Filed under: Announcements & Events, File-Sharing Programs, Networks & Services
Signed and written by Kim Dotcom, the 48-pages long white paper is breaking the Megaupload case into small pieces. Let’s take a quick look at the highlight features of his statement.
“The United States vs. You (and Kim Dotcom)” is Kim’s story on how the United States chose to seize his business (Megaupload). What happened “represents one of the clearest examples of prosecutorial overreach in recent history,” the document explains.
The white paper goes on to remind about the failure of SOPA, and how the US government chose Megaupload as a target. It reminds the reader about a legal precedent, when, on April the 18th 2013, a court ruled that YouTube is not responsible for what its users upload (as long as the company can prove that it was not unaware of the infringement). The same clemency could have been given to Megaupload, but did that happen? As we all know, it didn’t.
Citing Professor Goldman, we find that:
[T]he government’s prosecution of Megaupload demonstrates the implications of the government acting as a proxy for private commercial interests. The government is using its enforcement powers to accomplish what most copyright owners haven’t been willing to do in civil court (i.e., sue Megaupload for infringement); and the government is doing so by using its incredibly powerful discovery and enforcement tools that vastly exceed the tools available in civil enforcement; and the government’s bringing the prosecution in part because of the revolving door between government and the content industry (where some of the decision-makers green-lighting the enforcement action probably worked shoulder-to-shoulder with the copyright owners making the request) plus the Obama administration’s desire to curry continued favor and campaign contributions from well-heeled sources.
This is where Kim made a terrible mistake, that of collaborating with US authorities in another case (read more here). Meanwhile, US investigators were gathering incriminating data on Megaupload, ultimately leading to the questionable seizure of the domain.
Kim’s white document is full of interesting details about the whole fiasco, suggesting some pretty wild ideas (including that of being a scapegoat) about why Megaupload was targeted and not Rapidshare instead.
“The United States Vs. You” also reminds us about Aaron Swartz, a young and brilliant mind who took his own life.
“The unfortunate case of Aaron Swartz also comes to mind. Swartz was a young internet entrepreneur – founder of Infogami and co-founder of Reddit and RSS co- developer – an activist for government reform, digital rights and civil liberties, and a vocal opponent of SOPA. He was indicted in 2011 for allegedly attaching a laptop to MIT’s computer network and downloading a large number of articles from an archive of academic journals. The prosecution alleged that Swartz intended to make the papers available on P2P file-sharing sites,” Kim’s paper reads.
Tragically, Aaron Swartz killed himself on January 11, 2013, about two weeks before a significant evidence suppression hearing in his legal case. Shortly after Swartz’s death, his attorney sent a letter to the Office of Professional Responsibility of the U.S. Department of Justice, requesting an inquiry into the conduct of the lead prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Heymann. According to Swartz’s lawyer:. . . AUSA Heymann appears to have failed timely to disclose exculpatory evidence relevant to Mr. Swartz’s pending motion to suppress. Indeed, evidence suggests AUSA Heymann may have misrepresented to the Court the extent of the federal government’s involvement in the investigation into Mr. Swartz’s conduct prior to the application for certain search warrants.Second, AUSA Heymann appears to have abused his discretion when he attempted to coerce Mr. Swartz into foregoing his right to a trial by pleading guilty. Specifically, AUSA Heymann offered Mr. Swartz four to six months in prison for a guilty plea, while threatening to seek over seven years in prison if Mr. Swartz chose to go to trial.
Read it in full here.
Filed under: Announcements & Events, Digital Media, Mobile Phones, P2P technology, Downloads, Entertainment Industry, File-Sharing Programs, Networks & Services, Movies, MP3, Digital Audio & Games
BitTorrent Inc. is once again proving that its intentions to legitimize peer-to-peer are genuine. Yesterday, the company announced the workings on a brand new project called “BitTorrent Bundle”, a place for people to access a completely changed .torrent format (one that includes free content), and for content creators to promote and make money out of their creations. Interested? Keep reading…because it gets better.
It’s the season of innovation, and BitTorrent Inc. is rolling one project after the other, all for the sake of not just their community, but also for the entertainment industry. Out of their attempts to push the peer-to-peer technology towards legitimacy, Bundle Alpha was born, a web-based project that aims to unite the two sides into a buffer zone by providing with a different type of torrent, while promoting and selling for artists.
