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 →
Netflix has been helping cord-cutters save money for years, offering unlimited movie and TV show streaming for just $7.99 per month. Just because the service is affordable doesn’t mean it is immune to digital piracy, however, and newly available data shows that the service took a pretty big hit earlier this week. Early on Sunday morning, Netflix released the complete fourth season of cult comedy “Arrested Development,” the latest show in Netflix’s original programming lineup. Netflix has begun to develop its own shows in an effort to attract new subscribers of course, but according to paidContent, around 100,000 people downloaded season 4 illegally within the first 24 hours alone. Many of the downloads are said to have come from markets where Netflix is currently unavailable, though firm geographical data is not available.
A prominent anti-piracy commission, whose members include former Utah governor Jon Huntsman and former U.S. Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair, has released a new report making the case that copyright holders should start deploying software capable of locking down the computers of alleged pirates. The new report from the Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property says that copyright holders should be allowed to take more assertive action against intellectual property thieves, including developing software that will “allow only authorized users to open files containing valuable information” and will potentially lock down any unauthorized computer that tries to access the file. More →
America’s ambassador to Australia wants the Aussies to act more like the Lannisters and pay their debts to HBO. Australia’s News.com reports that American ambassador Jeffrey Bleich has castigated Australians for being “some of the worst offenders with among the highest piracy rates of Game of Thrones in the world.” Bleich described the large-scale piracy of Game of Thrones as an “epic theft by online viewers around the world” and said that fans of the show had no excuse for illegally streaming it because “stealing is stealing.” HBO programing president Michael Lombardo has previously said that he sees the widespread piracy of Game of Thrones as a “compliment” that has actually helped the company sell more DVDs.
Here’s another reason why Internet Service Providers’ plans to implement a “six strikes” anti-piracy system could be a disaster in the making: it will likely make life miserable for businesses that offer their customers free Wi-Fi connectivity. Essentially, ISPs have not yet indicated that they’ve figured out a way to avoid punishing everyone who uses a shared connection simply because one person on that connection allegedly pirated copyrighted material. What this means, as BoingBoing writes, is that “anyone operating a hotspot will quickly find that it can no longer access popular sites like YouTube and Facebook, because random users have attracted unsubstantiated copyright complaints from the entertainment industry.” More →
It was bound to happen. Nokia (NOK) engineer Justin Angel outlined on his blog various tactics that can be used to pirate Windows 8 games distributed through Microsoft (MSFT) Windows Store. While Angel doesn’t condone the circumvention, he points out that Windows 8 game developers stand to lose a large chunk of revenue because games account for over “51% of developer revenue on every mobile developer platform.” We won’t detail them here, but Angel essentially posts a step-by-step guide on how to compromise games to unlock in-app purchases, crack trial versions to full paid versions, remove in-app ads and reduce cost of in-app purchases. Angel concludes that Windows 8 games and apps can easily be cracked and Microsoft should be on alert to issue patch. It looks like Microsoft’s Windows team is headed for some sleepless nights.
Internet Service Providers have long promised/threatened to implement a “six strikes” piracy policy that provides six notifications to alleged pirates before their service is degraded or temporarily revoked. And now, thanks to Ars Technica, we have some details on exactly how the oft-delayed policy will work in practice. Basically, there are three “stages” ISPs will go through before taking action: a “notice” phase that “involves letting users know they’ve been tracked on copyright-infringing sites”; an “acknowledgement” phase in which “the customer will have to actually acknowledge having received those notices”; and finally, the “mitigation” phase where “users who have traded copyrighted files are actually punished.” More →
Pirating massive amounts of gay porn via BitTorrent may not be as rewarding as it seems. According to BBC News, a federal court in Illinois has slapped Virginia resident Kywan Fisher with a $1.5 million fine for allegedly pirating 10 pornographic films onto a BitTorrent site and then illegally distributing them to thousands of other viewers. The court awarded Flava Works, the film company that filed suit against Fisher, an award of $150,000 per film largely because it gave evidence that allegedly “demonstrated that Mr Fisher was the person who put copies of its films on a BitTorrent site.” BBC News says that the $1.5 million award is “believed to the biggest awarded in a file-sharing case.”
The Department of Justice on Wednesday announced that in connection with Dutch and French law enforcement agencies, it has seized three of the most popular sites for illegally downloading Android apps. The three domains — Appbucket, Snappzmarket and Applanet — are now in the custody of the federal government, and would-be visitors are greeted with an FBI seizure notice. “Criminal copyright laws apply to apps for cell phones and tablets, just as they do to other software, music and writings. These laws protect and encourage the hard work and ingenuity of software developers entering this growing and important part of our economy,” U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said. “We will continue to seize and shut down websites that market pirated apps, and to pursue those responsible for criminal charges if appropriate.” The DOJ’s press release follows below. More →
From the early days of IRC to the creation of The Pirate Bay, online piracy has grown from a minor annoyance perpetrated by an underground community to a mainstream issue that impacts several industries. Internet savvy users originally shared music and videos with one another through a string of underground chatrooms, however with the rise of video-sharing website YouTube, it has become increasingly easy to watch or listen to copyrighted material on the Web for free. While Google (GOOG) does its best to remove infringing content, throughout the years users have found various techniques that allow them to bypass the Internet giant’s search and destroy tools, and keep their videos online for millions to see. YouTube and similar sites are only the tip of the iceberg, however. More →