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A few hours ago Android developer Jack Underwood revealed that his software was being pirated by 85% of users. Now, on the advice of Reddit, the UK-based dev has tweaked the app to provide pirates with some special surprises. Speaking with TF, Underwood says traditional anti-piracy measures are a waste of time. It doesnâ€™t really matter what kind of digital media a company or individual produces, itâ€™s a given that someone, somewhere, will attempt to pirate it. Software, which has traditionally been expensive to buy, has always been targeted by those with small budgets seeking to enjoy products often placed out of reach. But price doesnâ€™t always provide an excuse for those obtaining software without permission. With the rise of smart phones and tablet computers, software has become cheaper than ever, with many paid apps now available for just a few dollars. One such app is Today Calendar Pro from UK developer Jack Underwood. Itâ€™s an already popular replacement calendar for Android with 4.5 stars from several thousand voters on Google Play. However, like many devs, Underwood is trying to find a way to bring down piracy rates. Just a few hours ago he revealed to Reddit users that 85% of people are using pirate versions of his app. How to reduce that volume quickly became the topic of conversation. Some Reddit users were very aggressive but Underwood eventually settled on a more gentle approach. â€œToday Calendar Pro has a 85% piracy rate, so the way weâ€™ve chosen to combat that is to have the app randomly insert pirate-themed events if the app decides the install is pirated,â€ Underwood told TorrentFreak. The first one, which has already been implemented, sees a graphical depiction of a plank suspended over shark-infested waters alongside a subtle reminder â€“ â€œThatâ€™s what ye get fer piratinâ€™ matey.â€ But despite the huge piracy rates, Underwood is surprisingly pragmatic. The developer informs TF that he actually â€˜getsâ€™ piracy and understands the mindset behind it. â€œIâ€™m not against piracy, from either a consumer or developer standpoint â€“ I can totally understand why people pirate Today Calender. They want to try it out for an extended period of time, or they canâ€™t afford to buy it, or they donâ€™t think itâ€™s worth the asking price, and thatâ€™s 100% fine with me,â€ he says. Nevertheless, thereâ€™s no getting away from the fact that almost 9 out of 10 people using the Pro version arenâ€™t paying the $6 price tag. Underwood feels there could be two reasons. â€œMaybe itâ€™s far too convenient to pirate (for the consumer, not the cracker), and the cost of the pro version is more than the convenience of updates from the Play Store. Or perhaps itâ€™s not actually worth $6,â€ he says. â€œObviously Iâ€™m a little biased, but personally I think itâ€™s worth $6 to people who use a calendar app on a daily basis. I also update the app a lot, probably three times a week.â€ In the meantime Underwood will stick with more unorthodox ways of tackling piracy â€“ he has no interest in investing time in the old tried-and-failed methods. â€œFighting piracy in a traditional way is a waste of time in my eyes, software will get cracked anyway. The majority of people who pirate my apps wouldnâ€™t have bought them anyway, so itâ€™s not as if Iâ€™m losing 85% of my revenue. In any event, Iâ€™d rather spend that time making Today more awesome.â€ People who do decide to pirate Today Calender Pro will find it easily using Google, but Underwood hopes that the â€˜special eventsâ€™ appearing in the app at surprise intervals might encourage people to spend $6 if they find the software useful long-term. â€œThese events wont start occurring instantly, but when they do theyâ€™ll happen a lot â€“ so the cracker (at first) wonâ€™t see the event coming, but once they start, they might get annoying quite quickly. â€œThe plan is that people will get so bored of being invited to â€˜pirate partiesâ€™ and being told to walk the plank that theyâ€™ll give up and just buy the thing,â€ Underwood concludes. Those who do want to spend $6 can do so here, but for everyone else thereâ€™s a free ad-supported version. Those choosing to use unauthorized sources can do so, but expect to be invited to pirate-themed parties â€“ every Tharrrrrsday. http://torrentfreak.com/android-dev-punishes-pirates-at-the-behest-of-reddit-150203/
