Considering all of the concerns major music and movie studios have over piracy and file sharing, one would think the studios could at least manage to keep their own employees from stealing content. That is apparently not the case, however. TorrentFreak has a new tool that reveals what a specific IP address has downloaded from BitTorrent, and used it to snoop around a few popular studios. The site found that employees at Fox, Sony and NBC Universal were downloading illegal content from BitTorrent. A Sony employee, for example, downloaded Conan the Barbarian, an album from The Black Keys, and a Beavis and Butthead video. An NBC Universal Employee downloaded HBO’s hit series Game of Thrones, Cowboys and Aliens and a trance album. Fox typically contacts the FBI when a movie has been leaked, but TorrentFreak found an employee downloading a 1080p HD version of the movie Super 8. “By highlighting the above our intention is not to get anyone into trouble, and for that reason we masked out the end of the IP addresses to avoid a witch hunt,” TorrentFreak said. “An IP address is not a person, IP addresses can be shared among many people, and anyone can be behind a keyboard at any given time.” A Google employee was also caught downloading Windows 7, and the Church of God was busted for downloading two popular TV shows. More →
A new study conducted by the Business Software Alliance — a software license enforcement and lobbying group formed by Microsoft — found that the global market for pirated software reached a commercial value of $59 billion in 2010. The massive figure represents a 14% increase over 2009. According to a survey of 15,000 PC users conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs, most people do recognize intellectual property rights and prefer legal software to pirated software. According to the report, however, many users of pirated programs do not realize they are using unlicensed copies. ”The software industry is being robbed blind,” said BSA President and CEO Robert Holleyman in a statement. “Nearly $59 billion worth of products were stolen last year — and the rates of theft are completely out of control in the world’s fastest-growing markets. The irony is people everywhere value intellectual property rights, but in many cases they don’t understand they are getting their software illegally.” Hit the break for the full press release. More →
Google announced and launched its Music Beta service on Tuesday, and record execs aren’t too pleased with its decision to move ahead before reaching a deal. “People are pissed,” one record label exec told Hollywood Reporter, which explained in one article why it took so long for Google and the music industry to reach an agreement. Reportedly, Google offered some labels larger advances than others, which resulted in some firms holding out for more money. Similarly, the music industry is concerned that Music Beta users will upload music stolen from P2P sites — that the industry already wants removed from Google’s search results — to Google’s music storage locker. Lastly, the recording industry was concerned that Google’s music service could weaken the revenue stream from other sources, such as Apple’s iTunes. Ultimately, driven by competition from Amazon’s Cloud Drive, Google decided to pull the trigger and launch anyway. More →
Speaking to the Associated Press on Friday, Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata revealed that his company’s upcoming Nintendo 3DS will in fact gamers the choice of playing titles in both 3D and 2D. Exactly how one would switch from 3D to 2D and vise versa is unclear, but Iwata mentioned one of the primary reasons for the ability to remove the extra dimension is for the health of children’s eyesight. Also revealed by Iwata was the fact Nintendo is going to introduce a new set of anti-piracy measures with the 3DS. Unfortunately with this one, Iwata would not comment further saying he did not want to give pirates any clues about how the measures will work. Said Iwata on the piracy of video games: “We fear a kind of thinking is become widespread that paying for software is meaningless. We have a strong sense of crisis about this problem.” The Nintendo 3DS is scheduled to make its debut at E3 this June and go on sale in Q1 2011. More →
Just because we might associate the company with loveable characters like Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck doesn’t mean the characters who are running the show at Warner Bros. Entertain UK have similar personalities. After all, they’re the ones that came up with the brilliant idea of hiring a student intern, paying him or her £17,500 ($26,212 USD) over the course of a year and having them engage in a bit of digital espionage. The intern, who is to be “IT literate” and currently enrolled as a student pursuing a degree in computer science, will be charged with infiltrating torrent sites and creating bots which sniff out media which Warner Bros. and NBC Universal hold the copyrights to. Here’s a snippet from the job description:
During the 12 month internship, duties will include: monitoring local Internet forums and IRC for pirated WB and NBCU content and in order to gather information on pirate sites, pirate groups and other pirate activities; finding new and maintaining existing accounts on private sites; scanning for links to hosted pirated WB and NBCU content and using tools to issue takedown requests; maintaining and developing bots for Internet link scanning system (training provided); preparing sending of infringement notices and logging feedback; performing trap purchases of pirated product and logging results; inputting pirate hard goods data and other intelligence into the forensics database; selecting local keywords and submitting local filenames for monitoring and countermeasure campaigns and periodically producing research documents on piracy related technological developments. Various training will be provided.
Yikes. More →
Today is a bad day to be a pirate. Early this morning, a verdict was reached in the trial of four men associated with The Pirate Bay, charged with assisting in making copyrighted content available. That verdict: Guilty of violating copyright law. TorrentFreak has been covering the trial since the beginning and those of you following along will know that the convictions aren’t exactly a surprise. We don’t want to call these men martyrs but things looked bleak for the four men from the start. This marks a huge victory for the music and movie industries in their ongoing efforts to deter people from sharing copyrighted content, and may also serve as a warning of sorts to those who facilitate illegal sharing. The four men — Pirate Bay founders Peter Sunde, Frederik Neij and Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, and financier Carl Lundstrom — were each sentenced to one year in prison and ordered to pay fines equaling $905,000 USD per defendant. All four men will likely file for appeals. On a sadly ironic note, the four men apparently learned of the verdict well before it was announced by the Swedish court — according to Peter Sunde’s lawyer, the court leaked the verdict to a journalist who informed Sunde of the conviction an hour before it was made public.
In an uncharacteristically rational move, on the surface at least, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has decided that it will stop suing individuals caught downloading pirated music and will instead focus solely on asking the pirates ISP to either serve warning or kill their internet connections. This tactic is by no means new and is in fact standard practice in many countries across the world where, you guessed it, it makes little to no difference in levels of music piracy. But hey, at least the RIAA has finally realized that its spending $100,000 to sue a struggling single-mom diner waitress for $25,000 after catching her downloading a few pirated CDs is plain stupid, especially when there isn’t a hope in the world that it’ll ever collect a penny from her.
On October 13, President Bush signed a highly controversial anti-piracy law. The dictator President has put into effect a law that will appoint an intellectual property czar (yeah folks, you heard it right) that will report directly to the President (again, you heard that right) on how to keep hax0rz from illegally obtaining copyrighted materials. The targets are primarily music, movies, and TV, but you can bet this will be leaking over to other stuff with copyrights. The bill was, of course, backed by none other than the RIAA and MPAA (our favorite institutions!). Say good-bye to the phrase “DRM Free” everyone. Apparently, counterfeiting and piracy costs the U.S. $250 billion annually… that’s a lotta billions for free tunes and movies. Any devices used in piracy may have to be forfeited to Big Brother, lest “firemen” come into your house and burn down your gadgets Fahrenheit 450 style.