There are many people around the world that have received a letter, demanding money because of a bittorrent download. The question that is going through their heads is ‘how did they track me’, with perhaps “how can I prevent them?” To address this, I made a video that should explain these things.
This review was originally scheduled for publication in May 2009 on TorrentFreak.com As we decided to move away from reviews for the time being, it’s being published here.
In a new feature to TorrentFreak, we’re going to look at a new book, recently published by Oxford University Press. Innovation for the 21st Century, written by Rutgers law professor Michael A. Carrier, takes a look at copyright, and patent law, and mixes it with antitrust (monopoly) law. The questions is, how does it read? Read more…
As some might know, OFCOM’s running a consultation on the aspects of the Digital Economy Act it’s supposed to enforce. Now, in theory, it’s supposed to be open until at least 5pm, but when I went to check the consultation document on another computer (so I could read both at once) I found a 404. Read more…
If you follow tech news, you have a certain list of sites you’ll keep an eye on. Personally, I always keep an eye on TorrentFreak (but then, I am their researcher, and night-time comment moderator) but there are others as well, Wired’s Threat Level, Slyck, and of course, ArsTechnica.
The problem for all tech news sites is that there’s a deadline game. You have to be first to break the story, so you can get it passed around the social media circles, facebook, slashdot etc. Often that means that stories, or more specifically the data that comprises the story, doesn’t get the attention it should, and ArsTechnica has fallen foul of this, repeating the conclusions of a study, and not noticing some glaring errors.
If you’re a teenager or older, you’ll almost certainly have first-hand experience with VCRs and video tapes. If you don’t remember them, they’re big things that have been replaced by DVR’s, but which you could buy movies on, like with DVDs. They were in most peoples homes throughout the late 80s and the 90s. Yet they were nearly wrestled out of peoples hands around thirty years ago, because of the fear of an industry. Let’s first look back at the late 70s to understand why.
In the late 70s there was a kerfuffle between Sony, and the movie studios. It concerned the BetaMax VCR Sony made (and to a lesser extent the JVC/Phillips VHS system). There were concerns that with these machines, people would undermine advertising (argument A), making the amount that could be charged for them drop, reducing funding for TV stations and networks. It would also mean that movies played on TV would have to cost more for the stations, because people will record them, and keep them, and watch them instead of, say, going to the cinema (Argument B). There were also concerns that since the recorders were mostly made outside the US, the importation of them would hurt the balance of payments (Argument C). Also, making movies is a risky business, and the government should do all it can to make it easier to be profitable (Argument D). It was nicely summed up by Jack Valenti (head of the MPAA) in his testimony in front of Congress in 1982.
There are days when you just want to curl up into a ball. Today is one of them. I realised, when going to check back over things, that rather than the document I believed I had submitted as part of the PRO IP act consultation, I had actually submitted a copy of my comments to the US trade representative. I made the same mistake on my short piece about the submission.
The US Pirate Party had an rough draft of a reply and a means to submit it, if people didn’t want to write their own response, but I don’t do that sort of thing. I prefer a much more detailed (and as always, last minute) response, to try and cover the main facts. Again, I ran out of time, and just got it sent at the deadline (which was some 20 minutes ago).
So, here is the finished response, all 5 pages of it. [PDF]
UPDATE – please read here
Panorama just aired an ‘interesting’ show tonight. Entitled “Are the Net Police Coming for You?”, the BBC describes the show in the following way.
A proposed new law is threatening to disconnect the millions of internet users who unlawfully download free music, films and TV. Jo Whiley looks at how broadband use at home may never be the same, and could even be cut off
Broadcast on: BBC One, 8:30pm Monday 15th March 2010
The problem is, the show is much like one broadcast as part of Film09 last year. That show, like this one, relied almost entirely on industry views, regurgitating their talking points, and ‘facts’ without any attempt at journalistic integrity. Basic practice is to get confirmation on facts from two separate sources, and yet both last year, and last night, this was not adhered to. The reason why is simple, of course – there is no second separate source. The Copyright industry is the only one claiming losses. The only facts that support those claims, are studies those same industries fund. Even then they don’t match up, although that little detail is swept under the rug.
Like last year though, I’m going to complain. and like last year, I expect I’ll get a rather cavalier brush-off as to why the program was short on facts, counterpoint, investigation, critical analysis or basic rational thought.
Just so you understand, the film09 segment last year was basically a regurgitation of the MPAA/Rand study claiming organized terrorism is involved in ‘movie piracy’. The problem is, my old friend at TorrentFreak, Ben Jones, debunked the report thoroughly weeks before the segment was shown, and he wasn’t alone in it. The respnse to my complaint however, dismissed little things like ‘facts’
Subject: ‘Film 2009 with Jonathan Ross’ [T2009040900EUS010Z5530203]
4/15/2009 10:25 AM
Dear Mr Norton
Thank you for your e-mail regarding ‘Film 2009 with Jonathan Ross’ as broadcast on 31 March.
I note you felt the report on this programme about copyright theft wasn’t adequately balanced as it only featured interviews with people from the film industry. I appreciate you felt we allowed a distorted view of this issue to be portrayed and note you have strong views regarding this matter.
