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January 21 2014

10:25

FBI Drags Google Glass Man From Theater on Piracy Fears

glassSometime during 2014 the much-anticipated Google Glass will launch to the general public. When it does the age of the wearable computer will have truly arrived in the form of a relatively unobtrusive pair of eye glasses.

While every technology enthusiast is bursting to at least test the device, there are concerns over its appearance. On the one hand it looks cool and futuristic, but on the other it could quickly be perceived in the same way as the original bluetooth ear-piece.

Nevertheless, in a few months time thousands of people will be wearing them, which will only serve to amplify the already considerable debate over the device. From the inside looking out, the integrated video camera is generating privacy worries in abundance and just last week a San Diego traffic court threw out a traffic violation against a Californian motorist after she was accused of watching video on her Glass while driving.

And now, right on cue, for the first time a Glass user has revealed the kind of treatment people can expect from the movie industry should they dare to wear even a switched-off device in one of their establishments.

Last Saturday evening a man and his wife attended the AMC movie theater in Easton Mall, Columbus, Ohio, to watch Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. The Glass unit itself was switched off, but out of convenience the man had paid for prescription lenses to be fitted to the device turning them into regular glasses. Sadly, theater staff and their friends at the MPAA and FBI were geared up to presume only the worst.

“About an hour into the movie, a guy comes near my seat, shoves a badge that had some sort of a shield on it, yanks the Google Glass off my face and says ‘follow me outside immediately’. It was quite embarrassing and outside of the theater there were about 5-10 cops and mall cops,” the man told Gadgeteer.

After trying to establish the official’s identity and authority (and trying to get his property back), the man was put firmly in his place.

“You see all these cops, you know we are legit, we are with the ‘federal service’ and you have been caught illegally taping the movie,” he was told.

AMC

His protests that this was a big misunderstanding only led to the couple being split up and taken to different rooms. The man was searched and his wallet plus work and personal phones (both off) were taken away from him.

“What followed was over an hour of the ‘feds’ telling me I am not under arrest, and that this is a ‘voluntary interview’, but if I choose not to cooperate bad things may happen to me,” he explained.

“They wanted to know who I am, where I live, where I work, how much I’m making, how many computers I have at home, why am I recording the movie, who am I going to give the recording to, why don’t I just give up the guy up the chain, ’cause they are not interested in me. Over and over and over again.”

And then yet more paranoia. Even though the Google Glass was switched off the man wasn’t allowed to touch the device out of fear he would “erase the evidence.” The FBI also asked some pretty strange questions.

“Then they wanted to know what does Google ask of me in exchange for Glass, how much is Google paying me, who is my boss and why am I recording the movie,” he explained.

Finally someone had the good sense to connect the Glass up to a laptop. Five minutes later and all family photos viewed (some 3.5 hours after the movie began) Mr Google Glass wearer was declared an innocent man. But not to worry, since the guy from the ‘movie association’ was about to make amends.

“A guy who claimed his name is Bob Hope (he gave me his business card) came in the room, and said he was with the Movie Association and they have problems with piracy at that specific theater and that specific movie. He gave me two free movie passes ‘so I can see the movie again’,” a gesture that was subsequently upped to four passes after the revelation that AMC had called him first and he’d decided to escalate the matter to the FBI.

This kind of heavy-handed response is what people have come to expect from the movie industry when confronted by people they suspect of piracy. Sure, there’s a need for them to be vigilant, but shooting first and then asking questions later is something that could and should be avoided. Google Glass might be the first device of this type, but it won’t be the last. Expect the problems – and controversy – to continue.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and VPN services.

December 24 2013

17:11

Iron Maiden Tracks Down Pirates…. And Gives Them Concerts

iron-maidenOver the past several years numerous studies have shown that on average file-sharers spend more money on legal purchases, including concert tickets and merchandise.

The most logical explanation for this finding is that “pirates” are more engaged than those who don’t share, and that they complement their legal purchases with unauthorized downloads.

This means that unauthorized file-sharers are in fact the music industry’s best customers. So, instead of hunting down these pirates for lawsuits, it may be more rewarding to play for them.

The English heavy metal band Iron Maiden is doing just that. The veteran musicians use the services of music analytics company Musicmetric which allows them to see where their albums are most pirated.

“If you know what drives engagement you can maximize the value of your fan base. Artists could say ‘we’re getting pirated here, let’s do something about it’, or ‘we’re popular here, let’s play a show’,” Gregory Mead, CEO and co-founder of Musicmetric told Cite.

Instead of suing these unauthorized file-sharers, the band used the information as input for its tours, and not without success.

The overview below, for example, shows that Iron Maiden is most popular among Brazilian pirates with 463,467 downloads in recent years. The band is also relatively popular in Chile with 1,300 downloads per 100,000 Internet users, which totals 70,932 downloads.


Iron Maiden’s popularity on BitTorrent (large)

mms

In part based on this file-sharing data, Iron Maiden’s recent tour had a heavy focus on South America, where the band has a lot of Twitter followers and unauthorized downloads. The band played in Paraguay for the first time, for example, and concerts were sold out throughout the region.

According to Musicmetric the file-sharing data helped Iron Maiden turn these pirates into paying customers, simply by heading over there and playing for them. It’s impossible to download the true experience of a live concert, so the chances are high that several pirates will turn up.

“If you engage with fans, there is a chance to turn a percentage into paying customers. You can see that through various bands using the BitTorrent network in a legal way to share content,” Mead says.

It’s refreshing to see that instead of hunting down pirates for lawsuits, file-sharing data is being used by artists to plan their gigs. After all, it is much more rewarding to play for your fans than to try to bankrupt them in court.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and VPN services.

Reposted bysofiascoloredgrayscaleburningensotechfomakrosDerOrwischerohfpWollf

December 22 2013

21:44

U.S. Army Base Runs Unlicensed Windows 7 Computers

microsoft-pirateThe United States is known for its aggressive stance when it comes to copyright infringements.

It therefore came as quite a surprise that the U.S. military had been using unlicensed logistics software for years, a case the Obama administration settled for $50 million last month.

However, a signal soldier serving in Qatar informs TorrentFreak that this incident may not be as unique as it sounds. According to the soldier, who we will name Mark, the soldiers’ education center at his base has 18 computers which all run unlicensed copies of Windows 7.

“All of the computers in this computer lab show that the operating system is not a genuine copy,” Mark says.

The picture below shows several of the computers in the education center of Camp As Sayliyah. The facility is open to all active and reserve military personnel as well as DOD civilians.


center

The computers have been running in this state for quite a while according to the soldier, and he is unaware of any attempts to properly license the software.


invalid

The picture below again shows a Windows 7 copy that hasn’t been activated. The product-ID displayed is a generic OEM one, which is often used on Dell machines.


workgroup

The desktop of the machines also shows a clear reminder that the Windows copy is not genuine. In addition, users also get the occasional popup warning that they “may be a victim of software counterfeiting.”


screen

Mark informs us that this is the first time he has seen a military base openly run unlicensed Windows systems. He brought up the issue with his direct superiors a few weeks ago, but that hasn’t changed anything.

