Kanye West Gets His Own Pirate Bay

Tune murmurer, paladin of egotism, and self-appointed “voice of this generation” Kanye West – recently exposed using The Pirate Bay to search for copyrighted software, despite threatening legal action against the notorious torrent site just last month – now has his own iteration of The Pirate Bay. Dubbed Kanye Bay, the TPB proxy sports a flattering caricature of West’s face, and even features a direct link to torrents of the “pop enigma’s” work.

Earlier this week, Kanye was caught searching for the Serum synthesiser software, which costs $189 to buy, on The Pirate Bay. Whether he actually downloaded a torrent of the program has not been established. Regardless, Spud17 – a TPB staffer – has decided to celebrate West’s use of the site with a proxy designed just for him.

“Should Mr. West experience any issues accessing the official domains of the galaxy’s most resilient torrent site, I’d suggest he try this nifty little proxy,” Spud17 told TorrentFreak.

“The other day, I came up with an equation that explains the way visionaries think as opposed to very calculated people,” Spud17 continued. “If someone asked you, ‘What is 2 and 3?’ most people would say 5. If you put 2 and 3 in front of me, I’m gonna say, ‘Well, 2 plus 3 is 5. 2 times 3 is 6. 2 divided by 3 is this. 3 divided by 2 is that.’ And then come up with an average of all those things..”

“That is the thing people marvel at like, ‘That really was not what I was expecting’… Then I made KanyeBay.com and I was like, ‘Yeah. This sh*t is like 50 per cent more influential than any other proxy ever made’,” he added.

“I believe that being selfish is vulgar. It’s like cursing. I think the world can be saved through sharing, because what is the most selfish thing someone can do? Kill someone. So, piracy is like the opposite of that,” Spud17 explained, with reasoning so sound not even Kanye could disagree. “The Bible was copied like a million times and nobody ever got hurt.”

Kanye West’s Latest Album Already Pirated Over Half a Million Times

Kanye West recently released his new album, The Life of Pablo, exclusively on the music streaming service Tidal owned by fellow artist Jay-Z. However, amidst numerous complaints from fans that they have been unable to listen to the album they had paid for on Tidal, piracy has sprung up. The album became incredibly popular on The Pirate Bay, appearing not just once, but twice in the site’s top 10 music downloads.

Torrenting blog Torrent Freak estimate that the album has already been illegally downloaded over half a million times, with as many as 10,000 people sharing a copy of a single torrent of the album at one time. Torrents aren’t the only way that pirates illegally acquire music either, with numerous direct downloads and private hosts further inflating the numbers by and unknown amount. This level of piracy is unprecedented according to Torrent Freak, describing the piracy of The Life of Pablo as “something we haven’t seen with a music release before.”

Being such a hotly anticipated release, it could be expected that the levels of piracy would be high.It seems clear that Kanye’s choice to release the album solely on Tidal, which has been plagued with issues around the release and announcements that the album would never be for sale have clearly driven more and more fans to illegal measures to enjoy the album. Despite the efforts of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), who have issued takedown notices to Google and removed numerous torrents, as the material becomes widespread, the more easily it springs back up.

Popcorn Time to be Revived in the Browser

Popcorn time has been blocked, banned and taken down over copyright issues a number of times. It seems that the popular movie streaming service just refuses to die. Despite the seizure of its popcorntime.io site by the MPAA, Popcorn Time is set to return as Popcorn Time Online. It claims to offer all of the functionality and features that made the original Popcorn Time widely used, this time, delivered directly to the browser.

This new revival of Popcorn Time will also be fully open source, explaining on their blog that it makes use of the new Torrents Time technology in order to deliver its real-time streamed movies via torrents. This means that even should the main site hosting the Popcorn Time Online service be taken down, it would be incredibly easy for anyone with the technical skill to set up a web server to deploy a fully functional version of the streaming site on their own server or PC.

