Jump to content
News Ticker
  • ThePlace, TheGeeks Invites available for sell! Message Thanos!
  • Empornium | Cinemageddon | Redacted | Pornbay | BeyondHD & many trackers Invites Available! Message Thanos!
  • Free IPtorrents & Bitspyder invite on Member Shop.


  • Content Count

  • Points

  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won

  • Points

    329,550 [ Donate ]
  • Feedback


Everything posted by Lumin

  1. A new complaint, filed at the U.S. Copyright Claims Board, accuses sports network ESPN of using a viral video without permission. The clip, in which Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti shared a piece of chewing gum with a fan, should have been licensed instead. A second complaint accuses sports broadcaster beIN of the same, with both demanding a relatively modest damages amount. Viral videos are big business. Therefore it’s no surprise that specialized companies emerged to help the lucky few to monetize their viral content. These companies typically take care of licensing and legal issues. This is also the case with Videohat, which uses the ‘catchy’ tagline “Rights = Money”. Unfortunately, however, getting paid isn’t always straightforward. When a video goes viral, thousands of copies are made without permission, even by mainstream news outlets, other licensing companies, and some of the world’s largest copyright businesses. Viral Gum Video This is also what Youssef Abu Bakr noticed when he uploaded a TikTik video of Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti, sharing one of his ‘trademark’ chewing gums. This gesture generated millions of views on TikTok and was reposted thousands of times without permission. https://torrentfreak.com/images/espn-gum.jpg Bakr licenses his videos through Videohat and the latter found out that rights don’t always equal money, not directly. In addition to thousands of smaller accounts, mainstream companies including ESPN also copied the clip, as shown above. Hoping to get rewarded, Videohat reached out to ESPN with a licensing deal but that didn’t get the desired result. This eventually prompted the company to file a formal case at the U.S. Government’s Copyright Claims Board (CCB) which was launched last year to deal with these types of smaller disputes. ESPN Hit With Copyright Claim According to the claim, ESPN is a renowned network that should be quite familiar with copyright law and licensing requirements. Despite this, ESPN reportedly failed to cooperate when Videohat reached out. The alleged wrongdoing isn’t limited to the TikTok video either. Similar posts appeared on ESPN’s Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube accounts. The latter pair had been removed at the time of writing. Instead of agreeing to license the video, or reaching out to the original creator, Videohat says that ESPN continues to show the clip without permission to this day. How would ESPN act if the tables were turned, the licensing outfit questions. “The question is: if we or one of our clients has uploaded a sports event owned by ESPN, would it be ok? Of Course not. Same should apply to ESPN distributing our content without permission,” “We are asking for a relief of 1500USD per license per URL. (Total of 4500USD),” Videohat’s claim adds. beIN Complaint ESPN wasn’t the only sports network hit with a copyright claim, beIN received the same treatment. In a nearly identical complaint, Videohat accuses beIN’s American arm of copying the video without permission and posting it to Facebook and YouTube. Interestingly, Videohat demands a higher damages figure from beIn, namely, $2,500 per URL for a total of $5,000. At the time of writing, the Facebook post is still online. Whether the Copyright Claims Board will get to decide on the issue is unknown at this point. The board provides a relatively cheap option to resolve copyright disputes but it’s not mandatory; the accused party has the right to opt out of the proceeding. If that happens, Videohat can still choose to go to federal court. Copyright Claims Progress? Thus far the Copyright Claims board hasn’t led to a wave of rulings. On the contrary, of the 383 cases filed, only one resulted in a full decision. Plagiarism Today reports that in this pioneer case, the board awarded $1,000 to a photographer who discovered that his work was used on the website of a California-based law practice. This is significantly lower than the $30,000 that was initially requested. More than half of the CCB cases (198) have been closed for other reasons. This often happens when a complaint is not fully compliant and, as expected, there’s also a significant percentage of defendants who opt out.
  2. Bill Omar Carrasquillo, better known online as Omi in a Hellcat, has been sentenced to 66 months in prison for a number of crimes related to his now-defunct pirate IPTV services. In comments outside a Pennsylvania federal court, Carrasquillo said the judge had been "super lenient but fair" and described the sentence - which includes almost $11m in restitution to several cable companies - as "probably salvation for my fat ass to lose some weight." After entering a guilty plea some time ago, former pirate IPTV service operator Bill Omar Carrasquillo was sentenced Tuesday in a Philadelphia court. Last month the U.S. government called for 15.5 years in prison for crimes related to Carrasquillo’s pirate IPTV service, Gears TV, which was shut down by the FBI in 2019. That was still a far cry from the 500+ years thrown around in the earlier stages of the case, but after causing an estimated $167 million in damages to TV providers Charter Communications, Comcast, DirecTV, Frontier Corporation, and Verizon Fios, perhaps not completely out of the question. Plea Agreement Some details were already settled prior to sentencing. In Carrasquillo’s plea agreement, the YouTuber acknowledged a laundry list of crimes, from the most serious copyright offenses to fraud and money laundering crimes. Among them, conspiracy to commit felony & misdemeanor copyright infringement, circumvention of access controls, access device fraud, & wire fraud, circumvention of an access control device, reproduction of a protected work, public performance of a protected work, and wire fraud against the cable companies. Other crimes included making false statements to a bank, money laundering, and tax evasion. Financial penalties included forfeiture of just over $30 million, including $5.89 million in cash seized from bank accounts, Carrasquillo’s now-famous supercar collection, and multiple pieces of real estate in the Philadelphia area. Hearing in Philadelphia In a hearing scheduled for 2:30pm yesterday at the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Carrasquillo appeared in courtroom 16A before Judge Harvey Bartle III. In a sentencing memorandum for the defense, details of Carrasquillo’s early life – most of which had already been made public by Carrasquillo in videos posted to social media – make for depressing reading. One of 38 children, Carrasquillo had no stable care or supervision. Physically and sexually abused by family members, Carrasquillo was intentionally committed to mental health facilities by one supposed caregiver, purely for the purposes of obtaining prescriptions for narcotics which were then sold. Carrasquillo’s mother was deported for various crimes and then died as a result of drug addiction. The only constant in his life was his father, who taught a 12-year-old Carrasquillo how to cook crack and sell drugs. “Omar battles constant battles of depression because he questions his own self-worth. He could have easily accepted that there is no ‘better’ for him,” his attorney said, adding: “HE DID NOT!” “He began to look for opportunities that did not require formal training or a high school diploma. He found passion and love in the business of marketing and internet sales.” Despite no formal training or schooling beyond the 11th grade, Carrasquillo developed a highly successful YouTube channel and a construction company, among other legal businesses. The story of how he entered the IPTV business and generated millions in profit is well-documented, but today his “legal loophole” theory has been discarded. “Omar is not asking for a pass,” his attorney assured the Court. “Protected works should not be copied. Period. He crossed the line and he knew he should not have.” Sentencing All parties agreed that the TV companies are entitled to restitution and together they will receive $$10,761,573.20. A similar position was adopted for the IRS, which is entitled to restitution in the amount of $5,717,912.02. From 500+ years imprisonment through to a theoretical 98 years for the crimes listed in the plea agreement, the U.S. government recently acknowledged that the advisory guidelines of 24 years would be “highly unusual” for a copyright matter. Instead, government attorneys recommended a sentence of between 188 and 235 months. When sentencing Carrasquillo Tuesday, Judge Harvey Bartle III decided that 66 months would be enough to punish Carrasquillo and send a deterrent message to any of his followers considering the same type of behavior. Carrasquillo: Judge Was “Super Fair” In video recorded outside the Court, Carrasquillo said he’d been dreading the sentencing hearing but is pleased with the outcome. “I feel like the Judge was super fair. He heard everyone’s testimony about my character [from] everyone who came to Court. The judge ordered me to 66 months of federal prison, which I thought was fair, especially how much money I made,” he said. “I’ve got to pay ten point something million in restitution [to the TV companies] which they already have, which will be applied. And I got to pay another $5.7 million in restitution to the IRS. So you know, I’ll be home in the next two to three years.” After being raided by the FBI in 2019 and being charged in 2021, Carrasquillo said the day had “been a long time coming.” “You know, the Judge was super lenient but fair, but also [wanted to] deter other people from committing the same type of TV piracy that I committed. But it’s over,” he said. “I already know what I’m doing, I know what I’m getting. There’s no more stress, no more nothing. I know when I come home, everything will be fine. I’m good. 66 months was super fair. And you know, it sucks for my kids, but I’m happy with it.” Well-known for his ability to transform dust into gold and losses into wins, Carrasquillo revisited his well-documented struggles with weight and noted an opportunity ahead. “It’s probably salvation for my fat ass to lose some weight anyway,” he said.
