As 2015 comes to a close the advanced copies of movies are in transit to different groups and agencies. Many of these are for awards or accolades of some sort and almost without exception, copies of these (called screeners) end up on the internet available for download. This year has seen a bonanza of screener news including tracking one copy of the Hateful Eight to the Co-CEO of a production finance company, Andrew Kosove. As you might imagine things got more than a little interesting after this was uncovered.
Despite a valiant attempt to label P2P transfers and BitTorrent as the devil Microsoft and others are looking to move this direction for updates and other services. In the latest build of Windows 10 the new P2P updating mechanism was found hiding out as an option in the code. Fortunately Microsoft does give you a few options when it comes to this new feature.
According to recent reports The Pirate Bay has suddenly become available in the UK for almost all ISPs. The change happened when the Pirate Bay moved to CloudFlare and turned on HTTPS Strict. Once this was done things turned around for the notorious site. What is interesting is that ISPs that were previously blocking the site do not appear to be scrambling to get it back under control. The exact reason for the sudden reappearance of the site is unclear, but speculation is that using CloudFlare’s HTTPS Strict made all the difference.
The word torrent conjures up many things. To the average person the word torrent means a way to get movies, TV shows and other media online for free. To the MPAA, RIAA and other copyright holders it is a bad thing that must be stopped. To a technically minded person it is a protocol that allows you to quickly share data be many people by splitting the data out between multiple systems or seeds. The more seeds the faster the information is shared. This concept has led to more than a few side projects including a secure seeded chat application and now perhaps a new way to serve web pages.
We have talked about how the MPAA, RIAA and others use fantasy math to come up with the figures about how much Piracy hurts them. Usually they use these fantasy number when asking lawmakers for harsher punishments and also to show how malignant file sharers are. These numbers allege that every single download is a lost sale which leads to more revenue lost in concessions and many other non-related areas.
One of the most popular torrent clients is uTorrent (used monthly by around 125 million users for downloading) will start to serve adverts within its software in the near future. An announcement stated that ads will be linked with the content of the torrents a user downloads, whether it is a legal or illegal download. uTorrent already makes decent money, between $15-20 million per year, thanks to a toolbar for web browsers that is installed as a part of the install package. However that doesnt seem to be enough for its directors so they hope to make more with the ads they will introduce in the new version
About a week ago we first learned of a Russian company called Pirate Pay. This little startup that had its beginning as a traffic routing system for ISPs had come up with a very interesting way to protect movies from being downloaded by BitTorrent users. They would literally attack the torrent swarms with poisoned clients and generate what amounts to a DDoS (Distributed Denial or Service). At the time we discussed the implications of this type of protection as well as the legality of it.
There is only one constant in the universe and that is change. Although things may seem static and unmoving they are not. This chaotic nature extends from the largest black hole to the tiniest particle. Everything is in constant motion and everything is working against everything else. Even our societies exhibit this behavior; as one event happens the people in it change to adapt to it. Just look at the Internet. This giant amorphous mass (represented by a cloud) has more cultures and sub-cultures than you can find on a map of the world.
Unfortunately just like the many cultures that exist in the physical world, the online cultures are very misunderstood. Too many corporations and groups seek to control it or nail it down. Thankfully, and also unfortunately doing this is about as easy as holding water in your hand (or attempting to heard cats).
The most obvious example of this is online file sharing. Here we have watched as countless laws, rules and restrictions have been put in place. Companies have published the numbers or alleged losses to file sharing (while posting record quarters) and yet it does not seem to stop. Even the crazy (and borderline unethical) lawsuits that are files in the US court system has not been a deterrent. All that has happened is this culture has adapted and changed their tactics and method. Where before communications between groups were open now many use encrypted VPN (Virtual Private Network) connections. Sites that catalog the available shares are using SSL certificates (often self-signed to avoid being tracked back) to keep the unwanted out. Memberships are becoming invitation only to keep the eyes of the MPAA and RIAA out.
