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  1. Following the announcement that the MPAA had filed a lawsuit against Megaupload and Kim Dotcom, the movie studios' General Counsel Steven Fabrizio made several appearances in the media. Most memorable was an interview with Radio New Zealand, where he was surprised to hear Kim Dotcom on the other end of the line. Earlier this week the MPAA filed a lawsuit against Megaupload, Kim Dotcom and two former employees of the defunct file-storage service. In their complaint the movie studios repeat many of the claims that were laid out in the criminal case while demanding millions of dollars in damages. But according to Dotcom the lawsuit is just a desperate attempt at an asset-grab by the MPAA because the criminal case against Megaupload is going to fail. “The criminal case is failing. There will be no extradition. They are now trying to get at our seized assets with civil forfeitures. It’s a move of desperation,” Dotcom tells TF. MPAA General Counsel Steven Fabrizio disagrees, and has told his side of the story to many news outlets this week. Dotcom and Fabrizio are usually not heard at the same time, but in a rare interview with Radio New Zealand the two bumped heads. Fabrizio was seemingly under the impression that he was doing a solo interview, but that changed when the reporter informed him that Dotcom was listening in on a second line. When she asked the MPAA lawyer whether he wanted to discuss the case with Dotcom there was a brief silence, but he eventually agreed. http://podcast.radionz.co.nz/ntn/ntn-20140410-0948-hollywood_studios_launch_law_suit_against_kim_dotcom-048.mp3 First MPAA’s General Counsel had the opportunity to explain what Megaupload did wrong and why. In line with their complaint, Fabrizio described the file-storage site as a business that was set up to facilitate and encourage copyright infringement. “Megaupload was never a cloud storage service to begin with,” Fabrizio noted. “From its birth to its death, it was a service that was designed to profit from copyright infringement, and in fact, it did profit handsomely from copyright infringement.” “The proof of the pudding that it was not a storage service, is that almost 98 percent of the people who used Megaupload were not premium users. If you weren’t a premium user, and your content wasn’t downloaded frequently enough, then Megaupload would delete it,” he added. Dotcom, who in private refers to the MPAA’s counsel as “Fabricatio,” because he is “script writing and ‘fabricating’ Hollywood’s science fiction lawsuits”, later refuted the claim that Megaupload deleted files uploaded by free users. “That is a blatant lie,” Dotcom said. “We have not purged any files from Megaupload for many years. If you were a non-premium user and you had an account with us that was free, your files would not be deleted.” Fabrizio’s second argument was that Megaupload offered a rewards program which encouraged people to share large video files. Again, Dotcom contested this claim by pointing out that people only got paid for files smaller than 100 megabytes. Megaupload’s founder conceded that users could circumvent the limits by uploading split archives, but he stressed that the restriction was specifically put in place to discourage copyright infringement. The third allegation Fabrizio made was that Megaupload employees had private conversations where they allegedly discussed the “pirate” status of their work. “Internally they referred to themselves as modern pirates. Some of the employees and some of the co-defendants actually uploaded infringing popular movies themselves, so that they could be downloaded by others,” the MPAA’s top lawyer noted. Again, Dotcom disagreed and explained that the “pirates” the employee referred to were Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. “Yeah, well that’s complete nonsense, right. One of our employees who was admin staff and a developer has chatted with our CTO and he watched a documentary called Pirates of Silicon Valley. That was a movie about Steve Jobs and Bill Gates and how they stole the ideas from each other,” Dotcom said. “He then made this remark to [the CTO] saying we are modern-day pirates, comparing himself to the attitude those guys had, simply because they were copying from each other and we were copying from our competitors and vice versa,” he added. Responding to the reporter’s question on why he wouldn’t go to the U.S. voluntarily to stand trial, Dotcom said that he offered to do so, but only on the condition that he would get access to his funds as well as bail, which the Department of Justice refused. The reporter then switched back to Fabrizio, who didn’t seem to believe much of what Dotcom was saying. “Mr. Dotcom can talk all he wants about his excuses, but the reality is that you can say anything you want if you’re not constrained by the truth of the facts that you’re saying,” Fabrizio said. Of course, the same also applies to the MPAA and Mr. Fabrizio… The interview is an intriguing face-off, and the first time ever that the MPAA and Dotcom have gone head-to-head. It probably wont be the last time either, although the venue will very much depend on how the criminal proceedings and the civil case progress. Source: TorrentFreak
