Category Archives: News (Internet news)

32% of All US Adults Watch Pirated Content

piratekayDespite the availability of many legal services, piracy remains rampant througout the United States.

This is one of the main conclusions of research conducted by anti-piracy firm Irdeto, which works with prominent clients including Twentieth Century Fox and Starz.

Through YouGov, the company conducted a representative survey of over 1,000 respondents which found that 32 percent of all US adults admit to streaming or downloading pirated video content.

These self-confessed pirates are interested in a wide variety of video content. TV-shows and movies that still play in theaters are on the top of the list for many, with 24 percent each, but older movies, live sports and Netflix originals are mentioned as well.

The data further show that the majority of US adults (69%) know that piracy is illegal. Interestingly, this also means that a large chunk of the population believes that they’re doing nothing wrong.

While the major copyright holders often stress that piracy results in massive revenue losses, the pirates themselves are not particularly bothered by this. In fact, 39 percent say that claimed losses don’t impact their download habits.

According to Lawrence Low, Irdeto’s Vice President of Business Development and Sales, piracy does more than just financial damage. It also limits the resources content creators have to make new content, which may ultimately lead to less choice.

“Piracy deters content creators from investing in new content, impacting the creative process and providing consumers with less choice,” Low says.

“It is becoming increasingly important for operators and movie studios to educate consumers on the tactics employed by pirates and to further promote innovative offerings that allow consumers to legally acquire content,” he adds.

This insight is not new of course. Over the past few years, various copyright groups have put a spotlight on legal services, even targeting pirates directly with educational copyright alerts.

However, for now that doesn’t seem to have had much of an effect. Piracy remains rampant, especially among younger people. Previously a similar survey revealed that among millennials, more than two-thirds admit to having downloaded or streamed pirated content.

Movie Director Steals Clam Chowder to Avenge Illegal Downloads

teboAmong most copyright holders and some artists there is an insistence that illegal downloading is tantamount to stealing. A download can result in a lost sale, they argue, thereby depriving creators (or distributors) of revenue.

File-sharers, on the other hand, have their own theories as to what their hobby amounts to. Conclusions vary, from “try before you buy” to satisfying demand unmet by authorized sources. Some merely want content for free but still argue that a copy does not amount to theft.

Director Casey Tebo, on the other hand, strongly disagrees.

Tebo, who has directed live performances for Aerosmith, Mötley Crüe, Judas Priest and Run DMC, believes that piracy is just like stealing. And, after becoming a victim himself, decided to do something about it.

According to the 42-year-old, who won an Emmy for his work on ESPN E:60’s Dream On: The Stories of Boston’s Strongest, the final straw was when he discovered people had been pirating one of his movies.

Tebo wrote and directed 2016 horror movie Happy Birthday and recently discovered that an old friend from school had watched it.

“He said ‘Bro, I saw your movie, it was amazing!’,” Tebo recalled.

When the director asked where he’d seen it – iTunes, Walmart etc – the guy dropped the bombshell. Someone at work supplied it.

“What do you mean, he brings the DVDs into work?” the director asked. “I don’t know what that means?”

In a mocking tone impersonating his former friend’s recollection, Tebo continued.

“He gets ’em off, you know, King Torrent, uTorrent, your fucking mother’s torrent, whatever the fuck it is.”

Noting that his movie only had a small budget with just three investors putting in $500K between them, Tebo said that one of his buddies came up with a plot to get revenge.

“You should go to the fuckin grocery store this cat works at and just fuckin steal some shit,” his buddy said. “And, if you get caught by the cops, just say ‘Hey, he steals my shit, why can’t I steal his shit?’”

In a video posted on YouTube, which he describes as a PSA (Pirates Suck Ass), Tebo reveals what happened next. A sped-up clip shows the director ‘shopping’ for $30 worth of ‘free’ ingredients to make a clam chowder. He then leaves the store without paying. Needless to say, Tebo (who apparently was born with six fingers on his right hand) didn’t get away with it.

Someone from the store came out to Tebo’s car after spotting him on the security camera and threatened to call the cops unless he came back and paid.

“Yeah I know, but this is like a really huge chain supermarket,” Tebo protested. Although subtle, this was almost certainly a dig at people who believe that downloading movies from big companies doesn’t hurt them.

“This is a store, you just robbed it,” the worker replied. Then, Tebo revealed his scheme.

“See, the guy who works at your store likes to download the movies and burn ’em and give them to everybody who works there. You have people in your store who are stealing from my industry, so why can’t I just steal from you guys?” he asked.

