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  1. It's been five years since the launch of Apple's iPad but how was the device initially received by the Hollywood studios? A leaked analysis reveals the MPAA's hopes and fears for the ground-breaking tablet, with a few spot on predictions and a notable shift in the piracy landscape it simply didn't envisage. After years of numerous hardware companies flirting and largely failing with the format, half a decade ago the revolution the tablet market had been waiting for finally arrived. With a huge fanfare of publicity on April 3, 2010 Apple launched its now iconic iPad. The convenient, functional and practical era of tablets had well and truly arrived and for millions of consumers around the globe the device became the computing weapon of choice. With new hardware came new opportunities and for the major Hollywood studios the iPad and its beautiful screen had the potential to be both friend and foe. An analysis made available following last year’s Sony hack and Wikileaks’ refreshed publication yesterday provides a sneak insight into the MPAA’s assessment of the device. Titled “The iPad – From a Content Protection Perspective†the document lists the positive and potential negatives for the device. The positives On the plus side the MPAA was predictably pleased with Apple’s ‘walled-garden’ approach to DRM-protected premium content supply. “Novice user will opt for ‘iTunes and App store’ type of use,†the document reads, noting that the iPad “allows for some technical protection measures as well as e-Commerce environments that allow for digital rights management.†The MPAA was also impressed with the educational potential of the iPad and App Store, noting that the pair together promote the notion that content needs to be paid for. “The iPad essentially acts as a digital wallet (a multifunctional credit card) so users will be much more aware that digital content can have a value,†the report notes. Of course, Apple’s notoriously tough security also achieved a tick in the plus column but not without a reminder that things can be undone by the determined hacker. “The iPad, like the iPhone may not be too appealing to the pirate type due to its closed (technological) environment. On the other hand, the iPhone has been ‘jailbroken’ and the iPad will share the same fate,†the report correctly predicts. The negatives Most of the negatives listed by the MPAA center around the conversion of media obtained in one format and then converted for use on the iPad. With relatively generous storage capacity by 2010 standards, that could amount to a few dozen pirate films on a device. “Converting existing movies (Pirated, Blu-ray or DVD) to the .m4v format suitable for the iPad will take about 1 hr per movie using application such as ‘Handbrake’,†the report reads. “The typical ripped Blu-ray file, made ready for the iPad, will take up 1.5 Gigabyte of disk space. On average a 64 GB iPad will be able to carry 40 high quality rips.†But the MPAA feared the risks wouldn’t end there. Once obtained on one device, pirate content could then spread to another. “Although the above steps may only be taken by those accustomed to pirating content, the nature of this platform will smoothen large-scale exchanges of clusters of movies (iPad to iPad),†the report reads. “Although most pirates will tend to go and download content illegally, to first put it on desktop computer and only then convert it to the iPad, it is not difficult to foresee a future wherein they may go and enable inter-iPad file sharing or file streaming.†In addition to concerns that iPad owners might start adding “PVR type†TV broadcasting recordings to their devices, the MPAA was also developing fears over the iPad’s ability to connect to large screen devices. “Although quite cumbersome (at least three different video adapters are available and each has different functionalities) it is possible to display content on external devices such as projectors and TVs. It is also possible to both display and stream content from a desktop computer to an iPad,†the report adds. And with Airplay video landing later in 2010, the MPAA correctly predicted it would take off. “The wired and wireless streaming of iPad data to external (remote) screens is expected to become very popular,†the report notes. Finally – the big positive and big negative, all in one The very first positive point in the MPAA’s piracy assessment of the iPad is the type of video delivery system the device is optimized for. “Device aimed at users of streaming services,†the number one plus point reads. While undoubtedly excellent for viewing streaming content (the Netflix iPad app debuted on the iTunes App Store at the device’s launch in April 2010), little did the MPAA know that almost exactly five years later it would be greeted with the following headline: “Popcorn Time Releases iOS App Tomorrow, No Jailbreak Needed.†Five years is definitely a long time in technology terms…. Further reading on the studios’ iPad studies courtesy of Wikileaks, here and here.
