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  1. Spotify is generally hailed as a piracy killer, with music file-sharing traffic dropping in virtually every country where the service launches. However, much of this effect may be lost if recent calls to end Spotify's free tier are honored. When Spotify launched its first beta in the fall of 2008, we branded it “an alternative to music piracy.†With the option to stream millions of tracks supported by an occasional ad, or free of ads for a small subscription fee, Spotify appeared to be a serious competitor to music piracy. In the years that followed Spotify conquered the hearts and minds of many music fans. Currently available in more than 60 countries, the service has amassed dozens of millions of users. It’s a true success story, and one that led to a decline in music piracy rates in a few countries, exactly as planned. However, in recent months there have been calls to end Spotify’s free ad-supported service. Some prominent musicians and labels believe that killing the free tier will increase revenues. This week it was revealed that Apple is also pressuring record labels to end the licensing agreements that allow Spotify’s ad-supported deal, presumably to make its own Beats service more competitive. While Spotify hasn’t signaled that anything will change, killing the free version will be a dangerous move. In fact, it’ll be a step backward that is likely to increase piracy in the long run. Sure, when free users are forced to pay it will motivate some to sign up for a paid subscription. This will then lead to more revenue in the short term, something labels and artists will appreciate. However, in the long run the effects may not be so positive. One of the main appeals Spotify has for the public, specifically ‘pirates,’ is that there’s a free version available. Pirates like to try before they buy and Spotify free removes the giant hurdle to make the switch to a legal streaming service. Those who then like the service and want the ad-free experience will eventually convert to a paid subscription. After all, paying is not a problem for most ‘pirates’ who tend to spend more money on entertainment than the average consumer. Ultimately, the goal of the free version is to start changing the habits of pirates, and it’s been pretty successful at doing so. Besides killing the free version of Spotify there’s also a possibility that it may become more limited. Just before the weekend news broke that Apple’s Beats may also offer some content for free, and perhaps they would like Spotify and others to do the same. Again, this isn’t a particularly good idea. The magic of Spotify is that users can access a virtually unlimited library of music. A library that’s greater than what people can find on most pirate sites, and more convenient too. Limiting the library for free users will make it look less attractive compared to the pirate alternatives. As a result, people will be less likely to get hooked and less likely to make the switch to becoming a paid user. This brings us to the exclusivity issue. In recent years the music industry has excelled in making its music available to as many people as possible, often without restrictions. But now that some big artists are removing (or threatening to remove) their music from Spotify, or offer some content exclusively to other services, the overall appeal is waning. Music fans don’t want to pay for 3, 5 or 10 services to get all the music they love. They want it all in one place. While this may not bring in as much as everyone would like, it’s a crucial part of stamping out music piracy. A few months ago a movie industry report found that consumers in the UK need to use dozens of movie services if they want access to the most popular films. If the same happens to music, piracy will surely soar. All in all it’s safe to conclude that exclusivity breeds pirates. So if artists and labels are in it for the long run they should keep everything together, and make it easy for pirates to go legal.
  2. The European Commission adopted a new Digital Single Market Strategy today, which aims to improve consumer access to digital services and goods. Among other things, Europe vows to end geo-blocking and lift other unwarranted copyright restrictions. Due to complicated licensing agreements Netflix is only available in a few dozen countries, all of which have a different content library. The same is true for many other media services such as BBC iPlayer, Amazon Instant Video, and even YouTube. These geo-blocking practices have been a thorn in the side of the European Commission, who now plan to abolish these restrictions altogether. Today the EU’s governing body adopted the new Digital Single Market Strategy. One of the main pillars of the new strategy is to provide consumers and businesses with better access to digital goods and services. Among other things the Commission plans “to end unjustified geo-blocking,†which it describes as “a discriminatory practice used for commercial reasons.†“I want to see every consumer getting the best deals and every business accessing the widest market – wherever they are in Europe,†Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker says. Another key element on the new strategy is a modern and more European copyright law. The Commission notes that the legislative proposals to achieve this will follow before the end of the year. Under the revamped copyright law it should be easier for consumers to access and enjoy content online. This means that consumers will have the right to access content they purchased at home in other European countries. According to the Commission various industries need to adapt to the new realities of the digital age, indirectly hinting at the restrictive and conservative movie industry. “Europe has strengths to build on, but also homework to do, in particular to make sure its industries adapt, and its citizens make full use of the potential of new digital services and goods, Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society Günther Oettinger says. “We have to prepare for a modern society and will table proposals balancing the interests of consumers and industry,†he adds. The new Digital Single Market Strategy doesn’t come as a surprise. Previously, several insiders called for the lifting of many unnecessary copyright restrictions. With the plans now being official it will be interesting to see what concrete proposals will follow and how the copyright industries respond.
