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United States

32% of All US Adults Watch Pirated Content (torrentfreak.com) 214

Nearly a third of all US adults admit to having downloaded or streamed pirated movies or TV-shows, a new survey has found. Even though many are aware that watching pirated content is not permitted, a large number of pirates are particularly hard to deter. According to a report from TorrentFreak: 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.
Government

Amateur Scientists Find New Clue In D.B. Cooper Case, Crowdsource Their Investigation (kare11.com) 136

Six months after the FBI closed the only unsolved air piracy in American aviation history -- after a 45-year investigation -- there's a new clue. An anonymous reader quotes Seattle news station KING: A band of amateur scientists selected by the Seattle FBI to look for clues in the world's most infamous skyjacking may have found new evidence in the 45-year-old case. They're asking for the public's help because of new, potential leads that could link DB Cooper to the Puget Sound aerospace industry in the early 1970s. The scientific team has been analyzing particles removed from the clip-on tie left behind by Cooper after he hijacked a Northwest Orient passenger jet in November 1971. A powerful electron microscope located more than 100,000 particles on old the JCPenny tie. The team has identified particles like Cerium, Strontium Sulfide, and pure titanium.

Tom Kaye, lead researcher for the group calling itself Citizen Sleuths, says the group is intrigued by the finding, because the elements identified were rarely used in 1971, during the time of Cooper's daring leap with a parachute from a passenger jet. One place they were being used was for Boeing's high-tech Super Sonic Transport plane...

Interestingly, it was even a Boeing aircraft that Cooper hijacked, and witnesses say he wasn't nervous on the flight, and seemed familiar with the terrain below.
Movies

Piracy 'Warnings' Fail To Boost Box Office Revenues, Research Says (torrentfreak.com) 189

A new academic study shows that graduated response policies against file-sharers fail to boost box office revenues. From a TorrentFreak report: The empirical research, which looked at the effects in various countries including the United States, suggests that these anti-piracy measures are not as effective as the movie studios had hoped. [...] Thus far there has been very little research on the topic but a new study, published by Dr. Jordi McKenzie of Sydney's Macquarie University, suggests that these "strikes" policies don't boost box office revenues. For his paper, published in the most recent issue of the journal 'Information Economics and Policy,' McKenzie looked at opening week and total box office revenues for 6,083 unique films released between 2005 and 2013. Using a variety of statistical analyses, he then measured the impact of the graduated response systems and related policies in six countries. In addition, another ten countries were included as a control measure. The overall conclusion based on thousands of data points is that these anti-piracy policies have no significant impact on box-office income.
Movies

Despite Piracy Claims, North American Box Office Hits Record $11.4 Billion In 2016 (variety.com) 142

Slashdot reader rudy_wayne writes: Despite constant claims of losing billions of dollars to "piracy", the North American box office closed out 2016 with $11.4 billion in ticket sales. That marks a new record for the industry, bypassing the previous record of $11.1 billion that was established in 2015.

Disney had four of the top five highest-grossing films, including "Finding Dory," the year's top film with $486.3 million. "When holdovers are taken into account, Disney had six of the year's ten highest-grossing releases, a group that includes Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which debuted in 2015," reports Variety. Other top films include Rogue One: A Star Wars Story ($408.2 million), Captain America: Civil War ($408.1 million), The Secret Life of Pets ($368.4 million), and The Jungle Book ($364 million).