  2. The four Game of Thrones episodes that leaked earlier today have been downloaded millions of times already. A snapshot of the download locations reveals that most downloaders currently come from the UK and the US, followed by India, Canada and France. Today’s pre-release leak of four Game of Thrones episodes is without doubt one of the most prominent leaks in TV history. The first copies, leaked from a review screener, appeared less than 24 hours ago on the private tracker IPT and quickly spread across public torrent sites. During the first few hours there weren’t too many downloads, but that quickly changed after the news reached the mainstream press. At the time of writing more than 135,000 people are sharing a single torrent of the first episode of season 5, which has already been downloaded over a million times since its release 18 hours ago. The other three episodes are hovering around a million downloads as well, and that’s only via public torrent sites. The piracy totals will most likely double if the totals of streaming and direct download sites are added. The most shared leaked GoT episodes While there’s certainly a piracy craze, with the four leaked episodes being the most pirated files globally at the moment, there’s no record to report just yet. The unexpected release appears to have scattered the downloads throughout the day. As a result, last year’s record of 254,114 people sharing a single file at the same time is out of reach. Still, more than a million downloads for a single episode in less than a day is quite impressive. A snapshot of IP-addresses sharing the most downloaded episode shows that most originate from the UK and US, followed by India, Canada and France. While all those pirates are surely having a great weekend now, the hangover will probably come later with the realization that it will take more than a month before the next episode comes online. — 1 United Kingdom 9.8% London 3.3% 2 United States 9.1% Athens 2.4% 3 India 7.8% Lisbon 1.9% 4 Canada 5.4% Stockholm 1.8% 5 France 4.2% Bucharest 1.7% 6 Greece 3.3% Madrid 1.7% 7 The Netherlands 3.1% Mumbai 1.4% 8 Australia 3.1% Dubai 1.3% 9 Brazil 3.0% New Delhi 1.3% 10 Philippines 3.0% Toronto 1.1% Note: The numbers are based on a sample of 21,445 IP-addresses collected over part of the day, which means that there’s a geographical bias. Also, downloaders who use VPNs may appear to be in a different country.
  3. A leaked build of Windows 10 has revealed that Microsoft may be about to utilize BitTorrent-style tech to deliver updates to its new OS. Deep in the settings is an option to receive updates from multiple sources including Microsoft, local computers and those "on the Internet." Could this be BitTorrent or their own 'Avalanche' system? There once was a time when one could simply throw a disc – floppy or otherwise – into a machine and enjoy software functionality right off the bat. Those days have long gone. Massive complexity, online connectivity and associated cloud features have given way to a culture of almost continual updates with some component or other requiring a ‘fix’ or performance-based software upgrade on an annoyingly regular basis. While huge technology companies have plenty of bandwidth at their disposal, shifting data around doesn’t come free. It is relatively cheap, granted, but those bits and bytes soon cause the dollars to mount up. Much ‘better’ then, is to try and offload some of that load onto consumers. It could be that with its upcoming Windows 10, Microsoft is mulling doing just that. Deep in the settings of a leaked build spotted by Neowin, the company has introduced settings which give users the option of where to obtain updates and apps for their new operating system. DOWNLOAD APPS AND OS UPDATES FROM MULTIPLE SOURCES TO GET THEM MORE QUICKLY Of course, this is where distributed BitTorrent-like systems come into their own, with each user helping to share the load of shifting around data and providing excellent speeds, without any single entity (in this case Microsoft) footing the lion’s share of the bills. If Microsoft did choose BitTorrent, they would be in excellent company. Half a decade ago it was revealed that Twitter had implemented the protocol and in the same year Facebook confirmed deploying its own servers with technology. “It’s ‘superduper’ fast and it allows us to alleviate a lot of scaling concerns we’ve had in the past, where it took forever to get code to the webservers before you could even boot it up and run it,†the company said at the time. But even though Facebook is still having fun with torrent technology to this day, it seems likely that Microsoft has its own, more proprietary tricks up its sleeve. More than a decade ago with BitTorrent in its infancy, Microsoft also began looking at developing P2P distribution. Researcher Christos Gkantsidis published his paper Network Coding for Large Scale Content Distribution which begins with a now very familiar concept. “We propose a new scheme for content distribution of large files that is based on network coding. With network coding, each node of the distribution network is able to generate and transmit encoded blocks of information. The randomization introduced by the coding process eases the scheduling of block propagation, and, thus, makes the distribution more efficient,†the paper’s abstract reads. In 2006, Microsoft published Anatomy of a P2P Content Distribution System with Network Coding but by then the existence of a Microsoft equivalent to BitTorrent was public knowledge – Project Avalanche had been born. Named after traditional avalanches that start small but gain massive momentum as more snow (or peers) get involved, Avalanche claimed it would improve on BitTorrent in a number of ways. At the time, however, BitTorrent’s Bram Cohen criticized the project technically and concluded that it amounted to vaporware. But today in 2015, almost ten years on, things have definitely changed. Although there is no confirmation that Avalanche (or the Microsoft Secure Content Downloader as it was once described) is behind the Windows 10 update process option, there’s little doubt that Microsoft will have sharpened its tools. In addition, Microsoft owns patents (1,2) which describe DRM-protected P2P distribution systems which could potentially help to keep any P2P Windows 10 update system secure, a requirement predicted by Avalanche years before. “The Avalanche model includes strong security to ensure content providers are uniquely identifiable, and to prevent unauthorized parties from offering content for download. The project also ensures content downloaded to each client machine is exactly the same as the content shared by the content provider,†Microsoft said. Only time will tell if Microsoft takes the distributed update route for its eventual release of Windows 10, and whether avalanches or torrents cascade into (and out of) homes worldwide as a result.
