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The Internet's second biggest BitTorrent site is dumping its .COM domain. In an apparent response to the US Government’s Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement recent seizures of domain names, the site moved to a new home. Despite being only a meta-search engine, Torrentz.com appears to be taking no chances with an immediate .EU domain migration.

torrentz.euThe fallout from last month’s domain name seizures carried out by US authorities continues to spread in the file-sharing community.


Torrent-Finder, which shifted to a .INFO domain to continue its operations, is fighting back with legal representation. Others, unsettled by the developing atmosphere of uncertainty, are taking steps to mitigate any potential future action against their sites.


Already several private trackers have invested in alternative domain names which are at least currently believed to be outside US control or influence. Early December the popular Demonoid tracker showed its hand with a shift from a .COM to a .ME domain.


While seizing the domain names of a fully fledged torrent site with index, categorization, heavy moderation, tracker and seedboxes might not be a huge surprise in the current climate, the targeting of the Torrent-Finder meta-search engine came as a real shock to the file-sharing community.


So there can be little doubt that Torrentz, the Internet’s second biggest torrent site, eyed the recent developments with an element of disbelief. As a meta-search engine it should be absolutely fine but the unofficially established rules of the game appear to have changed, despite being based on a case filled with serious mistakes.


To that end, today we can confirm that Torrentz has officially dumped its .COM domain in favor of Torrentz.eu. There’s no official announcement from the site but anyone visiting the old URL is immediately redirected. This change is a permanent one, we have learned.


Two years ago Torrentz already faced a hostile domain takeover from a hacker, but this issue was resolved quickly and without any serious consequences. We assume that moving away from the .COM domain is deemed to be the path of least resistance by the Torrentz team.


But its not just BitTorrent sites that are affected by this environment of uncertainty. With the seizing of the domains of several hip-hop sites – RapGodFathers.com, RMX4U.com, Dajaz1.com, and OnSmash.com – that community is also worried for its future.


A handful of bewildered site owners have contacted TorrentFreak during the last month with questions ranging from “Why were these sites taken down?” through to “What can we do to avoid the same fate?” Our answer to these sites has been consistent – they have been targeted for being involved in RIAA-label music.


For those in hip-hop, the chance to really take their music back to the streets should be a breath of fresh air and a poke in the eye for the corporates who have tried, once they realized it was a money spinner, to absorb their scene during the last 20 years.


For everyone else, other tactics will have to be employed. The technology war to stay online – and findable with a search engine – has only just begun.


Article from: TorrentFreak.

Three weeks ago the US Government seized 82 domains as part of Operation in Our Sites 2. The authorities claimed that the actions were targeted at websites that were involved in the illegal sale and distribution of counterfeit and copyrighted goods. However, the seizure application that was made public today suggests that the seizure of the BitTorrent meta-search engine Torrent-Finder rested on painful mistakes.

The seizure of 82 domain names by The Department of Justice (DOJ) and Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was making headlines across the Internet in November. In particular, the seizure of the BitTorrent meta-search engine Torrent-Finder was seen as a particularly controversial move.


Torrent-Finder’s owner Waleed Gadelkareem was genuinely surprised by the actions of the US authorities and said earlier that he is determined to fight the seizure. He suspected that the authorities had made a mistake and hired a lawyer to help him with the legal proceedings.


Torrent-Finder’s lawyer David Snead called the seizure “a stretch of the law,” and today it became apparent just how far the law was stretched by the authorities. The application for the seizure warrant was just sent to us by Torrent-Finder’s owner and on first reading several painful mistakes stand out.


To start off the affidavit shows that the authorities worked closely with the MPAA, and the movie industry lobby group is cited multiple times to confirm various claims. In addition, a highly disputed MPAA study is used to signify the severity of movie piracy, despite the fact that it was called into doubt by the Government Accountability Office just a few months ago.


The general description of Torrent-Finder and the four music linking sites that were included in the affidavit are not completely accurate either. The sites are described by Homeland Security’s Special Agent Reynolds as being among the most popular of their kind, but in the case of Torrent-Finder.com we can easily list a few dozen BitTorrent sites that have more visitors.


