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Launched in 2010, Google’s Chrome Store is the go-to place for people looking to pimp their Chrome browser.

Often referred to as apps and extensions, the programs offered by the platform run in Chrome and can perform a dazzling array of functions, from improving security and privacy, to streaming video or adding magnet links to torrent sites.

Also available on the Chrome Store are themes, which can be installed locally to change the appearance of the Chrome browser.

While there are certainly plenty to choose from, some additions to the store over the past couple of months are not what most people have come to expect from the add-on platform.

Free movies on Chrome’s Web Store?

As the image above suggests, unknown third parties appear to be exploiting the Chrome Store’s ‘theme’ section to offer visitors access to a wide range of pirate movies including Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War and Rampage.

When clicking through to the page offering Ready Player One, for example, users are presented with a theme that apparently allows them to watch the movie online in “Full HD Online 4k.”

Of course, the whole scheme is a dubious scam which eventually leads users to Vioos.co, a platform that tries very hard to give the impression of being a pirate streaming portal but actually provides nothing of use.

Nothing to see here

In fact, as soon as one clicks the play button on movies appearing on Vioos.co, visitors are re-directed to another site called Zumastar which asks people to “create a free account” to “access unlimited downloads & streaming.”

“With over 20 million titles, Zumastar is your number one entertainment resource. Join hundreds of thousands of satisfied members and enjoy the hottest movies,” the site promises.

With this kind of marketing, perhaps we should think about this offer for a second. Done. No thanks.

In extended testing, some visits to Vioos.co resulted in a redirection to EtnaMedia.net, a domain that was immediately blocked by MalwareBytes due to suspected fraud. However, after allowing the browser to make the connection, TF was presented with another apparent subscription site.

We didn’t follow through with a sign-up but further searches revealed upset former customers complaining of money being taken from their credit cards when they didn’t expect that to happen.

Quite how many people have signed up to Zumastar or EtnaMedia via this convoluted route from Google’s Chrome Store isn’t clear but a worrying number appear to have installed the ‘themes’ (if that’s what they are) offered on each ‘pirate movie’ page.

At the time of writing the ‘free Watch Rampage Online Full Movie’ ‘theme’ has 2,196 users, the “Watch Avengers Infinity War Full Movie” variant has 974, the ‘Watch Ready Player One 2018 Full HD’ page has 1,031, and the ‘Watch Black Panther Online Free 123putlocker’ ‘theme’ has more than 1,800. Clearly, a worrying number of people will click and install just about anything.

We haven’t tested the supposed themes to see what they do but it’s a cast-iron guarantee that they don’t offer the movies displayed and there’s always a chance they’ll do something awful. As a rule of thumb, it’s nearly always wise to steer clear of anything with “full movie” in the title, they can rarely be trusted.

Finally, those hoping to get some guidance on quality from the reviews on the Chrome Store will be bitterly disappointed.

Garbage reviews, probably left by the scammers

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

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Website blocking is without a doubt one of the favorite anti-piracy tools of the entertainment industries.

The UK is a leader on this front after the High Court ordered the largest ISPs to block access to popular file-sharing sites. Over time the number of blocked URLs in the UK has grown to well over 1,000, including many popular torrent, streaming, and direct download sites.

The Pirate Bay is arguably the biggest target of all. Not only is the site itself blocked by major ISPs, many proxy sites and proxy linking sites are blacklisted as well. The goal of these efforts is to prevent people from accessing the notorious torrent site, but that’s easier said than done.

This week, we decided to take a look at the most visited ‘pirate’ sites in the UK. For this quest, we used data from the traffic monitoring company Alexa, which is often cited by copyright holders as well. Despite the blocking efforts, we spotted quite a few pirate sources among the UK’s top sites.

As it stands, Pirateproxy.sh tops the list. This Pirate Bay proxy is the 115th most-visited site in the UK, which is good for an estimated fifteen million visits per month.