Disney "controlled more than a quarter of the domestic market share despite releasing fewer films than any of the major studios," according to the article, which notes that the record was achieved despite the absence of big releases in several major movie franchises partly through higher ticket prices (and possibly also inflation).
Electronic Frontier Foundation

2016 Saw A Massive Increase In Encrypted Web Traffic (eff.org) 91

EFF's "Deeplinks" blog has published nearly two dozen "2016 in Review" posts over the last nine days, one of which applauds 2016 as "a great year for adoption of HTTPS encryption for secure connections to websites." An anonymous reader writes: In 2016 most pages viewed on the web were encrypted. And over 21 million web sites obtained security certificates -- often for the first time -- through Let's Encrypt. But "a sizeable part of the growth in HTTPS came from very large hosting providers that decided to make HTTPS a default for sites that they host, including OVH, Wordpress.com, Shopify, Tumblr, Squarespace, and many others," EFF writes. Other factors included the support of Transport Layer Security (TLS) 1.3 by Firefox, Chrome, and Opera.
Other "2016 in Review" posts from EFF include Protecting Net Neutrality and the Open Internet and DRM vs. Civil Liberties. Click through for a complete list of all EFF "2016 in Review" posts.
Piracy

Creepy Site Claims To Reveal Torrenting Histories (iknowwhatyoudownload.com) 211

Slashdot reader dryriver writes: The highly invasive and possibly Russian owned and operated website IKnowWhatYouDownload.com immediately shows [a] bittorent download history for your IP address when you land on it. What's more, it also [claims to] show the torrenting history of any specific IP address you enter, and also of IP addresses similar to yours, so you can see what others near you -- perhaps the nice neighbours in the house next door -- have downloaded when they thought nobody was looking...

There is also a nasty little "Track Downloads" feature that lets you send a "trick URL" to somebody else. When they click on the URL -- thinking its something cool on Facebook, Twitter or the general internet -- THEY see what they URL promised, but YOU get sent their entire torrenting history, including anything embarrassing or otherwise compromising content they may have downloaded in private... The website appears to offer an API, customized download reports and more to interested parties in the hopes of generating big cash from making other people's torrenting activities public.

It's not clear whether this site is really revealing the information it claims to -- or whether it can filter out the fake IP addresses provided by many downloaders. But putting that aside, it does raise an important question. Is it technologically possible to build a site that tracks and reveals torrenting histories based on IP addresses?
Piracy

Bad Year For Piracy: 2016 Was The Year Torrent Giants Fell (torrentfreak.com) 116

From a report on TorrentFreak: 2016 has been a memorable year for torrent users but not in a good way. Over a period of just a few months, several of the largest torrent sites vanished from the scene. From KickassTorrents, through Torrentz to What.cd, several torrent giants have left the scene.Another notable website which vanished is TorrentHound. ThePirateBay is back, but is often facing issues. Not long ago, ExtraTorrent noted that it was on the receiving end of several DDoS attacks.
Music

Music Streaming Hailed as Industry's Saviour as Labels Enjoy Profit Surge (theguardian.com) 87

Not long ago, the music industry was losing money left and right. Recession, rampant piracy, falling CD sales and a fear that "kids just don't buy music any more" had giant record labels, once oozing wealth, counting the pennies. But that all changed this year, and the industry's saviour is not what many predicted. From a report on The Guardian: Profits from music streaming, first championed by Spotify and now offered by Apple and Amazon, have given some labels their largest surge in revenue in more than a decade. At the beginning of December, one of the world's biggest labels, Warner Music, announced revenues of $3.25bn this year -- its highest in eight years. More significantly, $1bn of that was from streaming, more than double its download revenue and more than $100m more than its physical revenue. The surge in profits is being seen across all the major labels. In the first half of 2016, streaming revenue in the US grew by 57% to $1.6bn, and worldwide digital revenues overtook those from physical sales for the first time in music industry history, mainly because of streaming. This year's most-streamed artist was Drake, with 4.2bn streams.
Piracy

Torrent Website ExtraTorrent Under DDoS Attacks; Pirate Bay Also Down (torrentfreak.com) 80

It's getting harder for people who don't like paying for movies, music, and applications. Popular torrent website ExtraTorrent is suffering an outage Tuesday, the site confirmed. The site says it is on the receiving end of DDoS attacks, observing 40 to 50 million requests coming from the United States every hour. The site told TorrentFreak that it has been facing "tons of cyberattacks" over the past three days. The Pirate Bay is also down for many users. Users who try to access the site get a CloudFlare downtime warning, or a new Captcha error.
Music

