Posts tagged "Google"

Prince Targets Facebook Users in $22m Live Concert Piracy Lawsuit

International superstar Prince is back on the copyright warpath, yet again targeting individuals who are quite possibly some of his biggest fans. In a lawsuit filed in the Northern District of California, Prince is chasing down fans who found links to his live concerts and posted them on Facebook and blogs. The unlucky 22 individuals, 20 of whom are yet to be identified, face a damages claim of $22 million.

prince1Prince Rogers Nelson is undoubtedly a great and prolific singer/songwriter, but if people want to be a fan they better pay for every last second of his music they listen to – or else.

Prince loves to file copyright infringement lawsuits and at the start of 2014 another has landed, ready to stir up a storm as the details become known and the case develops.

Filed in the United States District Court in the Northern District of California, the lawsuit targets 22 individuals, only two of which are referenced by their real names. The others remain ‘Does’ although eight are indicated by their online nicknames.

Sadly, with names such as PurpleHouse2, PurpleKissTwo and NPRUNIVERSE it’s difficult to see these people as anything other than Prince fans. But it is Doe 8 – THEULTIMATEBOOTLEGEXPERIENCE – that gives the clearest indication of what this lawsuit is all about.

Prince
 

“The Defendants in this case engage in massive infringement and bootlegging of Prince’s material,” the lawsuit reads.

“For example, in just one of the many takedown notices sent to Google with respect to Doe 2 (aka DaBang319), Prince identified 363 separate infringing links to file sharing services, with each link often containing copies of bootlegged performances of multiple separate musical compositions.”

While it’s clear by now that Prince doesn’t share the same opinions as the Grateful Dead or Nine Inch Nails on bootlegs, for once a file-sharing site isn’t in the cross hairs. The lawsuit says that the defendants used Facebook and Google’s Blogger “to accomplish their unlawful activity”, either by running fanpages or blogs and linking to live concert recordings without permission.

The complaint lists several pieces of audio offered by the defendants, concluding Prince performances from 2011 in North Carolina, 2002 in Oakland and 1983 in Chicago. Apparently even the circulation of a 31-year-old live set damages Prince’s earning capability, with the singer leveling charges of direct copyright infringement, ‘unauthorized fixation and trafficking in sound recordings’, contributory copyright infringement and bootlegging.

“Prince has suffered and is continuing to suffer damages in an amount according to proof, but no less than $1 million per Defendant,” the lawsuit reads.

Prince has a long tradition of suing anyone who dares to use his material without permission, but doesn’t always carry through on his threats. A 2007 effort to sue The Pirate Bay went nowhere. This new lawsuit is likely to go much further.

Update Jan 28: Without giving any reason, Prince has now dropped the lawsuit. The dismissal was without prejudice so could be raised again in the future

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Posted by plates55 - February 5, 2014 at 1:59 pm

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Ultra-efficient Datacenters And Servers, But In The Future Will We Need Them?

Sometimes the solution to a problem involves thinking completely outside of the box. Case in point the rapidly increasing quantity of data that exists, recent studies suggest that by 2017 there will be 3.6 billion people online, 19 billion global machine-to-machine network connections and 1.4 zettabytes of information being generated online. At the same time, Jonathan Koomey, a research fellow at the Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance at Stanford University, recently told the “How Green is the Internet?” symposium held by Google that the internet uses around 10% of the world’s electricity (up 25% in a little over a decade). Put this ever increasing deluge of information, and the corresponding increase in energy consumption together and you have a real cause of concern for those who operate data centers at scale – indeed Gartner research recently identified skyrocketing energy demands and costs as the #1 concern for data center operators globally.

So. What is the solution? Traditional approaches have been to make data centers as efficient as possible. Data center operators have invested heavily in creating highly efficient facilities – I had the pleasure of visiting one of the best examples of ultra efficiency last year at the SuperNAP facility in Las Vegas. The other approach has been at the server level – in recent years there has been a plethora of low power server developments, just the other week Servergy release a new class of servers boasting the highest performance-per-watt available. According to the company their new server line saves up to 16X in server energy and space costs over traditional systems.

That’s all well and good, but what happens when you think outside the square? When you have the ability to not look at commercial imperatives but rather look at a problem space conceptually? When you’re not tied to a corporate entity but are immersed in the pure research atmosphere of a university? Researchers at Cambridge University had that opportunity an came up with something fascinating. A future internet infrastructure that doesn’t need servers to function.