Looking at the list of the 500 most-visited sites in the UK, Pirateproxy.sh is just one of the many Pirate Bay oriented sites. The proxy indexer Unblocked.mx is ranked 227th, for example, while Piratebays.be, Proxybay.bz, Unblocked.lat, Piratebayproxylist.net and Proxyof.com all make an appearance as well.

Most surprising, perhaps, is that the regular ThePirateBay.org still gets a decent amount of traffic too, as it’s currently ranked 319th. That’s more popular than in some other countries where there are no ISP restrictions. This traffic comes in part from VPNs.

Pirateproxy.sh

Does this mean that the blockades have no effect at all? No, that’s impossible to conclude based on these observations. What it does show, however, is that there is still plenty of Pirate Bay traffic in the UK, even to the original site.

Pirateproxy.sh, for example, is part of the ‘Unblocked‘ team which operates a series of proxies and proxy indexes. Since 2013, they’ve been actively providing people with workarounds for blocked sites and continuously launch new domains when theirs are added to the blocklists.

The Unblocked operator believes that while some people may be deterred by the ISP blocks, many are not.

“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,” he explains.

“For any given blocked site, there will be countless proxy sites available with new domains constantly being created.”

Unblocked regularly updates its domains after they are added to the blocklist, which is usually once a month. Just a few weeks ago the main proxy index moved from Unblocked.mx to Unblocked.lat, and that’s probably not the last change.

The new domains are accessible for a few weeks, or sometimes months, and if they are blocked, other ones will simply replace them.

This is not limited to The Pirate Bay and its proxies either. Looking more closely at the most-visited sites in the UK we see more ‘pirate’ sites, some of which are supposed to be blocked.

An overview of the ten most-used pirate sites in the UK is presented below. Some of these will likely be added to the ISP blocklists in the near future, if they aren’t already.

However, similar to regular takedown notices and domain seizures, ISPs blockades have also turned into a game of whack-a-mole.

The label “pirate site” applies to sites that have been classified as such by entertainment industry groups. Unblocked.mx already started redirecting to a new domain name.

Site Alexa rank Type Original site blocked?
torrentfreak.com
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

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

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As a united front for Hollywood, the MPAA has booked many anti-piracy successes in recent years.

Through its involvement in the shutdowns of Popcorn Time, YIFY, isoHunt, Hotfile, Megaupload and several other platforms, the organization has worked hard to get results.

Less visibly but at least as important, the MPAA uses its influence to lobby lawmakers, while orchestrating and managing anti-piracy campaigns both in the United States and abroad.

All this work doesn’t come for free, obviously. To pay the bills the MPAA relies on six major movie studios for financial support. Over the past several years, these revenues had stabilized, but according to its latest tax filing, they are dropping now.

The IRS filing, covering the fiscal year 2016, puts total revenue at $57 million, down from $73 million. The Hollywood studios paid the bulk of this sum through membership fees which total $50 million. That’s a 22% reduction compared to a year earlier.

At the end of the year, this resulted in a significant loss of $8 million. While that’s a lot of money, the MPAA is not in imminent danger, as the organization still has over $10 million in net assets and funds.

We haven’t seen any explanation for the lower membership fees. It could be more permanent, but it may also be an agreed decision, as there’s enough money in the bank.

Going over the numbers, we see that salaries make up a large chunk of the expenses. Chris Dodd, the former MPAA Chairman and CEO, was the highest paid employee with a total income of more than $3.4 million, including a $275,000 bonus.

This compensation was for Dodd’s last full year as CEO. He was replaced by Charles Rivkin last year, another political heavyweight, who previously served as Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs in the Obama administration.

Dodd’s compensation took up nearly 10% of the entire salary budget. The rest is divided over the MPAA’s other 196 employees. This brings the total workforce to 197, which is down as well, from 224 employees a year earlier.

Moving on, it’s always interesting to see where the MPAA’s grants and other types of funding go to.

