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We did it again. Despite being chronically understaffed we managed to get at least one article published on TorrentFreak every day in 2010. Although we aim to regularly publish articles worthy of being listed in a year's end overview, rather than choose those for inclusion ourselves we felt our loyal readers should do the talking. So what were the hottest debated topics in the file-sharing world this year? Let's find out.

tfAt the TorrentFreak office we toyed with several ideas to form the basis of this list. The largest failures, victories, losses, innovations and so forth, but it seemed impossible to make a good selection without leaving some of the best stories out.

So instead we decided to go for the articles that our readers found interesting enough to discuss in volume; the most commented articles of 2010.

Below are the 25 most discussed articles of the year. It’s been an exciting ride, with many ups and downs, and we’d like to thank everyone who read and contributed for your support. Do you have a favorite that didn’t make the list? Feel free, as always, to comment below.

Happy New Year… We’ll report for duty in the morning.

1. U.S. Government Seizes BitTorrent Search Engine Domain and More (November)

2. U.S. Authorities Shut Down WordPress Host With 73,000 Blogs (July)

3. OiNK Admin Found Not Guilty, Walks Free (January)

4. ACS:Law Anti-Piracy Law Firm Torn Apart By Leaked Emails (September)

5. The Pirate Bay Goes Down Following Legal Pressure (May)

6. Digital Economy Bill Passes, File-Sharing Ends Soon (June)

7. Leaked Emails Reveal Profits of Anti-Piracy Cash Scheme (September)

8. BitTorrent Based DNS To Counter US Domain Seizures (November)

9. Senate Committee Passes Bill To Quash Pirate Websites (November)

10. ?Piracy Is Theft, Clean and Simple’ US Vice President Says (June)

11. The Pirate Bay Appeal Verdict: Guilty Again (November)

12. 4chan DDoS Takes Down MPAA and Anti-Piracy Websites (September)

13. The Mysterious And Scary BitTorrent Monitoring Site (April)

14. LimeWire Shuts Down After Losing Court Battle With The RIAA (October)

15. 4chan to DDoS RIAA Next – Is This the Protest of the Future? (September)

16. LimeWire Resurrected By Secret Dev Team (November)

17. The Pirate Party Becomes The Pirate Bay’s New Host (May)

18. World’s First Pirate ISP Launches In Sweden (July)

19. Police in File-Sharing Raids Across Europe, WikiLeaks Host Targeted (September)

20. IP-Addresses of First Hurt Locker Victims Revealed (June)

21. Mulve – The Nightmare-Scenario Music Downloading Tool (September)

22. Demonoid Faces Major Downtime Once Again (April))

23. Rapidshare Terminates Accounts of Copyright Infringers (March)

24. US Lawmakers Want to Quash Pirate Websites (September)

25. RIAA Wins Big Against File-Sharer, $1.5M for 24 Songs (November)

Article from: TorrentFreak.

The domain seizures by the U.S. Government in November hit the sites affected badly, reducing their traffic to a trickle overnight. One of the sites, BitTorrent meta-search engine Torrent-Finder, is refusing to throw in the towel and shows how futile the seizure was. In addition to taking legal action to hopefully recover his .COM domain, the owner has been working hard using Google tools to regain lost traffic.

Back in November when the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement seized more than 80 domain names of sites they claim were infringing copyright, the effect on their traffic was instant and massive.

With their domain names no longer under their control rendering most existing search engine links unusable, most of the sites all but disappeared. Some, however, refused to give in and moved immediately to new domain names.

One of those is the BitTorrent meta-search engine Torrent-Finder, which relocated to a .info domain it already owned. Just after the seizures, TorrentFreak asked site owner Waleed Gadelkareem how the action had affected his traffic. The response was clear – the domain seizure had set the site’s traffic back massively.

Like many other torrent sites Google was the main traffic source of Torrent-Finder, so even with the .info domain ready traffic initially plunged up to 90%. Google was simply sending the traffic to the seized .com domain, not the new one.

But for this determined Egyptian, patience, hard work and a little help from Google was to set the site back on track to recovery. At the same time, Waleed shows how futile the U.S. seizures are for sites that are determined to continue their operations.

