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  1. People who run 'pirate' sites out of Russia have been given a final warning by the government. Amendments to local copyright law that come into force May 1 not only protect more content than ever before, but also contain provisions to permanently block sites that continually make unauthorized content available. Following massive pressure from both local and international rightsholders, 21 months ago Russia took steps to improve its reputation of going soft on piracy. On August 1, 2013, the country introduced a brand new intellectual property law which provided a mechanism through which sites could be blocked by intermediaries should they not comply with rightsholder takedown requests within 72 hours. A year later telecoms watchdog Roscomnadzor revealed that during the law’s first year of operation the Moscow City Court imposed preliminary interim injunctions against 175 sites following copyright complaints. It went on to block just 12 file-sharing domains for being unresponsive to takedowns, many of them BitTorrent trackers. With complaints from copyright holders continuing to mount, Russia decided to make further amendments to the legislation. Initially only video content was covered by the law but with an expansion scheduled for May 1, 2015, all multimedia content (photographs excluded) will receive protection. Furthermore, the law also amends the provisions on preliminary injunctions. Although it remains unclear how the new system will work in practice, the theory is that intermediaries (ISPs and webhosts) can be ordered by the Court to permanently block websites that continually host or provide access to infringing content. At least at this early stage it appears to be the kind of system U.S. copyright holders are pushing for elsewhere, one in which content that is taken down, stays down. With the new law just over a week away, State Duma Deputy Speaker Sergei Zheleznyak has been underlining the legislation’s reach. “The anti-piracy legislation that created the ability to block access to sites that distribute copyright-infringing films and TV shows entered into force on 1 August 2013. On May 1, 2015 amendments to the Act will come into force that apply to music, books and software,†Zheleznyak says. “This development will mean that the systematic violation of intellectual property rights will result in sites providing access to stolen content being blocked forever.†Putting operators of torrent and similar sites on notice, Zheleznyak issued a stern warning. “I would like to warn those who are still abusing piracy: you have until May 1 to try to and enter into constructive dialogue with rightsholders. They are open to cooperation,†he said. “Our common goal is to ensure that all work is adequately rewarded and that the benefit from successful books, music and wonderful computer programs is enjoyed by those who created them, and not those who stole them. If [site owners] are not interested in legal business, the response of the state will become quite obvious.†Russia’s first attempt at site blocking legislation failed to produce the apocalyptic conclusion many predicted. Only time will tell what the results of these latest tweaks will mean for local sites. https://torrentfreak.com/new-russian-anti-piracy-law-could-block-sites-forever-150425/
  2. Even as Kim Dotcom spends millions fighting extradition to the U.S., a relatively minor issue could see him kicked out of New Zealand in a matter of weeks. When applying for residency in 2010, Dotcom failed to declare a dangerous driving speeding conviction, a matter that could now escalate into deportation from the country. He’s one of the most famous people in the online space and the founder of the site at the heart of the world’s largest ever copyright infringement lawsuit, yet a relatively minor indiscretion has the potential to derail Kim Dotcom in a matter of weeks. It all stems back to September 10, 2009 when a police radar gun logged speed-loving Dotcom doing 149km/h (92mph) in a 50km/h (30mph) zone. According to the authorities police gave chase, eventually catching up with Dotcom’s 3.6-liter AMG Mercedes 1.7km (1 mile) later close to his Coatesville mansion. Explaining his three times over-the-limit endeavor as a “stupid mistakeâ€, Dotcom later pleaded guilty by letter four days later. During the hearing the court heard that the entrepreneur had been “testing†a new car. “When spoken to by police the defendant stated he had seen an 80km/h sign. He further stated that he stepped on the gas for 3-4 seconds and then braked and reduced his speed to the speed limit. He also stated he wanted to test the acceleration of the vehicle,†the records state. Despite Dotcom expressing regret for his actions, the judge fined him $500 plus $130 costs and banned him from driving for six months. Now, almost five years later, the case is coming back to haunt Dotcom after he failed to declare the motoring conviction on his New Zealand residency application eight months after the offense. In the (blurred) image below released under the Official Information Act, item three shows a ‘No’ response to the question “Have you or any of your family members included in your application, ever been: Convicted