  3. The Regional Court of Leipzig has ordered DNS resolver Quad9 to block global access to a music piracy site. The Court sided with Sony Music and held the DNS service liable for the infringing activities of its users. Quad9 characterizes the Court's conclusion as "absurdly extreme" and will take the matter to Dresden's Court of Appeal. In 2021, Sony Music obtained an injunction ordering DNS resolver Quad9 to block the popular pirate site Canna.to. The injunction, issued by the District Court of Hamburg, required the Swiss DNS resolver to block its users from accessing the site to prevent the distribution of pirated copies of Evanescence’s album “The Bitter Truth“. Quad9 Appeals Site Blocking Injunction The Quad9 Foundation fiercely opposed the injunction. The not-for-profit foundation submitted an appeal to the Court hoping to overturn the blocking order, arguing that the decision set a dangerous precedent. The DNS resolver stressed that it doesn’t condone piracy. However, it believes that enforcing blocking measures through third-party intermediaries, that don’t host any content, is a step too far. This initial objection failed; the Regional Court in Hamburg upheld the blocking injunction last December. However, this was only a preliminary proceeding and Quad9 promised to continue the legal battle, warning of a broad impact on the Internet ecosystem. Sony Files Main Proceeding After Sony’s preliminary victory, the music company initiated a main proceeding at the Leipzig court. This was the next step in the legal process and allowed both sides to provide more evidence and expert opinions. Sony, for example, referenced earlier jurisprudence where Germany’s Federal Court ruled that services such as YouTube can be held liable for copyright infringement if they fail to properly respond to copyright holder complaints. Quad9’s expert, Prof. Dr. Ruth Janal, contested this line of reasoning, noting that, under EU law, DNS resolvers shouldn’t be treated in the same fashion as platforms that actually host content Quad9 is more akin to a mere conduit service than a hosting provider, Prof. Janal countered. Courts could instead require Quad9 to take action through a “no-fault” injunction, a process that’s already used in ISP blocking orders. In those cases, however, the intermediary isn’t held liable for pirating users. Court Confirms DNS Blocking Requirement After hearing both sides, the Regional Court of Leipzig ultimately handed a win to Sony. This means that Quad9 is required to block the music piracy site canna.to globally. If not, those responsible face a hefty fine, or even a prison sentence. “The defendant is liable as a perpetrator because it makes its DNS resolver available to Internet users and, through this, it refers to the canna.to service with the infringing download offers relating to the music album in dispute,” the Court writes. Judge Werner argues that Quad9 should have taken action when the copyright holder alerted it to a pirated copy of the Evanescence album. Its intentional failure to act makes the DNS resolver liable. In its defense, Quad9 warned that blocking measures have a significant impact on its system architecture and performance. The Court wasn’t receptive to this argument, as the DNS resolver already actively blocks malware as one of its features. Thus far, Quad9 has blocked Canna.to only for German users. However, the court order suggests that a global blocking order is reasonable and warranted, which is in line with Sony Music’s demands. “It would also be harmless if, in accordance with the defendant’s argument, websites were blocked globally and irrespective of a specific jurisdiction for all Internet users who use the defendant’s DNS resolver. “Even worldwide, no legitimate interest of Internet users in accessing this website with obviously exclusively illegal offers is apparent, so that the question of overblocking does not arise,” Judge Werner adds. ‘Absurdly Extreme’ Quad9 is disappointed with the verdict. According to the non-profit foundation, the court order opens the door to widespread global blocking orders that go far beyond the jurisdiction they’re issued in. “Quad9 believes this is an exceptionally dangerous precedent that could lead to future global-reaching commercialized and political censorship if DNS blocking is applied globally without geographic limitations to certain jurisdictions.” In addition, the DNS resolver believes that the Court mistakenly labels the service as a liable ‘wrongdoer’. Expanding liability to seemingly neutral services that don’t host any content is “absurdly extreme”, Quad9 notes. “To put this into perspective, applying wrongdoer liability in this setting is akin to charging a pen manufacturer with fraud because a stranger forged documents while using the manufacturer’s writing utensil,” the Foundation writes. Quad9 Continues to Fight According to Quad9, Sony Music hand-picked a relatively small player with limited means, to obtain a favorable precedent. However, Quad9 isn’t giving up the fight. The company will appeal the judgment at the Dresden Court of Appeal, with help from the German Society for Freedom Rights (GFF). GFF project coordinator Felix Reda, who previously served as a Member of the European Parliament for the Pirate Party, believes that the Leipzig Regional Court has made a glaring error of judgment. “It treats Quad9 as if the service itself were committing copyright infringement, even though it merely resolves a website name into an IP address,” Reda tells TorrentFreak. “If one follows this reasoning, the copyright liability of completely neutral infrastructure services like Quad9 would be even stricter than that of social networks, whose copyright liability was extended by the controversial EU Copyright Directive.” In common with Prof. Janal, Reda stresses that Quad9 should receive similar treatment as ISPs, instead of equating the service to a hosting provider. “The Digital Services Act makes it unequivocally clear that the liability rules for Internet access providers apply to DNS services. We are confident that this misinterpretation of European and German legal principles will be overturned by the Court of Appeals,” he notes. For now, Quad9 says it will comply with the court order. This means that it will block access to the Canna.to domain. Whether this will make much of a difference is unknown, as the site moved to the Canna-Power.to domain name a while ago.
  4. A national court in Buenos Aires, Argentina, requires local Internet providers to block thirty pirate streaming services. The dynamic blocking order sets an important precedent, local anti-piracy outfit Alianza stresses. Blocklist updates are no unnecessary luxury either, as many of the targeted domains were already outdated before the measures went live. Over the years, copyright holders have tried a multitude of measures to curb online piracy, with varying levels of success. Site blocking has emerged as one of the preferred solutions. While blocking measures are not perfect, they can pose a large enough hurdle for casual pirates to choose legal options instead. Argentinian Blocklist Expanded Blocking measures have spread around the world in recent years and have now arrived in Argentina. After filing a complaint last year, local anti-piracy group Alianza is now celebrating a big win after local ISPs were instructed to block 30 pirate streaming sites. The order was handed down by the National Court of First Instance in Federal Civil and Commercial Matters in Buenos Aires. The case was filed by the local offices of DirecTV and Spanish football league La Liga, among others, who received support from Alianza. National telecommunications body ENACOM instructed local Internet providers to block the 30 domain names. These include TV streaming services such as televisionlibre.net and cablegratis.online, plus sports streaming sites such as futbollibre.net and pirlotv.uk. Several of the targeted pirate streaming portals have (or had) millions of monthly visitors. Alianza informs TorrentFreak that the order sets a dynamic blocking precedent in Argentina. This means that ISPs can also be required to block mirror sites and new domains these streaming portals may switch to in future. Much-Needed Dynamic Blocking Order Alianza executive director Víctor Roldán notes that dynamic blocking orders are more effective than simply seizing or blocking single domain names. “According to our research, many of these sites continue to operate through mirrors. That is the reason why we prefer to obtain judicial and administrative measures that can be extended to other websites and URLs, instead of the methods that other associations use,” Roldán says. The ability to update the blocklist is a much-needed feature since many of the domains targeted by the Argentinian order are already outdated. For example, ACE previously shut down USTVGO and seized the domains of futbollibre.net and televisionlibre.net. The blocklist also features extremotvplay.com and rojadirectatv.tv, which were taken down by the U.S. Government last December, as well as several domain names that are no longer active at the time of writing. Silver Bullet? Alianza says that it’s aware of these issues and will try to target mirror sites when they become available. The group is right to note that the dynamic nature of the order makes it more effective than a single-domain seizure. However, there are downsides to site blocking as well. Unlike domain name seizures, which have a global effect, site blocking is relatively easy to bypass by switching DNS resolvers or using other circumvention tools. That said, site-blocking orders are certainly better than doing nothing. According to Roldán, the first surveys from anti-piracy outfit NAGRA suggest that the measures are already having an effect. “Judicial orders are always effective in our experience. We monitor the blocking effects through Nagra and the survey results we received thus far were very promising,” Alianza’s director tells us. — The list of blocked domain names that are included in the original court order (pdf) reads as follows. 1) futbollibre.net 2) televisionlibre.net 3) supertelevisionhd.net 4) rojadirectatv.tv 5) ver-television.online 6) photocall.tv 7) futboltv.online cablegratis.online 9) telefullenvivo .com 10) extremotvplay.com 11) televisiongratishd.com 12) cablegratistv.online 13) lateleenvivo.club 14) chiringuitotv.online 15) tvconexion.com 16) futboltvenvivo.com 17) tarjetarojatv online.sx 18) supertelevisionhd.com 19) pirlotvonline.org 20) lacasadeltikitakatv.net 21) telebunker.com 22) televisiongratisen vivo.com 23) futbolparatodos.net 24) rojadirectatv.pro 25) ustvgo.tv 26) pirlotvonline.info 27) xtremostereo.net 28) pirlotv.uk 29) pirlotv.futbol 30) teleriumtv.me
  5. When a subsidiary of PornHub owner MindGeek was awarded $32 million in damages and an injunction against pirate site Daftsex, that should've been decisive. The stark reality is that the site never went offline. In response, the company is now engaged in the largest, most instense DMCA notice campaign in history. In just 90 days, Google received requests to remove 90+ million URLs. When an opponent fails to defend themselves in an ordinary fight, things tend to be over pretty quickly. The same isn’t true for copyright lawsuits. In early October 2021, MG Premium – a subsidiary of adult entertainment giant MindGeek – filed a copyright complaint at a district court in Washington. It targeted Daftsex.com, an adult ‘tube’ site offering MG-owned videos from the Brazzers and Digital Playground series, among others, to dozens of millions of users every month – for free. Daftsex had little chance of winning in court and completely ignored the lawsuit. It still took more than a year to conclude but with a damages award of $32 million and a broad injunction that included domain seizures, MG Premium prevailed in the end. In reality, however, very little had changed. Domain Seizures Immediately Countered Verisign was ordered to sign several domains over to MG Premium, including Daftsex.com, Artsporn.com, Daxab.com, and Biqle.com. Daftsex responded by switching to new domains – Daft.sex, Dsex.to, biqle.ru and biqle.org. The site took a traffic hit but managed to stay online. Meanwhile, MG Premium redirected its newly acquired domains (and millions of former Daftsex users) to MindGeek-owned RedTube. Despite an external move to undermine domain transfers, the opportunity to convert pirates into paying customers would’ve been useful. Unfortunately, further opportunities quickly dried up. Seized domain Daftsex.com received more than 41 million visits in November 2022. A month later, traffic plummeted to 6.5 million. According to SimilarWeb data, in January 2023, just three months after MindGeek took control, the domain