“Google webmaster tools are very important for any website’s SEO and I had already registered on my cpanel and confirmed ownership,” Waleed explained.

This registration meant that using the “Change of Address” option on the panel could be done immediately.

TorrentFinder .com to .info

“Then I had to direct all linkbacks to the new .info domain by contacting webmasters or changing it by myself if I could. You can see the result on Google analytics of search engine traffic,” says Waleed. (see below)

TorrentFinder traffic recovery

“Slowly Torrent Finder is getting back most of the indexed pages that we used to have on Google, and of course the targeted keywords,” adds Waleed.

Despite the encouraging signs of recovery with the .info domain (thanks to Google), Waleed is also continuing with his legal action to reclaim his .com domain with the help of lawyer David Snead.

Waleed hopes that the mistakes that were made will serve him well in his case.

Article from: TorrentFreak.

As the year moves toward its end we have been listing the most pirated entertainment titles of 2010. Following our Top 10 games and movies charts, we now turn to the most downloaded TV-shows. Lost tops the list this year with over 5 million downloads for a single episode, beating last year's winner Heroes.

lostTV-shows have traditionally increased in popularity on BitTorrent year after year. In 2010, however, when we look at the most downloaded titles of the year this growth seems to have levelled off a little.

Lost and Heroes, two shows that were also leading the list in 2009, have achieved slightly fewer downloads when compared to last year. Despite this slight dip, the most downloaded episode of Heroes is still exceeding the average viewership on US television. The same is true for Dexter which moved up to third place this year.

The massive piracy of TV-shows is mostly a reflection of the unavailability of these shows in countries outside the U.S., and a signal that TV viewing habits are changing. There is a huge interest in on-demand TV and there are millions of viewers that can potentially bring in millions of dollars in revenue.

The percentage of TV-downloaders from the U.S. has steadily declined over the last years, in part thanks to alternative viewing options such as Hulu. In other regions, such as Australia and Europe, the demand for U.S. TV-shows remains at pretty much the same level as last year.

Outside the U.S. fans sometimes have to wait for weeks or even months before the show airs on TV in their own country. Many of them are simply not that patient or willing to torture themselves, and turn to BitTorrent in desperation.

Below we have compiled a list of the most downloaded TV-shows, together with the viewer average for TV in the U.S. based on data from Nielsen. The data for the top 10 is collected by TorrentFreak from several sources, including reports from all public BitTorrent trackers. All the data is carefully checked and possible inaccuracies are systematically corrected.

Most downloaded TV-shows on BitTorrent, 2010
rankshowdownloadsest. US TV viewers
4The Big Bang Theory3,270,00016,310,000
6How I Met Your Mother2,490,00010,520,000
8True Blood1,920,0005,440,000
10Family Guy1,620,0007,730,000

Article from: TorrentFreak.

In January 2010, in response to the emerging tragedy from the earthquake in Haiti, Radiohead performed before a limited audience at a charity concert in the United States. Since that performance, footage of the event has been painstakingly compiled by fans and now a twin DVD has been released, endorsed by the band. All proceeds are going to charity and the fastest way of acquiring it? BitTorrent of course.

haitiIn 2007, UK band Radiohead went against the grain by offering their latest album to the masses via the Internet in a pay-what-you-want model. Their seventh studio album, combined physical and digital sales went on to break the 3 million copy barrier.

Now the band are back supporting a similar but completely altruistic model, this time for a DVD. In January 2010, Radiohead performed at the Haiti Relief concert at the Henry Ford theater in Los Angeles and the event was filmed and its audio recorded, not by the band or show organizers, but by their fans.

Understandably, that footage went on to be scattered far and wide but thanks to the work of three fans – inez, formengr, andrea – the video and audio has been painstakingly collated to make a two DVD set of the event, which was limited on the day to just 1,400 people present. The trio then decided to make the work available on the Internet for the masses, but supported by a great idea to help those in need.

“It was a SPECIAL show with a SPECIAL purpose – to raise badly needed funds for those who lived through the devastation. And it seemed only appropriate that the DVD should carry on some of these goals,” inez explains.

