PUBG Sues Fortnite on Grounds of Copyright Infringement

PUBG and Fortnite are two trendsetting games at the moment. While both share some similarities, they managed to coexist and stay out of each other harm’s way. Unfortunately, that’s not the case anymore as PUBG has dragged Epic Games to court in South Korea over alleged copyright infringement.

PUBG and Epic Games, two gaming giants, are going head to head in court.Image result for pubg

PUBG filed a lawsuit in South Korea earlier this year, accusing Epic of copying “Fortnite” from “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds” (PUBG)

A PUBG official told the Korea Times “We filed the suit to protect our copyright in January.” In hopes of stopping the alleged infringement, the company asked for an injunction at the Seoul Central District Court last Friday.

The report presents no details on the alleged infringements, but the lawsuit probably alleges Epic Games of copying specific Fortnite elements from PUBG.

PUBG had last year already hinted at a lawsuit accusing Fortnite of being very similar. So this new lawsuit should not come as a surprise.

While a lawsuit is currently brewing between these two gaming giants, they both have accused developers and users of other games of infringing their companies’ rights.

Epic Games has filed numerous copyright infringement lawsuits against cheaters over the past several months. PUBG has done the same as they recently filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against the developer of the mobile games “Rules of Survival” and “Knives Out,” accusing them of copying particular elements from PUBG.

Additionally, PUBG cheaters get chased as earlier this month Chinese authorities informed that fifteen people had been arrested in connection with PUBG cheating.

The company commented on the news saying “We take cheating extremely seriously. Developing, selling, promoting, or using unauthorized hacking/cheating programs isn’t just unfair for others playing PUBG — in many places, it’s also against the law.”

Suing Epic Games over Fortnite is a game changer. With millions of players, it is a big fish to target.

Even if PUBG wins the lawsuit it will not spell the end of Fortnite as the game could probably survive with alterations or they both could agree to some settlement, in or out of court.

Hong Kong Customs Arrest Retailers Selling Pirate Streaming Devices

Hong Kong Customs on May 25 and 26 implemented a series of raids against four retail stores suspected of selling “fully loaded” set-top boxes which gave unauthorized access to movies and TV shows. On the grounds of copyright infringement, seven men and one woman were arrested and charged. Officials have warned that offenders could go to prison for a maximum of four years.

As Internet-capable set-top boxes enter homes around the world, authorities appear powerless to come up with a notable response to the ever-increasing threat.Image result for fully loaded set-top boxes

Usually, these often Android-based devices are entirely legal. But, when configured with the specialist software they become piracy powerhouses giving access to contents with copyrights.

Most of these devices come from Asia, particularly China, but it’s pretty unusual to hear of action implemented in that part of the world. Well, this week’s announcement from Hong Kong customs changed that rhetoric as a series of raids was conducted in the areas of Sham Shui Po and Wan Chai.

After conducting a thorough investigation with the help of copyright holders, Customs and Excise officers on May 25 and 26 launched Operation Trojan Horse, performing a series of raids on four outlets selling suspected piracy-configured set-top boxes.

The operation resulted in the successful arrest of seven men and one woman aged between 18 and 45, comprising of four shop owners and four salespeople. Around 354 suspected ‘pirate’ boxes were captured with an estimated market value of HK$320,000 (US$40,700).

Authorities statement reads “In the past few months, the department has stepped up inspections of hotspots for TV set-top boxes.”

“We have discovered that some shops have sold suspected illegal set-top boxes that bypass the copyright protection measures imposed by copyright holders of pay television programs allowing people to watch pay television programs for free.”

A few of the devices captured by Hong Kong customs

Image result for full loaded boxes seized by hong kong customs

In a recent press conference, a representative from the Customs Copyright and Trademark Investigations (Action) Division said that in the build-up to the World Cup in 2018, measures against copyright infringement will be bolstered both on and online.

The announcement was appreciated by the Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia’s (CASBAA) Coalition Against Piracy, which is supported by industry heavyweights including Disney, Fox, HBO Asia, NBCUniversal, Premier League, Turner Asia-Pacific, A&E Networks, Astro, BBC Worldwide, National Basketball Association, TV5MONDE, Viacom International, and others.

