Saturday, April 4, 2020
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RIAA Denies ‘False Takedown’ Allegations, Asks Court to Dismiss Case * TorrentFreak


The RIAA denies that it willingly sent false takedown notices to the mixtape service Spinrilla. In a new filing at a federal court in Atlanta, the music group refutes claims that it abused the DMCA takedown process. On the contrary, it believes that it had the right to remove a file which, according to Spinrilla, is clearly not infringing.

Earlier this year, popular hip-hop mixtape website and app Spinrilla filed a lawsuit against the RIAA.

Spinrilla accused the music industry group of sending false DMCA takedown notices that waste resources and harm the site’s goodwill and reputation.

“False takedown notices needlessly waste Spinrilla’s time, disrupts its personnel’s work and puts at risk for terminating a user as a ‘repeat infringer’ when in fact the user uploaded non-infringing content,” Spinrilla wrote.

Yesterday the RIAA responded to the complaint in court. In its filing, the music group reminds the court of the legal history between both parties, which are involved in a separate and ongoing copyright infringement lawsuit.

According to the RIAA, the original lawsuit has demonstrated Spinrilla’s “persistent and flagrant pattern of facilitating and encouraging massive copyright infringement.” The new case is “an obvious and baseless attempt” to draw the court’s attention away from this matter.

These references clearly set the tone but are irrelevant for the new case. However, the RIAA is convinced that Spinrilla’s false DMCA notice allegations are baseless so is asking the court to dismiss the case.

Spinrilla’s complaint only referenced one file that was falsely claimed, this mix, which allegedly infringed the copyrights for the Big Sean & Jhené Aiko track ‘2 Minute Warning.’ In its reply, RIAA explains that this wasn’t a false takedown notice.

According to the music group, Spinrilla doesn’t present any evidence that the RIAA knew that the contested audio file was not infringing. In addition, it says that the site fails to allege that the contested file was actually removed, as is required for such as claim.

“[The complaint] does not allege that Spinrilla ever removed or disabled access to the sole audio file it identifies, or that Spinrilla suffered injury as a result of removing or disabling access to the file,” RIAA writes.

In addition, Spinrilla’s allegation that the music group relies on a faulty text-searching purely speculative and unsupported, RIAA notes.

RIAA’s reply comes with a declaration from Traci Crippen, the group’s Vice President of Operations, Content Protection. She mentions that the contested file was reviewed by both a Universal Music Group (UMG) employee and herself.

From Crippen’s declaration

“Before sending the takedown notice, Ms. Crippen was informed that a UMG employee listened to the Audio File and determined that it infringed copyrighted UMG sound recordings. Ms. Crippen herself then listened to the Audio File and concluded it was infringing,” RIAA writes.

Although the track in question is mostly absent of any sound, the RIAA doesn’t believe that it can be classified under fair use. And even if it is non-infringing, Spinrilla’s false takedown claims are unwarranted because Ms. Crippen had “good faith belief” that it was.

Based on these and other arguments, the RIAA asks the court to dismiss the complaint. Or alternatively, issue a summary judgment in favor of the music group because it was not aware of any wrongdoing.

Whether Spinrilla has more examples of false takedown notices is unknown. If it does, it will likely present these in reply to RIAA’s response.

A copy of RIAA’s response to Spinrilla’s complaint is available here (pdf).

Many thanks to TorrentFreak for the breaking news.

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Internet Archive’s National Emergency Library is “Vile” Says Copyright Alliance * TorrentFreak


Millions of people around the planet rely on public libraries to seek out books and the knowledge and education they provide. Libraries operating in the physical realm are bound by obvious restrictions, including that they can only lend out as many books as they have to hand.

After a book is removed from a shelf, for example, it can only be re-lent once it has been returned by the borrower. In the digital space, on the other hand, more copies can be generated in an instant, resulting in a potentially inexhaustible supply – should no artificial ‘wait’ times be implemented, of course.

The Internet Archive (IA) operates one such a library offering a massive repository of scanned books that generally restricts lending in line with “wait time” guidelines. Last week, however, the resource announced an unprecedented response to the challenges being faced by learners due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Rather than users having to wait for digital books to be ‘returned’, the IA revealed that at least until the end of June 2020, it would “suspend waitlists” for the 1.4 million books in its newly-formed National Emergency Library.