  3. After hearing argument from both the prosecutor and the organization in control of Sweden's .SE domain names this week, the Stockholm District Court will now consider the fate of two key Pirate Bay domains. With a verdict due in less than two weeks, will the Court order a historic confiscation or will the notorious site maintain its Swedish links? A small Scandinavian country in Northern Europe, Sweden has become a key battleground for international copyright holders looking to stamp their authority on millions of BitTorrent users. Attacking the sites they populate is a key strategy and above all others the destruction of The Pirate Bay is paramount. Born and developed in Sweden, the now notorious site is no longer the most popular in the world (that crown is currently worn by KickassTorrents) but its profile ensures it remains a target with massive propaganda value. When The Pirate Bay is crushed a corner will have been turned, Hollywood and the record labels believe. Over the years the site has been squeezed out of Sweden, and Sweden has been squeezed out of the site. Numerous court orders and raids have ended its physical presence in the country and its Swedish management have long since gone. Indeed, as far as its operations at this moment are concerned, the only big connection the site has with Sweden is its domain name – – and authorities are now doing whatever they can to break that most visible link. (the site’s main domain) and (a lesser used alternative) are being targeted by Prosecutor Fredrik Ingblad, the man behind the operation thattook the site down in December. Filed back in 2013 at the District Court of Stockholm, the motion targets Punkt SE, the organization responsible for Sweden’s top level .SE domain. This week the parties met in the Stockholm District Court, each putting forward their side of the argument. Ingblad didn’t respond to TorrentFreak’s offer to contribute to this article, but we know that he believes that Pirate Bay domains are criminal tools that enable copyright infringement, tools that should be confiscated by the state. Punkt SE, on the other hand, maintains that holding a registry responsible for infringement has no basis in law. Furthermore, disabling domains is an ineffective way to deal with infringement. “We believe it is wrong to pursue legal action against a top-level administrator like .SE to take away a service from the internet,†Punkt SE’s Maria Ekelund informs TF. “To confiscate a domain name is ineffective and disproportionate to achieve the impact of the earlier judgment, that is, to suspend access to the service itself.†In 2009, Swedish ISP Black Internet was ordered to stop providing Internet access to The Pirate Bay. The ISP initially declined to appeal the ruling but appeared to change its mind after its infrastructure was subjected to a huge cyber-attack. While the appeal was granted, the ISP failed to have the original decision overturned and subsequently blocked all traffic into and out of the IP addresses used by The Pirate Bay. For The Pirate Bay, the dream of trouble-free hosting in Sweden was largely over. But still, the site has found a way to stay online, no matter where in the world it has thrown anchor. Punkt SE believes that taking away Pirate Bay’s domain will do little to change that. “To remove a domain name can be likened to taking away a sign that shows the address to a store operating illegally. Just because the sign disappears, does not mean the business disappears,†Ekelund adds. “However, we think it is good that the issue should be examined because the legal situation is unclear. This case differs from previous cases because it is not only directed against the holder, but also directly against .SE.†So now the waiting begins. In less than two weeks the Stockholm District Court will hand down its decision. Victory for Punkt will underpin the registry’s stance on limited liability and will buy The Pirate Bay more time. A win for the prosecutor will deliver a fairly serious blow to the site and draw a line in the sand for others looking to embark on similar adventures. But, perhaps more importantly, in the event the Court sides with the prosecution, Sweden will at last rid itself of the site that put the country in the crosshairs of the United States. No longer serviced from Swedish soil, with hardware or domain names, The Pirate Bay will be cut adrift to float at sea. Where will it dock next? That will remain a secret, at least for now.
  4. A pair of Internet providers who defied TV company demands to switch off their VPN services will be sued in the coming days. CallPlus and Bypass Network Services face legal action from media giants including Sky and TVNZ for allowing their customers to use a VPN to buy geo-restricted content. As Internet users demand more freedom online alongside an ability to consume media in a manner of their choosing, tools allowing them to do so are gaining in popularity. Notable has been the rise of VPN services, which not only provide an increased level of privacy but also allow users to appear in any country they choose. This opens up a whole new world of content availability – such as better service from Netflix – often at better prices than those offered on home turf. While popular with consumers, this behavior is frowned upon by distribution companies that spend huge sums of money on content licensing deals specific to their regions of coverage. Losing customers to overseas providers isn’t part of their plan and now some are doing something about it. Earlier this month media companies SKY, TVNZ, Lightbox and MediaWorks told several Kiwi ISPs that if they don’t stop providing VPN services to their subscribers, legal trouble would be on the horizon. Within days one of their targets, Unlimited Internet, pulled its VPN service after receiving a letter from a lawfirm claiming breaches of the Copyright Act. However, CallPlus and Bypass Network Services have no intention of caving in to the media giants’ demands. “To receive without warning a grossly threatening legal letter like that from four of the largest companies in New Zealand is not something we are used to,†wrote Bypass CEO Patrick Jordan-Smith in a letter to the media companies. “It smacks of bullying to be honest, especially since your letter doesn’t actually say why you think we are breaching copyright.†Pulling no punches and describing his adversaries as a “gangâ€, Jordan-Smith likens the threats to those employed by copyright trolls in the United States. “Your letter gets pretty close to the speculative invoicing type letters that lawyers for copyright owners sometimes send in the US ‘pay up or shutdown or else were are going to sue you’! Not fair,†he writes. “We have been providing the Global Mode facility for 2 years. In all that time, none of your Big Media Gang have ever written to us. We assumed they were OK with Global Mode and we continued to spend money innovating the facility and providing innovative NZ ISPs with a service that their customers were telling them they wanted – a service that lets people pay for content rather than pirate it.†The response from Bypass hasn’t been well received by the media companies who now say they will carry through with their threats to sue over breaches of copyright. “Our position has not changed and unless they remove the unlawful service we will begin court action in the next few days,†says TVNZ chief executive, Kevin Kenrick. “Each of our businesses invests significant sums of money into the rights to screen content sourced legitimately from the creators and owners of that copyrighted material. This is being undermined by the companies who profit from promoting illegitimate ways to access that content.†Claiming that the action is aimed at defending the value of content rights in the digital world, Kenrick says that the legal action is not consumer focused. “This is not about taking action against individual consumers or restricting choice, indeed each of our businesses are investing heavily in more choice so New Zealanders can have legitimate access to the latest TV shows and movies,†the CEO concludes. While the commercial position of the TVNZ chief is understandable, his claim that this legal action isn’t aimed at reducing choice simply doesn’t stack up. Kiwis using Netflix locally get access to around 220 TV series and 900 movies, while those using a VPN to tunnel into the United States enjoy around 940 TV series and 6,170 movies, something which Bypass Networks believes is completely legal. “[We provide our service] on our understanding that geo-unblocking to allow people to digitally import content purchased overseas is perfectly legal. If you say it is not, then we are going to need a lot more detail from you to understand why,†Jordan-Smith informs his adversaries. “Simply sending us a threatening letter, as frightening as that may be, does not get us there and is not a fair reason for us to shut down our whole business.†
  5. Soft reminder to all have account here. If you not login 30 days continuously.. System will mark your account as inactive and disable your account. We will ignored any kind of email or message you sent to us. Remember! use your account, or lose it.