of an offense including traffic offenses committed within the last five years, involving dangerous driving [or] driving having consumed excessive alcohol. The same immigration records reveal that Dotcom disclosed both his 1994 hacking conviction and a 2001 suspended sentence for insider trading, but both were disregarded having been dealt with under Germany’s “clean slate†legislation. Nevertheless, it now appears that Dotcom’s position as a New Zealand resident is under threat due to his dangerous driving conviction and subsequent non-disclosure. According to NZHerald, Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse could decide within the month whether Dotcom will be allowed to remain in New Zealand or be kicked out of the country. Dotcom insists that the omission was the result of a misunderstanding with his advisors but the discovery was considered serious enough to prompt a high-level deportation inquiry. “In the interests of fairness and natural justice, Mr Dotcom and his advisers have been asked to make submissions on the matter by 4 May,†Immigration NZ said in a statement. “Once that process is complete a decision will then be made by the Minister of Immigration on whether Mr Dotcom is liable for deportation.†The potential for deportation (albeit to either Finland or Germany, not the United States) only adds to Dotcom’s woes. Last month the United States seized dozens of millions of dollars worth of the Megaupload founder’s assets and in June he’ll face an extradition hearing having had a request for postponement denied. Whether Dotcom will be able to deflect ejection from New Zealand on either or both counts remains to be seen, but the tycoon certainly sees himself being backed into a corner. “Dear Mr. Dotcom,†he wrote this morning on Twitter. “Here are your options: Extradition or Deportation. Regards, The New Zealand Government.†https://torrentfreak.com/kim-dotcom-speeding-offense-could-lead-to-deportation-150416/
  3. The Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill was today cleared for introduction into the Australian parliament. In a whirlwind of activity it's expected to be passed this week and will herald the ISP-level blocking of "overseas pirate sites". The body representing the country's ISPs has expressed disappointment at the complete lack of consultation. For many years Australia has struggled with a reputation for being a country of file-sharing pirates. Following a period of heated debate, during the summer of 2014 two key piracy-tackling strategies boiled to the surface. First, in some way, shape or form, copyright holders would get access, indirectly if necessary, to communicate with errant Internet users found to be downloading and sharing copyrighted material without permission. Pressure built, with the government warning ISPs that they must come up with a voluntary solution to the problem or have one forced upon them. Last month in collaboration with rightsholders, proposals were placed on the table. It now seems almost certain that Aussie file-sharers will be subjected to a three-strikes style regime. The second element involved the ‘pirate’ sites themselves. Australian law allows local authorities to easily close down sites in their own territory should the need arise. While that’s not unheard of – a 400,000 member torrent tracker was shut down in 2008 – Australia isn’t best known for hosting popular torrent sites. The problem, according to the government, comes from overseas. Early December 2014, Attorney-General George Brandis and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull asked the Cabinet to approve the development of a new legal mechanism which would allow rightsholders to obtain site blocking injunctions against ISPs. And now, just three months later, it is all systems go. This week the government will deliver new legislation to tackle the problem. Led by Brandis, the Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill was today cleared for introduction into parliament. And things are moving extremely quickly. According to ITNews, the legislation is planned to be introduced into parliament Wednesday or Thursday with a view to having it passed by the end of the week. Despite many countries now making extensive use of the process, site blocking itself is highly controversial. In the UK, for example, rightsholders initially have to go court but are then free to add news sites to existing injunctions, even ones that don’t directly infringe any copyrights. So what mechanism does the Aussie model envision? Somewhat disappointingly those details are being kept a secret. The text of the bill hasn’t yet been made public and even the country’s ISPs are being kept in the dark. John Stanton, CEO of the Communications Alliance, the body that proposed the recent “three strikes†system on behalf of ISPs, said he is “disappointed†that his group hadn’t been consulted. Some consultation would have of course been preferable, since it is the ISPs who will be expected to put the site blocks into place. Whether copyright holders have a greater insight isn’t clear, but the head of the Australian Home Entertainment Distributors Association confirmed that he hadn’t seen a copy of the draft legislation either. In any event, introducing site blocking to Australian Internet users should be an interesting thing to behold, especially when compared to other site-block regions with different consumption pattern backgrounds. After years of being treated as second-class content consumers who have to wait longer and pay more for their content, Aussies have become extremely adept at using VPN and proxy services to access legal services such as Netflix. Those same tools can be used to easily evade site bans and recent concerns over the introduction of a strikes mechanism has only boosted interest in them. Torrentfreak