“This is a response to the scores of inquiries from educators about the capacity of our lending system and the scale needed to meet classroom demands because of the closures,” wrote IA’s Director of Open Libraries Chris Freeland.

The response among borrowers, especially given the hard times currently being faced by all, was immediately positive. “You are an angel on earth,” one wrote. “Y’all have digitized a book that one of my faculty wants his students to read (by tomorrow! when they will virtually meet the author!). Author and professor will be thrilled,” another responded.

Perhaps inevitably, however, groups representing the rights of authors were less pleased with the new ground rules. Within days the initiative was slammed by the Authors Guild, which declared that it was “appalled” by the Internet Archive’s decision to expand the scope of the library.

“IA has no rights whatsoever to these books, much less to give them away indiscriminately without consent of the publisher or author,” the Guild wrote. “We are shocked that the Internet Archive would use the Covid-19 epidemic as an excuse to push copyright law further out to the edges, and in doing so, harm authors, many of whom are already struggling.”

The group says that while large swathes of the world are suffering due to the pandemic, authors should not be deprived of sales that might otherwise have taken place, had the IA not taken the decision to give free books to all, in whatever volumes are necessary to fulfill demand. This, the Authors Guild says, is contrary to federal law and even affects in-copyright books that authors rely upon for “critical revenue”.

“Acting as a piracy site — of which there already are too many — the Internet Archive tramples on authors’ rights by giving away their books to the world,” the group wrote.

The Internet Archive believes it is staying on the right side of the law, with the process of supplying temporary copies of books to users falling under the banner of ‘Controlled Digital Lending’ (CDL). Opponents, including some authors, authors’ groups, and publishers, vigorously disagree.

The National Writers Union (NWU), for example, insists that “CDL infringes authors’ and publishers’ copyrights and deprives them of revenues that they would earn if readers obtained their works though other, legitimate channels.”

But even when considering the Public Lending Right, which already exists in several countries around the world but not the United States, NWU remain unhappy. PLR ensures that authors are paid whenever their books are borrowed from libraries (in the UK authors should receive around 8.5p for each withdrawal) but IA’s library even tramples on that concept according to NWU.

“[I]n addition to its other harms, CDL deprives authors of PLR compensation by diverting readers who would otherwise borrow books from foreign libraries to ‘borrow’ bootleg CDL copies served up from the U.S. by the Internet Archive or other U.S. institutions,” NWU adds.

But of course, physical libraries aren’t operating as they should at the moment due to the pandemic, a point not lost on the Internet Archive.

“Right now, today, there are 650 million books that tax-paying citizens have paid to access that are sitting on shelves in closed libraries, inaccessible to them. And that’s just in public libraries,” IA wrote in a response to criticism last evening, adding that statements by the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers “contain falsehoods that are being spread widely online.”

IA insist that the fair user doctrine underlies its system, as explained in the Position Statement on Controlled Digital Lending. The organization also reiterates that there are restrictions in place to prevent loans from being any more permanent than they were before the crisis took hold.

“Readers who borrow a book from the National Emergency Library get it for only two weeks, and their access is disabled unless they check it out again. Internet Archive also uses the same technical protections that publishers use on their ebook offerings in order to prevent additional copies from being made or redistributed,” IA explains.

But despite the fact that the Internet Archive believes it is on safe ground, yet more pro-copyright groups have been piling on in disgust. In a scathing attack on IA founder Brewster Kahle, last night the massive Copyright Alliance likened the lending library to looters taking advantage at a time of crisis.

“Unfortunately, while most people are doing the right thing and rallying in support of one another, there are also those who are taking advantage of the mayhem to throw bricks through store windows and make things much worse for those that need our help. There is no better example of this than Brewster Kahle and the Internet Archive,” Copyright Alliance chief Keith Kupferschmid wrote.

“At a time when authors, like many others, are struggling to pay the rent and put food on the table, Kahle and the Internet Archive, are throwing bricks through their windows and looting their houses.”

Noting that people including Tim Cook, Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg and the Clintons have all dipped into their own pockets to offer help to those in need, the library operated by Kayle is funded by “money out of the pockets of those who need it the most – American authors.”

