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  1. As Netflix prepares for a long-anticipated launch into Spain this year, the company's CEO has downplayed the effect piracy could have on his service. Speaking ahead of an October debut, Reed Hastings says that after years of engaging in piracy, Spanish Internet users are better prepared for his service. For years the global entertainment industries have bemoaned the state of Spanish market. Rampant online piracy meant that the country was regularly described as a piracy haven and its Internet generation a bunch of common thieves. Struggling economy aside, part of the problem in Spain (particularly on the video front) has been the lack of decent legal alternatives. Back in August 2011, rumors spread that Netflix was about to launch in the country after successes in the U.S. and Canada, but that never came to pass. Instead, just months later Spain was told by the United States that it would end up on a trade blacklist if it didn’t reel in piracy. In the years that followed the country did what it could to comply and earlier this year ordered the blocking of The Pirate Bay. Now, four years after its first attempt at breaking into the country, Netflix has confirmed it will launch in Spain later this year. Speaking in an interview with Spanish publication El Mundo, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings says he’s excited for the launch which he believes will be one of the company’s best so far. “I think Spain will be one of our most successful countries. There is a high rate of Internet connectivity and a population that is accustomed to the use of electronic commerce and that has shown signs of being interested in our product. We are very optimistic,†Hastings says. But of course, piracy is a big part of the puzzle. Tech-savvy Spaniards have a long history of using every conceivable file-sharing system to grab content, in some cases a full decade before official vendors turned up in their country. However, the Netflix CEO isn’t fazed by the piracy problem. In fact, the company probably has a lot to be grateful for. “Well, you can call it a problem, but the truth is that [piracy] has also created a public that is now used to viewing content on the Internet,†Hastings says. He has a point. Pirates certainly have a clearer idea of what to expect from an online service so for many the switch could be fairly seamless. However, Hastings believes that on the convenience front, Netflix could even beat the pirates at their own game. “We offer a simpler and more immediate alternative to finding a torrent,†Hastings says. “In Holland we had a similar situation. That too was a country with a high rate of piracy. And the same thing happened in Canada. In both countries we are a successful service.†Somewhat refreshingly (and in contrast to the claims of most entertainment companies) Netflix isn’t scared of competing against ‘free’ either. “We can think of this as the bottled water business. Tap water can be drunk and is free, but there is still a public that demands bottled water,†Hastings says. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the service set to launch in Spain later this year won’t be the ‘full fat’ version consumers elsewhere (in varying degrees) are accustomed to. There will be a lot of content, but Hastings says that subscribers should expect a line up similar to that offered previously during the launch of the service in France and Germany. “In each country we have to start with a smaller catalog and begin to expand gradually as the number of registered users grows. In the UK, for example, we now have a fairly extensive catalog of TV series and movies after three years of activity there,†Hastings explains. “Our offering is expansive in Latin America too, but it is much easier to negotiate and acquire rights when you buy for a large subscriber base as we now have in the United States.†Only time will tell if the arrival of Netflix will begin to turn the piracy tide in Spain. For a cash-strapped nation with high unemployment every penny counts, but at an expected eight euros per month, Netflix should be within reach of a significant number of households. https://torrentfreak.com/netflix-chief-piracy-prepared-internet-users-for-us-150605/
  2. The UK's top IP advisor has published recommendations on how Internet service providers should deal with online piracy. Among other things, it's suggested that Internet services should search for and filter infringing content proactively. According to the report ISPs have a moral obligation to do more against online piracy. Mike Weatherley, a Conservative MP and Intellectual Property Adviser to UK Prime Minister David Cameron, has pushed various copyright related topics onto the political agenda since early last year. Previously Weatherley suggested that search engines should blacklist pirate sites, kids should be educated on copyright ethics, and that persistent file-sharers should be thrown in jail. In his latest proposal the UK MP targets information society service providers (ISSPs) including ISPs, who he believes could do more to fight piracy. The just-released 18-page report stresses that these companies have a moral obligation to tackle copyright infringement and can’t stand idly by. The report (pdf) draws on input from various pro-copyright groups including the MPAA, BPI, and the Music Publishers Association. It offers various recommendations for the UK Government and the EU Commission to strengthen their anti-piracy policies. One of the key points is to motivate Internet services and providers to filter content proactively. According to the report it’s feasible to “filter out infringing content†and to detect online piracy before it spreads. The UK Government should review these systems and see what it can do to facilitate cooperation between copyright holders and Internet service providers. “There should be an urgent review, by the UK Government, of the various applications and processes that could deliver a robust automated checking process