Top Spotify Lawyer: Attracting Pirates is in Our DNA (torrentfreak.com) 79

Spotify is not only one of the world's most popular music services, it's also one that's proven particularly popular with both current and former pirates. From a report on TorrentFreak: Today Spotify is indeed huge. The service has an estimated 100 million users, many of them taking advantage of its ad-supported free tier. This is the gateway for many subscribers, including millions of former and even current pirates who augment their sharing with the desirable service. Now, in a new interview with The Journal on Sports and Entertainment Law, General Counsel of Spotify Horacio Gutierrez reveals just how deeply this philosophy runs in the company. It's absolutely fundamental to its being, he explains. "One of the things that inspired the creation of Spotify and is part of the DNA of the company from the day it launched (and remember the service was launched for the first time around 8 years ago) was addressing one of the biggest questions that everyone in the music industry had at the time -- how would one tackle and combat online piracy in music?" Gutierrez says. "Spotify was determined from the very beginning to provide a fully licensed, legal alternative for online music consumption that people would prefer over piracy." [...] Of course, hardcore pirates aren't always easily encouraged to part with their cash, so Spotify needed an equivalent to the no-cost approach of many torrent sites. That is still being achieved today via its ad-supported entry level, Gutierrez says.
Piracy

US Government Targets Pirate Bay and Other 'Piracy Havens' (torrentfreak.com) 82

The US Government has listed some of the largest piracy websites and other copyright-infringing venues. The USTR calls on foreign countries to take action against popular piracy sites such as The Pirate Bay, which has important "symbolic value," according to the authorities. In addition, stream-ripping is mentioned as an emerging threat. TorrentFreak adds: The overview is largely based on input from industry groups including the RIAA and MPAA, who submitted their recommendations a few weeks ago. While the USTR admits that the list is not meant to reflect legal violations, the goal of the review is to motivate owners and foreign Governments to take appropriate action and reduce piracy. "The United States encourages all responsible authorities to intensify efforts to combat piracy and counterfeiting, and to use the information contained in the Notorious Markets List to pursue legal actions where appropriate," the USTR announced.
The Almighty Buck

Rogue Lawyers Made $6 Million Shaking Down Porn Pirates, Feds Say (theverge.com) 128

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: The copyright violation notice is every pirate's worst nightmare, a clear legal sign that a major copyright holder knows what you've been torrenting and is ready to make you pay for your crimes. But according to an indictment filed today in Minnesota federal court, that system has also opened the door to some very creative forms of fraud. The indictment alleges that two lawyers -- Paul R. Hansmeier and John L. Steele -- used the copyright system to extort roughly $6 million out of porn pirates over the course of three years. Prosecutors say the lawyers uploaded their own pornographic videos to torrent services -- including the embattled Pirate Bay -- then aggressively targeted users who downloaded the content, discovering names through the standard copyright violation process and then threatening pirates with damages up to $150,000 unless they agreed to a settlement. The typical cost of a settlement was $4,000, far less than the cost of challenging the order in open court. Throughout the process, Feds allege that Hansmeier and Steele concealed their role in uploading the videos, although the underlying copyright claim was often legitimate. The duo typically obtained copyright to the videos through shell companies, although in some cases they actually filmed and produced their own pornography as part of the scheme.
Piracy

Grand Tour 'Most Illegally Downloaded TV Show In History' (theguardian.com) 218

Jeremy Clarkson's new motoring show has become the most illegally downloaded television programme in history, figures suggest. Amazon paid a reported $160 million for three series of The Grand Tour, which stars former Top Gear presenters Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May, after Clarkson was sacked by the BBC in March 2015. From a report on The Guardian: But figures from Muso, data analysts of the piracy market, suggest unprecedented numbers of people are avoiding paying $90 a year to sign up for Amazon's online streaming service, Amazon Prime, and instead downloading the show illegally. The data, shared with the Mail on Sunday, suggests the first episode was downloaded illegally 7.9m times, the second 6.4m times and the third 4.6m times. British viewers made up the largest percentage (13.7%) of the total number of illegal downloads.
Movies

