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Found 13 results

  1. Shutting down pirate websites such as The Pirate Bay is high on the agenda of the entertainment industries. However, according to research published by the European Commission's Joint Research Centre, these raids are relatively ineffective and potentially counterproductive. A few years ago Europe witnessed the largest piracy-related busts in history withthe raid of the popular movie streaming portal Kino.to. Police officers in Germany, Spain, France and the Netherlands raided several residential addresses, data centers and arrested more than a dozen individuals connected to the site. The operation wiped out the largest unauthorized streaming portal in Europe and was praised as a massive success. However, new research from the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre shows that the effect on end users was short-lived and relatively limited. In a working paper titled “Online Copyright Enforcement, Consumer Behavior, and Market Structure†researchers examined clickstream data for a set of 5,000 German Internet users to see how their legal and illegal consumption habits changed in response to the shutdown. One of the main conclusions is that the kino.to raid led to a short-lived decrease in piracy, after which piracy levels returned to normal. At the same time, the researchers observed only a small increase in the use of legal services. “While users of kino.to decreased their levels of piracy consumption by 30% during the four weeks following the intervention, their consumption through licensed movie platforms increased by only 2.5%,†the paper reads. Based on the above the researchers conclude that if the costs of the raids and prosecution are factored in, the shutdown probably had no positive effect. “Taken at face value, these results indicate that the intervention mainly converted consumer surplus into deadweight loss. If we were to take the costs of the intervention into account, our results would suggest that the shutdown of kino.to has not had a positive effect on overall welfare,†the researchers write. Perhaps more worrying is the fact that Kino.to was soon replaced by several new streaming services. This so-called “Hydra†effect means that a landscape which was previously dominated by one site, now consists of several smaller sites that together have roughly the same number of visitors. The researchers note that Movie2k.to and KinoX.to quickly filled the gap, and that the scattered piracy landscape would make future shutdowns more costly. “Our analysis shows that the shutdown of kino.to resulted in a much more fragmented structure of the market for unlicensed movie streaming,†the paper reads. “This potentially makes future law enforcement interventions either more costly – as there would not be a single dominant platform to shutdown anymore – or less effective if only a single website is targeted by the intervention†One of the policy implications could be to advise against these type of large piracy raids, as they do very little to solve the problem at hand. However, the researchers note that the results should be interpreted with caution. For example, it doesn’t include any data on offline sales. Similarly, back in 2011 there were relatively few legal options available, so the effects may be different now. That said, the current findings shed an interesting light on the limited effectiveness of international law enforcement actions directed at piracy sites. Also, it’s the first research paper we know of that provides strong evidence for the frequently mentioned Hydra effect. https://torrentfreak.com/shutting-down-pirate-sites-is-ineffective-european-commission-finds-150514/
  2. Pew study says online gaming is less welcoming to women than online dating sites, social networking channels, and comments sections. The Pew Research Center has released a new study about online harassment, and among the findings is that, of major online environments, gaming is the least welcoming for women. The study surveyed around 3,000 Internet users (both male and female), and only 3 percent of respondents said that online gaming was more welcoming toward women, compared to 44 percent who felt it was more welcoming toward men. "Most online environments are seen as equally welcoming toward men and women; the exception is online gaming," Pew wrote. Other online environments featured in the study included online dating sites/apps, social networking sites/apps, comments sections, and online discussion sites. You can see how the online gaming category compares to the others in the chart below. Pew also shared some of the responses that participants provided in the open-ended question section of the survey. Harassment through online gaming mostly was attributed to "sore losers" and name-calling, the research group said, adding that "many" respondents "easily brushed off the negativity." Below are some of the responses that Pew shared: "Someone was a sore loser in an online game and hurled threats and insults." "Nothing bad just someone didn't like how I was playing a game. The good thing is, on the computer, you can just leave!" "When someone is losing a game, the opponent will abruptly leave but not without calling me or others a vulgar name or comment." "A standard bully-type came into a video game broadcast that a friend of mine and I run and made offensive comments at the