regarding illegal activity being transmitted,†Weatherley advises. In a related effort, Weatherley notes that Internet services should not just remove the content they’re asked to, but also police their systems to ensure that similar files are removed, permanently. “ISSPs to be more proactive in taking down multiple copies of infringing works, not just the specific case they are notified of,†he recommends. “This would mean ISSPs actively taking down multiple copies of the same work which are hosted on its services, not just the individual copy which is subject to the complaint. The MPA believe this principle could be extended further still to ensure that all copies of the infringing work are not just taken down…,†Weatherley explains. This type of filtering is already used by YouTube, which takes down content based on fingerprint matches. However, the report suggests that regular broadband providers could also filter infringing content. Concluding, Weatherley admits that it’s all too easy to simply demand that ISPs take the role of policemen, but at the same time he stresses that they have a “moral responsibility†to do more. The UK MP presents an analogy of a landlord whose property is used for illegal activities. The landlord cannot be held liable for these activities, but he may have to take action if a third-party reports it. “If the landlord is told that the garage is being used for illegal activity, and that this information is from a totally reliable source, then does the landlord have a moral obligation to report it?†“I would argue that it is the duty of every citizen or company to do what they can to stop illegal activity and therefore the answer is, yes, the landlord should report the activity,†Weatherley notes. Weatherley also believes that protecting the rights of copyright holders has priority over a “no monitoring†principle that would ensure users’ privacy. That is, if the monitoring is done right. “There is also the question as to whether society will want to have their private activities monitored (even if automatically and entirely confidentially) and whether the trade off to a safer, fairer internet is a price worth paying to clamp down on internet illegal activity. My ‘vote’ would be “yes†if via an independent body …†Overall, the recommendations will be welcomed by the industry groups who provided input. The report is not expected to translate directly into legislation, but they will be carefully weighed by the UK Government and the EU Commission when taking future decisions. https://torrentfreak.com/uk-ip-chief-wants-isps-to-police-piracy-proactively-150331/
  3. Microsoft continues its work to improve Xbox One game Halo: The Master Chief Collection, on Monday releasing a new patch, which, among other things, finally adds Halo 4's Spartan Ops mode. Spartan Ops is a multi-mission, episodic co-op mode for Halo 4. Microsoft announced in October that the mode wasn't going to be available at launch in November, saying it would be released in December so that developer 343 Industries could make "technical enhancements." In addition to adding Spartan Ops, today's Master Chief Collection introduces more improvements to the game's matchmaking system, and should bolster overall stability. The patch notes are below, courtesy of 343. 343 also attempted to clear up some confusion about The Master Chief Collection's utilization of dedicated servers. The developer says while the "vast majority" of games are played on dedicated servers, if players cannot connect to a dedicated server, everyone in the lobby stays together and the match is played on a peer-to-peer connection. "Please be aware that you may connect to the dedicated server quickly enough that you won't see the 'connecting to dedicated server' dialog," 343 said. "The absence of that dialog doesn't mean that you’re not playing on a dedicated server." Last week, Microsoft outlined its plans to make up for The Master Chief Collection's launch woes. Among other things, players will receive a free copy of Halo 3: ODST on Xbox One. The Master Chief Collection December 22 Patch Notes: Spartan Ops: Added the entirety of Halo 4's Spartan Ops mode Matchmaking: Made an update to make sure a match only starts when teams are even. Players will now receive a 'loss' when disconnecting before a round has ended. Made an update to include all split screen players in vote tally. Resolved an issue that caused players to become stuck "Joining Session." Resolved an issue where players could be dropped from matchmaking after disconnecting their controller. General Multiplayer Updates: Made additional improvements to Halo: CE hit registration. Made an update to the Halo 2: Anniversary Career Progress page to ensure achievements are correctly tracked. Fixed an issue where it took a long time to join players that are in a Multiplayer lobby. General UI/Menu Updates: Made additional improvements to Roster update times. Fixed Halo 3 game type text when viewing saved data in My Files. Halo 2: Anniversary Campaign: Fixed an issue where the 'Black Eye Skull' incorrectly prevented players from reaching checkpoints. Campaign Playlists: Fixed an issue where cross-game playlists could fail to progress to the next level. Made several fixes to Campaign Playlist Carnage Reports. Fixed an issue where Halo 3 Cooperative Playlist progress would not save correctly when completing a mission. Made changes to ensure that Competitive Scoring and Timing are tracked correctly in Halo CE and Halo 2 Campaign Playlists. Stats & Medals: Made updates to improve stat tracking. Fixed an issue where the 'Steaktacular' medal would not be correctly awarded in Halo 3. Fixed an issue where the 'Supercombine' medal would be incorrectly awarded in the Halo 4 Campaign. Achievements: Made an update to ensure that the 'Flaming Ninja Anniversary' achievement unlocks when prerequisites are met. Control Layouts: Updated the Halo 2 'Boxer' Button Layout. Updated the Halo 4 'Legacy' Thumbstick Layout. General Stability: Made several updates to improve overall game stability.