Popcorn Time Online even finds space to add some new features to their service, firstly allowing true streaming of torrents that were previously incompatible thanks to Torrent Time. Other new additions include support for multiple languages, higher quality video streaming than ever before and even the ability to stream to Chromecast, Airplay, and DLNA with subtitles, right from the website.

While the original creators or Popcorn Time are hard at work on Project Butter, a Popcorn Time derived service only providing non-copyrighted content, it will be interesting to see how that unfolds compared to the new release of Popcorn Time Online. It is anyone’s guess how long this rendition of the service will remain available and whether the MPAA will truly be able to shut it down due to its open source nature. For those avid users of the original, this new service will surely be appreciated, but the legal battle surrounding such services will definitely rage on.

The Pirate Bay’s “Hydra” Has Been Decapitated

This time last year, The Pirate Bay was all but dead; the Swedish datacentre that hosted the notorious torrent site had been raided by police in December 2014, leaving it offline for many weeks. Days later, shortly before Christmas, the site’s administrators teased the imminent return of The Pirate Bay.

After the site did rise from the ashes using its original domain at the end of January 2015, it implemented a strategy in May which it described as a “Hydra”: instead of a single domain supported by proxies, The Pirate Bay now had six domain names, .GS, .LA, .VG, .AM, .MN, and .GD. The six TLDs were a show of defiance against those who tried to down the infamous site’s .SE domain; cut of one head and six more sprung up its place.

Over the last few months, those six domains were slowly chipped away during the last half of 2015. Now, ThePirateBay.LA, .GD, .MN, and .VG domains have been suspended by their registrar, forcing the site’s administrators to revert back to the original .SE and .ORG TLDs.

While the above five domains remain active, ThePirateBay.LA is vulnerable after being classified as clienthold, according to TorrentFreak. The Hydra’s six heads have been decapitated. Will we get a new host of domain names to take their place?

EA, Nintendo, Playstation, and Ubisoft Launch Attack on KickAss Torrents

The Entertainment Software Association (ESA), which has EA, Nintendo, Playstation, and Ubisoft as its members, has reported a number of torrent sites to the US government, specifically highlighting popular site KickAss Torrents as the largest portal for video game piracy.

In a letter the ESA wrote to the US Director of Intellectual Property and Innovation, it says, “we regard the “Notorious Markets” out-of-cycle review as an important opportunity to shed light on markets that facilitate piracy or counterfeiting of industry products and services.”

“The ‘Kickass Torrents’ torrent indexing site (kickass.to) has changed domains repeatedly in the recent past in response to enforcement efforts, and is currently accessible at the domain ‘kat.cr’,”the letter continues. “It is the most well-trafficked torrent indexing site in the world, and as its Alexa ranking indicates, one of the most popular websites of any kind on the Internet.”

The ESA says that it recognises that taking down a website is not an effective solution to the problem, implicitly suggesting that harsher actions be taken, and expresses its concern over the proliferation of  “pirate servers” that target subscription-based game sites.

“When users are diverted to play on such servers, game publishers are not able to monetize their online games as described above and thus face reduced opportunities to recoup their investment in creating the online game,” the ESA adds.

By the end of the year, the US Trade Representative will collate submissions from the ESA, MPAA, and RIAA to form a master list of piracy sites, with global action planned to follow.

Thank you TorrentFreak for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Softpedia.

The Pirate Bay Founder Freed From Prison After Three Years

The founder of infamous torrent site The Pirate Bay, Gottfrid Svartholm, has been freed from prison after three years. Svartholm, also known by his nickname Anakata, served his prison time in both Sweden and Denmark on charges related to his activities with The Pirate Bay, but is now a free man. Supporters have long campaigned for Svartholm to be released.

While Svartholm and his family have, understandably, refrained from making an official statement, his mother confirmed Anakata’s release via Twitter:

In 2011, Svartholm was sentenced to one year in prison by Stockholm District Court for his activities related to The Pirate Bay, but he fled to Cambodia. A year later, he was arrested in Cambodia and transferred to Sweden to serve his prison sentence. After serving his sentence, he was then prosecuted for hacking and fraud, charges which Svartholm has always strenuously denied, winning his subsequent appeal in part and was cleared of hacking Nordea Bank.

