Posts tagged "Hollywood"

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 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 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.


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.


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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20th Century Fox Sues ‘Impatient’ Homeland Pirates

In Germany several major Hollywood studios are cashing in on BitTorrent pirates, charging hundreds of euros for illegally downloaded movies and TV-shows. While the studios have the right to protect their work, the efforts are double-barreled as they regularly hit the most engaged fans who have no options to watch the content legally. 20th Century Fox’s campaign against “Homeland” downloaders is a prime example.

homelandGerman Internet subscribers can be held liable for almost everything that goes on via their connections, with or without their knowledge.

As a result, copyright holders have started hundreds of thousands of lawsuits against alleged pirates, demanding settlements ranging from a few hundred to thousands of euros.

In Germany these “trolling” ventures have attracted the attention of the major Hollywood studios. 20th Century Fox, Universal Pictures and Warner Bros Entertainment are actively patrolling the Internet for people who download their work without permission.

The studios use similar monitoring tools as they do in the United States, where file-sharers are approached outside of court with a slap on the wrist or a $20 fine. In Germany, however, the stakes are much higher.

For example, 20th Century Fox is sending alleged file-sharers a 726 euro ($980) bill for downloading a single episode of the TV-series Homeland. For several months the Hollywood studio has been tracking unauthorized downloads of Homeland’s second season, which has yet to air in Germany.

20th Century Fox settlements letter



While these downloads are unmistakably unauthorized, it is ironic that these lawsuits target the TV-show’s most engaged fans. These people don’t download because they refuse to pay, but because they have no legal options at their disposal.

In Germany, Homeland’s second season starts airing next week, a full year after the U.S. premiere. It is inevitable that some of the most passionate fans don’t have the patience to wait this long before they can enjoy their favorite show legally.

Still, the Hollywood studios regularly single out these unavailable releases for their legal efforts. According to Christian Solmecke, a German IT lawyer who has defended hundreds of file-sharers, these shows are regularly targeted.

“The sharing of English-speaking TV series is particularly popular in Germany as these releases are often delayed. As a result, warning letters are regularly received for such copyright infringements,” Solmecke told TorrentFreak.

Unlike in the United States, Internet subscribers have no option to protest a copyright holders’ request to hand over their personal details. Paired with the fact that German ISPs can only store IP-address information for a week, this leads to a situation where personal details of accused subscribers are handed over pretty much automatically.

For the letter TorrentFreak received, the court signed off on handing over the subscriber data within a day of the IP-address being tracked. This is a worrying development according to legal experts and privacy advocates. The low retention periods for IP-addresses are meant to protect the privacy of users, but the opposite may be true in this case.

“I find it shocking when an IP-address is processed by the court on the same day as the infringement takes place,” Solmecke tells TorrentFreak.

“After all, judges should examine each claim on a case-by-case basis. In practice, however, the process is completely automatic and despite this obligation, it is unlikely that the judges properly scrutinize each individual case.”

The Hollywood movie studios, and dozens of copyright holders with them, are more pleased with how the system works. They are literally cashing in on these BitTorrent pirates to the tune of millions of euros every year.

Previously we pointed out that many major music labels and game publishers including CD Projekt have also been involved in the German settlement scheme. After public outcry, mainly targeted at the questionable reliability of the evidence, the latter retired its legal crusade against pirates.

“We value our fans, our supporters, and our community too highly to take the chance that we might ever falsely accuse even one individual,” CD Projekt’s Marcin Iwinski said at the time.

Whether 20th Century Fox and others respect their ‘fans’ just as much is doubtful.

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Posted by plates55 - September 25, 2013 at 2:47 pm

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