  2. The MPAA is urging lawmakers to protect young Americans from the "numerous hazards on pirate sites." The movie industry group believes that young people may not be aware of the risks they face when visiting these sites and hopes that Senators will be able to address this cyber threat appropriately. One of the rising anti-piracy complaints of entertainment industry companies is how so-called ‘pirate’ sites are funded by advertising, both from legitimate and illegitimate advertisers. Last month, for example, a report backed by the entertainment industries claimed that 90 percent of the top pirate sites link to malware or other unwanted software. In addition, two-thirds of the websites were said to link to credit card scams. Helped by these numbers, copyright holders and anti-piracy groups are now framing torrent sites, streaming hubs and cyberlockers as a cyber threat. This presents them with a new angle to urge lawmakers to target these sites and services. Last week the Senate Homeland Security & Government Affairs Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations organized a hearing on the “hidden hazards” of online adverting. For the MPAA, this offered an ideal opportunity to chime in with their piracy angle. “As the Senators consider steps to address the safety and security of online advertisements, we hope they will also examine the extensive growth of these hazards on sites that offer infringing movies, television shows and other creative content,” MPAA writes. The MPAA notes that several recent reports pointed out how these pirate sites are rife with malicious ads and urges lawmakers to take steps to address the issue. Not for Hollywood’s financial benefit, but to protect Americans from malware and scams. “As the Subcommittee considers steps to address the safety and security of online advertisements, we urge the members to examine these reports and others which detail the numerous hazards on pirate sites,” MPAA notes. “Unfortunately, these illicit sites continue to attract large numbers of Americans, especially young people who might not be aware of the harms they could easily encounter,” they add. So there we have it. The MPAA, who are generally speaking not too concerned about the well-being of people who “steal” their work, are now asking Senators to take them under their protection. Apparently, the MPAA don’t want pirates to catch viruses or run into credit card scams. A humbly presented goal, but of course it’s just another obfuscated attempt to disconnect ‘pirate’ sites from their revenue streams. Considering the recent push against advertising networks, including the London Police pirate site blacklist, this won’t be the last we’ve heard of this. Source: TorrentFreak
  3. A United States District Court Judge has just granted Kim Dotcom's request to put the MPAA and RIAA civil actions against him on hold . The reprieve, which will last seven weeks, expressly allows the entertainment companies the freedom to freeze Dotcom's assets anywhere in the world if that is deemed necessary. Back in April, the MPAA’s Twentieth Century Fox, Disney, Paramount Pictures, Universal, Columbia Pictures and Warner Bros. filed a brand new lawsuit in a Virginia District Court. Targeting Kim Dotcom and his associates Mathias Ortmann and Bram Van Der Kolk, the civil case aimed to recover millions in damages said to have been caused by the now-defunct Megaupload file-storage site. The case filed by the MPAA was quickly followed by another initiated by the RIAA, with both following the pattern set by a U.S. Government criminal case already underway against Dotcom and colleagues in the United States. To avoid their clients incriminating themselves ahead of the criminal case, Megaupload’s legal team later asked a U.S. court to freeze the civil cases filed by the MPAA and RIAA. Yesterday, United States District Judge Liam O’Grady granted that Motion to Stay. However, the plaintiffs were successful in their request to have a number of conditions attached to the decision, each designed to give them freedom to embark on further legal action should they feel that’s appropriate. Firstly, Judge O’Grady’s order does not disallow the plaintiffs from effecting service on any other defendant who has not already been served. They are also free to amend their complaint as they see fit. Unsurprisingly, the thorny issue of Kim Dotcom’s assets, currently frozen by the New Zealand government pending an appeal, was also addressed. “If the New Zealand Government loses the appeal, the assets will be unfrozen, and there is a significant risk that they will then be immediately dissipated,” the studios explained in a filing last month. That concern was dealt with by Judge O’Grady in yesterday’s order by granting the studios freedom to go after Dotcom’s assets wherever they see fit. “Plaintiffs may institute and pursue any action in the United States or a foreign jurisdiction to preserve Defendants’ assets in the event that such action becomes necessary,” the Judge wrote. “The Court finds that each of Plaintiffs’ proposed conditions are reasonable under the circumstances of this case because of the possibility that Defendants’ assets abroad may become unfrozen.” As a result the case is now frozen until August 1, 2014, seven weeks from today. The same decision was made in respect of the civil case filed against Megaupload by the RIAA. Source: TorrentFreak
  4. GitHub has just removed the repositories of several popular Popcorn Time applications. The action was taken in response to a takedown request sent by the MPAA. Whether this will do anything to stop people from using the "Netflix for pirates" has yet to be seen. The Popcorn Time phenomenon is one of the biggest piracy stories of the year thus far. The software became an instant hit by offering BitTorrent-powered streaming in an easy to use Netflix-style interface. Needless to say this has been a thorn in the side for Hollywood. Today the MPAA decided to deploy countermeasures by filing requests with development platform GitHub to take down several Popcorn Time related repositories. “We are writing to notify you of, and request your assistance in addressing the extensive copyright infringement of motion pictures and television shows that is occurring by virtue of the operation and further development of the GitHub projects Popcorn Time, and Time4Popcorn,” the MPAA writes in its takedown notice. GitHub swiftly complied and starting a few hours ago the repositories were absent from the website, leaving the