  4. The FBI admitted that the online attack that crippled Sony Pictures, resulted in theft of confidential information and leak of unreleased movies to the web would have challenged almost any cyber security measures. The investigation of the attack showed that the used tools were extremely sophisticated. The FBI also said that the attacks were organized and undoubtedly persistent. Security experts had to admit that the malware used in the recent hack would have slipped or probably got past 90% of up-to-date online defenses in private industry. Moreover, it would have challenged even state government. In other words, the experts explain that it’s very hard to prevent sophisticated and well-funded cyber attackers from hacking the company. On the other hand, other security experts criticize Sony Pictures for its poor data security – according to some reports, the company stored login details in unencrypted spreadsheets. The Federal Bureau of Investigation believes that the skills necessary to carry out such a cyber attack weren’t limited to government-funded rings and that cyber criminals also have the required level of sophistication. The hack took place on 24 November, and the responsibility for it was claimed by a hacking group calling itself Guardians of Peace. North Korea was under suspicion at first, but then a link between the country and Guardians of Peace was muted. Pyongang was suspected because of its reaction to the Sony movie The Interview, which depicts an assassination attempt on Kim Jong-un. The country was quick to deny involvement, though a number of security researchers are still convinced that it was a state-sponsored attack.
  5. With the upcoming X-Men: Age of Apocalypse film set to introduce younger versions of some of the original X-Men characters, speculation on the casting of Storm has been up in the air. The latest rumor is that X-Men’s Storm will be played by The Vampire Diaries star, Kat Graham. If this rumor (via MoviePilot) turns out to be true, I couldn’t be more excited. Kat Graham has the capacity to play an incredible Storm. Not only is she gorgeous and can easily pull off looking like a younger version of Halle Berry, but also, her role as Bonnie Bennett on the CW series The Vampire Diaries is the perfect preparation for playing a badass super-powered female. And Storm is just that, a badass, powerful woman—and actually my personal favorite comic book hero. Storm, or real name Orora Munroe, has the power to control the weather. With this power she can do more than just make it rain, she has the ability to control energy that the weather creates. She can manipulate that energy and contain it towards certain objects or people. She also has the ability to fly by gliding on wind currents, or using wind to throw off other people in a fight. Storm becomes a very powerful, yet level-headed member of the X-Men because of her training at such an early age. But aside from her super-powers, Storm serves as one of the most important members of the team because of her ability to defuse tension, and keep the other members practical and grounded. She acts as a leader much of the time, but still has a lonely sense of independence that probably originates from her life as an orphan before being found by Charles Xavier. All of these qualities, and more have been demonstrated in Kat Graham’s portrayal of Bonnie Bennett. Bonnie, a teenage witch in the midst of a whole lot of Vampire drama, serves as a voice of reason in much of the show. She is always trying to use her powers for good, and for the sake of others, never worrying about the consequence on herself. She is truly a heroine, with so much compassion, empathy, and selfless acts throughout the series, even to the point of self-sacrifice. Bonnie has many similar personality traits as Storm does in the X-Men universe, being a caring yet powerful entity to her friends. The character of Bonnie is also an orphan like Storm, so Graham has already explored that type of lonely despair in a character. Graham also has a career in the music industry as a singer and dancer. At 15 she performed as a background dancer at the BET Awards, and has been in many music videos and commercials since. That level of fitness is something that will make her job much easier when learning Storm’s fight sequences. And with athleticism like that, it is sure to look pretty realistic on screen as well. Overall, Graham looks to be a perfect fit for the role of a younger Storm in X-Men: Age of Apocalypse. We’ll keep an eye out for any future updates, but fingers crossed that this casting rumor sticks. X-Men: Age of Apocalypse is set to release in theaters May 27, 2016.