As covered over on GigaOm, researchers have found a way to deliver content without the need for servers to house and deliver the data This move away from centralized computing is part of a project funded by the European Union, Pursuit. the so=called Pursuit internet is similar to the approach used by BitTorrent or Skype – information is shared directly between individual users rather than through a third party server. The concept replicates data in multiple locations to increase efficiency and make the network as a whole more robust.

The research team have already created a proof of concept of Pursuit – given current concerns about NSA access to centralized data, the ideas raised by Pursuit obviously resonate with those who keep a watching eye on privacy. Of course Pursuit doesn’t answer the concerns of those who suspect there is widespread capturing of data on the public internet The technical manager for Pursuit, Dirk Trossen responded to this concern saying that:

Similar to today, if you designed the deployment appropriately, censorship and surveillance would become very difficult (using encryption, ‘hiding’ behind labels without using meaningful names or changing the name to label association rapidly. However, censorship and surveillance can also become easy by centralising the main components. All this, however, is similar to today’s internet. The surveillance unearthed by Snowden was enabled at large by the centralisation of main components of today’s internet (in U.S. jurisdiction). There are certain architectural measures one can do to circumvent that but it’s hard nonetheless. I don’t think that it would be much different in a Pursuit world, if you don’t have the societal push for reduced surveillance. In short: censorship and surveillance in a policy/society problem

Pursuit aims to replace the protocols used today on the public internet. This is in contrast to a project out of PARC, the “content centric network” which would run alongside TCP/IP. For those who raise questions about the sheer volume of data needing to be stored and serve, Trossen points out the fact that the massive increase in the numbers of connected devices combined with Pursuit’s ability to handle files split into multiple “chunks” means that this isn’t a major barrier to adoption.

Of course there are plenty of other barriers to Pursuit gaining a toehold, in particular the fact that some of the biggest sources of stored data – Google, Facebook and even Twitter, make money specifically out of storing, analyzing and acting upon user data. Any move to distributed storage out of their control would likely be met with resistance.

Still, as a pure research project, Pursuit is very interesting. I don’t think the data center operators (or the efficient server vendors for that matter) have anything to worry about just yet though

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Posted by plates55 - December 16, 2013 at 9:32 am

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Report: Microsoft might make Windows Phone, Windows RT free

Microsoft might be going after Google in a big way. According to The Verge, sources familiar with Microsoft’s plans say that the company’s OS VP Terry Myerson is considering a move to make Windows Phone and Windows RT free.

This shift would be a pretty direct shot against Google, which offers its Android OS for free. Microsoft currently licenses the software to device makers, although Nokia’s Windows Phone devices make up over 80 percent of the market share for Windows Phone. Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia’s mobile hardware division will remove this chunk of licensing revenue.

By offering its platforms for free, Microsoft would likely get more manufacturers interested in using the software, which in turn could attract more developer interest. And by getting more Windows-powered devices out there, it could help slow the growth of Android.

To recoup money lost on licensing fees, Microsoft would attempt to gain revenue elsewhere. The Verge suggests that ads in Windows 8 apps and Microsoft’s built-in Bing search help offset whatever is lost.

Of course, Microsoft still makes plenty of money by licensing Windows 8, and that doesn’t appear to be changing anytime soon. It also makes a great deal of money on Android device royalties, to the tune of a reported $2 billion per year.

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Posted by plates55 - December 16, 2013 at 9:30 am

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The Top 7 Technology Trends That Will Dominate 2014

Strap yourself in, it’s going to be a wild ride. In considering the changes we’ve seen in technology over the past year, I’m bracing myself for unprecedented growth when it comes to anytime, anywhere, on-demand information and entertainment.

Based on the trends we’ve seen so far in 2013, I predict 2014 will see many fledgling technologies mature and grow beyond what we could have imagined just a few years ago.

So without further ado, here are my top 7 predictions for technology trends that will dominate 2014.

1. Consumers will come to expect Smart TV capabilities

With Smart TV shipments expected to reach 123 million in 2014 – up from about 84 million in 2012 – we are poised to see explosive growth in this industry.

In the midst of this growth, we will continue to see fierce competition between major players like Samsung, Panasonic, and LG. Prices will need to continue to drop, as more consumers crave, and even expect, the ability to use Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Instant Video and their web browser via their TV.

