Filed under: Announcements & Events, Entertainment Industry, File-Sharing Programs, Networks & Services, Legal P2P News & Issues
Back in March it was our last report on the Jammie Thomas file-sharing case that lasted for nearly six years, caused a lot of controversy and ended with her having to pay a fine of $222.000 in damages to the RIAA for sharing, back in 2005, 24 songs via the defunct Kazaa p2p client. Now the 36-year ‘file-sharing mom’, as she became known, made the headlines again.
After years of dragging Thomas in courts the RIAA has proposed her a discount in exchange for some anti-piracy services she would help them with. Without trying to hide our satisfaction about it – Thomas answer was a big, fat: NO!
This case was the first to get hugely mediated and one of the most notorious since the RIAA started hunting down file-sharers. For fear that a soft penalty would affect the anti-piracy campaign, and RIAA’s image too much, the Obama administration stepped in, earlier, this year, speaking against any possible that reduction of the $222,000 fine.
After all the noise, Thomas is now left owing the RIAA a great of money which she can’t pay. This made the anti-piracy body consider another option and offered Thomas the ‘chance’ to work for them and reduce her fine.
She didn’t have to ponder much: “I’m not doing it,” was clearly uttered.
When commenting upon the issue the RIAA argues that all their attempts are well-intended and directed towards the less harmful solution:
“We have communicated to Ms. Thomas that we would consider a variety of non-monetary settlement options, which is up to her to offer. We think this is a gesture of a good will and we’re doing what we can to resolve this case in a manner that works for everyone.”
It seems that Thomas may file for bankruptcy and indeed the happy-end of this endless case may be quite hard to figure out. As TorrentFreak points out “everyone involved in the case ends up losing. Except the lawyers.” Although I wouldn’t really picture RIAA as a loser.
Filed under: Announcements & Events, Digital Media, Mobile Phones, P2P technology, Entertainment Industry, File-Sharing Programs, Networks & Services
After many years of hard work and dedication, Bram Cohen made BitTorrent Live available for public use. The technology behind BT Live is expected to change everything we know about live streaming; to secure its future, the American computer programmer has filed a patent application.
“We plan to shape the future of live broadcasts and want to work with broadcasters to accomplish that,” Cohen said in a statement.
BT Live is unique, in terms of both structure and technology, Cohen said in the patent application that was filed this month.
It was far from easy to come up with this technology, but Cohen’s passion for the complex managed to turn BT Live from dream to fact.
“Doing live streaming well on the Internet has long been a problem. Peer to peer live-streaming has always suffered from high latency, meaning there is typically a lot of delay between when a broadcast happens and when end users see it, typically dozens of seconds or minutes,” Cohen told TorrentFreak.
“BitTorrent Live allows a broadcaster to stream to millions of people with just a few seconds of latency. This is new, and unique, and potentially world-changing.”
The American programmer assures BitTorrent’s community that the patent is not going to restrict users’ access to the new protocol. BT Live will be free to use for both end users and publishers.
“We want people to use and adopt BitTorrent Live. But we aren’t planning on encouraging alternative implementation because it’s a tricky protocol to implement and poorly behaved peers can impact everyone. We want to ensure a quality experience for all and this is the best approach for us to take,” he said.
“To get slightly more technical, the way BitTorrent Live works is by making subsets of peers responsible for subsets of data. High robustness and low latency is achieved by using a screamer protocol between those peers.”
“For the last hop it uses a non-screamer protocol to regain congestion control and efficiency. There is redundancy and some waste in the screaming, but that’s kept under control by only using it to get data to a small fraction of the peers.”
Cohen is confident that BT Live will greatly improve home entertainment, as he believes that television will sooner or later adopt the internet into its infrastructure.
“I believe that inevitably all video streaming will be done over the Internet. It’s simply a better technology for doing so. On a technical level the cable approach is expensive and can only reach subscribers, as opposed to the Internet which can reach anyone,” he told TF.
“So far the one thing cable infrastructure has managed to still do better is live broadcasting. But the BitTorrent Live technology makes it practical to move that to the Internet without being cost prohibitive. We plan to shape the future of live broadcasts and want to work with broadcasters to accomplish that.”