“Under normal circumstances his actions would be reprehensible,” Kupferschmid added, “but given the current situation and Kahle’s enormous wealth, his actions are particularly vile.”

While most of the attacks on the National Emergency Library thus far have either declared it flat-out illegal or worthy of criticism for trying to expand the limits of copyright law, no one is yet putting their head above the parapet with a legal team in tow. The perils here are clear, of course.

Few copyright holders will want to get drawn into an ugly battle at a time of national crisis and even fewer will relish the prospect of emerging the other side with a defeat. Like the pandemic itself, that too would go down in history and would not be easily forgotten.

Many thanks to TorrentFreak for the breaking news.

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Affordable Legal Options Are the Best Anti-Piracy Tool, US Senators Are Told * TorrentFreak


The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property is currently in the process of finding ways through which the U.S. can better address online piracy.

The initiative, launched by U.S. Senator Thom Tillis, aims to hear experts from various sides, to get a balanced view of the challenges and opportunities.

During a hearing of the Senate Subcommittee earlier this month, key movie industry players argued that pirate site blocking and upload filtering are viable and effective options. However, not everyone agreed with this conclusion.

The senators also heard Julia Reda, former MEP for the Pirate Party, who currently works as a fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society. In her initial testimony, Reda pointed out that the EU’s ‘indirect’ upload filter requirements, which are part of last year’s copyright reform, are problematic.

Reda’s comments and presentation triggered several follow up questions from senators, who asked her to address some issues in more detail. These answers, which came in a few days ago, caution against stringent measures such as site blocking and upload filters.

Responding to a question from Committee Chairman Tillis, Reda stresses that instead of focusing on restrictions and legislation, the best answer to piracy lies in the hands of copyright holders and the broader entertainment industry.

“When it comes to reducing copyright infringement online, I am convinced that the availability of affordable, attractive legal streaming services is paramount,” Reda writes, adding that legal options have made music piracy less relevant.

The former MEP acknowledges that piracy continues to be a major challenge in the TV and movie industries. However, she attributes this in large part to increased fragmentation and the lack of an affordable all-in-one video platform.

“While legal video streaming services have grown rapidly in popularity and revenue over the recent years, there is still a lack of comprehensive video streaming services that give users access to all the content they want to see in one place,” Reda writes.

“Exclusive deals between rightsholders and streaming services are much more common than in the music industry, therefore users have to choose between a large number of different streaming services with distinct offerings. Subscribing to all major streaming services is not affordable to the average consumer,” she adds.

Next up is the response to Senator Chris Coons, who asked Reda specifically about her views on website blocking and upload filtering. These measures were presented as effective anti-piracy tools by copyright holders.

Reda, however, sees things differently. While she mentions that legal scholars are best placed to evaluate the applicability in the US context, caution against site-blocking measures is warranted.

For example, it can raise free speech concerns when there is overblocking, which has happened in the EU on a few occasions.

“From a free speech perspective, it is very difficult to implement site blocking that only blocks illegal content without adversely affecting users’ rights to access legal content,” Reda writes.

In addition, blocking can make security measures more difficult. This includes the use of DNSSEC, which can be used against phishing attacks but uses the same re-routing techniques as website blockades.

Free speech is also a problem with upload filters, Reda warns. She points out that automated filters can’t check for factors such as fair use, something even the providers of filtering tools themselves openly admit.

“I don’t think there is any possibility, neither today nor in the near to medium-term future, to automate these decisions,” Reda writes.

“Therefore, upload filters for copyrighted content will always lead to many instances of overblocking of legal speech, as many examples of automated notices sent under the current notice-and-takedown regime illustrate.”

Instead, Reda again points out that facilitating the development of affordable legal sources is a more reliable strategy.

This is also the message in response to questions from Senator Richard Blumenthal, who asked whether there are any examples of statutes or technological tools that have proven to curb online piracy.

Instead of focusing on enforcements or restrictions, Reda once again turns the tables, highlighting that the entertainment industry holds the key.

“When tracking the history of online copyright infringement over the course of the last 25 years, the single most successful intervention to increase industry revenues and reduce copyright infringement has been the introduction of affordable, convenient legal alternatives.