General Manager Neil Gane said, “We commend the great work of Hong Kong Customs in clamping down on syndicates who profit from the sale of Illicit Streaming Devices.”

“The prevalence of ISDs in Hong Kong and across South East Asia is staggering. The criminals who sell ISDs, as well as those who operate the ISD networks and pirate sites, are profiting from the hard work of talented creators, seriously damaging the legitimate content ecosystem as well as exposing consumers to dangerous malware.”

A study done by Sycamore Research found that pirates aren’t easily deterred by malware warnings.

Still, there are risks for individuals selling piracy configured devices.

Recent cases like the ones in the UK have shown that heavy jail sentences can be meted out to offenders while over in the United States, lawsuits filed by the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE) have the capacity to land offenders in jail.

While rarely reported, offenders in Hong Kong also face stiff sentences for this kind of infringement including massive fines and imprisonment of up to four years.

 

How Impactful is The UK Piracy Blockade?

UK Internet users are familiar with website blocking as many pirate sites including The Pirate Bay are not accessible due to court orders. But it does not necessarily mean that piracy has been uprooted because looking at the most visited websites in the UK suggests that much is there to be done.

One of entertainment industries’ favorite anti-piracy tools is website blocking.

Over the years the number of blocked URLs in the UK has grown to well over 1,000, including many popular torrents, streaming, and direct download sites.

The Pirate Bay is by far the biggest target. Along with the main site, many proxy sites and proxy linking sites are blacklisted and blocked by major ISPs. The aim is to prevent access to these known torrent sites, but it’s never that easy.

According to Alexa, a traffic monitoring company which is often cited by copyright holders, Pirateproxy.sh tops the piracy sites list and is the 115th most visited site in the UK overall.

This does not mean that blockades do not affect at all; it just portrays that there is still a lot to be done.

For example, Pirateproxy.sh is part of the ‘Unblocked’ team which operates a series of proxies and proxy indexes. It has been actively providing and launching new domains for people.

According to the operator: “Although the blocks have had the intended effect of blocking popular file-sharing sites, I don’t believe they are effective since users have access to many workarounds to access these sites.”
“For any given blocked site, there will be countless proxy sites available with new domains constantly being created.”

Similar to regular takedown notices and domain control, ISP blockades have also become repetitive and futile.

Listed below are ten of the most pirated sites in the UK:

*They are subject to change

Site

Alexa Rank Type

Original Site Blocked?

Pirateproxy.sh

115 Torrent proxy

No

Openload.co

194 Cyberlocker

Yes

0123movies.com

215 Streaming

Yes

Rutracker.org

222 Torrents

No

Unblocked.mx

227 Proxy links

Yes

Piratebays.be

255 Torrent proxy

No

Kissanime.ru

310 Streaming

No

Thepiratebay.org

319 Torrents

Yes

Solarmoviez.ru

327 Streaming

No

Proxybay.bz           338      Proxy links                     No

 

 

BREIN Compels Pirate IPTV Sellers To Sign Abstention Agreement

Earlier in the month, Dutch anti-piracy firm BREIN won a court ruling versus Leaper Beheer BV which sold access to IPTV connections providing live TV, movies, and TV shows. Leaper and two other companies have now signed an abstention agreement with BREIN meaning no copyright-infringing activities or face penalties of 10,000 euros per infringement.

Image result for iptv

BREIN’s complaint filed at the Limburg District Court in Maastricht stated that Leaper sold access to unlicensed live TV streams and on-demand movies. Approximately 4,000 live channels and 1,000 movies were included in the bundle, which was handed out to customers in the form of a .M3U playlist.

In a detailed verdict, the Court sided with BREIN, stating that Leaper communicated works to a new audience which is a breach even though it wasn’t previously when the content’s owners initially authorized their work to be distributed to the public.

