This was quite a year for big TV series and as a result, it was also a big year for pirating TV shows. The wildly popular hit AMC show Breaking Bad wrapped up; The Walking Dead, Mad Men and Game of Thrones had huge seasons; and new shows like Masters of Sex and Sleepy Hollow burst onto the scene. Published ratings are a good gauge when measuring a show’s popularity, of course, but ratings are hardly an exact science. What is an exact science, however, is comparing torrent download volumes. More →
A new AT&T patent awarded in mid November describes methods through which the Internet service provider may track the privacy-related habits of customers and assign them a “Subscriber Reputation Score” (SRS) which could be used to limit access to file-sharing or P2P sites for repeat pirating offenders. The patent, discovered by Torrent Freak, basically explains a means of regulating traffic inside a network by following patterns for users and monitoring Internet-browsing habits with a specific focus on pirated content. More →
In Switzerland, it is completely legal for Internet users to download copyrighted content from illegal sources. As a result, file-sharing portals are very popular there, especially since Netflix hasn’t come to Switzerland yet. According to the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA), 35 percent of Swiss Internet users take advantage of this each month by using “unlicensed services.” To combat this piracy, according to a report by TorrentFreak, a working group is recommending fairly drastic measures to the Swiss Justice Minister, including that Swiss ISPs delete illegal content on Swiss-based sites, display warning when accessing “unauthorized content sources,” and make “obviously illegal sites” inaccessible. More →
You can start to see why copyright holders are getting so frustrated playing “whack-a-mole” with alleged piracy websites. TorrentFreak has compiled data from Google’s transparency reports to show that copyright holders this year have asked the company to purge more than 200 million links to pages that allegedly infringe upon copyrighted material from its search results. Because Google removes roughly 99% of links requested, it seems safe to say that around 200 million alleged piracy links have been removed from search results this year and that it’s done virtually nothing to stop online piracy. In fact, as Google’s graph posted below shows, URL removal requests have only continued to climb this year despite all the removals from Google’s search results. More →
Many musicians understandably hate online music piracy but there’s no evidence that it’s turning them into starving artists. Timothy Lee at The Washington Post’s Wonkblog has posted a chart using data from the London School of Economics showing that music industry revenues have remained largely flat over the past decade despite the collapse in sales of recorded music. Musicians have managed to survive by increasing the total revenues generated through concerts, which grew from $10 billion in 1998 to more than $25 billion in 2011. So while consumers are no longer as willing to pay for full CDs or even individual MP3s, they do seem willing to fork over their money to see their favorite artists in shows. Wonkblog’s chart of music revenues follows below. More →
There might not be any evidence that the “six strikes” Copyright Alert System is having any effect on piracy, but the service providers are refusing to go down without a fight. TorrentFreak has obtained a copy of AT&T’s Copyright Infringement Alert, which states that violating the provider’s Terms of Service “could result in mitigation measures including limitation of Internet access or even suspension or termination.” The alert does not clarify what specific infringements must take place in order to warrant a complete termination of service. TorrentFreak also points out that AT&T’s policy previously ensured users that their internet would only be disconnected if a court ordered the provider to do so. The latest alert seems to indicate that this is no longer the case. More →
It has already been established that the “six strikes” anti-piracy system in the United States has failed to have any perceivable impact, and a recent study shows other countries are having similar difficulties controlling P2P sharing. The study was conducted by Rebecca Giblin of Monash University and dealt with whether “graduated response” measures were reducing infringement, maximizing authorized usage, or at the very least promoting a greater understanding of the effects of piracy. When piracy became a worldwide issue, governments believed that the cooperation of ISPs when punishing offenders would significantly decrease piracy rates. South Korea, France, Taiwan, and the UK have all implemented programs in an attempt to curb piracy, but according to Giblin’s study, a recent upsurge in “copyright-intensive industries” has nothing to do with graduated response efforts. Giblin concludes that “there is precious little evidence that graduated response is effective on any measure.”
After a great deal of controversy and several extensive delays, the anti-piracy Copyright Alert System was finally implemented this February for five of leading Internet service providers in the United States. And according to TorrentFreak, the program has had no noticeable effect so far. The service providers have yet to release any information about how many of their customers are receiving alerts for torrenting copyrighted material or how effective the program has been since launching six months ago, so TorrentFreak decided to resort to exterior data to determine the program’s effectiveness. What follows is a graph of The Pirate Bay’s traffic from the beginning of 2012 through July 2013. More →
Sweden’s Pirate Party has suddenly become very enthusiastic about enforcing copyright laws. TorrentFreak reports that the Pirate Party has found evidence that Swedish IT minister Anna-Karin Hatt has violated copyright law repeatedly by posting copyrighted Calvin and Hobbes cartoons and artwork from the Lord of the Rings films on her Instagram account. What’s more, the Pirate Party has turned its evidence over to law enforcement officials who have in the past have raided the Pirate Bay website’s servers and have arrested its founders. More →
Artists may like griping about subscription-based music streaming services such as Spotify and Pandora, but they appear to be doing a lot to kill off music piracy. TorrentFreak reports that music piracy in Norway has completely fallen off a cliff, as data from Ipsos shows that Norwegian Internet users pirated just 210 million songs in 2012, down from 1.2 billion in 2008. The survey also shows that roughly 47% of Norwegian Internet users say that they now subscribe to a music streaming service such as Spotify, and that more than half of those subscribers pay for a premium option. Or put another way, it seems as though opening up more avenues for people to pay for music will decrease their willingness to pirate copyrighted material.
It’s a pretty good bet that HBO could expand its paying audience for Game of Thrones if it gave viewers the option to buy season passes on iTunes or Amazon like other shows do. TorrentFreak has published some pretty astonishing numbers showing that Game of Thrones’ third season premiere was downloaded illegally by roughly 5.2 million people, which is just 1.5 million fewer than the 6.7 million viewers who watched the episode the first night that it aired on HBO. What’s more, the show’s 5.2 million illegal downloads are 79% greater than The Big Bang Theory, which TorrentFreak says was the second-most pirated show in the world this past spring with 2.9 million illegal downloads.
Good news for French Internet users: Illegally downloading the new Daft Punk album will no longer get your Internet service cut off. Ars Technica reports that the French government has decided to do away with a provision of an anti-piracy law that allowed regulators to cut off Internet service for users who have repeatedly ignored warnings against pirating copyrighted content. Ars notes that although the government never actually cut off any alleged pirates’ Internet services, it simply didn’t think that cutting off someone’s web access should even be a viable option. Fleur Pellerin, France’s digital minister, said that “it’s not possible to cut off someone’s Internet access” because “it’s like cutting off someone’s water.”
Google is getting sick and tired of the entertainment industry stamping its feet and demanding that it do more to block pirates from its search results. TorrentFreak reports that Google’s U.K. policy manager Theo Bertram said during a panel on online piracy this week that blocking links from search results is mostly a pointless exercise because there are simply so many other links that pop up in their place. The better solution, he said, would be for advertisers to give the company a list of websites where they did not want their ads to appear and ask Google to make sure that those sites are starved of advertising revenues. More →