As reported previously, the group donates handsomely to various research initiatives. This includes a recurring million dollar grant for Carnegie Mellon’s ‘Initiative for Digital Entertainment Analytics’ (IDEA), which focuses on piracy related topics.

Another major beneficiary is the Copyright Alliance, a non-profit that represents copyright holders large and small on a variety of issues. The group was co-founded by the MPAA and received $750,000 in support according to the latest filing.

The total grants budget is $3.1 million and includes many smaller payments, which is not that different from previous years. Other large cost items are the lobbying budget, which totaled $3.6 million, and $5.3 million in legal fees.

Aside from the big dip in revenues, there are no real outliers in the filing.

A copy of the MPAA’s latest form 990 is available here (pdf).

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

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After a Moscow court gave the go-ahead for Telegram to be banned in Russia last month, the Internet became a battleground.

On the instructions of telecoms watchdog Roscomnadzor, ISPs across Russia tried to block Telegram by blackholing millions of IP addresses. The effect was both dramatic and pathetic. While Telegram remained stubbornly online, countless completely innocent services suffered outages as Roscomnadzor charged ahead with its mission.

Over the past several weeks, Roscomnadzor has gone some way to clean up the mess, partly by removing innocent Google and Amazon IP addresses from Russia’s blacklist. However, the collateral damage was so widespread it’s called into question the watchdog’s entire approach to web-blockades and whether they should be carried out at any cost.

This week, thanks to an annual report presented to President Vladimir Putin by business ombudsman Boris Titov, the matter looks set to be escalated. ‘The Book of Complaints and Suggestions of Russian Business’ contains comments from Internet ombudsman Dmitry Marinichev, who says that the Prosecutor General’s Office should launch an investigation into Roscomnadzor’s actions.

Marinichev said that when attempting to take down Telegram using aggressive technical means, Roscomnadzor relied upon “its own interpretation of court decisions” to provide guidance, TASS reports.

“When carrying out blockades of information resources, Roskomnadzor did not assess the related damage caused to them,” he said.

More than 15 million IP addresses were blocked, many of them with functions completely unrelated to the operations of Telegram. Marinichev said that the consequences were very real for those who suffered collateral damage.

“[The blocking led] to a temporary inaccessibility of Internet resources of a number of Russian enterprises in the Internet sector, including several banks and government information resources,” he reported.

In advice to the President, Marinichev suggests that the Prosecutor General’s Office should look into “the legality and validity of Roskomnadzor’s actions” which led to the “violation of availability of information resources of commercial companies” and “threatened the integrity, sustainability, and functioning of the unified telecommunications network of the Russian Federation and its critical information infrastructure.”

Early May, it was reported that in addition to various web services, around 50 VPN, proxy and anonymization platforms had been blocked for providing access to Telegram. In a May 22 report, that number had swelled to more than 80 although 10 were later unblocked after they stopped providing access to the messaging platform.

This week, Roscomnadzor has continued with efforts to block access to torrent and streaming platforms. In a new wave of action, the telecoms watchdog ordered ISPs to block at least 47 mirrors and proxies providing access to previously blocked sites.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

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This evening, Liverpool and Real Madrid will go head to head in the Champions League final, one of the biggest sports events of the year.

Hundreds of millions of football fans from around the world will be glued to their televisions to follow the spectacle, while the hashtags #RMALIV and #UCLfinal are trending on social media.

While Twitter, Facebook and other social media are great ways to keep fans engaged and generate traction, they also present a threat. According to data released by the global anti-piracy outfit Irdeto, social media rivals traditional pirate streaming sites.

The company analyzed the number of pirated streams it ran into during the knockout stages of the Champions League and found 5,100 unique illegal streams that were rebroadcasting the matches.

Roughly 40 percent of these unauthorized broadcasts came from ‘social’ platforms including Periscope, Facebook and Twitch. Irdeto found 2,093 streams on these sites with an estimated 4,893,902 viewers.