“I am not anti-government in any way, but I have been in the army a long time and I feel the army should be kept honest and accountable for what they do, especially when it is so public and a hot button issue in these times,” Mark told us.

From the information we received it is unclear why the computers are not licensed. Perhaps the legitimate keys were lost, perhaps there are no valid keys available, or maybe the Army has fallen victim to the consumer unfriendliness of DRM.

What we do know is that the Department of Defense has a long-standing relationship with Microsoft. Earlier this year both parties signed a $617 million licensing deal to bring Windows 8 to the Army, Air Force, and Defense Information Systems Agency.

Considering this new deal, Microsoft will probably forgive the U.S. for running a few computers without a license.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and VPN services.

November 27 2013

18:57

U.S. Government Caught Pirating Military Software, Settles For $50 Million

mil-pirateIn recent years the U.S. Government has taken an aggressive stance towards copyright infringement, both at home and abroad.

“Piracy is theft, clean and simple,” Vice President Joe Biden said when he announced the Joint Strategic Plan to combat intellectual property theft.

However, at the same time the Vice President was launching the new anti-piracy strategy, software company Apptricity was involved in a multi-million dollar piracy dispute with the Government.

In 2004 Apptricity signed a contract with the U.S. Army to license enterprise software that manages troop and supply movements. The deal allowed the Government to use the software on five servers and 150 standalone devices, and since then it has been used in critical missions all over the world.

“The Army has used Apptricity’s integrated transportation logistics and asset management software across the Middle East and other theaters of operation. The Army has also used the software to coordinate emergency management initiatives, including efforts following the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti,” the company explains.

While Apptricity was happy to have the Government as a client, the company was shocked to find out that the army had secretly installed thousands of unlicensed copies of the software. This unauthorized use was discovered by accident during Strategic Capabilities Planning 2009, when the U.S. Army Program Director stated that thousands of devices used Apptricity software.

As it turned out, the army had installed pirated copies of the software on 93 servers and more than 9,000 standalone devices. With license fees of $1.35 million per server and $5,000 per device, Apptricity calculated that the Government owed the company $224 million in unpaid fees.

To recoup the missing revenue the software company filed a lawsuit at the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. It accused the Government of willful copyright infringement, while actively concealing these infringements from Apptricity.

“The Government knew or should have known that it was required to obtain a license for copying Apptricity software onto each of the servers and devices,” the company told the court, demanding a minimum of $224,543,420.80 in damages, an amount equal to the shortfall in license revenue.

The Government eventually admitted that it used many copies of the software without permission, and after lengthy negotiations both parties have now decided to settle the case.

“After Alternative Dispute Resolution proceedings, the parties agreed to settle for $50 million. The figure represents a fraction of the software’s negotiated contract value that provides a material quantity of server and device licenses for ongoing and future Department of Defense usage,” Apptricity just announced.

Despite the copyright dispute, Apptricity expects that it will continue its business relationship with the U.S. military.

“Now that this process is behind us, it is envisioned the Apptricity and Army relationship will continue to grow exponentially,” says Tim McHale, an Apptricity senior adviser and retired major-general.

The Obama administration has yet to comment on the settlement but if a statement is forthcoming it will be almost certainly be less vocal on the piracy front, especially since the Government now finds itself on the other side of the fence.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and VPN services.

November 26 2013

16:54

ISPs Can Be Required to Block Access to Pirate Sites, EU Court Hears

stop-blockedNotorious movie and TV show streaming site Kino.to has long since closed and its operators punished, but its legacy lives on in the legal realm.

The current dispute involves Austrian ISP UPC Telekabel Wien and movie companies Constantin Film Verleih and Wega Filmproduktionsgesellschaft. The film companies complained that the ISP was providing its subscribers with access to Kino.to which enabled them to access their copyrighted material without permission.

Interim injunctions were granted in the movie companies’ favor which required the ISP to block the site. However, the Austrian Supreme Court later issued a request to the Court of Justice to clarify whether a provider that provides Internet access to those using an illegal website were to be regarded as an intermediary, in the same way that the host of an illegal site might.

In his opinion handed down today, Advocate General Pedro Cruz Villalón said that the ISP of a user accessing a website said to be infringing copyright should also be regarded as an intermediary whose services are used by a third party, such as the operator of an infringing website.

This means that the ISP of an infringing site user can be subjected to a blocking injunction, as long as it contain specifics on the technicalities.

“The Advocate General is of the view that it is incompatible with the weighing of the fundamental rights of the parties [freedom of information, freedom to do business, copyright protection] to prohibit an internet service provider generally and without ordering specific measures from allowing its customers to access a particular website that infringes copyright,” the opinion reads.

“However, a specific blocking measure imposed on a provider relating to a specific website is not, in principle, disproportionate only because it entails not inconsiderable costs but can easily be circumvented without any special technical knowledge. It is for the national courts, in the particular case, taking into account all relevant circumstances, to weigh the fundamental rights of the parties against each other and thus strike a fair balance between those fundamental rights,” the adviser notes.

The Advocate General also notes that operators of piracy-related websites and their hosts often base themselves outside Europe or take steps to mask their identities. This, he says, makes it difficult to bring cases before the courts. Nevertheless, whenever possible rightsholders must first issue claims directly against site operators or their providers.

The legal opinion is not legally binding and the Court of Justice is entitled to disregard it, but the Court often follows the AG’s advice in such cases. Deliberations in the Kino.to case are just beginning and a judgment will be handed down at a later date.

Source: ISPs Can Be Required to Block Access to Pirate Sites, EU Court Hears

October 31 2013

10:11

UK Government Funds Anti-Piracy Outfit With Taxpayer Money

Muso-logoThe anti-piracy business is booming, with thousands of companies making a decent living by helping rightsholders to protect their work.

London-based MUSO is one of these outfits. The company has been around for a few years already and has evolved into one of the most active senders of DMCA requests to Google.

Earlier this month MUSO broke the one million URL barrier in respect of their DMCA takedown requests, while charging their clients between 8 and 24 cents per link. However, the company has bigger plans and is developing a new technology to convert pirates into paying customers.

To fund this new technology the company applied for a “Smart Award” grant from the Government’s Technology Strategy Board. After a careful review of MUSO’s proposal the Government awarded the anti-piracy outfit £250,000.

MUSO director Christopher Elkins is delighted with the news and says that the money will eventually benefit the UK tech sector and copyright holders.

“The grant award gives our R&D team an extremely robust financial position from which to develop this ambitious and forward-thinking product, to the benefit of the UK tech sector, and rights holders looking for new ways to further drive the online growth of great content,” Elkins says.

The question is, however, to what degree the UK will benefit from the investment. A quick look at MUSO’s top clients based on Google’s Transparency Report shows only foreign copyright holders.

The top five consists of the Indian movie studio “Eros International”, Canadian based “Entertainment One”, the Dutch publisher “Meulenhoff Boekerij”, “Nuclear Blast” from Germany, and Norway’s “Nordisk Film Distribution Norway.”