  4. In an attempt to make it harder for people to find pirated copies of its movies, NBC Universal has tried to remove several TorrentFreak articles from Google's search results. Apparently, talking about piracy is already enough for websites to be hit by takedown requests. Earlier this year an unprecedented flood of leaked movies hit the net, including screener copies of popular titles such as American Sniper, Selma and Unbroken. Hoping to steer people away from these unauthorized copies the copyright holders sent out thousands of takedown notices. These efforts generally target URLs of torrent sites, cyberlockers and streaming services that link to the unauthorized movies. However, some requests go a little further, targeting news publications such as the one you’re reading at the moment. Last week NBC Universal sent a series of takedown notices to Google including onefor the leaked movie “Unbroken.†Aside from the usual suspects, the list of allegedly infringing URLs also included our recent coverage of the screener leaks. As with the other pages, NBC Universal urged Google to remove our news report from its search results. Luckily, Google appears to have whitelisted our domain name so the search giant didn’t comply with the request. However, other sites may not be so lucky and could have their articles removed. The overreaching takedown request doesn’t appear to be an isolated incident. Two days earlier NBC Universal sent another takedown notice targeting our coverage of the “Taken 3″ leak. But there’s more. Aside from our news articles there are also other dubious claims in the notices, such as the request to remove a live concert from the band “Unbroken.†The question remains whether NBC Universal intentionally targeted our news articles or not. While the latter seems to be the most likely explanation, it doesn’t change the fact that the overbroad censorship requests go too far. Torrentfreak
  5. An unprecedented fast flood of leaked 'screener' copies of movies has hit torrent sites ahead of the official Oscar nominations announcement later this month. The latest Hobbit installment is proving most popular with over 500K downloads in the first 24 hours. None of the movies comes from a traditional 'scene' source. While some pirates are content with downloading and viewing so-called ‘cam’ releases of the latest movies, few will be happy with the quality. Movies recorded surreptitiously in cinemas with home-made rigs can produce reasonable results but nothing beats the sparkle of a digital copy. Filling that gap are DVD screeners, the advance copies of recent movies sent out to critics and awards voters. Often in DVD format (but now also in Blu-ray), these high quality releases are much sought after online and as a result are subjected to intense security by the studios sending them out. But despite all the efforts, leaks always happen. Every year copies of DVD screeners (identified by the term DVDSCR) turn up on torrent sites and are downloaded in huge numbers. December and January are the key months for leaks and yesterday downloaders hit the jackpot. Over the past 24 hours copies of at least nine big movies leaked online in decent quality, all apparently sourced from industry DVD screeners. The Hobbit is a smash hit – without watermarks The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is proving exceptionally popular with BitTorrent users. Statistics gathered by TorrentFreak reveal that the movie was downloaded at least 500,000 times in the first 24 hours. Several ‘versions’ of the movie exist on torrent sites, each labeled by rival release groups including CM8, EVO, TiTAN, Ozlem and RAV3N. But despite the apparent selection, sources inform TorrentFreak that there is only one true source. Whether that is CM8 remains unclear but in a comment the group revealed that a lot of time was spent removing security watermarks from Peter Jackson’s movie. “Movie had watermarks visible and invisible ones, had to remove frames to get rid of them,†CM8 said. “Nothing I haven’t done before. It was hours of work, but its finally done and here for you to get!†Oscar hopefuls 2015 Yesterday, Indiewire published their Oscar predictions. Their ‘absolute locks’ for Best Picture include “Birdman†(Michael Keaton, Zach Galifianakis) and “The Imitation Game†(Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley). Both were leaked yesterday. Also tipped for Best Picture is “Selma“, a chronicle of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s campaign to secure equal voting rights via an epic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965. Paramount sent DVD screeners to Academy voters in December and the movie leaked yesterday. Also battling it out for Oscar glory are Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper, Unbroken directed by Angelina Jolie, and crime thriller Nightcrawler. While the latter was leaked in October, the other titles were in yesterday’s batch. Rounding off the DVD Screener bonanza are Disney’s Big Hero 6, Into the Woods, and Big Eyes. From studio to torrent site Finally, it’s worth highlighting how these titles appeared online. For years one of the most popular routes was via the “The Scene†but in common with more recent times, yesterday’s DVD screeners hit the Internet via P2P/BitTorrent suppliers. These upstarts continue to slice the top off the so-called ‘piracy pyramid’. According to TorrentFreak sources who asked to remain anonymous, the nine movies came from three different sources. One accounted for the Hobbit and another Big Hero 6. The remaining seven all came from a single source. The encoding on these is described as “choppy†suggesting the leaker may not be an experienced pirate.