“I believe that rather than a legislative intervention, the support of better legal offers for online content is the more successful strategy to curb online copyright infringement and produce new revenue streams,” Reda adds.

These views are obviously one side of the debate. As we previously highlighted, copyright holders see things quite differently. It will be interesting to see if and how the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property can find some common ground.

Julia Reda’s full answers to the senators’ questions are available here (pdf).

Many thanks to TorrentFreak for the breaking news.

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Anime Fans Find ‘Pirate’ Subtitles in Netflix Streams of City Hunter * TorrentFreak


Netflix subscribers in France shared a wry smile over the weekend when a screenshot from the anime movie City Hunter was shared on Twitter. The screenshot revealed that the subtitles hadn’t been obtained from an official supplier. Instead, they were apparently culled from a ‘pirate’ file distributed by an IRC channel specializing in anime content, one that could’ve been dead for some time.

Every day massive volumes of movies and TV shows are shared on the Internet without the permission of copyright holders.

While the majority will be viewed by speakers of the default language, the addition of subtitles allows content to be consumed across continents and on a global scale.

As a result, anti-piracy groups often claim that the existence of subtitles – whether from original sources or so-called ‘fansub’ creations – helps to drive up piracy levels everywhere. So, in response, several have taken legal measures in an effort to reduce their spread.

Of course, they can’t plug all of the holes but interestingly, it’s not just unlicensed consumers and platforms that can benefit from these leaks, as an incident reported on Twitter at the weekend revealed.

When translated, the tweet in question asks the following rhetorical question: “We agree that the inscription at the top is fan-made stuff? On Netflix. Well done Dybex.”

The screenshot is from the 1999 anime movie ‘City Hunter: Death of the Vicious Criminal Ryo Saeba‘ which in common with other anime titles is alternatively titled in various regions. However, what is unusual here is the caption at the top of the screen. is an IRC (Internet Relay Chat) network that has been around for approximately 17 years. Anyone can set up a channel (denoted by hashtag #channelname) for free to discuss any topic they like, uncensored. So, in this case, the caption relates to the channel #anime101 on the Rizon network, which means that the subtitles used by Netflix were obtained from an unofficial and unlicensed source.

TF visited the #anime101 channel on Rizon to ask questions but we found only a ghost town. A single user was idling in the channel so as a result, no conversation was taking place. It seems likely that the channel has been all-but-dead for some time, which raises the question of exactly how old these subtitles are.

Momo, the Twitter user who made the discovery on Netflix France, ‘credited’ Dybex with the apparent subtitling ‘oversight’. Founded in the mid-nineties, Dybex is a company involved in the distribution of anime, originally on videotapes and DVD (City Hunter was available on this format just after the turn of the century) and more recently blu-ray and platforms like Netflix.

Thanks to Netflix having different libraries in various regions, the movie isn’t available everywhere. However, we managed to access the show this morning and tracked down the precise frame reported by Momo. The French subtitles were still there but as the image below shows, the marker indicating that they had been sourced from Rizon’s #anime101 had been removed.

This development was also noted by Twitter user ViCklatereur who describes him/herself as an ‘audiovisual professional’. After confirming that the report by Momo was accurate at the weekend, now confirms that the ‘problem’ has been fixed.

“The problem is solved,” ViCklatereur writes. “The pirate channel irc address has disappeared.”

This isn’t the first time that ‘pirate’ subtitles have inadvertently found their way onto Netflix and other platforms. Back in 2012, subtitles created by fansub community “DivX Finland” were shown to Netflix viewers of Canadian-American science fiction series Andromeda.

More recently, Comcast-owned Sky Switzerland managed to show pirated subtitles alongside the hit series Chernobyl. These were sourced from fansubbing site, a platform that is blocked by ISPs in Australia for breaching copyright law.

Many thanks to TorrentFreak for the breaking news.

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Top 10 Most Pirated Movies of The Week on BitTorrent


This week we have six newcomers in our chart.

Bloodshot is the most downloaded movie.

The data for our weekly download chart is estimated by TorrentFreak, and is for informational and educational reference only. All the movies in the list are Web-DL/Webrip/HDRip/BDrip/DVDrip unless stated otherwise.

RSS feed for the articles of the recent weekly movie download charts.