following note. Popcorn Time removed In its takedown notice the MPAA specifically targets the “popcorn-official” and the “time4popcorn” projects, but it also urges GitHub to remove all related forks. “By this notification, we are asking for your immediate assistance in stopping your users’ unauthorized activity. Specifically, we request that you remove or disable access to the infringing Projects’ repositories and all related forks,” MPAA writes. Interestingly, the MPAA doesn’t mention the original Popcorn Time repository, which remains intact. To prove the infringing nature of Popcorn Time the takedown notice was accompanied by several screenshots of the user interface, as well as several pirated copies of Hollywood movies playing. While the takedown notices may hinder the development of the software, at least temporarily, the websites of the forks remain online. This means that the applications themselves are still available for download. Earlier this week the team behind the Time4Popcorn fork informed us that they have gathered millions of users over the past several months, and that the application is being downloaded tens of thousands of times per day. Whether the MPAA also has plans to target the Popcorn Time fork websites remains to be seen. Source: TorrentFreak
  5. The MPAA is concerned that innovation in the film industry will be ruined if consumers get the right to resell movies and other media purchased online. Responding to discussions in a congressional hearing this week, the MPAA warns that this move would limit consumer choices and kill innovation. This week the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on the Judiciary’s Subcommittee Intellectual Property and the Internet held a hearing on the issue of “digital resales.” In other words, whether consumers should be allowed to sell digital videos, music files and software they purchased previously. Proponents of the rights to resell digital goods want the First Sale Doctrine to apply in the digital domain as well. However, this argument is meeting fierce resistance from the entertainment industries who see this right as a threat to their online business models. For example, the record labels previously pointed out that MP3s are simply too good to resell, as they don’t deteriorate in quality. Responding to the hearing in Washington, the MPAA also voiced its critique of the plans. According to the movie studios digital resales would hamper innovation, increase prices and decrease the availability of online film. In their view it would undo most of the innovation the Internet brought. “Critics say the movie and television industry was slow to embrace the Internet. But ironically, now that online video is ubiquitous, some of these same critics are trying to reverse time and drag the creative community—along with audiences—back into the pre-Internet era,” MPAA’s Neil Fried notes. The ability to resell movies bought on the Internet has the potential to create a huge secondary market. This would make it much cheaper for consumers to access media, and the MPAA believes therefore that content creators will be wary of making it available in the first place. “A new government mandate requiring creators to allow reselling of licensed Internet content would undermine incentives to create, reduce consumer choices, and deter innovation,” Fried argues. “Forcing creators to allow resale of Internet content they license would either require creators to substantially raise prices or discourage them from offering flexible, Internet-based models in the first place,” he adds. The MPAA believes that those who want to own movies and resell them should stick to the offline world. The physical ownership model doesn’t translate to the online world, which is better off with a licensing scheme that restricts resales. “This is a relatively new marketplace. Government intervention now, seeking to force the content community to return to a 1908 construct built around physical ownership, will only short-circuit the experimentation and innovation that is going on all around us,” Fried says. Of course there are also many people who object to the arguments of the copyright holders. John Ossenmacher, CEO of the MP3-reselling platform ReDigi, gave a testimony during the congressional hearing where he laid out a variety of counterarguments. According to Ossenmacher the content owners are trying to change consumer rights that have been in place for more than hundred years, only to guarantee maximum profit for themselves. “The First Sale doctrine is premised on a simple concept – you bought it, you own it – and it has never concerned itself with a specific format or technology, nor with the condition of the goods being resold. It establishes the commonsense principle that the creator deserves to be paid once, and then the owners, and subsequent owners, have the right to resell that good, to donate it or to give it away,” Ossenmacher said in his testimony. “It is not an extreme position to advocate that ‘you bought it, you own it.’ It is a logical, conservative position that adheres to the long-standing principles of law. It applies in every other type of good; it should apply here as well,” he added. It will be interesting to see how this debate plays out in the months to come. One thing is for certain, we haven’t heard the last of it yet. Source: TorrentFreak