Of course, the development we’re all waiting for in 2014 is the release of Apple’s much anticipated iTV. It appears the iTV is now in the early development stage, and that Apple may be in the process of making a deal with Time Warner to facilitate programming on Apple devices.

The device is rumoured to include iCloud sync, the ability to control your iPhone, and ultra HD LCD panels. Keep an eye out for this release as early as summer 2014.

2. Smart watches will become ‘smarter’ Rather than having to pull out your smartphone or tablet for frequent email, text and social media updates, you’ll glance at your watch.

2014 is the year to keep an eye out for the Google watch. Rumor has it the device will integrate with Google Now, which aims to seamlessly provide relevant information when and where you want it (and before you’d asked for it).

We’ll see smart watches become even smarter, learning what news and updates are important to us, when we want to receive them, and responding more accurately to voice controls.

For smart watches to succeed, they’ll need to offer us something that our smart phone can’t; whether this means more intuitive notifications, or the ability to learn from our daily activities and behaviours (for instance, heart rate monitoring), it will be interesting to see.

3. Google Glass will still be in “wait and see” mode

While Google Glass hasn’t yet been released to the general public, we’ve heard enough about it to know it’s still very early days for this technology. With an estimated 60,000 units expected to sell in 2013, and a predicted several million in 2014, it’s still a long way from becoming a common household technology.

These augmented reality glasses allow you to access information like email and texts, take hands-free pictures and videos, effortlessly translate your voice, and even receive overlaid walking, cycling or driving directions, right within your field of vision.

It’s predicted that both Google Glass 2.0, and its companion, the Glass App Store, should be released to the general public sometime in 2014.
Be on the lookout for competition in this market, particularly from major players like Samsung. I predict we’ll see much of this competition aimed at niche markets like sports and healthcare.

4. Other applications and uses for Apple’s TouchID will emerge

The release of the iPhone 5S has, for the first time, made on-the-go fingerprint security a reality. The potential for Touch ID technology to really take off is, I believe, an inevitable reality. Touch ID, which uses a high-resolution camera to scan your fingerprint, allows convenient ultra-security for your iPhone.

Currently, the technology is limited; the only real uses are unlocking your iPhone, and making purchases in the App store. I predict that we’ll see this technology incorporated into other Apple products soon. I think we’ll even see TouchId integrated into MacBook products later this year or next.

I also predict TouchID, though not quite bug-free, will be used for other purposes, such as to securely integrate with home security systems, access password software, and even pay for groceries (more on that in an upcoming article).

5. Xbox One and PS4 will blur the lines between entertainment and video gaming

The new gaming consoles (Xbox One and PS4) will increasingly integrate social media-like connectivity between players. Players could have followers, work together to achieve in-game goals, and new technology will allow for equally-skilled players to compete.

The PS4, slated to be released November 15th, will track both the controller and the player’s face and movements for more intuitive play.

Apart from great gaming, these systems will allow for a far more integrative entertainment experience. For instance, rather than switching between TV, gaming, music and sports, you’ll be able to do two or even three activities side-by-side, or by easily switching back and forth.

6. 3D Printing will begin to revolutionize production

We’ve seen a huge rise in the popularity of 3D printing this year, coupled with a dramatic fall in pricing. The ability to easily create multi-layered products that are actually usable – well, that’s pretty amazing.

I’ll be watching for a movement towards simple products being produced close to home, and to greater customization given the ease of manufacturing. I think it’s inevitable that manufacturing in countries such as China will become less appealing and lucrative for businesses given the high costs of shipping and managing overseas contracts.

I don’t expect these changes to reach their full effect in 2014, however I believe businesses will be starting to consider how this will affect their production plans for 2015 and beyond. 7. The movement towards natural language search will make search more accurate and intuitive

There was a time when we used terms like “personal digital assistant” to describe a hand-held calendar. Oh, how times have changed.

With the emergence of intelligent personal assistants like Google Now and Apple’s Siri, the goal is to have information intuitively delivered to you, often before you even ask for it. The shift seems to be away from having to actively request data, and instead to have it passively delivered to your device.

Natural language search will continue to overtake keyword-based search, as seen by Google’s move towards longer, more natural searches in its recent release of Hummingbird, Google’s largest algorithm update thus far.