two of us, mostly referring to our breasts." "This happens too regularly in online games to remember a specific occurrence." This study comes as the topic of women in gaming has made headlines of late. Over the summer,Assassin's Creed publisher Ubisoft caught flak for its explanation as to why Assassin's Creed Unity has no playable female characters, while Magicka publisher Paradox said the industry should not shy away from talking about the topic. On top of that, another new study showed that the percentage of female game developers has more than doubled since 2009 to 22 percent, according to the latest data. In terms of the bigger picture, the Pew study found that 73 percent of adult Internet users have witnessed someone being harassed in some way, while 40 percent have personally experienced harassment. You can read the full report at Pew's website here. Add Rep and Leave a feedback Reputation is the green button in the down right corner on my post
  3. The latest UK IP Crime Report reveals that significant progress is being made in the fight against online piracy but still many challenges remain. One of the main problems traces back to U.S. hosting companies, who according to the report give shelter to most of the investigated pirate sites. The latest UK IP Crime Report reveals that significant progress is being made in the fight against online piracy but still many challenges remain. One of the main problems traces back to U.S. hosting companies, who according to the report give shelter to most of the investigated pirate sites. The figure above comes as a bit of a surprise, as one would expect that United States authorities and industry groups would have been keeping their own houses in order. Just a few months ago the US-based IIPA, which includes MPAA and RIAA as members, called out Canada because local hosting providers are “a magnet†for pirate sites. However, it now appears they have still plenty of work to do inside U.S. borders. But even when hosting companies are responsive to complaints from rightsholders the problem doesn’t always go away. The report mentions that most sites simply move on to another host, and continue business as usual there. “In 2013, FACT closed a website after approaching the hosting provider on 63 occasions. Although this can be a very effective strategy, in most instances the website is swiftly transferred onto servers owned by another ISP, often located outside the UK.†While downtime may indeed be relatively brief the report claims that it may still hurt the site, as visitors may move on to other legitimate or illegitimate sources. “The [moving] process usually involves a disruptive period of time whereby the website is offline, during which users will often find an alternative service, thus negatively affecting the website’s popularity.†While hosting companies remain a main target, tackling the online piracy problem requires a multi-layered approach according to the UK Crime Group. With the help of local law enforcement groups such as City of London’s PIPCU, copyright holders have rolled out a variety of anti-piracy measures in recent months. This includes domain name suspensions, cutting off payment processors and ad revenue, website blocking by ISPs and criminal prosecutions. These and other efforts are expected to continue during the years to come. Whether that will be enough to put a real dent in piracy rates has yet to be seen. Add Rep and Leave a feedback Reputation is the green button in the down right corner on my post
  4. The parent company of luxury watch maker Cartier is trying to expand the grounds on which websites can be censored in the UK. In an action against the country's leading ISPs, Richemont International is seeking an injunction to have sites displaying pirated brand logos blocked at the ISP level. The UK is now one of the easiest countries in the world to obtain a website blocking injunction on copyright grounds. While much work had to be done initially, having websites filtered out by the leading ISPs is now a streamlined and largely closed-door practice. Child protection issues aside, up until now it has been copyright holders leading the charge for websites to be blacked out. Dozens of sites are affected, with the majority of the world’s leading file-sharing portals now inaccessible by regular means. If the parent company of luxury watchmaker Cartier has its way, soon a new and potentially more widespread wave of website blockades will begin. Compagnie Financière Richemont S.A. owns several well-known luxury brands including Cartier and Mont Blanc. For some time it has been trying to pressure sites offering counterfeits into closing down, but without success. Mirroring the tactics being employed by the studios and recording labels, Richemont has essentially given up on that approach and has decided to take legal action ISPs instead. In March 2014, Richemont reportedly wrote to the country’s leading ISPs (Sky, TalkTalk, BT, Virgin Meda, EE, Telefonica (O2)) complaining that third party sites were engaged in illegal activity and were displaying pirated logos which infringe on Richemont trademarks. In May the ISPs responding by telling the company that it had not done enough to have the sites close down, such as contacting their webhosts to have service discontinued. The ISPs also complained that by blocking the websites there was a chance that legitimate trade could be affected. An