  6. The company behind the world's most popular torrent client has struck an anti-piracy deal with the MPAA. Xunlei, a company backed by Google, will implement a content recognition system, ensure that MPAA content is properly licensed, and educate users on the effects of online copyright infringement. While BitTorrent Inc.’s uTorrent and Mainline products grab most of the headlines, neither are the world’s most popular torrent client. That honor falls to the Chinese-operated Xunlei or ‘Thunder’ software. As far back as 2009 the world’s leading BitTorrent trackers reported that Xunlei users accounted for more than 104 million unique users. Currently the client has an estimated 142 million users. Considering the software’s reach the news today that client owner Shenzhen Xunlei Networking Technologies has done an anti-piracy deal with the MPAA is received with some interest, not least since Xunlei is the 12th largest Internet company in China. The anti-piracy agreement The Content Protection Agreement (CPA) will see Shenzhen Xunlei actively protect MPAA content including movies and TV shows. Among other measures, the landmark deal will see Xunlei implement a video recognition system to ensure that all MPAA content being made available via Xunlei is properly licensed. The Chinese company, which is in part backed by Google, has also agreed to educate its users on the effects of online piracy and where to obtain officially licensed copies of MPAA works. Xunlei operates a number of online ventures, including a streaming service with 136 million monthly users, so it seems logical that the deal will encompass its entire portfolio. Clearly an agreement without ‘teeth’ across all products wouldn’t be good for either Xunlei or the MPAA. The big question now, however, is what pushed the companies together. The answer, as always, is money. MPAA hindered Xunlei’s IPO Early 2011 Xunlei announced plans to go public with a listing on NASDAQ, the largest U.S stock market. But by November the whole thing had been canceled, with a poor economic climate held to blame. However, in the background the issue of copyright infringement was burning away. According to reports in Chinese media, in April 2013 the MPAA demanded that Xunlei install a software plug-in to block its copyrighted content from appearing online. However, Xunlei was only prepared to install it into a video player, not their other software. Talks collapsed, legal action loomed, and the IPO dream was shattered. Clearly the company would need to regroup and consider its options. Improving its image for a second run In March 2014 Xunlei hosted the Chinese Internet Copyright Protection Action Plan conference. A former employee of the company who spoke on condition of anonymity said Xunlei did this to improve its image and put its infringement issues behind it. “You must make a clean break with the pirates,” he told local media. Just under two weeks ago came the clearest signs yet that Xunlei was ready to move towards that goal. On May 23rd Xunlei Ltd filed a registration with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for an IPO of its U.S. dollar shares. The offering price was proposed at a maximum of $100 million under the symbol ‘XNET’. But while doing a deal with the MPAA might stop Hollywood hindering Xunlei’s IPO again, the company’s filing makes worrying reading for potential investors. Risky business “Even if we comply with all of our obligations under the content protection agreement, the implementation of content protection measures may affect our users’ experience or otherwise make our services and products less competitive than those of our competitors, which could in turn materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations,” the company writes. “In the event that the content protection agreement is terminated or we are otherwise deemed not to be fully compliant with its material terms, the content providers may initiate a lawsuit or other proceeding against us, including for any past claims that they might otherwise have made prior to entering into the agreement. In addition, other third party content providers may still initiate lawsuits or other proceedings against us.” A lack of compliance with the most basic of U.S. copyright protections raises yet another red flag. “We do not currently satisfy all of the statutory requirements of any DMCA safe harbor. If we are ever held to be subject to United States copyright law, that could increase our risk of direct or indirect copyright liability for our resource discovery, acceleration or other services,” Xunlei explains. Despite the concerns, others are prepared to put up big money. Last month Chinese smartphone manufacturer Xiaomi pumped $310 million into Xunlei boosting its share of the company to around 27%. With a fresh tagline of “more than just downloads,” Xunlei will be hoping for an exciting future in the United States – without the MPAA on its back. Source: TorrentFreak
  7. The MPAA is inviting academics to pitch research proposals that aim to provide insight into the copyright challenges faced by the movie industry in the digital age. Researchers are being offered a $20,000 grant for projects that address various piracy related topics, including the impact of copyright law and the effectiveness of DMCA takedown notices. Late last year a study from European researchers revealed that the Megaupload shutdown had a negative effect on the box office revenues of smaller films. The researchers suggested that the decrease in sales may be the result of a drop in word-of-mouth promotion from pirates, which affects smaller movies more since they have less advertising budget. The MPAA wasn’t happy with the media coverage the study generated and went on the defensive citing two Carnegie Mellon University studies to show that piracy harms sales. Interestingly, it failed to disclose that those findings came from research that was supported by a $100,000 grant from the MPAA. While we trust that the research is solid, the above shows that academic research plays an important role in the MPAA’s lobbying efforts. For this reason, the Hollywood group has recently started a grants program, hoping to enlist more academics to conduct copyright-related research. The MPAA is now accepting research proposals on a series of predefined topics. They include the impact of copyright law on innovation and the effectiveness of DMCA