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Posted by plates55 - December 16, 2013 at 9:05 am

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Google Bans Torrent Search Extensions For Chrome Over Piracy Concerns

Google has removed several torrent search extensions from the Chrome Web Store because they could enable “unauthorized access” to copyrighted content. The decision, which may have come after pressure from the entertainment industry, is a peculiar one since the extensions are no more infringing than Google’s own search bar. “This is really a sad day for web freedom as Google has now taken the stance of guilty until proven innocent,” a disappointed site operator comments

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Posted by plates55 - December 13, 2013 at 2:47 pm

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Will Google Docs kill off Microsoft Office?

For years, Microsoft has stockpiled a large amount of cash from sales of its Office productivity software suite.

Yet over the past year, something peculiar happened. Microsoft (MSFT, Fortune 500) has made it easier for consumers to access Office via the cloud and online downloads, regardless of what computer you’re using. In the past week, Office even enabled real-time, collaborative document editing for its free offering, Office Web Apps.

Why the big push into making these offline money makers into cheaper cloud services? Blame Google (GOOG, Fortune 500).

When Google Docs first launched in 2006, it was mostly a curiosity. Cloud-based services were not yet a way of life, and support with Microsoft’s Office formats was minimal. But Google Docs has been improved upon bit by bit over the past few years and is now an extremely useful and increasingly popular collection of software.

Google Docs is no longer a curiosity. It’s a legitimate threat to Microsoft.

Google’s productivity tools may lack some of Office’s advanced features, but are easier and simpler to use than anything Microsoft offers — especially when it comes to the cloud-centric features.

Microsoft is still a huge player in this business of course. It claims that Office is installed on more than 1 billion machines. In 2012, Gartner estimated that Office had a 90% market share in the enterprise market.

If you focus on the cloud, however, the story changes.

The next decade looks like Google’s to lose. Gartner estimates that in 10 years, there will be 1.2 billion people using productivity suite services … but more than half of them will be using a cloud-based productivity suite of some sort. Gartner’s research also shows Google quickly gobbling up market share in that space. It could be as high as 50%.

Google recently disclosed that there are 120 million accounts using Google Drive (which houses the Docs services), and 5 million businesses and institutions using the Google Apps platform (the latter is not a free service).

As of September, Microsoft has sold 2 million Office 365 Home Premium subscriptions, which allows the suite to be installed on 5 different devices concurrently. Separately, it says that 60% of Fortune 500 business have purchased enterprise versions of Office 365. It also claims to have 50 million users for its Office Web Apps.

Related: Microsoft is the biggest iPhone 5S loser

But Google’s suite is quickly becoming the standard for tech startups, small businesses and newer large companies. Demographics are on Google’s side as well. Those who have grown up with the Internet don’t really think twice about using something that is free, saves your work in a centrally accessible location, and makes it easy to share and collaborate with others.

Office is slowly losing its status as the software of choice. It’s becoming something that people just use when they need specialized formatting … or when they’re dealing with someone who only uses Office.

Still, even that is changing. Google’s 2012 acquisition of Quickoffice was made to help to bridge the format divide between the two services. And it’s even possible to use Google Docs without an Internet connection.

According to a Google spokesperson, the goal isn’t to match the Office suite feature for feature. While Google still wants to appeal to the vast majority of traditional Office users, the company is more keen on getting to the point where file format is no longer an issue.

Google can afford to give away software for free. Can Microsoft? Google makes money off its productivity suite by selling web ads. But there is a bigger goal as well. The company is offering services like Google Docs in order to keep users close to its other, more lucrative offerings such as Gmail, Search, Chrome and Maps.

But Office remains a cash cow for Microsoft. Office sales are about a third of the company’s total annual revenue. It is not in a position to simply make Office free. With Office 365, Microsoft is charging $100 a year, which guarantees perpetual updates, and has produced modest, but encouraging rewards to the tune of $1.5 billion a quarter. But it’s awfully difficult to beat free.

And Microsoft doesn’t just face competition from Google. Apple (AAPL, Fortune 500) recently launched its own cloud-based version of its iWork suite. It’s giving the mobile iOS version away for free.

Related: Microsoft Office 2013 has nice upgrades, but save your cash

For now, Office is still the overwhelming leader. Still, the tides are shifting. Microsoft probably knows it can’t simply rely on its existing install base sticking around just because Office is the standard. In fact, Microsoft should know that from experience.