  4. EU release dates adjusted; Pre-downloading begins for 45 GB game; Spartan Ops Delayed. Xbox One owners can begin to pre-download Halo: The Master Chief Collection from Friday, October 17, meaning that the game can unlock instantly on its day of release. However, a day-one patch weighing about 20 GB will need to be downloaded and installed to unlock all of the game's content. The size of the game itself is already quite considerable, at about 45 GB. Dan Ayoub, the studio head at 343 Industries, says that some of the game will be accessible while the vast patch downloads. Other key features will not. "You’ll be able to start playing Campaign and more as the content is installing, with some features and multiplayer content being added via the update," he wrote on the Xbox news wire. "Yes, the update is large, but we weren't about to cut corners to save disc space. This ensures that you are getting every bit of Halo goodness we can fit in." Halo: The Master Chief Collection contains four complete Halo games, with every multiplayer map ever released, along with all the console and PC DLC. Both Halo 1 and 2 have been remastered, resplendent with high-definition graphics and updated textures. However, the whole package won't be released all at once. Spartan Ops, the episodic co-op game fromHalo 4, will now release in December. Microsoft has also announced that development of the Xbox One anthology has been completed. It has also amended the release dates in some territories so that the game can release internationally at the same time. As a result, Halo: The Master Chief Collection will ship across North America and Europe on November 11. There are some exceptions, however. The game will ship in Belgium on November 12, in Japan Nov 13, and in France on Nov 14. Ayoub said the team was "really happy to get it as close to a simultaneous worldwide release as possible so that we can all celebrate on November 11 and start playing together." Add Rep and Leave a feedback Reputation is the green button in the down right corner on my post
  5. You won't always have complete control over which game you're playing in matchmaking. The selection of multiplayer playlists that will be available in Halo: The Master Chief Collection's multiplayer at launch have been revealed, and it looks like you won't always have control over which Halo game you play when using matchmaking. Many of the playlists will be familiar to Halo multiplayer veterans--Big Team Battle, Team Slayer--but with a catch: a number of them encompass multiple games included in MCC (Combat Evolved, Halo 2, Halo 2: Anniversary, Halo 3, and Halo 4). If you were wondering how 343 Industries would prevent playlists from ending up empty, we now have the answer. Sadly, there is no dedicated Grifball or Rocket Race playlist--at least yet, as 343 will undoubtedly be rotating new ones in over time. The full set of launch day playlists follow below (via IGN): Game-Specific Playlists: Halo: Combat Evolved -- 4v4 mix of Team Slayer and objective modes Halo 2 Classic -- 4v4 mix of Team Slayer and objective modes Halo 2: Anniversary Rumble -- 8-player free-for-all matches Team Halo 2: Anniversary -- 4v4 mix of Team Slayer and objective modes Team Halo 2: Anniversary Social -- 5v5 unranked mix of Team Slayer and objective modes Halo 3 -- 4v4 mix of Team Slayer and objective modes Halo 4 -- 5v5 mix of Team Slayer and objective modes Multi-Game Playlists: Team Slayer -- 4v4 Team Slayer matches across all five games Big Team Battle -- 8v8 matches across all five games Team Hardcore -- 4v4 "tournament-approved" modes in Halo 2 and 3 Halo eSports -- 4v4 official eSports playlist SWAT -- 4v4 SWAT game modes in Halo 2, Halo 2 Anniversary, Halo 3, and Halo 4 The Master Chief Collection launches on November 11 for Xbox One. Add Rep and Leave a feedback Reputation is the green button in the down right corner on my post
  6. The CEO of the IFPI in Austria has been defending his group's attempts to have The Pirate Bay and other torrent sites blocked by local ISPs. Franz Medwenitsch says that using the word "blocking" in these situations is wrong and defending copyright by disabling access to websites does not amount to censorship. Earlier this year a landmark ruling from the European Court of Justice confirmed that ISPs can be forced to block “infringing†websites, providing it’s done in a proportionate manner. The ruling was prompted by a movie distributor caseoriginating in Austria, so it comes as no surprise that local record companies are now seeking to make the most of it. Earlier this week the local branch of the IFPI wrote to local ISPs with a demands that they block The Pirate Bay, isoHunt, 1337x and H33t within days. While the development was welcomed by many pro-copyright entities, among many in the Internet community the feeling persists that site blocking amounts to censorship. Now, IFPI Austria CEO Franz Medwenitsch has countered with his opinion, explaining that the term “Internet blocking†is both misleading and controversial, and that web blockades cannot be considered a restriction of free speech. “Barring is misleading and downright polemical. No one wants to deny access to the Internet!