So plan in hand, inez approached Radiohead for their approval and to find out which charity they would like donations to go to. The band chose Oxfam to handle donations on behalf of Haiti.

Normally with a charity product a whole bunch of funds would go to producing a physical product and then getting it delivered all over the world, but with the magic of BitTorrent none of that is necessary. In fact, even the online distribution costs come to almost nothing meaning that every penny goes in the right direction.

Inez has chosen a handful of trackers to distribute the DVD including the signup only Zombtracker and the one the majority of BitTorrent users will recognize, KickassTorrents.

The official Oxfam donation link can be found here and a copy of the full video can be seen on YouTube, linked below.

Please download and give generously.

Article from: TorrentFreak.

A recent talk at the Chaos Communications Congress revealed how BitTorrent swarms can be exploited to take down large websites with relative ease. A vulnerability in the technology behind so called trackerless torrents makes it possible for someone to trick downloaders of popular files into send thousands of requests to a webserver of choice, taking it down as a result. Basically, this turns BitTorrent into a very effective DDoS tool.

bottorrentBitTorrent is one of the most effective technologies to transfer large digital files to many people at once. Unlike a central server, transfers actually tend to go faster as more people share the same files. This characteristic is one of the reasons why it has evolved into the dominant file-sharing platform in recent years.

Every day millions of people are downloading files via BitTorrent, and in some instances more than 100,000 people are sharing the same file at the same time. These large ‘swarms’ of peers are great for sharing, but they also pose a threat as became apparent at the Chaos Communications Congress (CCC) recently.

In a talk titled “Lying To The Neighbours” it was shown that the DHT technology which powers “trackerless torrents” can be abused to let BitTorrent downloaders effectively DDoS a webserver of choice. DHT’s normal function is to find peers who are downloading the same files, but without communicating with a central BitTorrent tracker. This ensures that downloads can continue even when the central tracker goes offline.

According to the presenter who goes by the name ‘Astro’, Kademlia based DHT can be exploited by a malicious peer to carry out a DDoS attack. If there are enough peers downloading the same file, this could easily take down medium to large websites. The worrying part is that the downloaders who are participating in the DDoS will not be aware of what’s going on.

“The core problem are the random NodeIDs. The address hashing and verification scheme works for scenarios like the old Internet, but becomes almost useless in the big address space of IPv6,” Astro told TorrentFreak in a comment. As a result, any BitTorrent swarm can be abused to target specific websites and potentially take them down.

This and other DHT vulnerabilities are not entirely new concepts for BitTorrent developers. They have been discussed in various places already, but no agreement on how they should be dealt with has yet been reached.

Over the last months DDoS attacks have been in the news regularly, mostly carried out under the flag of Anonymous’ Operation Payback. Initially anti-piracy targets such as the MPAA and RIAA were taken offline, and last month the focus switched to organizations that acted against Wikileaks, including Mastercard and Paypal.

While these attacks required hundreds of people to actively participate and fire up their LOIC application at the same time, the BitTorrent DDoS could take down the same sites from a single computer, using BitTorrent downloads as a ‘botnet’. But, where there’s a problem there’s a solution, and Astro has some pointers for BitTorrent developers.

“Not connecting to privileged ports (< 1024) where most critical services reside," is one ad-hoc solution, but Astro says that since it's a design error, the protocol has to be redefined eventually.

The idea of using BitTorrent as a DDoS tool is not entirely new. In fact, researchers have previously shown that adding a webserver’s IP address as a BitTorrent tracker could result in a similar DDoS. The downside of this method is, however, that it requires a torrent file to become popular, while the DHT method can simply exploit existing torrents that are already being downloaded by thousands of people.

It will be interesting to see if BitTorrent developers are going to act upon the DHT vulnerability in the coming months and come up with a solution to prevent this kind of abuse.

Article from: TorrentFreak.

Hadopi, the French authority with responsibility for issuing warnings to illicit file-sharers, has just announced that so far it has sent out 100,000 email warnings. While the figure is far below the 50-70,000 reports filed by the entertainment industry every day, around 15% of warning recipients have responded by email, some with confessions, some with confusion.