Regular web-based streams on traditional sports pirate sites were the most popular (2,121), followed by ones found through Kodi-addons (886).

“These viewing figures combined with the number of UEFA Champions League streams detected across a variety of channels suggests that more needs to be done to stop the illegal distribution of high profile live European football matches,” the company writes.

Red card…

Rory O’Connor, Irdeto’s Senior Vice President of Cybersecurity Services, notes that criminals are “earning a fortune” from these activities. At the same time, he stresses that people who stream the matches on social media could face criminal action.

“The criminals who profit from these illegal streams have little regard for their viewers and are exposing them to cybercrime, inappropriate content and malware infection. Also, viewers of illegal content can face criminal penalties if they decide to share content with friends on social media,” O’Connor says.

Besides sharing infographics and reporting interesting statistics, including that Real Madrid was the most viewed team with 2,856,011 viewers of illegal social media streams during the knock out stage, Irdeto can also take action.

Whether they already work for UEFA or if this is an unsolicited application is not known to us, but they do work for other rightsholders.

So instead of tuning into the final tonight, they will probably be busy tracking down pirate broadcasts on social media and elsewhere, hoping to shut them down as soon as possible.

The game is on.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

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Founded by BitTorrent inventor Bram Cohen, BitTorrent Inc. is best known for its torrent client uTorrent, which has more than 100 million users.

Despite this massive userbase, however, the company never transformed into the next billion-dollar tech giant, as some as the early investors had hoped.

In fact, it has only gone downhill in recent years, in part due to questionable management practices. Things have calmed down since, but according to new information gathered by TorrentFreak, there is a major change afoot.

A few weeks ago we reported that BitTorrent Inc. quietly renamed its company to “Rainberry” last year. The company informed us that this was “purely a corporate decision.” While that may be the case, it could also be related to the company’s plans to be acquired.

Legal paperwork filed earlier this year reveals that Rainberry was sued because it allegedly violated a “No Shop” clause in an agreement with a potential buyer. This potential buyer, who signed a letter of intent, is none other than TRON founder Justin Sun.

TRON is one of the hottest and controversial cryptocurrencies. After a successful ICO, it now has a market cap of more than $4 billion, only surpassed by a few others. And with Sun at the helm, it makes headlines nearly every day.

The TRON mainnet, which will go live in a few days, has the ultimate goal to “decentralize the web.” BitTorrent would fit well in this picture, and the TRON whitepaper mentions torrents as one of the pillars.

TRON

Sun first began pursuing the acquisition of BitTorrent Inc.’s assets in September last year. In January 2018, both parties finalized a letter of intent for the acquisition, of which Sun returned a signed copy.

While it appeared that things were moving along nicely, BitTorrent Inc. CEO Ro Choy came back with a surprising reply.

“Within literally hours after the parties agreed to the Letter of Intent, and after Ro Choy began performing the terms of the Letter of Intent, Defendant claims it received three ‘superior’ bids from companies that David Chao admitted they had been communicating with,” Sun claims in the lawsuit.

Sun asked the court for a restraining order to prevent BitTorrent from talking to other potential buyers, as was agreed in the letter of intent. The case was swiftly dismissed by the court, but not without leaving a paper trail.

While it is clear that TRON’s founder is eager to acquire BitTorrent, less is known about what happened afterward. Did both parties throw their letter of intent in the trash mid-February, or was the deal still on?

Then, our research pointed out another interesting fact which suggests that the deal is going forward. At the end of February, right when the exclusivity period set in the letter of intent ended, a holding company named “Rainberry Acquisition” was registered in California.

This company is registered to none other than TRON founder Justin Sun, who completed the statement of information last month, as can be seen below.

Rainberry Acquisition paperwork

TorrentFreak reached out to Justin Sun, but TRON’s founder did not immediately reply to our request for comment.