Slashdot Asks: Would You Like Early Access To Movies And Stop Going To Theatres? 341

It appears many major stakeholders in the movie industry want to bring new titles to you within days, if not hours, as they hit cinemas. Earlier this year, we learned that Sean Parker is working on a service called "Screening Room", an idea that was reportedly backed by Peter Jackson, Steven Spielberg and JJ Abrams, to bring movies on the same day as they show up in theaters. Apple seems interested as well. It is reportedly in talks with Hollywood studios to get iTunes rentals of movies that are still playing on the big screen. Earlier this month, Bloomberg reported that several studios are exploring the idea of renting new movies for $25 to $50 just two weeks after they have hit cinemas.

None of such deals have materialized yet, of course, and also it needs to be pointed out that several movie companies have discarded these ideas before because they know that by offering you new titles so early they are going to lose on all the overpriced cold drinks, and snacks they sell you at the theatre. There's also piracy concerns. If a movie is available early, regardless of the DRM tech these companies deploy, good-enough footage of the movies will crop up on file-sharing websites almost immediately.

But leaving all those aspects aside, would you be interested in getting new titles just hours or a week or two after they hit the cinemas? Would you want to end the decades-long practice of going to a theater?
Bug

Nintendo Offers Up To $20,000 To Hack the 3DS (silicon.co.uk) 45

Mickeycaskill writes: Nintendo will pay up to $20,000 for system and software vulnerabilities in the Nintendo 3DS family of handheld gaming consoles. The company is looking to prevent activities such as piracy, cheating and the circulation of inappropriate content to children. The stated goal is to "provide a secure environment for our customers so that they can enjoy our games and services. In order to achieve this goal, Nintendo is interested in receiving vulnerability information that researchers may discover regarding Nintendo's platforms." Silicon.co.uk reports: "Rewards will range from $100 to $20,000, with one given per 'qualifying piece of vulnerability information.' Hackers looking to claim a reward will have to provide Nintendo with either a proof-of-concept or a piece of functional exploit code in order to qualify."
The Courts

Embedding Isn't Copyright Infringement, Says Italian Court (arstechnica.co.uk) 25

The appeal court of Rome has overturned one of the 152 website blocks another court imposed last month, and ruled that embedding does not constitute a copyright infringement. From an ArsTechnica report: The order against the Italian site Kisstube is annulled, but the other websites remain blocked. Kisstube is a YouTube channel, which also exists as a standalone website that does not host any content itself, linking instead to YouTube. Both the channel and website arrange content by categories for the convenience of users. The Italian court's decision was informed by an important ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). In the BestWater case, the CJEU held that embedding or framing a video or image from another website is not copyright infringement if the latter is already accessible to the general public. However, another CJEU judgment ruled that posting hyperlinks to pirated copies of material is only legal provided it is done without knowledge that they are unauthorised versions, and it is not carried out for financial gain.
Movies

Free TV-Show Streaming Hurts Online Sales, Research Finds (torrentfreak.com) 67

New research from Carnegie Mellon University shows that online piracy is not the only worry for TV distributors. Based on Downton Abbey streaming and sales data provided by PBS, as reported by TorrentFreak, the researchers find that free legal streams can significantly reduce download sales. However, that doesn't necessarily mean that free streaming options should be banned. From the report: The researchers were able to estimate the impact in a natural experiment, since PBS was required to pull the free streams for all episodes at the same time. This means that some were streamable for more than a month, while others only for a week, or two. In addition, they had sales data for several seasons, allowing them to make an alternative comparison between years, where the streaming windows varied. In both cases, they show that free streaming cannibalizes download sales. "Our analysis in our primary specification indicates that availability in the free streaming window reduces EST sales by 8.4%. Using an alternative specification we find that free availability reduces EST sales by 9.9%," they write. The negative effect is not unexpected. However, it doesn't mean that it is wrong to offer free streaming in the long run, as there are several positive side-effects. That's where the puzzle starts to get complicated.
Piracy