takedown notices. The best applications will be awarded a $20,000 grant. “We want to enlist the help of academics from around the world to provide new insight on a range of issues facing the content industry in the digital age,” says MPAA CEO and former U.S. Senator Chris Dodd. According to the MPAA boss, academic researchers can contribute to understanding the changes the industry faces by providing unbiased insights. “We need more and better research regarding the evolving role of copyright in society. The academic community can provide unbiased observations, data analysis, historical context and important revelations about how these changes are impacting the film industry and other IP-reliant sectors,” Dodd notes. The MPAA clearly sees academic research as an important tool in their efforts to ensure that copyright protections remain in place, or are strengthened if needed. This outreach to academics may in part be fueled by what their ‘opponents’ are doing. Google, for example, is heavily supporting academic research on copyright-related projects in part to further their own interests. Both sides clearly steer researchers by giving them precise directions on the grounds they want covered. It’s now up to the academics to make sure that they don’t become pawns in a much bigger fight, and that their research is conducted and results presented in an objective manner. Source: TorrentFreak
  8. Megaupload's legal team has asked the federal court of Virginia to freeze the cases filed by the movie and music industries last month. According to Dotcom's lawyers, this is needed pending the criminal case against the defendants, in order to protect their Fifth Amendment rights. Following in the footsteps of the U.S. Government, this month the major record labels and Hollywood’s top movie studios filed lawsuits against Megaupload, Kim Dotcom, and his colleagues. The respective cases are strikingly similar and all built on the same evidence. The RIAA and MPAA repeat many of the claims that were laid out in the criminal case, and each demand millions of dollars in damages. However, the fact that the suits all deal with the same issue is a problem according to Megaupload’s legal team. If the civil cases brought by the movie and music industries move ahead, this may directly influence the position of Dotcom and his colleagues in the criminal case. In a motion for a stay, the lawyers ask the court to freeze both civil cases pending the criminal proceedings. They argue that the accused may otherwise be forced to implicate themselves, which would violate their rights. “A stay is warranted here to avoid burdening the Fifth Amendment rights of the individual defendants,” Megaupload’s lawyers write. “During pleading, discovery, and trial, these individual defendants cannot be forced to risk implicating themselves in the crimes alleged in the Criminal Action in order to provide a defense to Megaupload in the civil case,” they add. The lawyers ask to freeze the cases until August 1, when the two-week extradition hearing in New Zealand has reached its conclusion. Megaupload previously requested the same in their civil case against Microhits, with success. If the criminal case continues after the extradition hearing, the lawyers will most likely ask to extend the stay. According to Megaupload lawyer Ira Rothken the criminal case may be over sooner than later. TorrentFreak previously spoke to Rothken who believes that these RIAA and MPAA cases might show that the entertainment industries and the U.S. Government have little faith in the criminal proceedings. In any case, Megaupload’s legal troubles, civil or criminal, are expected to drag on for years. Source: TorrentFreak
  9. Mega.co.nz, the cloud storage company founded by Kim Dotcom, has seen the number of uploads triple in the past six months. Mega users now upload a total of half a billion files per month. According to Kim Dotcom, the MPAA and RIAA deserve some credit for the unprecedented growth. Acting on a lead from the entertainment industry, the U.S. Government shut down Megaupload early 2012. Exactly a year later Kim Dotcom made a comeback with a new file-storage venture. Together with several old colleagues and new investors, Mega was launched. The new service, which has a heavy focus on privacy and security, has expanded ever since. This morning Dotcom posted an image showing how user uploads have increased more than 300% over the past six months. The graph doesn’t specify the scale, but the New Zealand-based entrepreneur told TF that the service now processes over half a billion uploads per month. That’s more than 10,000 files per minute…. “We are experiencing massive growth. We can’t add new servers and bandwidth fast enough,” Dotcom tells us. According to Mega’s founder there are several factors that have contributed to the increasing interest in the service. Ironically, Dotcom believes that the same people who destroyed Megaupload are now partly responsible for the success of Mega. “There are several growth factors. People spend more time at the computer due to the cold weather, the lawsuits by MPAA and RIAA which advertised Mega, and the ongoing advertising from the dumbest ever U.S. Department of Justice case,” Dotcom says. “Some users get pleasure from the fact that the US government and Hollywood hate Mega’s success and that I continue to expose them. The more people use Mega the more powerful our defense becomes. So, why wouldn’t Mega grow like crazy?” he adds. The continuing debate about the NSA’s mass-surveillance is also likely to have helped Mega. Unlike other popular cloud hosting services, Mega encrypts all stored files so they can’t be snooped on. Similarly, the fact that former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice joined Dropbox may have also had an impact according to Dotcom. During the months to come Mega will work on their recently announced IPO, which the company hopes to complete next year. In addition, the cloud hosting service will roll out many new features, all focused on counter surveillance. “The people of the Internet love us. And we haven’t even launched our encrypted communication suite yet. That’s like a point-to-point encrypted Skype on steroids, running in your browser,” Dotcom tells us, teasing Mega’s upcoming tools. With the ongoing legal battle against the U.S. Government and civil cases against the MPAA and RIAA, Mega is guaranteed a regular place in the spotlight. In any case, we certainly haven’t heard the last of Dotcom and his team yet. Source: TorrentFreak