When we confronted BitTorrent Inc. with the information, the company confirmed our findings and the interest from Sun, but it noted that the acquisition is not 100% finalized yet. More information will likely be released at a later stage, if all goes well.

At this point, Sun’s plans for BitTorrent Inc. remain unclear. He has not spoken about the acquisition in public, obviously, but it’s likely that it will be used to the advantage of TRON.

Interestingly, BitTorrent Inc. founder Bram Cohen has also taken an interest in cryptocurrencies, with the goal of creating a superior one called Chia. As far as we know, he is not part of TRON’s future in any way.

A copy of Sun’s complaint against Rainberry (f/k/a BitTorrent) is available here (pdf).

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If you enjoy this episode, consider becoming a patron and getting involved with the show. Check out Steal This Show’s Patreon campaign: support us and get all kinds of fantastic benefits!

This is the second part of our interview with Chris Beams, founder of the decentralised cryptocurrency exchange, Bisq. We discuss the inner workings of the Bisq service, how it compares to the widely used platform Local Bitcoins, and the intricacies of designing decentral P2P systems for financial operations.

From there, we move into some of the political/philosophical implications of Bisq as a Distributed Autonomous Organisation (DAO): are we evolving, with Bitcoin and other P2P networks, functionalities which parallel certain present-day institutions, and which could one day eliminate the need for establishment altogether?

And could a future democracy be composed of “opt-in” components that actually do better at providing for our basic human needs?

Steal This Show aims to release bi-weekly episodes featuring insiders discussing copyright and file-sharing news. It complements our regular reporting by adding more room for opinion, commentary, and analysis.

The guests for our news discussions will vary, and we’ll aim to introduce voices from different backgrounds and persuasions. In addition to news, STS will also produce features interviewing some of the great innovators and minds.

Host: Jamie King

Guest: Chris Beams

Produced by Jamie King
Edited & Mixed by Riley Byrne
Original Music by David Triana
Web Production by Siraje Amarniss

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While several countries in Europe have wilted under sustained pressure from copyright trolls for more than ten years, Sweden managed to avoid their controversial attacks until fairly recently.

With Germany a decade-old pit of misery, with many hundreds of thousands of letters – by now probably millions – sent out to Internet users demanding cash, Sweden avoided the ranks of its European partners until two years ago

In September 2016 it was revealed that an organization calling itself Spridningskollen (Distribution Check) headed up by law firm Gothia Law, would begin targeting the public.

Its spokesperson described its letters as “speeding tickets” for pirates, in that they would only target the guilty. But there was a huge backlash and just a couple of months later Spridningskollen headed for the hills, without a single collection letter being sent out.

That was the calm before the storm.

In February 2017, Danish law firm Njord Law was found to be at the center of a new troll operation targeting the subscribers of several ISPs, including Telia, Tele2 and Bredbandsbolaget. Court documents revealed that thousands of IP addresses had been harvested by the law firm’s partners who were determined to link them with real-life people.

Indeed, in a single batch, Njord Law was granted permission from the court to obtain the identities of citizens behind 25,000 IP addresses, from whom it hoped to obtain cash settlements of around US$550. But it didn’t stop there.

Time and again the trolls headed back to court in an effort to reach more people although until now the true scale of their operations has been open to question. However, a new investigation carried out by SVT has revealed that the promised copyright troll invasion of Sweden is well underway with a huge level of momentum.

Data collated by the publication reveals that since 2017, the personal details behind more than 50,000 IP addresses have been handed over by Swedish Internet service providers to law firms representing copyright trolls and their partners. By the end of this year, Njord Law alone will have sent out 35,000 letters to Swede’s whose IP addresses have been flagged as allegedly infringing copyright.

Even if one is extremely conservative with the figures, the levels of cash involved are significant. Taking a settlement amount of just $300 per letter, very quickly the copyright trolls are looking at $15,000,000 in revenues. On the perimeter, assuming $550 will make a supposed lawsuit go away, we’re looking at a potential $27,500,000 in takings.