The Court ordered Leaper to stop giving access to the to the unlicensed streams or face penalties of 5,000 euros per IPTV subscription sold, link offered, or days exceeded, to a maximum of one million euros. Moreover, financial penalties were threatened for non-compliance with other aspects of the verdict.

In last Friday’s announcement, BREIN revealed that three companies which include Leaper had signed agreements to cease-and-desist, to avoid summary proceedings. BREIN has said that these three companies are the biggest sellers of pirate IPTV subscriptions in the Netherlands.

o Leaper Beheer BV, Growler BV, DITisTV and their respective directors are obligated to refrain from distributing protected works belonging to BREIN’s affiliates and their members.

Failure to obey the terms of the agreement will see the companies face penalties of 10,000 euros per infringement.

DITisTV’s previous website now appears to sell shoes with many negative reviews. Consumentenbond.nl, a consumer website, received 300 complaints about DITisTV.

It is reported that DiTisTV discontinued its website last June, likely in response to the European Court of Justice ruling which found that selling piracy-configured media players is illegal.

 

MPAA Earnings Drop 20% as Movie Studios Rollback

The revenue generated by MPAA in the latest tax filing shows a decline after a few years of modest growth. The reason is lower membership fees paid by the major Hollywood studios. Additionally, the filing revealed MPAA’s former CEO Chris Dodd earned $3.4 million during his final year.

The MPAA has achieved many anti-piracy successes in recent years as a united front for Hollywood. Image result for mpaa

MPAA has worked tirelessly in the shutdowns of Popcorn Time, YIFY, isoHunt, Hotfile, Megaupload and several other platforms.

Less apparent but essential, the MPAA does use its influence to lobby lawmakers and simultaneously arranges and manages anti-piracy campaigns both in the United States and abroad.

All this work doesn’t come freely, and so the MPAA relies on six major movie studios to pay the bills. Revenues had stabilized over the past several years, but in its latest filing, there is a drop.

The total revenue stood at $57 million for the fiscal year 2016 down from $73 million according to an IRS filing. The Hollywood studios paid most of it through membership fees totaling $50 million. A 22% drop compared to the previous year.

Year ending it resulted in a significant loss of $8 million. That’s a lot of money, but the MPAA is still in safe hands as it has over $10 million in net assets and funds.

There is no explanation for the lower membership fees.

Most of the expenses are incurred through salaries with Chris Dodd, the former MPAA Chairman, and CEO the highest paid employee with over $3.4 million in total income, including a $275,000 bonus.

It was a compensation for Dodd’s last full year as CEO. Last year Charles Rivkin replaced him another political heavyweight, who previously served as Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Matters in the Obama administration.

10% of the entire salary budget was taken up by Dodd’s compensation. The remaining divided by MPAA’s other 196 employees. So the total workforce was 197 down from 224 a year earlier.

Moving on, it does charity work as well by donating to various research initiatives, including a recurring million dollar grant for Carnegie Mellon’s ‘Initiative for Digital Entertainment Analytics’ (IDEA), which deals with piracy related topics.

Copyright Alliance is another primary beneficiary. The group co-founded by the MPAA is a non-profit copyright holders representative, and it received $750,000 in support according to the latest filing.

The total grants budget is $3.1 million and comprises many smaller payments, similar to previous years. Lobbying budget totaled $3.6 million, and $5.3 million in legal fees.

Apart from revenues, the other aspects seem well taken care of.

Phone Store Employee Sued For Promoting ‘Pirate’ App Showbox

Two Movie Studios with films ‘Mechanic: Resurrection’ and ‘A Family Man’ respectively have sued an employee of a Hawaiian phone store. The woman accused is alleged to have recommended the ‘pirate’ application Showbox to a customer, and hence the movie makers are demanding damages in federal court for contributory copyright infringement.

It’s nothing new, select companies have targeted thousands of alleged pirates to pay significant settlement fees, or face legal consequences. But the twist in this particular story is that the employee allegedly promoted and installed the ‘pirate’ application Showbox on a customer’s device.

The studios ME2 Productions and Headhunter, own the rights to the movies ‘Mechanic: Resurrection‘ and ‘A Family Man‘ respectively.