  6. Tougher new laws outlined by Justice Secretary; "These internet trolls are cowards who are poisoning our national life." Feminist essayist Anita Sarkeesian has been subjected to online abuse for monthsPeople who abuse and harass others online could face up to two years in prison, if tough new measures are introduced in the UK. Justice Secretary Chris Grayling proposed the new laws in a Mail on Sunday article, claiming he would "take a stand against a baying cyber-mob." If enacted, the changes would allow sentencing of internet trolls to be taken to crown court, where the maximum penalty would be two years imprisonment. Under existing law, the maximum sentence for internet trolling is six months. The proposals were outlined amid regular attacks on celebrities and public figures via social media. Though Mr Grayling was speaking generally about online abuse, his comments also come in the wake of a protracted two-month abuse campaign against female game critics and developers. "These internet trolls are cowards who are poisoning our national life," Mr Grayling wrote. "No-one would permit such venom in person, so there should be no place for it on social media. That is why we are determined to quadruple the current six-month sentence." Rape threats were made against the model Chloe Madeley last week, apparently in response to comments by her mother, Judy Finnigan, who spoke out against about the convicted rapist Ched Evans. "As the terrible case of Chloe Madeley showed last week, people are being abused online in the most crude and degrading fashion," Grayling added. ‘This is a law to combat cruelty – and marks our determination to take a stand against a baying cyber-mob. We must send out a clear message: if you troll you risk being behind bars for two years." Within the games community, the feminist essayist Anita Sarkeesian has been subject of sustained abusefrom her detractors. She has previously had to vacate her home following death threats, and on at least two occasions there have been threats of bombings and massacres made against event organisers who have advertised her attendance. Other female games industry figures, such as Brianna Wu and Zoe Quinn, have also been subjected to death threats. Add Rep and Leave a feedback Reputation is the green button in the down right corner on my post
  7. The Flame in the Flood coming to PlayStation 4 if funding hits $300,000. Now that The Flame in the Flood has reached its $150,000 Kickstarter funding goal, developer The Molasses Flood has announced some of the game's stretch goals, one of which is a PlayStation 4 version of the survival game. If funding reaches $300,000, the studio will bring the game to PS4, delivering this version sometime after the PC release in 2015. The Molasses Flood, a Cambridge, Mass-based studio made up of former BioShock and Halo developers, did not announce plans to bring The Flame in the Flood to Xbox One or Wii U. However, the studio teased it has "more stretch goals in mind" if funding hits $350,000. Currently, funding for The Flame in the Flood stands at $155,000. Other stretch goals include German, French, and Spanish localization ($175,000); raft customization ($200,000); Russian, Portuguese, and Polish localization ($225,000); and an Endless Mode ($250,000). In The Flame in the Flood, which runs on the Unreal Engine 4, you'll travel by foot and by raft down a procedurally generated river in areas inspired real-life places like the Everglades, the Louisiana Bayou, and the Mississippi Delta. In order to stay alive (the game features permadeath), you'll need to seek out resources, craft tools, escape dangerous wildlife, and stay ahead of downpours of rain. "Your journey has an end. Will you survive long enough to reach it?" reads a line from the game's description. The game also features original music from singer-songwriter Chuck Ragan. You can read more about The Flame in the Flood at its Kickstarter page and through our previous coverage. Another Boston-based studio, Day For Night Games, is currently seeking funds for its upcoming PCgame,The Black Glove. Funding currently stands at close to $91,000 of its $550,000 target. Add Rep and Leave a feedback Reputation is the green button in the down right corner on my post
  8. Ubisoft is "taking about it," but such a game likely wouldn't be the same as the '80s action movie satire. Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon turned out to be a delightful surprise last year, using the core of the very solid Far Cry 3 as the basis for a standalone spinoff game that was free to do something very different--satirize '80s action movies. Something similar could happen with Far Cry 4, but if it does, Ubisoft would like for it "to be surprising." Asked about the possibility of creating another Blood Dragon-style spinoff, Far Cry 4 creative director Alex Hutchinson had an encouraging answer for Red Bull: "We're talking about it… you never know." Blood Dragon, a $15 download-only game released five months after Far Cry 3, sold quite well--within two months it had reached 500,000 sales. (A physical version was later released.) Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot said at the time Blood Dragon had also spurred on sales of Far Cry 3 proper, and considering sales of most games taper off not along after launch, that no doubt made the publisher very happy. If Ubisoft decides it does want to offer a standalone spinoff again, it might not offer precisely the same kind of over-the-top, neon-infused style as Blood Dragon. "The goal would be to be surprising, so it wouldn't be another Blood Dragon," Hutchinson said, "but hopefully something equally as odd and left field.†Far Cry 4 launches next month, on November 18, for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, andPC. Add Rep and Leave a feedback Reputation is the green button in the down right corner on my post