Another prominent associate of MUSO is the Russian social network VKontakte, who signed an agreement earlier this year allowing the UK company to monitor and report uploads of copyrighted material.

How the new technology will convert pirates into paying customers remains a mystery for now. The company is said to be starting a trial in the second quarter of next year but further details are lacking.

TorrentFreak contacted MUSO for more details on their plans but we have yet to receive a response. Previously the company announced a browser addon which will allow people to report infringing torrent and cyberlocker links to the company, but these have yet to be released to the public.

Source: UK Government Funds Anti-Piracy Outfit With Taxpayer Money

October 28 2013

15:37

Piracy Monitoring and Settlement Firm Goes Public

rightscorpFor years the entertainment industries have been complaining that online piracy is hurting their revenues.

The problem has motivated people to start anti-piracy companies such as Rightscorp, a company which uses standard DMCA takedown requests to send settlement offers to alleged copyright infringers.

Rightscorp today announced that it has completed an alternative public offering (APO) and has begun trading on the OTCQB under the ticker RIHT. In addition, the company finalized a $2 million equity financing, money that will be used to expand its patent-pending technology so it can handle more clients.

The company says it’s pursuing an estimated “$2.3 billion opportunity” of revenue that’s now lost through online piracy.

As an anti-piracy outfit Rightscorp operates in between the Copyright Alert System and the mass-BitTorrent lawsuits that are now common in the United States. The company tracks down copyright infringers and sends settlement requests to Internet providers, who forward them to their customers.

The typical settlement request is $20 per copyright infringement, but this sum increases if pirates continue to share the file after they received the first notice. For music albums every song counts as a single offense, which means that an album of 10 tracks can cost $200.

Rightscorp has a wide variety of clients, including Warner Bros. and BMG. Talking to TorrentFreak, the movie studio previously said that it uses the settlement approach to complement their anti-piracy efforts for customers whose ISPs don’t participate in the Copyright Alert System.


Warner Bros. settlement offer

wb-settle

Rightscorp CEO Christopher Sabec tells us that their approach is not only more effective than the Copyright Alert System, but generates revenue at the same time.

“The Copyright Alert System is simply not scalable. On October 26, 2013 there were 47m active peers on the Pirate Bay trackers,” Sabec says.

“Recent stats show that there are hundreds of millions of monthly BitTorrent users. Without a model that recoups revenue from the infringers, a CAS-style system would have extraordinary costs to handle even 10% of the BitTorrent traffic.”

On the other hand, Rightscorp believes that their approach is fairer than mass-lawsuits, which cost alleged pirates thousands of dollars in settlement fees.

According to the company the copyright holders they represent will only take legal action against subscribers who ignore all warnings and continue to share pirated files for three months.

“The mass lawsuit approach is problematic because there is no appearance of due process to the public. With Rightscorp, if a copyright holder chooses to sue someone who received 90 of our notices over 90 days and continued file sharing, they had ample warning to stop file sharing,” Sabec tells TorrentFreak.

“We believe that our notice approach appears much more fair than someone getting sued with no warning. With the current mass lawsuit paradigm, people are sued for millions of dollars after having never received a warning. The public seems to feels that is extreme and unfair. We believe we fix that problem.”

It’s worth noting that Rightscorp announced its public offering on the fifteenth birthday of the DMCA law. As far as we know that’s a complete coincidence.

Source: Piracy Monitoring and Settlement Firm Goes Public

October 24 2013

12:00

File-Sharing Site Was A Year-Long Pirate Honeypot

snitchParanoia can be high in the file-sharing world so it will come as no surprise that there are regular rumors that site X or user Y cannot be trusted. While it’s almost certain that on some sites there are staff members who don’t have the community’s best interests at heart, evidence of serious foul play is a rare occurrence.

Today, however, the owner of a file-sharing discussion forum confirmed that his site was actually a pirate honeypot, setup with the aim of gathering otherwise confidential information on uploaders, file-hosts and web companies involved in the piracy ecosystem. Adding insult to injury, that site and the admin’s services have been acquired by a U.S.-based anti-piracy company.

WDF, real name unknown, is the founder of UploaderTalk.com, a web forum designed to attract individuals who like to make money from uploading files to file-hosting sites. Part of the idea is that they join the site and interact with others with similar aims, such as representatives from file-hosting sites touting their affiliate schemes.

UploaderTalk was founded pretty much a year ago today after WDF was banned from a similar but much larger site called WJunction, probably the largest uploader/file-hosting hangout anywhere on the web.

However, WDF wasn’t any old member. After joining up to WJunction in September 2011, WDF later became a moderator then super moderator on the site, meaning that he had access to a lot of private information such as email and IP addresses. The implications for file-hosting sites and uploaders hardly need to be pointed out.

It’s not clear why WDF was eventually removed from WJunction but there was clearly some kind of falling out. Shortly after WDF’s departure around 12 months ago internal leaks of information from WJunction were published on the web, ostensibly from some kind of third party hack.

warezUploaderTalk reported on these leaks regularly including the November 2012 revelations by Robert King of the StopFileLockers anti-piracy campaign which claimed to contain the identities of WJunction’s owners and backers.

UT, as UploaderTalk became known, was never destined to challenge WJunction as the leading site of its kind. However, in addition to its regular readers, over the past 12 months the site gathered nearly 1,000 fully signed up members of the uploading and file-hosting community. For them today’s announcement will be an unpleasant one.

“UT is now closed. UT was set up for a number of reasons. But mostly to be a sounding board, proof of concept.[.].and to collect data,” WDF said in a statement today.

“That’s right the biggest swerve ever. I, WDF, work for the anti-piracy people! I have collected information on many of you. I collected info on file hosts, web hosts, websites.”

The official announcement from WDF confirmed what many people have suspected for some time – that WDF had been playing on both sides of the fence.

“How is it I was able to protect some sites and people? Because I was working for the other side!” WDF said.

“How is it I knew so many things? Well think about it, I suckered shitloads of you. I built a history, got the trust of some very important people in the warez scene collecting information and data all the time.”

It’s unclear what WDF intends to do with the information obtained so far but for now it has to be presumed that he will be sharing it with his new employer, NukePiracy LLC, a company registered on October 2013 in Nashville, Tennessee.

“So what happens now? I am already working with a different ID, a new persona, and still collecting data. You never know who I will be or where I will turn up. I work for Nuke Piracy now, this is very bad for anyone profiting from piracy,” WDF concludes.

Source: File-Sharing Site Was A Year-Long Pirate Honeypot

Reposted bywonko wonko

October 22 2013

19:38

Pirate Bay Downloaders Trolled By Movie Director’s Shaven Balls

pornopungIn years gone by downloading material from file-sharing applications could be a risky occupation. Traditional file-sharing networks such as FastTrack (Kazaa) and Gnutella (LimeWire) became dumping grounds for millions of junk files, many incorrectly named, to the point where shutting them down was the only thing that could save them.