The store worker was having none of it. “Give me the bags or i’m calling the cops,” he said.

Again, Tebo underlined his point.

“I just want to know. If you’re the manager of this place and you got guys downloading illegal movies, why can’t I take groceries for free?” he questioned.

“Because it’s fucking stealing, asshole,” came the reply…..

Tebo says that he eventually gave the stuff back. He didn’t, however, explain why he thought it was fair to steal from the grocery store when his aim was to get revenge on one of its employees. Maybe this is the real-life equivalent of holding ISPs responsible for Internet pirates, who knows.

The whole bizarre affair is documented below.

Internet Freedom Day: How Massive ‘Blackout’ Protests Killed Two Anti-Piracy Bills

internetfreedomsopaAt the start of the decade several new bills were introduced in the United States, aiming to make it easier for copyright holders to enforce their rights online.

The proposals, including SOPA and PIPA, would’ve streamlined the shutting down of allegedly infringing domain names and threatened to increase liability for third party services, among other things.

Fearing broad Internet censorship, the proposals ignited a wave of protests led by various activist groups. But, what started as a small protest movement was swiftly elevated to mainstream news, when tech giants such as Google and Wikipedia joined in.

Exactly five years ago, following months of scattered protests, the opposition peaked into a massive Internet blackout campaign.

As a result, the balance of power tipped and Hollywood and the music industry were forced into retreat. Soon after the blackout, both bills were declared dead, a victory which is still frequently referenced today.

A year after the succesfull blackout campaign, January 18 was declared Internet Freedom Day. While the first celebration attracted international news headlines, it’s now become a relatively small event.

Still, many of the concerns that were brought up half a decade ago remain relevant today. Site blocking efforts and domain name seizures are still high on the agenda, and the same is true for search engine ‘censorship’ and liability for ISPs and other third party services.

What has changed is that, instead of tackling these issues through legislation, rightsholders are now focusing on individual lawsuits and voluntary agreements.

This means that for activists, Internet Freedom Day could still be relevant now, both as a remembrance and as a call to action. In any case, it’s worth noting that without the protests things could have been very different today.

Below are a few of the many ‘blackout’ pages that were up (or down) five years ago.

Wikipedia

Wikipedia was completely inaccessible for 24 hours, except the pages about censorship, PIPA and SOPA, of course.

Google

Google blacked out its logo to protest PIPA/SOPA and added a link to a resource page where people could take action.

google strike

Reddit

Reddit directed its users to a resource site where they could take action.

reddit

Imgur

The image sharing site Imgur offered information on the protests as well as steps to take action.

imgurprotest

Demonoid

Demonoid, one of the largest BitTorrent communities at the time, went dark completely, with a nice spotlight effect.

demonid

Firefox

Firefox users were welcomed with a dark themed default homepage, alerting people about the looming PIPA/SOPA threats.

Craigslist

The online classified advertisements portal Craigslist directed the public to a resource site where they could take action.

craigslist-blackout

WordPress

WordPress joined the protest too, and decided to censor itself for the day.

wordpress

Minecraft

Minecraft protested as well, but in red with the tagline “PIPA & SOPA, How About NOPA.”

pipa

TorrentFreak

Yes, we also took part, giving readers the option to save the Internet, or… Meh…

torrentfreak-blackout

ISP Says it Won’t Send BREIN’s Anti-Piracy Warnings

breinlogoAs one of Europe’s most prominent anti-piracy groups, BREIN is at the forefront of copyright enforcement in the Netherlands. In early January the outfit revealed some its achievements over the past year, including enforcement actions against hundreds of sites and prolific uploaders of pirate content.

While tackling those closer to the top of the tree, BREIN has had a tendency to leave regular ‘pirate’ users alone. However, in recent times it has been developing plans to target Internet subscribers with ‘educational’ warning notices.

This past weekend, BREIN chief Tim Kuik said that his group hopes to bring about behavioral change among downloaders by contacting them via their ISPs.

“The ISPs can then send the account holder a warning which informs them that their account has been used to infringe copyright. The message is that they are bringing you up to date with illegal activities,” Kuik said.

Last year, the Dutch Data Protection Authority (Autoriteit Persoonsgegevens) gave BREIN permission to collect the IP-addresses of pirating BitTorrent users, allowing the group to target uploaders on a broader scale. But the group still needs help from service providers, since it needs to tie those addresses to individual accounts.

“The Data Protection Authority recommended we make arrangements with the ISPs on the processing of the personal data. Because we do not have the identity of the user,” Kuik said on Sunday.