Microsoft’s web browser market share eroded when Firefox, and later Chrome, took center stage. On the enterprise side, its Windows Mobile platform has joined BlackBerry (BBRY) as a victim of Corporate America’s embracing of iOS and Google’s Android.

This war is far from over, but Microsoft has its work cut out for it. This battle is going to be fought and won in the cloud. And Google, with its years of experience offering consumer services in the cloud, has the home field advantage. To top of page

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Posted by plates55 - November 15, 2013 at 7:12 am

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Google patenting an electronic ‘throat tattoo’

A new patent says an electronic tattoo could be attached to a user's throat or on a collar.
A new patent says an electronic tattoo could be attached to a user’s throat or on a collar.

 

 

CNN) — It looks like Google Glass was just the beginning. Google now appears to be aiming a few inches lower, working on a temporary electronic tattoo that would stick to the user’s throat.

Google-owned Motorola Mobility has filed for a patent, published last week, for a system “that comprises an electronic skin tattoo capable of being applied to a throat region of a body.”

The patent says the tattoo would communicate with smartphones, gaming devices, tablets and wearable tech like Google Glass via a Bluetooth-style connection and would include a microphone and power source. The idea is that wearers could communicate with their devices via voice commands without having to wear an earpiece or the the Glass headset.

And how’s this for future tech? It could even be used as a lie detector.

“Optionally, the electronic skin tattoo can further include a galvanic skin response detector to detect skin resistance of a user,” the 10-page document reads. “It is contemplated that a user that may be nervous or engaging in speaking falsehoods may exhibit different galvanic skin response than a more confident, truth telling individual.”

“Galvanic” is a reference to the way some surfaces, even skin, conduct electricity.

Google explains mystery barge

In images attached to the filing, the tattoo appears to be between a postage stamp and a Band-Aid in size. The filing says that in addition to sticking via an adhesive to the throat, the tattoo could go on a collar or a band around the user’s neck.

Other possible uses include making both incoming and outgoing audio clearer. That could mean anything from making smartphone conversations clearer in a crowded room to being able to listen to music without earphones.

And we can’t quite figure out the use case for this one, but: “the electronic tattoo can also be applied to an animal as well.”

Digital tattoos and mind-reading headphones

With Google Glass, the company has moved to be at the forefront of the rapidly emerging trend in wearable tech. Glass is a wearable computer with a smartphone-like display that lets users text, browse the Web, take photos and run other apps, all hands free.

The latest version rolling out to field testers includes an ear bud, in response to complaints from some that the first version’s bone-conduction sound system didn’t work well. It’s not hard to envision the throat tattoo as an eventual answer to that complaint.

Other wearable tech either on the market or the horizon includes smartwatches from Samsung and Sony, with Google, Apple and Microsoft expected to join the fray soon.

A Motorola spokesman said the company has no comment about the patent filing at this time.

YouTube faces backlash for Google+ integration

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Posted by plates55 - November 13, 2013 at 2:24 pm

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NSA infiltrates links to Yahoo, Google data centers worldwide, Snowden documents say

In this slide from a National Security Agency presentation on “Google Cloud Exploitation,” a sketch shows where the “Public Internet” meets the internal “Google Cloud” where user data resides. Two engineers with close ties to Google exploded in profanity when they saw the drawing.

By Barton Gellman and Ashkan Soltani, Published: October 30 E-mail the writer

The National Security Agency has secretly broken into the main communications links that connect Yahoo and Google data centers around the world, according to documents obtained from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and interviews with knowledgeable officials.

By tapping those links, the agency has positioned itself to collect at will from hundreds of millions of user accounts, many of them belonging to Americans. The NSA does not keep everything it collects, but it keeps a lot.

According to a top-secret accounting dated Jan. 9, 2013, the NSA’s acquisitions directorate sends millions of records every day from internal Yahoo and Google networks to data warehouses at the agency’s headquarters at Fort Meade, Md. In the preceding 30 days, the report said, field collectors had processed and sent back 181,280,466 new records — including  “metadata,” which would indicate who sent or received e-mails and when, as well as content such as text, audio and video.

The NSA’s principal tool to exploit the data links is a project called MUSCULAR, operated jointly with the agency’s British counterpart, the Government Communications Headquarters . From undisclosed interception points, the NSA and the GCHQ are copying entire data flows across fiber-optic cables that carry information among the data centers of the Silicon Valley giants.

