Chasing Pirates: Inside Microsoft’s War Room - From the special thread that Chinese factories counterfeit in mile-long spools that adorns software authenticity stickers, to near-perfect bootleg discs leaving microscopic evidence of their factory origins, to Mexican and Russian gangsters who are dealt with very carefully, the NYT covers Microsoft's multi-pronged, international war on piracy.
You're Stealing it Wrong: 30 Years of Inter-Pirate Battles. A presentation at DefCon by Jason Scott.
PC Gamer: Do you have a good sense of piracy rates with Steam games?
Gabe Newell: They’re low enough that we don’t really spend any time on it.
Gabe Newell on Steam, piracy and DRM, part of PC Gamer's Valve Week.
Gabe Newell: They’re low enough that we don’t really spend any time on it.
Gabe Newell on Steam, piracy and DRM, part of PC Gamer's Valve Week.
"Without the participation of Microsoft, these criminal cases against human rights defenders and journalists would simply not be able to occur"
Russia Uses Microsoft to Suppress Dissent - Adding to its long-running series on corruption and abuse in post-Communist Russia, the New York Times has reported on Russian authorities using the pretext of software piracy to seize computers from journalists and political dissidents critical of current policies. In a surprising twist, lawyers representing Microsoft have been found working with Russian police, despite reporters and NGOs providing evidence of legitimate software purchases. An official response to the NYT piece suggests impostors claim to represent Microsoft in Russia, and notes the company's offer of free software licenses to these and similar groups.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has shut down nine websites in connection with an ongoing crackdown on internet film and TV piracy. The sites seized are Movieslinks.tv, Planetmoviez.com, ZML.com, Thepiratecity.org, Filespump.com, TVShack.net, Now-Movies.com, NinjaThis.net, and NinjaVideo.net. The feds also seized related Paypal accounts and bank accounts as part of the operation. Ninjavideo was the most notorious of the group, and its admin, Phara, went so far as to record a manifesto in praise of internet piracy.
Ars Technica reports on the US Copyright Group (website: SAVECINEMA.ORG), an entity that has sent out over 14,000 subpoenas in the past 5 months to P2P users who have downloaded smaller independent movies such as Uwe Boll's Far Cry and best picture Oscar winner The Hurt Locker. To put that in perspective, the RIAA sued 18,000 P2P users during their multi-year anti-file sharing campaign. The law firm takes the moviemakers cases on for free, splitting with them the money the defendants pay to settle the case ($1,500 to $2,500 per subpoena) on a site that will conveniently take your credit card. The law firm and the filmmakers could end up splitting $19.7 million, and it's likely that this kind of approach will be tried with more movies. As you might expect, some targeted individuals have been wrongly accused.
Why I Steal Movies... Even Ones I'm In. Written by Peter Serafinowicz, the mind behind Look Around You and Hot Chip's recent music video I Feel Better (previously).
Writers get pirated too - so how can they still earn money? Here are some ideas, but are they workable? [more inside]
On the ethics of illegally downloading e-books; a Teleread essay full of interesting links about these modern e-reading times. Inspired in part by this New York Times Ethicist column, and brought to my attention by this ask.metafilter question.
The International Intellectual Property Alliance, an umbrella group for organisations including the MPAA and RIAA, has requested with the US Trade Representative to consider countries like Indonesia, Brazil and India for its “Special 301 watchlist” because they use open source software. (also here) [more inside]
George Hotz started a blog chronicling his journey to a software-only PS3 crack. Despite tackling a platform that has held strong for three years, Hotz claimed to have gained read/write access to all system memory after five weeks. Although the PS3 actually ships with Linux support, these cracks circumvent the hypervisor that place strict restrictions on low-level hardware access. You may know Hotz as the geohot who released first hardware iPhone jailbreak, added a software-only jailbreak for all iPhones and iPod Touches, and won multiple awards (pdf) at ISEF 2007 for building a working holographic display system while a senior in high school.
The Book Pirates of Peru. A slideshow in which Peruvian author Daniel Alarcón describes the vibrant literary scene in his home country, where the informal publishing industry is the same size as its legitimate counterpart. There's no library system to speak of, the National Library's acquisitions budget is nil, but a culture of reading and writing is booming, with book sales and attendance at literary festivals up, up, up.
