Filed under: Announcements & Events, Entertainment Industry, Movies, MP3, Digital Audio & Games
For God only knows what reasons, China has decided to pull Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained” out of the theatres. Movie enthusiasts were pretty upset about it and decided to take the alternative – watch the masterpiece from illegal sources.
As soon as moviegoers found out that the original version of the Oscar-winning Western film was banned from the theatres, replies such as these surfaced the internet:
“Chinese film buffs are the most dismayed and helpless of all,” said one blogger.
“Even when we are watching dated movies we had our screenings stopped. Luckily, we still have pirated discs!”
Another one, going by the name of Heilaoda, said that:
“I originally planned to see Django Unchained in a cinema today — but the shameless State Administration of Radio, Film and Television suddenly stopped the film. After waiting for so many days I wouldn’t want to wait anymore — so I downloaded the HD version of the film and watched it.”
Speaking of which, the movie’s opening day was totally ruined; just a minute after the screenings started, the staff there had to stop the movie by order of the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television.
“We regret that Django Unchained has been removed from theaters and are working with the Chinese authorities to determine whether the film can be rescheduled,” Sony Pictures spokesman Steve Elzer told The Hollywood Reporter.
Contacted by the press, Sony China declined to comment on the decision. Chinese authorities on the other hand said that “Django Unchained” was censored due to “technical reasons”. Without a clean explanation people’s imagination started wandering, some going as far as saying that the ban was due to the display of a penis in the movie.
While this may sound all amusing, the bigger picture highlights some very interesting political mishaps.
Hu Xijin – editor at Global Times and a fervent supporter of the conservative party, said that the pulling of the movie “has brought much more harm to the country and its politics than merely cutting out ‘harmful scenes.’ ”
“At present there is a lack of people within the establishment who could report to the powers that be about the real situation so as to avoid [the application of] wrong policies,” one of his posts reads.
“Maybe the establishment really doesn’t encourage people to do this. With the frequent strange decisions made by departments around the country, the price paid will be the government’s credibility.”
The need for a clear, age-based classification system has been repeatedly highlighted by both mainstream and independent filmmakers and producers, but so far the country’s government is still to act on such an imperative change, if ever.
At the moment, China’s rating system works on a two-lane freeway: either ban a movie or have it released for audiences of all ages.
Filed under: Announcements & Events, Digital Media, Mobile Phones, P2P technology, File-Sharing Programs, Networks & Services
Twelve years ago BitTorrent was born – a file-transfer protocol that had its ups and downs, jumping through hoops and fire, but most of all, helping internet users transfer large files between each other. At the time being, it is speculated that BitTorrent claims more active users than any other social networks combined, including Facebook and YouTube, but is the peer-to-peer protocol used just for pirating?
According to several reports, BitTorrent is currently accounting for about 70% of all the internet traffic. Why? Because it’s efficient, fast, and can handle huge amounts of data. These qualities combined easily lured pirates into using BitTorrent for copyright infringement. Starting with 2010, an estimated number of 200.000 BitTorrent users were sued on grounds of copyright infringement. What followed is no secret – a super-massive anti-piracy campaign led by groups such as the RIAA and the MPAA. But is BitTorrent all about piracy or is there a legal side of it?
“No one here would dispute that file sharing networks are used by those who would violate copyright. But this is not solely the domain of P2P; copyrighted software has been traded on electronic bulletin board systems (BBSs) since their inception and has permeated every public communication protocol on the Internet. Filesharing is a social phenomenon, not a technological one – demonizing P2P based on one use of the technology is a mistake in my opinion. P2P already has positive mainstream benefits in certain communities and new uses are being found all the time,” a blogger wrote on this matter.
The mentioned benefits are not to be neglected. Let’s take a look:
Film, video, and music
- The company (BitTorrent) has managed to obtain a number of licenses from Hollywood’s studios in order to promote and distribute popular content.
- Sub Pop Records uses BitTorrent Inc. to release and distribute its content (both audio and video).
- Podcasting software is beginning to integrate BitTorrent to help users download content on demand. e.g. Juice and Miro.
- DGM Live purchases are provided through BitTorrent.
- Vodo, a distributor of films, uses the peer-to-peer protocol.
- In the year 2008, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation had made available on BitTorrent’s networks a full show (Canada’s Next Great Prime Minister) for everyone to download. It was the first public broadcaster in North America to do so.
- The Amazon S3, also known as the “Simple Storage Service”, is (obviously) an online storage web service (offered by Amazon) that has built-in BitTorrent support.
- Companies such as Blizzard Entertainment use BitTorrent to deliver content and game patches for various games, including Diablo III, StarCraft II, WoW (Word of Warcraft). Furthermore, the games themselves are using peer-to-peer technology.
- Open source & free software projects support and encourage the use of peer-to-peer.
- Great Britain’s government once used BitTorrent to distribute details about how tax money was spent.
- Florida State University puts BitTorrent to good use by distributing large scientific data sets to its researchers.
- Many universities that have BOINC distributed computing projects have used the BitTorrent functionality of the client-server system to reduce the bandwidth costs of distributing the client side applications used to process the scientific data.
- Popular social networks, including Facebook and Twitter use BitTorrent for updates.
- The Internet Archive has added Bittorrent to its file download options. By doing this, the non-profit organization greatly improved their download speeds.
Despite these obvious upsides (and the above list could be easily continued) BitTorrent remains a notorious name, one that’s mistakenly associated with (just) copyright infringement. When will this change?