These days things are very much different. Although BitTorrent sharing is carried out mainly in software clients, torrent files themselves are generally obtained from indexes, or torrent sites as most people know them. Not only do these sites carry comments from users which can be read in order to avoid downloading trash, many are policed by teams of moderators who remove junk, fake and malicious files.

But despite the superior moderation of today’s ecosystem, it is still entirely possible to get a file onto a torrent site that isn’t entirely what it seems. That has just been achieved to hilarious effect by film director Johan Kaos, who got past the moderators on the world’s most infamous torrent site to play a never-seen-before prank on its users.

The joke involved Kaos’ just released movie ‘Pornopung‘ (Norwegian slang for “shaven balls”), a Norwegian comedy featuring two pick up artists who share their tricks with a ‘novice’ called Christian, enabling him to become more attractive to the opposite sex.

Those downloading the movie from The Pirate Bay got a decent copy to begin with, but little did they know that it was Kaos himself seeding the video. The director had heavily modified the rest of the movie, as they would soon discover. As can be seen below, after the first 10 mins or so the camera switches to Kaos who filmed himself chatting in his bathroom. Then things get very much worse.

kaos

“Hehe. I thought the movie was going to end up on The Pirate Bay sooner or later anyway, so why not be a little ahead?” Kaos told Aftenposten.no.

“The film clip was recorded as an impulse once I sat on the toilet. Actually, I considered filling the remaining 80 minutes by filming my butt, but then I realized how exceptionally bad it was going to be, aesthetically that is.”

So, confronted with the problem of filming something more pleasing to the eye than his own rear end, Kaos said he landed on an idea to delight file-sharers for the remaining 80 minutes of the movie.

“I created a clean-shaven scrotum,” Kaos said. “A little more thematically relevant and easily more aesthetically pleasing, it seems, at least in my opinion.”

Despite his memorable cultural contribution to The Pirate Bay, Kaos says he bears no animosity towards file-sharers.

“In no way do I bear any grudges against people who download my film. It’s just a compliment that people want to see it. I would obviously prefer it if they chose to see it in theaters, since for me as a director it has the most to do with the movie and the best movie experience,” he said.

The director, who is currently backpacking in Laos, says that reaction to the prank has been largely positive.

“Most of the feedback I’ve gotten so far has been from people who have laughed themselves to death, but there have also been some who have been pissed. Well, they certainly can’t accuse me of having given them something they didn’t ask for, when they download a movie called Pornopung,” Kaos concludes.

Anyone wanting to see a 10 min promo of Pornopung followed by 80 mins of Kaos’ shaven extremities can do so here. Have fun.

Source: Pirate Bay Downloaders Trolled By Movie Director’s Shaven Balls

Tags: Humor piracy

October 15 2013

20:15

Piracy is Disgusting! No, it’s Promotion! Artists Disagree as Links Get Removed

piracy-progressThe issue of Internet piracy is certainly a polarizing one, with different camps setting out their stances over whether the practice is generally a good or bad thing.

Just last month a report from the London School of Economics reignited the debate after coming to the conclusion that rather than hurting the entertainment industries, piracy is actually helping matters.

Needless to say, the MPAA and IFPI were less than impressed with that conclusion and quickly moved to counter the study. But while scholars and music businessmen fight it out, what about the opinions of those who are supposed to really matter – the artists.

The BBC has spoken to several British artists to get their views on piracy and their responses are quite a mixed bag.

Pop icon Jessie J didn’t deviate from the opinions she’s expressed in the past. Perhaps cleverly addressing the “nothing was stolen” response to the piracy-is-theft mantra, the 10 million album selling star said downloading is akin to taking someone’s time.

“It’s like going to the hairdressers, having your hair cut and running out,” she said.

“You can’t make music for free, you can’t live for free. If people illegally download your album it’s very likely that you won’t make another one.”

jessiejOf course, plenty of people downloaded Jessie J’s first album and she’s just released another, so her argument doesn’t quite stand up. However, she was nowhere near as aggressive as singer John Newman.

“I think it’s disgusting. Get some respect for the artist. It’s not fair at all,” he said. “[Downloaders are] ruining the music industry, they really are and it’s really not fair.”

Interestingly, Grammy-winning artist Sean Paul sees things quite differently.

“Before there was the internet, there was people selling mix tapes and CDs with your music on it – they sell it, they benefit from it,” he said. “I get promotion out of it, which is a good thing for me, because people like my song and put on a stage show.”

Producer Naughty Boy, who has deals with Sony and Virgin EMI, says that there’s plenty of money to be made, even in the face of piracy.

“I don’t like the idea of people thinking you’re never going to get rich from music. You can, even with illegal downloading,” he told the BBC. “You’ve just got to make great music that people want to buy. You’ve just got to give them more of a reason to buy it than before.”

Of course, while the artists have their differing opinions, the major labels are singing with one harmonious voice – piracy is bad and it costs them money. Together they finance the BPI whose anti-piracy department takes down millions of links from file-sharing sites and search engines such as Google. Whether Sean Paul likes it or not, links to his music get taken down too.

SeanPaul

The BBC were invited to the secretive operation where they spoke with John Hodge, the BPI’s head of internet investigation who suggested that people at home – the actual downloaders – aren’t a BPI target.

“Our focus is on the people who want to make profit,” Hodge said. “Whether it’s streaming or downloading, there’s somebody there facilitating this and making money out of it.”

Like the FACT operatives who visited the home of a file-sharing site admin earlier this month, the remainder of the BPI’s five man anti-piracy team asked to remain anonymous. Taking down links must be a dangerous game these days.

Source: Piracy is Disgusting! No, it’s Promotion! Artists Disagree as Links Get Removed

13:42

Are Hollywood’s Artificial Release Delays Driving Piracy?

hollywood-piratesEvery day millions of people download the latest Hollywood blockbusters though unauthorized sources.

The movie industry is not happy with the ever-increasing piracy rates and has called out Google and other stakeholders to “do more” to help. At the same time, Hollywood keeps emphasizing the many legal options that are available to the public.

A few months ago the MPAA launched the website WhereToWatch.org which provides an overview of dozens of legal video outlets that are available in the United States.

“Audiences want seamless access to film and TV shows. Our industry has listened, and we are now delivering more choices than ever before,” MPAA boss Senator Dodd said at the time.

“There have never been more ways to access movies and television legitimately online, and those platforms continue to grow and develop thanks in large part to a copyright system that encourages innovation, risk and growth,” Dodd added.

While this sounds great, the WhereToWatch site doesn’t change the fact that many of the newer releases are simply not available online due to artificial release lags. After a movie’s box office premiere it usually takes months before people can access it online.

This mismatch prompted public policy researchers at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center to take a close look at the online availability of some of the most pirated movies. On the newly launched Piracydata.org the researchers use TorrentFreak’s weekly lists of most pirated movies combined with information from CanIStreamIt to come up with an overview of the availability of these titles.

The results from this week are listed below, and it’s clear that more than half of the movie titles don’t have any legal options at all, while none are available for streaming.

pirate-table

TorrentFreak talked to Jerry Brito, director of Mercatus Center’s Technology Policy Program and one of the people behind the PiracyData website. Brito tells us that the MPAA and RIAA complaints that Google is placing pirate search results above legal alternatives was one of the motivations to look into the legal availability.