This investigation has identified five linking, cyberlocker or Bit torrent websites that are among the most popular such websites on the internet for distributing illegal copies of movies, television shows, software and music files.


Aside from the fact that describing the site as one of the most popular of its type is a bit misleading, the core issue is whether Torrent-Finder is indeed a site which use is to distribute illegal copies of movies and music.


To make his case, agent Reynolds characterizes Torrent-Finder as a linking site, which generally “collect and catalog links to files on third party sites that contain illegal copies of copyrighted content, including movies, television shows, software and music.” This description doesn’t really seem to apply to Torrent-Finder.com.


Torrent-Finder does not catalog or collect any files, it simply allows people to search several torrent search engines or indexes. Also, these other torrent search engines do not host any copyrighted material either, but only torrent files that may or may not point to copyrighted content.



The message below is posted on the seized sites

Seized Servers


Another claim from Homeland Security’s Special Agent Reynolds is that the news section on the site was another indication that Torrent-Finder was aiding criminal copyright infringement. He describes it as follows:


I was able to view posts by the user “Torrent Finder,” including “Top 10 Most Pirated Movies on BitTorrent,” “Piracy in The Music Industry,” “The First Episode of ‘The The Walking Dead’ Leaks to BitTorrent,” and “Piracy domain seizure bill gains support.”


This is interesting to say the least, because all these articles from the news section are in fact copies from articles that came from TorrentFreak and other sites. Torrent-Finder used our site as a news source and shared the articles with the users of the site.


From reviewing these posts by the user “Torrent Finder,” I learned that the above -referenced postings contained links and information to pirated movies including “Wall Street Never Sleeps,” “The Social Network,” “Red,” and other movies.


This appears to be another painful mistake. Not only have two of the four articles nothing to do with pirated content, the ones that do are news items that do not link to torrent files or any copyrighted files. A screenshot copy of our “Top 10 Most Pirated Movies on BitTorrent” article is nevertheless included as evidence in the affidavit.


Ironically, the “Piracy domain seizure bill gains support” article comes from CNET and covers the COICA law that would grant US authorities the power to seizure domains, in a similar fashion to what they did with Torrent-Finder.



ICE’s affidavit


The seizure application then continues to describe how the Torrent-Finder site works, and the “Downloads of Infringing Content via Torrent-Finder.com” is particularly interesting. Here, Special Agent Reynolds described how the site can be used to download torrent files from external sites.


Although the description itself is fairly accurate, the same section would also apply to every other search engine including Google and Bing. Downloading torrents via Torrent-Finder involves exactly the same steps as downloading torrents via a web search engine, nothing more nothing less.


Another part of the affidavit that stands out is the fact that the proposed seizure has not been carried out properly. According to the affidavit, the authorities should present the warrant to both the registrar (Godaddy) and the registry (Verisign). The registrar would then have to replace the domain name’s technical and administrative contacts with that of the authorities, but this never happened.


Although we’re not legal experts, in our opinion there were enough mistakes made in the affidavit to warrant an appeal against the seizure and get the domain transferred back to the original owner. In order to achieve this, Torrent-Finder’s owner is willing to put up a fight.


“My concern now is to get back my domain. Not because I do business with it, but because it was the first domain I bought and the first idea that I developed. It has been mine since then and I WILL NOT give it away because the USA government is testing a new bill,” Waleed said, referring to the COICA bill that would make such domain seizures standard procedure.


In the coming days Waleed and his lawyer will consider what steps to take next, and we expect that this will not be the last time we report on this unique case.


Article from: TorrentFreak.

Acting on information provided by an anti-piracy group, Swedish police have carried out raids and taken down at least one warez scene topsite. Items seized include at least a dozen computers and servers containing a conservative 200 terabytes of media, mainly Hollywood movies. As other sites get sucked into the fallout, the recriminations and finger-pointing have begun.

abpThis week, Swedish authorities again turned their attention to The Scene, the collection of servers and individuals which inhabit the top of the so-called piracy pyramid.


Following a lengthy investigation by anti-piracy group Antipiratbyrån, during the last 48 hours Swedish police acted on their evidence and moved in on at least one ‘topsite’.


