Voltage Pictures, the production studio behind the Oscar-winning film The Hurt Locker, has filed a new lawsuit in a federal court in Florida, according to TorrentFreak. The studio’s latest complaint targets at least 2,514 alleged BitTorrent users, whom Voltage Pictures claims pirated the film and cost the studio millions. The company last year filed a joint lawsuit against more than 30,000 alleged BitTorrent users who illegally downloaded the film. The case closed this past December, with Voltage Pictures collecting an undisclosed number of settlements. The studio’s latest suit looks to obtain a subpoena that will order ISPs to reveal the identities of the defendants. The alleged pirates will then be offered a settlement of about $3,000, the report claims. All of the defendants allegedly downloaded the film in 2010 and are Charter Communications subscribers. More →
On Wednesday we reported on a story that suggested Verizon may be planning to challenge Netflix by launching its own video streaming service. Now, it appears the communications giant is secretly working with RedBox, the popular $1.00 video rental kiosk company, on a streaming service that could launch next year. According to TechCrunch, the plan is currently called “Project Zoetrope” and it will allow users to subscribe, download and stream movies and television shows across a variety of platforms including Roku, web browsers, Xbox, Google TV, Android and iOS. Like competing services such as Vudu, both HD and SD resolutions will be available for rental. TechCrunch said pricing will be based on a monthly credit allotment. A user, for example, might buy 10 credits for $9.95 per month, which would allow him or her to stream a certain number of shows or movies. Apple, Amazon, Google, Netflix, Vudu and others are already members of the crowded digital movie rental space, so Verizon and RedBox will certainly face stiff competition if they’re looking to enter this market. More →
Warner Bros, Sony, Paramount and 20th Century Fox’s UltraViolet service, which will allow consumers to stream purchased movies to internet connected devices, will make its debut this week. The movie studios hope UltraViolet will attract consumers back to purchasing movies instead of simply renting them. Here’s how it will work: when you purchase a DVD or Blu-ray disc with an UltraViolet label, you will have the option to also stream the movie to portable devices such as smartphones and tablets, or to connected TVs. The idea is that users will be able to permanently purchase a movie and keep a copy of it in the cloud. “We want to emphasize the concept of ‘buy once, play anywhere,’” Warner Bros president of digital distribution Thomas Gewecke said. For now, it remains unclear how successful the service will be, as many consumers have instead opted for products that provide streaming access to large libraries of movies, such as cable set-top boxes, Boxee or Roku. “Green Lantern” and “Horrible Bosses” are the first two movies to offer an UltraViolet option, and both films will be available for purchase on Friday.
Sony Pictures is working on a deal to acquire the rights to Steve Jobs’s biography for a feature film, BGR sister site Deadline reported on Friday. The highly anticipated authorized biography Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacsson is due for release on October 24th, and Sony Pictures is reportedly making a substantial offer for the motion picture rights. ”I’m hearing the deal is $1 million against $3 million and that Mark Gordon will be the producer,” Mike Fleming wrote on Deadline. Sony Pictures is thought to be a good fit for the project following its work on business book turned feature film Moneyball and the Oscar-nominated The Social Network. If the studio manages to work out a deal, this would be only the second film to chronicle Jobs’s career, the first being Pirates Of Silicon Valley. More →
A new report from research firm IHS suggests that Apple’s iTunes share of “consumer spending for movie electronic sell-through (EST) and Internet video on demand (iVOD)” grew during the first half of 2011, the first time since 2009, despite an increase in competition from Walmart and Amazon. iTunes had a 65.8% market share during the first half of this year, up from 64.9% during the first half of 2010. It also had the largest increase in revenue growth among its competitors. “Much of iTunes’ success can be traced to the rising usage of Apple’s AirPlay system, which allows wireless video streaming to consumer electronic devices including televisions,” said IHS research director Arash Amel. “This has expanded the reach of iTunes to new platforms, boosting sales of movies from the system.” Microsoft’s Zune Video Marketplace maintained the second largest share of consumer spending in the market with a 16.2% share, down from 18.5% during the first half of 2010. Walmart’s Vudu service saw the largest share increase among market leaders: it jumped from a 1% share during the first half of last year to a 5.3% share during the first half of 2011. Sony’s PlayStation Store now has a 4.4% share, down from 8.2%, and Amazon’s share grew slightly from to 4% from 4.2%. Read on for the full report. More →
German gadget news site BestBoyZ has gotten its hands on one of LG’s upcoming mid-range handsets, the E730 Optimus Sol. Originally codenamed “Victor,” the device is equipped with a 3.8-inch AMOLED display and a 1GHz processor. The Optimus Sol runs Android 2.3.3 (Gingerbread) and is loaded with LG’s custom Optimus user interface on top. It is unclear when the Optimus Sol will hit the market but rumor has it Vodafone will offer the device in black and silver when it finally launches. Hit the jump for two more images and a full hands-on video. More →
Apple issued an update to its Apple TV product on Monday that will allow users to stream purchased high-definition TV shows directly from iTunes. Specifically, Apple says the update will enable:
- iTunes TV Shows: Purchase your favorite TV shows directly from the iTunes Store, and watch the shows you already own, commercial-free in HD.
- Vimeo: Browse and play videos from Vimeo, access your video inbox, and mark videos you want to watch later.