“We are compiling a dataset to help answer the question: Are the most-pirated movies available legally online? With only three weeks of data, the answer seems to be that very few are available legally. We’ll get a clearer picture in the months ahead as the dataset grows,” Brito says.

The lack of legal alternatives they have found so far means that Google sometimes has no other choice than to place pirate sites high in the search results, as there simply are no authorized options available.

“One implication may be that when movies are unavailable, illegal sources are the most relevant search results, so search engines like Google are just telling it like it is. That is their job, after all,” Brito says.

While the current dataset is limited to three weeks, it’s quite telling that of all movies listed none was available for streaming, while only 13% could be rented.

piracystats

Brito notes that the data doesn’t prove a causal effect between availability and piracy, but that it’s clear that Hollywood can “do more” to increase access to popular movies themselves.

“While there is no way to draw causality between the fact that these movies are not available legally and that they are the most pirated, it does highlight that while the MPAA is asking Google to take voluntary action to change search results, it may well be within the movie studio’s power to change those results by taking voluntary action themselves.”

“They could make more movies available online and sooner, perhaps by collapsing the theatrical release window. Now, their business model is their prerogative, and it’s none of my business to tell them how to operate, but by the same token I don’t see how they can expect search engines and Congress to bend over backwards to protect the business model they choose,” Brito adds.

Whether Hollywood will take up this suggestion has yet to be seen. Some movie studios have experimented a bit with shorter release delays, but unlike the TV and music industry it is still the core of its business model.

Source: Are Hollywood’s Artificial Release Delays Driving Piracy?

October 08 2013

16:03

Hollywood Attacks Scholars Who Deny The Evils of Piracy

runningIn recent months the MPAA has made a habit of attacking every paper which suggests that piracy may not actually be that big of a problem after all.

While the movie industry group often raises valid points, the critique is also one-sided. Much like the critique often voiced by pro-sharing opponents, it’s merely reinforcing their existing beliefs.

Yesterday the MPAA “debunked” the findings of a policy brief the London School of Economics and Political Science published last week.

In their report the scholars noted that there is ample evidence that file-sharing is helping, rather than hurting the creative industries. The scholars therefore called on the Government to look at more objective data when deciding on future copyright enforcement policies.

The MPAA, however, is quick to point out that the researchers are wrong. For example, they refute the argument that piracy may do little harm because revenues are still booming. Describing the analysis as “unsophisticated and misleading,” the Hollywood group notes that they could have made even more money if piracy was properly dealt with.

The MPAA points out that there is plenty of academic research that affirms how piracy leads to a loss in revenue. To strengthen their argument they highlight a literature review study published last summer, which ironically displays the following footnote on the first page.

“We thank the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) for providing generous funding to support this study.”

The MPAA’s debunking effort also refers to music industry analyst Matt Mulligan, whose critique of the LSE brief has also been retweeted by the RIAA and IFPI. Again, while some of Mulligan’s arguments make sense, many are rather one-sided.

For example, LSE noted that the music industry is holding ground as revenues from live performances compensate for the decline in revenues from the sale of CDs or records. Mulligan’s reply to this is that revenues from live gigs are over-reported because they include reseller revenue, which doesn’t go anywhere near the artists.

However, this appears to be a skewed logic, because the same can be said for recorded music where traditionally only a tiny fraction of the retail value goes to the musician, probably much less than for live performances. And the same can be said for streaming services and digital download platforms where a lot of money sticks in the distribution chain.

It’s not our intention to debunk all comments from the MPAA and Mulligan, but their responses are an illustration of the problem LSE tried to highlight. TorrentFreak spoke with Dr. Bart Cammaert, one of the authors of LSE’s policy brief, who believes that the industry critique completely misses the point.

“The main problem here is that the copyright and file sharing debate is waged in a highly ideological fashion. In other words, the industry is itself guilty of the allegations it fields at us. A closer reading of what we actually say in the reports shows furthermore that the industry has misread what we actually say.”

“In addition to this, we would argue that in this debate we only really hear the self-interested arguments and skewed figures of the lobby organizations calling for repression. We almost never hear the many counter-arguments to their positions,” Cammaert tells TorrentFreak.

LSE’s intention was not to write a definitive piece arguing that piracy doesn’t have any negative effects. Instead, they wanted to highlight certain points where the industry is misrepresenting what’s actually happening.

“Hence, one of the main aims of our policy briefs is to rebalance this and list, document, outline the counter-arguments to this repressive logic and to the same old tune that the internet is killing the video stars. From this perspective, the entertainment industry refuting and taking issue with our findings and conclusions is hardly surprising and as far as we’re concerned totally logical,” Cammaert adds.

The industry response to LSE’s brief is perhaps the best reinforcement of the main point the scholars tried to make. That is, review existing copyright law based on objective and independent analysis that strikes a healthy balance among the interests of a range of stakeholders, including copyright holders, Internet Providers and internet users.

The above clearly illustrates that this advice is perhaps more relevant than ever before.

Source: Hollywood Attacks Scholars Who Deny The Evils of Piracy

Tags: All mpaa piracy

September 30 2013

14:55

Breaking Bad Finale Clocks 500,000 Pirated Downloads

bbOne of the main motivations for people to download and stream TV-shows from unauthorized sources is availability.

If fans can’t get a show through legal channels they often turn to pirated alternatives.

However, the series finale of Breaking Bad shows that there are more factors at play. Despite the availability of legal options, in many countries there are those who still prefer to download a copy from unauthorized sources.

Data gathered by TorrentFreak shows that 12 hours after the first copy of the episode appeared online, more than half a million people has grabbed a copy through one of many torrent sites. Never before have so many people downloaded a Breaking Bad episode, making it a strong contender for a top spot in our most-pirated TV-shows of the year chart.

So where are all these pirates coming from, and why aren’t they going for the legal options?

Based on a sample of more than 10,000 people who shared the site via a BitTorrent client, we see that Australia is once again in the lead with 18 percent of the total. This means that a large group of Aussies prefer to torrent the episode instead of watching it on the pay TV network Foxtel.

In the U.S. and the U.K the legal availability on Netflix couldn’t prevent people from pirating the final Breaking Bad episode either. With 14.5 and 9.3 percent these countries are second and third respectively. India and Canada complete the top five with 5.7 and 5.1 percent of the total.

Looking at the list of countries below it’s clear that piracy is still rampant, even in countries where people do have the option to watch the show legally.

One of the explanations for this defiant behavior is that these downloaders simply prefer to torrent the show out of habit. As reported earlier, even among those who have a Netflix subscription, many prefer to grab a copy via torrent sites as they find it more convenient.