  6. In recent weeks customers of UK ISPs have received letters from copyright trolls demanding settlement for alleged downloading of movies. Today they can fight back. Southampton-based lawyer Michael Coyle informs TorrentFreak that if the accused make a charitable donation in support of his London Marathon run, he will provide his time for free. Early March, US-based company TCYK LLC began demanding cash from customers of the UK’s second largest ISP, Sky Broadband. In 2014 TCYK monitored BitTorrent swarms for individuals sharing their movies without permission and eventually forced Sky to hand over the alleged file-sharers’ personal details. Virgin Media customers were targeted by an almost identical wave of letters shortly after, this time sent by well-known copyright troll outfit Mircom. Representing several overseas porn companies, Mircom also want cash to make supposed lawsuits go away. This week the latter case provided a sinister twist. After TF revealed that Mircom was trying to hide its identity from its domain WHOIS, a reader reported the company to domain registry Nominet. Soon after revealed its true operator to be GoldenEye International, another copyright troll outfit that had featured in previous UK cases. Emails currently being sent to letter recipients also confirm that GoldenEye are handling their claims. The apparent murkiness of these cases only adds to the anxiety of letter recipients, but today they have some good news. Michael Coyle of Southampton-based Lawdit Solicitors informs TorrentFreak he will give his time for free to defend those accused. Coyle is one of the most experienced UK-based solicitors in the file-sharing arena. Since 2008 he has spoken with or acted for more than 700 individuals who have received so-called Letters of Claim, including those involved in the infamous ACS:Law case that ended with solicitor Andrew Crossley being severely disciplined. Coyle says he expected that affair to signal the end of ‘trolling’ in the UK but recent events have sadly proven him wrong. “I am a Copyright Solicitor and regularly enforce copyright where it has been infringed. People should respect the copyright of third parties. However, are some copyright holders abusing the great British public?†he questions. The general consensus to that proposition is yes, most likely. And according to Coyle there is serious money involved. “The amounts are quite staggering. In the most recent campaign 2500 letters were sent out. Typical sums demanded are in the range of £500 to £1000. If everyone pays say £700.00 this would generate £1,750,000 which is not bad even for the porn industry.†“The tactic is to scare people into paying the sums by threatening to issue court proceedings. If this does not work, proceedings are not normally issued,†says Coyle quoting Justice Arnold who dealt with previous cases. “This is because the economic model for speculative invoicing means that it is more profitable to collect monies from those who pay rather than incur substantial costs in pursuing those who do not pay in court. Where proceedings are issued, they are not pursued if a default judgment cannot be obtained.†By now this strategy is relatively common knowledge to those following these cases, but for those targeted the experience can be a painful one. “The whole process is indiscriminate and causes immense worry and suffering. It’s frustrating and brings the whole concept of protecting your copyright in to disrepute,†Coyle says. So, with this in mind, he’s stepping up to help level the playing field. “I’ve decided to act [by offering time for free] and hopefully my small input along with consumer groups can persuade the Courts to prevent such conduct. However I suspect that it will require parliament to effect any change,†he adds. So, faced with the dilemma of whether to go it alone, pay up, or seek legal advice, those in receipt of a letter can now take the latter option for free, albeit it with a minor string attached. Coyle is a regular runner of the London Marathon and has raised thousands for children’s charities while doing so. If people want his help in these cases they’re going to have to get generous via this year’s donation page, located here. It’s a rare thing to be able to fight trolls and support a charity all at once so anyone with a desire to contribute to the fun is invited to do so, letter recipient or not. Michael Coyle can be contacted on michael.coyle[at]
  7. The UK's second largest ISP is about to hand over the personal details of customers to a company known for demanding cash from alleged file-sharers. Sky Broadband says it will hand over the names and addresses of subscribers to TCYK LLC and warns customers that the movie company will probably ask for compensation. Any regular reader of these pages will be familiar with the term “copyright trollâ€. These companies have made a business model out of monitoring file-sharing networks for alleged copyright infringements, tracking down alleged offenders and then demanding hard cash to make supposed lawsuits go away. The practice is widespread in the United States but also takes place in several countries around Europe. Wherever the location, the methods employed are largely the same. ‘Trolls’ approach courts with ‘evidence’ of infringement and demand that ISPs hand over the details of their subscribers so that the copyright holder can demand money from them. During September 2014, TorrentFreak became aware of a UK court