The Bundle Alpha has already been put to the test; the file-sharing company shook hands with a popular music label called “Ultra” (a platform for artists such as David Guetta, DJ Tiesto, deadmau5, and Calvin Harris). The two offered a torrent bundle that contains behind-the-scenes music, videos, and a “digital tour booklet” from Kaskade (an established electronic music band).
“The strategy here is to give content creators the tools to publish into the ecosystem on their own,” BitTorrent’s director of communications, Christian Averill, said.
“We’re creating a new kind of torrent, the gated torrent, and the idea is that this will be pervasive once it gets out there.”
Yesterday, BitTorrent’s official blog made public its goal to provide “a distributed technology solution for creators…. Our goal is to move the interaction to where it matters, making it a property of the file versus the distribution framework (and) giving artists real data about — and real access to — their fans.”
And speaking of fans, BitTorrent’s community is, the least to say, impressive (more than 170 million users from all over the world), a figure that consists not just of pirates, but also people who are willing to find and pay for content. Legal content, that is.
“Many people don’t realize that we have over 2 million pieces of licensed and legal content available in our ecosystem,” Matt Mason said.
“It is true that our technology is exploited as part of a stack of technologies used for piracy. But you’ll find that as a standalone tool we are not a very good piracy tool. We don’t rip CDs or capture movies on camcorders. We don’t host content that infringes on copyright, we don’t index it, point to it or promote it in any way. All of those things happen outside of BitTorrent.”
A look under the Bundle’s hood reveals that the platform works about the same as uTorrent or the BitTorrent client (technically speaking). However, if you look deeper, Bundle is not just a web-based file-sharing platform, but also a bridge towards legal/premium content. How you manage that content is entirely up to you and the content creator. For example, in Kaskade’s case, you will be required to provide with an e-mail address. The alternatives include pay gates, external links towards services such as Netflix or iTunes, and pay-for-what-you-need “gates”.
Simply put, the Bundle offers more power for content creators and rightsholders to promote, control, and sell their works.
It seems that BitTorrent’s past efforts to go legit, and collaborations with artists such as Vikram Gandhi, Stacy Peralta, Tim Ferriss, Death Grips, and Counting Crows (these are just few of the names that came across BT and shook hands with the “devil”) are finally taking shape .
“When we learned that the BitTorrent protocol is used by over 170 million users, all of whom are avid consumers of entertainment and music and whom purchase 30 percent more of that content than average, we knew we wanted to reach out to them and engage them in our indie film,”Jill Calcaterra – Chief Marketing Officer at BitTorrent – said.
“This was an opportunity to engage a huge fanbase from the onset by giving them something unique and exclusive early on, with the hopes that in return they will support the film [Arthur Newman] through its lifecycle. Being an indie, I think we are more nimble than most and more willing to try and pilot new programs. The entertainment business is moving at a remarkable pace and we want to keep up and stay in front of opportunities.”
She continued by saying that the promotion was a complete success, gathering “hundreds of thousands of downloads” in just 24 hours (the first seven minutes of the movie were made available on BT’s networks).
“We are also tracking the redirects to our website, monitoring social media and the overall conversation around the film, all of which is up since we launched with BitTorrent,” she added.
All good, but this is the beginning of a long road BT will have to undertake in order to enter the golden realm of legitimacy.
“We find that once we do sit down and talk, there is a better understanding of how to work together,” Matt Mason explained.
“No other medium offers as good of a way for content creators to engage directly with their fans in a way that BitTorrent can,” he concluded.
You can download Kaskade’s bundle here.
Filed under: Announcements & Events, File-Sharing Programs, Networks & Services
BitTorrent has been quite busy over the last months trying to promote its image detached from that related to illegal filesharing and to consolidate its role and potential as a distribution platform able to propel artists, content and business. The decentralized, file-sharing protocol the company created truly changed for good the way large size data is transferred over the internet and now from partnerships with film distributors and artists to maybe implementing its tool even to ISPs, BitTorrent is clearly here to stay and affect the digital scene furthermore.
The company that developed the most popular p2p filesharing client is pretty confident about its future and has all the reasons to do so. We recently reported that BitTorrent surpassed a new milestone - 20 million mobile downloads with its Android, iOS, and Windows Phone apps and scored another hit with BitTorrent Sync – a fast, secure, and easy to use app that lets users sync their files and transfer large amounts of data between various devices.