unfair financial burden for the ISPs was also a probability, particularly given the number of likely copycat requests if the application was successful. While it appears the ISPs are putting up more of a fight in this case than they did with entertainment company blocking requests, those were actioned under copyright law where injunctions against service providers are catered for. UK trademark law has no such direct provision. The case, which is now being heard at the High Court, has attracted the attention of the Open Rights Group. ORG says it takes no view on the merits of the case, but has been given permission to intervene in order to raise awareness over the possibility that third party interests could be affected if blocking injunctions are granted. “As the court is being asked to extend the circumstances in which blocking orders are granted, it’s vital that the wider public interest is taken into account. We hope that our intervention will help ensure that future claimants cannot use blocking orders to restrict legitimate activity or free speech,†says ORG Legal Director Elizabeth Knight. ORG says its concern is that if Geneva-based Richemont are successful, further applications could be made which are contrary to public interest. These could include blocking sites that use logos to legitimately criticize or parody well known brands “Court blocking orders may also affect commercial third parties who have no involvement in any alleged infringement – for example law abiding businesses whose products appear on websites alongside those of companies involved in infringing activity,†the group says. It remains to be seen how smoothly the process pans out, but there could be interesting side effects. Entertainment industry companies and artists also own plenty of trademarks that are often displayed on ‘pirate’ websites. If the trademark route proves a simple one, that could end up being their chosen path for future blocking requests. Mr Justice Arnold has requested submissions on how third party rights could be affected if injunctions are granted. ORG will ensure he gets the message. source: torrentfreak
  5. A new study published by research firm KPMG reveals that only 16% of the most popular and critically acclaimed films are available via Netflix and other on-demand subscription services. The study, which reveals that availability through other platforms is excellent, is praised by the MPAA, but the big elephant in the room is conveniently ignored. There is little doubt that, in the United States, Netflix has become the standard for watching movies on the Internet. The subscription service is responsible for a third of all Internet traffic during peak hours, dwarfing that of online piracy and other legal video platforms. It’s safe to assume that Netflix is the best and most convenient alternative to piracy at this point. That is, if the service carries the movies people want to see. This appears to be a problem. Research firm KPMG has just released a new study that looks at the online availability of the 808 most popular and critically acclaimed films. The study was commissioned by NBC Universal and praised by the MPAA, presumably to dispel the argument that many people pirate because they don’t have the option to watch some films legally. “This first-of-its-kind report analyzed the availability of 808 different film titles over 34 major online video distribution services and found that 94 percent of the films were available on at least one service,†MPAA’s Chris Dodd commented on the study. The MPAA is right that most of the movies are available through online stores and rental services. However, the Hollywood group conveniently ignores the lacking availability on popular subscription platforms which services such as Netflix and Hulu use. This is not a minor oversight as the study finds that availability of top films on Netflix and other subscription services is very low. Although KPMG decided not to mention it in the executive summary of the report, the findings show that only 16% of the films are available through on-demand subscription services (SOVD). Availability of the top films http://torrentfreak.com/images/topfilmavail.png The above sheds a different light on the availability argument. Because, what good is it if 94 percent of the films are available online, but (at least) 84% are missing from the most-used movie service? After all, most people prefer to get their movies in one place as it’s not very convenient to use a few dozen services to get your movie fix. Of course this is not an excuse for people to go out and download films without permission, and we have to admit that a lot of progress has been made on the availability side in recent years. However, Hollywood can definitely learn from the music industry, where most of the popular content is available through subscription services. From the availability point of view there’s another issue worth pointing out. The most pirated titles are usually recent releases, and these are generally not available, not even through iTunes, Amazon or rental services. This is also illustrated in the KPMG report which shows that 100% of the top 2012 films are available online, compared to 77% of the 2013 releases. It’s probably safe to say that the majority of all pirated downloads are of films that are not yet legally available. In other words, there’s still plenty of improvement possible.