case that had just appeared before the Chancery Division. The title – TCYK LLP v British Sky Broadcasting Ltd – raised eyebrows. From experience we know that TCYK stands for The Company You Keep and is the title of the film of the same name directed and starring Robert Redford, appearing alongside Susan Sarandon and Shia LeBeouf. While the movie itself is reportedly unremarkable, the response to it being unlawfully made available on file-sharing networks has been significant. In the United States TCYK LLC has filed dozens of copyright infringement lawsuits against Internet subscribers in many states including Illinois, Colorado, Ohio, Florida and Minnesota, to name a few. Those interested in their U.S-based activities can read about them extensively on ‘troll’ watching sites DTD and Fight Copyright Trolls. The big news today, however, is that TCYK LLC is about to start demanding cash from customers of the UK’s second largest ISP, Sky Broadband. TorrentFreak approached Sky back in September for information on the case but after several emails back and forth the trail went cold. We can now reveal what has transpired. Sometime during 2014 TCKY monitored BitTorrent swarms for individuals sharing their movies without permission. The company went to court to obtain what is known as a Norwich Pharmacal Order which would oblige Sky to hand over the identities of their subscribers to TCKY. TorrentFreak has now learned that an order has been granted. In a letter now being sent out to Sky subscribers, the company warns of what is to come. “We need to let you know about a court order made against Sky earlier this year that requires us to provide your name and address to another company,†the letters begin. “A company called TCYK LLC, which owns the rights to several copyrighted films, has claimed that a number of Sky Broadband customers engaged in unlawful file-sharing of some of its films. In support of this claim, TCYK LLC says it has gathered evidence of individual broadband accounts (identified online by unique numbers called IP addresses) from which it claims the file sharing took place.†Sky notes that it cannot vouch for the accuracy of the evidence but notes that the existence of the court order means that it must compromise its subscribers’ privacy. In several other countries ISPs have fought to keep their subscribers’ details secure so we asked Sky what efforts, if any, they took to do the same. At the time of publication we had received no response. To its credit, however, Sky is warning its customers of what is likely to come next. “It’s likely that TCYK LLC will contact you directly and may ask you to pay them compensation,†Sky notes. We’ll clarify something here. When TCYK get in touch their ONLY reason for doing so will be to obtain compensation. Many people will pay up out of fear since TCYK will imply (if not directly state) that a court case could follow if a settlement is not reached. It is almost certain that these threats are mere bluster and again, to Sky’s credit, the company outlines potential weaknesses in TCYK’s case. “We advise you to read the letter from TCYK LLC carefully. It may be that you are not aware of the things that are being claimed: for example, if other people have access to your Internet connection, or simply because you do not recall downloading or sharing the film.†The facts are simple. If letter recipients did not download or share the film or did not authorize someone else to do so (i.e by specifically telling someone else that they can use their connection to download and share pirate content) then the subscriber is not responsible for the infringement and does not have to pay a penny. If someone else did share TCYK’s film on the Internet connection in question then it is up to TCYK to identify that person by name. The bill payer is under no obligation to try to help TCYK to do so if they have no idea who that person is. Sky conclude by suggesting that letter recipients either contact the Citizens Advice Bureau or a solicitor. TorrentFreak spoke with Michael Coyle from Lawdit Solicitors who has dealt with these kinds of cases previously. “I am surprised that the [Court] Order was granted for the release of the names as the High Court has been particularly damning about speculative invoicing ‘claims’ – see in particular the words of HHJ Birss QC in Media CAT v Adams and HHJ Arnold (here),†Coyle told TF. “Added to the fact that the Claimant is a notorious troll in the US adds to the mystery and we can only wait and see what the letters are demanding. [Letter recipients] should not panic and above should not pay until as such time as they’ve taken legal advice,†Coyle concludes. In any event, recipients should read the following article detailing the Speculative Invoicing Handbook Second Edition, a publication which explains how UK copyright trolls operate and how they should be dealt with. At the time of publication Sky Broadband had not responded to our request for comment. Update: Sky’s response to TF “TCYK LLC successfully applied for a court order against Sky, which means we have been ordered to supply the details of some of our account holders that match the list of IP addresses they have identified. We advise any of our customers who receive a letter from TCYK LLC to read it carefully and if they want any further help to contact the Citizens Advice Bureau.†Update2: Sky’s spokesperson would not reveal the number of letters being sent out to Sky’s customers.
