Monthly Archives: October 2015

Sobaixar proxy, unblock access

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Domain: sobaixar.com (formerly baixturbo.org)
Registration: Super Privacy Service c/o Dynadot (US)
Hosting Provider: THOR Data Center (Iceland)
Registrar:  Dynadot, LLC
Revenue Sources:  Advertising; premium accounts

This Brazilian blog site in operation since July 2008 is dedicated to distributing infringing music content. It is only available in Portuguese and is very popular in Brazil where it has an Alexa ranking of 2,102. The site has approximately 2.4 million monthly users according to SimilarWeb.

The site is dedicated to international and local music repertoire, including popular American music, as well as books, games, movies and music concerts, and is updated daily with new links. The site has more than 11,500 posts for infringing music content available, organized by music genres, compilations and full discographies.

The site generates its revenue from advertisements and through the sale of premium accounts. The site has more than 53k “likes” on its Facebook page and 5,000 followers on Twitter.  The site provides links to multiple cyberlockers including Uploaded from where the infringing files can be downloaded.

Exvagos proxy, unblock access

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Domain: exvagos.com
Registration: Privacy Protection Service, Inc. (Australia)
Hosting Provider: Mir Telematiki Ltd. (Russia)
Registrar:  publicdomainregistry.com
Revenue Sources:  Advertising, pay-per-install of potential malware.

This site has been in operation for over 7 years and continues to remain popular as pre-release music can be directly downloaded from the site. There are currently over 88,475 music titles on the site, in comparison to 52,000 last year. The site used to be hosted from France by OVH Sarl, but in 2015 the site moved to a new hosting provider located in Russia, MIR TELEMATIKI. The site has a global Alexa ranking of 20,541 and a ranking of 498 in Spain (81.8% of the visitors to the site are from Spain). The site receives in excess of around 45,000 unique users per day.

The site has over a dozen music sections where users can upload and download infringing files. There are normally many links to cyberlockers from where the most popular albums and tracks can be downloaded. By providing multiple links the site ensures this material is always available for download. This site is clearly designed and operated to maximize its role as a distributor of infringing content, and is actively engaged in ensuring that content remains available.

In 2012, the Spanish music industry submitted a complaint to the IPC regarding this site. The case was closed in January 2014 as the site had removed the infringing links detailed in the complaint.

Goear Proxy, unblock access

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Domain: goear.com
Registration: Goear BV, Amsterdam, NL
Hosting Provider: Serverius Holding B.V. (Netherlands)
Registrar:  Hosting Concepts B.V.
Revenue Sources:  Advertising

Goear is an unlicensed streaming website hosted from Holland by Serverious Holding. The site offers hundreds of thousands of music files for users to stream and download. Currently the site has more than 450,000 files available (approx. 50,000 more than last year). The site is very important for both Spanish and Latin American users, but even more so for Latin America in 2015 following the closure of Grooveshark in May 2015. According to Alexa, the site has a global ranking of 33,852 and ranks 3,744 in Spain, (16.9% of the visitors to the site are in Spain). The site receives in excess of 50,000 unique users per day.

Many of the pages on the site display advertising banners which generate revenue for the site. Goear also uses social networks such as Twitter and Facebook. Previously an Android app for the site was available on the Google Play store but this was removed on referral to Google. However, the iOS app remains available on the Apple store.

To use the website, a user simply needs to type in the artist or album name they want to listen to in the search box following which they are redirected to a page from where they can stream the track. Rights holders have submitted take down requests but any action taken is ineffective and slow.
As with Bajui, in 2012 the Spanish music industry submitted a complaint to the IPC regarding this site. In 2013, the IPC held that the site had infringed the intellectual property in 10 albums. Goear’s lawyer filed an appeal at the National High Court regarding the IPC’s decision to end the administrative procedure.  The National High Court dismissed the appeal and the Supreme Court has recently disqualified this case. In parallel, in March 2014, the Central Administrative Court issued a decision refusing to allow the ISP for the website Goear.com to suspend its service to the site. The judge held that such disruption to the site was not proportionate as the IPC had only demonstrated that 34 out of the 6,833 files were still on the site following the previous administrative decision. AGEDI subsequently appealed the decision before the Appeal Central Court of Administrative Litigation and the appeal was upheld. In January 2015, the Madrid High court found that the site was liable for direct copyright infringements and that it could not benefit from safe harbour protection under the E-Commerce law.