But of course, this dragnet approach doesn’t have the desired effect on all recipients.

In 2017, Njord Law said that only 60% of its letters received any kind of response, meaning that even fewer would be settling with the company. So what happens when the public ignores the threatening letters?

“Yes, we will [go to court],” said lawyer Jeppe Brogaard Clausen last year.

“We wish to resolve matters as much as possible through education and dialogue without the assistance of the court though. It is very expensive both for the rights holders and for plaintiffs if we go to court.”

But despite the tough-talking, SVT’s investigation has turned up an interesting fact. The nuclear option, of taking people to court and winning a case when they refuse to pay, has never happened.

After trawling records held by the Patent and Market Court and all those held by the District Courts dating back five years, SVT did not find a single case of a troll taking a citizen to court and winning a case. Furthermore, no law firm contacted by the publication could show that such a thing had happened.

“In Sweden, we have not yet taken someone to court, but we are planning to file for the right in 2018,” Emelie Svensson, lawyer at Njord Law, told SVT.

While a case may yet reach the courts, when it does it is guaranteed to be a cut-and-dried one. Letter recipients can often say things to damage their case, even when they’re only getting a letter due to their name being on the Internet bill. These are the people who find themselves under the most pressure to pay, whether they’re guilty or not.

“There is a risk of what is known in English as ‘legal blackmailing’,” says Mårten Schultz, professor of civil law at Stockholm University.

“With [the copyright holders’] legal and economic muscles, small citizens are scared into paying claims that they do not legally have to pay.”

It’s a position shared by Marianne Levine, Professor of Intellectual Property Law at Stockholm University.

“One can only show that an IP address appears in some context, but there is no point in the evidence. Namely, that it is the subscriber who also downloaded illegitimate material,” she told SVT.

Njord Law, on the other hand, sees things differently.

“In Sweden, we have no legal case saying that you are not responsible for your IP address,” Emelie Svensson says.

Whether Njord Law will carry through with its threats will remain to be seen but there can be little doubt that while significant numbers of people keep paying up, this practice will continue and escalate. The trolls have come too far to give up now.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

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For many years media companies have focused their anti-piracy efforts on pirate sites, including torrent and streaming portals.

More recently, these efforts expanded to streaming boxes, with the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE) targeting several vendors of such devices.

This week, a group of independent movie studios has targeted yet another largely overseen element of the piracy ecosystem. Dallas Buyers Club, Cobbler Nevada, Bodyguard Productions, and several other studios are going after the popular Android-based app Showbox.

Showbox hasn’t caught many headlines, but the tool is used by hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people. It allows users to stream movies and TV shows via torrents and direct sources, all through a Netflix-style interface.

In a lawsuit filed at the US District Court of Hawaii, the movie companies are now taking action against several people and sites which distribute the application.

This includes the alleged founder and developer ‘Andrew Crow,’ Showboxappdownload.co founder ‘Mark Willow,’ and the people behind Showboxappdownload.com and Showbox.en.uptodown.com/android.

In addition, the complaint also targets the persons who made the application available on Rawapk.com/showbox-apk-download/, a repository of APK files.

“Plaintiffs bring this action to stop the massive piracy of their motion pictures brought on by the software application Show Box app,” the complaint reads.

“The Defendants misleadingly promote the Show Box app as a legitimate means for viewing content to the public, who eagerly install the Show Box app to watch copyright protected content, thereby leading to profit for the Defendants.”

The lawsuit follows on the heels of another case where a phone store employee was accused of promoting the Showbox app. Similar to that case, the current lawsuit also relies on input from an alleged user of the application. In this case, that’s Hawaiian resident James Sosa.