While serving his second prison sentence in Sweden, Danish authorities launched further legal action against Svartholm in 2013, charging him with compromising the mainframe of IT firm CSC. Svartholm again denied the charges, but was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison and extradited to Denmark to serve his time. Svartholm lost his appeal, but continued to fight against the charge.

Svartholm has been released from prison early for good behaviour during his sentence.

Thank you TorrentFreak for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Al Jazeera.

Anti-Blocking Website More Popular Than Spotify and Skype in the UK

While the UK High Court has been making busywork of blocking access to a myriad of popular torrent sites via the country’s ISPs, users apathetic to the restrictions have been using the sites anyway via the popular proxy site Unblocked.pw. Torrent fans have flocked to the site, using it to circumvent the token efforts of the UK justice establishment to control internet piracy, so much so that Unblocked.pw has become the 192nd most popular site in the country, placing it ahead of Spotify and Skype.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron loves a good block. Only this week, he was threatening to ban internet porn, because “Won’t somebody please think of the children?”. He said:

“Our one nation government is working hard to make the internet a safer place for children, the next step in this campaign is to curb access to harmful pornographic content which is currently far too widely available. I want to see age restrictions put into place or these websites will face being shut down.”

What is a “one nation government,” anyway? How is that any different from a regular government? Or, is Cameron slyly telling Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland that they don’t really count? In any case, the threat to take away the country’s porn is a deep cut, considering Pornhub, XHamster, Xvideos, and RedTube all feature within the top-100 sites in the UK, with TubeCup and YouPorn close behind:

  • Pornhub (#41)
  • XHamster (#44)
  • Xvideos (#47)
  • RedTube (#92)
  • TubeCup (#105)
  • YouPorn (#122)

At No. 44, PornHub is more popular than Netflix, even. But it was the position of Unblocked.pw that was most surprising, positioned at #192. The site, which is less than a year old, is already more popular than popular IM service Skype (#195) and music streaming site Spotify (#194).

Fighting censorship has been the primary motivation behind running Unblocked,” the site’s admin told TorrentFreak. “It’s to show that whatever regulators do to censor things online, there will always be a way around it. The initial motivation came from when The Pirate Bay was blocked in the Netherlands. We set up Proxybay.co to maintain a list of Pirate Bay proxy sites and show people how to create their own.”

If porn sites were to go the same way as torrent sites, expect to see the saucy equivalent of Unblocked.pw hit the top-200 sites in the UK soon after.

Thank you TorrentFreak for providing us with this information.

Google Chrome Starts Blocking Torrent Sites

Since yesterday, Google’s Chrome browser has begun blocking torrent websites, including Torrentz, ExtraTorent, RARBG, and the popular KickAss Torrents, flagging them as containing “harmful programs”.

When users attempt to visit the URL, a red banner bars access, warning that “The site ahead contains harmful programs,” and that “Attackers on [URL] might attempt to trick you into installing programs that harm your browsing experience (for example, by changing your homepage or showing extra ads on sites you visit).”

The owners of the websites have no idea why they have been flagged, other than the suspicion that the controversial sites have been deliberately censored, a number of which have spoken to TorrentFreak. RARBG’s operator told the site, “I hope Google comes to its senses and actually allows webmasters to see what the issue is in their webmasters tools.”

The team from ExtraTorrent were equally confused, saying, “There is no malicious software and you are still able to load ExtraTorrent in Mozilla Firefox, Opera, Chromium and other browsers. We’ll contact Google to resolve the issue shortly.”

Chrome users that wish to bypass the message when accessing torrent sites can disable the browser’s malware warnings.

Google has refused to comment, instead directing queries to a recent blog post.

Recent reports suggest that a similar restriction of access to torrent sites has started to occur with Mozilla’s Firefox browser, too.

Thank you TorrentFreak for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia.