On 7 September 2015, the IPC requested that the site remove approximately 100,000 URLs. The site has posted the letter they received to their site. In the event of non-compliance with the removal order, the relevant internet service providers will be required to suspend access to the site.

Bajui proxy, unblock access

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Domain: bajui.com
Registration: Whois Privacy Protection Service, Inc., Kirkland, WA (US)
Hosting Provider: ITL Company (Ukraine)
Registrar: eNom, Inc.
Revenue Sources:  Advertising

Bajui is part of grupoet.com, which operates unlicensed services including music, movies, series and pornography. The site has been popular for the last 6 years and pre-release music can be downloaded directly from the site. There are currently over 37,745 music titles on the site. The site is supported by revenue generated by advertising on the site. According to Alexa, this website has a global ranking of 22,626 and ranks 550 in Spain (65.7% of the visitors to the site are from Spain). The site receives in excess of 54,000 unique users per day (over 120,000 page views).

There are typically many links to cyberlockers from where the most popular albums and tracks can be downloaded. It is also appears that 6 to 7 users are uploading most of the links. The site appears to monitor the status of links, as once links are removed from cyberlockers they are replaced with new ones, ensuring the material is always available to download.

The album art is also available on the site. This site is clearly designed and operated to maximize its role as a distributor of infringing content, and is actively engaged in ensuring that content remains available. While there are mechanisms for securing takedowns of specific links, that is an inadequate and ineffective “remedy” for a site that is engaged in wilful distribution of known infringing materials.

The Law on Sustainable Economy (“Sinde Law”) came into effect in Spain on 1 March 2012. The Sinde law provides for an expedited procedure for the removal of illegal content from websites or for blocking access to illegal services. The Spanish music industry (Promusicae) submitted a complaint to the Intellectual Property Commission (“IPC”) regarding this site but the case was closed last year as the specific links included in the complaint had been removed from the site.

Israbox proxy, unblock access

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Domain: israbox.info, (formerly israbox.com, israbox.org, israbox.net)
Registration: Robert Cheshir, IsraBox LTD, Stockholm, Sweden
Hosting Provider: Portlane Ab (Sweden)
Registrars:  PublicDomainRegistry.com; Regtime ltd; Go Canada Domains LLC
Revenue Sources:  Advertising, malware install programs, revenue sharing with redirects to third party sites.

Israbox provides users with download access to a broad range of commercially available music. The homepage lists the Top Albums and also notes “you can download free music albums. We present new items of music and the hot hits for information.”  On the homepage, the user is presented with details regarding various albums including artist name, album title, year of release, record label, genre, and quality of the download, total time and total size of the file. The site organizes content behind menu tabs for Rock, Pop, Folk, Country, Soul and other genres making it easy for users to browse through offerings.  The site also provides search capability to to take users to specific artists or titles.  The files themselves are stored on various cyberlocker sites and upon chosing material to download, the user is redirected to the download page of a locker site.

Israbox has a current global Alexa ranking of 7,825.  SimilarWeb traffic data shows the site averaging 5.6 million visits a month.

Albumkings proxy, unblock access

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Domain: Albumkings.co (formerly albumkings.net)
Registration: Ivan Ivanov, Moscow, Russia
Hosting Provider:  THORDC-AS THOR Data Center, Iceland
Registrar:  eNom, Inc.; TLD Registrar Solutions Ltd.
Revenue Sources:  Advertising, malware install programs, revenue sharing with popunder redirects to third party sites, and likely revenue sharing with cyberlocker sites where files are hosted.

Albumkings is a site that provides unauthorized access to thousands of full albums and tens of thousands of individual tracks for free streaming and downloading.  The site does not host the content, rather the operators upload content to various cyberlockers around the world.  When particular files are removed from the locker services pursuant to DMCA notices,  popular files are immediately re-uploaded to ensure they remain available through the Albumkings website.  The site ensures that  every popular new release is available.  The site neatly organizes albums by genre offering access to large libraries of R&B, Rap, Country, Rock, Pop music.  The site also offers a section on upcoming releases and advising users of the official release date along with a prediction of when the new album will be available on the site.

The site has huge user base with a global Alexa ranking of 33,159.  SimilarWeb data shows that the site is attracting in excess of 3 million visits a month, with 52% of that traffic coming from the U.S.

im1music proxy, unblock access

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Domain: im1music.co
Registration: Whois Privacy Protection Service, Inc., Kirkland, WA (US)
Hosting Provider:  Delta Softmedia Ltd (Bulgaria)
Registrar:  eNom, Inc.
Revenue Sources:  Advertising, malware install programs, revenue sharing with redirects to third party sites.

