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The Podium

Blog posts tagged with 'Piracy'

Friday, May 03

Tackling Piracy

By Brad

Speaking of streaming video, Stuff sat down with Ted Sarandos, Chief Content Officer for Netflix, to talk about the current state of video on demand. During the conversation, Sarandos talks about combatting online piracy:

[W]hen we launch in a territory the Bittorrent traffic drops as the Netflix traffic grows. So I think people do want a great experience and they want access – people are mostly honest. The best way to combat piracy isn’t legislatively or criminally but by giving good options. One of the side effects of growth of content is an expectation to have access to it. You can’t use the internet as a marketing vehicle and then not as a delivery vehicle.

Wednesday, September 19

Lobbying Together

By Brad

Cecilia Kang of the Washington Post reports a new lobbying coalition has been put together by a number of Internet companies:

Internet titans Facebook, Google, Amazon and Yahoo on Wednesday will launch a new lobbying association to counter efforts by federal regulators to strap new rules to their industry.

The Internet Association, led by Capitol Hill veteran Michael Beckerman, aims to band together Silicon Valley’s biggest Internet firms on issues such as piracy and copyright, privacy and cybersecurity.

Monday, January 30

A New Look at Online Piracy

By Brad

With the SOPA/PIPA bills aimed at curbing online piracy currently on hold, Gautham Nagesh of The Hill reports on a new study from the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA) that finds piracy concerns by the entertainment industry may be overstated:

The report notes box office revenues grew 25 percent from 2006 to 2010, increasing from $25.5 billion to $31.8 billion. Meanwhile, spending on entertainment as a percentage of household income rose 15 percent from 2000 to 2008, and entertainment-sector employment grew 20 percent during that same decade.

The report says growth in employment for independent artists was especially strong during the last decade, at 43 percent, suggesting the Internet has actually made it easier for content creators to support themselves.

In response, the Recording Industry Association of America, argued the effects of piracy are very real:

“Trends in the United States have been clear, with a market less than half as large as it was 10 years ago and 60% fewer employees in the music business. Virtually every neutral academic study has concluded that there is real harm to the music community when people download music illegally,” [RIIA vice president for data analysis Joshua] Friedlander said.

Friday, January 20

Speaking of Piracy

By Brad

While Congress is taking a step back on bills aimed at tackling the issue, the Department of Justice and the F.B.I. are being more active. As Ben Sisario of the New York Times reports:

In what authorities have called one of the largest criminal copyright cases ever brought, the Justice Department and the F.B.I. have seized the Web site Megaupload and charged seven people connected with it with running an international enterprise based on Internet piracy.

Megaupload, one of the most popular so-called locker services on the Internet, allowed users to transfer large files like movies and music anonymously. Media companies have long accused it of abetting copyright infringement on a vast scale. In a grand jury indictment, Megaupload is accused of causing $500 million in damages to copyright owners and of making $175 million by selling ads and premium subscriptions.

In response, the online hacker group Anonymous reportedly attacked a number of websites, including the Department of Justice. Meanwhile, at TechDirt, Mike Masnick questions the timing of the action:

Is this really the message the US DOJ and White House want to be giving the day after mass, widespread protests happened concerning a fear that this new law would be used to take down websites?

Protests & Piracy

By Brad

Earlier this week, a number of popular online sites — including Wikipedia and Google — went “dark” in protest of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA), two anti-piracy bills that had been making their way through the House and Senate, respectively.

The protests appear to have had an effect, as scheduled votes on both bills have been put on hold. Over at GigaOm, Stacey Higginbotham examines why the protests were effective:

The protests that rocked the web on Wednesday and resulted in 13 million Americans taking some form of action to protest PIPA and its companion bill in the House, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), have been essential for swaying legislative opinion on the issue. Behind the scenes, tech industry leaders have been discussing the issue with congressional staffers and legislators in an effort to educate them about the effects of the legislation and more broadly about how the Internet works at a technical and business level.

Online piracy is a complicated issue, and it’s unlikely the debate will be settled any time soon. But it’s encouraging that Congress is willing take its time on legislation. After all, the Internet only became what it is today thanks to a “light touch” when it comes to government intervention.

Monday, April 18

Today in Weird

By Brad

To many in Sweden, file-sharing — legal or illegal — is serious business. Case in point: A new group of “pirates” who banded together to start a religion. Via TorrentFreak:

Founded by 19-year-old philosophy student, Isaac Gerson, this brand new church believes that copying and the sharing of information is the most beautiful thing in the world. To have your information copied is a token of appreciation, say the church, a sure sign that people think you have done something good.

For those thinking this is some kind of late April Fool’s joke, think again.

So far the church’s attempts to be recognized by the Swedish government as an official religion have, perhaps unsurprisingly, been denied.

Wednesday, February 09

Lawsuit of the Day

By Brad

Via Gautham Nageth from The Hill, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has fired off another courtroom missile in its war against piracy:

The Motion Picture Association of American filed a lawsuit Tuesday on behalf of several member studios against the file-sharing service Hotfile for copyright infringement.

“In less than two years Hotfile has become one of the 100 most trafficked sites in the world. That is a direct result of the massive digital theft that Hotfile promotes,” said MPAA chief content protection officer Daniel Mandil.

Over at TechDirt, Mike Masnick is unimpressed with the suit:

Basically, the MPAA and the big studios it represents have decided they don’t like the fact that Hotfile isn’t protecting their business model and have decided that, therefore, it must be illegal. But that’s not how the law works. It’s entirely possible that a court will get blinded by the “but… but… piracy” aspect of this lawsuit. But looking through the details, I’m really shocked at the lack of any actual evidence for direct or contributory infringement.