received just two million visits. In parallel, Daftsex continued to rebuild its traffic on new domains. In January 2023, Daft.sex received 22.7m visits and Dsex.to 5.7 million. In the background, MG Premium renewed its legal efforts to take the site down. Contempt of Court In December 2022, MG Premium filed a request to reopen the case so that alleged Daftsex owner Vasily Kharchenko held in contempt of court (1). Declarations in support were filed by Jason Tucker of anti-piracy company Battleship Stance, and MG Premium’s Anti-Piracy Strategy Manager, Steven Salway, a former Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit detective. In addition to the court holding Kharchenko in contempt, MG Premium requested permission to take over the new Daftsex domains – Daft.sex, Dsex.to, and Biqle.org. Since Daftsex is using a Twitter account to communicate with its user community, MG Premium wants the court to issue an order compelling Twitter to shut down the account or transfer it to MG Premium. As things stand today, none of those things have happened and Daftsex just keeps on growing. That doesn’t mean that MG Premium is simply letting it happen though. DMCA Takedown Campaign Begins Within hours of Daftsex announcing its new domains last November, MG Premium began sending DMCA notices to Google, hoping to make daft.sex, dsex.to, and biqle.org less visible in search results. That went on to become what is almost certainly the largest and most intense DMCA notice-sending campaign by a copyright holder against a single site since the DMCA was introduced in 1998. The first DMCA notices targeting daft.sex and dsex.to were sent to Google on November 14 and 21, respectively. In the first week, Google recorded takedown requests for 937,952 Daft.sex URLs and 941,424 URLs belonging to Dsex.to, but that was just a taster of things to come. Largest Ever Copyright Holder Campaign Against Single Site According to Google data – an entry dated January 9, 2023, covering a single week – Google received DMCA notices requesting the removal of 4,686,019 Dsex.to URLs. An entry dated January 16, again covering a single week, states that Google received DMCA notices requesting 5,025,742 Daft.sex URLs to be taken down. Data shown in Google’s charts lag a little behind actual notices received but between November 14, 2022 and February 20, 2023, Google received ~11,000 individual requests from MG Premium targeting daft.sex. Total daft.sex URLs requested for removal until March 3, 2023: ~45.6 million. Between November 21, 2022 and February 20, 2023, Google received around ~11,000 individual requests from MG Premium targeting dsex.to. Total dsex.to URLs requested for removal until March 3, 2023: ~45.6 million URLs requested for removal overall (both domains combined): 91+ million To put these figures into perspective, the number of URLs requested for deletion against The Pirate Bay’s .org domain currently sits at 6,008,980 – after being targeted since 2012. Majority of Notices Had No Immediate Effect Since Google reports what action it takes after receiving a DMCA takedown notice, we can see that the vast majority of these notices failed to have any immediate effect. When considering all MG Premium notices sent to Google, targeting both daft.sex and dsex.to URLs, close to 80% were reported by Google as ‘not in index’, meaning that the reported URLs were absent from Google’s search so couldn’t be removed. That raises the obvious question of why so many URLs reported by MG Premium as infringing were unrecognized by Google. TorrentFreak requested comment from MG Premium on Saturday evening but received no response, most likely due to the timing. We’ll publish an update if we receive a response, but we suspect that other factors could be at play here that only MG Premium will be able to properly explain.
  6. Internet provider Grande Communications has asked a Texas federal court to overrule a jury verdict that awarded $47 million in piracy damages to several record labels. If that's not an option, the ISP would like to have a new trial. In the event that both options are off the table, Grande plans to appeal the piracy liability case. Last fall, several of the world’s largest music companies including Warner Bros. and Sony Music prevailed in their lawsuit against Internet provider Grande Communications. The record labels accused the Astound-owned ISP of not doing enough to stop pirating subscribers. Specifically, they alleged that the company failed to terminate repeat infringers. The trial took more than two weeks to complete and ended in a resounding victory for the labels. The Texan federal jury ruled that Grande is guilty of willful contributory copyright infringement and must pay the record labels $47 million in damages. U.S. District Court Judge David Ezra confirmed the judgment on January 31st, as can be seen below, but that doesn’t mean that Grande has given up the fight. Recent court filings show that the company is exploring several options to contest the decision. Judge or New Jury On February 27, Grande filed a renewed motion for judgment as a matter of law. Put simply, Grande wants the Judge to overrule the jury, which can happen if the evidence clearly weighs in favor of the requesting party, but when a jury found otherwise. Grande hopes to find the court on its side and lists a variety of shortcomings in the presented evidence, casting doubt over the jury’s conclusion. According to the ISP, the record labels failed to provide sufficient evidence to show that its subscribers committed copyright infringement. For example, there were no copies of the 1,403 original copyrighted works to compare against the alleged pirate copies, and it’s unclear if the infringers were actually Grande subscribers, instead of unauthorized network users. The music companies also failed to show that Grande was “wilfully blind” to the alleged infringement, the filing argues. Tracking company Rightscorp sent many thousands of piracy notices but the ISP says it wasn’t convinced that the warnings were legitimate. “At trial, the only evidence of actual knowledge was the collection of emails Rightscorp sent to Grande accusing certain Grande IP addresses of being the source of infringing activity,” Grande writes. “This was legally insufficient because Plaintiffs presented no evidence that Grande could actually verify the accuracy of Rightscorp’s accusations. In fact, the evidence conclusively established that Grande had no way of knowing whether Rightscorp’s accusations were true.” Who Owns the Music? The motion also touches on several other presumed shortcomings. For example, the ISP says there was insufficient evidence to show that the music companies own each of the 1,403 sound recordings at the center of the lawsuit. Leading up to the trial, the record labels requested summary judgment that could have decided the question of ownership, but the request was denied. The court later stated that it already ruled on ownership but Grande believes that was an error. “At trial, there was no evidence from which a jury could reasonably conclude that Plaintiffs own the copyrights to the 1,403 sound recordings at issue,” Grande writes. What’s Next? All in all, the ISP believes that since several pieces of evidence are legally insufficient, that warrants a directed judgment. Alternatively, the trial could get a do-over if the Court agrees that the jury verdict goes against the weight of evidence or if there are other shortcomings or clear errors. “For these reasons, the Court should grant JMOL in favor of Grande on Plaintiffs’ contributory infringement claim or, in the alternative, grant a new trial,” Grande writes. With $47 million in damages on the line, the stakes are high. If Judge Ezra denies both requests, Grande says it will appeal the decision at the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
  7. On top of billions of URL removals, at least 10,000 domains have already been deindexed and permanently removed from Google's search results on copyright grounds. In response to some pirate sites ditching regular domains and publishing their IP addresses instead, Google is now deindexing by IP address when certain standards are met. When people use search engines to find pirate sites or pirated content, the results they receive today represent a massively edited subset of what is actually out there. In response to DMCA notices sent by rightsholders, billions of URLs have already been removed from Google’s search results. Every week, millions of new URLs are processed by Google and when individual domains are considered especially infringing, Google takes that as a downranking signal. Rightsholders in many jurisdictions can obtain ISP blocking injunctions against substantially infringing sites but, in most cases at least, these have no direct effect on search results. Just over a year ago, everything changed. As previously reported, these injunctions can now be presented to Google for recognition. The end result is voluntary deindexing, meaning that the targeted sites will completely disappear from search results for the specified region. New Domains Switched For IP Addresses For years pirate sites have deployed new domains to defeat ISP blocking. At least in the beginning, the tactic helped to keep the sites accessible, but switching domains today often provokes a swift response by rightsholders to have the new domains blocked. New domains are also used to mitigate Google’s downranking measures, but whether that remains effective for long is doubtful. A more recent trend in some regions has seen pirate sites dump domains entirely and rely on IP addresses instead. That may sound like a trip back to the Stone Age (and it is), but short-term benefits do exist. IP Address ‘Domains’ Reappeared in Google Search The Lithuanian Radio and Television Commission (LRTK) has responsibility for blocking actions in Lithuania. Court orders are required to block pirate sites and over the years, dozens have been blocked by ISPs in Lithuania . When pirates attempt to circumvent blocking with new domains, these are handled under an administrative process and then added to the existing ISP blocking list. Since LRTK has a court order, these are sent to Google and the referenced domains are deindexed from search results. However, it appears that the administrators of more than a dozen previously blocked and deindexed sites managed to reappear in Google search. “It should be noted that the domain names of the aforementioned 13 websites were removed from the Google search system earlier by the order of the LRTK, but the administrators of these websites, trying to avoid the restrictions applied to them, made it possible for users to connect to the websites using only IP addresses without domain names,” LTRK explains. “[This month] Google representatives informed us that the URLs containing IP addresses reported by the Lithuanian Radio and Television Commission, that allow access to illegally publicly published copyrighted content, have been removed from the Google search system.” LRTK says that it considers the removal of domain names and corresponding IP addresses from Google search “an extremely effective means of preventing access to illegally published copyrighted content.” Using IP addresses instead of domain names has another potential upside too. IP Addresses Thwart DNS Blocking When sites use human-readable domain names, those domains need to be converted to an IP address so that sites can be accessed. That’s achieved by using the Domain Name System (DNS), which usually works extremely well. However, when pirate sites are blocked by court orders or administrative processes, ISPs are required to poison DNS records so that domain names no longer resolve to the resource they’re supposed to. By doing away with domain names altogether, DNS becomes surplus to requirements. This means that poisoned records are never accessed, and DNS-only site-blocking measures are instantly defeated. Due to the many downsides, direct IP address access to pirate sites seems unlikely to become the next big thing, but it is happening. One example relates to Indonesian piracy giant Indoxxi, which reportedly shut down in December 2019 but lives on through an endless supply of clones and copies. Blocking is carried out by Kominfo, the government communications ministry responsible for general internet censorship in Indonesia. In 2022 it was reported that 3,500 pirate sites had been blocked by local ISPs but only in more recent months has the prospect of IP-address blocking emerged following requests from rightsholders. Around 200 sites have been blocked thus far in 2023, ostensibly on copyright grounds (factors other than copyright may also be required) but no specifics related to IP address-only blocking are detailed.