EZTV Closed After Hostile Takeover

TV torrent distribution group EZTV has been forced to close after the site domain was seized by scammers in what has been described as a “hostile takeover”. EZTV was born out of the ashes TVTorrents.tv and btefnet after they were taken down via lawsuit in 2005 and has been a popular source of the latest TV show torrents ever since.

The groups domain, however, was put under threat earlier this year after it was discovered that the site’s Whois information was incorrect. The domain was put up for auction again by the host, and a group of scammers posing as EZTV – who went so far as to register the UK company EZCloud LIMITED, the same company name used by EZTV, to legitimise their claim – bought the site name.

The scammers, posing as the real EZTV, were then able to take control of another related domain, EZTV.se, through the EuroDNS registrar.  EZTV owner NovaKing tried to prevent the seizure of his domains by changing the registrar, but was told that he would have to take the matter to court. Once the scammers took EZTV.se, they were granted access to NovaKing’s registrar account, for which they reset the passwords, locking NovaKing and other EZTV staff out. They were then able to take the EZTV.ch domain, which completed their hostile takeover.

NovaKing has since decided to retire the site, and wants to warn others that EZTV is no longer legitimate. The Pirate Bay, though still carrying EZTV torrents, warns that the domain is no longer to be trusted, whereas KickAss Torrents has banned all EZTV torrents.

Thank you Torrent Freak for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Zurb.

Pirate Bay Co-Founder Peter Sunde: “F#@$ the Pirate Movement”

The co-founder of the world’s most notorious torrent site, The Pirate Bay, says that he regrets adopting the word “pirate” and that he couldn’t “give a flying f#@$” about the pirate movement, in an op-ed piece on TorrentFreak.

In response to the idea that the “pirate movement” is dead, Sunde says, “Well, I for one don’t give a flying f#@$.” He explains, “I don’t care if the “pirate movement” lives, exists or whatever. I only care about the causes. Too much focus is put on the form, liveliness and influence of groups, organizations and nostalgic icons.”

Sunde goes on to admit that he wishes that he’d avoided the word ‘pirate’ when setting up  The Pirate Bay. He said, Give up the idea of pirates being cool. They’re not. My biggest regret in my part in all of this was to use the word pirate. Not even Johnny Depp can make pirates look cool – and he manages to make cocaine-dealers look awesome. Pirates are awful.”

He then concedes his naivety in adopting a title associated with abhorrent behaviour, saying, “And today’s pirates – the ones in Somalia – also lost their battles. Good! So let’s get rid of this stupid culture of having a stupid culture.”

But Sunde claims that the principles behind the idea still resonate with him: “In the essence of what a pirate means today – I’m talking the political pirate – I’m all in. But I’m also so much more and I hope you guys are as well. I hope you care about the bigger picture. The “pirate movement” does not have space for that though.”

In summary, he asks activists to keep fighting, but to stop getting bogged down by terminology, banners, and labels, advising “pirates” to evolve, and not be “stuck in 2005”. He concludes, “Ignite, re-ignite, burn and ignite again. Pyromania is creative.”

Source: TorrentFreak

The Pirate Bay Applies for .PIRATE Domain Name Registry

As a response to the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the Record Industry Association of America (RIAA) applying pressure on the domain name industry, Reservella Ltd., the parent company of The Pirate Bay, has applied to register the generic top-level domain (gTLD) extension .PIRATE.

The move is hoped to facilitate The Pirate Bay bypassing the current and projected domain registry regulations that have impeded the torrent side since its inception.

Winston, a spokesperson for The Pirate Bay, told TorrentFreak, “We can no longer trust third party services and registries, who are under immense pressure from the copyright lobby. So we decided to apply for our very own gTLD and be a true Pirate registry.”

The Pirate Bay hopes that the registration proposal, which is being processed by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), will help create a new pirate movement, and, if approved, the .PIRATE domains will be made free and open to anyone who wants to adopt one.