This is not to say that the stragglers won’t still get caught. There will always be the little fish that mess up and end up on the kitchen table, but the people that develop the content are extremely sophisticated and are becoming more and more difficult to find. The guys over at TorrentFreak liken this to viruses Vs. medication. Personally I like to think of this more in line with Prohibition and the costly (and widely ineffective) war on drugs in the US. During prohibition the US spent millions of dollars fighting a losing battle. No matter what they did they could not keep liquor out of the US. The more they tried the more sophisticated the people importing the liquor became. It only stopped when they re-legalized alcohol and taxed it.
There is a growing movement to do the same thing with some of the drugs that are being brought into the US (although there are still some that really need to be controlled). They say that History can be a great teacher for those that are willing to read it, but for some reason I think that too many people want to ignore the lessons available there. The media and software companies really need to take a look at the mobile market to see what can be done. Although there is still piracy at this level it is much less rampant. People are willing to pay the money to get the apps they want. The reason is that these apps are (for the most part) reasonably prices; unlike the hugely disproportionate prices seen in the PC, Console, and DVD/BRD world. If these companies could finally work out a fair pricing structure (meaning the CEOs and other execs would need to get paid a little less) and a good method for content delivery then you would finally see piracy decline. It will never go away as that is part of the Internet Culture, but the number of people taking that risk would drop off as it would not be seen as “worth it”.
It really is sad that the greed of a few people (this included the actors getting pair tens of millions for a single movie) is what fuels much of the file sharing and piracy out today. Maybe one day we will see a change here, but I have a feeling that the culture that runs the show will never allow that.
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If you have been living under a rock for the past few weeks (or are in the mainstream media) then you might not have heard about the Occupy the world movement that is going on. I am not just talking about Occupy Wall Street, but literally Occupy the world. In fact as I am writing this Occupy Orlando is starting up not all that far from where I am sitting. Although these protests are non-violent the ratings and profit based media companies will be sure to highlight anything that is remotely violence related, but I digress.
Many have wonder about the whys of these protests and have asked about the specific goals. What does Anonymous and the people that are actually at each days event want? The media has been very confusing here as well, they have pointed out multiple times that there have been no statements about why these protests are happening or what the goals are. This is despite numerous press releases from Anonymous and also from the people that are actually in the streets! You have to wonder if there is not someone trying to put out misinformation about these protests to downplay their importance.
One of my favorite statements that have been put out was reposted recently by a commenter on TorrentFreak.com
“We The People demand that ALL corporate influence in politics and the courts come to an immediate and permanent end. No more “Citizens United”, no more lobbying, no more “Justice that only money can buy”, no more corporate campaign contributions, no more lying sellout puppet politicians, no more illegal tax breaks for corporations, no more bailouts, no more pro-corporate legislation, no more corporate impunity, no more predatory lawyers, no more oppression. We demand the Voice of the People be heard loud and clear, and corporate money shuts the fuck up. It’s OUR world, it’s not for sale, and we’re taking it back!”
Anyone else think that is ambiguous? I did not think so. Now this comment (taken from another blog) was under an article that illustrates exactly what people are talking about with corporate involvement in politics and the judicial system. It appears that in many bit torrent cases Law Enforcement Officers, Politicians, Public Figures (most notably actors) and US Military serving overseas are excluded. Now wait a minute…. Haven’t the Big Media companies talked about the massive harm that Bit Torrent downloads cause and the importance of reclaiming the money lost from these activities? You would think that no one would be excluded especially people that have the ability to pay the disproportionately large settlements. It also raises the question of “why are politicians excluded from ANY law”. You would think that as lawmakers and leaders in our country that they would (and should) be held to a higher standard. Alas this is not and has not been the case for many years.
It shows that with the right amount of money or a lobbying group (which is also money based) you can get what you want in our legal system. This has impacted our technology sectors in many ways, where companies attempt to crush competition in the court room instead of in the market. All you have to do is look at the number of useless or broad patents and you will see how low we have sunk. I am all about a company protecting its inventions and their products from blatant theft and or reproduction, but someone has to draw the line and reign in these corporations. Soon there will be nothing new out there or we will be faced with bland and boring products that are nothing more than refreshes. This hurts the consumer and the economy. So the next time you hear one of the big media companies say that Anonymous or the Occupy movement has no clear goal, just take a quick look on the internet and you will quickly see what they are angry about. You might also find that you agree with them and what they are hoping to accomplish.
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