  6. New research from Carnegie Mellon University shows that search engine results directly influence people's decision to pirate movies, or buy them legally. According to the researchers, their findings show how search engines may play a vital role in the fight against online piracy. In recent years Hollywood and the music industry have taken a rather aggressive approach against Google. The entertainment industry companies believe that the search engine isn’t doing enough to limit piracy, and have demanded more stringent measures. One of the suggestions often made is to remove or demote pirate sites in search results. A lower ranking would lead fewer people to pirate sources and promoting legal sources will have a similar effect. Google previously said it would lower the ranking of sites based on DMCA complaints, but thus far these changes have had a limited effect. A few weeks ago the company also began promoting legal options but this effort is in the testing phase for now. The question that remains is whether these changes would indeed decrease piracy. According to new research from Carnegie Mellon University, they can. In a paper titled “Do Search Engines Influence Media Piracy?†the researchers ran two experiments where they let participants use a custom search engine to find a movie they wanted to watch. The respondents could pick from a list of 50 titles and received a $20 prepaid virtual Visa card as compensation. All search results were pulled from a popular search engine. In the control category the results were not manipulated, but in the “legal†and “infringing†conditions the first page only listed “legal†(e.g Amazon) and neutral (e.g IMDb) sites or “infringing†(e.g. Pirate Bay) and neutral sites respectively. While it’s quite a simple manipulation, and even though users could still find legal and pirated content in all conditions, the results are rather strong. Of all participants who saw the standard results, 80% chose to buy the movie via a legal option. This went up to 94% if the results were mostly legal, and dropped to 57% for the group who saw mostly infringing results on the first page. To Pirate or Not to Pirate TorrentFreak contacted Professor Rahul Telang who says that the findings suggest that Google and other search engines have a direct effect on people’s behavior, including the decision to pirate a movie. “Prominence of legal versus infringing links in the search results seem to play a vital role in users decision to consume legal versus pirated content. In particular, demoting infringing links leads to lower rate of consumption of pirated movie content in our sample,†he notes. In a second study the researchers carried out a slightly modified version of the experiment with college students, a group that tends to pirate more frequently. The second experiment also added two new conditions where only the first three results were altered, to see if “mild†manipulations would also have an effect. The findings show that college students indeed pirate more as only 62% went for the legal option in the control condition. This percentage went up gradually to 76% with a “mild legal†manipulation, and to 92% in the legal condition. For the infringing manipulations the percentages dropped to 48% and 39% respectively. To Pirate or Not to Pirate, take two According to Professor Telang their findings suggest that even small changes can have a significant impact and that altering search algorithms can be instrumental in the fight against online piracy. “The results suggest that the search engines may play an important role in fight against intellectual property theft,†Telang says. It has to be noted that Professor Telang and his colleagues received a generous donation from the MPAA for their research program. However, the researchers suggest that their work is carried out independently. As a word of caution the researchers point out that meddling with search results in the real world may be much more challenging. False positives could lead to significant social costs and should be avoided, for example. This and other caveats aside, the MPAA and RIAA will welcome the study as a new piece of research they can wave at Google and lawmakers. Whether that will help them to get what they want has yet to be seen though. http://torrentfreak.com/search-engines-can-diminish-online-piracy-research-finds-140916/