  6. Attack on Titan game for "multiple platforms" granted an MA15+ rating. A game adaptation of anime series Attack on Titan could soon be making its way to the West. A posting on the Australian Classification Board (via All Games Beta) reveals that a game titled "Attack on Titan" was yesterday granted the MA15+ rating for moderate impact themes, strong impact violence, and mild impact nudity. According to the post, the classification was submitted by Spike Chunsoft and publisher Atlus USA, and applies to "multiple platforms." Spike Chunsoft released a 3DS game based on the Attack on Titan anime series in December last year, titled Attack on Titan: The Last Wings of Mankind. The game was initially launched in Japan and has not yet made its way to Western markets. What do you think, could this be the Attack on Titan game that fans outside of Japan have been waiting to get their hands on? Let us know in the comments below. Add Rep and Leave a feedback Reputation is the green button in the down right corner on my post
  7. Like many other "hacked" celebrities, Jennifer Lawrence is not happy that her leaked nudes are being distributed freely on the Internet. To deal with the fallout she sent her lawyers after sites helping to distribute the photos. This includes Google, who took action this week after a careful inspection of the infringing material. Over the past several weeks hundreds of photos of naked celebrities leaked online. This “fappening†triggered a massive takedown operation targeting sites that host and link to the controversial images. As a hosting provider and search engine Google inadvertently plays a role in distributing the compromising shots, much to the displeasure of the women involved. More than a dozen of them sent Hollywood lawyer Marty Singer after the company. Earlier this month Singer penned an angry letter to Google threatening legal action if it doesn’t remove the images from YouTube, Blogspot and its search results. “It is truly reprehensible that Google allows its various sites, systems and search results to be used for this type of unlawful activity. If your wives, daughters or relatives were victims of such blatant violations of basic human rights, surely you would take appropriate action,†the letter reads. While no legal action has yet been taken, some celebrities have also sent individual DMCA takedown requests to Google. On September 24 Jennifer Lawrence’s lawyers asked the search engine to remove two links to as these infringe on the star’s copyrights.The DMCA takedown request Earlier this week the request was still pending, so TorrentFreak asked Google what was causing the delay. The company said it could not comment on individual cases but a day later the links in question were removed. This means that both the main domain and the tag archive of Jennifer Lawrence posts no longer appear in Google’s search results. Whether this move has helped Lawrence much is doubtful though. The site in question had already redirected its site to a new domain at These links remain indexed since they were not mentioned in the takedown request. The good news is that many of Lawrence’s pictures are no longer hosted on the site itself. In fact, the URLs listed in the takedown request to Google no longer show any of the infringing photos in question, so technically Google had no obligation to remove the URLs. A prominent disclaimer on the site points out that the operator will gladly take down the compromising photos if he’s asked to do so. Needless to say, this is much more effective than going after Google. Add Rep and Leave a feedback Reputation is the green button in the down right corner on my post
  8. Today Wikileaks released a new draft of the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. The intellectual property chapter covers a wide range of issues, from increased ISP liability, through extended copyright terms to criminalizing non-commercial piracy. copyright-brandedThe Trans-Pacific Partnership, an agreement aimed at strengthening economic ties between the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Japan and eight other countries in the region, has been largely shrouded in secrecy. Today whistleblower outfit Wikileaks sheds some light on the ongoing negotiations by leaking a new draft of the agreement’s controversial intellectual property chapter. The draft dates back to May 2014 and although it’s far from final, some significant progress has been made since the first leak during August last year. For example, the countries have now agreed that a new copyright term will be set in the agreement. No decision has been made on a final term but options currently on the table are life of the author plus 50, 70 or 100 years. The proposal to add criminal sanctions for non-commercial copyright infringement, which is currently not the case in many countries, also remains in play. The leak further reveals a new section on ISP liability. This includes a proposal to make it mandatory for ISPs to alert customers who stand accused of downloading copyrighted material, similar to the requirement under the U.S. DMCA. Alberto Cerda of Georgetown University Law Center points out that some of the proposals in the ISP liability section go above and beyond the DMCA. “The most worrying proposal on the matter is that one that would extend the scope of the provisions from companies that provide Internet services to any person who provides online services,†Cerda told TorrentFreak. This means that anyone who passes on Internet traffic could be held liable for the copyright infringements of others. This could include the local coffeehouse that offers free wifi, or even someone’s own Internet connection if it’s shared with others. The leaked draft also adds a provision that would allow ISPs to spy on their own users to catch those who download infringing content. This is another concern, according to the law Professor. “From a human rights viewpoint, that should be expressly limited to exceptional circumstances,†Cerda says. It’s clear that the ISP liability section mimicks the DMCA. In fact, throughout the TPP chapter the most draconian proposals often originate from the United States. Law Professor Michael Geist notes that Canada has been the leading opponent of many of the U.S. proposals, which often go against the country’s recently revamped copyright law. Geist warns that the TPP may eventually lead to tougher local laws as U.S. pressure continues. “As the treaty negotiations continue, the pressure to cave to U.S. pressure will no doubt increase, raising serious concerns about whether the TPP will force the Canadian government to overhaul recently enacted legislation,†Geist writes. Compared to the previous draft that leaked last year there are also some positive developments to report. For example, Canada put forward a proposal that permits countries to allow exceptions to technological protection measures. This would makes it possible to classify DRM-circumvention as fair use, for example. A refreshing proposal, but one that’s unlikely to be approved by the U.S. If anything, the leaked TPP chapter shows once again that there is still a very long way to go before a final draft is ready. After more than three years of negotiating many of the proposals are still heavily debated and could go in multiple directions. That is, if an agreement is ever reached.