  8. The Pirate Bay's official forum is usually a beacon of information if the main site goes offline, but for the last few days, it has become unreachable. According to a SuprBay administrator, the forum is recovering from a hack and should be back online in a week or two. Reportedly, no user data was compromised. The Pirate Bay has had its fair share of technical issues over the past years, sometimes resulting in hours or even days of downtime. When the notorious torrent site goes offline, the associated SuprBay forum usually remains online. This is helpful, as the forums have a dedicated page where outsiders can check the status of the main site. More recently, the tables have been turned. At the time of writing The Pirate Bay is online but the forums are unreachable. People who try to access SuprBay get a connection timeout instead, which has been the case for several days now. Dark Web Message The Pirate Bay website doesn’t have any information on the issue but on the dark web, the .onion domain shows a little more information. “Moe is still playing with himself, but we are slowly getting things sorted,” the brief notification reads. Hacked The message doesn’t reveal much but suggests that if Surpbay admin “Moe” takes action, the site will eventually make a full comeback. This is confirmed by fellow administrator Spud17, who explains that the server was compromised. An outsider reportedly hacked and messed up the server but Spud17 says that user data was not compromised in the process. The main Pirate Bay site was unaffected by the whole ordeal. The good news is that there are recent backups in place. This means that the forums can be brought back online with relative ease. According to the SuprBay team, that should take a week, or perhaps two.
  9. Last month the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment worked with Egyptian authorities to shut down MyCima. It was one the largest piracy platforms in the Middle East with an estimated 50 million visits per month. According to Egyptian mythology, Osiris was sewn back together after being cut into 14 pieces. Using many more pieces than that, MyCima is already back in business. Mid-February, the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE) announced that MyCima, one of the largest pirate streaming sites in the Middle East, had been shut down. Reportedly operated from Alexandria and offering 12,000 movies and 26,000 TV series, MyCima enjoyed around 50 million visits per month. Following an ACE referral, Egyptian authorities took action to shut the site down. MyCima’s most popular domain – myciiima.autos – went offline along with around 70 others. ACE thanked Egypt’s Prime Minister and the Ministry of Internal Affairs for protecting intellectual property, while two new members of the ACE coalition – MENA-based OSN and MBC Group – were acknowledged for their work in shutting MyCima down. Not Quite Dead Yet: MyCima Sewn Back Together According to Egyptian mythology, Osiris was a much-loved king who was killed by Seth, his jealous brother, who chopped him up and scattered the 14 pieces all over Egypt. MyCima had many more pieces, notably around 70 domains. While 13 pieces of Osiris were found and sewn back together, one was never found. An important piece of MyCima was overlooked too. In January 2023, myciiima.autos alone received more than 43.3m visits, making it the 10th most-visited domain in Egypt. Many other domains redirected in and out, among them mycimaa.tv. Domains redirecting to mycimaa.tv were numerous too – myciiima.bond, myciiima.boats, myciiima.makeup and myciiima.monster, among others. At some point in January, Myciiima.autos redirected to mycimaa.tv and on February 2, 2023, myciiima.autos was updated and fell out of use. Also on February 2, a new domain was registered and connected to many existing domains. Wecima.tube appears to be MyCima’s new home. Or one of them at least MyCima? No. Wecima? Yeah Given these and other connections not detailed here, there seems little doubt that WeCima is just MyCima with a new name and a new domain. The site was already pretty glossy, so a new coat of paint probably wasn’t needed. That being said, absolutely no effort has been made to portray this as a new platform. It’s unclear why the site’s operators are still in business, especially given the big shutdown announcements in February that received regional and international attention. The involvement of OSN and what this resurrection means for them is made especially clear on WeCima’s front page. Site Changes Pirated Content Policy On WeCima’s homepage, under the top row of movie and TV show cover images, is some Arabic text. It’s been edited at least once, maybe twice, over the past week or so. The image below shows the notice in English, as it appeared a few days ago. Taken at face value, this clearly suggests that content owned by TV network OSN has been removed. That could be for any number of reasons, but the most obvious is that MyCima/WeCima are under the impression that removal either removes or reduces the risk of being targeted again. Viewed from a different perspective, the site might be more concerned about local companies’ content than content owned by companies located overseas. A little more weight is given to that theory with a more recent update to the site’s main page. It appears that while OSN content still won’t feature on the site, the same now holds true for all local content. This stated position is a far cry from the site being completely closed down and is almost certainly a big diversion from what the rest of the ACE coalition thought would happen. But Will it Last? After being chopped into pieces by Seth and sewn back together by Isis, Osiris lived for just a single day. His legacy, a son he conceived despite lacking a crucial body part, lived on. A single domain allowed WeCima to live on but the site is taking no chances. Since wecima.tube was registered on February 2, 2023, the registrations have barely stopped. Domains including weciima.motorcycles and weciima.makeup are just two examples from a list of several dozen domains that are either active already and pointing at WeCima, or waiting for the right moment to do so. Other resurrections may be happening elsewhere in Egypt too.
  10. Welcome to the community. Enjoy!
  11. Swedish telecom equipment maker Ericsson has announced that it will lay off 8,500 employees worldwide, according to a memo sent to employees (via Reuters). The decision is part of the company's move to reduce costs by $880 million by the end of 2023. This is the largest layoff in the telecom industry so far and follows similar moves by other tech giants like Google, Meta and Microsoft. The company cited slow demand across the globe, including North America, as the reason for the decision. On Monday, Ericsson had already announced plans to cut about 1,400 jobs in Sweden. The layoffs will affect various functions and regions within the company. Borje Ekholm, the CEO of Ericsson, stated in the memo that it is the company's responsibility to reduce costs in order to maintain competitiveness. Ericsson’s Chief Financial Officer Carl Mellander told Reuters that the cost cuts would involve reducing consultants, real estate and employee headcount. He said that the layoffs would vary from geography to geography, depending on the labor laws of different countries. The company said it would provide support and assistance to those affected by the layoffs. It also said it would continue to invest in innovation and growth areas such as 5G, cloud and IoT. Telecom companies including Ericsson had stocked up on equipment during the pandemic due to increased demands in the IT sector and a push to double down on supporting infrastructure. However, low demand for telecom equipment this year is forced such companies to reduce their spending. Another major telecom company that is cutting back on its spending is Verizon, which is one of the largest telecom companies in the United States. The company plans to spend between $18.25 billion and $19.25 billion this year, down from a capital expenditure budget of $23 billion last year. The telecom industry is undergoing a transformation as it shifts to 5G technology and new services such as cloud computing and edge computing. However, it also faces headwinds from geopolitical tensions, competition and regulatory pressures. How these factors will affect the industry’s outlook remains to be seen. Check out InviteStore Regular Seller Store Here: https://www.invitestore.co/index.php?/forum/3-regular-sellers-section/
  12. Dole plc, one of the world's largest producers of fruit and vegetables, announced late Wednesday that it had suffered a ransomware attack. The incident forced the company to temporarily shut down its production plants in North America and halt shipments to grocery stores. "Upon learning of this incident, Dole moved quickly to contain the threat and engaged leading third-party cybersecurity experts, who have been working in partnership with Dole’s internal teams to remediate the issue and secure systems," Dole stated on its website. The company added that it has notified law enforcement about the incident and is cooperating with their investigation. This confirmation followed a CNN report that the company experienced a cyberattack that significantly affected its operations. Emanuel Lazopoulos, senior vice president at Dole's Fresh Vegetables division, sent the following memo to retailers (via BleepingComputer): The hack, which was previously unreported, resulted in some grocery shoppers complaining on social media that some stores were not carrying Dole prepackaged salad kits. CNN interviewed managers from stores in New Mexico and Texas who said that they were unable to stock Dole products due to the attack. "They [customers] are upset, but it happens," said a produce manager of Clayton Ranch Market in Clayton, New Mexico. "We can’t do nothing about it except [put in the orders]." As of this writing, it is not yet known how Dole fell victim to the ransomware attack. Nonetheless, to protect your PCs from such attacks, do not open links or attachments from unsolicited emails because they could contain malware. Keep your antivirus software updated, and always backup your files on an external storage system like a flash drive, hard drive, or the cloud. Check out InviteStore Regular Seller Store Here: https://www.invitestore.co/index.php?/forum/3-regular-sellers-section/