  7. New data shows that the Emmy's award ceremony resulted in a piracy surge for many of the nominated shows. For Emmy winner Breaking Bad the number of file-sharers increased more than 400% overnight due to the increased exposure, and most other nominated shows saw a spike in pirate interest too. People have many different motivations to pirate TV-shows and other media. Availability is a factor, for example, and price plays a role as well. Another important driver of piracy is exposure or promotion through traditional media. The latter is illustrated by new research from piracy monitoring firm CEG TEK, who found that the interest in pirated copies of Emmy nominated TV-shows surged after the award show aired on television. The company measured the BitTorrent swarms of 50 Emmy-nominated TV-shows and found a big spike in overall piracy rates. Breaking Bad, winner of the Emmy for best drama series and several individual awards, saw a 412% increase in peers after the award ceremony. Pirate’s interest in True Detective, House of Cards, Homeland and The Newsroom also spiked at least 340% the day after the Emmys. These peaks are unusual according to CEG TEK, who note of the 47 of the 50 nominated shows they monitored saw an increase in sharing activity. “Typically, piracy peaks on weekends, but of the 50 shows we monitored, 47 were pirated more as a result of the Primetime Emmy Awards broadcast,†CEG TEK CTO Jon Nicolini says. “Clearly, the prestige of the Emmys is alive and well,†he adds. While an Emmy award is certainly a big win, some people in the TV industry believe that being the most pirated TV-show may do even more to boost a show’s profile. Jeff Bewkes, CEO of HBO’s parent company Time Warner, previously said that Game of Thrones piracy resulted in more subscriptions for his company and that receiving the title of “most pirated†show was “better than an Emmy.†So that’s a double score for the Emmy winners then. http://torrentfreak.com/breaking-bad-piracy-surges-emmy-win-research-finds-140903/
  8. New research reveals that BitTorrent swarms can be slowed down significantly by malicious peers. Depending on the number of seeders and the clients they use, download rates can be decreased by 1000%. The attacks are possible through an exploit of the BitTorrent protocol for which the researchers present a fix. BitTorrent is one of the fastest and most efficient ways to share large files over the Internet. The popular file-sharing protocol is used by dozens of millions of people every day and accounts for a substantial amount of total Internet traffic. This popularity makes BitTorrent an interesting target for attacks, which various anti-piracy companies have shown in the past. One of these possible attacks was recently unveiled by Florian Adamsky, researcher at the City University London. In an article published in “Computers & Security†Adamsky and his colleagues reveal an exploit which allows attackers to get a higher download rate from seeders than other people. In technical terms, the exploit misuses BitTorrent’s choking mechanism of clients that use the “Allowed Fast†extension. Attackers can use this to keep a permanent connection with seeders, requesting the same pieces over and over. The vulnerability was extensively tested in swarms of various sizes and the researchers found that three malicious peers can already slow download times up to 414.99%. When the number of attackers is greater compared to the number of seeders, the worse the effect becomes. The impact of the attack further depends on the download clients being used by the seeders in the swarm. The mainline BitTorrent clients and uTorrent are not vulnerable for example, while Vuze, Transmission and Libtorrent-based clients are. TorrentFreak spoke with Adamsky who predicts that similar results are possible in real swarms. Even very large swarms of more than 1,000 seeders could be affected through a botnet, although it’s hard to predict the precise impact. “If an attacker uses a botnet to attack the swarm, I think it would be possible to increase the average download time of all peers [of swarms with 1,000 seeders] up to three times,†Adamsky tells us. “If most of the clients would have a vulnerable client like Vuze or Transmission it would be possible to increase the average download time up ten times,†he adds. In their paper the researchers suggest a relatively easy fix to the problem, through an update of the “Allowed Fast†extension. In addition, they also propose a new seeding algorithm that is less prone to these and other bandwidth attacks. http://torrentfreak.com/attackers-can-steal-bandwidth-bittorrent-users-research-finds-140819/