  9. Two separate publications claim CV1 could ship by April next year with a limited public beta. The long-awaited consumer version of Oculus Rift could begin to ship by summer 2015, according to alleged sources speaking to two separate publications. Both TechRadar and VRFocus claim that a market-ready Oculus Rift will launch in a "strictly limited" public beta half way into 2015. Though specs and release date plans for the consumer version of Oculus Rift (known as CV1) are not public, a limited supply of the latest prototype (known as DK2) is available to developers and hobbyists. Oculus VR, the company formed by creator Palmer Luckey, has urged gamers to hold out for CV1 and resist the developer version. That long wait for the consumer version could end as soon as April 2015, with a strictly limited test supply, although both TechRadar and VRFocus suggest that "summer 2015" (which runs from late June to August) could be the more realistic target for general release. Oculus exec Nate Mitchell recently claimed that the consumer version of Oculus Rift will be priced somewhere between $200 and $400. Palmer Luckey has also previously stated the consumer version would be a significant improvement on the DK2's 1080p display, with a 90Hz refresh rate. Oculus VR has declined to comment. Add Rep and Leave a feedback Reputation is the green button in the down right corner on my post
  10. We’ve seen some photos and heard rumors about what we can expect from Sony’s Xperia Z3. As we reported earlier, it looks to be nearly identical to the Xperia Z2 – so Sony Xperia Z2 users need not worry about the new smartphone for now. As Sony has done before, it’s now bringing a “little brother†to the Xperia Z3, a phone that’ll likely cost less than the Z3. The Xperia Z3 Compact name has been leaked in photos that show a clear label of the phone, alongside of various phone parts. One photo shows the microSD card slot, a signature feature for any Android smartphone that looks to succeed these days. Another photo shows the 20.7MP camera that we know will return to the Xperia experience in the Xperia Z3. Sony first implemented the 20.7MP camera in the Xperia Z1 and seems content to maintain the 20.7MP camera – although we’d like to see the megapixel count jump. At the moment, however, Sony’s camera surpasses every other Android smartphone in terms of megapixel count, so it’s likely the case that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it†applies here. We don’t have any other details from the photos, though rumors point to the Xperia Z3 compact having a 4.6-inch liquid crystal display (LCD) with 720p screen resolution. Since the company wants to sell a more affordable version of the Xperia experience, 720p is the preferred display of choice rather than 1080p. Another reason as to why Sony would maintain a 720p display for this device is that the Xperia Z3, the Compact’s larger brother, will feature a 1080p display. Sony decided not to opt for a 2560 x 1440p display in the Xperia Z3, from what we’ve heard. The 4.6-inch display makes sense, too, seeing that the Xperia Z3 – which has been leaked in photos beside Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3 – looks to be a little over 5 inches. As with Samsung, Sony doesn’t want to cannibalize sales and overlap its smartphone offerings. Note 4 rumors tell us that Samsung wants to keep the Galaxy Note 4 display at 5.7 inches diagonally because its Galaxy Mega series contains 5.8-inch and 6.3-inch screens. According to the rumors and photos, then, Sony wants to maintain a competitive price on the Xperia Z3 Compact so that it can go head-to-head with Samsung’s own Galaxy Alpha that’ll feature a 4.7-inch Super AMOLED display with 720p resolution. Of course, the Galaxy Alpha will feature an 8MP instead of Sony’s 20.7MP camera, so photographers at heart may very well look to Sony’s device. The Snapdragon 801 makes sense, too, considering that Samsung’s Galaxy Note 4 (a high-end device in a different category than the mid-end Xperia Z3 Compact) will contain the Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 chip. We’ve also heard that Samsung and processor chip maker Qualcomm have struck a deal whereby Samsung will get a discount (who’s ever heard of that?) on the Snapdragon 805 for the Galaxy Note 4. If even Samsung needs a discount (and the company’s sales figures, have seen better days), then placing an 801 processor into the Z3 Compact will save Sony and Z3 Compact users money as well. You can expect Android 4.4.3 or Android 4.4.4 KitKat with this device since Google doesn’t look to reveal Android L (Android 4.5 or Android 5.0) until October. With Sony’s Xperia Z3 and Z3 Compact announcements in September, as well as Samsung’s Galaxy Alpha and Galaxy Note 4 announcements a little earlier than IFA (when Sony will reveal its devices), Android 4.4.4 KitKat will be the most recent Android update. And yet, at the same time, we’re still waiting on the Verizon Sony Xperia Z phone that we’ve seen leaked by Sony, then pulled from Google+. Sony’s 20.7MP camera leads the pack and ties with Samsung’s 16MP ISOCELL camera, but Samsung will continue to outsell Sony until it mass-produces the Xperia Z line for not only international but also American markets.