In a recent interview with Motherboard which will reproduce here, Matt Mason, BitTorrent’s Executive Director of Marketing and Content (who has an inspirational background as pirate radio DJ and authored The Pirates’ Dilemma), talks about the company’s future plans and the efforts to further establish its legitimacy:
MOTHERBOARD: You guys have a weird problem as a brand. On the one hand you’re BitTorrent—and all sorts of pirate internet traffic is often called BitTorrent, by people who don’t distinguish between you guys as a company and your own technology. On the other hand…
Matt Mason: Yeah, it’s weird, I’ve been at BitTorrent for just over a year and I didn’t think things would change as quickly as they have. But one other good social stat that I saw last week was that we’re now, if you look at all of the conversation in the last week about BitTorrent, it’s now like 97% positive. Which is insane.
How do you gauge positivity?
Positivity for us is when people aren’t talking about BitTorrent as a pirating tool, but rather they’re talking about it as a technology. Or as a place where they found something awesome. We have a huge data science team at BitTorrent. And we really drill down into that stuff. It’s weird, it’s becoming one of the coolest brands in the world, that’s why I joined. People look at BitTorrent, like, “Yeah, those guys are fucked. Hollywood hates them.” But Hollywood is trying to work with us more and more; even though a lot of people are still very scared of us.
I can imagine. And it makes sense given what your technology is capable of. Let’s talk about BitTorrent’s livestreaming technology: BitTorrent Live. It’s meant to be impervious to traffic overload?
Yeah, completely. We don’t look at like Ustream and Livestream as competition; they should be using our protocol too. It would save them millions and millions of dollars. We looked at BitTorrent Live as a really good, positive thing to build for society. So Bram Cohen, who invented the BitTorrent protocol, invented BitTorrent Live. He spent about five years working on it. The reason we’ve taken such a long time to release it is because it’s like a nuclear technology. On the one hand, commercially, it’s amazing. You could stream a Superbowl game for zero dollars. That’s cool.
Yeah, and kind of funny.
And scary, right? If you’re ESPN, and BitTorrent and ESPN work together, it’s awesome for ESPN. They just saved a ton of money.
But if you just release it out of nowhere…
If I jack ESPN’s feed and I start streaming the Superbowl to twenty million people and selling ads around it—that’s not great for ESPN.
And pirate streams already exist. They’re just really blurry and prone to overloading. But whenever your technology does get released, people are going to figure out how to use it for piracy. Right?
That’s why we’ve taken five years to release it. Bram’s whole thing was, “I don’t just want to throw it out there, because I did that with BitTorrent.” And you know, the benefits of BitTorrent definitely outweigh the costs, but he’s like: “Let’s do this the right way.” And that’s what we’re doing. So we’ve had it in a closed beta for the last three months. We had like 50 broadcasters using it 24/7, just to fix bugs and test whether or not it actually works, and the scale. And it does. So we opened the beta in March.
But really though, despite how long it’ll take to put it out, when it’s out there people are going to be able to harness it to pirate streams, no?
Well, it is not open source and we will be able to shut things down under the DMCA process. So we didn’t do what we did with BitTorrent.
BitTorrent is like the Wild West.
BitTorrent is completely open source. It’s literally an open source protocol, a way of doing things. We could shut down BitTorrent inc. tomorrow. BitTorrent would still very likely be the way people are moving large files in ten years time. Like, it’s just a way of doing things that so deeply ingrained in the internet now, that it’s just there.
It reminds me of SETI@Home–the screensaver designed to track down real aliens. Distributed computing is only now reaching a more mainstream awareness. Sony just started shipping Playstation 3s with that cancer cell research tool. But distributed computing has so much more potential.
There’s people using BitTorrent for cancer research in Silicon Valley. The reason Bram invented BitTorrent was that he realized hypertext was not the thing we’re going to be moving large amounts of data with. HTTP is the wrong protocol for the internet. It’s great, but we need something else to do large media because that’s where we’re going to be moving in ten years.
So you’re saying Bittorrent will become bigger than hypertext?