  9. Geo-political thriller "The Siege of Jadotville" will see the Irish actor play a U.N. commander caught in the Congo during the 1961 coup. LONDON – Just days after the Fifty Shades of Grey trailer became the most watched trailer of all time, its S&M-loving lead Christian Grey, otherwise known as Irish actor Jamie Dornan, is already adding another notch on his cinematic bedpost. On Tuesday, it was announced that Dornan will star in Parallel Films’ upcoming geo-political action thriller The Siege of Jadotville by writer Kevin Brodbin and first-time directorRichie Smith. The story is set around the siege of 150 U.N. Irish troops in 1961 in the Congo, now known as the Democratic Republic of Congo, after pro-Western warlord Moise Tshombe took control of the Katanga region, killing the democratically elected Congolese prime minister Patrice Lamumba. Belfast-born Dornan will play Commandant Pat Quinlan, the Irishman who led the U.N. battalion against a force of 3,000 local troops fighting alongside French and Belgian mercenaries. “I can’t wait to get stuck into Jadotville,†said Dornan in a statement. “It’s an unbelievable story and Commandant Pat Quinlan is going to be a treat of a character to tackle. I’m a big fan of both Richie Smyth and [producer] Alan Moloney and I’m very much looking forward to working with them both.†Smyth, known for his commercial and music work, including videos for U2, The Verve and Bon Jovi, recently picked up several best director awards across the globe for an advert highlighting the issue of child abuse in Ireland. “I’m really excited to be working with Jamie on The Siege of Jadotville,†Smyth added in the statement. “I thought his performance in The Fall was sublime. He is perfectly cast in the lead role as Commandant Quinlan and has been instrumental in bringing this epic story to life." The film, which has been developed with the Irish Film Board and will be an official Irish/South African co-production, is set to shoot spring 2015 in Ireland and South Africa after Dornan finishes promotingFifty Shades of Grey.
  10. A survey from CIRP finds almost all Prime members will renew their subscriptions despite the recent bump to $99 a year. Most Amazon Prime subscribers aren't sweating the recent $20 price increase, at least among those questioned in a recent poll. Surveying 500 shoppers who recently made a purchase at the site, research firm Consumer Intelligence Research Partners found that 44 percent subscribed Amazon's $99 Prime shipping and content services. Extrapolating that percentage led CIRP to come up with a figure of 27 million Prime members in total. Among the Prime subscribers polled, a full 95 percent said they would "definitely" or "probably" renew their membership. Amazon Prime is a mixed but appealing bag of features that the Seattle-based company often tries to enhance. The service offers free two-day shipping on most products, an online selection of more than 40,000 streaming videos, and a Kindle e-book lending library. Amazon also recently added access to streaming songs via Prime Music. The program is a central part of Amazon's strategy, which asserts that customers will spend more with unfettered access to products and content. In March, Amazon upped the annual price of its Prime subscription from $79 to $99. Trying to justify the increase, the company said at the time that it had never raised prices on the service despite higher fuel and transportation costs to ship its goods to members. Prime is a key financial driver for the online retailer as it locks in customers with the yearly fee. In light of their membership and free shipping, Amazon contends that Prime subscribers are more than likely to turn to the site first and foremost for their online purchases. Increasing the annual cost of the service could've proved a risky game for Amazon to play. But if the results of CIRP's poll are on the money, then most subscribers will grin and bear the price jump. "Amazon Prime enjoys solid loyalty," CIRP partner and co-founder Josh Lowitz said in a statement. "While renewal intent is not the same as actual renewal, our data on length of membership and lapsed membership generally confirms that Amazon Prime members do renew their membership at rates that resemble the intended renewal." Among the current Prime members polled by CIRP, 85 percent were aware of the price increase. Among the 15 percent who were in the dark, the percentage that said they would "definitely" or "probably" renew their membership dropped to 71 percent. Upon hearing of a price increase, a customer's initial reaction is often to threaten not to renew. But based on CIRP's data, renewal rates tend to recover after that customer considers the benefits of the service. "It's a testament to how well Amazon rolled out the price increase, as well as the relative costs and benefits of Amazon Prime" Lowitz added. "More than 8 out of 10 Amazon Prime members are aware of the increase, and even in light of that increase, over 90 percent intend to renew. Amazon undoubtedly helped by improving the benefits of Prime membership, including adding HBO programs to the Prime Instant Video library and the launch of Prime Music streaming audio service." http://www.cnet.com/news/amazon-prime-members-will-almost-all-renew-despite-price-increase/