  11. The iPhone 6 looks to be one of the hottest smartphones of the year, but we now have what could be the official date for the iPhone 6 announcement. Re/code, has pinned Tuesday, September 9 as the date of the official iPhone 6 announcement. What we’ve seen so far is that both a Chinese Weibo account showed an iPhone 6 poster with the date “9 19,†indicating September 19 as a possible announcement date. Amazon Japan suggested that the iPhone 6 would be available on September 30th, with an educated guess for the iPhone 6 announcement coming at the beginning of the month. It seems as though Apple will unveil both the 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch iPhone 6 models at its September event though we don’t have any official information on whether or not Apple’s patched up its production issues with sapphire crystal glass. As we’ve said time and time again, Apple’s purchased a sapphire crystal glass production facility out in Arizona to start making its own sapphire glass in-house, leading Gorilla Glass manufacturer Corning Inc. to continue arguing that its Gorilla Glass is more durable than sapphire crystal. At the same time, however, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says that he and other analysts have something of a reserved nature about whether or not sapphire crystal glass will arrive on the iPhone 6. Apple’s been concerned about drop tests once the iPhone 6 arrives. That, and the problem Apple’s had with manufacturers regarding the implementation of a smaller battery into what will be a larger 5.5-inch iPhone 6 body than usual, have been the majority of Apple’s production woes. Sources say that Apple’s solved the battery problem and found a manufacturer who’ll keep the iPhone 6 battery thin and light while still giving a bit more juice for the larger screen (at around 2,500mAh), but we’ll have to wait and see. If Apple’s production woes show anything, it’s that Corning may be right. This won’t stop Apple from getting sapphire crystal onto the iPhone 6 this Fall, seeing that sapphire crystal does protect against key strokes, knife cuts, and even shoe impact. Sapphire crystal bends when placed under shoes – giving it a flexibility that current displays don’t possess.