  10. New data revealed by the MPAA shows that frequent moviegoers own more smartphones and other technological devices. The MPAA notes that the movie industry should therefore explore fresh options to use these devices to drive new visitors to theaters. At the same time, however, the movie group is warning theater owners over the piracy-enabling capabilities of smartphones. The MPAA just released their latest box-office statistics. Despite the continuing threat of online piracy the numbers once again show an increase in revenue worldwide, up to a record-breaking $35.9 billion in 2013. In addition to the revenue increase, the movie group emphasizes the importance of new technology in expanding its audience. The MPAA stresses that frequent moviegoers are also technology fanatics, with nearly three-quarters owning at least four new devices. Smartphones are particularly popular among movie fans, and the MPAA notes that the movie industry can do more to use this technology to boost theater attendance even further. “We need to keep exploring fresh ways of leveraging our new technology to drive traffic to your theaters,” MPAA CEO Chris Dodd said at The Colosseum inside Caesar’s Palace where the findings were presented. “We can embrace technology, and use it to complement our offerings….A smartphone can make more content available, but it will never be able to surpass the shared experience that you deliver to every person who sits in your theaters,” he added. Moviegoers own more tech devices (source: mpaa.org) With the release of these statistics the MPAA wants to show that technology is not just a threat to the movie industry, but also an opportunity. While this is certainly true, the statements are not without conflict. Using smartphones to drive more people to the movies also presents a problem, as the MPAA doesn’t want them to be used inside the theater. The MPAA has previously published a set of anti-piracy practices movie theater owners should adhere to. This includes a very skeptical stance against any device that can be used to capture video, including smartphones. “The MPAA recommends that theaters adopt a Zero Tolerance policy that prohibits the video or audio recording and the taking of photographs of any portion of a movie,” MPAA states. “Theater managers should immediately alert law enforcement authorities whenever they suspect prohibited activity is taking place. Do not assume that a cell phone or digital camera is being used to take still photographs and not a full-length video recording,” the group adds. Past anecdotes show that theaters take these recommendations very seriously. A few years ago a girl was arrested for recording a 20 second clip from the movie Transformers on her phone, and more recently a Google Glass wearer was handed over to the authorities, without recording anything. The above is a classical example of the dual role technology plays for the entertainment industries. Nearly every new invention poses both threats and opportunities, and the challenge is to find the right balance between them. Source: TorrentFreak
  11. The MPAA has asked Google to remove a Reddit community from its search results over piracy concerns. The movie industry group lists the "FullLengthFilms" subreddit in a recent takedown request, alongside several notorious pirate sites. Thus far Google has refused to take the page down, and Reddit hasn't taken any action either. Every week copyright holders send millions of DMCA takedown notices to Google, hoping to make pirated movies and music harder to find. Not all copyright holders take the same approach. Where the RIAA targets millions of infringing URLs per month, the MPAA only sends out a handful of notices. Instead of using dragnet scripts to take down everything that links to infringing copies, the movie industry group specifically targets homepages of ‘rogue’ sites and other high impact targets. In the latest DMCA notice, sent last week, Reddit ended up on the list. Like many other user-generated content sites, Reddit has plenty of links to copyright infringing material. In fact, there are several sub-communities that are dedicated to finding and publishing lists to pirated material. The subreddit r/fulllengthfilms is a good example. Here, users are encouraged to post links to their favorite movies, preferably from legal sources. However, pretty much all links point to streams of pirated films including “Gravity” and “The Wolf of Wall Street.” The MPAA is not happy with this growing list of movies. In their most recent takedown notice they ask Google to remove the entire subreddit from its search engine, because it contains a link to a camcorded copy of “Edge of Tomorrow.” MPAA’s takedown request Interestingly, Google has declined to action the MPAA’s takedown request. It’s not clear why the search giant refused to take it down, but one of the reasons may be that the MPAA did not limit their request to the “Edge of Tomorrow” posting. Instead, the movie industry group targeted the entire subreddit. These broad takedown requests are not uncommon as most of the MPAA’s takedown notices contain homepages of download portals or streaming sites. In some cases the infringing work listed in the takedown request no longer appears on these homepages, and the MPAA often fails to list the internal page it’s supposed to link to. With this strategy the MPAA has managed to remove the homepages of several popular sites from Google’s search results, including KickassTorrents. But Google doesn’t always comply. For the most recent DMCA notice it refused to take down most links, including the Reddit one. It’s still unclear whether the MPAA also sent a takedown notice to Reddit. TorrentFreak asked Reddit for a comment on the news but we have yet to receive a response. At the time of writing the FullLengthFilms subreddit and the “Edge of Tomorrow” posting remain online. Source: TorrentFreak