According to those involved in France’s “3 strikes” illicit file-sharing process, the Hadopi authority has sent a total of 100,000 warning emails to Internet account holders since October.

The figure is substantially below the requirements of the entertainment industries who had begun sending complaints to Hadopi at the rate of 25,000 per day in the hope that they would all be passed on. They weren’t, but that didn’t stop the submissions quickly reaching 50,000 per day. The total capacity is 70,000 per day.

The complaints bottleneck has continued, with magistrates involved in the process informing Le Figaro this week that since November Hadopi has been sending out warning emails at the rate of 2,000 per day.

This much lower rate was set for a reason. Ever since its inception critics have believed that the system would be prone to error and innocent people would be accused of offenses they didn’t commit. That may well prove to be the case, but by keeping the numbers down the error rate will stay low too, an essential requirement if people are to have confidence in the process.

Magistrates involved in the process say “It’s too early to conclude” if the emails will have the required long-term effect on recipients. However, they say that around 15% of those receiving these first warnings have actually responded to them by email.

The warning emails don’t currently mention the infringing material in question, so some responses request additional information on which files the warning refers to. According to Jacques Bille from the Court of Auditors, the omission is deliberate to avoid embarrassment, such as wives and girlfriends discovering their partners have downloaded something questionable.

While some warning recipients simply confess and swear not to do it again, others are reportedly making their excuses. Only time will tell if they have a case, and if that case is heard to their satisfaction as has been promised.

Next year its inevitable that the 2,000 emails being sent out daily will increase and according to Jacques Bille, with this comes a dilemma.

“Either we send out hordes of emails and be seen as horribly repressive,” he told Le Figaro, “or we are more cautious and we qualify as ineffective.”

In January 2011, things will step up a gear, with Hadopi sending out more emails and then letters by registered mail to repeat offenders. The promise is that repeat offenders face having their Internet disconnected. Quite when that will happen, 2011 or 2012, remains to be seen, but the entertainment industries want action, quickly.

Update: Guillaume Champeau from news outlet Numerama has been in touch to say that although French media including Le Figaro have been reporting that 100,000 warnings have been sent, Hadopi has in fact asked ISPs to identify 100,000 alleged infringers. The number of subsequent letters sent out has not yet been verified, but Guillaume believes the number to be lower than 100,000. According to new reports the number of emails lies between 20,000 and 25,000.

Article from: TorrentFreak.

As 2010 comes to an end, we follow up our most pirated movies chart by taking a look at the most pirated games of the year. Call of Duty: Black Ops is the absolute winner in the PC games category this year. On Xbox 360 Dante's Inferno receives the same honor, while Super Mario Galaxy 2 scoops the title of most pirated Wii game of 2010.

black opsCall of Duty: Black Ops has already broken quite a few records this year. With 5.6 million copies sold in the 24 hours following its release, the game surpassed Modern Warfare 2 as the largest entertainment launch in history.

Therefore, it would come as no surprise if the game repeated this success on BitTorrent. And indeed, Black Ops takes the honor of most pirated game on the PC this year, a title which went to Modern Warfare in 2009. Even though it has only been available for a few weeks, the game beat Battlefield: Bad Company 2 by a wide margin with 4,270,000 downloads in total.

Despite this ‘success’, Black Ops does not lead the Xbox 360 and Wii lists.

As expected, Mario and Donkey Kong are in high demand on the Wii with a 1st and 3rd place respectively. Wii Party is listed in second place with well over a million downloads, while Black Ops fell a few thousand downloads short to make it into the top 5.

On the Xbox 360 the title of most pirated game goes to Dante’s Inferno. This game was released in February and amassed a total of 1,280,000 downloads, beating Black Ops which ended up in 5th place with 930,000 downloads. The latter, however, did make the headlines several times due to an early leak.

Weeks before the official release of Black Ops, reports came in that the Xbox 360 version had already leaked to BitTorrent. Although not all “leaks” turned out to be legit, a copy of the game did eventually come out a week before it hit the stores. This, despite efforts from Treyarch’s community manager Josh Olin to stop it.