The site, which supposedly carried between 200 and 250 terabytes of media, was known as ‘Devil’. During the raids police seized a dozen servers and other computers and detained one person.


The individual, who is believed to have been handed over to Antipiratbyrån for questioning, is accused of being the operator of ‘Devil’. He is blamed for the distribution of “tens of thousands” of mainly Hollywood movies.


In what appeared to be a security response to news of the bust, other topsites started going down in Sweden and at least one other major European country.


Elements of two other topsites with links to ‘Devil’ known as Secu and Tomte (250 terabytes combined) have also been affected but so as not to compromise our sources, we will refrain from going into further detail as to why at this stage.


Suffice to say that some fairly important movie release groups (particularly Swedish ones) were connected to the sites and their activities will have been disrupted, at least temporarily.


Within the Scene the recriminations have begun, with fingers pointed at individuals and groups who are suspected of having caused the security lapse which led to the busts. Not unexpectedly, the accusations appear to be focused on Scene members who are also connected with P2P sharing groups, a frowned upon activity but one that is nevertheless widespread.


Article from: TorrentFreak.

The British Phonographic Industry (BPI), the UK’s main recording industry trade body, came out with guns blazing against Google today. BPI says that search engines like Google are as popular as P2P applications as a source for illegal downloads. The music industry is pressing Google and others to censor their search results in favor of 'legal' music services.

google piracyAnyone who searches for music, TV-shows or movies on the Internet will notice that BitTorrent sites and other file-sharing services are usually listed among the top results.


As we have argued before, Google is probably the number one reason why millions of people are using BitTorrent sites today. This trend hasn’t gone unnoticed to the music industry either, and today The British Phonographic Industry (BPI) went as far as blaming Google and other search engines for being a main source for online piracy.


“Search engines are as popular as P2P applications as a source of illegal downloads,” BPI stated in a report today. “It’s not hard to see why. Key in the name of any popular artist, add search terms like ‘mp3′ or ‘download’ – both neutral terms – and typically the large majority of results that appear are blatant links to illegal downloads.”


As an example of this alleged facilitating behavior by Google, the BPI performed a few test searches. They found that the majority of the top Google search results for popular singles pointed to ‘illicit’ sources.


“In a single week in November, BPI test searches were made on Google for the UK’s top 20 singles or albums, followed by ‘mp3′. On average 17 of the first 20 Google results for singles and 14 of 20 search results for albums were links to known illegal sites.”


The search results are just one part of the search engine problem though. In addition, the BPI points out that services such as auto suggest and Google’s instant service may drive people towards ‘rogue’ or ‘illegal’ sites.


“The predictive search tools offered by some search engines go further by actively directing users towards free illegal downloads by auto-completing artist searches with additional phrases like ‘torrent’, or providing specific references to unlicensed sources like Mediafire or mp3raid.”



CENSORED SOON

google censorship


Although the BPI is right in their analysis, they also know that the search results are merely the result of a set of algorithms. Piracy related searches float to the top and are suggested because that’s what people tend to search for. Google has no active role in it.


This is what the BPI hopes to change. They suggest that search engines should actively censor their search results, and move links to ‘authorized’ music stores higher up. According to the music industry this would be a very effective tool to decrease piracy.


“The music industry continues to press search engines to help consumers stay on the right side of the law and has suggested concrete solutions such as prioritising music search results in favour of legal online services such as those highlighted by the Music Matters campaign,” the BPI writes.


In part, these lobbying efforts have already been successful. Two weeks ago Google announced several upcoming changes that would benefit copyright holders. Among other things the search mogul said that it would censor ‘piracy’ related words for appearing as auto-complete suggestions.


For Google this is a slippery slope to be on, and the next step could very well be the sort of commercial censorship the music industry is suggesting. And if the music industry is successful, other industries will soon follow. The question is, however, if that will solve the piracy issues or just hide them.


Article from: TorrentFreak.