In other cases people may find a pay TV subscription too expensive, or they simply prefer to watch the show at their own leisure instead of following rigid TV-schedules.

sample N=13,945 # Country % City % torrentfreak.com 1 Australia 18.0% Melbourne 5.4% 2 United States 14.5% London 3.3% 3 United Kingdom 9.3% Sydney 3.0% 4 Canada 5.7% Brisbane 2.0% 5 India 5.1% Athens 1.5% 6 Netherlands 2.4% Perth 1.4% 7 Poland 2.4% Madrid 1.2% 8 Philippines 2.3% Warsaw 1.2% 9 France 2.2% Dublin 1.2% 10 South Africa 2.1% Adelaide 1.1%

Going back to the download figures, we can report that at the peak more than 85,000 people from all over the world were sharing a single copy of the Breaking bad finale via a public BitTorrent tracker. If we count the four most-shared copies out there this number totaled more than 190,000.

While these are record numbers for Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones still takes the crown for the largest BitTorrent swarm ever recorded with more than 170,000 people sharing a single copy.

Interestingly, TV-insiders are not really that outraged by the massive copying of their work. Instead, recent comments from people connected to the industry suggest that piracy may actually help them.

Game of Thrones director David Petrarca previously said he believes that the buzz created by pirates eventually leads to more paying subscribers, and last week Time Warner CEO Jess Bewkes said that it’s better than winning an Emmy.

Breaking Bad already won an Emmy earlier this month, but can they raise the bar a little higher? We’ll know at the end of the year.

Source: Breaking Bad Finale Clocks 500,000 Pirated Downloads

September 29 2013

09:06

Legal Movie Site Founder: Don’t Punish Pirates, Serve the Customer

Internet users in Spain are very happy to download music and movies without permission, a situation which has led the country to be admonished by entertainment companies and even the United States government.

Recently Spain has been trying to repair its image and last week the government approved a new bill which if passed will see operators of file-sharing sites jailed for up to six years.

While the U.S. will welcome any kind of clampdown, many believe that there is no legislative way out of the problem. Spaniards are used to the culture of copying and site admins will be able to sidestep the new law by moving their operations overseas.

Recently a new and interesting voice has entered the debate. Carles Pastor, a film and TV producer for many years, recently launched a brand new search engine designed to direct Internet users towards legal video content.

At first glance Beodee looks very much like the new wave of torrent and streaming sites, but this site is financially supported by Spain’s Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports. During its launch earlier this month, Pastor expressed confidence that by catering to the needs of the many thousands currently downloading movies for free, the site can help in the fight against piracy.

beodee

In an interview yesterday, Pastor expressed optimism that things can move forward but stressed a need to “totally reinvent” the movie business model to reintroduce those currently using unauthorized sources, adding that chasing down pirates and passing new legislation is not the answer.

“The whole sector cannot be dying at the same time as you see more movies [being produced] than ever,” he noted. “We should instead maximally conform to consumer needs.”

Pastor is hoping to achieve the above through his new platform. Beodee currently indexes around 6,700 feature films, TV shows and documentaries and offers a price comparison service for users looking to find content right now at the cheapest possible price.

The producer acknowledges that things won’t be easy. Spaniards aren’t exactly famous for willingly paying for content but he hopes that with a good service and fair price matters will improve. There are, however, further significant obstacles to overcome, such as restrictions on offering movies still in cinemas and pricing interference from “large North American producers” which limits competition.

Nevertheless, Pastor hopes that with increased marketing and competition, Internet download platforms and search engines like his will help bring an end to the monopoly. Beodee currently has expansion plans for France, Germany, Holland and several Latin American countries. To our knowledge no comparable service operates in the United States.

Source: Legal Movie Site Founder: Don’t Punish Pirates, Serve the Customer

September 17 2013

21:05

432 Million Internet Pirates Transfer 9,567 Petabytes of Data a Month

illegallydownloadThis morning the Piracy Analysis team at NetNames released a comprehensive report on the scope of online piracy.

Titled “Sizing the Piracy Universe,” the NBC Universal commissioned study maps the volume and prevalence of online piracy throughout the world.

The overall conclusion of the report is that, despite various anti-piracy policies and enforcement actions, piracy is hard to stop.

“The practice of infringement is tenacious and persistent. Despite some discrete instances of success in limiting infringement, the piracy universe not only persists in attracting more users year on year but hungrily consumes increasing amounts of bandwidth,” NetNames writes.

NetNames uses in-house research and several third-party resources to draw its conclusions. The report estimates the number of copyright infringers on the Internet, the amount of data these people share across various platforms, and signals various trends.

One of the most visible trends is that direct download “cyberlockers” have lost many visitors since late 2011, while other platforms expanded their user bases.

The number of pirates using cyberlockers dropped by 8% between November 2011 and January 2013, which the report attributes to the Megaupload shutdown. At the same time, the number of pirates using BitTorrent and video streaming platforms increased by 27% and 22% respectively.

In total, the number of people downloading or streaming unauthorized content via the Internet increased more than 3%.

As can be seen in the table below, most pirates use direct download and torrent sites, both with slightly above 200 million unique users a month. NetNames excluded users who never download any infringing content, which they estimates at 4% for BitTorrent and 8% for direct download sites.


Piracy ecosystem as of January 2013 (large)

piracy-graph

Based on data from Cisco, NetNames also estimates the total bandwidth generated by Internet pirates in Europe, North America and Asia-Pacific. In these key regions Internet piracy accounted for 9,567 petabytes of data, meaning that global traffic well exceeds 10,000 petabytes.

In terms of bandwidth BitTorrent is the absolute leader, which makes sense since users both download and upload files, generating twice as much traffic.

In 2012 unauthorized BitTorrent traffic accounted for 6,692 petabytes a month in these three regions, an increase of 244.9% compared to 2010. Users of “pirate” video streaming portals transferred 1,527 petabytes of data in 2012, an increase of 471.9% from 2010.

Pirates who used cyberlockers downloaded relatively little content, 338 petabytes of data per month in 2012, down 54.7% compared to 2010. In total, the report estimates that nearly a quarter of all Internet traffic is piracy related.

The report also observes several regional trends. For example, direct download sites are the preferred download service in the Asia-Pacific region, while BitTorrent is most used in Europe and North America.

Overall, NetNames’ research provides a unique overview of the scope of online piracy. Without a doubt, the MPAA and other anti-piracy forces will leave no opportunity unused to turn it to their advantage.

Source: 432 Million Internet Pirates Transfer 9,567 Petabytes of Data a Month

September 12 2013

20:27

Browser Plugin Reports Torrent Links to Anti-Piracy Company

MusoLogoIt’s well known that many anti-piracy companies rely on their own web crawlers and even Google to find infringing links and files. Once detected they go about their business of sending DMCA notices to search engines, torrent and file-hosting sites, blogs and forums, in order to have that content taken down.

In addition to the above techniques, anti-piracy company MUSO report they have developed a new method of gathering information on potentially infringing links and files.

The London-based outfit says that its new web browser plugin will enable any Internet user to report back the location of ‘pirate’ links or torrents whenever they appear in their web browser. The plugin will report how many files/links it has found before submitting them to the MUSO database.

