Pirate Party Fights Norweigian Pirate Bay Blockade with Uncensored DNS

Norway is the latest country to block access to The Pirate Bay, but the country’s own Pirate Party is fighting back by launching their own public, uncensored, DNS.Last week, a local court ordered access to The Pirate Bay blocked in the country. The blo…



Norway is the latest country to block access to The Pirate Bay, but the country's own Pirate Party is fighting back by launching their own public, uncensored, DNS.

Last week, a local court ordered access to The Pirate Bay blocked in the country. The block will on the DNS level, by intercepting requests for the Pirate Bay domain names and then preventing these requests from being fulfilled.

A simple work-around would be to switch to an uncensored, public DNS server. Google, for example, offers public DNS servers that are free to use for anyone. The Norwegian Pirate Party is also coming to the rescue of Norwegians with their own public, uncensored DNS servers.

The Pirate Party DNS server will have minimal logging to protect the privacy of users, and it also supports additional top level domain names, .geek and .pirate.

The Pirate Party's co-chairman Øystein Middelthun told TorrentFreak that protesting the blockade is not just about piracy, but about making a general point on the dangers of censorship.

"The blocking order is yet another sad step down the road towards the dystopic world imagined by George Orwell. At the same time it achieves absolutely nothing of what the plaintiffs are hoping for," Middelthun told TF.

"The dangerous thing about it is that it sets a precedent. It is easy to imagine how the scope could be expanded to include other websites somehow considered immoral, and while the current technical implementation is easy to circumvent, hardening it is equally easy once society has accepted censorship in the first place," says Middelthun.

The Pirate Party UK ran into legal problems when it tried to launch its own Pirate Bay proxy, but Middelthun also doesn't expect any legal issues with their public DNS solution.

"Running a public DNS service is fully legal, so we do not expect any legal trouble. A scenario to consider is if the copyright industry, or surveillance hungry politicians, started pushing for strictly regulating DNS- and/or VPN-services," Middelthun explains.

Netflix 4K Content Ripped, Uploaded Online

Pirates have apparently broken the copy protection employed to protect Netflix 4K streams, and have uploaded a copy of the 2160p stream in torrent form.The first episode of hit TV series Breaking Bad, in 4K resolution, has been uploaded to private trac…



Pirates have apparently broken the copy protection employed to protect Netflix 4K streams, and have uploaded a copy of the 2160p stream in torrent form.

The first episode of hit TV series Breaking Bad, in 4K resolution, has been uploaded to private trackers by the piracy group iON. Coming in at a massive 17GB, comments for the file indicate it was ripped from Netflix's UHD stream via HDMI using a "lossless capture card".

This signals the first time Netflix's UHD stream has been ripped, which up until this point has been effectively protected by a series of copy protection mechanisms. Primarily, these streams are protected by from HDMI ripping by HDCP 2.2, which before this release was not known to be broken. The streams also features identifying watermarks which supposedly allows rights-holders to locate the user whose Netflix account was used to rip the stream (it is unknown whether pirates have successfully removed the watermarking information).

Thanks to these copy protection mechanism, commercial 4K content still isn't particularly prevalent on torrent networks. If piracy groups have indeed found a way to capture 4K streams via HDMI, then this could mean bad news for rights-holders, particularly with 4K movies being released on Ultra HD Blu-ray discs later this year.

Torrent news website TorrentFreak contacted Netflix and asked if the company was aware of the leak.

"Piracy is a global problem. We, like others content providers, are actively working on ways to protect content featured on our site," a Netflix spokesperson told TF.

RIAA Asks BitTorrent Inc to Help Combat Piracy, Hints at Filtering

The RIAA has written a letter to BitTorrent Inc. CEO Eric Klinker, asking the company to do more to stop piracy.BitTorrent Inc, not to be confused with the peer-to-peer, and public domain file transfer protocol BitTorrent, publishes the popular uTorren…



The RIAA has written a letter to BitTorrent Inc. CEO Eric Klinker, asking the company to do more to stop piracy.