This week’s most downloaded movies are:

Many thanks to TorrentFreak for the breaking news.

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Copyright Holders Continue to Report Fewer Piracy Links to Google Search * TorrentFreak


Over the past year, copyright holders have asked Google to remove a little over 500 million URLs from its search engine. This is a 50% decrease compared to a few years ago when the company processed over a billion URLs in a year. At least in part, the decease is likely the result of Google’s anti-piracy measures.

For most people, search engines such as Google are an essential tool to discover and enjoy the web in all its glory.

With help from complicated algorithms, the company offers a gateway to billions of sites, many of which would otherwise remain undiscovered.

This also includes many ‘pirate’ sites. While there are plenty of people who don’t mind seeing these show up in search results, their presence is a thorn in the side of copyright holders.

Roughly a decade ago this was hardly recognized as a problem. At the time, Google was asked to remove a few dozen URLs per day. In the years that followed, that changed drastically.

In 2012, Google was asked to remove more than 50 million URLs and by 2016, the search engine processed more than a billion reported URLs a year. This increase in notices coincided in large part with heavy critique from copyright holders, which asked Google to do more to curb piracy.

These comments didn’t go unnoticed at the Googleplex in Mountain View. In recent years, the search engine has taken a variety of measures to ensure that pirate sites are less visible. This includes demoting known offenders in search results.

Around the same time, the number of takedown requests from copyright holders started to drop. While we don’t know if that’s directly related to Google’s anti-piracy measures, it is clear that the number of reported URLs has gone down significantly.

According to Google’s transparency report, the company processed little over 500 million takedown requests over the past 12 months. That’s a 50% decrease compared to the billion it received a few years ago, and a 25% decrease compared to two years ago, when we first noticed the shift.

The decrease is in large part caused by the most active senders of takedown requests. For example, three years ago UK music group BPI sent in an average of two million URLs per week, with peaks of over three million. This year, the same group is averaging less than a million per week.

Similarly, the Mexican music group APDIF previously reported over four million pirate links to Google every week. This has now dropped to a few thousand, including some weeks with zero requests.

Also, MarkMonitor, which works with many Hollywood studios, reduced its takedown requests by roughly half.

While the data can’t be linked directly to Google’s anti-piracy measures, BPI Chief Executive Geoff Taylor informed us earlier this month that demotion of known pirate sites “has significantly improved the quality of results presented to consumers.”

After years of animosity between copyright holders and Google, both in public and behind closed doors, that’s certainly a major change in attitude.

Many thanks to TorrentFreak for the breaking news.

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YesPornPlease Restricts Access as PayPal & Cloudflare Are Asked to Unmask Operators * TorrentFreak


In September 2019, MG Premium went to court in the United States requesting a DMCA subpoena against Cloudflare.

Alleging mass infringement, the adult giant wanted the CDN company to hand over the personal details of the people behind ‘tube’ site YesPornPlease and partner platform

With 100 million visitors in January 2020 alone, YesPornPlease is a huge player in the space. It reportedly carries huge volumes of MG Premium content, including videos published under the Reality Kings, Brazzers, MOFOS,, and Twistys brands.

Progress on the earlier subpoena is unknown but in February, MG Premium filed a full-blown lawsuit in a Washington court potentially worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

In the wake of that legal action both YesPornPlease and VShare went offline. At the time it appeared that the sites may not return but the situation was temporary. Now, however, visitors to the platform are being greeted by a strange ‘welcome’ page.

“Our website is banned in your country,” the greeting claims. “Please use Tor Browser, VPN or if you don’t have any get this for free.”

The “this for free” is a VPN called VPN4Test and the suggestion is that it can unlock the site. However, there are a number of confusing aspects to the message and the recommendation.

Aside from countries where porn may be illegal in general, we’re not aware that YesPornPlease is ‘banned’ in any country it was previously accessible from. That tends to suggest that the website hasn’t been banned by any authority and it’s the site’s operators that have put measures in place at their end to ensure access is hindered.

Furthermore, after extended testing with various VPNs and Tor, on what grounds access is granted by the site remains unclear. For example, in some cases UK IP addresses are allowed through yet VPN IP addresses in the same country are blocked. The same is true for those located in other regions, US and mainland Europe, for example.