Tuesday, November 30

The Copyright Battle

By Brad

Via CNet, the U.S. government has started cracking down on what are often referred to as “pirate sites”:

The domains of torrent sites that link to illegal copies of music and movie files and sites that sell counterfeit goods were seized this week by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement division of the Department of Homeland Security. Visitors to such sites as,, and found that their usual sites had been replaced by a message that said, “This domain name has been seized by ICE—Homeland Security Investigations, pursuant to a seizure warrant issued by a United States District Court.”

One domain owner said he was surprised by the action.

“My domain has been seized without any previous complaint or notice from any court!” the owner of Torrent-Finder told TorrentFreak, which listed more than 70 domains that were apparently part of the massive seizure.

At TechDirt, Mike Masnick is troubled by the move:

[N]one of this is actually stopping these sites from working. Within hours, many had popped back up elsewhere. The whole thing seems highly questionable. Seizing domain names without a trial, and taking down sites that appear to be nothing more than search engines, rather than actually hosting infringing material, is a huge, dangerous step, which appears to have absolutely nothing to do with Homeland Security’s mandate.

With the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA), sponsored by Sen. Patrick Leahy, currently making its way through Congress, the copyright battle is only heating up. Stay tuned…

Tuesday, May 18

The Copyright Dance

By Brad

On Monday, BitTorrent search engine The Pirate Bay — long the scourge of movie studios and record companies for providing access to illegal downloads — was ordered shut down by German authorities. But as usually happens with the site, the shutdown didn’t last long. Reports CNet:

This is at least the third time a bandwidth provider was forced to take down the site and the third time the site has returned. One has to question whether the studios are actually playing into the the hands of The Pirate Bay operators with these attempts to knock out the site. Every time they do, The Pirate Bay rises again, and to the file-sharing community these comebacks boost the site operators’ reputation as unconquerable heroes.

Tuesday, November 03

Protecting Copyright

By Bruce Mehlman

Part of FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski’s net neutrality proposal is the flexibility for Internet Service Providers to use “reasonable network management.” Just what counts as reasonable has yet to be decided, but the Motion Picture Association of America — which has long complained about the pirating of content over the Internet—believes policing for copyright infringement should absolutely fall under the definition. From PC Mag:

[F]reedom of flexibility, two MPAA executives wrote on Friday, should be interpreted to allow U.S. ISPs to take measures to prevent copyrighted data from being pirated and sent around the Internet. The letter was co-authored by Michael O’Leary, the MPAA’s executive vice president of government relations and chief counsel, and Frank Cavaliere, vice president and senior counsel for government relations and policy for the MPAA.

Not only would the anti-piracy measures help promote the U.S. film economy, the two wrote, but eliminating the spread of copyrighted video files would also reduce the amount of traffic being passed over the nation’s networks, reducing the overall load. Both O’Leary and Cavaliere also tried to make clear that they were not pushing for specific solutions, but the latitude to allow the industry to develop and deploy its own measures.

Tuesday, May 12

It Takes Deux

By Brad

After trying, and failing, to pass the so-called “Three Strikes Law”—which would cut the Internet connection of online pirates and copyright infringers—the French National Assembly has passed the controversial act. Disconnections are expected to start happening sometime in 2010.

Expect other countries to be following the law closely.

Thursday, April 16

ISP Dissent

By Brad

With European Internet providers embroiled in controversy over EU’s Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive—which allows courts to force ISPs to turn over user data in order to cut down on piracy, among other things—one Swedish ISP is taking a stand. As Ars Technica reports:

Jon Karlung, the head of ISP Bahnhof, says that his company won’t turn over any user data to authorities because it refuses to keep any log files. That decision is legal—for now.

Recently, Sweden’s Internet traffic dropped by an alarming 50% in a single day when the new piracy rules were applied.

Wednesday, April 15

Cracking Down on Copyright

By Brad

Recently, a French law that would sever the Internet connection of online pirates went down in defeat. Now, Ars Technica reports, South Korea has picked up the idea:

South Korea is crazy for baseball—it’s national team made it to recent finals of the World Baseball Classic, only to lose to Japan—so it seems especially appropriate that the country would be one of the first in the world to adopt an official “three strikes” policy toward copyright infringement on the Internet. While the government can order the disconnection of individual users, a key emphasis here appears to be on websites. Host some infringing content, and the government can shut you down at its discretion.

There’s a problem with focusing on individual websites, however:

An anonymous source summed up the problem for the paper: “It is virtually impossible for Web portals to totally filter illegal content when there are millions of postings coming up everyday. And I am talking about companies that spend massive amounts of money to monitor copyright violations and hire hundreds of monitoring personnel. I mean, how much does the government expect us to spend in developing and operating a simple Web service? No matter how hard we try, the culture minister will easily find his three strikes and could order us to shutdown a site at anytime, regardless of whether the copyright holder has a problem with us or not.”

It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.

Thursday, April 09

“Three Strikes” Strikes Out

By Brad

In an effort to curb piracy, the French Parliament passed a new law last week that required Internet service providers to yank the Internet access of copyright offenders. According to polls, the majority of the French public didn’t like the law, but it was nonetheless expected to sail through the Senate and National Assembly. Then, as TorrentFreak reports, the unexpected happened:

As expected the law was indeed ratified by the senate this morning, but to everyone’s surprise it didn’t make it through the National Assembly.

After a two hour discussion, the law was rejected by the National Assembly with 21 votes against and 15 votes in favor. According to early reports, the Socialist party changed their initial position and decided to vote against the law after witnessing the mass opposition from the French public.

Looks like it’s back to le drawing board.

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