  8. Following a European trend, the Portuguese Intellectual Property Court has ordered local ISPs to block access to The Pirate Bay. The legal action, brought by copyright holders, resulted in an injunction which orders the ISPs to block access to the popular torrent site and dozens of its proxies. As the archrival of many copyright groups, The Pirate Bay has become one of the most censored websites on the Internet in recent years. Courts all around the world have ordered Internet providers to block subscriber access to the torrent site and the list continues to expand. Last month French ISPs started blocking The Pirate Bay and last week the Intellectual Property Court in Portugal ordered a similar measure against local Internet providers. The case was brought by the Association for Copyright Management, Producers and Publishers (GEDIPE), who argued that their members are financially hurt by TPB’s services. In its verdict the court ruled that Vodafone, MEO and NOS have to prevent users from visiting the torrent site within 30 days. If they fail to do so the ISPs face a fine of 2,500 euros per day. The injunction marks the first time that Internet providers in Portugal are required to block a website on copyright grounds. Previously there were cases against unknown website owners, but not ISPs. “In the case of Pirate Bay, the judge decided to blame the Internet provider, which now face a financial penalty,†GEDIPE boss Paulo Santos comments. Pirate Bay is currently among the 100 most visited sites in Portugal. Whether the blockade will stop people from pirating has yet to be seen. Several other TPB proxies remain available, and so are dozens of other torrent sites. GEDIPE is urging the Internet providers to discuss voluntary actions to target other pirate sites. If they refuse to do so, the group will go back to court to demand more injunctions. “Internet providers are not our enemies. If they combat pirate sites they will also be defending their own content distribution businesses. It is time to sit down and negotiate blocking measures that don’t require the courts to get involved,†Santos says. “If Internet providers don’t want to go down down this road we have to move forward with injunctions targeting dozens of sites that promote sharing of pirated content,†he adds. The ISPs have previously spoken out against blocking measures, arguing that they will block legitimate content as well. They still have the option to appeal the injunction but thus far it’s unclear if they will. The full listed of blocked domains is listed below. —; ;;;,;; ; ;;; ; ;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; Torrentfreak
  9. Anyone expecting a swift conclusion to the current investigation into The Pirate Bay should stop holding their breath. According to prosecutor Fredrik Ingblad the process involves processing lots of evidence and will take many months to complete. But who else is on the prosecutor's radar? Yesterday was the one month anniversary of the December 9, 2014 raid on The Pirate Bay. To this day the site remains down. First week aside, most news has focused on the fate of the notorious site and whether it will rise like a phoenix from the ashes. There have been numerous teasers from people with access to The Pirate Bay’s main domain,, but no concrete signs either way. But while millions of former users adjust to life without the site, authorities have remained fairly tight-lipped about when their investigation began and the position it’s at today. There are signs, however. In 2012 it became evident that new action was being planned against the site when the Pirate Bay team revealed the existence of a new investigation. Just days later Swedish hosting company Binero confirmed that they had been approached by the police for information about the site’s domain. Then, as predicted, in April 2013 prosecutor Fredrik Ingblad filed a motion at the District Court of Stockholm requesting the seizure of several Pirate Bay domains. Shortly after, Pirate Bay founder Gottfrid Svartholm was questioned in prison, a visit which confirmed the existence of a new investigation involving Swedish anti-piracy group Antipiratbyrån and led by Ingblad. Outwardly things went quiet in the months that followed but in November 2014 there was a significant development. The Pirate Bay’s Fredrik Neij was arrested, ostensibly to serve the sentence handed down for his previous involvement in the site. However, emails obtained by TorrentFreak revealed Hollywood insiders discussing new criminal charges against Neij for his alleged continued involvement in the site. Also of interest but not revealed until today, TF understands that last year Thai police were briefed on a number of individuals said to be involved in The Pirate Bay’s operations. One of those individuals was a man employed at a hosting company back in Sweden, but not the company that was raided in December. After obtaining his photograph from a police briefing document TorrentFreak approached the man himself and also Rights Alliance lawyer Henrik Ponten for more information. Neither responded to our requests for comment. The task ahead for Swedish authorities is said to be substantial. In the December raid large amounts of equipment and other evidence was seized and that will have to be systematically processed as the days unfold. According to prosecutor Fredrik Ingblad, that will take a considerable time. “[The Pirate Bay] was seized, everything needs to be reviewed and analyzed. It will take many months to do so,†Ingblad said this week. The big question now is whether Ingblad’s team will be investigating a dead site or one that has already risen from the ashes. They are watching, he confirmed. “We will keep track of what happens,†the prosecutor added.
  10. It's only temporary." It's what all PlayStation fans have been saying ever since Microsoft announced they'd be dropping the price of the Xbox One by $50 for the holiday rush. And it's true; the price cut is indeed only temporary, as Microsoft plans to bring their new system back to the original $399 price point on January 4, 2015. The big question is this: Will the move result in a fresh upswing in sales for Sony's console? The PlayStation 4 dominated all the way up until that Xbox One price drop, so perhaps it stands to reason that this domination will return to force. On the other hand, recent PSN issues and the lack of AAA PS4 exclusives this holiday season have had an impact. On the flip side, at least Xbox One had games like Sunset Overdrive and Halo: The Master Chief Collection, which definitely sweetened the deal for gamers. Having a bunch of cool holiday bundles helped as well. Going into 2015, one could easily argue that Microsoft has the momentum and despite the return to $399, that momentum will continue. But will it...? Perhaps Microsoft should consider leaving Xbox One at the $349 price point, although we know it'd cost them an arm and a leg to do so. At the very least, it makes the console war that much more exciting. I also wonder what Sony thinks. Are they hoping Xbox One goes back to $399 so PS4 can reclaim its momentum? Price is a hugely important factor, a lesson we learn and relearn every time we see a price cut on new gaming hardware.
  11. The search is finally over. Following last week's reveal of a directorial shortlist including Justin Lin, Rupert Wyatt, Daniel Espinosa, Duncan Jones and Morten Tyldum, Paramount has chosen its man behind the camera. Fast & Furious veteran Lin has got the gig. The vacancy has been filled quickly, since it was only a couple of weeks ago that the previous instalments' writer Roberto Orci stepped back from making the third modern Trek his directorial debut. He was, in the end, reportedly the only person offered the job. Handily, he has a gap in his schedule, created by the abandonment of the Bourne Legacy sequel when Universal decided to return the franchise to Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon. There were some left-field names on Paramount's Trek list, but Lin's seem like a safe pair of hands, especially at short notice. He's proved with four Fast & Furiouses (Furioi?) that he can juggle large casts and FX-heavy action, to the tune of more than a billion dollars at the box office. The question of what he'll do beyond the Final Frontier is a tantalising one. Orci remains aboard as a producer, overseeing the script he’s co-written with J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay. Lin is currently at work on the first two episodes of True Detective's second season. He'll board the Enterprise right afterwards, with the still untitled Star Trek 3 expected in cinemas sometime in 2016.