Piracy of PC games is nothing new, and has been discussed previously. Due to the high levels of PC game piracy, some development companies have decreased (or eliminated) PC game development, shifting support to console development. But piracy isn't limited to PCs, as modchips and other hacks have allowed users to play pirated and homebrewed games. In the continuing struggle for control, Microsoft banned as many as 1 million modded systems from Xbox Live, resulting in a surge of people reselling Xbox 360s that have been banned from online play (and modders finding a fix for the ban). Some developers have adopted another tactic - increased development of downloadable content (DLC), which has been seen as both good and bad by gamers. John Riccitiello, the head of Electronic Arts, seems to have embraced DLC as a marketing option, in noting that "[people] can steal the disc, but they can't steal the DLC."
[FlickrPoolFilter] Crappy Bootleg DVD Covers: Here, you will find Tom Cruise's hit movie, Pepe Likes Tacos. In this universe, Star Wars features Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dustin Hoffman stars in Lost in Translation; witches, pirates, and hobbits inhabit the same world. Titles are improved upon. Reviews are refreshingly frank (if they make any sense at all). Your DVD may also contain subtitles in French, Chinese, Spamsoc, or Martian. (Don't say there was no warning.) Remember, kids: Piracy Creates Jobs!
Take my movie—please. Nasty Old People is a Swedish movie about just that. However, it's been released freely on the web by its creator, Hanna Sköld, under a Creative Commons License, being the first Swedish film to do so. [more inside]
2D BOY made around $100,000 in a week. That’s $50,000 each for writing a blog post about a game they finished a year ago. By letting people pay whatever they wanted. 2D Boy stirred up a lot of discussion (previously) about game piracy when they used online scoreboard data to estimate an 82% piracy rate for their fantastic indie game World of Goo (previously). For World of Goo's first birthday, they decided to try the Radiohead model and let people buy the game for any price they choose. Now they've released extensive data about the results. Short version? "A huge success," even though the most commonly chosen price was only a penny. [more inside]
DRM as a cloud of poison gas. Run an illegally-downloaded prerelease version of the video game Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman always dies in a vat of poison gas. Run the legit version once it gets released and (apparently) there won’t even be any poison gas. (Game developers: “[Y]ou have encountered... a hook in the copy protection, to catch out people who try and download cracked versions of the game for free. It’s not a bug in the game’s code, it’s a bug in your moral code.”)
Jammie Thomas to pay RIAA $1.92 million. Found guilty of willful copyright infringement, the jury awarded the RIAA $80,000 each for 24 songs. This is up from $220,000 in the first trial (previously). Ars Technica has a good review of the case. [more inside]
"What began as a defensive movement by local fishermen has evolved into a complex amalgamation of banditry, organized crime, freebooting, and insurgency targeting all types of vessels from fishing trawlers to oil tankers." Somali pirates holding an American captain hostage were killed during a rescue yesterday. The lack of effective governance in Somalia allows massive vessels from Europe and Asia to decimate the local fish population, which may have forced Somali fisherman into piracy. Other ships use the Somali coast as a toxic waste dump. [previously]
"It's rare to come to face-to-face with the people behind the software, music, and media we pirate on regular basis; I guess that's part of the problem."
So there is this guy named Jona Bechtolt and he is an electronic musician and multimedia artist who performs as YACHT. He recently described in an interview some audio software that he had illegally downloaded, adding "Does all this piracy make me a bad person?". The company that makes the software that he illegally downloaded apparently saw his comment and wrote a blog post where they linked to his interview and stated "We've put up with rampant idiocy from people that style themselves members of the creative community but are actually members of some kind of bullshit that doesn't have a name." Then Mr. Bechtolt commented on that blog post kind of apologizing, but also saying "I'm a musician and I haven't bought music in years, nor have almost all of my musician friends." Then the company wrote him an open letter explaining why they did not accept his apology. [via Pitchfork]
A new trojan is on the loose. It doesn't install any harmful adware/spyware, but does block both mininova and the Pirate Bay.
"If you already know his name, chances are you've been doing something illegal." The Independent on aXXo, the movie pirate king.
TweakGuides presents a very long examination of software piracy as it relates to PC gaming: "PC piracy and related topics such as DRM seem to have become so shrouded in illogical excuses, hysteria, scaremongering and uninformed opinions that having a sensible discussion on the topic is virtually impossible." [more inside]
You may have heard by now about World of Goo, an independent game which can best be described as a "physics/construction puzzle game" that touches on everything from beauty to consumerism to internet privacy. The developer, 2DBoy who had originally released the game under a "no-DRM, don't screw us" policy now estimates a piracy rate of 82%. [more inside]
Microsoft is taking unprecedented measures to combat China's piracy. The people aren't happy. Is the company shooting itself in the foot?