  12. It’s been suspected for some time that Warner Bros. and DC Comics have bigger plans for adapting their superheroes than they’re letting on – plans set to become clear once Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice hits theaters. But when the studio’s purported release schedule was leaked online, it packed one particular bombshell: it wouldn’t be a Superman, Batman, or Wonder Woman film following just months behind the big screen team-up in 2016, but an unexpected magical heavyweight: Shazam. The idea of Shazam being released effectively alongside Dawn of Justice is a startling one; but with undeniable appeal, and possessing one of the best stories in DC’s New 52 universe, the property has all the makings of a cinematic hit. Even so, the hero formerly known as ‘Captain Marvel’ may not be as established as his “DC Trinity†colleagues. Allow us to present you with 5 reasons why Shazam could be THE next big DC/WB movie franchise. The Story Aside from the hero’s iconic phrase (“Shazam!â€), it’s safe to say that not much is widely known about Shazam’s backstory. With that in mind, DC’s Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns’ recent reboot (part of DC’s New 52) supplied a rough outline for what to expect from a live-action film. For starters, the hulking hero is actually fifteen-year-old Billy Batson, a street-tough Philadelphia orphan. The boy soon finds himself summoned to a mysterious tomb known as ‘The Rock of Eternity,’ where a mysterious wizard warns him that a great threat has returned to the world. While Billy is far from perfect, he possesses the potential for heroism needed to be named the wizard’s champion: simply utter the phrase ‘Shazam,’ and a bolt of lightning transforms Billy into a magical, godlike hero. With the role effectively split between a young boy and a grown man playing a young boy, this particular hero packs a twist that makes him one of a kind in a genre filled with familiar tropes (while also offering more wish fulfillment for young viewers than any other hero). The humor inherent in any big screen version of the ‘World’s Mightiest Mortal’ should be obvious, and how Billy uses his new powers is a story that could be taken in any number of directions. - The Characters Casual audiences may think that a caped hero powered by magical lightning more than earns a spotlight all to himself – but despite having lost his own parents, Billy Batson is far from alone. In both the classic comics and the New 52, Billy is accompanied by his friends Mary and Freddy Freeman – with Johns’ reboot adding three more foster siblings to the group: Pedro, Eugene, and Darla. With Shazam‘s obvious appeal to a younger audience, some might worry that the grim tone of WB’s approach to superheroes would be a poor fit. But the larger themes at play have the potential to be treated with respect and gravity (as adoption was in Man of Steel), and the ensemble cast of children spreads that potential farther, including minorities and women in a genre of film lacking both. The Action After Man of Steel, it’s understandable that audiences might not be excited by the idea of two men blessed with the strength of Superman going toe-to-toe. But with the realm of magic at both of their disposals, a showdown between Shazam and Black Adam could be as varied and awe-inspiring as the director chooses to make it (just ask the comic book fans how many different ways a lightning bolt can be used in combat). But the real promise in the action comes from the fact that Shazam has the ability to share his gifts with his family. As it stands, superhero movies tend to be categorized by eager fans into ‘solo’ or ‘team-up’ adventures. But with Shazam able to use all his power for strength, or turn his siblings into magical superheroes alongside him, the movie can split the difference. Warner Bros. and DC clearly aren’t afraid of having their heroes share the screen, so a full roster of the Shazam Family fighting as a unit may be in store. - The Mythology When it was first rumored that Shazam was not only in the cards for WB, but could be the studio’s next big franchise, many expressed doubt that its magic and mysticism could work in the world established by Man of Steel. But given that many doubted Zack Snyder could make Superman work in a world similar to The Dark Knight Trilogy, we would advise patience. Especially when the benefits outweigh the risks. To dive headlong into the fiction of Shazam is to introduce the ‘Council of Wizards’ – a collection of magical beings seemingly linked to the history of China, Australia, Egypt, North America, and more. Besides the international appeal, the blend of fantasy and history may be easier to accept than a simple supernatural force of ‘magic.’ Geoff Johns also made the decision to not just expand the mystical world behind Shazam, but to begin his story with magic essentially ‘returning’ to the world. So while Batman and Superman may be hashing out the destruction of Metropolis, audiences will know that a much larger threat may be looming. Yet that threat is one only Billy Batson is able to fight, meaning his place alongside DC’s biggest heroes would be ensured. - Continuity With all the momentum building around Batman V Superman, fans may have forgotten that Sandman was among the first films pitched by David S. Goyer following Man of Steel. And while the first arc in Neil Gaiman’s seminal graphic novel included both Batman and John Constantine, achieving the same blend of DC and Vertigo will be a tough task in the film universe – and trying to overlap them directly could fail entirely. But a character like Shazam changes all that. Shazam’s strength may make him an analogue to Superman, but his knowledge and mastery of magic makes him just as important to the world of Constantine, Sandman, or the rest of the cast of Guillermo Del Toro’s troubled Justice League Dark project. In many ways, Shazam is a walking solution: the realm of magic is no place for the Justice League, but stories like DC’s recent “Trinity War†(featuring Constantine and Billy Batson joning forces) show how both the mystical and superhero universes can coexist. It’s a tough trick to pull off, but confirming the existence of both worlds – made easier with Shazam’s ability to straddle the line – sets the stage for multiple crossover events down the road. - Conclusion Below you’ll find a quick recap of why we believe a Shazam movie could be the next successful superhero blockbuster for DC Comics and Warner Bros. Do you agree with our reasoning? Let us know in the comments! The Story – An origin story (with a message) that will be every viewer’s dream come true. The Characters – Varied, unique, and diverse enough to feature plenty of promising stars. The Action – A superhero movie with fantasy action, AND a superpowered fist fight. The Mythology – An ancient world of magic that cracks DC’s movie universe wide open (if they wish). Continuity – A way to link Justice League and Sandman/Constantine properties without overlapping them.