This is a new service in the audiocastle, viperial family of infringing sites.  It offers the same services and same content from the same sources as its sister sites.  The new im1music site already has a global Alexa ranking of 51,735 and SimilarWeb is reporting the site is averaging 1.1 million site visits a month.

Viperial proxy, unblock access

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Domain: viperial.me (formerly viperial.com, viperial.co)
Registration: Ivan Ivanov, Moscow, Russia
Hosting Provider:  Delta Softmedia Ltd (Bulgaria)
Registrar:  eNom, Inc.
Revenue Sources:  Advertising, malware install programs, revenue sharing with redirects to third party sites.

Viperial operates from the same IP address as audiocastle (above) and a new service im1music.co that came on line in April of 2015.  All three sites operate in much the same manner.  Their lists of albums and tracks available for streaming and download are almost identical and they all store the files on dopefile.com—frequently linking to the exact same URLs.  The music it offers includes not only recently released and popular music but also albums not yet commercially released.  As in the case of Audiocastle, viperial professes to honor copyright owners’ requests to remove material, but these requests have no practical effect as the content is constantly reposted.  The RIAA has sent nearly 160,000 URLs for removal to viperial, and the Google Transparency Report documents the removal of over 270,000 viperial search results from their index.  The movement from a .com to a .co to the current .me domains appear calculated to frustrate the demotion effect resulting from the reporting of URLs on viperial to Google.  Finally, like audiocastle, files available through viperial were made available through sharebeast.com until that site was seized by the Justice Department, and all file were moved to dopefile.com

Viperial has a global Alexa ranking of 27,685.   SimilarWeb traffic data show that the site is averaging 4.7 million visits a month with 60% of that traffic coming from the United States.

Audiocastle proxy, unblock access

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Domain: stafaband.info (formerly audiocastle.net, audiocastle.co)
Registration: Whois Privacy Protection Service, Inc., Kirkland, WA (US)
Hosting Provider:  Delta Softmedia Ltd (Bulgaria)
Registrar:  eNom, Inc.
Revenue Sources:  Advertising, malware install programs, revenue sharing with redirects to third party sites.

Audiocastle characterizes itself as an urban music site that is updated daily with the hottest urban music, videos, and albums. The home page also provides a telling disclaimer that states “We do not claim any of the materials that we upload and any copyright infringement complaints will be executed immediately! It is our policy to honor all take-down requests!”  The operators acknowledge that they upload the content and thus are direct infringers of copyrighted works.  Honoring takedown requests does not absolve them of liability.  Moreover, it is clear they simply don’t “honor” takedown notices as anything that is removed is simply reuploaded to ensure the files remain available through the site.  Until recently the operators of the site uploaded the infringing files to a hosting site Sharebeast.com.  When that site was seized by the Justice Department last month, and all of their files became unavailable, the site simply moved their files to a new service, dopefile.com to ensure that downloads would remain available to users.

The RIAA has sent the site over 50,000 infringing URLs for removal but files remain available.  The Google Transparency Report reveals that Google has removed just over 146,000 infringing audiocastle URLs from its search index.  The jumping from audiocastle.net to audiocastle.co and now audiocastle.me domain names is likely in response to Google’s demotion of the domain in search results.  Each time one of their domains is demoted from the top search results, the site is able to quickly reappear in the top search results simply by registering audiocastle with a new top level domain.

Audiocastle has a global Alexa ranking of 23,449.   According to SimilarWeb traffic data, the site is averaging 7 million visits a month with 55% of that traffic coming from the United States.

Stafaband proxy, unblock access

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Domain: stafaband.info
Registration: Fatra Dhinata, Exez Entertainment, Bandung, Jawa Barat, Indonesia
Operator: Fatra Dhinata, Exez Entertainment (Indonesia)
Hosting Provider:  LeaseWeb USA (US)
Revenue Sources:  Advertising, malware install programs

Stafaband is an unlicensed service providing free on-demand streaming and downloads of a vast catalogue of popular music. On its home page it welcomes users and boasts “On this website you can download free music, play and listen audio songs for free and no Registration!”  The site’s home page offers all of the latest albums under a section entitled “new albums 2015” using the official album art, and provides preset playlists under such categories  as  “Best Rock” organized by decade going back to the 50’s, and “Best Country.”  The site purports to respect copyright laws, and offers an email address for reporting infringing links.  However, active links are always available to the vast array of offerings, despite the fact that the RIAA alone has notified the site of nearly 200,000 infringing URLs and the Google Transparency Report shows that copyright owners have sought the removal of just over 3.7 million infringing URLs.  After touting itself as a source for free music in its banner headline, the site disingenuously advises users behind an inconspicuous “disclaimer” tab that users should delete files from their computer after listening, warning that if they don’t delete them “you’ll break copyright protection laws.”  Despite this, it knowingly offers not only currently released, popular music but also albums that have not yet been commercially released (i.e. pre-release music).