“The ultimate goal is to create a true PIRATE hydra. This means that we will allow other sites to register .PIRATE domain names too. Staying true to our pirate roots the domains can be registered anonymously without charge,” Winston said.

He added, “Things are looking good so far, but we’re not there yet. Fingers crossed. Let’s hope nothing foolish happens.”

Source: TorrentFreak

KickassTorrents Domain Seized; Site Taken Down

Popular torrent site KickassTorrents (KAT) has had its Somalian kickass.so domain seized and the site is currently down. KickassTorrents had over one million unique visitors a day, making it the most popular torrent site in the world, more so than The Pirate Bay.

Since The Pirate Bay was taken down at the end of last year, it was only a matter of time before law enforcement turned its attention to the biggest copyright infringers on the internet. KAT has moved domain many times in the past in an attempt to protect itself from legal takedowns, and the Somalia domain was thought to be a safe haven.

As of Monday morning, kickasstorrents.so was listed as ‘BANNED’.

According to TorrentFreak, the KAT team are to revert back to the older kickass.to domain soon.

Source: TorrentFreak

Strongest Sign Yet That The Pirate Bay Return is Imminent

The new front page of The Pirate Bay homepage, thepiratebay.se, is showing its strongest indication yet the site is primed for resurrection. Below the countdown that has been a fixture since December 2014, not long after the site was taken down after Swedish police raided the site’s servers, is the familiar Pirate Search function.

The search bar and its buttons are just for show for now, but their presence suggests that they should be functional at some point in the future. The Pirate Bay is expected to make a full return on 1st February.

Source: BGR

Pirate Bay Code Decrypted by reddit User, Finds Arnold Schwarzenegger “I’ll Be Back” Video

Infamous torrent site The Pirate Bay went down on 9th December last year after a police raid on its Swedish data centre. After an absence of around a week, The Pirate Bay’s domain became accessible again, but only displaying a background image, a flip clock, now counting down to 1st February, and a mysterious code at the foot of the page. Now that code has been cracked, by reddit user dafky2000, revealing a tongue-in-cheek message courtesy of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The code string was encrypted using Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) and, when decoded, looks like this:

00000000 68 74 74 70 73 3a 2f 2f 77 77 77 2e 79 6f 75 74 |https://www.yout|
00000010 75 62 65 2e 63 6f 6d 2f 77 61 74 63 68 3f 76 3d |ube.com/watch?v=|
00000020 2d 59 45 47 39 44 67 52 48 68 41 00 00 00 00 00 |-YEG9DgRHhA…..|

Piece together the URL fragments, and the following video, an Arnold Schwarzenegger “I’ll Be Back” supercut,  is the result:

All available evidence – “I’ll Be Back” video included – suggests that The Pirate Bay could be returning on 1st February. We don’t have too long to wait before we find out.

Source: Venturebeat

Thom Yorke May Have Earned up to $20m From BitTorrent Downloads in 2014

Last year, Thom Yorke, lead singer of Radiohead, released his second solo album as a digital download through BitTorrent, and figures suggest he could have made up to $20 million from the endeavour.

Yorke released Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes as a BitTorrent Bundle, offering a digital download of the album for $6. The Bundle also contained an additional song and music video, both available for free, independent of the album. Reports say that there were 4.4 million downloads from the Bundle, but it is unclear as to whether that figure relates to album purchases or downloads of the free content.

If the in-excess of 4 million downloads were $6 album sales, that would equate to over $20 million in total. Regardless, Thom Yorke has earned the distinction of being the most downloaded artist of 2014.

Source: Techspot

Founder of IsoHunt Thinks Bitcoin Can Kill Piracy

Gary Fung, the original founder of torrent tracking site IsoHunt – long since closed, then resurrected by others – believes that Bitcoin microtransactions could eventually kill online piracy.

Fung, who left IsoHunt after its initial closure back in 2013, told TorrentFreak, “Technologically, I envision studios and other media companies creating open APIs and platforms so new innovative streaming services can be developed on top. […] That would solve the studio’s fear of single players like Netflix dominating media distribution and eventually dictating terms in the industry.”