  13. It's been nearly four years since Larian Studios announced Baldur's Gate 3. That's an awfully long time in PC gaming terms, and it's come an awfully long way since then. So it shouldn't be entirely surprising that your rig is going to be a little beefier than developers originally thought in order to run the game comfortably. "Baldur's Gate 3's graphical fidelity and complexity has improved quite a bit as it's grown throughout Early Access," Larian said at the tail-end of yesterday's launch date announcement. "We've been keeping an eye on its minimum system requirements, and as the game nears release we've raised the minimum system requirements listed on Steam to better reflect the realities of the launch version." The change to the minimum requirement is relatively slight, but the recommended specification has gone up too, and more comprehensively. Here's how both have changed: Minimum: Processor: Intel i5-4690 / AMD FX 4350 -> Intel I5 4690 / AMD FX 8350 Memory: 8 GB RAM Graphics: Nvidia GTX 780 / AMD Radeon R9 280X -> Nvidia GTX 970 / RX 480 (4GB+ of VRAM) Storage: 70 GB available space -> 150 GB available space Recommended: Processor: Intel i7 4770k / AMD Ryzen 5 1500X -> Intel i7 8700K / AMD r5 3600 Memory: 16 GB RAM Graphics: Nvidia GTX 1060 6GB / AMD RX580 -> Nvidia 2060 Super / RX 5700 XT (8GB+ of VRAM) Storage: 70 GB available space -> 150 GB available space Regardless of your hardware, you'll also need Windows 10 64-bit and DirectX 11 to play. Larian said Baldur's Gate 3 "may be playable" on PCs below the new minimum requirement (but, I would guess, not below the old minimum), "but we believe this may hinder the player experience." I suspect it might, too. The change might be frustrating for anyone who was on the bubble with the original specs, but I think shifting hardware requirements are kind of inherent to the whole early access process: Developers release a game in a half-finished state and then spend the next year or two (or four, as the case may be) working on it, and by the time it's ready for full release, things have changed, and what was good enough then isn't going to cut it now—or at least, isn't going to perform to the originally anticipated standard. Baldur's Gate 3 is now set to come out on August 31, and—in case you missed it yesterday—will feature JK Simmons as General Ketheric Thorn, "a seemingly invincible necromancer leading an army of the dead toward the city of Baldur's Gate." Simmons is known for his previous work as the voice of Aperture Science founder and CEO Cave Johnson in Portal 2 and a Dota 2 announcer pack, and has also appeared in a few movies and television shows. Check out Invitestore Regular Seller Store Here: https://www.invitestore.co/index.php?/forum/3-regular-sellers-section/
  14. Kerbal Space Program 2 is now available in early access for $49.99. The game can be obtained as a direct download, via Steam, or the Epic Games Store. If this is a title you’re interested in, it’s worth buying it during the Early Access as Private Division, the game’s publisher, says the price is expected to be increased at the 1.0 release, whenever that may be. The system requirements for this title seem to be very demanding on the memory and graphics front, the minimum and recommended requirements are as follows: One of the interesting things about buying the game during Early Access is that you’ll see major upgrades rolled out periodically. The developers say upgrades will include new star systems, interstellar travel technologies, colonies, multiplayer, and more. As an Early Access player, you’ll be able to contribute feedback and play the updates as soon as they’re released. Notable new features in this game over its predecessor include improved onboarding to help novice players, customizable parts and new space-flight technology, new environments to visit and explore, new tools to optimize and plan complex manoeuvres, and immersive sounds and music. If you want to pick up the game head over to the Private Division website and purchase it in your preferred format. Check out Invitestore Regular Seller Store Here: https://www.invitestore.co/index.php?/forum/3-regular-sellers-section/
  15. 343 Industries is getting ready to launch the long-time-coming third season of Halo Infinite next month, and it is described as the biggest update to the free-to-play multiplayer portion yet. A slick trailer showing off the update's content arrived during the HCS Charlotte Major today, which can be seen above. Season 3: Echoes Within update's biggest draw is its three new maps. Big Team Battle fans will be fighting it out in the 8vs8 Oasis map, while 4v4 Arena fans have Cliffhanger and Chasm maps to keep them occupied. Escalation Slayer is also joining Halo Infinite as a mode in this update, a take on the popular Gun Game mode. Also new is the Shroud Screen, a new deployable equipment that puts up a laser dome to provide visual cover from anyone on the outside. As for the sole new weapon, the studio is bringing back the fan favorite M392 Bandit DMR. 343 is also drawing from Forge creations, adding even more popular maps made by the community like Art's Room, Starboard, Perilous, and Salvation. The Community Collection Playlist will also be granting XP to keep leveling up those Spartans. Carrying all this, plus a 100-level Battle Pass, Halo Infinite Season 3: Echoes Within launches March 7 across PC and Xbox consoles and is slated to last until June 27. If the schedule holds up, this will be the live-service game's first ever three-month lasting season unlike before where lengthy, content dry gaps were common. While Halo Infinite multiplayer updates are finally picking up the pace, they arrive amidst reports of a massive studio restructuring at 343 Industries. The future of Halo may now be Unreal Engine-based and plans for single-player content have reportedly been scrapped. Check out Invitestore Regular Seller Store Here: https://www.invitestore.co/index.php?/forum/3-regular-sellers-section/
  16. Hogwarts Legacy, the Avalanche Software-developed and Warner Bros. Games-published title, set in the wizarding universe of Harry Potter, has already sold over 12 million copies. It reached this impressive number only two weeks after the game's launch on February 10 across PC and current-gen platforms. As Variety reports, the title has made the publisher $850 million in revenue through global sales, making it the company's biggest game launch ever. Hogwarts Legacy set further records in streaming engagement, with it gaining the record for the most watched single-player game on Twitch with a whopping 1.28 million peak of concurrent viewers. Steam also saw Hogwarts Legacy climb to impressive heights in both concurrent players (peaking at 879,308 players) as well as top seller charts, with it even managing to take the four top spots in the latter space. Warner Bros. had shared a few bonus stats with Variety too, revealing that players have spent 267 million hours in-game from February 10 through 21, with 1.28 billion Dark Wizards being taken down in that period. As for Room of Requirement usage, 393 million plants have been grown and 242 million potions have been brewed by players. “There has been an increase of global franchise fan engagement overall with Wizarding World Digital garnering 300% higher traffic over the normal monthly unique visitor average for the first 10 days of February,” the publisher had added. This impressive 12 million number will only balloon further as the next wave of platforms enters the ring. The delayed Xbox One and PlayStation 4 version is set to launch on April 4, with a Nintendo Switch release slated for July 25. Check out Invitestore Regular Seller Store Here: https://www.invitestore.co/index.php?/forum/3-regular-sellers-section/
  17. Rocksteady returned to the spotlight today with another dose of Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League, this time from Sony's latest State of Play presentation. This is the most gameplay-filled trailer we've seen yet, with every member of the squad getting plenty of focus on their carnage. Watch the new co-op gameplay trailer above. Unlike the studio's Arkham trilogy, combat is taking a much more fast-paced and air-focused angle in this venture. As the trailer shows off, Harley Quinn, Deadshot, Captain Boomerang, and King Shark each tout different methods of travel and combat styles. As part of the game's progression, each piece of weaponry that players can use, which ranges from pistols to light machine guns, has a gear score attached to them. The title is also heading into games-as-a-service territory with a battle pass and post-launch content, including new missions, weapons, and more, being confirmed. The story takes place five years after the events of Arkham Knight with Brainiac invading earth and taking over the Justice League. The Suicide Squad is activated by Amanda Waller as a last resort, bringing together the popular villain group to take down the Justice League in Superman's home city Metropolis. Up to four players can band together for this co-op experience, but Rocksteady confirmed that solo play is also possible. AI bots will take over the remaining Suicide Squad members in this state. Following the latest delay, Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League now launches May 26, 2023 across PC, Xbox Series X|S, and PlayStation 5. It has also been confirmed that the late Kevin Conroy will be the voice of the Dark Knight in this entry much like in the Arkham trilogy. Check out Invitestore Regular Seller Store Here: https://www.invitestore.co/index.php?/forum/3-regular-sellers-section/
  18. Four or five hours into Atomic Heart, you'll walk through a door and the game will swing into one of many seamless first-person cutscenes. A man points a gun at you, babbles something about blowing a giant plant to kingdom come, and your protagonist gruffly swears, complains, and sets about fetching the thing to blow up the thing. You'll soon return, shove a bunch of explosive into the plant, see it ignited by a cigarette while your character calls the plant a "fuckbag", and watch the scientist die gruesomely in the aftermath because his role in the game is over. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. In fact a lot of Atomic Heart will leave you grasping for purchase, as it freewheelingly veers from enormous setpieces to endless fetch quests, as critiques of Russian exceptionalism rub up against a protagonist who calls robots "fat turds" and a script that seems to have been written with the help of a swearing thesaurus. You'll gaze into the eerie, porcelain face of an android and marvel at how well the game's aesthetic captures its unsettling science fiction of humanoid robots, and then be grossed-out by a vending machine begging you to "squirt your polymer in me". This is one of the oddest big-budget games I've played in a long time, filled with as many good ideas as bad ones, almost like it's been made without a filter. Everything went in. The game's influences are numerous—Westworld, Fallout, Arkane's Prey—but the one that looms above them all is BioShock. Atomic Hearts' narrative-focused opening is like a communist version of Columbia and the grandeur of its sprawling research institute, a utopia-gone-wrong showcasing the best of retro-futurist Soviet robotics, makes for one breathtaking vista after another. But the influence runs far deeper than aesthetic. Combat is built around a plasmid equivalent, several of which are directly lifted from BioShock, while the narrative style of first-person talking heads, radio logs, and companions is straight from the Irrational playbook. At times Atomic Heart almost pulls it off. The one-two punch Atomic Heart benefits from the tried-and-tested nature of these techniques, but it suffers from the fact it's so indebted to a very famous, very striking FPS from 16 years ago. BioShock starts you off with a wrench and an electric shock attack called electro bolt, and Atomic Heart does more or less the same but with an