†the IFPI chief explains. “[Our action is] therefore isolated to prevent access to specific websites that offer illegal content and massively engage in copyright infringement. This is a legitimate means of legal protection, the Austrian Supreme Court and the Court of Justice of the European Union have justified it.†In his FutureZone piece, Medwenitsch discusses critics’ perception that blocking websites interferes with fundamental rights such as freedom of information. “Blocking access to illegal sites is explicitly compatible with the Charter of Fundamental Rights,†he contends, adding that comments to the contrary cannot be equated with the those shared by “the people of Europe.†“According to a GfK survey last year, 83 percent of those surveyed in Austria alone – equivalent to more than six million people – held the opinion that artists have a right to their intellectual property and to be paid for the use of their works,†Medwenitsch notes. But just as it’s clear that the blocking of websites has many opponents on fundamental rights grounds, the notion that blockades amount to censorship is an even more thorny issue. Medwenitsch does not share those feelings. “Censorship is the suppression of free speech and everyone who lives in a democratic society categorically rejects censorship,†the IFPI chief says. “But what has freedom of expression got to do with generating advertising revenues by illegally offering tens of thousands of movies and music recordings on the Internet with disregard for creators and artists? And yet the freedom of the author to determine the use of their works themselves is trampled!†Medwenitsch says that individual freedoms have their limits and must be brought to an end when they begin to limit the freedoms of others. In other words, people can have free access to sites while those operating them aren’t infringing on the rights of the recording industry. Finally, Medwenitsch criticizes those who accuse the industry of concentrating on blocking sites like The Pirate Bay while failing to adapt their business models. The industry has indeed adapted, the IFPI chief insists, but unauthorized services inhibit growth and need to be dealt with. “The fact is the digital music services on the Internet today carry 37 million songs. There are 230 digital platforms in Europe – in Austria there are 40 – and the European user numbers have already reached 100 million,†he explains. “The development of the digital market will take a long time due to the inhibiting factors of illegal offerings. Therefore, on the one hand we will investment in new platforms, and on the other hand, take measures against illegal sites.†It remains unclear whether site blocking is having any effect on the availability of infringing content or the numbers of people consuming it. Safe to say, no group has yet put their head above the parapet and presented sales figures to clearly show that is the case. http://torrentfreak.com/blocking-pirate-bay-censorship-ifpi-chief-says-140808/
  7. The UK's top IP advisor has published recommendations on how search engines should deal with online piracy. The document envisions demoting sites based on numbers of copyright notices received, removal of others entirely after acknowledging ISP blocking orders, and warning consumers away from sites without industry certification. Mike Weatherley, a Conservative MP and Intellectual Property Adviser to UK Prime Minister David Cameron, has become increasingly involved in the online piracy debate in recent months. Weatherley’s current focus is on the role search engines can play in reducing infringement. In contrast to the approach taken by the entertainment industries, the MP has taken a much more positive stance when speaking of Google’s efforts thus far. In a new report, however, Weatherley lays out often far-reaching recommendations that puts him almost completely in sync with industry demands. The report, which Weatherley says is intended to stimulate debate, begins with praise for Google for “engaging positively†during its creation. Its recommendations are directed at all search engines, but as the market leader Google is called on to show leadership. Where Google goes, others will follow, Weatherley believes. Search results – demoting illegal sites The music and movie industries have long complained that illegal content is too easy to find and for a long time they’ve been putting Google under pressure to do something about that. Weatherley believes that by working with two existing sources of information – Google’s Transparency Report and the recently formed Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit’s infringing site “blacklist†– Google has a ready formula at hand. The BPI’s input suggests that when