  12. This week, MPAA chief and former U.S. Senator Chris Dodd praised pirate site blockades as an important anti-piracy measure. Speaking at the IP Summit in London, Dodd said that ISP blockades are one of the most effective tools available. Does this mean that Hollywood will try to get these blacklists in place on its home turf? This week many key figures in the copyright protection and enforcement industries gathered for the International IP Enforcement Summit, organized by the UK Government. One of the main topics of discussion was Internet piracy, and how to prevent people from accessing and sharing copyrighted works without permission. Website blocking is one of the anti-piracy tools that was mentioned frequently . In recent years the UK has become a leader on this front, with the High Court ordering local ISPs to block access to dozens of popular file-sharing sites, including The Pirate Bay and KickassTorrents. MPAA chief Chris Dodd, who delivered a speech at the Summit, applauded the UK approach. The former U.S. Senator believes that these restrictions are helping to decrease the piracy problem. “Here in the United Kingdom, the balanced and proportionate use of civil procedures has made tremendous progress in tackling infringing websites. To date, access to over 40 pirate sites focused on infringing copyright for commercial gain, have been blocked,” Dodd said. According to Dodd these blockades have proven to be one of the most effective anti-piracy measures in the world, made possible by a provision in local copyright law. “In particular, Section 97A of the Copyright Act allowing courts to issue injunctions against service providers who know their services are being utilized for infringing purposes, has been one of the most effective tools anywhere in the world,” Dodd says. Despite the MPAA’s faith in website blockades, which is not shared by everyone, the movie group has never attempted to ask a U.S. court for a similar injunction. This is surprising since nearly all the sites that are blocked in the UK have far more users from the United States. TorrentFreak asked the MPAA to explain this lack of action, but we have yet to hear back from them. Previously we spoke to an insider who admitted that these type of ISP blockades are harder to get in place under United States law, which is one of the reasons why the copyright holders haven’t tried this yet. The issue became even more complicated after the copyright holders’ push for SOPA failed early 2012. In part, SOPA was designed to give copyright holders a shortcut to request injunctions against pirate sites. Putting the law aside, the MPAA has made it clear that it’s keen on maintaining good relationships with the Internet providers. ISPs and copyright holders are taking part in a voluntary agreement to “alert” pirates, which will undoubtedly be harmed if additional blocking demands appear on the table. For now, it seems that the MPAA and other industry groups will continue to press for more voluntary deals in the U.S. Interestingly, Dodd specifically calls for a cooperation with search engines to indirectly block pirate sites, instead of asking for a more direct blockade from ISPs. “If we convince these search engines to join our efforts to shut down illegal sites, it would be a significant step forward in our ongoing efforts to protect creators,” he said. Thus far Google and other search engines have refused to remove pirate sites from their search indexes. Also, one has to wonder how effective that would be. Thus far Google has removed more than two million pages from The Pirate Bay, but the site’s traffic continues to expand regardless. But then again, even an ISP blockade is easy to circumvent, and perhaps not as effective as the MPAA claims. Source: TorrentFreak
  13. Megaupload's legal team has asked the federal court of Virginia to place the cases filed by the music and movie companies on hold till April next year. The request comes after the extradition hearings of Kim Dotcom and his colleagues were postponed in New Zealand. Well over two years have passed since Megaupload was shutdown, but there is still little progress in the criminal proceedings against its founders. The United States want New Zealand to extradite Kim Dotcom and his colleagues but this process has been delayed several times already. Earlier this month the extradition hearing was postponed again until February next year. In addition to the U.S. Government, Megaupload and Kim Dotcom were also sued by the major record labels and Hollywood’s top movie studios a few months ago. Fearing that these cases might influence the criminal case, Megaupload’s legal team successfully obtained a freeze on them until this summer, when the extradition hearing was originally scheduled for. Now that this has been delayed until next year, Megaupload wants to place the MPAA and RIAA cases on hold until April 2015. In a new motion for a stay, the lawyers ask the court to freeze both civil cases because the accused may otherwise be forced to implicate themselves, which would violate their rights. “The individual Defendants still face extradition, and therefore still have an interest in preserving the Fifth Amendment rights that arise from the prosecution of the