  11. New research by economist Koleman Strumpf shows that there is no significant effect of movie piracy on box office revenues. This conclusion is based on data from 150 blockbuster movies that were released over a period of six years, using the popular Hollywood exchange as an indication for the revenue impact. Research into online piracy comes in all shapes and sizes, often with equally mixed results. Often the main question is whether piracy is hurting sales. A new study conducted by economist Koleman Strumpf is one of the most comprehensive on the subject so far. Drawing on data from a popular BitTorrent tracker and revenue projections from the Hollywood Stock Exchange he researches how the release of a pirated movie affects expected box office income. The research covers 150 of the most popular films that were released over a period of seven years, and the findings reveal that the release of pirated films on file-sharing sites doesn’t directly hurt box office revenue. “There is no evidence in my empirical results of file-sharing having a significant impact on theatrical revenue,†Strumpf tells TorrentFreak in a comment. “My best guess estimate is that file sharing reduced the first month box office by $200 million over 2003-2009, which is only three tenths of a percent of what movies actually earned. I am unable to reject the hypothesis that there is no impact at all of file-sharing on revenues.†So while there is a small negative effect, this is limited to one tenth of a percent and not statistically significant. Interestingly, the data also reveals that movie leaks shortly before the premiere have a small positive impact on expected revenues. This suggests that file-sharing may serve as a form of promotion. “One consistent result is that file-sharing arrivals shortly before the theatrical opening have a modest positive effect on box office revenue. One explanation is that such releases create greater awareness of the film. This is also the period of heaviest advertising,†Strumpf notes. One of the advantages of this study compared to previous research is that it measures the direct effect of a movie leak on projected box office revenues. Previous studies mostly compared early versus late leaks, which is less accurate and may be influenced by other factors. “For example, suppose studios added extra security to big budget movies which then have a delayed arrival to file-sharing networks. Then even if file-sharing has no impact at all, one would find that delayed arrival on file-sharing leads to higher revenues,†Strumpf tells us. Another upside of the research lies in the statistical precision. The data includes thousands of daily observations and relatively precise estimates, something lacking in most previous studies. The downside, on the other hand, is that the expected box office impact is estimated from the Hollywood Stock Exchange. While this has shown to be a good predictor for actual revenues, it’s not a direct measurement. In any case, the paper suggests that file-sharing might not be the biggest threat the movie industry is facing. Even if the negative effects were twice as big as the data suggests, it would still be less than the $500 million Hollywood spent on the MPAA’s anti-piracy efforts during the same period. http://torrentfreak.com/filesharing-doesnt-hurt-box-office-revenue-research-finds-140715/
  12. Flixtor, a popular Popcorn Time-inspired movie streaming application, has shut down after an investigator from the MPAA's Motion Picture Association Canada showed up on the developer's doorstep. The torrent search engine TorrentLookup.com, which was maintained by the same team, was also pulled offline voluntarily. This weekend the website of the movie torrent streaming application Flixtor suddenly went offline, and the same happened to search engine TorrentLookup.com. Both projects were run by the same team, which is based in Canada, and were slowly but steadily expanding their user bases. This suddenly changed a few days ago when a message posted on both sites announced that the streaming app and search engine were being discontinued. “We voluntarily decided to close all services of torrentlookup.com. Thanks to everybody that used Flixtor and bought the mobile version. We have reached the finish line,†a message now displays on both sites. The decision came as a total surprise to users of the site and app. Flixtor, a custom-built Popcorn Time alternative based on the same Peerflix engine, was just a few weeks old. The Flixtor app had a user interface similar to Popcorn Time, but was not a fork. Instead, it used its own code and the movies/series API from TorrentLookup.com, which claimed to have the latest releases faster. Flixtor TorrentFreak got in touch with one of