Oh it already has. We’re already bigger than HTTP in terms of sheer data. Don’t think we’re trying to replace it. We need pictures and words as well; it’s part of the technology. But we’re there too, right? So during the first ten years it was, “BitTorrent is piracy.” It’s bad because the only people who figured it out, predominantly wanted to set up piracy websites. It wasn’t us, it’s not us, it’s not what we do. There’s 120 of us in San Francisco, all we’re doing is figuring out how BitTorrent fits in with the internet.
We built this thing called uTP (uTorrent Traffic Protocol) that nobody knows about. It’s to save every ISP in the world billions of dollars. We built it at the height of the Internet neutrality debate. UTP is now inside the BitTorrent protocol, it’s part of it. It’s a traffic congestion protocol—it dials back BitTorrent traffic at peak times on the Internet. So if you’re using BitTorrent and you decide to make a Skype call, or watch a YouTube video, or jump on the web—it will prioritize that stuff over what you’re doing on BitTorrent. So what that means is, if you make a Skype call and your BitTorrent traffic dials back, that’s good for you, but it’s also good for everybody in the square mile of your neighborhood. It’s completely self-regulating. Nobody gets throttled. Then at peak times on the Internet you see BitTorrent usage drop down and web usage go up. And then BitTorrent dials back up when people go to bed. So the biggest win we saw in this was, when we implemented it, Reed Hastings, the CEO of Netflix came out and said Netflix now has more traffic in the US than BitTorrent—and we were like, “Good. It’s working.” They were like, “We beat them!” And we were like, “You’re welcome.”
Has your position on piracy changed since you became a marketer at BitTorrent?
I think it’s stayed the same. The way to beat piracy is by legitimizing or copying the pirates. The thing we’re trying to do at BitTorrent is to legitimize this ecosystem because clearly there is value in it. I was a pirate radio DJ growing up in London and saw immense value in pirate radio. It’s how records happened, how grime happened, how dubstep happened, how drum and bass happened, all this stuff, it happened there. And it’s a bunch of kids sticking scaffolding poles to the side of tower blocks. And it’s going away because the Internet is taking its place.
It’s a better medium, ultimately. Pirate radio was great because it was a better medium than radio, for people who wanted to hear new shit that wasn’t spoon-fed to them. So I guess I see what you’re saying. But I do believe that piracy isn’t so popular because people like to steal—it’s because it provides a better service model. BitTorrent makes more sense to me than a cable subscription.
I joined BitTorrent after I met the CEO, Eric Klinker, in 2011. We were both speaking at a conference and I was there doing my “pirate’s dilemma” stump speech. He was on stage next and said, “What we’re trying to do at BitTorrent is solve the pirate’s dilemma—and here’s how.” He laid out what their big experiments were: how they helped a TV show (just with donations from fans watching the show) go from pilot to a full season that was completely funded by fans. That completely blew my mind, because I’d seen a friend of mine make a four million dollar pilot with NBC and then that thing got canned. I was like, “Holy shit, this is where it’s at.”
For the first ten years of BitTorrent’s history, it was a misunderstood technology. The same way VHS or MP3s or the record player was. When Edison invented the record player, musicians saw a guy who had created a tool that made an exact reproduction of the thing they needed to earn money. It reproduced live performances—it was like buying record players and using them in bars. And musicians started calling Edison a pirate. “This guy is going to ruin us.” Nobody saw the music industry coming. Nobody saw BitTorrent coming. Everybody saw it as piracy. That’s not what it is, that’s not what it’s about. All of the things we’re trying to do now as a society on the internet, can be made easier with distributed technology. There’s things happening now to BitTorrent that didn’t used to happen to us as a company…
This year at CES, the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the big thing people were talking about was 4K TVs. A 4K movie is this giant thing that looks beautiful. It’s not 3D TV. It’s not a shitty experience where you need glasses.
It just looks great.
And it’s a giant fucking file. It looks amazing. Even if you play a 4K file on a 1080 TV, it looks way better than regular 1080. It’s really cool.
How do you distribute 4K files?
The only way to do it is BitTorrent. We saw 4K, we were there, we’re always at CES, we do a lot of consumer electronics stuff, because BitTorrent’s baked into a lot of products, like TVs, things like that. We’ve got deals in place with twenty different companies. You can buy BitTorrent-certified TVs in Russia and Asia.
That’s awesome. How is BitTorrent looking to push the Internet forward now?