  13. Motorola filed for a trademark on the name “Moto Maxx†today with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Motorola’s only used the word “Maxx†for the Droid Maxx, for example. Anyone that’s used the Droid Maxx is aware of its beastly battery life. According to Droid Maxx owners, the battery life can go as high as 48 hours on a single charge – no battery power saving modes required. If the Moto Maxx is a name of a device that’s headed to market, then the Moto X series is about to be taken by storm with a new device that boasts incredible battery life. Besides the patent, we know very little else about the device. It’s interesting that Motorola’s looking to release a device with a wider display than the 5.2-inch Moto X+1 that’s headed to market within the next few months, so we could be looking at a device that’s 5.5 inches or higher.
  14. Multiple reports this week suggested that a pirate release of the game Watch Dogs contained a Bitcoin miner. While no one wants their machine infected with unwanted software, could an authorized installation of a Bitcoin miner on users' machines generate enough revenue for a developer to give his game away for free? While it’s no secret that some pirate games releases contain malware, during the past few days a more unusual story has been doing the rounds. According to a GameCrastinate report, this week thousands of BitTorrent users inadvertently became infected with Bitcoin-mining malware. The problem apparently stemmed back to a leaked PC version of the much-anticipated game Watch Dogs from Ubisoft Montreal. While there was never any suggestion that the company had anything to do with it, the assumption has been that whoever leaked the game thought they could make a few dollars by installing the trojan on pirates’ machines. While there appears to be very little hard proof that the trojan ever existed or indeed spread on the suggested scale, the idea that tens or even hundreds of thousands of computers could be hijacked to generate mountains of dollars for a third-party gained a lot of traction in the press. The idea of a sneaky trojan install is likely to annoy just about everyone, but what if a similar process could be put to a more creative and authorized use? What if a developer allowed his game to be shared online for free but in return installed a Bitcoin miner on downloaders’ machines to generate revenue to pay for the software? That question was emailed to TorrentFreak this week and while we had our doubts over the idea’s viability, it could be pretty cool if it somehow came to pass. We promised to find out whether this was a crazy idea or a flash of genius. Last year, Ars Technica bought a dedicated miner for $274 capable of magically churning out around $20 in bitcoin every day. Sure it gobbled up $100 a year in electricity, but as a financial prospect it was a pretty safe bet. Gamers tend not to own dedicated mining hardware, but people playing a game like Watch Dogs more often that not will have rather juicy graphics cards on board which could be coaxed into a bit of mining. Question is, would they be up to the task? Roger Ver, an angel investor in several Bitcoin startups including Blockchain.info, BitcoinStore and BitPay, has been referred to in the press as the Bitcoin Jesus. In his opinion, could the “Watch Dog hackers†who sparked this story make much money with their illegal trojan? “It depends a lot on the hardware of the machines, but to the hacker, it is all profit since he doesn’t have to pay for any of the hardware or electricity costs,†Ver told TF. So with free money for the hackers established, we come back to the key question: could a Bitcoin miner installed with the permission of the downloader generate enough fractions of a single bitcoin on a single machine to keep the developer happy, in Watch Dogs’ case, to the tune of around $60? Ver was quick to disappoint. “This isn’t viable any longer,†he told us. “There are so many people mining bitcoins using specialized ASIC hardware that a home computer isn’t very effective any more.†So the idea of mining Bitcoin in order to generate revenue from people who can’t or won’t pay for their games is a no-go? It appears so. “A few years ago, coinlab.com was trying to do this, but I don’t think this is practical any more due to the difficulty in mining bitcoin,†Ver concludes. Back to the drawing board then…. source