  9. Apple's official guide to iOS updated early with details on its two new iPad models. The original iPad Air It's customary for details on Apple's new products to be leaked prior to their official announcement, but that typically comes in the form of a report citing anonymous sources or including pictures from a factory worker. This time, it's Apple itself that's responsible for leaking details on its new iPads. As discovered by 9to5Mac, the App Store listing for the official iPad user guide has been updated prior to the release of iOS 8.1--apparently earlier than intended. Screenshots of the guide show off two brand-new devices: the iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3. They include images of both, complete with a rundown on some of their new features. Aside from confirming their names, the images show that both new iPads feature the Touch ID sensor seen in recent iPhone models. Also confirmed is support for burst camera shots on the iPad Air 2. Presumably there will be other enhancements, like faster hardware. But as this is a simple guide to iOS 8, those kinds of things weren't detailed. Luckily, we don't have long to wait before we get the full details, as Apple has an event scheduled for tomorrow where it was widely believed the company would show off its new iPads. Now we know exactly what to expect. Add Rep and Leave a feedback Reputation is the green button in the down right corner on my post
  10. Two Xbox One Assassin's Creed Unity bundles revealed by Austrian retailer, retailing for €509.99 and €409.99 respectively. Two new Xbox One bundles which include Assassin's Creed Unity could be announced soon, vgleaks has reported. According to the site, Austrian retailer Gameware listed the bundles online. One bundle will allegedly include a black 500GB Xbox One, Kinect, a copy of Assassin's Creed Unity, and a copy ofAssassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, and will retail for €509.99 which is roughly USD$648. The other bundle features the same items, sans Kinect, and will retail for €409.99 which translates to roughly USD$521. GameSpot reached out to a Microsoft representative regarding the Xbox One bundles, who commented "We have nothing to announce at this time." Microsoft recently unveiled a white Halo: Master Chief Collection Xbox One bundle which would be released in Brazil and "additional select markets." A Microsoft spokesperson confirmed that the company had "no plans" to bring the bundle to the United States. Assassin's Creed Unity will launch on November 11 in the US and November 13 for PAL regions. Earlier this month, Unity senior producer Vincent Pontbriand said the game would run in 900p across Xbox One andPlayStation 4 to avoid "debates." Ubisoft has since released a statement that clarified that the final specs for the game have not been confirmed. Add Rep and Leave a feedback Reputation is the green button in the down right corner on my post
  11. A leaked draft prepared for government submission has revealed Hollywood's Australian anti-piracy strategy. Among other things, the paper says that providers should be held liable for infringing customers even when they only "reasonably suspect" that infringement is taking place. As the discussions over the future of anti-piracy legislation in Australia continue, a draft submission has revealed the wish-list of local movie groups and their Hollywood paymasters. The draft, a response to a request by Attorney-General George Brandis and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull for submissions on current anti-piracy proposals, shows a desire to apply extreme pressure to local ISPs. The authors of the draft (obtained by Crikey, subscription, ) are headed up by the Australia Screen Association, the anti-piracy group previously known as AFACT. While local company Village Roadshow is placed front and center, members including the Motion Picture Association, Disney, Paramount, Sony, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal and Warner make for a more familiar read. Australian citizens – the world’s worst pirates The companies begin with scathing criticism of the Australian public, branding them the world’s worst pirates, despite the ‘fact’ that content providers “have ensured the ready availability of online digital platforms and education of consumers on where they can acquire legitimate digital content.†It’s a bold claim that will anger many Australians, who even today feel like second-class consumers who have to wait longer and pay more for their content. So what can be done about the piracy problem? The draft makes it clear – litigation against individuals isn’t going to work and neither is legal action against “predominantly overseas†sites. The answer, Hollywood says, can be found in tighter control of what happens on the Internet. Increased ISP liability In a nutshell, the studios are still stinging over their loss to ISP iiNet in 2012. So now, with the help of the government, they hope to introduce amendments to copyright law in order to remove service providers’ safe harbor if they even suspect infringement is taking place on their networks but fail to take action. “A new provision would deem authorization [of infringement] to occur where an ISP fails to take reasonable steps – which are also defined inclusively to include compliance with a Code or Regulations – in response to infringements of copyright it knows or reasonably suspects are taking place on its network,†the draft reads. “A provision in this form would provide great clarity around the steps that an ISP would be required to take to avoid a finding of authorization and provide the very kind of incentive for the ISP to cooperate in the development of a Code.†With “incentives†in place for them to take “reasonable stepsâ€, ISPs would be expected to agree to various measures (outlined by a ‘Code’ or legislation) to “discourage or reduce†online copyright infringement in order to maintain their safe harbor. It will come as no surprise that subscriber warnings are on the table. ‘Voluntary’ Graduated Response “These schemes, known as ‘graduated response schemes’, are based on a clear allocation of liability to ISPs that do not (by complying with the scheme) take steps to address copyright infringement by their users,†the studios explain. “While this allocation of liability does not receive significant attention in most discussions of graduated response schemes, common sense dictates that the schemes would be unlikely to exist (much less be complied with by ISPs) in the absence of this basic incentive structure.