the developers, who informed us that the decision to close was the result of movie industry pressure. The developer in question had an investigator from the MPAA-funded Motion Picture Association Canada come by his house, and it didn’t stop there. “They were annoying me with phone calls repeatedly, and I talked to them quite a few times,†the developer explained. The movie industry group only had one goal, and that was to shut down the streaming application and the torrent site. The investigator threatened the developer with legal action if he refused to comply. “They wanted me to close Flixtor/Torrentlookup and then they would drop the charges against me, which are $20,000 per copyrighted file,†the developer told us. With the threat of a massive lawsuit on their shoulders, the people behind the two projects decided to pull the plug this weekend. Even if they wanted to, they lack the funds to properly defend themselves in court. The above shows that, behind the scenes, a lot of pressure is being put on the people who operate torrent sites and related services. It may also explain why some sites simply disappear, or why some of the “Popcorn Time†developers ceased their activities. TorrentFreak contacted the Motion Picture Association Canada for a comment yesterday, but at the time of publication we were yet to receive a response. http://torrentfreak.com/flixtor-torrentlookup-shut-down-140617/
  13. YouTube Hurts Music Album Sales, Research Finds The music industry has often cited piracy as the main reason for the decline in music sales over the past decade, but new research suggests that YouTube may have played a role as well. Based on Warner Music's YouTube blackout, researchers conclude that the video streaming portal cost the label up to $40 million in lost album sales per year. In recent years many academics have researched the link between Internet piracy and the revenues of the major music labels, with varying results. Some have concluded that there is no adverse impact of piracy on sales, others argue that there’s a moderate negative relation. While the music industry and many researchers seek answers in the piracy realm, other drastic changes are too often ignored. The availability of free on-demand music through legal services such as YouTube for example. Researchers from Fairfield University and the University of Colorado have started to fill this gap with a new study. In their working paper the researchers examine the effect of Warner Music’s 2009 YouTube blackout on the record label’s album sales. At the time, Warner pulled all their music from the video hosting service due to a licensing dispute. The researchers use this event to compare the sales of Warner’s artists listed in the Billboard Album 200, to those from labels that still had their videos on YouTube. The results are intriguing, to say the least. After controlling for several variables, such as music genre and album specific characteristics, they found that Warner’s top artists sold many more albums during the blackout. “We showed that the removal of content from YouTube had a causal impact on album sales by upwards of on average 10,000 units per week for top albums,†the paper reads. According to the researchers, these results indicate that YouTube doesn’t always serve as a promotional tool as many claim, certainly not for the top artists. “While a great deal has been said about the potential role of these service in promoting and discovering new artists and music, our results cast some doubt on this widely believed notion, at least with regards to top selling albums [...], they write. The researchers estimate that for the top albums the total in lost sales because of YouTube equals roughly $1 million per year. This is a significant percentage of the label’s total revenue. It is hard to say, however, that YouTube is hurting overall revenue, as the advertising revenue it receives from Google also brings in a significant sum of money. The results, which are largely driven by the top selling albums, suggest that there is no promotional effect of YouTube on album sales. In addition, there is no effect on Google searches for the artists in question either. In other words, YouTube doesn’t mainly hurt album sales. “Our findings suggest that sales displacement effect can be real without a promotional effect. That is, the people listening on YouTube appear to be, to some extent people who would know about this album anyway, but may not buy it because of YouTube,†the researchers conclude. The findings are interesting for a variety of reasons. Although they don’t prove that YouTube costs the music industry more than it brings in, it clearly shows that there are more factors that can explain people’s shift in music buying habits than piracy alone.