Showbox is one of the favorite movie and TV-show streaming application capable of streaming torrents and works on a wide variety of devices.

In a charge filed at the US District Court of Hawaii, the studios accused Taylor Wolf of promoting Showbox and its infringing uses at the Verizon-branded phone store Victra where she works.

“The Defendant promoted the software application Show Box to said members of the general public, including Kazzandra Pokini,” the charge reads, further stating that Wolf installed the Showbox app on the customer’s tablet so that she could watch pirated content.

Excerpts From the Complaint

“Defendant knew that the Show Box app would cause Kazzandra Pokini to make copies of copyrighted content in violation of copyright laws of the United States,” the complaint adds.

This case is unique in the sense that it is not your traditional lawsuit case where the companies go after the user.

Both studios are experienced when it comes to piracy lawsuit. ME2 is linked to Millennium Films and Headhunter is an affiliate of Voltage Pictures.

Like most cases, the copyright holders demand a preliminary injunction to stop Wolf from engaging in any infringing activities, as well as statutory damages, which theoretically can go up to $150,000 per pirated film, but are usually settled for a fraction of that.

BPI Calls for Piracy Crackdown Under New UK Internet ‘Clean-Up’ Laws

This week, Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport, stated new measures would be taken to clean up the ‘Wild West’ elements of the Internet.  Music group BPI responded by saying says the government should use the opportunity to tackle piracy with advanced site-blocking measures, repeat infringer policies, and new responsibilities for service providers.Image result for bpi

The UK Government has for the past several years expressed a strong desire to “clean up” the Internet.

There has been an intense emphasis on making the Internet safer for children, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

This week, the Government responded to the Internet Safety Strategy green paper, stating unequivocally that more needs to be done to tackle “online harm”

Considering every six out of ten people face “online harm”, the government while working with social media companies to protect users had seen positive results but the overall outlook has been below par.

For this reason, the Government will introduce new legislation, albeit with the assistance of technology companies, children’s charities and other stakeholders.

The Government has cleared that it wishes to tackle “the full range” of online harms, even though the emphasis is being placed on cyberbullying and online child exploitation. This move has been warmly received by UK music group BPI and thereby requesting the Government to introduce new measures to tackle Internet piracy.

BPI chief executive Geoff Taylor in a statement issued this week welcomed the move towards legislative change and urged the Government to encompass the music industry and beyond.

The BPI has published four initial requests.

  • Establish a new fast-track process for blocking unauthorized sites.
  • Compel online platforms to stop content from being re-posted after it’s been taken down while removing the accounts of repeat infringers.
  • Fines for “online operators” who do not give “transparent contact and ownership information.”
  • Pass laws for a new “duty of care” for online mediators and platforms.

To be published later this, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport and the Home Office will work on a White Paper to pass laws to tackle “online harms”. The BPI and similar entities will hope that the Government will also do the same.

 

Law Enforcement Officers Strike Pirate IPTV Operation

Over 150 law enforcement officers in Italy, Switzerland, Germany, and Spain have coordinated to dismantle a sizeable pirate IPTV operation. TV channel sources were targeted across different locations. Out of 49 suspects, five were arrested and taken into custody.

The rise of set-top box streaming has led to regular actions against pirate IPTV operations.Image result for iptv

Around 150 officers of the Provincial Command of the Guardia di Finanza (GdF) coordinated by the public prosecutor’s office in Rome carried out a targeted action on a significant unauthorized IPTV provider.

In Italy, Operation Spinoff made more than 50 searches in 20 provinces of 11 regions. Five people were caught. Switzerland, Germany and Spain – the Polizei Basel-Landschaft, the Kriminal Polizei and the Policia Nacional coordinated to execute warrants.

Image result for guardia di finanza roma iptv

“Through technical and ‘in-the-field’ investigations and the meticulous reconstruction of financial flows, carried out mainly through prepaid credit cards or payment web platforms, investigators have reconstructed the activity of a pyramid-like criminal structure dedicated to the illegal decryption and diffusion of pay-per-view television content through the Internet,” the GdF said in a statement.