The infiltration is especially striking because the NSA, under a separate program known as PRISM, has front-door access to Google and Yahoo user accounts through a court-approved process.

The MUSCULAR project appears to be an unusually aggressive use of NSA tradecraft against flagship American companies. The agency is built for high-tech spying, with a wide range of digital tools, but it has not been known to use them routinely against U.S. companies.

In a statement, the NSA said it is “focused on discovering and developing intelligence about valid foreign intelligence targets only.”

“NSA applies Attorney General-approved processes to protect the privacy of U.S. persons — minimizing the likelihood of their information in our targeting, collection, processing, exploitation, retention, and dissemination,” it said.

In a statement, Google’s chief legal officer, David Drummond, said the company has “long been concerned about the possibility of this kind of snooping” and has not provided the government with access to its systems.

“We are outraged at the lengths to which the government seems to have gone to intercept data from our private fiber networks, and it underscores the need for urgent reform,” he said.

A Yahoo spokeswoman said, “We have strict controls in place to protect the security of our data centers, and we have not given access to our data centers to the NSA or to any other government agency.”

Under PRISM, the NSA gathers huge volumes of online communications records by legally compelling U.S. technology companies, including Yahoo and Google, to turn over any data that match court-approved search terms. That program, which was first disclosed by The Washington Post and the Guardian newspaper in Britain, is authorized under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act  and overseen by the Foreign ­Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC).

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Posted by plates55 - October 31, 2013 at 4:39 pm

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YouTube MP3 Converter Loses Court Battle But The Music Plays On

One of the world’s largest sites dedicated to converting YouTube videos to downloadable MP3s has lost a court battle with representatives from the music industry. YouTube-MP3, a site that was also threatened by Google in 2012, agreed to cease and desist from its current mode of operation after it was revealed it was not only ripping music from YouTube, but also archiving the MP3s for future download. Despite the loss, the site remains online – legally.

youtubeIn addition to obtaining music from file-sharing networks, those looking for free tracks often get them from so-called tube-rippers, sites and services that transform YouTube videos into downloadable MP3s.

These tools are available in several formats including desktop packages, apps for mobile devices, and more commonly browser-based tools. In mid-2012 YouTube owners Google, believed to be under pressure from the music industry, started to make life more difficult for web-based YouTube converters and some cases issued threats to sue.

While some sites decided to shut down, many others continued business as usual, including the German site YouTube-MP3, one of the largest YouTube ripping services around with around 30 million visits per month. The site has long insisted that it has a right to provide ripping services but having fought off Google it recently found itself up against fresh adversaries.

Three music companies under the umbrella of industry group BVMI challenged YouTube-MP3′s assertion that it operates legally and sued it in the Hamburg District Court. The companies said that while YouTube-MP3 claimed to be offering only a rip-and-download service, there were serious technical issues behind the scenes that rendered the site in breach of copyright law.

YouTube-MP3 claimed that users of its service could enter the URL of a YouTube video and have the site convert and churn out an MP3 for download. Apparently, however, that wasn’t always the way it worked. Once a video had been converted to MP3, that audio was stored on YouTube-MP3′s servers. If another user subsequently entered the same YouTube URL, no conversion or ripping was carried out. They were simply handed a copy of the previously stored MP3 for download.

YouTube-MP3
 

In a statement sent to TorrentFreak, BVMI said that this was a clear breach of copyright law.

“Contrary  to  the  common  assumption  that  YouTubeMP3  is  a streamripper that allows users to record songs from the Internet (much as cassette recorders were used to record  music from the radio  back in the day),  in fact the online converter often simply made the pieces  available  for download  without a license,” BVMI said.

BVMI said that by the time the case had arrived in court last month the owner of YouTube-MP3 had already signed cease and desist declarations and agreed to refrain from reproducing and distributing copyright content.

“The current case provides deep insights into the workings of so-called  ‘recording services’ and exposes a trick that not only hoodwinks the rights owners but also misleads the users of these  services,” said BVMI Managing Director Dr Florian Drücke.

“Under the guise of private copying [YouTube-MP3] deceives people into thinking  that everything  is above-board, even though  the user  –  unwittingly  –  avails himself of an  illegal download platform. We have for some time pointed out that the vague  definition  of  ‘private copies’  encourages  cat-and-mouse games  in matters of streamripping, so  a clarification  at the political level is needed here.”