  12. We saw the first trailer a couple of months ago. Now here's a trio of new Focus posters and a brand new trailer (see below) to answer all your run-up-to-Christmas Will Smith and Margot Robbie needs. The caper sees Smith playing a con artist getting romantically involved with Robbie's novice grifter, only for the partnership to sour. Flash-forward in time, and our hero is setting up an elaborate heist in Buenos Aires when the owner of an international racing team (300's Rodrigo Santoro) hires him to help gain an edge over the competition. But when Robbie shows up again, both men compete for her affections and the love triangle’s sharp edges start to cut… Crazy, Stupid, Love directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa wrote the script and are once again behind the cameras, this time in New Orleans and Buenos Aires. Focus is scheduled for release on February 27.
  13. The chief executive at The Witcher 3 studio CD Projekt Red has explained that the game was delayed in order to optimize its visuals across all formats. Marcin Iwinski told Nerdacy that the delay will not result in content changes, but instead bug fixes and to ensure the game runs at an optimal resolution and frame rate across all systems. "We are removing the final bugs and still running optimization in various areas. What it will result in is a smoother and more engaging experience and, yes, the game looking better across all platforms," he explained. "The content is locked, so no content changes are being made at this point. The scale of the open world in the Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is unprecedented, so fear not--there is enough gameplay to keep you playing for weeks." These comments come six months after it was rumors that The Witcher 3's resolution on Xbox One and PS4 could be noticably different. At the time, Iwinski said it was "too early" to say whether there would be a difference between the two home console versions. Then, in early December, CD Projekt RED announced it had delayed The Witcher 3 release date from February 2015 to May. At the time, the studio explained that the postponement was necessary in order to fulfil the studio's ambitions. "The sheer size and complexity of The Witcher, key features of the title, have had a decisive impact on production. Now, nearing the end of our work, we see many details that need to be corrected," the studio wrote when announcing the delay. In October, CD Projekt Red responded to rumors that the studio was entering crunch to finish the game on time, and that its public demonstrations were overly flattering. Writing on the games forum NeoGAF, one anonymous user took issue with others praising the Witcher 3, claiming that developer CD Projekt Red has built an "overblown" impression of the game. After the anonymous poster's legitimacy was questioned, a NeoGAF administrator claimed they had been "vetted and cleared," suggesting these were not the words of an outsider. The Witcher 3 release date is May 19, 2015 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC. Pictured below: Ciri, The Witcher 3's new female hero.
  14. The PC version of this year's multiplayer shooter Titanfall is currently available only through EA's Origin digital distribution hub, not Valve's 100-million user platform Steam. Now, developer Respawn Entertainment co-founder Vince Zampella has spoken out to say that while the first Titanfall is unlikely to ever come to Steam, the game's follow-up could. "At some point you look at it and you say is it even worth now this much later the effort to put it on Steam, when it would be a lot of work and kind of bifurcate the community?" Zampella told Game Informer when asked if the first Titanfall might come to PC. "We would have loved for it to be on Steam from day one, but at some point it just doesn't make sense anymore and you start looking to the future and I think we should not make that same decision again [emphasis added]," he explained. Titanfall was published by EA, which is likely the reason the PC version was exclusive to Origin. Going forward, however, it appears Respawn's exclusivity arrangement with EA has been loosened. In addition to the possibility that Titanfall 2 could come to Steam, Zampella has also suggested that the sequel may come to PlayStation systems for its console release. The original Titanfall was exclusive to PC, Xbox 360, and Xbox One. It is unclear how well Titanfall has sold, but Zampella says the game has seen 8 million unique players to date. We also know that Titanfall is thebest-selling new IP for Xbox One to date. In addition to a Titanfall sequel, it was recently revealed that Respawn has formed a second team internallyto work on a non-Titanfall project, possibly led by former God of War veteran Stig Asmussen. He joined Respawn over the summer as a game director for an unannounced project.
  15. The Icefilms streaming movie and TV show portal has a strong following but for the past 24 hours the site has been offline. With a Pirate Bay raid ringing in everyone's ears, has Icefilms fallen to the same fate? According to a source familiar with the situation the site should get back on its feet soon. Without doubt the past seven days have shaken the file-sharing world to its core. Last Tuesday the Internet’s most famous file-sharing site, invincible according to many accounts, fell following a raid by Swedish police. That kind of surprise can lead people to panic when other similar sites have downtime at the same time. For the past 24 hours concern has been growing over Icefilms, a movie and streaming portal with a strong online following. Sometime yesterday morning, Icefilms disappeared offline. Visitors to the site reported various issues, from no page loading to redirections to another domain. Most, however, were confronted with the image shown below. icefilms While much preferable to a law enforcement notice, the image itself has been causing concern among Icefilms users due to it being hosted on Amazon rather than the site’s own server. But despite the worries a source familiar with the situation informs TF that there is nothing to be concerned about. Icefilms currently has hosting issues to overcome, hence placing the image on another server. The site itself should be back to its full glory within days. Even when the Pirate Bay raid is disregarded, it’s easy to see why Icefilms users have been panicking. Firstly, the first few pages of Google are almost useless when it comes to getting information about the site. In fact, Icefilms itself is completely absent from Google search results. However, if one turns to Bing then results are restored to their former glory. In fact, Bing even provides a convenient Icefilms search engine as the first result. icesearch Only adding to the confusion is Icefilms’ inclusion in a recent blocking order. Last month the UK High Court ordered ISPs to block 32 domains following an application by the Motion Picture Association. In recent weeks the leading service providers responded by blocking access to Source :