This report focused in on a legitimate problem for both the film industry and the authorities as they try to tackle what is an ever increasing and profitable criminal activity. We feel the report outlined the laws surrounding the issue of film piracy adequately and that the interviewees from the film industry were entirely appropriate people to comment on the problem.
Impartiality is the cornerstone of all our output, and we feel this report was fully balanced in it’s coverage of copyright theft. Nevertheless I appreciate our audience has a wide range of opinions and inevitably this means that not every viewer will agree with the content of every programme we broadcast. We know all our editorial decisions are subjective and we’d never expect our audience to agree with every decision we make.
With this in mind that I’d like to take this opportunity to assure you that I’ve recorded your comments, including that you believe this topic deserves a more in depth investigation, onto our audience log. This is an internal daily report of audience feedback which is circulated to many BBC staff including senior management, producers and channel controllers.
The audience logs are seen as important documents that can help shape decisions about future programming and content.
Thanks again for contacting us.
And now, almost exactly a year later, we have another program, making a similar lobbying attempt, cunningly camouflaged as factual programing. The UK Pirate Party has, so far, found over twenty errors, embellishments, inaccuracies and misstatements. I imagine the number will increase as more people look closely at the program.
I for one will be sending another complaint (http://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/) , and I hope I won’t be alone in it. When I get a response, I’ll post it straight away.
Back in September 2007, TorrentFreak ran a piece about the porn industry deciding to take on pirates. G4TV was interested, and contacted them to see if one of their writers would like to appear on their flagship program, Attack of the Show, to talk about it. All the writers for TorrentFreak, are Europe-based, and G4 is a US channel, though, and Attack of the Show is done Live (or thereabouts). So, on September 14th, I was asked if I’d take part, representing the US Pirate Party, and I said ‘yes’.
The segment filmed, and aired Monday, September 17th, so there was little time to prepare. I’ve not been a huge follower of the porn industry, or a downloader of porn, so I had to reach out to my contacts to find out more. I was lucky, in that one acquaintance of mine from a year or two earlier, was running two porn torrent sites, and forwarded me contact details for some of their admins.
Armed with all the prep, I was told that Crawford Communications would be awaiting me, and that I would be dealing with an Anh Tran as my opponent (try looking up that name when you just get it over the phone) so that was that. Crawford’s a lovely company though, very professional, especially Jim Baxter, who was my cameraman/producer. The only downside, was they didn’t actually get G4 on their cable system!. I couldn’t even see my opponent or the show, all I could do is hear it through a single earpiece. It also meant, I had no idea how delayed things were until after the show was done, and I got to watch it later that night.
I’m in Atlanta, they’re in San Fransisco. Ahn is on set or next door – there’s no delay for him. Theres roughly 1.5 seconds delay each way for me. Thanks to some snappy decisions by the Director, it’s not obvious, but it becomes so at the end, when I’m talking over someone – it’s not intentional, it’s just hard to tell.
Anyway, tell me what you think of it in the comments.
And since I can’t seem to get it embedded here, you’ll have to go to THIS PAGE to see it.
About 2 years ago, in the January of 08, I started a little project. It was to look at the box office figures put out by the film industry, and look how p2p had impacted them. I did some initial research, which looked at US box office figures for 1996-2007.
Then, in June 07, I published an initial summery of some of my findings, with the aim that I would try and have the full study finished by the end of July 08. That (obviously) didn’t happen. A mixture of real-life pressures, and ADD kept me from finishing it (plus work on the Pirate Party US/International).
Studies like this were the reason I stepped down from Pirate Parties International. It’s only recently, now that the US Pirate Party has a full board, that I can concentrate once more upon things. So, I’ve updated the box office figures, and included 2008 and 2009 as well as 1990-95 (although some of the 09 films are still showing, so shouldn’t be taken as ‘final’).
One thing I did notice when collecting the figures, were the figures for 2005. This is the year, let’s not forget, where Hollywood claimed to lose $6.1Billion, to “Piracy” (meaning ‘copyright infringement’)
The thing is that while the box office figures for the US were down a bit, they weren’t down by much, especially not when compared to the 90s (before ‘piracy’) What’s more, while they may have lost a claimed $6.1Billion worldwide (1.3Billion of that in the US); the top ten films, of the 547 or so released that year, took in over $5.7B worldwide (and $2.4B in the US).
They never mention their income in the same press release as their claimed losses, and now you know why. They also never include the costs of the films, and there’s another reason. The top 10 in 1990 cost around $316.5Million in 1990 dollars (521.5Million in 08 dollars), which included films like Ghost, Total Recall, and Due Hard 2.
2005’s top 10 films cost a whopping $1.307 BILLION to make by contrast ($1.441Billion in 08 dollars) – 2.7x more. In fact, only two of 2005’s films cost less to make than the most expensive film (in the 1990 top ten, Die Hard 2 ($70M in 1990, $104M in 05 dollars). Those were Wedding Crashers ($40M) and Madagascar ($75M)
When you want to look at a reason Hollywood, and the MPAA feel they’re losing money, it’s the budgets that should be looked at. People are still going, but it’s the expense that drives the profits down.
Many thanks to BoxofficeMojo for lots of lovely data to work with.