Criminal Action,” the motion reads. There’s also a more practical concern. Since the U.S. Government refuses to provide access to the raided servers, it may be difficult to access evidence that’s crucial to build a proper defense. “Relevant evidence that is electronically stored on servers, which would be needed to defend the civil cases, is not reasonably accessible. As a result of the Criminal Action, the Megaupload cloud-storage servers have been taken offline and are housed in a locked third-party warehouse in Virginia,” Megaupload’s lawyers write. “The Department of Justice has opposed Megaupload’s efforts to gain access to those servers and data. Standard civil e-discovery protocols would typically include accessing and “mirroring” the original servers so that the resultant copies may used to analyze the data contained therein. At present, that cannot be done,” they add. If the court grants the request then it will take another year before there’s any progress in the civil cases against Megaupload. The movie and music studios didn’t object to the previous freezing request, but they may be running out of patience soon. Source: TorrentFreak
  14. The MPAA has updated its anti-piracy guidelines for movie theaters, providing tips and tricks on how to catch “camming” pirates on the spot. Among other things the movie group wants theaters to forbid the use of mobile phone cameras, and be vigilant of suspect cup holders and cameras built into eyeglass frames. To increase motivation, theater employees who bust a movie thief can look forward to a $500 reward. To prevent movie piracy, theaters nowadays are becoming more secure than some airports. During pre-release screenings and premieres employees are often equipped with night-vision goggles and instructed to closely monitor movie goers. In some cases members of the public are instructed to hand over all recording-capable devices including phones, or even their candy. While these measures are not always appreciated by the average movie goer they appear to have had some effect, as so-called “CAM” releases are becoming more rare. Perhaps motivated by this success, the MPAA has now updated its “Best Practices to Prevent Film Theft” guide for movie theaters. In the revised guide the MPAA has stripped the billions of dollars in claimed losses that were included previously, but stresses that illegal camcording remains a significant problem. The movie industry group therefore advises theater owners to strictly prohibit the use of equipment that can record audio, video, or even take photographs. “The MPAA recommends that theaters adopt a Zero Tolerance policy that prohibits the video or audio recording and the taking of photographs of any portion of a movie,” MPAA states. The best practices now also clarify that when a suspect individual is spotted, theater employees should take immediate action. Even when in doubt, the local police should be notified as soon as possible. “Theater managers should immediately alert law enforcement authorities whenever they suspect prohibited activity is taking place. Do not assume that a cell phone or digital camera is being used to take still photographs and not a full-length video recording.” “Let the proper authorities determine what laws may have been violated and what enforcement action should be taken.” The MPAA further stresses that all possible recording equipment locations in the theater should be considered, including cup holders. In addition, employees should be alert on possible concealed recording equipment, as often seen in the movies. “Movie thieves are very ingenious when it comes to concealing cameras. It may be as simple as placing a coat or hat over the camera, or as innovative as a specially designed concealment device (e.g., a small camera built into eyeglass frames or a camera built into the lid of a beverage container).” While it’s not a new recommendation, the MPAA also notes that movie theater employees must be wary of co-workers who invite friends into the theater, as these may be up to no good. “Does one member of your staff frequently have ‘friends’ joining them at the theater at odd times? Look for non-employees coming or going out of the projectionist’s booth or those arriving at odd hours claiming to be ‘friends’ of an employee or manager,” MPAA writes. The MPAA adds that even third-party security firms should be carefully vetted before they are hired for a job, as there may be rogue agents embedded in these teams. While all forms of camcording are a problem for the movie industry, the most stringent security procedures should be applied for pre-release screenings. For these events, theater owners are advised to post signs in- and outside the theater explaining that people who record movies “will be prosecuted.” Pre-release screenings are also events where night vision binoculars should be used to inspect movie-goers. In addition, “low light security measures” may also have to be deployed to augment security. The MPAA doesn’t explain what these measures entail, but they were not mentioned in the previous guide. “If your theater maintains night vision devices or low light binoculars, please employ these during the screening in the darkened auditorium,” MPAA writes. “In the event that MPAA Investigators have been requested to augment the theater security for the event, additional low light security measures may be implemented.” Finally, movie theater employees can score themselves a $500 reward for catching a movie pirate. This Take Action! Reward was introduced a decade ago and is meant to motivate personnel to be more vigilant. How many of these movie pirate bounties have been claimed since is unknown. The latest version of MPAA’s “Best Practices to Prevent Film Theft” is available here, including an application for the Take Action! Reward. Source: TorrentFreak
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