  16. Remarkable stunts and beautiful city life showcased by talented YouTubers. There's something so relentlessly enjoyable about roaming the urban and rural landscapes of Grand Theft Auto 5. The sheer freedom to experiment with its vehicles, people, and constructions, has resulted in a game with near-limitless potential on how much fun you can make for yourself. Now the game's developer, Rockstar, is putting the spotlight on undiscovered YouTubers who have created some of the most beautiful and bamboozling user-created videos for the game, from impossible stunts to professional-grade music videos. These new videos follow GTA 5's release on both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and expect more to follow when the game ships for PC on January 27. Rockstar's collection of nine fan videos can be found here, and below we've highlighted what we consider to be the best five: Los Santos by Night, by The XXI, offers a wonderful montage showcasing how GTA V is beautiful for all its little details. GTAV Online, from PS3 to PS4, by Kokonitos, is possibly the most unflatteringly generic title for this wonderful music video piece. The meticulously arranged footage features wonderful pop culture nods, such as the Terminator 2 chase scene, and is infused with mauve and purple hues. The music, a Daft Punk cover by indie folk band Daughter, makes for an excellent choice too. Freestyle Daytage, by Fishy Dizzle, is quite extraordinary. It's BMX stunt riding across the city, sometimes in third-person and sometimes in first, which makes ingenious use of Los Santos' many rails and platforms. The trick pulled off at 2:16 makes all that vulgar dubstep in the background completely worth it. Now for something completely different, called GTA5 Next Gen Skydive, by Ash0191. This is a highlight reel of improbable skydive stunts pulled off with god-like precision. As Woody once put it, this is falling with style. First Person Scorcher Tower Wallride, by VaNilla, is a quite possibly the coolest thing ever done in GTA V. We won't spoil it for you, but how this trick was even conceived is mind-boggling in itself.
  17. 4x Sceneaccess invites. Will trade individual invites for music sites. PM me
  18. Google adds games to its Knowledge Graph. If you Google search a video game, Google's Knowledge Graph will now offer more details related to that game, like its release date, developer, publisher, and more. If you search for Civilization: Beyond Earth, for example, you'll see a panel on the right with screenshots from the game, its Metacritic score, a short description via Wikipedia, the series it belongs to, and what platforms it's available for. The search works for both specific game titles and game series. First introduced in 2012, Google's Knowledge Graph enhances searches by offering these summaries of movies, books, places, people, food, and more. Video games are just the latest addition. “We always want to help people find the best answers to their questions – fast,†a Google spokesperson told VentureBeat. “With today’s update, you can ask questions about video games, and (while there will be ones we don’t cover) you’ll get answers for console and PC games as well as the most popular mobile apps.†Add Rep and Leave a feedback Reputation is the green button in the down right corner on my post
  19. Eli Roth’s debut movie, Cabin Fever, is set to be remade, with the new version of the film set to take the unusual decision to use the same script as the original. Roth wrote the original scare-fest in tandem with Randy Pearlstein, and according to Deadline, the new film will be a kind of “re-stagingâ€, with director Travis Zariwny charged with creating something new from the exact same source material. Roth will be returning as an executive producer, and explains why a new screenwriter has not been hired to freshen things up… “Travis had an amazing vision for my original script, and as a scary movie fan I really wanted to see it,†says Roth. “I almost see this like re-staging a play.†“I’m excited to see what ideas Travis and the cast bring to it. They’re all fans of the original and want to make a film that’s a new classic and I believe they will.†Starring Gage Golightly, Matthew Daddario and Dustin Ingram, Cabin Fever will begin filming this week, with an official release date yet to be confirmed. Add Rep and Leave a feedback Reputation is the green button in the down right corner on my post
  20. Neil Young has cracked a joke stating that his new music device Pono will be activated with a U2 removal button. Young made a return visit to Stephen Colbert's show this week to plug his book, his new record and his Pono, the hi-fi competitor to the iPod. 'Why is this better than an iPod other than not coming pre-loaded with the U2 album,' Colbert asked Young. Pono'It comes with a button. This button gets the U2 album off of it which came on the player. Not that I recommend using it,' Young replied. When Young guested on Howard Stern's radio show earlier in the week he said that the mp3 format was like visiting the Louvre and finding photocopies of all the paintings on the wall. With Colbert he said, 'this music is 100% of the sound and the iPod compared to the best that this can do is 5% of the sound'. 'iPod is a great bargain,' he continued 'because you get to have millions of songs but you just get a tiny little bit of each one.' He said with the Pono, 'you don't have to listen. You feel the music,' alluded to the full studio sound generated by the high quality Pono files. Young also performed his new song 'Who's Gonna Stand Up?' as a duet with Stephen Colbert on the show. Add Rep and Leave a feedback Reputation is the green button in the down right corner on my post
  21. Will replace Ellen DeGeneres The 2015 Academy Awards will have a brand new host, with Neil Patrick Harris set to present the ceremony for the very first time. Having recently hosted this year’s Emmy Awards on top of several Tony Awards ceremonies, Harris is an experienced hand at this kind of gig, and looks a worthy replacement for Ellen DeGeneres. She in turn had proved a popular host, with her performance at the 2014 awards gaining largely positive reviews. However, it is thought she was unwilling to return for a second outing in 2015. Harris could potentially find himself attached to one of the Best Picture nominees, should Gone Girl get the nod, although given the film’s adult content, it would be a surprise to see him among the winners on the night… Stranger things have happened though. We’ll have to wait until 22 February 2015 to find out for sure… Until then, here’s NPH reacting to the news... Add Rep and Leave a feedback Reputation is the green button in the down right corner on my post