†While pointing out that such schemes are in place in eight countries worldwide, the movie and TV companies say that a number of them contain weaknesses, a trap that Australia must avoid. “There are flaws in a number of these models, predominantly around the allocation of costs and lack of effective mitigation measures which, if mirrored in Australia, would make such a scheme ineffective and unlikely to be used,†the paper reads. It appears that the studios believe that the US model, the Copyright Alerts System (CAS), is what Australia should aim for since it has “effective mitigation measures†and they don’t have to foot the entire bill. “Copyright owners would pay their own costs of identifying the infringements and notifying these to the ISP, while ISPs would bear the costs of matching the IP addresses in the infringement notices to subscribers, issuing the notices and taking any necessary technical mitigation measures,†they explain. In common with the CAS in the United States, providers would be allowed discretion on mitigation measures for persistent infringers. However, the studios also imply that ISPs’ ‘power to prevent’ piracy should extend to the use of customer contracts. “[Power] to prevent piracy would include both direct and indirect power and definitions around the nature of the relationship which would recognize the significance of contractual relationships and the power that they provide to prevent or avoid online piracy,†they write. Voluntary agreements, required by law, one way or another The key is to make ISPs liable first, the studios argue, then negotiations on a “voluntary†scheme should fall into place. “Once the authorization liability scheme is amended to make clear that ISPs will be liable for infringements of copyright by their subscribers which they know about but do not take reasonable steps to prevent or avoid, an industry code prescribing the content of those ‘reasonable steps’ is likely to be agreed between rightsholders and ISPs without excessively protracted negotiations.†However, any failure by the ISPs to come to the table voluntarily should be met by legislative change. “In the absence of any current intention of and incentive for ISPs in Australia to support such a scheme (and the strong opposition from some ISPs) legislative recognition of the reasonable steps involved in such a scheme is necessary,†they write. Site blocking Due to “weakness†in current Australian law in respect of ISP liability, site blocking has proved problematic. What the studios want is a “no-fault†injunction (similar to the model in Ireland) which requires ISPs to block sites like The Pirate Bay without having to target the ISPs themselves. “Not being the target of a finding against it, an ISP is unlikely to oppose the injunction – as long as the procedural requirements for the injunction are met. Once made, a blocking injunction would immediately prevent Australian internet users from being tempted to or accessing the blocked sites,†the studios explain. Despite The Pirate Bay doubling its traffic in the face of extensive blocking across Europe, the movie companies believe that not blocking in Australia is part of the problem. “The absence of a no-fault procedure may explain the very high rates of film and TV piracy in Australia when compared with European countries that have such a procedure,†they write. Unsurprisingly, the studios want to keep the bar low when it comes to such injunctions. “The extended injunctive relief provision should not require the Court to be satisfied that the dominant purpose of the website is to infringe copyright,†they urge. “Raising the level of proof in this way would severely compromise the effectiveness of the new provision in that it would become significantly more difficult for rightsholders to obtain an injunction under the scheme: allegedly non-infringing content would be pointed to in each case, not for reasons of freedom of access to information on the internet, but purely as a basis to defeat the order.†The studios also want the ISPs to pick up the bill on site-blocking. “[Courts in Europe] have ordered the costs of site blocking injunctions be borne by the ISP. The Australian Film/TV Bodies submit that the same position should be adopted in Australia, especially as it is not likely that the evidence would be any different on a similar application here,†they add. Conclusion If the studios get everything they’ve asked for in Australia, the ensuing framework could become the benchmark for models of the future. There’s a still a long way to go, however, and some ISPs – iiNet in particular – won’t be an easy nut to crack.
  12. Marvel bad boy Deadpool’s foul mouth, violent tendencies and fourth-wall-breaking disobedience might have made him a favorite among comic book fans, but these things have also unfortunately damaged his chances of getting his own movie from Twentieth Century Fox. Ryan Reynolds (who played the character in X-Men Origins: Wolverine) is raring to go, as is director Tim Miller, but Deadpool is still waiting on a green light from the studio. The delay has been made all the more frustrating by the fact that the script for Deadpool, which was penned by Zombieland writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, leaked online back in 2010 and was generally well received by fans. Four years later and the script still hasn’t been adapted, but now a new artefact from Deadpool‘s lengthy development past has found its way onto the internet. A short action sequence, directed by Miller and featuring a CGI Deadpool with voice-acting and motion-capture by Reynolds, was leaked online a couple days ago, but is now available online in HD form. The test footage was filmed three years as a proof of concept for Fox, and while the studio apparently wasn’t impressed enough to get the ball rolling, this short tease is pretty great. It begins with Wade Wilson sitting on a bridge doodling with some crayons, before dropping down onto a passing car full of criminals and dealing a generous dose of justice/murder. - Deadpool Test Footage - Two things in particular stand out about the footage. The first is that the CGI Deadpool looks really good, and might actually be the best direction to go if the movie does get the green light from Fox. It allows for Deadpool’s face to be slightly more expressive than it would probably be if it was instead Reynolds’ face covered with leather, and for most of the sequence it’s nearly impossible to tell that the character is animated rather than live-action. This should come as no surprise, since Miller’s background is in visual effects. The test footage also makes it clear that Miller, Reese, Wernick and Reynolds are serious about their vision of an R-rated Deadpool movie, with one of the bad guys getting dispatched under the wheels of the car and another getting beheaded by Deadpool and then used in a very undignified bit of puppetry. The pitch for the movie, according to the screenwriters, includes a prospective budget of around $50 million to allow for the smaller box office gross that R-rated movies generally receive. Deadpool creator Rob Liefeld has weighed in on the appearance of the video on Twitter, warning fans not to get too