As can be seen from the three lists below, PC games are by far the most downloaded titles, with on average more than three times the number of downloads compared to Xbox 360 and Wii releases. Overall, the number of downloads of the top titles in each category grew a little compared to last year.

The data for these lists is collected by TorrentFreak from several sources, including reports from all public BitTorrent trackers. All the data is carefully checked and possible inaccuracies are systematically corrected.

PC Game Downloads on BitTorrent in 2010

as of December 26, 2010
1Call of Duty: Black Ops(4,270,000)(Nov. 2010)
2 Battlefield: Bad Company 2(3,960,000)(Mar. 2010)
3Mafia 2(3,550,000)(Aug. 2010)
4Mass Effect 2(3,240,000)(Jan. 2010)
5Starcraft II(3,120,000)(Jul. 2010)

Wii Game Downloads on BitTorrent in 2010

as of December 26, 2010
1Super Mario Galaxy 2(1,470,000)(May. 2010)
2Wii Party(1,220,000)(Oct. 2010)
3Donkey Kong Country Returns(920,000)(Nov. 2010)
4Kirbys Epic Yarn(880,000)(Oct. 2010)
5Red Steel 2(850,000)(Mar. 2010)

Xbox 360 Game Downloads on BitTorrent in 2010

as of December 26, 2010
1Dante’s Inferno(1,280,000)(Feb. 2010)
2Alan Wake(1,140,000)(May. 2010)
3Red Dead Redemption(1.060,000)(May. 2010)
4Halo Reach(990,000)(Sept. 2010)
5Call of Duty: Black Ops(930,000)(Nov. 2010)

Article from: TorrentFreak.

Last month RapidShare discovered that they had been reported by the MPAA and RIAA to the US Government for being one of the world's "most notorious pirate markets". Now, on the heels of reports that the entertainment industries spent a small fortune lobbying for domain seizures in the last quarter, RapidShare has hired a Washington based lobbying firm to represent its interests in the US and to start correcting misconceptions.

rapdsharelogo“Rapidshare is a German One-click hosting site that operates from Switzerland but whose main servers are based in Germany,” the RIAA wrote in its submission to the US Government in November.

In describing the file-hoster’s activities, the RIAA suggested that many of the files posted to RapidShare – whose URLs were then posted to blogs – contained pre-release content, an eye-catching offense in the US for those that posted the files and links, but not necessarily RapidShare.

In its submission to the Office of the US Trade Representative, the MPAA said that cyberlockers such as RapidShare were put forward because their main source of traffic is driven by the availability of vast amounts of infringing content on their servers.

“As you can imagine, we’re not very happy about that,” said Daniel Raimer, attorney and spokesman for RapidShare, in a just published interview.

As illustrated by the Lobbying Registration form shown below, RapidShare is now out to present their side of the story. The company has hired Washington based lobbying firm Dutko to send a clear message to the RIAA and MPAA that they aren’t the only ones who can lobby the US Government.

Lobbying Registration form

Drawing comparisons with Google, Daniel Raimer says the inclusion of the company on the “most notorious” list is unfair since RapidShare, like the search giant, is prepared to filter content. While some cooperation with the entertainment industries seems inevitable, it remains to be seen how interested they will be in an informal filtering agreement, especially since even enforced ones can easily go off course.

When it comes to lobbying, RapidShare will be up against formidable and well practised opponents. As revealed this month, in the last quarter alone the MPAA and RIAA spent a combined total of $1.8 million on lobbying in Washington. Public records reveal that these entertainment industry groups focused heavily on legislation and authorities involved in domain name seizures.

Of course, following the recent domain name seizures carried out by DHS and ICE, it seems that lobbying paid off nicely. RapidShare will be keen to avoid a similar devastating fate, particularly given its status on the “most notorious” list.

However, even for the mighty US Government, taking on RapidShare in a domain war would be an entirely different prospect to picking a squabble with the relative minnows targeted in November, but RapidShare has much to lose and is taking no chances.

The aim is for RapidShare to be removed from the list of “Notorious Markets” by early 2011. They’re in for one hell of a fight.

Article from: TorrentFreak.