axe. The difference is that Atomic Heart's electric shock feels… well, like it's just giving things a tickle. The combat has fairly standard basics (a melee weapon, a pistol, a shotgun, a grenade launcher) but is made nuanced by some great individual twists, like the zappy pistol you can upgrade into a death-dealing chargeable shock beam. You can customise your weapons into various damage types (electrical damage for robots, bleed damage for organic foes) and secondary effects like knockback or AoE. But ultimately no matter how you choose to skin Atomic Hearts' android enemies, combat lacks the heft of its inspirations. One reason for this is how hard Atomic Heart leans into collecting and crafting. Throughout the game you're wearing a sentient super-glove, and everything you point it at will open and the goodies will zoom towards you. Remember the scene in Ghostbusters where the library cards start flying out of the drawers? In Atomic Heart you trigger this effect constantly and so far it hasn't gotten old. In fact I enjoy it so much I think opening space cupboards individually in Starfield is going to drive me mad. You can similarly schloop the resources out of downed foes (whose bodies or parts convulse as the bits fly out), and whatever you're looting there's a lovely glimpse of the shiny bits flying towards you: You instantly have a sense when you've scored something good. This side of it is a delight. But using all this junk to painstakingly build and upgrade weapons means most of your equipment and attacks are unimpressive until you can grind enough loot to give them more oomph. I don't mind that Atomic Heart copies the electro bolt plasmid. But it annoys me to no end that it feels so underpowered and, as I progressed through the upgrade tree, I was incrementally gaining abilities that the BioShock power it copied came with as standard. There were only a few rungs of the upgrade ladder to climb with plasmids in BioShock, but each one felt more substantial, and crucially the basic versions felt powerful and good to use in and of themselves. In Atomic Heart I saw no point building a new tool or weapon without having the resources to immediately upgrade it several times. The game pretty much acknowledges this by including a system that refunds all resources for deconstructing any item. The idea is clearly that players should swap around and experiment with playstyles, but the cumbersome interface and its tiny icons mean the process is no pleasure, and most of the enemies don't encourage or demand this flexibility. The one occasion I did do this was to build a specific weapon for an annoying boss, and it worked, but I didn't especially like the weapon and ended up just deconstructing it again after the fight. Fight for the Motherland This is Atomic Heart writ large. It's bursting with ideas, and some of them are great and some are just ballast that only end up making the good stuff weaker. Despite my criticisms of the upgrade paths the combat is often exciting and tense, and some of the effects you can pull off—such as lifting half-a-dozen androids into the air, chain-electrocuting the lot, then smashing them down on the ground and launching a rocket—both look and feel fantastic. Special praise to an animation the androids have, where sometimes you'll blast them with a shot and they're knocked back by the impact, but uncannily flip-out of it and land in a starter's position ready to sprint at you. Several boss fights feature incredibly frustrating QTEs. No way do I want to have to successfully pull off a quickfire QTE four minutes into a five-minute fight or insta-fail. One boss called Ivy more or less has to be fought with melee, and will grab you with a one-shot QTE attack multiple times during the fight, making for an incredibly frustrating experience. This combat system never quite hits the heights it promises. It's like all the ingredients are there but the cake's still that tiny bit under-baked. Towards the end of BioShock and its sequels you feel like an all-powerful terror, a genetic monstrosity that swats splicers like flies. In Atomic Heart your power level amps up without ever reaching that point of potency. In terms of how you actually navigate this place, Atomic Heart offers one memorable and well-used idea: A viscous goop that your character can swim through in order to move vertically around certain environments. This weird-looking substance snakes around certain locales, often asking you to swim loops high above, and provides some magnificent perspectives on these environments. It's a standout idea both mechanically and visually, and the ability to hop out at any point along the tube lets you get creative with it. Though creativity, outside of combat, is rarely necessary here. Atomic Heart features an abundance of fetch quests, then commits the cardinal sin of having a protagonist who complains about constantly doing fetch quests. This is in addition to a talking glove that, honestly, I just began to tune out after a few hours of constant yapping: It also really doesn't help that at several points the game has the glove delivering a monologue about polymers or something while you're fighting a room full of enemies. FPS production at record levels Atomic Heart has been the subject of recent controversy in the context of the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian war, with its developers being Russian (though based in Cyprus) and the sources of its funding being questioned. Some critics suggest that Atomic Heart represents Russian soft power, and buying it would be some sort of implicit support for the war. Whatever one can say about the funding, this game is not a propaganda piece. In the same way that Fallout embraces Atomic-age Americana in order to oft-savagely critique American capitalism and culture, this is a Russian critique of Russian exceptionalism. The opening hours of course include sights and spectacles meant to echo the grandeur of the Russian Communist party's public events, where thousands of soldiers march beneath the hammer and sickle or a news report boasts of some new technological advance made by the comrades. Things then begin to unravel. No-one is quite who they seem to be, and the various layers of Soviet bureaucracy in this fictional Russia are locked in an internecine war and undermining each other (all the while comparing themselves to America, naturally). You can't criticise or send-up something like Russia's political system and nostalgia for the past without including the reasons why Russians may feel some misplaced fondness for the days of grand parades and 'strong' Soviet leaders—all that hollow spectacle in Atomic Heart is there to be chipped-away to expose the rot underneath. Atomic Heart arrives at a time where its critique of Soviet glory is unavoidably contextualised by what Russia is currently doing in the real world. The game on the one hand pines for the era where Russia led the space race, and the names of its cosmonauts travelled the world, and on the other is clear-eyed about what kind of system that was, and how its principles are still being used to subjugate a population under the guise of comradeship. The names of great Russians pop up again and again in the supporting cast in tribute, as they're used to tell a story of over-reach and ultimately the wider theme of man's inhumanity to man. I can't imagine finishing this game and thinking it's presenting Russia as some wonderland ruled by wise people for the common good. That probably makes Atomic Heart seem like a more impressive narrative achievement than it is. There are lofty themes here and some memorable story beats, but also a bunch of ridiculous characters and setpieces that come and go in the blink of an eye, and too much of the narrative is delivered in minute-long monologues by your glove while other things are happening. I also can't get over the fact that one of your recurring buddies, Granny Zika, looks uncannily like the late queen of England and is very foul-mouthed. Eastworld Atomic Heart is a surprising, ambitious, deeply flawed game that at times feels close to greatness. It will take your breath away with a setpiece one minute, then make you spend the next 10 fiddling with an annoying puzzle while the protagonist swears about how annoying this puzzle is. It's unbelievably crass in one breath, then delivers a cogent summary of contemporary issues around AI the next. I have no doubt it'll become some sort of cult classic among a particular type of FPS player. Inspiration is always a double-edged sword because of the comparison it invites, and Atomic Heart has been heavily inspired by the past. What lies beneath its glossy exterior, though, is an all-too-human sadness about the future of technological servitude it envisions. "Would be a nice place, if everyone wasn't dead," muses the protagonist at one point, a line so banal it's almost comic. But you look at all these bodies slumped around, so many that after a while they're like wallpaper, and the cleaning robots that heedlessly go back-and-forth on their manoeuvres in the aftermath, and it somehow lands. This game has moments of frustration alongside the wonder, and in some areas pales in comparison to those inspirations: But it is always reaching for the stars. Even if Atomic Heart never quite fully grasps them, that has to count for something. Check out Invitestore Regular Seller Store Here: https://www.invitestore.co/index.php?/forum/3-regular-sellers-section/
  19. One of gaming's true legends is leaving the Microsoft-owned development studio he founded over a decade ago. TrueAchievements reports that Shinji Mikami will be departing Tango Gameworks, where he was the studio head as well as the original founder. ZeniMax sent out a company-wide email announcing that Mikami will leave Tango Gameworks sometime in the coming months. There's no word as to why he made this decision. This move just a few weeks after the studio surprised many gamers with the launch of its stealth-developed rhythm action game Hi-Fi Rush. In the email announcing Mikami's departure, Todd Vaughn, the senior vice president of development at Microsoft-owned Bethesda Softworks, stated that Hi-Fi Rush has become "one of the most successful launches for Bethesda and Xbox in recent years" since its release for PC and Xbox consoles in late January. Vaughn added that the game has "generated significant positive momentum for the business and Tango." Mikami is perhaps best known as the development leader behind the original Resident Evil game for Capcom in 1996. He also directed Resident Evil 4 and the first Dino Crisis game among others. He later departed Capcom to form Tango Gameworks in early 2010, and it was acquired by ZeniMax later that same year. At Tango, Mikami was the game director behind the survival horror game The Evil Within which was released in 2014. He since served as the executive producer for Tango's subsequent games: The Evil Within 2, released in 2017, the action-adventure game Ghostwire: Tokyo in 2022, and this year's Hi-Fi Rush. Before the release of Ghostwire: Tokyo, ZeniMax was purchased by Microsoft in 2021. Check out Invitestore Regular Seller Store Here: https://www.invitestore.co/index.php?/forum/3-regular-sellers-section/
