Pirate Bay launches VPN service

Posted on June 16th, 2009 by bile
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The operators of The Pirate Bay launched a long-awaited VPN service Monday, promising to make file sharers and other internet users more anonymous online.

The IPREDATOR Global Anonymity Service, at about $7 monthly, is named for Sweden’s IPRED law that went into force in April. That law empowers copyright owners to acquire data from ISPs identifying people linked to file sharing.

The four operators of the Pirate Bay are staring down a year in prison each, and millions of dollars in fines, after being convicted in a Swedish court for facilitating copyright infringement. They run the world’s most notorious BitTorrent search engine. Their fines and imprisonment are pending appeal.

On Monday, The Pirate Bay announced that 180,000 people have signed up for the service. Invitations to the first 3,000 who signed up in April went out Monday.

“There’s been some small issues but it’s being resolved right now,” the Bay announced Monday on its blog. “Then we’ll invite more people in… We’re hoping that all will have their invite within a month’s period.”

TorrentFreak notes that the IPREDATOR service, announced in April, likely would be more secure than rank-and-file virtual private networks, which encrypt a user’s traffic stream, making it theoretcially invulnerable to interception by a local ISP, or intermediate carriers.

“The weak link in any VPN/anonymity service is always their willingness (or otherwise) to hand over your customer data when pressured under the law. However, with IPREDATOR this should not be an issue since the service is promising to keep no logs of user activity whatsoever,” TorrentFreak said.

Pirate Bay administrators Fredrik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg and Peter Sunde were found guilty in April, along with Carl Lundström, who was accused of funding the five-year-old operation.

In addition to jail time, the defendants were ordered to pay damages of 30 million kronor ($3.6 million) to a handful of entertainment companies, including Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Bros, EMI and Columbia Pictures, for the infringement of 33 specific movie and music properties tracked by industry investigators.

The April verdicts are on appeal amid allegations the judge who presided over the case was biased because he was a member of pro-copyright groups.

I wish them all the luck. I wonder what kind of hardware they have backing it all up and what kinds of speed people will be seeing. Should be interesting.

A blow to transitioning away from violent monopolies

Posted on April 17th, 2009 by bile
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The Pirate Bay “spectrial” has ended in a guilty verdict, prison sentences for the defendants, and a shared 30 million kronor ($3.5 million) fine. According to the Swedish district court, the operators of the site were guilty of assisting copyright infringement even though The Pirate Bay hosted none of the files in question and even though other search engines like Google also provide direct access to illegal .torrent files.

These two points formed the basis of The Pirate Bay’s defense, but the court found them ultimately unpersuasive in its 107 page verdict. “By providing a site with, as the district court found, sophisticated search functions, easy upload and storage, and a website linked to the tracker,” the defendants were guilty of assistant copyright infringement, the court said.

In an Internet press conference this morning, defendant Peter Sunde Kolmisoppi compared the whole trial to (of all things) The Karate Kid, a movie in which the good guy is roughed up by bullies, goes through a long training process, learns to “wax on, wax off,” encounters his bully again in the final round of a karate tournament, and kicks him in the face with his “crane technique.” Kolmisoppi sees parallels. In the end, he insists, “we’ll kick their ass.”

Read More…

Guardian Media Group wants government to look at Google News

Posted on March 31st, 2009 by bile
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The Guardian Media Group has asked the Government to examine Google News and other content aggregators, claiming they contribute nothing to British journalism. In its written response to the preliminary Digital Britain report, The Guardian argues Google reaps the benefit of content from news sites without contributing anything towards their costs.

“We welcome the interim report’s focus on respect for IP and copyright, but believe there is a glaring omission from its examination of such issues: the negative effects of aggregators and search engines on the ability of and incentives for UK content providers to invest in quality content,” The Guardian’s submission states.

“We think the current market dynamic between content creators and search engines/aggregators is skewed heavily in the latter’s favour. This is not conducive to a healthy environment for content creation in the online world.”

The newspaper group argues that traffic generated by search engines doesn’t compensate for the cost involved in producing content: “The argument has traditionally been that search engines and aggregators provide players like guardian.co.uk with traffic in return for the use of our content, and this is enough to make the relationship symbiotic and equal,” the submission claims.

“However, there is a vast over-supply in the market of advertising inventory, and yields have come under severe downward pressure. As a result, the value of the traffic generated by search engines and aggregators has reduced significantly.”

The Guardian says content providers are faced with a catch-22: they can’t afford to withhold content from search engines, yet can’t feasibly charge consumers for it either, “not least because of the presence of the BBC and the vast quantities of free content it publishes on bbc.co.uk.”

While The Guardian stops short of suggesting Google and others should be forced to pay for content, it does suggest the exploration of new models that “require fair acknowledgement of the value that our content creates, both on our own site (through advertising) and ‘at the edges’ in the world of search and aggregation.”

I’ve got the solution for The Guardian. Add the following to your Apache .htaccess file.

RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} google\.com [NC]
RewriteRule .* - [F]

and in robots.txt:

User-agent: googlebot
Disallow: /

Otherwise figure out a way to work with Google to raise revenue. You offer your information for free. Google is a consumer like any other. If you don’t like what they do with the data you have the freedom to not serve them it in the first place.

EFF and CDT: Torrentspy decision could spell end of Internet privacy

Posted on June 25th, 2007 by bile
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Two weeks ago, a judge ruled that BitTorrent search engine Torrentspy was required to enable server logs and turn the information over to the MPAA as part of the discovery process (the MPAA is suing Torrentspy for contributing to copyright infringement). That ruling was based on the theory that the information in question is already stored in RAM and therefore already exists; Torrentspy would not actually need to log any new data, just record what was already passing through its servers. The legal implications of this argument are staggering, and two technology groups have just pointed them out to the court in a new amicus brief.

Unfortunately this isn’t the first time where ignorance of technology has potentially serious impact on rights and future usage patterns.