DMCA takedown notices are sent in large numbers to dozens of organizations on the Internet every month. The ChillingEffects clearing house has been receiving copies of these from some of the Internet's biggest players including Google, Yahoo, Digg and more recently Twitter. It will come as no surprise that the music and movie industries are some of the biggest complainers, but there are also some unexpected entrants.

Thanks to the folks maintaining the ChillingEffects database, issues surrounding many DMCA takedown requests can be properly researched in what can otherwise be a black hole of copyright complaints.

Earlier this year, the homepage of BitTorrent meta search engine BTJunkie suddenly disappeared from Google searches, but since the search giant submits the DMCA takedown requests it receives to ChillingEffects, we were able to discover at least some background to the complaint.

But this was just one URL in a single complaint out of the many thousands sent to ChillingEffects by the likes of Google, Yahoo, Digg and Twitter in the last 12 months.

In total, the clearing house received copies of more than 12,000 cease and desist notices, some containing a single URL and some (such as those relating to The Pirate Bay) containing hundreds. So who made the biggest noise with DMCA takedown notices in 2010?

It will come as no surprise that according to ChillingEffects stats, the international music industry, represented by IFPI, issued the most DMCA takedown notices to submitters during the last 12 months, 1272 in total. This may not sound like a huge number, but many of them contain lists of URLs which take a considerable time to simply scroll through.

In second place one might expect to find other representatives from the entertainment industry, but this position is taken with 303 complaints by Clube do Hardware, the largest site in South America to publish tutorials, articles and news on computer hardware.

Twentieth Century Fox secures the third spot with 299 cease and desists. Magnolia Pictures, a holding of the Mark Cuban owned 2929 Entertainment, takes fourth spot with 257 complaints. Porn aside, no further movie companies make the top 20.

Brazil’s Associação Anti Pirataria de Cinema e Musica, the anti-piracy group which caused so much trouble for popular fansubbing sites such as Legendas.TV, also makes a significant appearance in the ChillingEffects chart. APCM, which represents the interests of companies such as Universal, Warner, SonyBMG, Disney, Paramount, and Fox, was hacked in 2009 but made its comeback to take 5th position.

Operating in the adult entertainment market, RemoveYourContent came in 6th with 221 DMCA takedowns. With claims of a 99.3% success rate for removal of infringing content, the company has made enemies even within its own community, as demonstrated by various ‘hate‘ sites and critics. In 2009, RemoveYourContent was even blamed for having The Pirate Bay’s homepage delisted by Google.

The RIAA has to settle for a lowly 7th place with 203 DMCA takedowns. Sony/Epic/Estate of Michael Jackson slide in at 11th spot, followed by Stones Throw Records at 12th and Chappell & Co at 13th. There are no more music companies listed in the top 20.

Folkert Knieper, a producer of recipe photographs, is one of the more unusual entries at 9th position with 158 takedowns followed at 17th by Deckers Outdoor Corporation, the rightsholder for pictures of UGG boots.

Adult video company Vivid Entertainment Group sits at 18th position with 82 DMCA takedown requests.

Interestingly, some of the biggest copyright litigators of 2010, such as the United States Copyright Group and ACS:Law, appear nowhere in the top 20 list which perhaps suggests that having content removed is not their biggest concern, but generating profit from its existence is.

So which industry makes the most noise overall when it comes to DMCA complaints?

“While the mix changes over time, the most frequent senders of DMCA takedown notices remain the music industry, whose institutional members have sent a combined total averaging roughly 5 takedowns a day,” says ChillingEffects’ Wendy Seltzer.

The full list, which also lists famous copyright ‘agents’ such as the Web Sheriff, can be found here.

Article from: TorrentFreak.

Major File-Sharing Sites Go Dark To Protest Anti-Download Law

Attachment 62460

In recent times, Spanish courts have ruled repeatedly that subject to some fairly minor conditions, operating a file-sharing site falls within the boundaries of the law.

However, as shown by diplomatic cables recently leaked by Wikileaks, under pressure from the United States, the Spanish Government proposed new legislation to close loopholes and provide sweeping new anti-filesharing powers.

The Sustainable Economy Law (LES) is


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