a search engine has received 10,000 infringement notices for a site, that site should no longer appear on the first page of search results. Any that receive 100,000 notices should no longer appear in the first 10 pages. However, it’s envisioned that “certificates†could be handed out to some sites to help them avoid being relegated – more on that later. Voluntarily complying with site-blocking court orders In the UK around 30 ‘pirate’ sites are now blocked via the UK’s major ISPs after both the BPI and MPA went to court to obtain injunctions. While these injunctions only legally apply to their formal targets (the ISPs), in future Weatherley would like Google to acknowledge the existence of injunctions by immediately removing the affected sites from all search results. The MP acknowledges that this may require a change in the law. Accepting takedown notices for AutoComplete terms For some time Google has been accepting applications from rightsholders to remove “infringing†terms from its AutoComplete service. Weatherley now wants to see this process formalized. “Given that Google has accepted that Autocomplete for pirate sites should not occur, it seems uncontroversial to recommend that steps are taken to continue to ensure this does not happen,†he writes. AutoComplete takedown notices should be included in Google’s Transparency Report, the MP says. Incorporating “Trust Marks†and “Warnings†to inform consumers The idea here is that somehow Google will consider the reputation of a site when formulating its algorithms and when it presents its search results. “Trust Marks†would be used to denote a legal and licensed resource while “Warnings†would be used to highlight an illegal site. The exact process through which a site could become trusted is unclear, but suggestions from the BPI indicate that a “certificate†could be obtained from its own Music Matters project to indicate that a resource is “cleanâ€. Similar certificates could be obtained by sites that receive a lot of takedown notices but operate legally (YouTube for example) so that they are whitelisted by Google and not downgraded in search results. In terms of warning against unlicensed sites, rightsholders suggest that Google takes note of PIPCU’s “pirate†site blacklist by either negatively marking affected sites in search results or removing them completely. Referencing a TorrentFreak article published last month reporting how Google had signaled that Demonoid was a potentially dangerous site, Weatherley said Google can do more to protect consumers. “Google has not only proven in relation to malware on certain torrent sites that it has the technical capability within its systems to deliver consumer messaging in search listings, but that such messages can be an effective deterrent to consumers,†the MP explains. Licensed services should do more to help themselves in search results While the music and movie industries complain endlessly about “pirate†results appearing above their own licensed content, not much time is given to explaining why that’s the case. Weatherley reveals that Google has made a request for movie and music streaming services behind a paywall to allow Google to crawl their sites in order for consumers to be able to see them in results. For some services, apparently that’s nThe UK's top IP advisor has published recommendations on how search engines should deal with online piracy. The document envisions demoting sites based on numbers of copyright notices received, removal of others entirely after acknowledging ISP blocking orders, and warning consumers away from sites without industry certification. Mike Weatherley, a Conservative MP and Intellectual Property Adviser to UK Prime Minister David Cameron, has become increasingly involved in the online piracy debate in recent months. Weatherley’s current focus is on the role search engines can play in reducing infringement. In contrast to the approach taken by the entertainment industries, the MP has taken a much more positive stance when speaking of Google’s efforts thus far. In a new report, however, Weatherley lays out often far-reaching recommendations that puts him almost completely in sync with industry demands. The report, which Weatherley says is intended to stimulate debate, begins with praise for Google for “engaging positively†during its creation. Its recommendations are directed at all search engines, but as the market leader Google is called on to show leadership. Where Google goes, others will follow, Weatherley believes. Search results – demoting illegal sites The music and movie industries have long complained that illegal content is too easy to find and for a long time they’ve been putting Google under pressure to do something about that. Weatherley believes that by working with two existing sources of information – Google’s Transparency Report and the recently formed Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit’s infringing site “blacklist†– Google has a