this network,” Dotcom says. “We can work with anybody, because the hosts themselves cannot see what’s on the servers.”

In the face of increased resistance from copyright holders and law enforcement agencies, the piracy ring has little choice but to grow up. Couple of days back, we saw The Pirate Bay switching to cloud hosting to protect themselves from server seizures. Now, Mega – which on paper is a legitimate service, but will undoubtedly be exploited for distributing warez, is preparing to launch one of the most sophisticated file lockers we have seen. The cat and mouse game between the law enforcers and the law breakers is about to get a lot more interesting.

Dead Trigger For iOS Receives Major Update And Is Now Available As A Free Download For Reasons Unknown

Over the last couple of week, Madfinger’s latest game — Dead Trigger — sparked off a discussion that piracy in Android is still a major concern. The developer had initially released Dead Trigger for a $0.99, instead of its usual price of $6.99 on both iOS and Android, so as to make the game more affordable and curb piracy.

A few days later, Madfinger rolled out a major update for the Android version of the game and made it available as a free downloaded. The company stated that due to the high piracy rate of the game in the Android ecosystem, the company has decided to make the game free to download and play with In-App purchases for Android users.

Today, Madfinger has released a new update of Dead Trigger for iOS users that brings with it a bunch of new weapons, environments, gameplay enhancements, bug fixes and much more. Surprisingly, Madfinger has also made Dead Trigger available as a free download for iOS users with this update.

Madfinger has not provided any reason as to why it decided to make the game free to download on iOS as well. It certainly cannot be piracy since iOS users are known to pay for their apps. The company will, however, reward users who paid for the game with 25 golds and other credits.

On a serious note, Madfinger should really grow up and stop blaming piracy on Android as the reason they decided to make the game free. Dead Trigger is filled with In-App purchases, and reports do suggest that IAP bring developers more money than the outright purchase of a game from the store. If anything, the company should apologize for blaming the high level of piracy in the Android ecosystem.

Private Indian ISP Blocks The Pirate Bay, Vimeo, Pastebin–No Reason Given

For a couple of days now a very reliable mobile internet device service operator in India has been playing Big Brother by censoring the world’s most resilient public torrent tracker – the Pirate Bay. Now speculation about this operator’s reliability to do things like these when a movie is about to be released by the parent company’s entertainment division has reached fever pitch, however there is no conclusive evidence connecting these two temporal facts together, and thus I am not in any position to comment on that.

dot

Alright, enough with the euphemistic name calling; it seems Reliance have decided to go up and block The Pirate Bay, Vimeo and Pastebin. Not only did they block these sites, they also managed to put up a large and highly friendly “This site has been blocked as per instructions from the Department of Telecom (DoT)” sign which is rather odd because no other ISP in India has blocked The Pirate Bay – especially the state run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) on which I am currently writing this piece.

Speculation is ripe on the fact that Reliance Entertainment is the distributor of an upcoming big budget movie Dangerous Ishhq which might be possibly will definitely be pirated and put up on various public/private trackers. To check the rate of this astoundingly high loss of revenue, Reliance may have taken up this false censor. However, what imagined evils propagate through Vimeo or Pastebin, I will never know.

The easiest way to counter this would be to access the sites via a Proxy or a VPN. However, if the ISP decides to be rather silly and only remove a DNS entry for these sites from their DNS servers, you can easily get access back to the servers by using a different DNS service, such as Google’s free DNS: 8.8.8.8 or 8.8.4.4

UK Court Rules That ISPs Must Block The Pirate Bay

The world’s most resilient public torrent tracker has been demoted to the world [minus the UK]’s most resilient public torrent tracker. The British Phonographic (no, read that word again, I made the same mistake) Institute (BPI), one of the primary defendants in the case argued that Swedish torrent tracker The Pirate Bay was the most vile and evil thing in the world that took away money from poor and needy creators of music (such as Coldplay, Dido and Leona Lewis) and “lined their own pockets” with this stolen money. Interesting thought here. The spokesperson said:-

TPB

Sites like The Pirate Bay destroy jobs in the UK and undermine investment in new British artists

Its operators line their pockets by commercially exploiting music and other creative works without paying a penny to the people who created them.

This is wrong – musicians, sound engineers and video editors deserve to be paid for their work just like everyone else.

We sincerely wish we could knock some sense into them, but alas the court has already ruled in their favor. However the ISP ban will not affect those who can use VPNs and proxies. We suggest a VPN based in Sweden, just to be doubly safe.

This is distressing, but it is merely the beginning of a long and silent battle between the corporates who equate piracy to stealing and those who believe that copying is not theft.

Police Plan to Raid The Pirate Bay Leaked… by The Pirate Bay Itself!

Six years after the infamous raid on The Pirate Bay (TBP)’s servers in Stockholm, the Swedish Police (aided by two noted anti piracy prosecutors Frederick Ingblad and Henrik Rasmusson) have decided to go on a secret snooping adventure around TPB’s servers with the required warrants and other paraphernalia. There is just one small catch to this mission; TPB came to know of this and decided to make the “secret” mission, not so secret. Publishing a blog post and letting noted Torrent news site TorrentFreak that this was not a joke, the folks of TPB also told the alleged conspirers that they have many public computers “scattered like diarrhea around the world” and that finding one would probably lead to a nasty surprise because they have put small Easter-eggs in each machine.