“Cyberlocker, and similar download sites, do not generally allow direct searching so links are found through search engines, forums and blog sites that link back to the cyberlocker,” the company said in a statement. “MUSO’s ‘Anti-Piracy Assist Browser Plugin’ will use people power to help them protect their vast base of rights holders.”

We were interested to hear more details about this new product, such as how it will be able to differentiate ‘pirate’ files from those being distributed legitimately.

MUSOdash

“The links found will feed into the MUSO system which already has robust systems in place for correctly matching only illegal content links to our client’s products,” MUSO Technical Director James Mason told TorrentFreak. “[We employ] a combination of automated matching algorithms, followed by a final human verification stage before any takedowns are issued.”

MUSO hopes that industry workers will install and use the plugin in a show of support for the music business although at this stage it appears that it will be open for anyone to use.

Of course, sending potentially infringing links could have legal implications so we quizzed MUSO on the privacy issues. Can users of the plugin be identified by the reports they send to MUSO and if not, will all users’ submissions be trusted as accurate?

“It’s fully anonymous and users won’t be identified in any way,” Mason told us.

“The links supplied don’t need to be trusted in any way, as it’s merely a way to make the MUSO system aware of a link. You can think of it as an extension to our existing crawler, rather than a user giving MUSO information about specific links belonging to specific products. Once the plugin or our existing crawler finds links, they are entered into our matching and verification process.”

No date has been set for the tool’s release but already it has piqued the interest of a developer in the file-sharing community. He told us that a people-powered link finding plugin with a few modifications might be useful to more people than just an anti-piracy company.

The tool will initially be available for Chrome with IE and Firefox support following “in the near future.”

Source: Browser Plugin Reports Torrent Links to Anti-Piracy Company

September 08 2013

20:30

College Pirates? U.S. Universities Ranked by BitTorrent Usage

mitBitTorrent has plenty of legitimate uses but much of the traffic that passes through can be linked to copyright infringement.

This is true on all regular Internet providers but also on university networks. Unlike consumer ISPs, however, educational institutions are required by law to prevent copyright infringement to the best of their ability.

In 2010 the U.S. Government added a new requirement for colleges and universities to stop illicit file-sharing on their networks. This legislation puts a defiant school at risk of losing federal funding if it doesn’t do enough to stop illicit file-sharers on its campus.

Schools across the country responded appropriately to the new rules and some institutions have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to install anti-file-sharing systems on their networks. While these efforts may have been somewhat successful, college piracy hasn’t been completely eliminated.

With help from the BitTorrent monitoring outfit Scaneye we were able to see the presence of individual universities on the popular file-sharing protocol. Scaneye looks at the IP-addresses that are sharing files on BitTorrent, and records every encounter as a “hit.” More hits therefore means that BitTorrent usage is more prevalent on the network.

As can be seen on the table below, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology leads the list with 1809 “hits” since January 1 of this year. Rutgers University follows in second place with 986 hits.

The rest of the top five is made up by New York University, the University of Houston and Texas A&M University.

Compared to last year the University of Illinois made the biggest jump from the 41st place to 6th. Conversely, The University of California, San Diego, was in 19th place last year and has since dropped out of the top 50.

Since BitTorrent can be used for many legitimate purposes we took several samples of the content being downloaded on the university networks, and the majority is clearly infringing.

While students and staff are certainly pirating movies, software and music, it is certainly not rampant. Especially when you take into account that some universities have hundreds of thousands of students, and that a single student can generate several hits.

To put things in perspective, most residential ISPs have millions of hits every month, and even the Department of Homeland Security has hundreds of pirates in its organization.

Below is the full list of the top 50 universities ranked by (absolute) BitTorrent usage in 2013. The older 2012 ranking of universities based on the student population is available here.

Universities ranked by BitTorrent usage # 2012 University Hits torrentfreak.com 1 (1) Massachusetts Institute of Technology 1935 2 (2) Rutgers University 1851 3 (3) New York University 1401 4 (4) University Of Houston 1088 5 (6) Texas A&M University 900 6 (41) University of Illinois 850 7 (12) Northeastern University 826 8 (…) Georgia Institute of Technology 741 9 (15) Columbia University 722 10 (13) Michigan State University 702 11 (39) University of Washington 699 12 (10) University of Maryland 689 13 (5) University of Southern California 679 14 (7) The George Washington University 671 15 (37) University of California at Berkeley 613 16 (8) University of Minnesota 613 17 (16) Boston University 591 18 (…) University of California, Los Angeles 580 19 (21) Ohio State University 561 20 (1) Ohio State University 558 21 (…) Rochester Institute of Technology 550 22 (30) Purdue University 522 23 (17) Vanderbilt University 521 24 (27) University of Colorado 518 25 (46) University of Utah 494 26 (…) University of Chicago 482 27 (…) Stanford University 434 28 (14) Wayne State University 411 29 (49) Duke University 410 30 (…) University of North Texas 405 31 (…) State University of New York at Stony Brook 398 32 (23) Case Western Reserve University 388 33 (11) Tennessee State University 378 34 (…) University Of South Florida 373 35 (42) Georgetown University 366 36 (…) University of Oklahoma 364 37 (33) Lindenwood University 364 38 (26) The Pennsylvania State University 359 39 (…) Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State Univ. 359 40 (48) University of Pennsylvania 351 41 (45) University of Wisconsin Madison 343 42 (9) State University of New York at Buffalo 339 43 (22) University of Michigan 334 44 (…) Claremont University 334 45 (…) University of California, Santa Cruz 326 46 (…) Iowa State University 324 47 (40) Fordham University 320 48 (18) North Carolina Central University 318 49 (36) Grambling State University 318 50 (…) University of Texas at Arlington 309

Source: College Pirates? U.S. Universities Ranked by BitTorrent Usage

July 16 2013

12:01

Piracy Collapses As Legal Alternatives Do Their Job

piracydownAt the start of July a brand new law aimed at reducing online piracy went live in Norway.

The product of years of effort, the legislation will allow registered anti-piracy groups to pursue individuals sharing copyrighted content.

The law also allows infringing sites to be blocked at the ISP level. Needless to say, The Pirate Bay is at the top of the list but it’s expected that all major torrent sites will become targets in the months to come.

Industry lobbying for these changes has taken place over many years, with the Ministry of Culture finally getting down to business a little over two years ago. However, it now becomes apparent that the need for these tough laws has been reducing massively.

According to a new report published by Ipsos, between 2008 and 2012 piracy of music, movies and TV shows collapsed in Norway.

The report shows that in 2008 almost 1.2 billion songs were copied without permission. However, by 2012 that figure had plummeted to 210 million, just 17.5% of its level four years earlier.

As expected, piracy of movies and TV shows in 2008 was at much lower levels than music, with 125 million movies and 135 million TV shows copied without permission. But by last year the figures for both had reduced by around half, to 65 million and 55 million respectively.

downloadedcopies

So what is responsible for these significant drops in piracy? First of all this effect cannot be put down to anti-piracy campaigns. Only a tiny number of Norwegian file-sharers have been prosecuted in the past five years and only since July 1st has the law been loosened to allow that position to change.