In the future, Fung see a model in which Bitcoin becomes the universal online currency for online media consumption, saying, “Imagine when everyone can watch and listen to anything, anytime, anywhere, with mere cents, automatically and continuously deducted from your Bitcoin wallet.”

“Here’s my tip to industry associations like the MPAA and RIAA for continued relevance in this Internet age, possibly for everyone’s benefits,” Fung said. “Become standards bodies for programmatic APIs over media rights, metadata and micro-transaction details. Record labels and movie/tv studios can use these standards to make their own works available for streaming and to accept payments from third parties.”

Source: KitGuru

The Pirate Bay Admits it Doesn’t Know if it Will Return

Five days after torrent site The Pirate Bay was taken down by a police raid in Sweden, a member of TPB crew has spoken about the future of the site in an exclusive interview with TorrentFreak.

Mr 10100100000, an anonymous member of the TPB crew, told TorrentFreak over an encrypted channel, “We were not that surprised by the raid. That is something that is a part of this game. We couldn’t care less really. We have however taken this opportunity to give ourselves a break. How long are we supposed to keep going? To what end? We were a bit curious to see how the public would react.” When asked if The Pirate Bay will return, Mr 10100100000 was non-committal, saying, “We don’t know yet. But if and when we do, it’ll be with a bang.”

Source: TorrentFreak

Torrent Traffic Remains the Same, Despite The Pirate Bay Closure

The Pirate Bay has been offline for four days after Swedish police raided its servers, but that doesn’t seem to have made any kind of dent in the number of illegal downloads. According to anti-piracy firm Excipio, torrent traffic is now at the same rate as it was just before The Pirate Bay closed.

On 8th December, 101.5 million IP addresses were recorded as downloading torrents of all kinds, including video, audio, games, and software. On 9th December, the date of the raid on The Pirate Bay, that traffic dropped to 99 million IPs. Over the following two days it dipped to a low of 95 million. But, by Friday, 12th December, torrent traffic had hit 100.2 million, just above the daily average of 99.9 million, recorded since 1st November this year.

It seems that the other established torrent sites, such as Kickass Torrents and isoHunt have picked up former Pirate Bay users. Torrenters have not deterred, just redirected.

Source: Yahoo

Unreleased Sony Movies Leaked to Torrent Sites Following Hack

Sony Pictures has had a pretty bad week. First a massive hack, then rumours that North Korea could be involved, now the news that four high quality copies of Sony Pictures’ latest movies, most of them unreleased, have been leaked on the web.

Copies of ‘Annie’, ‘Mr Turner’, ‘Fury’, and ‘Still Alice’ have been found on Torrent sites such as The Pirate Bay. ‘Fury’ is already the second most downloaded movie on that very site.

The movies are said to be watermarked and are of DVD quality, suggesting that they could have only come from an internal source. The Verge points out that they are very probably ripped from the copies delivered to “awards judges” and from copies used for other promotional reasons.

Sony still hasn’t officially commented on the hack itself, other than that they’ve received a “system interruption” that they’re “working diligently to resolve”. There’s not much more information from them regarding this leak either, releasing the statement:

“The theft of Sony Pictures Entertainment content is a criminal matter, and we are working closely with law enforcement to address it.”

Source: The Verge

White House Wants to Make Illegal Downloads a Felony Offense

The White House has weighed in on the issue of media copyright infringement online, asserting that illegal downloads should be made a felony offense. Alex Niejelow, Chief of Staff to the US Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator and National Security Council’s Head of Cybersecurity Policy, said in a statement, “we believe that federal criminal law should be modernized to include felony criminal penalties for those who engage in large-scale streaming of illegal, infringing content in the same way laws already on the books do for reproduction and distribution of infringing content.”

The White House affirmed its position on the matter in response to two online petitions calling for more leniency in intellectual property laws, citing the failed Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA) and Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) as dangerously restrictive.

Source: The Hill