excited or to take years-old test footage as a sign that Deadpool is any closer to getting his own movie. “To ALL who have enjoyed seeing the DP footage, enjoy it for what it is. Test’s are done for films all the time and you have glimpsed process… But I hesitate to encourage your hopes on behalf of the fact that ALL Studios are run to the sound of their own particular drum… What would be more important to the bean counters at any studio are the spread sheets of the enormous Deadpool licensing Marvel generates… There is no doubt that a DP film would OPEN to an impressive number and be profitable. This is NOT Scott Pilgrim or Kick-Ass. “DP is One of Marvel’s TOP 3 popular characters of the last 20 years AND a prominent member of the X-MEN library-My 1 kernal of optimism… Is that DP will happen eventually, 5-6 years, and as frustrating as that sounds it would still be faster to screen that Spidey, X-Men and FF… Please just manage expectations, thats all I’m saying in regards to Deadpool. Nothing moves fast in Hollywood…. Except Divergent.†Liefeld added that (as has been rumored previously) Robert Rodriguez was offered the director’s chair for Deadpool in 2010, but he turned it down along with another competing comic book movie project. Speaking to Daily Superhero, Liefeld also revealed that the plan for Deadpool was to have the character “operate as a… hybrid of live action/cgi.†Perhaps the positive fan response to the footage might be enough to spur Fox into taking a chance on Deadpool. If not, at least he got to have those two minutes of glory.
  13. The Australian Government has proposed Internet Service Providers (ISPs) monitor and punish Australians who download and infringe copyright. In a discussion paper circulated by Attorney-General George Brandis, and leaked last Friday, the government proposes a sweeping change to Australian copyright law. If implemented, it would force ISPs to take steps to prevent Australians from infringing copyright. But is it likely to help? Not really. Nicolas Suzor is a Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law at Queensland University of Technology and Alex Button-Sloan is a Research Assistant, Faculty of Law at Queensland University of Technology. This post originally appeared on The Conversation. What these steps might be is very vague. They could include blocking peer-to-peer traffic, slowing down internet connections, passing on warnings from industry groups, and handing over subscriber details to copyright owners. The move comes in response to claims that Australians are among the biggest downloaders of films and television series. Under intense pressure from Hollywood and Foxtel, the government wants to do something to combat copyright infringement. Unlikely to help pricing and availability The problem is that this move is not likely to make things better. Similar schemes have been tried around the world, but there is little evidence they actually work to reduce copyright infringement. This draft proposal does nothing to address the basic issue that Australians are not being fairly treated by the copyright industries. Compared to consumers in the United States, Australians pay more for digital downloads, have less choice in how they can access film and television, face large delays before content is released, and much foreign content is still not available at all in Australia. Recent research suggests that Australian consumers feel ripped off by distributors, and this is a key reason why they choose to download films and television instead. If foreign film and television networks want to reduce illicit downloading, many think that their first step should be to provide better, cheaper, and more convenient legal ways for consumers to pay for access. Unintended consequences Copyright infringement notices are not always accurate. University of Washington Computer Science & Engineering Meanwhile, the draft proposal is likely to have serious unintended consequences. It is likely to raise the price of internet access in Australia, as ISPs will pass on the increased costs of monitoring and enforcing copyright. The proposals will also cause major uncertainty in copyright law. The government plans to overturn the recent iiNet case, where the High Court ruled that ISPs are not responsible when people use BitTorrent to download films. The Court sent a strong message that iiNet could not be liable because it did not control BitTorrent protocols and did nothing to encourage their use. The iiNet case confirmed a basic principle of copyright law: service providers are only responsible for the conduct of third parties when they have some control over their acts. The leaked proposal will remove this limit and, with it, the ability of the law to clearly distinguish between real wrongdoers and companies who merely provide general purpose services to consumers. This will massively increase the potential risks for companies that provide legitimate services. As well as ISPs, these include hardware manufacturers, cloud service providers, libraries, schools and universities, and many others. Requiring service providers to act as copyright police is also dangerous. It removes the safeguards that our courts provide in ensuring the law is applied fairly. Copyright law is incredibly complicated, and allegations of infringement made by copyright owners against consumers have historically been notoriously inaccurate. ISPs are not well placed to investigate these claims, and there is a serious risk that consumers might be unfairly punished under these proposals. Consumers left out of the debate The proposals create a strong incentive for ISPs to agree to rightsholder demands to protect their interests. They do not, however, provide much protection for consumers, who will have no seat at the negotiating table. The proposals are also ominously vague. They include the threat that more regulations will be introduced if ISPs do not go far enough to protect copyright. Eventually, this could also turn into a so-called “three-strikes†regime, where entire households are disconnected from the internet after several allegations of infringement. Despite having been in the works for at least six months, this leak is the first time the public has been able to see any details. Meanwhile, the Attorney-General has been meeting with copyright lobbyists, but apparently not yet with either consumer groups or with telecommunications companies. It seems the Attorney-General’s Department didn’t even listen to Malcolm Turnbull’s Communications Department, which has stressed the importance of ensuring that Australians have increased access to legitimate sources of content at a fair price. Once the leaked proposals are officially released, Australians will have less than a month to comment. Since this is likely to impact on everyone, we suggest that you add your voice to the debate – but you’ll have to be quick.