BitTorrent Inc, not to be confused with the peer-to-peer, and public domain file transfer protocol BitTorrent, publishes the popular uTorrent client. The company itself invented and developed the BitTorrent protocol, but does not have any control over the files being shared via the protocol (much like how the inventors of the HTTP protocol does not control all web page content), many of which include infringing content.

But the RIAA argues that the uTorrent client, one of the most popular BitTorrent clients available, is responsible for 75% of the "over 1.6 million torrent based infringement of our members' works last year in the US". The RIAA letter, penned by the RIAA's VP for piracy Brad Buckles, also includes other statistics showing the massive level of piracy that occurs on BitTorrent networks.

BitTorrent Inc, however, has always maintained that the company has no control over what is being transferred over the protocol they invented back in 2001, but that there is no infringement occurring on the "BitTorrent ecosystem" they do have control over.


The RIAA concludes the letter with a list of verified hashes of BitTorrent downloads that includes infringing works owned by RIAA members, and mentions setting up a process to share hashes with BitTorrent Inc. This is possible a hint at the RIAA's wish for BitTorrent Inc to start filtering and blocking the sharing of certain files on its uTorrent client, perhaps opening a new battleline in the creative industry's pro-censorship anti-piracy war strategy. 

Responding to the letter, BitTorrent Inc spokesperson Christian Averill told Arstechnica that the RIAA are targeting the wrong people.

"They are barking up the wrong tree, as it seems they were with their approach to CBS last week," says Averill, referring to another letter written by the RIAA regarding YouTube and other video streaming ripping tools published on the CBS owned Download.com. 

"There is a distinction between the BitTorrent protocol and piracy. We do not host, promote, or facilitate copyright infringing content and the protocol, which is in the public domain, is a legal technology," explained Averill.

Cisco to Create New Video Codec to Offer Alternative to 'Expensive' HEVC

Networking giant Cisco has announced plans to create a new open source, royalty free video codec to compete with HEVC, the industry accepted de facto choice for the next generation of video applications.HEVC, or H.265, is already being used by Netflix …



Networking giant Cisco has announced plans to create a new open source, royalty free video codec to compete with HEVC, the industry accepted de facto choice for the next generation of video applications.

HEVC, or H.265, is already being used by Netflix to deliver 4K content, and will be supported by the next generation Ultra HD Blu-ray disc format (to be available to buyers before Christmas). But the proprietary nature of the codec, and the fact that licensing has become increasingly complex for the codec, meant that an royalty free alternative is desperately needed got applications and software that cannot work with HEVC's licensing model.

This exact situation was already an issue with HEVC's predecessor, H.264. The problem is now even worse, according to Cisco, since there are now two distinct patent licensing pools for HEVC, with many license holders not represented in either. What this means that licensing cost for HEVC could be up to sixteen times more expensive than H.264, per unit. To make matters worse, there is no upper limit on yearly costs, meaning that many applications are being priced out of being able to use HEVC.

This is why Cisco has decided to create their own open source, royalty free codec, called Thor. Cisco hopes Thor will find a place within other open source and freely distributed software applications, or within freemium products like Cisco's own WebEx or Cisco Spark, all products precluded from using HEVC based on the codec's current licensing terms.

Cisco says that the work has been going on for some time, but the company felt that now was a good time to reveal to the world its existence. 

"The effort is being staffed by some of the world’s most foremost codec experts, including the legendary Gisle Bjøntegaard and Arild Fuldseth, both of whom have been heavy contributors to prior video codecs. We also hired patent lawyers and consultants familiar with this technology area. We created a new codec development process which would allow us to work through the long list of patents in this space, and continually evolve our codec to work around or avoid those patents," a post on Cisco's official blog read.

To better standardise the codec, Cisco is working with the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) via its NetVC workgroup. The NetVC workgroup, of which Mozilla is also a contributor with their own Daala codec, will work to extract the best elements from inputs from groups like Mozilla and Cisco, with the end goal being to unify these developments into a single codec.