Stafaband has a global Alexa ranking of 10,311.  According to SimilarWeb traffic data, the site is averaging 7.4 million visits a month with the majority of traffic coming from Indonesia and the United States.   Stafaband has been blocked in the U.K. by court order.

Itemvn Proxy, unblock access

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Domain: Itemvn.com
Registration: Domains By Proxy (US)
Operator: Nguyen Bui, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Hosting Provider:  M247 Ltd, (Romania)
Registrar:  GoDaddy.com, LLC
Revenue Sources:  Advertising, malware install programs, and revenue sharing with popunder redirects to third party sites.

Itemvn is an unlicensed music service that makes an enormous catalogue of popular music available for free streaming and download.   The site is entirely in English and there are thousands of albums and tens of thousands of individual tracks available to users.  In addition to a general search capability, the site neatly organizes albums under categories like “Most Popular,” “Hot Artists,” “Billboard Hot 100.”  The albums and singles are presented along with other materials like the official album art and song lyrics. Unlike many other download sites of this nature, itemvn hosts the content itself.  While the site purports to allow users to upload content, the most popular files are tagged as uploaded by itemvn itself.  Itemvn has a global Alexa ranking of 30,057.  SimilarWeb traffic data show the sites averages 5.4 million visits a month with 40% of that traffic coming from the United States. The site does not provide any data on how many downloads are taking place, but it does provide streaming counts.  One popular track is shown as having been streamed more than 700,000 times

vKontakte proxy, unblock access

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Domain: vk.com

Registration Information: Domains By Proxy (US)

Site Operator: vKontakte, Ltd, St. Petersburg, Russia

Hosting Provider: vKontakte, Ltd, St. Petersburg, Russia

Registrar: GoDaddy.com, LLC

Revenue Sources: Advertising

vKontakte is the most popular online social network in Russia and is also available to a wider international audience in many languages including English.  It has in excess of 80 million registered users. Web monitoring companies report that 35 million unique Russian users visit the site every month. Alexa ranks the site as the 20th most popular site worldwide and the 2nd most popular site in Russia. According to public reports, London-listed Russian internet company, Mail.ru is the sole owner of the company.  

The site’s music functionality enables users to upload and share music and video files via profile pages, which include hundreds of thousands of unlicensed copyright works.  Its dedicated music service enables all other members of VK to search for and instantly stream infringing content uploaded by any other user, giving VK an unfair competitive edge over other social networks that do not offer free access to unlicensed material, as well as over licensed music platforms.   

vKontakte’s ongoing facilitation of piracy causes very substantial damage.  First, artists and record companies are seeing virtually their entire repertoire made available to the public without permission or payment.  Second, the infringements give vKontakte an unfair advantage over the 14 licensed music services in Russia, such as iTunes, Google Music, Deezer Trava.ru (Megafon) and Yandex. Music, which pay for the music they use, greatly undermining the market penetration of licensed services in the woefully underperforming Russian market.  Third, it also causes unfair competition to legitimate services outside of Russia to the extent users outside of Russia turn to the mobile apps connected to the service rather than legitimate sources to stream or download our members’ music.

At least two courts in Russia have found vKontakte Ltd. responsible for copyright infringement of sound recordings. First, in a copyright infringement litigation brought by Russian record label Gala Records against vKontakte Ltd, the courts found that the site’s operators had failed to take reasonable measures in response to notices from copyright owners, and ordered some limited compensation for infringements of specific repertoire.  Second, in an infringement proceeding brought by Sony Music Russia, Universal Music Russia and Warner Music UK Limited, the court of first instance handed down decisions ‎in the Universal and Warner cases on 28 September 2015, requiring vKontakte to implement effective technical measures to prevent Warner and Universal’s sound recordings from being uploaded to vKontakte. At the time of writing the court had only given a brief oral judgment, with written judgment to follow.