  20. The long wait to play co-op survival game Sons of the Forest is nearly over, and soon you'll be able to set foot on a mysterious and dangerous island, either on your own or with up to eight players in co-op. You'll need to gather resources, find food and fresh water, craft weapons and gear, build a base, and defend it from the island's terrifying cannibals in this sequel to Endnight Games' The Forest. If you're a survival fan you're probably eager to play, especially since the release of Sons of the Forest has already been delayed a few times. Here are the Sons of the Forest release times, broken down by region. Sons of the Forest release times Sons of the Forest is set to release into Steam Early Access on February 23, and will unlock globally for players at 9 am PT. Here's how that translates to other time zones: Los Angeles: 9 am PT New York: 12 pm ET London: 5 pm GMT Paris: 6 pm CET Sydney: 4 am AEDT (Friday) Currently there's no option on Steam to pre-load, or even pre-purchase Sons of the Forest, though the price is expected to be $30. The developers have said they expect the survival game to stay in early access for 6-8 months, though that may change based on player feedback. If you're looking for more information on Sons of the Forest, a multiplayer trailer showing co-op building and horrible fleshy nightmare monsters was recently released. It's also become the most-wishlisted game on Steam, even over Starfield, so you should have plenty of company if you decide to play it tomorrow. Check out Invitestore Regular Seller Store Here: https://www.invitestore.co/index.php?/forum/3-regular-sellers-section/
  21. Bethesda is known for taking mobile ventures now and then, and its latest project in this space is Mighty Doom, a top-down action game aimed at Android and iOS gamers. Featuring a miniaturized, but still very capable, Slayer, the arcade title has players cutting through demons starting in March for free. As the above trailer's gameplay segments show off, this is a top-down experience that has the Mini Slayer using an array of familiar Doom weapons and movement abilities to rip and tear through levels. Falling in battle in this means going back to the beginning of the run with earned XP to level up and upgrade the Mini Slayer's armaments and skills. Mighty Doom's development is being handled by Bethesda's Alpha Dog studio, a mobile game-focused team based in Canada. It has been a part of Xbox Game Studios since 2021 following Microsoft's acquisition of ZeniMax Media. The game is set in an "animated Doom universe" according to the studio, a dimension "inspired by DOOM Eternal’s collectible toys." Here's how the developer explains the setting of this spin-off experience: Mighty Doom has a March 21, 2023, launch date attached to it as a free-to-play experience. Pre-registrations are now open across Android and iOS. Those who jump in early will receive some free gear to spend in-game as well as exclusive weapon skins. Check out Invitestore Regular Seller Store Here: https://www.invitestore.co/index.php?/forum/3-regular-sellers-section/
  22. World War 2 looms large at all times, from school history lessons to cinematic epics—even when we're looking for some videogame escapism, it's there, making us replay the Normandy landings or the Battle of Stalingrad, deafening us with the cacophony of artillery and exploding tanks. For Company of Heroes 3, however, Relic has taken us further south, to the vineyards of Italy and the desert of North Africa. And a lot has changed since the previous games, with the studio's ambition and desire for experimentation growing. This is something new, but it's not the novelties that have impressed me the most. Company of Heroes 3 is a beast of a game, cramming in two campaigns and four factions. Its proportions are fitting for this devastatingly massive conflict. The main course, ostensibly, is the Italian dynamic campaign—promising something akin to a World War 2 Total War. From Sicily to Rome, you'll push your way north, fighting the Nazis in random skirmishes and incredible bespoke missions. It's a huge turn-based campaign that serves up a slew of spectacular, tactically interesting RTS battles, and it should be the most exciting thing Relic has ever done. Lamentably, this is not the case due to the absence of one crucial ingredient: it isn't remotely dynamic. As an RTS, Company of Heroes 3 is right up there with the very best, but Relic's experimental campaign is, tragically, a bit of a dud. Across my nearly 40-hour march to Rome, I encountered hardly any resistance at all. The only time my adversary attempted to take back a town I'd captured, it was a scripted event. Aside from that, the Nazis seemed resigned to let me keep everything I'd claimed. Regardless of the difficulty settings, aggression is a foreign concept to them. If one of your companies encounters an enemy company, they'll probably try to attack you after you've finished your turn, so they are at least willing to defend their territory, but they never go beyond that. This renders the campaign largely pointless, turning it into a perfunctory saunter. You'll be told to defend towns and build emplacements to help with this, but doing so is a waste of companies and resources when the enemy will never venture south. Pyrrhic victory The Italian campaign, then, is fundamentally broken. This is especially frustrating when it's clear how great it could have been. And even in this seemingly unfinished state, good ideas bubble to the surface, if you can push past the very rough UI and impotent opponent. Each company you requisition is a powerful toolkit that contains not just a distinct selection of units you'll field in the RTS scraps, but also a range of abilities that help on the campaign map. The Indian Artillery Company, for instance, can bombard enemy positions, softening up towns, removing emplacements, blowing up bridges and weakening enemy companies. So there are a lot of targets to destroy, but also lots of opportunities to build. Along with the emplacements you can pointlessly cover Italy in, conquest provides yet more things to spend your resources on. Capture an airfield and you can start sending out reconnaissance planes to remove the fog of war, or bombers to prepare targets for a ground assault. Capturing ports, meanwhile, increases your population cap and gives you more ships, which can strike at enemy targets from the sea. Together these give you a tonne of options for how to approach every assault. There's also an elegance to the way Company of Heroes 3 makes its twin layers approachable and logical—each being a reflection of the other. So those ships and planes that can rain down hell on things on the campaign map also appear as abilities in the RTS battles. The rules and tricks and pretty much everything you can do in one layer don't need to be cast aside when you enter the other one, maintaining this cohesive feel that even the king of this hybrid genre, Total War, hasn't perfected. Significantly less elegant are the campaign progression systems, which are a bit of a tangled mess. Companies gain experience from battle, whether it's a proper RTS fight, an auto-resolved scrap or just blowing up a bunker on the map, and from that experience you get a hefty supply of skill points, which in turn must be spent across three distinct systems: Abilities, Upgrades and Units. There's too much to comfortably prioritise, especially when you're juggling lots of different companies, and they just don't fit together very well—even visually. The UI for each is completely different, as is the order in which you unlock things. It just feels like I'm dabbling in something that's still in the concept phase. Friends with benefits Subcommanders only add to the messiness by introducing one more progression system—another interesting idea that doesn't quite land. Again, we have a list of unlockable bonuses, but this time it's loyalty, not experience, that unlocks them. The British General Norton, US General Buckram and Italian partisan leader Valenti each have their own goals and personalities, and by agreeing with them in occasional conversations, performing missions for them, or simply acting in a way they like, you fill up their loyalty bar and unlock their bonuses. But it all feels a bit superfluous. The bonuses you'll receive are sometimes pretty helpful if not especially flashy, like reduced ability cooldowns, but when it comes to developing the relationships that unlock them, there's a serious lack of friction. While it initially seems like the tension between the trio will force you to make tough calls, in reality it seems like you'd really have to work hard not to make all three your BFFs. I got quite a lot of notifications about how I'd lost loyalty with Valenti because I was rather aggressive in my 'liberation' of Italy, but there were no consequences, because simply playing the game ensures that you're constantly impressing them. Win enough fights and Valenti doesn't give a shit how many Italian towns you completely demolish. So the Italian campaign is not the slam dunk I was hoping for, but I find myself less disappointed than expected. I was anticipating something grand, something evocative of Total War, and it doesn't remotely live up to this—but what it does is spit out incredible fight after incredible fight. So many highs, thrills, and god, the explosions? Impeccable. Pristine maps turned into hellish, crater-filled nightmares, buildings crumbling, tank husks smouldering, men running around on fire—it's appalling but exciting. Here, in the RTS layer, we see real dynamism. And it even gives a glimmer of dynamism to the campaign map, where bombing the shit out of a location before you head into battle transforms it, pitting the ground and destroying buildings—which can have a dramatic impact on the ensuing fight. Once you enter the map, though, that's when you become a proper terraformer, remaking and deconstructing Italy's towns and countryside. The terrain reflects the decisions you make as you strategically take out anywhere Nazis might be hiding, as they do the same to you. Even the most stalwart cover is fleeting. When that "Mission Completed" notification pops up, you celebrate amid the apocalypse. The Hedgerow Hell and frosty Russian maps of Company of Heroes 1 and 2 remain RTS high points, but Italy has spawned some of my favourite fighting spots. Narrow roads surrounded by tall buildings, hiding snipers and machine gun teams; winding countryside paths, where anti-tank guns hide behind every corner; the terrifying expanse of an airfield runway, where cover is a luxury and death seems perpetually imminent—even the memories of these encounters is enough to get my heart thudding like an artillery strike. Each of the main missions is pure magic—even the overly ambitious final assault on the Winter Line. This climactic confrontation gives you different companies to control during different phases, and then lets you switch between them at will, and honestly it's just a big bloody mess, like a co-op battle where you're both players. But I still enjoyed it—the ambition, the spectacle, the chaos. Good company Between the big missions are countless random skirmishes, and given the