Hopefully, very soon…
Filed under: Announcements & Events, Entertainment Industry, File-Sharing Programs, Networks & Services
Apparently, the entertainment industries are closer than ever to disappear entirely, solely because of piracy. This is what a report from USC’s Annenberg Innovation claims. Their fingers point to advertising companies such as Google and Yahoo, linking them to piracy.
According to the report, Google’s AdSense and similar advertising services that promote file-sharing websites are going to bankrupt the entertainment industry. With this brilliant conclusion the report hopes to make advertising companies feel ashamed and hopefully drop their business contracts, thus cutting the financial cord of file-sharing portals.
Google’s response was one that you’d expect from a logical point of view – just because some Google code appears on a website that promotes piracy, it doesn’t mean Google does it too.
USC’s Annenberg Innovation Lab placed both Google and Yahoo on the top 10 advertising networks that offer support to major piracy sites across the world. The conclusion was drawn based on AI’s analysis of online ads that receive the most copyright infringement notices.
Jonathan Taplin – director of Annenberg Innovation – talked about this in LA Times. He told the story of his singer friend who had no financial problems, that until the early 2000s when medical bills for his throat cancer started to pile up. He was then forced to start touring again, because of piracy.
We are more than sympathetic to cancer patients, but what does this have to do with anything? Shouldn’t Mr. Jonathan maybe blame the health care system instead of piracy? After all, his friend had no financial problems for several years, and that without doing any work at all.
And how about the industry’s inability to accept services like Spotify into their business plan?
Also, Mr. Taplin should get his info straight. Websites like The Pirate Bay are hosting plenty of legal and original content, not to mention their involvement with promoting young artists through their Promo Bay website. If their financial flow is disrupted, then what? Wouldn’t that affect people who use these services for legitimate business just the same as his friend?
Filed under: Announcements & Events, Entertainment Industry, Movies, MP3, Digital Audio & Games
On his Tweeter account Kim Dotcom posted a five-step list with the common reasons why people pirate content. The message is addressed to copyright holders & lobbyists with the hope for a better understanding of piracy.
Kim’s first advice is to “Create great stuff“. It goes without saying that this is an important message for those content creators who have the strong belief that they should get paid for their work, regardless of the quality of their labour. Creating great content is a challenge, and getting paid for that sparkle in your mind is to be earned.
The second important step in Kim’s opinion is “Make it easy to buy“. This is a rather old problem of the industries, as they continuously refuse to accept new way of selling their content. In other words, people are inclined to buy stuff that’s available when and where they want it.
Another issue that drives people to pirate content is the release date. Kim believes that “Same day worldwide release” is the answer, and this makes perfect sense. It’s only natural for people to pirate a movie, game, etc. in a part of the world where the product is available later than in a country where it’s been already made available. Take the example of movies – in America a movie gets released let’s say in January 2013, but availability in Europe comes weeks or even months later.
After all said and done, content creators should also think about offering “A fair price“. Take the example of Louis CK, an established stand-up comedian who managed to make millions and keep his fans close by coming up with affordable prices – $5 for a video with him and $45 for a show ticket.
Last but not least, compatibility is also extremely important. Kim refers to this as “Works on any device” strategy. The best example here is Humble Bundle, a collection of indie games that made millions. Why? Because their games work on technically any operating system – Windows, Mac, Linux, and even Android. The benefits are more than obvious.
If you believe there’s more to it than these five steps, feel free to use the comment section below. We’d love to hear your ideas.
Filed under: Announcements & Events, Digital Media, Mobile Phones, P2P technology
According to his company, Mr. Moskowitz invented a form of cryptography designed to stop online piracy; as such, he’s suing Google, Shazam, and dozens of other companies for using his work without consent.
Scott’s company – Blue Spike LLC – filed a whole lot of lawsuits against companies that use common digital water-marking techniques. Amongst them, we find big names such as Soundhound, Viggle, TuneSat, and even Facebook.
However, the question that boils is: does he actually own the patent or is he just exploiting America’s frivolous patent system?
According to the company’s filings, Scott is “a pioneer in this new field between cryptography and signal analysis”; also, it claims that “signal abstracting” is a new way to detect unlicensed music, text and films on the internet.
These are among the most effective techniques available for combating piracy, which are completely undetectable to the thief, yet still enable content owners to easily search through large amounts of data to identify unauthorized copies of their works … “signal abstracting” identifies digital information and material [..] based solely on the perceptual characteristics of the material itself. … Signal abstracting avoids watermarking’s vulnerabilities by leaving the source signal unchanged and catalogues the signal’s identifying features or perceptual characteristics in a database.
Furthermore, the filing also explains that Moskowitz worked in the past with the federal government and several professional societies, that he has two degrees from UPenn, and was mentioned by the Forbes and New York Times for his work.
There are, however, several signs that point to the fact that this may be a hoax. First of all, his website doesn’t list any products/prices or clients. Second, Blue Spike’s office is registered in Tyler, Texas – ground zero for patent trolling cases. As for his genius, Scott’s degrees are from business school.
And since we’ve mentioned America’s crippled patent system, we should underline that Moskowitz applied for his invention in 2000 – the fatidic year when the U.S. Patent Office issued patents for “outstanding” inventions such as swinging on a swing and exercising your cat with a laser beam.
His lawyers say it’s about “going forward with what you believe in and not letting people walk all over your rights.” Blue Spike is not a patent troll, the claim.
Here are some other companies sued by Blue Spike: Rovio; MySpace; Audible Magic; Specific Media; Photobucket; DailyMotion; Soundcloud; Myxer; Qlipso; Brightcove; MediaFire; Zedge; Harmonics; iMesh; Metacafe; iPharoah.