ready formula at hand. The BPI’s input suggests that when a search engine has received 10,000 infringement notices for a site, that site should no longer appear on the first page of search results. Any that receive 100,000 notices should no longer appear in the first 10 pages. However, it’s envisioned that “certificates†could be handed out to some sites to help them avoid being relegated – more on that later. Voluntarily complying with site-blocking court orders In the UK around 30 ‘pirate’ sites are now blocked via the UK’s major ISPs after both the BPI and MPA went to court to obtain injunctions. While these injunctions only legally apply to their formal targets (the ISPs), in future Weatherley would like Google to acknowledge the existence of injunctions by immediately removing the affected sites from all search results. The MP acknowledges that this may require a change in the law. Accepting takedown notices for AutoComplete terms For some time Google has been accepting applications from rightsholders to remove “infringing†terms from its AutoComplete service. Weatherley now wants to see this process formalized. “Given that Google has accepted that Autocomplete for pirate sites should not occur, it seems uncontroversial to recommend that steps are taken to continue to ensure this does not happen,†he writes. AutoComplete takedown notices should be included in Google’s Transparency Report, the MP says. Incorporating “Trust Marks†and “Warnings†to inform consumers The idea here is that somehow Google will consider the reputation of a site when formulating its algorithms and when it presents its search results. “Trust Marks†would be used to denote a legal and licensed resource while “Warnings†would be used to highlight an illegal site. The exact process through which a site could become trusted is unclear, but suggestions from the BPI indicate that a “certificate†could be obtained from its own Music Matters project to indicate that a resource is “cleanâ€. Similar certificates could be obtained by sites that receive a lot of takedown notices but operate legally (YouTube for example) so that they are whitelisted by Google and not downgraded in search results. In terms of warning against unlicensed sites, rightsholders suggest that Google takes note of PIPCU’s “pirate†site blacklist by either negatively marking affected sites in search results or removing them completely. Referencing a TorrentFreak article published last month reporting how Google had signaled that Demonoid was a potentially dangerous site, Weatherley said Google can do more to protect consumers. “Google has not only proven in relation to malware on certain torrent sites that it has the technical capability within its systems to deliver consumer messaging in search listings, but that such messages can be an effective deterrent to consumers,†the MP explains. Licensed services should do more to help themselves in search results While the music and movie industries complain endlessly about “pirate†results appearing above their own licensed content, not much time is given to explaining why that’s the case. Weatherley reveals that Google has made a request for movie and music streaming services behind a paywall to allow Google to crawl their sites in order for consumers to be able to see them in results. For some services, apparently that’s not currently allowed. “Google maintains that it is perfectly possible to create crawlable pages for each movie or album title in a security-friendly way. I am told by rights holders that there are potential security issues around making licensed services crawlable and they have concerns with this proposal,†Weatherley notes. Conclusion While Weatherley is currently praising Google in order to keep the tone positive and the discussion flowing, the IP advisor clearly believes that the search engine is capable of assisting rightsholders much more but is failing to do so. The MP’s report has no official standing in respect of government policy but it addresses most if not all of the movie and music industries’ main problems with Google. Expect this document to become a point of reference in the months to come.ot currently allowed. “Google maintains that it is perfectly possible to create crawlable pages for each movie or album title in a security-friendly way. I am told by rights holders that there are potential security issues around making licensed services crawlable and they have concerns with this proposal,†Weatherley notes. Conclusion While Weatherley is currently praising Google in order to keep the tone positive and the discussion flowing, the IP advisor clearly believes that the search engine is capable of assisting rightsholders much more but is failing to do so. The MP’s report has no official standing in respect of government policy but it addresses most if not all of the movie and music industries’ main problems with Google. Expect this document to become a point of reference in the months to come.