Reddit has published its first transparency report, providing an insight into backroom events at the news and social networking giant. On the copyright front the site details the takedown requests that it receives and notes that almost two-thirds are rejected as unlawful or overbroad. Reddit is without doubt one of the most popular sites on the Internet. The community-driven behemoth is the worldâ€™s 28th most popular site according to Alexa, rising to 9th most trafficked in the United States. Founded in 2005, the vocal SOPA opponentâ€˜s last set of published stats (Oct 2014) paint an awesome picture: 174 million unique visitors from 186 countries viewed some 6.1 billion pages. Aside from posting the latest breaking news, AMAs, plus a million items in between, it will come as no surprise that in 2014 some of Redditâ€™s users also infringed copyright. Details of subsequent complaints have previously remained private but thanks to the publication of Redditâ€™s very first transparency report, we now have more of an insight. While the company has some fascinating thoughts on copyright (which weâ€™ll come to in a moment) itâ€™s notable how few takedown requests Reddit receives. In 2014 the site received just 218 requests to remove content, 81% of which were DMCA-style copyright notices. Interestingly and unlike those who send the notices, Reddit reveals that â€œreal humansâ€ examine each and every request received. Itâ€™s clear that in many cases they donâ€™t like what they see. From 176 DMCA complaints received, Reddit removed content in just 76 instances, 38% compliance overall. For a variety of reasons, in 62% of cases Reddit rejected notices completely. Overbroad As previously reported here on TF, on many occasions copyright holders have approached Google in an attempt to have entire Reddit communities removed from its indexes. The search engine mostly rejects those requests and Reddit isnâ€™t impressed by them either. â€œWe received many copyright takedown requests for entire subreddits. We (and the DMCA) require specific identification of allegedly infringing content, not broad demands to delete entire reddit communities,â€ the company reveals. Links donâ€™t infringe copyright Reddit doesnâ€™t host any content of its own but instead users can post links to material hosted elsewhere, which they do in their millions every day. However, when those links point to infringing content such as movies, music or TV shows, copyright holders tend to see that as facilitation of infringement. Nevertheless, Reddit has its own opinions on what breaches the law. â€œA significant percentage of the copyright takedown requests we received were for user-submitted URLs that link to content hosted on other websites. Because links do not generally infringe copyright, we exercise extra scrutiny in assessing takedowns for links,â€ the company says. Of course, Google might argue the same point but instead it removes millions of links to content every single week. Notices fail to meet legal requirements Under the DMCA a copyright holder can request content to be removed from a third-party website via the sending of a properly formatted DMCA notice. Such notices must include: â€“ A physical or electronic signature of the person authorized to act on behalf of the copyright holder â€“ Clear identification of the original infringed work â€“ Clear identification of the allegedly infringing content According to Reddit, many notice senders fail to make the grade. â€œWe rejected many copyright takedown requests because they did not include the information required by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA),â€ the company reports. Conclusion Overall and despite its millions of users, it appears that Reddit does not have a significant copyright infringement problem, despite the fact that several sub-reddits are dedicated to linking to infringing content. For now most copyright holders are ignoring the site, while others prefer to complain to Google instead. Redditâ€™s 2014 Transparency Report can be downloaded here (pdf). http://torrentfreak.com/reddit-rejects-62-of-all-copyright-complaints-150130/
LionsGate was seen attempting to wipe an entire Reddit sub from Googleâ€™s indexes. The movie studio claimed that the action was necessary to protect the movie A Madea Christmas. However, the search giant refused to comply with the overbroad takedown attempt. Millions of DMCA notices are sent to search giants each week: for example, Google received over 8.5 million within the last 7 days. While most of those complaints are accurate, some of them arenâ€™t. As for Google, the company admits that it has to reject thousands of DMCA notices every day, usually because they target the same URLs again and again. Some of such failure notices can be easily spotted (for example when rights owners target content they donâ€™t actually own the rights to). Sometimes the content creators donâ€™t target infringing material precisely â€“ instead of sending a notice for a single URL, they want to move up a level and take down a whole bunch of them in a single swoop. This is what the movie studio tried to do a few days ago, targeting 9,000 URLs in a single DMCA notice, where dozens of URLs were duplicates. However, Google dismissed links targeting Reddit for different reasons. Three links submitted by LionsGate targeted a Reddit sub called BestOfStreamingVideo after someone published a link to the companyâ€™s movie â€˜Tyler Perryâ€™s A Madea Christmasâ€˜. The movie studio tried to have the whole sub-reddit delisted from Google, but the search giant refused to comply. In the meantime, it should be admitted that the â€œover-broadâ€ strategy has quite paid off in the past. For example, the Motion Pictures Association of America has managed to have the homepages of a number of popular websites removed from Googleâ€™s search, including that of KickassTorrents.