length of the campaign I was worried they might start to get a bit stale. That didn't prove to be the case, not just because the skirmish maps and objectives are numerous, but because each type of company has a different playstyle and different toys to play with, keeping things exciting even 40 hours in. The Indian Artillery Company remained a favourite throughout, however, calling in handy off-map artillery strikes, dropping powerful mortar teams into the battle, and letting me play with the badass Gurkha unit. These lads can toss a whole barrage of grenades at the enemy, and it's always a good time. If you like explosions—and if you're playing Company of Heroes, you must—you're going to have a blast with this company. Every company has a fantastic hook, mind you, from the tank-heavy US Armored Company to the sneaky US Airborne Company. And while they all have their own unique tricks, they're all incredibly versatile, too, more than capable of taking on any challenge, just in slightly different ways. The tactical pause system makes getting to grips with each company, and the units within them, a lot easier, giving you the space to set up and coordinate more elaborate attacks, or create a chain of orders. You can take all the time you need to throw down some smoke grenades, move your gun crews into position, call down an airstrike and send some brave lads into a fortified building to breach it, before unpausing the action and watching it all play out like a deadly ballet. The much brisker North African campaign is Company of Heroes at its more traditional—a linear series of eight missions that sees you commanding the Deutsches Afrikakorps (DAK) and taking your marching orders from Rommell. Narratively it's a weird one, attempting to balance the discomfort of playing as historical villains by interspersing it with the stories and perspective of Jewish Berber's fighting against the Nazis, or living in occupied areas. The attempt to tell less well known stories, giving the oppressed a voice and even using their language, is a welcome one, but it feels awkwardly stitched together and is, ultimately, telling us stories about people that only exist in mostly static cutscenes. While the campaign's storytelling lacks impact, the missions themselves are a pleasantly diverse bunch, running the gamut from huge, multi-phase epic confrontations with offensive and defensive portions to smaller, focused scenarios where you're setting up traps for convoys or hunting down tank commanders. The North African maps are also a big change of pace from their Italian counterparts. The frequency of the wide, open spaces initially makes them seem less tactical, but they are perfect for the DAK, a faction that's all about tanks. The desert really lets these behemoths rips, in turn emphasising some of Company of Heroes 3's new features, like tank riding and side armour. Tanks are more versatile, but also require a bit more micromanagement, blessing these fights with more tension, even as you ride into battle with the deadliest of monsters. Infinity war Together the two campaigns give you plenty of battles, but the multiplayer and skirmish modes extend that even further, letting you fight other players or go on a good old fashioned comp stomp as one of the four factions (US Forces, British Forces, Wehrmacht, Afrikakorps). This quartet can then be further specialised in-game by picking specific battlegroup upgrade paths that reflect the companies of the campaigns. The campaign AI, at least in the RTS layer, is serviceable if conservative, so it's really in multiplayer where the depth of Company of Heroes 3's strategy is truly revealed, and its most exciting confrontations. 14 maps are already in play, and mod support means we should see more appear courtesy of the community after launch. I expect to spend a lot of time here now that I've finished my tour of duty in the campaigns, and I've already had a blast blowing up (and getting blown up by) my fellow critics. Company of Heroes 3 is a hard game to render a verdict on. Patches may improve the Italian campaign, but right now it's impossible to look at it as anything other than a failure. Yet I've had weeks of fun with the RTS, and can't wait to keep playing as more players enter the battlefield at launch. It is a flawed experiment that has nonetheless provided me with real-time brawls that I simply cannot get enough of—I love it. If you're willing to accept that the campaign is just a vehicle for fantastic battles, I think you might love it too. Check out Invitestore Regular Seller Store Here: https://www.invitestore.co/index.php?/forum/3-regular-sellers-section/
  23. Ubisoft is continuing the impressive run it has had with Rainbow Six Siege as the tactical shooter's eighth year of updates gets ready to kick off. Coming with the name Operation Commanding Force, the Year 8 Season 1 update will carry a brand-new Operator, weapon reload behavior changes, and even anti-cheat measures for consoles. Brava is the latest Operator joining the Attacking side of the shooter. Much like Twitch, Brava comes equipped with a special drone as her unique gadget, a device that's able to hack opponent gadgets to switch their allegiances. For example, a hacked Kapkan trap will trigger on Defenders, while a hacked Yokai drone of Echo will be fully controllable by Brava for her team's purposes. Watch Ubisoft's deep dive video of Brava below, which further explains her gadget's usage and the equipment she carries into battle: Ubisoft is also removing reload canceling from the game to make reloading a riskier endeavor, beginner challenges for onboarding new players into Siege, as well as a 100-level battle pass to climb. While a new map is not attached to this update, Ubisoft is bringing in a handful of community requested features this season, the first one being Mousetrap. This is a detection tool being implemented into the Xbox and PlayStation versions of Siege that is aiming to catch mouse and keyboard users on consoles. Ubisoft said a large number of players on consoles are using input spoofing devices to give themselves the advantage of using a mouse against controller users. Per the studio, these cheaters won't be banned, but instead will be given unplayable amounts of input latency in their matches to deter their efforts. The Mousetrap anti-cheat feature will go live in a mid-season update. Rainbow Six Siege Year 8 Season 1: Operation Commanding Force enters the Test Server on February 21, while a full launch is planned for March 7. Ubisoft has four seasonal updates planned out for the game in 2023, with a full reveal of the upcoming year of content debuting tomorrow at the Six Invitational tournament stage. Check out Invitestore Regular Seller Store Here: https://www.invitestore.co/index.php?/forum/3-regular-sellers-section/
  24. https://www.newegg.com/gigabyte-gefo...QXKzhQb1a.f.Ig Newegg has an RTX 4070 Ti GPU on sale for $820(opens in new tab), $80 off its current listing price, and only $20 more than MSRP. RTX 40-series cards have been notoriously overpriced since launch, and the RTX 4070 Ti has been no stranger to these pricing shenanigans. Use Promo Code NLTCP2A284 at checkout for the full discount. The Gigabyte GeForce RTX 4070 Ti Gaming OC is a solid upgrade, especially if you're coming from an RTX 30-series GPU. You're looking at stellar 1080p and 1440p gaming performance. You've even got enough horsepower for some 4K gaming, but you'll obviously need a decent 4K monitor with a refresh rate above 60Hz to make the most of the GPU. What we like about the RTX 4070 Ti is that it's a good step up from an RTX 3090 in terms of performance. It offers a lot better cooler and power efficiency for only $50 more than what RTX 3090 cards are selling for right now. However, RTX 30-series cards won't be able to take advantage of DLSS 3. Speaking of DLSS 3, Nvidia's newest frame generation technology will give you a rather generous boost in frame rate on RTX 40-series cards, sometimes even up to a 4x frame rate increase. With more and more games supporting DLSS 3, it might be a good time to pull the trigger on this GPU. Be sure to bookmark our cheap graphics card deals page, as it's updated weekly with the best deals on GPUs like Intel's budget Arc A750 for less than $300(opens in new tab). Check out Invitetore Regular Seller Store Here: https://www.invitestore.co/index.php?/forum/3-regular-sellers-section/
  25. When U.S. legislators proposed the CHIPS and Science act a couple of years ago, they set a rather vague goal to significantly increase domestic chip production by building new fabs. However, the U.S. government will set the wheels in motion next month by accepting applications for semiconductor projects. And this week, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo outlined the ambitious goals that the country has in mind with its CHIPS and Science initiative. The Biden administration hopes that by 2030, the U.S. will develop and produce the world's most advanced chips on its shores. To bring the industry's most sophisticated process technologies to America, the U.S. government expects at least two new large-scale clusters of leading-edge logic fabs to emerge. Both should have a strong supplier ecosystem, specialized infrastructure, and R&D operations. Also, the government expects chipmakers to deploy high-volume advanced chip packaging facilities in the U.S. Both goals are achievable as Intel, TSMC, and Samsung Foundry are building advanced chip fabs in the U.S. Intel is also building up an all-new campus in Ohio that will include leading-edge fabs and advanced packaging facilities. While TSMC is expected to keep its most sophisticated nodes in Taiwan for the next few years, as its campus in Arizona expands (and it is rumored to include advanced packaging operations over time), it may start making chips on leading-edge nodes there as well. The same applies to Samsung Foundry's Taylor, Texas fab, which used to make its most advanced chips in Texas. In addition to the world's most advanced logic and packaging facilities, the U.S. government wants the country to produce advanced memory chips 'on economically competitive terms, which Micron expects to achieve. It just so happens that Micron plans to deploy two new major memory fabs in the U.S. — in Idaho and Ohio — by the end of the decade. Also, the American government wants chipmakers to expand production capacity for the current-generation and mature-node chips most critical to the country's economic and national security. "I want the United States to be the only country in the world where every company capable of producing leading-edge chips will have a significant R&D and high-volume manufacturing presence," said Raimondo. "Now, achieving these goals won't be easy. We are ambitious, but we are not naïve." Next week a special jury will begin to consider applications by various parties to receive funds and other incentives to build and develop chips in the USA. $39 billion is allocated for manufacturing incentives, while another $11 billion will be invested to build a strong semiconductor R&D ecosystem. Check out Invitetore Regular Seller Store Here: https://www.invitestore.co/index.php?/forum/3-regular-sellers-section/
  • Create New...