Although BitTorrent is still seen by many as a technology used to infringe copyright, Bram Cohen begs to differ. His struggle to make BitTorrent a reliable and legitimate business goes as far as to make the best of it for both the public and content creators.
In this video, the computer whiz explains not only why BitTorrent will succeed where other file-sharing protocols failed (see the fate of Napster and LimeWire), but also why several huge companies (including Facebook, Twitter, and Wikipedia) rely on peer-to-peer.
On the other side, the music and movie industry, alongside with internet providers involved in the “six-strikes” program, explained their plans for the future at a Congressional Internet Caucus Advisory Committee hearing.
The hearing included a presentation from MPAA’s Senior Vice President Marianne Grant, who explained how the industry plans to gather evidence on illegal file-sharing. On that regard, the MPAA will (mainly) monitor BitTorrent users, as it’s believed that the peer-to-peer protocol is the main source for downloading movies and TV-shows. Grant also explained that the MPAA is planning on sending copyright alerts to “the right subscribers”.
“The thing about BitTorrent is that it’s very efficient at dividing large files up into small pieces and assembling them very quickly on the user’s computer. For film and television it’s by far the best way to get what you want, if you’re interested in that,” she said.
Furthermore, the MPAA will make a list of movies and TV-shows. The list will goto a tracking company (MarkMonitor), that will search for the respective files on torrent portals.
“We don’t want to send a single notice that isn’t a valid notice. We want to make sure that every single one of them is supported by evidence and a robust communication methodology that makes sure that someone couldn’t come from left field, and send one and pretend to be us,” Grant said.
The tracking company is also responsible with establishing whether an alleged infringer is indeed sharing the “flagged” file or not. Once this is established, the gathered evidence will be sent to the ISP. From here on, the internet provider is to send a copyright alert to the subscriber.
Although the industry takes pride into the system’s accuracy, only time will tell whether it will actually work as planned or not.
See Grant’s speech here – starting with minute 25.
Filed under: Announcements & Events, Digital Media, Mobile Phones, P2P technology, Entertainment Industry
The music industry was the first to feel the various effects of a digital era, and as time passed, their pockets grew thinner and thinner. After more than a decade of losing money to this arch “enemy”, the industry is finally coming around with an increase of 0,3% in their revenues. Not much, but could this mean an unexpected recovery?
The report was released on Tuesday by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, who said that the total revenue of the music industry has reached 16.5% billion, the first sign of an increasing income.
“It’s clear that 2012 saw the global recording industry moving onto the road to recovery,” Frances Moore, chief executive of the London-based federation, said.
“There’s a palpable buzz in the air that I haven’t felt for a long time.”
It’s been a tremendous struggle for the music industry to go head to head with a digital era that proved to be stronger, more reliable, and more accessible than anything music enthusiasts had seen before. However, starting with 2012 the unthinkable happened – digital sales, along with new sources of revenues brought more money into the industry’s pockets, a fortunate event that helped countering the continuing decline in CD sales.
“At the beginning of the digital revolution it was common to say that digital was killing music,” Edgar Berger (CEO of the International, Sony Music Entertainment) said.
But things have changed since then, and now Edgar Berger says that “digital is saving music”.
He is referring to digital services that support the music industry, and they include iTunes, subscription-based services such as Spotify, Rhapsody, Muve Music, and the likes of it. As a matter of fact, an increase in the number of subscribers to these services has been recorded, with 44% more users than last year.
The obvious success of subscribe-based services, has made giant companies like Apple and Google think; it’s very likely that the two are to introduce the same kind of services in the near future.
Royalties from musical performances and marketing models are also on the rise.
The improvement in revenues is not, however, felt in countries like China and Russia, where music piracy is still a major problem. Also, Great Britain could follow suit, especially since one of its prominent retail music chain went out of business (we’re referring to the HMV).
As for the United States, music sales had dropped in 2012, but, according to the British “Enders Analysis” research group this is going to change in 2013, with revenues rising from $5.32 billion to $5.35 billion.
Alice Enders, senior analyst at the research firm, is confident that the music industry will be rising from its ashes sooner than we think.
“If there is a lesson to take away, it is probably that the earlier you can embrace new business models and services, the better,” Paul Brindley, chief executive of Music Ally, said.