Reddit users beware, the Web Sheriff is back in town, and he's coming after your submissions. In recent months copyright holders have increasingly targeted "infringing" Reddit links and the Web Sheriff is one of the most active senders. The Web Sheriff, aka John Giacobbi, has been protecting the Internet from pirates for roughly a decade. In the early days he became somewhat of a cult figure thanks to his polite style and trademarked letterhead. This set him apart from other anti-piracy crusaders who usually sent DMCA takedown requests with a more aggressive lawyer-like style. The Sheriff once had a lively discussion with The Pirate Bay folks, who then sent himthis invoice fax. Not much later relationships deteriorated even further after Giacobbi announced he would sue the siteâ€™s operators in the US, France and Sweden, but not much came of that. In recent years things have quietened down a bit, but The Web Sheriff and his deputies are still active. In recent years they have taken down over half a million URLs from Google alone. Most recently, the Sheriff has been targeting several Reddit.com pages. In one of the most recent complaints the Sheriff demands the takedown of a submission in the r/megalinks subreddit, linking to two parts of the movie Nymphomaniac hosted on Mega.co.nz. The request for removal was sent to Google last week but the search engine decided not to remove the URLs. Itâ€™s unclear why, but one reason for the inaction may be that the Mega links are no longer active. Not all links reported by the Web Sheriff are â€œinfringingâ€ though. Another recent submission shows that he also tried to get this submission take down, which points to a perfectly legitimate news article from Variety. This year copyright holders have increasingly targeted allegedly infringing Reddit links, Googleâ€™s data shows. The Web Sheriff is currently ranked second in number of URLs sent, placed after LeakID and before Disney. Even the MPAA went after Reddit a few weeks ago. The Hollywood group tried to take down the subreddit r/fulllengthfilms, but failed and drove hundreds of thousandsof eyeballs to the page instead. Thus far the Web Sheriff hasnâ€™t booked any real successs either, but Reddit users are warned. The Sheriff is watching and will shoot down your submissions whenever he can. http://torrentfreak.com/oh-no-web-sheriff-targets-pirating-reddit-users-140907/
The MPAA has asked Google to remove a Reddit community from its search results over piracy concerns. The movie industry group lists the "FullLengthFilms" subreddit in a recent takedown request, alongside several notorious pirate sites. Thus far Google has refused to take the page down, and Reddit hasn't taken any action either. Every week copyright holders send millions of DMCA takedown notices to Google, hoping to make pirated movies and music harder to find. Not all copyright holders take the same approach. Where the RIAA targets millions of infringing URLs per month, the MPAA only sends out a handful of notices. Instead of using dragnet scripts to take down everything that links to infringing copies, the movie industry group specifically targets homepages of â€˜rogueâ€™ sites and other high impact targets. In the latest DMCA notice, sent last week, Reddit ended up on the list. Like many other user-generated content sites, Reddit has plenty of links to copyright infringing material. In fact, there are several sub-communities that are dedicated to finding and publishing lists to pirated material. The subreddit r/fulllengthfilms is a good example. Here, users are encouraged to post links to their favorite movies, preferably from legal sources. However, pretty much all links point to streams of pirated films including â€œGravityâ€ and â€œThe Wolf of Wall Street.â€ The MPAA is not happy with this growing list of movies. In their most recent takedown notice they ask Google to remove the entire subreddit from its search engine, because it contains a link to a camcorded copy of â€œEdge of Tomorrow.â€ MPAAâ€™s takedown request Interestingly, Google has declined to action the MPAAâ€™s takedown request. Itâ€™s not clear why the search giant refused to take it down, but one of the reasons may be that the MPAA did not limit their request to the â€œEdge of Tomorrowâ€ posting. Instead, the movie industry group targeted the entire subreddit. These broad takedown requests are not uncommon as most of the MPAAâ€™s takedown notices contain homepages of download portals or streaming sites. In some cases the infringing work listed in the takedown request no longer appears on these homepages, and the MPAA often fails to list the internal page itâ€™s supposed to link to. With this strategy the MPAA has managed to remove the homepages of several popular sites from Googleâ€™s search results, including KickassTorrents. But Google doesnâ€™t always comply. For the most recent DMCA notice it refused to take downmost links, including the Reddit one. Itâ€™s still unclear whether the MPAA also sent a takedown notice to Reddit. TorrentFreak asked Reddit for a comment on the news but we have yet to receive a response. At the time of writing the FullLengthFilms subreddit and the â€œEdge of Tomorrowâ€ posting remain online.