However, unlike in the US and UK where similar programs are already underway, Dutch ISPs are giving the plan a less than warm welcome. In comments yesterday, leading cable provider Ziggo confirmed it will not participate in BREIN’s program.

“As an ISP we are a neutral access provider. This does not include the role of active enforcement of rights or interests of third parties, including BREIN,” said spokesman Erik van Doeselaar, as quoted by Tweakers.

Other providers aren’t excited by BREIN’s plans either. KPN, based in The Hague, said that there are many unknowns when it comes to privacy.

“As an ISP we can not pass judgment on the legality and proportionality of the plan,” said spokesman Stijn Wesselink.

A third ISP, XS4All, said the anti-piracy outfit’s plans haven’t yet been made clear.

“I won’t the slam the door before I’ve seen [BREIN’s] plans, but it seems highly unlikely that ISPs will act as enforcers,” said spokesman Niels Huijbregts.

BREIN, on the other hand, believe that ISPs should cooperate, since when customers download and share copyrighted content without permission, they breach their providers’ Terms of Service.

The anti-piracy outfit hopes to introduce a scheme similar to the one now underway in the UK, which has received cooperation from four major ISPs.

BREIN says it wishes to mirror the UK effort by having ISPs send educational notices to encourage users towards legal services. However, the anti-piracy outfit is not on the best of terms with local providers and hasn’t been for many years.

Both Ziggo and XS4All are currently embroiled in prolonged legal battle with BREIN, who want the providers to block subscriber access to The Pirate Bay.

Thus far the ISPs have refused, steadfastly sticking to their position that, as a service provider, the copyright wars are not their battle. It now seems likely that the same stance will carry over to the proposed warning notice scheme.

Netflix is ‘Killing’ DVD Sales, Research Finds

netflix-logoWe’re all familiar with the claims that piracy is “killing” the movie industry, but legal alternatives are in constant competition as well.

Over the past decade, TV and movie companies have taken part in a massive ‘experiment’ in which they’ve had to reinvent their business models, adapting to rapidly changing demands from consumers.

In part responding to piracy, the movie industry started offering their own online video download options, and with bandwidth becoming cheaper and more readily available, streaming services such as Netflix soon followed.

However, having more legal options available doesn’t automatically mean that more money is rolling in. The next challenge is to set them up in a way that doesn’t cannibalize existing products while optimizing long-term revenue.

For many years disc sales have been the prime revenue source for the movie industry, bringing in billions of dollars a year in the U.S. alone. Netflix’s streaming service is a direct competitor to these sales, but to what effect?

A new study published by researchers from Hong Kong universities provides some empirical evidence on this issue. Through a natural experiment, they looked at the interplay between Netflix availability and DVD sales in the United States.

The experiment took place when the Epix entertainment network, which distributes movies and TV-shows from major studios including Paramount and Lionsgate, left Netflix for Hulu in 2015.

Since Hulu has a much smaller market share, these videos no longer reached a large part of the audience. At least not by default. The researchers used difference to examine the effect on DVD sales, while controlling for various other variables.

The results, published in a paper this week, show that DVD sales increased significantly after the content was taken off Netflix, almost by a quarter.

“Our difference-in-difference analyses show that the decline in the streaming availability of Epix’s content leads to a 24.7% increase in their DVD sales in the three months after the event,” the paper reads.

“Our results validate the industry’s concern that video streaming services displace physical DVD sales.”

Of course, this doesn’t mean that all studios should pull their content from Netflix. It does show, however, that there are a lot of variables in play that require careful assessment from a business point of view.

For example, it appears that percentage-wise the bump in DVD sales is the largest for new movies and movies that did better in theatres.

“In addition, we find that the cannibalization between two media is stronger for DVDs released more recently and for movies with better box office performances,” the researchers note.

This may also be one of the prime reasons why most recent releases are not on Netflix, and why the most popular movies of the past decade are unavailable as well. It’s not to annoy consumers, but to maximize profits.

The research above has its limitations. It only focused on DVD sales and not on other physical and digital revenue sources, for example. That said, the present data clearly suggests that content owners might be wise to keep titles off Netflix for a while, especially the blockbusters. Similarly, it affirms that there’s little harm in putting their older back catalogs on the streaming service.

Of course, this strategy will also keep piracy intact, which plays a role as well. However, that doesn’t necessarily have to be an oversight. It might also be a calculated risk, as lowering piracy might also lower legal revenues through other sales channels.

It might take a few extra years and many more experiments before we truly know what works and what doesn’t. And by then the rules of the game will have probably changed again.