Online retail giant Amazon is said to be stretching the truth regarding the size of its streaming content library when reporting numbers to the public. According to a report from Fast Company, the “17,000 movies and television shows” Amazon claims to offer Amazon Prime customers is inflated by roughly 10 times. Amazon Prime members have free, unlimited access to Amazon’s streaming content catalog, which can be viewed using a number of devices including a Roku set-top box and Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet. Rather than counting a TV series toward the total content tally Amazon claims its users have access to, Amazon counts each individual episode of a TV show toward that 17,000-title total. So, for example, Fox’s “24” counts not once but 192 times, and various versions of the “Power Rangers” show add 715 shows to Amazon’s catalog. The actual size of Amazon’s library? 1,745 movies and 150 television series. Netflix, which has been said to have a catalog of 60,000 streaming titles, actually has approximately 13,000 different titles including 9,500 movies and 3,500 TV series, the report claims.
Netflix in 2006 held an open competition to find the collaborative filtering algorithm that would best predict whether or not a user would like a particular film or TV show based on previous ratings. The grand prize of $1 million was awarded to a team called “BellKor’s Pragmatic Chaos” in 2009. The team’s algorithm was found to be 10% more effect than Netflix’s own recommendation service, however the company never implemented the team’s solution into its own service. “We evaluated some of the new methods offline but the additional accuracy gains that we measured did not seem to justify the engineering effort needed to bring them into a production environment,” Netflix finally explained in a recent blog post. “Also, our focus on improving Netflix personalization had shifted to the next level by then.” The company said because the majority its users were streaming videos rather than renting DVDs, it wasn’t logical to integrate the algorithm into its recommendation service, which is different for its streaming service and DVD rental program. More →
Google on Wednesday announced a new deal with Paramount Pictures that will allow more than 500 movie titles to be rented through YouTube and the Google Play marketplace. The Mountain View-based company now has rental deals with five of the six major Hollywood studios — including Paramount, Warner Brothers, Disney, Universal Pictures and Sony Pictures — and 20th Century Fox is the only studio that hasn’t yet reached an agreement with Google. “Celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, Paramount has been responsible for some of the most memorable films in cinema history,” said Malik Ducard, YouTube’s director of content partnerships. “With the addition of Paramount, we now have five of the six major studios and over ten independent movie studios offering nearly 9,000 movies for rent to millions of people around the world. It’s still early days for us, and we’ll continue adding new titles and expanding our service to more countries this year.” The majority of the movies tied to this deal are available now, and the rest will be added to YouTube and Google Play over the next few months. More →
Cable network operator and Internet service provider Comcast reportedly confirmed earlier this week that it would give its own video streaming service a huge advantage over rival services like Netflix. Showing blatant disregard for net neutrality principles, Comcast said this week that its video streaming service Xfinity will be exempt from the 250GB bandwidth cap it foists on subscribers, Raw Story reports. Movies and TV shows streamed using rival services such as Netflix and Hulu will still apply toward users’ monthly bandwidth caps. Microsoft announced earlier this week that Comcast’s Xfinity service was launching on its popular Xbox 360 video game and home entertainment console, and heavy users on Comcast’s network now have a clear reason to choose Xfinity over any of the dozens of rival streaming services supported by the Xbox. More →
RapidShare is widely known as an invaluable tool for the illegal sharing of copyrighted digital material. Much like Megaupload, which was shuttered earlier this year when company founder Kim Dotcom was arrested and charged with racketeering and violating anti-piracy laws, RapidShare allows users to upload any file and share a link with other users who may then download the content. While some users share files legally with RapidShare, millions more upload copyrighted movies, music and eBooks which are then downloaded illegally by others around the world who find links to the files on blogs or through special search engines. Following a preliminary ruling, a court in Germany has now declared RapidShare to be legal, but it must utilize a monitoring mechanisms if it wishes to remain operational. Read on for more. More →
Online movie streaming in the United States is expected to top both DVD and Blu-ray use for the first time ever in 2012, according to a study from IHS Screen Digest. The study suggests that in 2012, Americans will legally stream 3.4 billion movies online — twice the 1.4 billion streamed in 2011 — while DVD and Blu-ray movies watching this year will to 2.4 billion from 2.6 billion in 2011. Last year, the unlimited-streaming services offered by Netflix and Amazon Prime accounted for 94% of all paid online movie viewing in the U.S. Additionally, consumers paid an average of $0.51 for every movie streamed online, compared to $4.72 for DVD and Blu-ray discs. “We are looking at the beginning of the end of the age of movies on physical media like DVD and Blu-ray,” IHS analyst Dan Cryan said. “But the transition is likely to take time: almost nine years after the launch of the iTunes Store, CDs are still a vital part of the music business.” More →
A court in Germany ruled on Thursday that RapidShare must implement a system that proactively filters user uploads in order to prevent the illegal sharing of copyrighted content. Like Megaupload, which was shuttered earlier this year, RapidShare allows users to upload large files and share them online. The service has become widely known for hosting copyrighted software, music, movies and books that are then shared illegally on forums, blogs and a variety of of other websites. Following verdicts in three separate cases filed by two book publishers and an group representing music publishers called GEMA, the firm has been ordered to take a more active role in preventing infringing content from being uploaded to its servers, TorrentFreak reported. RapidShare has not yet stated whether or not it will appeal the decision.