When Apple first launched the Apple TV, it only allowed users to rent movies and shows and there was not an option to purchase titles for permanent ownership. For users in the U.S., Apple has also rolled out preliminary iCloud support with this update, allowing users to re-download some purchased television shows, though movie support is not yet available. More →
Netflix announced two new unlimited DVD plans on Tuesday, including a $7.99 option for one DVD at a time and an $11.99 option that allows users to rent two DVDs at a time. The company also said that it will discontinue its current $9.99 monthly option that provides access to unlimited DVD rentals and unlimited instant streaming each month. Instead, the movie rental service will charge users $7.99 a month for unlimited streaming and a minimum of $7.99 per month for unlimited DVDs (with one rented out at a time at that rate). Essentially, that means users with the current $9.99 offering will instead have to cough up $15.98 per month in order to maintain their current subscription plan. “Reflecting our confidence that DVDs by mail is a long-term business for us, we are also establishing a separate and distinct management team solely focused on DVDs by mail, led by Andy Rendich, our Chief Service and Operations Officer and an 11 year veteran of Netflix,” the company said in a blog post. Netflix’s current plans will expire in September, and users will need to switch to a new plan by that time. More →
AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Verizon have reached an agreement with music and movie publishers that will help enforce copyright infringement while giving the ISPs a chance to level with their customers. According to Ars Technica, copyright owners will continue to scour the dark corners of the net looking for anyone downloading and illegally sharing their content. If an IP is found to be downloading or sharing illegal content — likely via P2P networks — the music and movie companies will alert the ISP directly. ISP’s will then send a note to the offending customer, without passing off private information unless there is a court order to do so. Users may get up to four alerts from the ISP, but after that the ISP can choose to start implementing “temporary reductions of Internet speeds, redirection to a landing page until the subscriber contacts the ISP to discuss the matter or reviews and responds to some educational information about copyright, or other measures that the ISP may deem necessary to help resolve the matter.” If a user believes he or she has been targeted without merit, an appeals process can be started for a $35 fee but, as Ars Technica notes, it’s unclear who will be the judge in that process. Read on for the full details on the six strikes. More →
The production studio behind the movie Hurt Locker, Voltage Pictures, is attempting to go after a record 24,583 illegal BitTorrent users. The studio has already filed lawsuits against 5,000 BitTorrent users who illegally downloaded Hurt Locker and, in an effort to make up losses due to piracy, it’s now going after more with the help of law firm Dunlap, Grubb and Weaver. According to TorrentFreak, the lion’s share of subscribers — provided on a list to the U.S. District Court of Columbia — are Comcast customers (10,532). 5,239 are Verizon subscribers, 2,699 are Charter customers, and 1,750 are Time Warner users. The lawsuits will likely be tried over the next several years, however, as Verizon and Charter only offer up 100 and 150 customer IP-addresses per month. TorrentFreak suggested that Voltage Pictures would prefer to reach cash settlements with customers as opposed to taking each case to court individually. More →
The wait is over — Netflix finally announced on Thursday that its Android application is now available in the Android Market. But there’s a catch: it’s only supported on “select phones that have the requisite playback support.” If your device isn’t on Netflix’s approved list just yet, don’t fret, as the firm says it will add to its supported devices list over time. The video streaming service is already available on Windows Phone and iOS, so why did it take so long to hit Android? “Because the platform has evolved so rapidly, there are some significant challenges associated with developing a streaming video application for this ecosystem,” Netflix product team member Roma De said. “One of these challenges is the lack of standard streaming playback features that the Netflix application can use to gain penetration across all available Android phones. In the absence of standardization, we have to test each individual handset and launch only on those that can support playback.” Netflix for Android currently runs on the HTC Incredible, Nexus One, and EVO 4G with Android 2.2 installed. It’s also supported on the Nexus S and Nexus One with Android 2.3 installed. More →
Rovio, the developer behind the wildly successful Angry Birds franchise, announced on Monday that its forthcoming Android title Angry Birds Rio for Android will launch exclusively in the Amazon Appstore. Amazon announced in January that its app store, which will rival Google’s own Android Market on the Android platform, was open for developer submissions. The exclusive deal with Rovio marks Amazon’s first major coup in the space, as the title is expected to be a wildly popular game for Android. “The Android platform has seen phenomenal growth, and it’s great that new avenues for app distribution are opening up,” said Rovio CEO Mikael Hed in a statement. “The openness of the Android platform works for the benefit of consumers and developers alike. It has been delightful to team up with Amazon to bring the Angry Birds franchise to this great new application marketplace.” Rovio also announced that ad-free versions of Angry Birds and Angry Birds Seasons will be available for the first time on the Android platform exclusively through the Amazon Appstore. Hit the break for the full press release. More →
For this week’s installation of Throwback Thursday, we’re going to journey back to the year 1987. A time when the Iran-Contra Affair was front page news, the term “Black Monday” was coined, and Double Dragon was the most popular game in your local arcade. Developed by Technos Japan, Double Dragon tells the tale of two brothers, Hammer and Spike, who are trying to navigate through gang-turf dominated by the Black Warriors (anyone else noticing some racial undertones twenty years post facto?). The brothers are skilled fighters, and determined to accomplish their goal, saving a common love interest Marian (it’s getting weirder). In the arcade version of the game, Hammer and Spike have to complete four levels – beating four different foes wielding a variety of weapons — in order to rescue their damsel in distress. If both brothers survive the trials and tribulations in multiplayer mode, they then must fight each other to determine who will be the winner of Marian’s love. The game was later ported to the Nintendo Entertainment System and, in 1994, made into a movie (which currently has rating of 1.5 out of 5 starts on IMDB). Was anyone a Double Dragon master? More →