People Spend As Much Time On Mobile As Reading Newspapers And Magazines


The average time spent on the Internet by adults in the U.S. grew an estimated 6 percent in 2010 to 155 minutes a day, or about two and a half hours, according to new estimates from eMarketer. Compared to watching TV, which the average American adult does for 264 minutes a day (or four and a half hours), it still has a way to go in terms of becoming the media we spend our most time on. However, TV time declined about 1 percent.
Super-Seed
Google Creates A Better Way To Turn IE Into Chrome: A Business-Ready Windows Installer


Attachment 61942In September 2009, we wrote about something very interesting that Google was doing in order to penetrate the business market: they were essentially turning IE into Chrome. Chrome Frame was a plugin for Microsoft’s browser that would recreate the Chrome browsing
“Time” Names Mark Zuckerberg Person of the Year


Time magazine has named Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg Person of the Year.

Zuckerberg’s accomplishments in 2010 are truly outstanding: he cemented Facebook’s status as the biggest social network and one of the hottest Internet companies, surging past 500 million users. He’s one of the world’s youngest billionaires, and recently he pledged
In a few months BitTorrent will celebrate its tenth anniversary, and in these years it has become the preferred technology to share files online. Today we document a piece of BitTorrent history with one of the most elaborate overviews of the files currently available on public trackers.
The MPAA and their colleagues in The Netherlands appear to have shut down more than two dozen BitTorrent, Usenet and other file-sharing sites today. Accused of linking to movies, music, TV shows and games, at least one domain appears to be redirecting to the website of Dutch anti-piracy outfit, BREIN.

mpaaIn an operation carried out by the MPAA and Dutch anti-piracy outfit BREIN, 29 BitTorrent and Usenet indexing sites are believed to have been closed down.


The names of the sites, which appear to have been offering links to movies, music, TV shows, games and books, are currently unavailable but at least one appears to be identified as HD-UNiT3D.


As can be seen from its http://hd-united.com/ URL, it diverts straight to BREIN’s homepage.


Despite being hosted in the US the anti-piracy outfit cited Dutch law as the reason for the closures. “They are directed at the Dutch public” and “unlawful under Dutch law,” Kuik told TorrentFreak.


“This year we have made over 600 of these sites inaccessible. Some seek refuge in a foreign hosting provider. These 29 apparently thought that in America they could go undisturbed. That is incorrect,” Kuik said.


brein“Through cooperation with our foreign colleagues we can make sites in other countries inaccessible,” he added.


BREIN says it will also seek out the personal details of those who operate the sites in order to hold them personally liable.


As mentioned in our earlier articles, BREIN has indeed closed down many torrent and Usenet related sites. However, while some of them have been reasonably sized, most of them are particularly small and easy to close by pressuring their hosts.


The fact that none of the owners or users of the sites have alerted us about these alleged closures suggests that no sizable sites were included.


The MPAA are yet to make a statement on the action and as yet BREIN haven’t formally identified any of the sites targeted. If past actions are anything to go by, they will try to avoid naming them for fear of giving them even more publicity.


That HD-UNiT3D is redirecting to BREIN’s homepage is both worrying and suspicious. Previously, BREIN simply asked the hosting providers to take the sites down or face the legal consequences. This is the first time that they appear to have gained some level of control over a domain, an action that is usually only taken by the authorities and not a private anti-piracy group. Whether this is the result of old-fashioned pressure or something else will remain to be seen.


Update: TorrentFreak requested a list of the affected domains from BREIN and received this response from Tim Kuik.


“No that would amount to free PR for the sites that intend to continue their unlawful activities at another hosting provider. These are not large sites and we want to keep it that way.”


In response to a question about how the sites were taken offline:


“The sites were taken down by the hosting provider,” said Kuik.


Article from: TorrentFreak.

Pioneer One, a TV-show created for and made possible by BitTorrent users, made the headlines earlier this year when the pilot was downloaded hundreds of thousands of times. The innovative distribution and funding model didn't go unnoticed by TV-insiders either, and it won an award for 'Best Drama Pilot' at the New York Television Festival. Today, the second episode is released, with two more to follow in the weeks to come.

pioneer oneThis Spring, filmmakers Josh Bernhard and Bracey Smith set themselves up with quite a challenge. They finished a script for the TV-series ‘Pioneer One‘, but instead of plugging it to traditional TV-companies the duo decided to fund and distribute it via the Internet.