TPB

While the TPB’s founders are quite nonchalant about the entire affair and are using a reverse scare tactic at the perceived aggressors, it is odd to see warrants against the website that has recently switched from being a .torrent-file heavy website to just a list of magnet links that can easily fit into USB flash drive. Thus even if the police manage to pull down the website, multitudes of clone sites will inevitably pop up across the world.

TPB also staunchly maintains that the site itself does nothing illegal (which is true) and that it is not responsible for its users’ usage of the website and thus they are going to stand ground. In their own words:-

“We’re staying put where we are. We’re going no-where. But we have a message to hollywood [sic], the investigators and the prosecutors: LOL.”

The MPAA Responds To The Blackouts With Self Pitying Prose

In response to the Internet-wide blackout in protest of the gagging SOPA/PIPA bills, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) – a major backer of these bills – has issued a statement claiming that the sites that protested had made their users corporate pawns and abused their power to arm-twist the US Senate to reconsider what may be one of the most important bills for the country. Chairman and CEO of the MPAA, Senator Chris Dodd issued a statement which is on the official MPAA website. The statement is bereft of any real logic and is instead full of contorted facts that paint the MPAA as an honest and upright association that only serves the US citizens and not its own pockets.

MPAA

Initially, I did not believe it. Actually, I still cannot believe it. I cannot believe that the CEO of the MPAA actually thinks that the general public can actually buy what he is saying:-

It is an irresponsible response and a disservice to people who rely on them for information and use their services. It is also an abuse of power given the freedoms these companies enjoy in the marketplace today. It’s a dangerous and troubling development when the platforms that serve as gateways to information intentionally skew the facts to incite their users in order to further their corporate interests.

A so-called “blackout” is yet another gimmick, albeit a dangerous one, designed to punish elected and administration officials who are working diligently to protect American jobs from foreign criminals. It is our hope that the White House and the Congress will call on those who intend to stage this “blackout” to stop the hyperbole and PR stunts and engage in meaningful efforts to combat piracy.”

How is a user-supported protest – like that on Reddit – and a community-driven protest – like that on Wikipedia – a “gimmick”? Perhaps it is time to go back to the boardroom and find out what exactly is the problem with a bill that is receiving so many negative reactions throughout the country as well as across the world. Maybe, just maybe, these bills are a gateway to the Land Without Free Speech Or Information.

Has the MPAA’s CEO and Chairman thought about that? I think not.

 

Slew of Websites Black Out to Protest SOPA/PIPA

The scourges that are the United States’ two gagging Acts – the Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) – are experiencing grave turmoil as large sections of the widely used Internet are blacking out for one day in protest against their draconian nature. The ongoing protest against the Bills intensified as Wikipedia, a veritable behemoth on the Internet, joined in the protest as we mentioned earlier. Following close on its heels is the giant community link aggregation website Reddit as well as the website of indie game maker Mojang, the creators of Minecraft. Many other gaming company heads joined together to stand against the draconian law’s enactment.

If passed, the Bills will allow any legal entity that claims copyright infringement on a site to take it down completely, instead of the offending article. For example, if Techie Buzz published an article containing a copyrighted image from a leading record label’s website, our blog will be taken down immediately, without trial. This is even if we give the due credit where it is due.

In short, this is a gagging order for much of the Internet in the name of protecting intellectual property rights. Moreover, the website that is the intended target of this – torrent aggregator The Pirate Bay – is immune to the United States’ laws since it does not fall under America’s jurisdiction.

If allowed to pass, SOPA/PIPA will destroy the beautiful and open Internet completely and irreversibly. In a few minutes Reddit will black out in protest. If you reside in the USA, send a letter to your local representative against passing these Bills. Do your part for retaining the Free Internet!

CD Projekt RED Drops Witch Hunt Against Pirates

Remember that time when CD Projekt RED started becoming like That Company Whose Name Starts With U And Which Shall Not Be Named Here? Well their fans told them that they were starting to become like said company as well as trying to ape the music industry and called them out on it. Now the company has retracted its complaints and notices against these probable pirates after angry fans told them that it was an affront to the faith they placed them in.

CD Projekt’s newest game The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings shipped without the Digital Rights Management (DRM) protection that is common in most new AAA releases these days; DRM makes it difficult to copy or illegally play a video game. However, in all cases, they are easily bypassed by cracker groups and released for free on torrents. Since The Witcher 2 was released without DRM, because the company said that the security does more harm than good to the legitimate customers, it was praised for its foresight and good intentions. However, later on, in a bid to stop rampant piracy and deter future pirates, CD Projekt started tracking “pirates” in Germany with their IP addresses and sent letters threatening legal action unless they give an atrocious amount (around $1180) as a fine for downloading their game illegally. This did not sit well with a lot of gamers and they took up the issue with the Polish developer itself.

Retracting the complaints recently, studio co-founder Marcin Iwinski said to the fans:

“Being part of a community is a give-and-take process. We only succeed because you have faith in us, and we have worked hard over the years to build up that trust. We were sorry to see that many gamers felt that our actions didn’t respect the faith that they have put into CD Projekt RED.

Not bad at all, CDPR! I was about to lose faith in humanity!