Italian authorities report that IPTV core operation was sourcing of original content and channels.

IPTV sold to the public packages consisting of channels for 15 to 20 euros monthly in the form of an IPTV subscription.

The IPTV operation between the 49 individuals approximately generated one million euros. Out of five Italian citizens, four were taken into custody and one placed under house arrest.

Hardware

Everyone is under investigation, from the sources who decrypted the signals to the sellers and re-sellers of the content to end users.

Deadpool Pirated Copy Uploader Pleads Guilty

A 22-year-old Californian man has pleaded guilty to uploading Deadpool’s pirated copy to Facebook. It was shared shortly after the movie premiered, where it was viewed 6,386,456 times. Following an FBI investigation last year, the man was charged with the crime and faces a one-year prison sentence. Image result for facebook

Daily, hundreds of millions of people use Facebook to share photos videos and other things.

People post a lot of things on Facebook, but a pirated copy of Deadpool is one you should not.

Early 2016, a week after Deadpool premiered in theaters Trevor Franklin from Fresno, California uploaded a pirated copy on Facebook.

He downloaded it from file-sharing site Putlocker.is and uploaded it to his Facebook account.

The post was bound to go viral with over six million viewers, but it also meant Twentieth Century Fox and the feds were made known.

The FBI initiated a full-scale investigation which ultimately led to an indictment and the arrest of Franklin last summer.

Trevor Franklin has now signed a plea agreement with the government admitting to sharing the pirated film on Facebook. For this, the authorities will recommend a sentence reduction.

Franklin stated in the legal paperwork, signed by both sides that he knew what he was doing.

Excerpts from the plea agreement

When the incident happened in 2016, several people had warned him of the risk of uploading it on social media due to copyright infringements.

It’s still unclear why the US government decided to pursue this particular case. It could just be a case of setting an example.

According to the plea agreement, Franklin will be sentenced for a Class A crime. It could result in a maximum one-year prison sentence, followed by probation or a supervised release, as well as a fine of $100,000. He has forgone his right to a trial by jury.

 

 

 

 

 

 

53 Pirate Sites Blocked in Singapore

Singapore ISPs have blocked 53 pirate websites after a successful application by the MPAA, which accused the sites of blatant copyright infringement.

In 2014 Singapore passed amendments to copyright law that grant ISPs to block ‘pirate’ sites after mounting pressure from copyright holders.

The amendments came into effect in December 2014, but it was not until later that websites were targeted. In September 2016 following MPAA request, Solarmovie.ph became the first site ordered to be blocked under Singapore’s amended Copyright Act.

Owing to a successful application by the MPAA earlier this year, yesterday 53 sites across 154 domains have been blocked by ISPs rendering them inaccessible.

“In Singapore, these sites are responsible for a major portion of copyright infringement of films and television shows,” an MPAA spokesperson told The Straits Times (paywall).

The High Court, however, cannot grant a block injunction on any site without first proving the site is “flagrantly infringing”. YouTube is an example of non-blatant infringement.

The judgment should be tipped in copyright holders’ favor for sites to be considered for blocking.

There are also additional factors the Court takes into consideration when deciding to block a site like ISPs burden, technical feasibility, and its effectiveness.

In line with regions such as the UK and Australia, sites targeted for blocking needs to be informed of the case made against them, to make sure they’re given a chance to defend themselves in court. Not a single fully-fledged ‘pirate’ site has ever defended itself against a blocking application anywhere in the world.

Finally, copyright holders can apply for amendment of blocking order to the Singapore High Court should ‘pirate’ sites try to evade an ISP blockade. It is similar to the Australian model where each case must be heard on its merits, unlike the UK model which is more streamlined.

Recent Reports by Motion Picture Association Canada states at least 42 countries have obligations to block infringing sites. Just in Europe, 1,800 websites and 5,300 domains have been rendered inaccessible, with Portugal, Italy, the UK, and Denmark leading the way.

Copyright holders in Canada are lobbying hard for a site-blocking regime as they want to the “uncertain, slow and expensive” way of going through the courts.