After cycling through a dozen or so Tor IP addresses, access was granted roughly 50% of the time, which will please users of the site. However, people shouldn’t be streaming lots of unnecessary videos using Tor – it isn’t designed for it, especially in the volumes required to service a massive adult video site.

That leads to the question of whether one of the main aims of the blocking is to drive traffic to the promoted VPN. While it is reportedly free to use, it should come with all the usual warnings that other free VPNs carry – in a nutshell, free is rarely free and there are probably strings attached.

Nevertheless, VPN4Test is doing well out of the referrals. From very little traffic at all in December 2019, the service is now clocking up more than 1.5 million visits per month. Meanwhile, MG Premium is pressing ahead with its legal action.

It’s clear from its numerous filings that the main challenge the company faces is positively identifying the people who run the defendant sites. In a motion for early discovery, the adult giant says that can only be achieved with the assistance of several US-based companies that are doing or have done business with the site.

“Plaintiff seeks a Court order allowing it to serve discovery demands on PayPal, Inc.; Domain Protection Services;, Inc.; Cloudflare, Inc.;; Tucows Domains, Inc.; Internet Security Research Group; and, Comodo, Inc. for identifying information of their customers, the Defendants in this case,” the filing reads.

According to MG, Domain Protection Services in Colorado anonymizes the YesPornPlease domain, while and Cloudflare provide registrar and DNS services. Vshare uses Namecheap and Cloudflare, with the latter being used by both sites to serve content in the United States. It’s further alleged that the affiliate program operated by VShare pays out through PayPal while using an SSL certificate from New Jersey-based Comodo, Inc.

MG says that its representatives contacted all of the companies with requests for cooperation but without exception they either “ignored requests for information or previously instructed that information will only be produced upon subpoena.”

“Plaintiff is aware of no available information that would identify the infringing users, other than information maintained by the domain privacy service, registrar service and
other service providers,” the motion for early discovery notes.

“Due to the nature of on-line transactions which in this case includes in certain instances of the crypto currency Bitcoin, Plaintiff has no way of determining Defendants’ identities except through immediate discovery, and follow-up discovery.”

As a result, MG requests that the court issues an order allowing it to serve subpoenas on the companies listed above, compelling them to turn over “all information pertinent to the identity of the owners, operators, and principals operating the,, and websites, domain names, and relevant accounts for each.”

The motion for early discovery can be found here (pdf)

Many thanks to TorrentFreak for the breaking news.

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MPAA and RIAA’s Megaupload Lawsuits Remain on Hold * TorrentFreak


A federal court in Virginia has granted Megaupload’s request to place the cases filed by the RIAA and MPAA on hold for another six months. The lawsuits have been frozen for years now and are not expected to start anytime soon, as there’s no progress in the criminal case against the defunct file-sharing service.

When the U.S. Government shut down Megaupload in 2012, Internet traffic volumes dropped all over the world.

The destruction of one of the largest file-hosting services came as a shock to hundreds of millions of users, but particularly to the key players involved.

While the authorities had hoped to resolve the case swiftly, the opposite happened. Aside from Andrus Nomm’s plea deal years ago, there hasn’t been any progress in the criminal proceedings against Megaupload’s founder and his co-indicted associates.

After more than eight years, it is still not clear whether Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom and his associates will ever stand trial in the US. They have and continue to fight this request tooth and nail in New Zealand.

While all parties await the outcome, which could take several more years, the criminal case in the United States remains pending. The same goes for the civil cases launched by the MPAA and RIAA in 2014.

This brings us to two new filings Megaupload’s legal team submitted at a Virginia federal court this week. The defunct file-sharing platform requests to keep the RIAA and MPAA cases on hold for at least six more months, noting the lack of movement in the criminal case.

“The Criminal Action is still pending, and none of the individual defendants have been extradited,” writes Megaupload attorney Craig C. Reilly, asking the court to stay the cases.

This request and the court’s swift approval to extend the delay until October doesn’t come as a surprise. The MPAA and RIAA didn’t object to it and similar requests have been granted more than a dozen times already.

The civil cases are not expected to start until after the criminal case in the U.S. has been ‘resolved.’ That can take several more years. Meanwhile, data from Megaupload’s servers remains securely stored, possibly to serve as evidence in the future.