And so it happened. For the distribution and promotion the pair teamed up with the VODO BitTorrent distribution platform, and the first $6,000 that was needed to shoot the pilot was collected from supporters through the Kickstarter website.


Mid-June the first episode of Pioneer One was eventually released to the public through VODO. With support from all the big players in the P2P-scene, the BitTorrent-only TV-series quickly gained a huge audience.


Hundreds of thousands of people had downloaded the show, and many decided to donate money to fund future episodes. An additional $20,000 was raised in just the first two weeks and the counter topped the $30,000 mark early September – enough money to shoot more episodes of the first season.


“Once our heads stopped spinning after the pilot, we sat down in July to figure out our game plan. If we were going to produce more episodes, we knew we had to do more than one at a time to make it cost effective and timely,” Pioneer One writer Josh Bernhard told TorrentFreak.


“So a lot of preparations had to be made. Initially we didn’t think we’d be able to move forward with the money we had, but the cast and crew were all eager to do more based on the success of the pilot. So based on their generosity, we called in the rest of the favors we had and were able to start shooting in October,” he added.


Three new episodes were eventually shot in October, and the first one was released on VODO just a few minutes ago. Like the pilot, this second episode can be downloaded for free. In the coming weeks the Pioneer One team plans to release episodes 3 and 4, and gather enough funds to complete the remaining episodes.


Although the delay between the first and second episode is not something the general TV-audience is used to, it is one of the inevitable downsides of a peer-funded production. According to the current schedule it looks like the first season will be completed within a year, something the production team and all those who supported the endeavor can be proud of.



Pioneer One Episode 2: The Man From Mars

pioneer one


The first season has 7 episodes in total, but after that the show is far from done.


“From the beginning we knew this was a multi-season story with an arc that would play out over time. The first season is limited enough in scope that we felt we’d be able to pull it off with the resources that we had, but moving forward, it gets bigger,” Bernhard told TorrentFreak.


“How exactly those future seasons will happen, and what form they will take, is not set in stone. Ideally, we’d love to keep producing the show the way we have been: on our own, releasing through BitTorrent. But right now we’re focusing on getting the first season done, because I think that’ll prove what we set out to do, and all together it will stand on its own as a unit,” he commented.


The series was ‘invented’ for BitTorrent, and the team wants to keep it that way for now. However, there has been plenty of recognition from other filmmakers and traditional TV people. The peer-funded episode won an award for ‘Best Drama Pilot’ at the New York Television Festival, which was quite a morale booster for the makers and an indication that they are on the right track.


“We had some great meetings, but we felt very strongly that we had an obligation to our audience that supported the pilot to continue releasing episodes on BitTorrent. That was the stated goal, and that’s what we want to deliver,” Bernhard said.


Eventually, the Pioneer One team would of course be happy to see their work on traditional TV as well, which serves a wider audience than the traditional BitTorrent public. In the end, a collision between traditional TV and content funded and distributed on the Internet might benefit both sides.



Pioneer One

pioneer one


For now, however, Pioneer One still relies on the BitTorrent community. Today, the release of the second episode will again be promoted by many P2P partners. Among other initiatives it will be bundled with all the new installs of BitTorrent Inc.’s uTorrent client. Through these promotions the Pioneer one team hopes to gather enough donations to finish the first season.


“We have no funding beyond user donations, but we’re hoping if we can repeat the success of the pilot and beyond, we may attract more support through some kind of sponsorship model. But for now user donations are absolutely crucial. At the moment, we’re depending entirely on the support of our audience to fund episodes 5 and 6.”


It will be interesting to see how the second episode will be picked up by the public. Josh Bernhard has high hopes, but realizes that the success of the pilot won’t be easily matched.


“I hope people will get a better sense of the kind of show we’re trying to make. Personally, I think this next episode is a step above the pilot. We’re all really proud of it. And, hopefully, people will get excited enough to support us and spread the word. I’d love if we outdid the success of the pilot, but we’re taking nothing for granted.”


Pioneer One, episode 1 and 2 can be downloaded through VODO, fully powered by BitTorrent.


Article from: TorrentFreak.


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