Blu-ray sales stats for the week ending 25th July 2015

The results and analysis for Blu-ray (and DVD) sales for the week ending 25th July 2015 is in. The week’s top selling new release was Wild Horses, but it only managed to get to 11th place on the Blu-ray sales charts (last week’s number one, T…



The results and analysis for Blu-ray (and DVD) sales for the week ending 25th July 2015 is in. The week's top selling new release was Wild Horses, but it only managed to get to 11th place on the Blu-ray sales charts (last week's number one, The Longest Ride, retained top spot for the week).

You can read the rest of the stats and analysis here

United Airlines Inflight Entertainment Requires DRM Install

The inflight entertainment on United Airlines flights may require users to install potentially insecure DRM on their laptops.Most airlines limit inflight entertainment to seatback devices, but on flights without such devices, or if passengers prefer to…



The inflight entertainment on United Airlines flights may require users to install potentially insecure DRM on their laptops.

Most airlines limit inflight entertainment to seatback devices, but on flights without such devices, or if passengers prefer to use their own devices, United Airlines offers them the ability watch a pre-selected list of movies and TV shows on their laptop.

But to the dismay of tech entrepreneur Brian Fitzpatrick, a passenger on a recent United flight, passengers choosing to use their own laptop has to install a third party DRM plug-in first before they are allowed to watch movies such as "Gone Girl" and "Big Hero 6".

As Techdirt investigates, the Panasonic Marlin DRM plug-in required by United is coded using the NPAPI architecture, support of which was phased out in Google's Chrome browser in 2014 because "NPAPI's 90s-era architecture has become a leading cause of hangs, crashes, security incidents, and code complexity".

In addition, passengers have to install the Flash plugin in order to watch the movie. Recently discovered vulnerabilities in the Flash plugin has forced browser makers to drop default support for the plug-in.

The DRM requirement for the inflight entertainment most likely comes at the behest of Hollywood studios, who insists on the implementation of technical measures to protect their content, regardless of how unlikely it is for passengers on a flight to steal movies via the inflight entertainment system.

Blu-ray on the Slide, Lowest Weekly Revenue Since September 2010

Weekly Blu-ray revenue has fallen to its lowest level since September 2010, according to the latest figures released by Home Media Magazine for the US market.The revenue figures for the week ending the 11th July 2015 was only $17.36 million, …



Weekly Blu-ray revenue has fallen to its lowest level since September 2010, according to the latest figures released by Home Media Magazine for the US market.

The revenue figures for the week ending the 11th July 2015 was only $17.36 million, and one has to go back to September 2010 to find a lower figure for Blu-ray sales. 

While weekly Blu-ray revenue is largely determined by that week and recent week's release slate, and the first and second week in July is usually a low point for sales due to Independence Day closures, the Blu-ray revenue figures were still lower than similar "Fourth of July" weeks in the recent past.

The revenue figure was also significantly below the 2015 average, which before the record low week, was at $32.56 million. The 2014 average, up to the same point in the year, was at a higher $38.69 million. 

Notable new releases for the week included the Arnold Schwarzenegger film 'Maggie' and 'Woman in Gold', the former is estimated to have earned less than $200,000 at the US domestic box office.

Weekly Blu-ray market share, the share of Blu-ray sales compared to total disc (Blu-ray and DVD) revenue, also fell to the lowest level since August 2013.

Blu-ray beat te Toshiba's HD DVD format in a much publicized format war to become the de facto HD disc format, but even the format's biggest backer, Sony, has revealed doubt about the format's future. More recently, prominent Blu-ray producers have also blamed studios for poorly marketing and failing to support the format.

Blu-ray sales stats for the week ending 11th July 2015

The results and analysis for Blu-ray (and DVD) sales for the week ending 11th July 2015 is in. A very bad week for Blu-ray, as revenue falls to the lowest level since September 2010. Maggie was the best selling new release for the week.
You can read th…



The results and analysis for Blu-ray (and DVD) sales for the week ending 11th July 2015 is in. A very bad week for Blu-ray, as revenue falls to the lowest level since September 2010. Maggie was the best selling new release for the week.

You can read the rest of the stats and analysis here