We’re going to keep experimenting with artists and content creators, putting good stuff out there. The things we put out now are going to be alphas and prototypes of the things we’re building, of an ecosystem based on better discovery, better publishing, better aggregation of legitimate content in BitTorrent. The thing no one has tried to build is a distributed solution to the problems of the content industry. That’s what we’re doing right now.
Filed under: Announcements & Events, File-Sharing Programs, Networks & Services
While The Pirate Bay moves its ship from one domain name to the other (read an updated report here), Norway cooks a plan to put the notorious website (and all services alike) to an early grave. Modifications to Norway’s Copyright Act suggest website blocking, while allowing rightsholders to spy and pursue file-sharers. This week, the proposed amendments received a green thumb from the country’s parliament.
Norway’s stance on file-sharing has been put under pressure starting with 2009, when the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) and some of the country’s movie studios asked Telenor (Norway’s biggest internet service provider) to block access to The Pirate Bay. The ISP refused, saying that there’s no legal basis for such an action. As such, a lawsuit followed, and the court’s ruling favored Telenor. The next year, specifically in February 2010, an appeal was filed by a rightsholder. This second attempt was also rejected.
Obviously, a change in the Copyright Law was needed, so in May 2011 the Ministry of Culture made public the new proposals. This Monday, the country’s parliament reviewed the proposed amendments; the Labor Progress Party, Socialist Left Party, Christian Democrats, and Conservatives voted “yes” on the bill. The only “no” came from the opposition.
The amendments aim to pin-point and prosecute not just those who facilitate copyright infringement, but also those who share copyrighted content without consent from rightsholders. As such, a rightsholder can force internet service providers to “prevent or impede access” to websites that have “extensively made available material that clearly violates copyrights.”
As far as those who run “rogue” websites are concerned, the amendments state that if the owner is unknown or has an undisclosed address “…the case can be decided without the person concerned being given an opportunity to comment.”
End-users will face the full extent of the modified Copyright Act (if the amendments pass) with no regard for Norway’s data protection laws.
“If it is likely that copyright or other rights under this law have been violated, the court may, notwithstanding the confidentiality provided by the Electronic Communications Act, at the request of the licensee, require a provider of electronic communications to disclose information that identifies the owner of the subscription used for the violation,” the modifications read.
“In order that the petition should be granted, the court must find that the arguments in favor of disclosure outweighs the interest of confidentiality. In assessing the court shall weigh the interests of the subscriber against the licensee’s interest in gaining access to the information taking into account severity, scope and effects of the violation.”
According to Jens Christian Koller of the Parliamentary Information Service, the amendments are still to pass a second review of the parliament before formal adoption.
“In practice therefore these amendments to the Copyright Act have been adopted, but it is still not correct to say that it has already been formally adopted by the Parliament. What you can say is that it is now very difficult to stop this law,” he told Teknofil.
Filed under: Announcements & Events, File-Sharing Programs, Networks & Services, Movies, MP3, Digital Audio & Games
Siluhd.com used to be one of the country’s most famous websites, but now it’s been shut down by China’s authorities.
Having more than 130 employees, 1.4 million registered users, and over 10 years of servicing the public with high-quality pirated movies, Siluhd.com was amongst China’s favorites. The portal’s CEO, along with some of the directors, was detained last week, and the website was shut down.
The announcement came through a local news portal called Sina. According to their report, Siluhd used to offer hundreds of thousands of HD movies (in Blu-Ray format), TV series, music tracks, and even games. A probable cause for the portal being targeted by the Chinese authorities was that it charged its members with 50 yuan (approximately $8.10) every month. However, it is yet unknown how much money their system generated along the years.
China’s World Intellectual Property Day is celebrated every April (on the 26th), and this year’s event came with a big, fat prize. According to statements offered by Chinese officials, Zhou and seven of the website’s directors were detained on suspicion of copyright infringement; out of the 139 employees, 30 could also be detained, as they allegedly uploaded copyrighted content.
“Police found in Zhou’s house more than 190 1-TB hard disks carrying over 10 thousand pieces of movies and TV series,” Caijing wrote last Friday.
Along with Siluhd, several other established websites, most of which offering free video/music streaming and downloading services, were shut down, Sina informed.
However, unlike Siluhd, their predicament could only be temporary, as one of them (yyets.com) resumed its business the next day after the popular event.