“I visited the website showboxappdownload.com and followed the instructions on the website to download the Show Box app to my Dell tablet,” Sosa testifies. “The language on the website led me to believe that I could use the Show Box app to watch free movies legally.”

From the complaint

According to the movie studios, most of which have thus far been very active in filing lawsuits against individual BitTorrent downloaders, Showbox is a pirate tool, plain and simple.

“Defendants promote the use of the Show Box app user for overwhelmingly, if not exclusively, infringing purposes, and that is how the users use the Show Box app,” the studios write.

The defendants all stand accused of contributory copyright infringement. The studios are asking the court for actual or statutory damages to compensate their losses, as well as temporary, preliminary and permanent injunctions to stop the allegedly infringing activities.

In addition, the studios also request an order preventing internet search engines, hosting companies, domain-name registrars, and domain name registries to stop facilitating access to the allegedly infringing domain names and websites.

The two recent Showbox related cases reveal an interesting trend. Where many of these movie studios were previously engaged in so-called copyright trolling lawsuits, they are now going after the people who promote, develop, and distribute a popular streaming app. It will be interesting to see if this trend continues.

A copy of the complaint filed by Venice PI, Headhunter, MON, LHF Productions, Cook Productions, Glacier Films, Colossal Movie Productions, Automata Productions, Criminal Productions, Dallas Buyers Club, Clear Skies Nevada, Bodyguard Productions, I.T. Productions, SVZ Productions, Splintered, Cobbler Nevada and Justice Everywhere Productions is available here (pdf).

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While users of older peer-to-peer based file-sharing systems have to work relatively hard to obtain content, users of the Kodi media player have things an awful lot easier.

As standard, Kodi is perfectly legal. However, when augmented with third-party add-ons it becomes a media discovery powerhouse, providing most of the content anyone could desire. A system like this can be set up by the user but for many, buying a so-called “fully-loaded” box from a seller is the easier option.

As a result, hundreds – probably thousands – of cottage industries have sprung up to service this hungry market in the UK, with regular people making a business out of setting up and selling such devices. Until three years ago, that’s what Michael Jarman and Natalie Forber of Colwyn Bay, Wales, found themselves doing.

According to reports in local media, Jarman was arrested in January 2015 when police were called to a disturbance at Jarman and Forber’s home. A large number of devices were spotted and an investigation was launched by Trading Standards officers. The pair were later arrested and charged with fraud offenses.

While 37-year-old Jarman pleaded guilty, 36-year-old Forber initially denied the charges and was due to stand trial. However, she later changed her mind and like Jarman, pleaded guilty to participating in a fraudulent business. Forber also pleaded guilty to transferring criminal property by shifting cash from the scheme through various bank accounts.

The pair attended a sentencing hearing before Judge Niclas Parry at Caernarfon Crown Court yesterday. According to local reporter Eryl Crump, the Court heard that the couple had run their business for about two years, selling around 1,000 fully-loaded Kodi-enabled devices for £100 each via social media.

According to David Birrell for the prosecution, the operation wasn’t particularly sophisticated but it involved Forber programming the devices as well as handling customer service. Forber claimed she was forced into the scheme by Jarman but that claim was rejected by the prosecution.

Between February 2013 and January 2015 the pair banked £105,000 from the business, money that was transferred between bank accounts in an effort to launder the takings.

Reporting from Court via Twitter, Crump said that Jarman’s defense lawyer accepted that a prison sentence was inevitable for his client but asked for the most lenient sentence possible.

Forber’s lawyer pointed out she had no previous convictions. The mother-of-two broke up with Jarman following her arrest and is now back in work and studying at college.

Sentencing the pair, Judge Niclas Parry described the offenses as a “relatively sophisticated fraud” carried out over a significant period. He jailed Jarman for 21 months and Forber for 16 months, suspended for two years. She must also carry out 200 hours of unpaid work.

The pair will also face a Proceeds of Crime investigation which could see them paying large sums to the state, should any assets be recoverable.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

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