Long before user authentication and online validation became a thorn in the side of software pirates, copy protection techniques were a little more friendly and a little more lo-fi: packaged with Infocom's interactive fiction games, "Feelies" (primary link, click on the boxes)were assorted physical items that acted as accompanying illustrations (fake magazine covers, in-game currency, decoder slides, and even scratch-n-sniff cards for specific points during game play) to worlds made entirely from text. [more inside]
"There is no reason that the Internet should be lawless," President Nicolas Sarkozy told his cabinet, as Culture Minister Christine Albanel presented a new bill designed to encourage responsible use of the Internet. The legislation would set up a new administrative body that would receive complaints from the music and film industry and track down offenders through Internet service providers. An e-mail warning would be sent to suspected downloaders followed by a registered letter. After two strikes, offenders would risk losing their Internet subscription for up to a year. "We know that we are not going to eradicate piracy 100 percent, but we think that we can reduce it significantly," Albanel told a news conference. [more inside]
Christopher Tarnovsky, smartcard programmer, gives a fascinating insider account of his years in the cloak-and-dagger world of satellite TV piracy. Tarnovsky began as a satellite pirate himself before being hired by a DirecTV contractor to develop anti-piracy electronic countermeasures; he was allegedly responsible for the "Black Sunday" attack on DirecTV pirates. [more inside]
I was a Teenage Wares Freak? San Diego Republican Party chairman Tony Krvaric may have been Strider, co-founder of Fairlight. via Slashdot
What the IFPI tries to conceal about its origins in fascist Italy IFPI is the global version of the RIAA
taping downloading is killing music authorship. The Society of Authors warns that authors will simply stop writing if they aren't compensated for piracy of their work (as unlikely as that seems). Perhaps they should follow the example of Jim Griffin, newly hired at Warner Music to persuade broadband providers to attach a $5 per month surcharge for the benefit of the major labels, in exchange for halting the lawsuits that have thus far been their mainstay weapon against piracy.
Stage 6, recently linked in a popular FPP, has announced it will shut down today. Rumors about why include their battle against UMG to a "ridiculous battle of egos."
British internet users face ban for illegal downloads. A draft copy of a Green Paper produced by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport was leaked to The Times newspaper which detailed how the government was considering introducing legislation that would require ISPs to take action against users who access pirated material. [more inside]
A proposal for the monetization of the file sharing of music from the Songwriters and Recording Artists of Canada. "Most Canadians are aware that the Internet and mobile phone networks have become major sources of music. What they may not know is that songwriters and performers typically receive no compensation of any kind when their music is shared or illegally downloaded... We believe the time has come to put in place a reasonable and unobtrusive system of compensation for creators of music in regard to this popular and growing use of their work."
Steal this album. "In the dying days of the music business as we once knew it, record labels are waging war on leaks—only to discover that many of the saboteurs come from within the industry itself." It's easy to arrest a geek or lay draconian fines on a single mom; what happens when their witchhunt leads to their own offices? Animal Collective won't always be around to get the culprits off the hook.
Anti-Piracy agents MediaDefender have 700MiB of juicy internal emails leaked on BitTorrent; are in trouble.
Good Copy Bad Copy is "a documentary about the current state of copyright and culture," featuring Danger Mouse, Lawrence Lessig, Dan Glickman of the MPAA and others. The film's creators are releasing it free of charge, via Bittorrent.
The USA playing global sheriff isn't new, but the reach of US laws is extending. Hew Griffiths isn't a terrorist or a violent criminal, he didn't even make any money from his crime. He pirated some software, from his home in Australia. So why is he in jail in Virginia? Some think we might as well join 'em.
The World's Most Unbelievable Invention Pursuing the demand for fresh eggs, Chinese manufacturers have come across the most amazing solution: man-made chicken eggs. More here.
One creative cartoonist claims that micropayments would virtually eliminate the problem of piracy. On the other hand, programmer Sean Barrett disagrees.
Tube Wars: A new front opens as the IFPI [think global RIAA] threatens imminent legal war with ISP's.