UK ISPs To Start Sending 'Piracy Alerts' Soon (torrentfreak.com) 71

Beginning next year, internet service providers in the UK will send email notifications to subscribers whose connections have been allegedly used to download copyright infringing content. In what is an attempt to curtail piracy rates, these alerts would try to educate those who pirate about legal alternates. TorrentFreak adds: Mimicking its American counterpart, the copyright alert program will monitor the illegal file-sharing habits of UK citizens with a strong focus on repeat infringers. The piracy alerts program is part of the larger Creative Content UK (CCUK) initiative which already introduced several anti-piracy PR campaigns, targeted at the general public as well as the classroom. The plan to send out email alerts was first announced several years ago when we discussed it in detail, but it took some time to get everything ready. This week, a spokesperson from CCUK's "Get it Right From a Genuine Site" campaign informed us that it will go live in first few months of 2017. It's likely that ISPs and copyright holders needed to fine-tune their systems to get going, but the general purpose of the campaign remains the same.
Google

Google Asked to Remove a Billion 'Pirate' Search Results in a Year (torrentfreak.com) 68

Copyright holders asked Google to remove more than 1,000,000,000 allegedly infringing links from its search engine over the past twelve months, TorrentFreak reports. According to stats provided in Google's Transparency Report for the past one year, Google was asked to remove over one billion links -- or 1,007,741,143 links. From the article: More than 90 percent of the links, 908,237,861 were in fact removed. The rest of the reported links were rejected because they were invalid, not infringing, or duplicates of earlier requests. In total, Google has now processed just over two billion allegedly infringing URLs from 945,000 different domains. That the second billion took only a year, compared to several years for the first, shows how rapidly the volume of takedown requests is expanding. At the current rate, another billion will be added by the end of next summer. Most requests, over 50 million, were sent in for the website 4shared.com. However, according to the site's operators many of the reported URLs point to the same files, inflating the actual volume of infringing content.
Piracy

$1 Billion Getty Images Public Domain Photograph Dispute is Over (torrentfreak.com) 99

Earlier this year, photographer Carol Highsmith received a $120 settlement demand from Getty Images after she used one of her own public domain images on her website (which is she had donated to the Library of Congress and made available to the public to reproduce and display for free). Highsmith responded with a $1bn lawsuit but after a few short months, as TorrentFreak reports, the case is all over, with neither side a clear winner. From the report: To begin, on October 28, US District Court Judge Jed S. Rakoff dismissed each of Carol Highsmith's federal copyright claims. "Defendants Getty Images (US), Inc., License Compliance Services, Inc., Alamy, including that Inc., and Alamy Ltd. collectively moved to dismiss all claims of plaintiffs Carol Highsmith and This is America!, Inc. under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act,... the Lanham Act,... New York General Business Law,... and New York common law of unfair competition," the Judge wrote. "Upon consideration, the Court grants defendants' motions,â he added. With the federal claims gone, three state law claims were including that Getty charged licensing fees for images when it shouldn't have and collected settlements from alleged infringers when it had no right. However, these claims have now also been dismissed, along with the rest of the case. "It is hereby stipulated and agreed, by and among the parties, that this action shall be dismissed with prejudice pursuant to Rule 41(a)(l)(A)(ii) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, each party to bear its own costs and fees," the Judge wrote in his dismissal. Since the case was dismissed with prejudice, it is done and cannot be brought back to court.

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