With the signing of the declarations the Hamburg District Court considered the case closed but ordered YouTube-MP3 to pay everyone’s costs.

TorrentFreak contacted the site’s owner for a comment but as yet we’ve received no response. Presumably life at YouTube-MP3 will continue, but without storing converted MP3s for subsequent download. The end result, of course, is that users of the site will still get ripped MP3s just as they did before, a point not lost on BVMI.

“One  thing  is  clear:  this  platform,  as  well  as  most  other streamripper sites,  generate considerable advertising income that is not shared with the artists or their partners.  This has nothing to do with fairness, nor does it fit with our current digital age, when many music sites – some of them free – can be used perfectly legally on the Internet,” BVMI conclude.

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Posted by plates55 - October 24, 2013 at 1:07 pm

Categories: Piracy   Tags: , , , , , , ,

Are Hollywood’s Artificial Release Delays Driving Piracy?

Is Hollywood partly to blame for the high piracy rates of some movies? A newly launched website suggests that this may be the case, as it shows that the most pirated movies are not available to stream, buy or rent legally. While the movie industry has built its business on release delays, people’s viewing demands are changing rapidly up to the point where and Hollywood may want to reconsider its model.

hollywood-piratesEvery day millions of people download the latest Hollywood blockbusters though unauthorized sources.

The movie industry is not happy with the ever-increasing piracy rates and has called out Google and other stakeholders to “do more” to help. At the same time, Hollywood keeps emphasizing the many legal options that are available to the public.

A few months ago the MPAA launched the website WhereToWatch.org which provides an overview of dozens of legal video outlets that are available in the United States.

“Audiences want seamless access to film and TV shows. Our industry has listened, and we are now delivering more choices than ever before,” MPAA boss Senator Dodd said at the time.

“There have never been more ways to access movies and television legitimately online, and those platforms continue to grow and develop thanks in large part to a copyright system that encourages innovation, risk and growth,” Dodd added.

While this sounds great, the WhereToWatch site doesn’t change the fact that many of the newer releases are simply not available online due to artificial release lags. After a movie’s box office premiere it usually takes months before people can access it online.

This mismatch prompted public policy researchers at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center to take a close look at the online availability of some of the most pirated movies. On the newly launched Piracydata.org the researchers use TorrentFreak’s weekly lists of most pirated movies combined with information from CanIStreamIt to come up with an overview of the availability of these titles.

The results from this week are listed below, and it’s clear that half of the movie titles don’t have any legal options at all, while none are available for streaming.

avail
 

TorrentFreak talked to Jerry Brito, director of Mercatus Center’s Technology Policy Program and one of the people behind the PiracyData website. Brito tells us that the MPAA and RIAA complaints that Google is placing pirate search results above legal alternatives was one of the motivations to look into the legal availability.

“We are compiling a dataset to help answer the question: Are the most-pirated movies available legally online? With only three weeks of data, the answer seems to be that very few are available legally. We’ll get a clearer picture in the months ahead as the dataset grows,” Brito says.

The lack of legal alternatives they have found so far means that Google sometimes has no other choice than to place pirate sites high in the search results, as there simply are no authorized options available.

“One implication may be that when movies are unavailable, illegal sources are the most relevant search results, so search engines like Google are just telling it like it is. That is their job, after all,” Brito says.

While the current dataset is limited to three weeks, it’s quite telling that of all movies listed none was available for streaming, while only 20% could be rented.

piracystats
 

Brito notes that the data doesn’t prove a causal effect between availability and piracy, but that it’s clear that Hollywood can “do more” to increase access to popular movies themselves.

“While there is no way to draw causality between the fact that these movies are not available legally and that they are the most pirated, it does highlight that while the MPAA is asking Google to take voluntary action to change search results, it may well be within the movie studio’s power to change those results by taking voluntary action themselves.”

“They could make more movies available online and sooner, perhaps by collapsing the theatrical release window. Now, their business model is their prerogative, and it’s none of my business to tell them how to operate, but by the same token I don’t see how they can expect search engines and Congress to bend over backwards to protect the business model they choose,” Brito adds.

Whether Hollywood will take up this suggestion has yet to be seen. Some movie studios have experimented a bit with shorter release delays, but unlike the TV and music industry it is still the core of its business model.

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Posted by plates55 - October 24, 2013 at 1:05 pm

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