So with scare tactics out of the way we’re left with the common sense approach yielding the best results.

“When you have a good legitimate offer, the people will use it,” says Olav Torvund, former law professor at the University of Oslo.

“There is no excuse for illegal copying, but when you get an offer that does not cost too much and is easy to use, it is less interesting to download illegally.”

The dramatic reduction in audio piracy suggests that the music industry has responded most effectively and that theory is backed up by stats in the report.

Of those questioned for the survey, 47% (representing around 1.7 million people) said they use a streaming music service such as Spotify. Even more impressively, just over half (corresponding to 920,000 people and 25% of Norwegian Internet users) said that they pay for the premium option.

While TV show piracy has reduced by half in four years, it actually peaked at the start of 2011 with 200 million shows copied without permission. However, since then with the introduction of legal alternatives, unauthorized copying is down more than 72%.

For movies the decline has been more steady but with the introduction of Netflix into Norway during October last year, figures for 2013 should be even more encouraging.

It’s likely, however, that the entertainment industry will put this year’s successes down to the new law. While that may have an effect it is clearly the legal offerings making the big differences in Norway.

Source: Piracy Collapses As Legal Alternatives Do Their Job

July 15 2013

15:08

Tech Giants Sign Deal to Ban Advertising on “Pirate” Websites

google-bayHitting the revenue streams of infringing sites has been a recurring theme in recent months.

Companies like PayPal have refused to do business with certain kinds of file-sharing sites, while payment processors and credit card companies have agreed to make life more difficult for controversial domains.

A key source of revenue for many sites is advertising and critics have been swift to attack companies that place ads on torrent, file-hosting and other similar sites for allegedly funding copyright infringement.

As such there has been pressure mounting for companies to be more choosy over where they try to attract business, and for advertising networks such as those run by Google to take better care over who they accept work from. Behind the scenes the voices have been heard.

Just a few moments ago David Jacobs SVP at AOL Networks revealed that together with Yahoo, Microsoft, Google, 24/7 Media, Adtegrity, Condé Nast and SpotXchange, his company has established a set of self-regulating best practices to address known infringing sites in their respective ad networks.

However, they also make a number of things abundantly clear from the start.

“Ad Networks do not control the content on third-party websites and are not able to remove websites from the Internet. Nor can Ad Networks engage in extensive or definitive fact finding to determine a particular party’s intellectual property rights,” the best practices document reads.

aol“Nevertheless, we believe it is useful for Ad Networks to maintain policies intended to discourage or prevent, to the extent possible, websites that are principally dedicated to selling counterfeit goods or engaging in copyright piracy and have no substantial non-infringing uses from participating in the Ad Network. The signatories to this Statement have individually decided to adopt these voluntary best practices in furtherance of that goal.”

The document says that signatories will implement procedures consistent with applicable laws, and will be mindful to balance copyright interests, including fair use, privacy and fair process. To this end, dialogue with content creators, rights holders, consumer organizations, and free speech advocates will be maintained.

The companies acknowledge that rightsholders are best placed to assess infringements of their own intellectual property rights but also note that if their word is to be acted upon, high standards of reporting are required.

“Accordingly, intellectual property holders are expected to be accurate in demonstrating infringement of their copyrights and trademark rights and to target only infringing conduct,” they explain.

microsoftRightsholders will be expected to file correctly formatted complaints with the ad networks that show evidence that the allegedly infringing sites are indeed engaging in illegal activity.

In addition to identifying specific URLs where unauthorized activity is taking place, evidence must also include time-and-date-stamped screenshots and other technical information which shows that advertising from the ad network appears alongside the infringing activity.

In common with DMCA notices, the complaints must be accompanied by a statement that the person submitting the notice “has a good faith belief that the Illegitimate Activity is not authorized by the rights holder.” Whether that will encourage rightsholders to improve their accuracy and not misuse these new tools remains to be seen.

Valid notices will trigger an investigation and sites targeted by the infringement notices may well be asked to cease and desist from their infringing activity.

yahoo“An Ad Network may take steps including but not limited to requesting that the website no longer sell counterfeit goods or engage in copyright piracy, ceasing to place advertisements on that website (or pages within that website) until it is verified that the website (or pages within the website) is no longer selling counterfeit goods or engaging in copyright piracy, or removing the website from the Ad Network,” the agreement reads.

Websites affected by complaints will have a chance to appeal complaints via the filing of a counter-notice.

The advertising companies conclude by making it clear that aside from trying to deter infringing sites from advertising in the first instance, this is not a proactive arrangement.

“This Statement is not intended to impose a duty on any Ad Network to monitor its network to identify such websites,” the companies note.

“Similarly, it is understood that the voluntary best practices reflected in this Statement should not, and cannot, be used in any way as the basis for any legal liability or the loss of any applicable immunity or ‘safe harbor’ from such liability,” they sensibly conclude.

Source: Tech Giants Sign Deal to Ban Advertising on “Pirate” Websites

July 08 2013

08:27

Justin Bieber: Send Me a Pirate Copy of UFC Event

bieberboxSinger Justin Bieber is rarely away from controversy. If he’s not turning up late to a concert in London and then insulting the UK, he’s publicly hoping that Anne Frank would have been one of his fans.

Of course, the guy’s young and probably under a lot of pressure, a potent mix, but he should probably pause before he opens his mouth – especially if that mouth is connected to Twitter.

At the time of writing Bieber has an incredible 41.5 million followers, so anything he says is immediately distributed to an audience greater than the entire population of his native Canada. This weekend he managed to put his foot in his mouth yet again.

Bieber’s father Jeremy is a former fighter and in 2011 they were seen together at a UFC event at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. That was a good show, but nowhere near as dramatic as this weekend’s event at the same location. Legendary undefeated middleweight champion Anderson Silva decided to clown around in the Octagon and got knocked out for his troubles.

It was a truly unbelievable moment which left those watching in disbelief. However, Bieber wasn’t one of them, which soon become apparent when he took to Twitter after the event had finished. In his infinite wisdom, Bieber took to the micro-blogging service to bag himself a pirate copy.

BieberUFC

With near 50,000 retweets it was always likely that the UFC brass would discover that Bieber had incited his fans to commit copyright infringement. It didn’t take long for outspoken UFC boss Dana White to weigh in.

White retweeted Bieber’s request along with some advice. “PPV Justin,” White wrote.

DanaJustin

“Oh shit! Dana pissed you trying to bootleg the fight!!! Now the Beliebers vs the UFC fans is on like Donkey Kong!” wrote one excited UFC fan.

“Millionaire can’t even spend $60 on PPV, plus you’re a bitch Bieber. Me and you in the Octagon. Make it happen Dana!” exclaimed another.

By the time Bieber had asked for a pirate copy the event was already over so live PPV wasn’t really an option. Bieber could, however, have jumped over to the UFC site for a replay or failing that, paid a few dollars for access to the archives.

But perhaps grabbing a copy from The Pirate Bay is just way easier?

P.S. (Legal) highlights here Justin ;)

Source: Justin Bieber: Send Me a Pirate Copy of UFC Event

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