UPDATE: RapidShare has issued a press release in response to this ruled, which now follows below. More →
Comcast, Cablevision, Verizon, Time Warner Cable and other Internet service providers in the United States will soon launch new programs to police their networks in an effort to catch digital pirates and stop illegal file-sharing. Major ISPs announced last summer that they had agreed to take new measures in an effort to prevent subscribers from illegally downloading copyrighted material, but the specifics surrounding the imminent antipiracy measures were not made available. Now, RIAA chief executive Cary Sherman has said that ISPs are ready to begin their efforts to curtail illegal movie, music and software downloads on July 12th. Read on for more. More →
The recent ordeal surrounding the now defeated SOPA and PIPA proposals followed by the shuttering of file-sharing giant Megaupload has put online piracy back in the spotlight. Despite studies showing Megaupload’s closure had no impact on online piracy whatsoever, copyright owners continue to pressure authorities in an effort to go after more services similar to Megaupload. The new wave of attention these file-sharing services are attracting is driving some illegal downloaders to seek out new means of sharing copyrighted materials, and decentralized torrent network Tribler emerged as one option. Another interesting solution created by a New York University professor takes things a step further, however, completely removing the Internet from the file-sharing equation and therefore putting pirates out of authorities’ reach. More →
Apple CEO Steve Jobs approached CBS approximately one year ago in an attempt to secure a content deal for a streaming television service that was in development at the time. CBS chief executive Leslie Moonves publicly spoke of the negotiations once before during an earnings call late last year, and now he is quoted again after having reportedly discussed the matter on stage during a presentation at the UCLA Entertainment Symposium. “I told Steve, ‘You know more than me about 99 percent of things but I know more about the television business,’ ” Moonves said according to Hollywood Reporter. Moonves said he denied Jobs access to CBS content for the service out of fear it might disrupt CBS’s existing revenue streams. Apple is reportedly still working on a unique streaming TV service that it intends to launch alongside an Apple-branded HDTV later this year. Some reports suggest the service may treat channels like apps, allowing users to subscribe to individual channels or groups of channels a la carte. More →
The Motion Picture Association of America this week filed a motion for a summary judgement against file-sharing service Hotfile in a U.S. District Court in Florida, TorrentFreak reports. The MPAA, which describes itself as “the voice and advocate of the American motion picture,” argued in its filing that Hotfile’s business model is identical to that of Megaupload, a popular file-sharing site that was shuttered earlier this year. “Hotfile is responsible for billions of infringing downloads of copyrighted works, including plaintiffs’ valuable motion picture and television properties,” MPAA lawyers wrote in the filing. “As with other adjudicated pirate services that came before it, from Napster and Grokster to Isohunt and Limewire, Hotfile exists to profit from copyright infringement.” The document continued, “More than 90% of the files downloaded from Hotfile are copyright infringing, and nearly every Hotfile user is engaged in copyright infringement.” The MPAA hopes that its motion will convince the court to have Hotfile shut down and forced to pay damages to movie studios, thus avoiding the need for a lengthy trial. More →
Swedish authorities have reportedly secured warrants and are planning to raid The Pirate Bay. Unnamed Pirate Bay team members speaking with TorrentFreak claim to have learned that the raid is currently being planned by Swedish police, and they expect the operation to target Pirate Bay servers and the site’s new .se domain. Law enforcement officials in Sweden first raided The Pirate Bay in 2006, and the company’s founders were eventually sentenced to jail and forced to pay millions in fines. The service remained online, however, and it is still operational today. “The Swedish district attorney Fredrik Ingblad initiated a new investigation into The Pirate Bay back in 2010. Information has been leaked to us every now and then by multiple sources, almost on a regular basis. It’s an interesting read,” The Pirate Bay said on its blog. “We can certainly understand why WikiLeaks wished to be hosted in Sweden, since so much data leaks there. The reason that we get the leaks is usually that the whistleblowers do not agree with what is going on. Something that the governments should have in mind – even your own people do not agree.” More →
Redbox announced this week that the company crossed the two billion mark for movie and video game rentals. It will celebrate the milestone by offering a free, one-night movie rental with the code “THANKS2U” for one day only on Thursday. Redbox has seen substantial growth over the past 18 months, with one billion additional rentals, a feat that previously took six years to accomplish. “We’ve always known how much America loves easy, affordable entertainment, and today we can prove it two billion times over,” said Scott Di Valerio, chief financial officer of Redbox parent company Coinstar. “Just 18 months ago, we rented our one billionth DVD and we couldn’t be more excited to celebrate this remarkable second rental milestone with our customers.” Read on for Redbox’s press release. More →