Previously there have been attempts to make it possible for millions of former Megaupload users to retrieve their personal files. However, in recent years there hasn’t been any update on this front.

Similarly, the U.S. Department of Justice announced eight years ago that it would work on a solution to allow rightsholders to check whether their content was shared on Megaupload or related sites. Today, this feature is still listed as being “under construction.”

Many thanks to TorrentFreak for the breaking news.

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YouTube Refuses to Process DMCA Counternotice for ‘Creepy Bugs’ Cartoon * TorrentFreak


An artist who uploaded a parody cartoon to YouTube and received a strike against his channel following a Warner Bros. complaint has been denied the opportunity to fight his corner. MeatCanyon uploaded a cartoon featuring a creepy ‘Bugs Bunny’ and later appealed using a DMCA counternotice. YouTube, however, refused to pass the notice on and dismissed the claim.

Earlier this week we reported on a dark parody cartoon depicting a washed-out Bugs Bunny as a sex pest. The controversial video was created by Hunter Hancock, the person behind the MeatCanyon channel.

It was hit with a copyright complaint by Warner Bros. As a result, the MeatCanyon channel received a copyright strike and the cartoon was taken down.

When a video is targeted by a copyright holder with a manual complaint (i.e one not actioned as a result of ContentID matching), users can generally refer to the DMCA for guidance. This means that if they believe their content was not infringing (under fair use guidelines, for example), they can submit a DMCA counternotice to YouTube explaining why the content should not have been taken down.

This is exactly what Hancock did in response to the Warner complaint.

“This is my own creation. I animated every frame, composed the music, recorded the audio and made the backgrounds,” he told YouTube in his counternotice shared with TorrentFreak.

“This creation is under fair use,” he continued. “The characters have been stylized by myself to not reflect directly with the traditional characters. There is no branded logo to incite that this is a real video owned by Warner Brothers, but is in fact a parody video created by none other than by myself.”

As required under the law, Hancock swore that he had a “good faith belief” that the material had been removed due to a mistake and also consented to the jurisdiction of his local federal court, in case Warner chose to sue him – something it must do within two weeks to prevent the content from being restored. Should that time pass with no lawsuit, then the content would’ve been put back up and the strike removed.

In the event, however, none of those things happened. In short, YouTube declined to accept the apparently valid DMCA counternotice filed by Hancock and refused to pass it on to Warner.

“Based on the information you provided, it appears that you do not have the necessary rights to post the content on YouTube. Therefore, we regretfully cannot honor your request. It has not been forwarded to the original claimant, and we will not be able to restore your video,” YouTube’s correspondence reads.

While this response from YouTube runs counter to what most people would expect under the DMCA counter-claim process, it is not unprecedented. The EFF previously reported that agreements YouTube has with rightsholders may effectively deny access to the system.

“In many instances, even if you successfully submit a DMCA counter-notice, the video will not be reinstated. These agreements are opaque, and scope of what’s allowed under them is unknown. They may be short-term, or long-term,” the EFF previously explained.

In this case, the refusal of YouTube to allow a counter-claim represents a double-edged sword. While Hancock submitted the notice in good faith, genuinely believing he was in a good position to put his side of the argument by insisting he was protected under fair use doctrines, the reality of dealing with a lawsuit, should one be initiated, is a serious proposition and not to be underestimated.

After being denied by YouTube and further consideration, he decided that fighting probably wasn’t the best option after all.

“I am in no place to fight this in court due to financial reasons. It seems unnecessary to start a GoFund me or ask for help, because it’s between me and Warner Brothers,” he told TF.

“It also made me think YouTube wanted the video off the platform. It is a very crude video so I can’t blame them for that, but it would’ve been nice to have been given more information on why this video was unacceptable to stay up on my page. It’s very disheartening.”

While the decision by YouTube will be viewed by some as anti-consumer and a denial of due process, in this case the platform arguably did the animator a favor. Instead of expending resources he doesn’t have on a legal process that could go either way and could even prove financially ruinous, he can now concentrate on creating new content for fans.

Some battles are worth fighting but it’s definitely worth weighing the costs first.

Many thanks to TorrentFreak for the breaking news.

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