  14. A leaked discussion paper has revealed Australian government musings surrounding a potential online piracy crackdown. Among them, changing the law to undermine a landmark 2012 court ruling which protected ISP iiNet from the infringements of its users, and new legislation to allow for ISP-level blocking of 'pirate' sites. In common with all countries heavily involved with the distribution of U.S.-sourced entertainment products, Australia us under continuous pressure to do something about the online piracy phenomenon. Much of the negotiations have Attorney-General George Brandis at their core, with the Senator regularly being accused of lacking transparency. This week Aussie news outlet Crikey obtained (subscription) a leaked copy of a discussion paper in which Brandis and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull seek industry feedback on new anti-piracy proposals. The discussion paper Dated July 2014, the paper begins by outlining the Government’s perception of the piracy threat, noting that all players – from content creators to ISPs and consumers – have a role to play in reducing the illegal consumption of content. It continues with details of schemes operating in the United States (Six-Strikes), UK (VCAP) and New Zealand which aim to develop consumer attitudes through education and mitigation. Inevitably, however, the paper turns to legislation, specifically what can be tweaked in order to give movie studios and record labels the tools they need to reduce infringement ISP liability The 2012 High Court ruling in the iiNet case signaled the end of movie and TV studio litigation against service providers. With their dream of holding ISPs responsible for the actions of their pirating users in tatters, copyright holders would need new tools to pursue their aims. It’s clear that Brandis now wants to provide those via a change in the law. “The Government believes that even when an ISP does not have a direct power to prevent a person from doing a particular infringing act, there still may be reasonable steps that can be taken by the ISP to discourage or reduce online copyright infringement,†the paper reads. “Extending authorization liability is essential to ensuring the existence of an effective legal framework that encourages industry cooperation and functions as originally intended, and is consistent with Australia’s international obligations.†PROPOSAL 1 – EXTENDING LIABILITY “The Government is looking to industry to reach agreement on appropriate industry schemes or commercial arrangements on what would constitute ‘reasonable steps’ to be taken by ISPs,†the paper notes. Website blocking Given several signals on the topic earlier this year, it comes as no surprise that website blocking is under serious consideration. The paper outlines blocking mechanisms in Europe, particularly the UK and Ireland, which allow for court injunctions to be issued against ISPs. PROPOSAL 2 – WEBSITE BLOCKING The Irish model, which has already blocked sites including The Pirate Bay and KickassTorrents, is of special interest to the Australian Government, since proving that an ISP had knowledge of infringing conduct is not required to obtain an injunction. “A similar provision in Australian law could enable rights holders to take action to block access to a website offering infringing material, without the need to establish that a particular ISP authorized an infringement,†the paper notes, adding that such provisions would only apply to websites outside Aussie jurisdiction. It’s likely that most copyright holders will be largely in favor of the Government’s proposals on the points detailed above, but whether ISPs will share their enthusiasm remains to be seen. Stakeholders are expected to return their submissions by Monday 25th August.
  15. Footage from the brand new and yet-to-air series of Doctor Who has leaked onto the Internet. Clearly unfinished, the heavily watermarked video carries markers which suggests that the copy was destined for a subtitling company in Brazil. Leaks of material not yet available to the public are always a curiosity online. Anything pre-release can generate excitement, particularly so if the item offers a unique window into the usually hidden production process. Back in 2009 the movie Wolverine appeared on the Internet in advance of its official release. The copy was unfinished and provided a version of the film to downloaders that would have otherwise remained hidden forever. Now that same dubious status has fallen to Doctor Who. After appearing online over the weekend, what claims to be episode one of the new series of the hit show was uploaded to The Pirate Bay today. The 1.49Gb file is marked as a “pre air screeneer†with a claimed running time of one hour and 16 mins. While leaks of TV shows are much more rare than movie leaks, this copy is particularly unusual. Clearly unfinished, the video is both heavily watermarked and monochrome. Marcelo Camargo is the owner of Marc Drei Productions, a Brazil-based production company known for its subtitling work. There is no suggestion that Camargo or his company is responsible for the leak. This is the second serious breach in a matter of days to hit Doctor Who and the BBC. Just last week scripts from the new series leaked online after inadvertently being made available to the public by a BBC Worldwide office in the U.S. It seems likely that this video comes from the same source.