“Whether this is signaling a turnaround that will lead to inexorable growth, who knows? But it does at least signal a bottoming out, with room for growth.”
Well, if services like Spotify would reach the Eastern bloc (and not only), maybe Mr. Paul Brindley is right. Accessibility, a fair price, both online and offline purchasing, and embracing a digital era that’s obviously not trying to take the bread off creators’ mouth are things the industry should seriously consider.
Filed under: Announcements & Events, Entertainment Industry, Movies, MP3, Digital Audio & Games
2012: Google releases a “Transparency Report”, pointing to takedown requests and the removal of infringing links. One year later, the Recording Industry Association of America is not happy with the search giant, blaming it for doing a really bad job.
“We recognize and appreciate that Google has undertaken some positive steps to address links to illegal music on its network,” Steven Marks, general counsel for the RIAA, said.
“Unfortunately, our initial analysis concludes that so far Google’s pledge six months ago to demote pirate sites remains unfulfilled. Searches for popular music continue to yield results that emphasize illegal sites at the expense of legitimate services, which are often relegated to later pages. And Google’s auto-complete function continues to lead users to many of those same illicit sites,” he continued.
RIAA’s study had apparently put to good use Google’s Transparency Report, highlighting pirate sites that still manage to show on Google’s first page. What the industry did was to pin-point the sites that were marked as “serial infringers per Google’s Transparency Report” and highlight the fact that they (the sites) still manage to be on Google’s first page of results nearly 98% of the time.
Moreover, Google’s “auto-complete” feature is continuing to suggest results that are directing people to infringing content.
“Well-known, authorized download sites, such as iTunes, Amazon and eMusic, only appeared in the top 10 results for a little more than half of the searches,” says RIAA’s report card.
In response, a Google spokesperson said:
“We have invested heavily in copyright tools for content owners and process takedown notices faster than ever. In the last month we received more than 14 million copyright removal requests for Google Search, quickly removing more than 97% from search results. In addition, Google’s growing partnerships and distribution deals with the content industry benefit both creators and users, and generate hundreds of millions of dollars for the industry each year.”
It’s quite obvious that this game of cat catching mouse is not going to be over soon, but maybe the RIAA should come up with new methods of blocking rogue websites from Google’s search results or stop doing it at all.
Filed under: Announcements & Events, Entertainment Industry, Movies, MP3, Digital Audio & Games
Not long after the US Supreme Court had been asked to handle Jammie Thomas-Rasset’s case, the young mother who has been charged with copyright infringement for sharing 24 songs, the Obama Administration stepped in, asking the court not to meddle with the previous verdict – a fine of $220.000.
The lawsuit involves the RIAA and the aforementioned woman, mother of four children and music’s fan. Her ordeal started in 2007 when a US court found her guilty and agreed on a fine of $220.000. After appealing this decision, two more trials followed, but, unfortunately for her, the result was the same. In other words, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals offered its support for the previous verdict, and Jammie was still to pay that ridiculous six-figure fine.
Her lawyer also highlighted that Thomas-Rasset’s trial judge “called for relief from Congress, and throughout his opinions called the statutory damages sought by the recording industry harsh and oppressive.”
A brief that was filed on Monday by the Obama Administration dismisses the argument and pleads the Supreme Court not to consider Jammie’s appeal.
“The public interest cannot be realized if the inherent difficulty of proving actual damages leaves the copyright holder without an effective remedy for infringement,” the brief reads.
The Recording Industry Association of America is also against Jammie’s appeal, saying that:
“Jammie Thomas-Rasset’s copyright infringement was willful in the extreme,” a brief filed on Monday by several major labels writes.
“Three separate juries have concluded that her blatant and unapologetic violation of Respondents’ rights warranted a substantial award under the Copyright Act’s statutory damages provision.”
The music industry claims that the penalty is justified in light of Thomas-Rasset’s “particularly blameworthy conduct.”
Jammie still has her hopes up, but she should also consider that just a fraction of the appeals filed to the Supreme Court are being accepted. Hope, however, is all she has.
In a similar case, Joel Tenenbaum had been fighting the RIAA, but his appeal was rejected by the Supreme Court back in May.