  22. Marvel kicking off Civil War storyline Fairly major news to bring you this morning regarding Captain America 3, with Variety reporting that Robert Downey Jr. is set to join proceedings. According to the report, the film will bring the famous Civil War storyline to the big screen for the first time, as Cap and Tony Stark find themselves lining up against each other. Their difference stem from the the Superhero Registration Act, a piece of government legislation that demands anyone with superhuman abilities reveal themselves to the authorities, and act as part of their private police force. Tony Stark is all for it, but Steve Rogers is not, and the two soon find themselves on a collision course of epic proportions. Exciting stuff then, but according to the report, it nearly didn’t happen… According to Variety, Iron Man had initially been pencilled in for a small role in the film, only for Downey to campaign for a larger part in proceedings. While Marvel chief Ike Perlmutter wasn’t happy, Kevin Feige saw the opportunity to bring Civil War into existence, and is in the course of thrashing out a deal with his star. All of which would go some way towards explaining why a fourth Iron Man solo outing is unlikely, as a Civil War storyline could run for several films in its own right. Look forward to the battle lines being drawn when Captain America 3 opens in the UK on 29 April 2016. Add Rep and Leave a feedback Reputation is the green button in the down right corner on my post
  23. Says she is involved in a forthcoming film Len Wiseman has been discussing the future of the Underworldfranchise, and has suggested that Kate Beckinsale will be returning to the role of Selene for at least one more outing. It had previously been reported that Beckinsale would not be on board the fifth episode of the vampire saga, but from the sounds of Wiseman’s comments, that won’t be the case after all... “There are some characters who we really liked that will be in a kind of a spin-off like we did with Rise Of The Lycans,†says Wiseman. “Then we have another film in the works with Kate as well.†It sounds from that as though the next film in the series will be a standalone adventure (with Theo James reported to have been cast in the lead role), before Beckinsale returns for a fully-fledged sequel further down the track. “And then there’s the television series,†says Wiseman, teasing us still further. Looks like the franchise won’t be disappearing from our screens for some time to come… Add Rep and Leave a feedback Reputation is the green button in the down right corner on my post
  24. Google announced today that it will roll out a new search update to "visibly" lower the search rankings of the most notorious pirate sites. The announcement is part of Google's improved anti-piracy efforts which are detailed in a new report. Over the past few years the entertainment industries have repeatedly asked Google to step up its game when it comes to anti-piracy efforts. These remarks haven’t fallen on deaf ears and Google has slowly implemented various new anti-piracy measures in response. Today Google released an updated version of its “How Google Fights Piracy†report. The company provides an overview of all the efforts it makes to combat piracy, but also stresses that copyright holders themselves have a responsibility to make content available. One of the most prominent changes is a renewed effort to make “pirate†sites less visible in search results. Google has had a downranking system in place since 2012, but this lacked effectiveness according to the RIAA, MPAA and other copyright industry groups. The improved version, which will roll out next week, aims to address this critique. “We’ve now refined the signal in ways we expect to visibly affect the rankings of some of the most notorious sites. This update will roll out globally starting next week,†says Katherine Oyama, Google’s Copyright Policy Counsel. The report notes that the new downranking system will still be based on the number of valid DMCA requests a site receives, among other factors. The pages of flagged sites remain indexed, but are less likely to be the top results. “Sites with high numbers of removal notices may appear lower in search results. This ranking change helps users find legitimate, quality sources of content more easily,†the report reads. Looking at the list of sites for which Google received the most DMCA takedown request, we see that 4shared, Filestube and Dilandau can expect to lose some search engine traffic. The report further highlights several other tweaks and improvements to Google’s anti-piracy efforts. For example, in addition to banning piracy relatedAutoComplete words, Google now also downranks suggestions that return results with many “pirate†sites. Finally, the report also confirms our previous reporting which showed that Google uses ads to promote legal movie services when people search for piracy related keywords such as torrent, DVDrip and Putlocker. This initiative aims to increase the visibility of legitimate sites. A full overview of Google’s anti-piracy efforts is available here. Add Rep and Leave a feedback
  25. "PlayBook 4" lets you bring your console with you wherever you go...for a price. From the enterprising modder who brought you the Xbox One "Xbook" comes a similar creation focused around Sony's PlayStation 4. Self-taught engineer Ed Zarick this week posted a video of what he calls the "PlayBook 4," which is essentially a PlayStation 4 laptop. The PlayBook 4 (via Eurogamer) features the PS4's guts inside a 3D-printed and laser-cut plastic case. The screen is a 22" Vizio 1080p LED LCD display, which fits snugly inside the system's lid. It comes in multiple color configurations, and pricing is as follows: PlayBook 4 -- $1395 (extra $50 for HDMI out) PlayBook 4 (you provide a PS4) -- $1095 Shipping -- $75 flat rate for anywhere in the contiguous United States (international is extra). To order a PlayBook 4, you'll need to pay a $750 nonrefundable deposit. Zarick says it takes around 2-3 weeks to finish a unit. You can choose to have the system made in black or white, and you also have color options for accents and corners, including black, red, yellow, blue, green, copper, silver, grey, orange, white, purple, and pink. Zarick adds that he can even do "full graphic customization" if you want, though this will cost extra. He also points out that you'll void your PS4 warranty by having your console modded in this way, but he includes his own 30-day warranty to fix any problems not related to user abuse. Finally, Zarick ensures potential buyers that the PS4 units featured in PlayBooks are not altered in a way that would get you banned on the PlayStation Network. You can read more about the PlayBook 4 on Zarick's website. Add Rep and Leave a feedback Reputation is the green button in the down right corner on my post