A Winnipeg man pled guilty to a dozen charges last Thursday related to the sale of pirated entertainment products on his Winnipeg-based web site Audiomaxxx.com. The Canadian recording industry called the music and video piracy operation twenty times bigger than anything ever taken down in the country.
Only a few hours after it was revealed that cloud-based file-sharing destination Hotfile has agreed to pay $80 million to the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) as part of a settlement for a trial set to begin next week, the site went offline. Not only did the site go offline, but it took all of the user content being stored on its servers with it. Users who stored legal personal and business-related documents are now left in much the same situation that Megaupload users were left in, but this time it can't be blamed on anyone except the service provider.
Kotaku offers a mildly amusing story about a game development studio that decided to pirate their own game. Vitali Kirpu and Alex Poysky, the developers behind Pixel Piracy, have "pirated" a copy of their own game, and provided a free torrent download on their site.
Update: Hotfile has settled the case out of court and has accepted an $80 million judgment, according to Ars Technica. Hotfile has agreed to pay $80 million and to stop operating "unless it employs copyright filtering technologies that prevent infringement," according to a press release issued by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).
Football Manager GM Miles Jacobson said recently (as reported by MCV) at the London Games Conference 2013 event that 10.1 million copies of the PC version of Football Manager 2013 have been illegally downloaded. The game was cracked on May 12, but the crack featured a strange flaw called Home that allowed Jacobson and his company to track the IP addresses of everyone who downloaded the game illegally and played it.
In an interview with GiantBomb CD Projekt Red CEO Marcin Iwinski says that most companies use digital rights management software as a smokescreen to cover their asses. Iwinski and his company, who are best known for The Witcher series of action RPGs, is a staunch opponent of DRM.
Call of Duty: Ghost, the latest in Activision's best-selling military-themed shooter series, releases today, but current generation versions of the game have been hacked, according to this Polygon report.
Canadian Internet rights group La Quadrature du Net warns that a trade treaty between Canada and the European Union will ultimately hurt internet freedoms in both regions if its ratified. CETA recently reached "agreement in principle" status during a meeting between José Barroso, the President of the European Commission, and Stefen Harper, the Canadian Prime Minister.
Two years ago the MPAA and RIAA teamed up with five major Internet providers to put together a voluntary (for ISPs, not their customers) "six strikes" anti-piracy plan. The interested parties founded the Center for Copyright Information (CCI), incorporated as a non-profit company in Delaware. While the goals of the CCI have been pretty transparent, its finances have been mostly shrouded in secret. At the time of its founding, ISPs joining the scheme and copyright owners agreed to evenly share the cost of the organization and the scheme.
A new study by the London School of Economics suggest that the movie, music, and video games industries have been exaggerating the impact that file sharing has had on their bottom line and found that - for some creative industries - copyright infringement may actually be helping to boost revenues.
Researchers found that internet-based revenues have been a large part of the music industry's growth since 2004 because the industry has adopted methods of distributing and consuming content modeled after file-sharing services such as BitTorrent, Pirate Bay, and Napster.
According to this TorrentFreak article, the trade groups representing the music and movie industry are indoctrinating kindergartners in the state of California with an "educational program" about "sharing creative works." The Center for Copyright Information, a partnership between the MPAA, RIAA and five of the largest Internet providers in the United States, are teaching copyright classes in California public schools.
If you are using AT&T as your service provider and you are accused of copyright infringement by a rights holder, you could end up losing your internet access if you don't pay attention to the notices the company sends you as part of its compliance with the "six strikes" system to fight copyright infringement online.
Game Dev Tycoon is coming to Steam on August 29, according to independent game development studio Greenheart Games. The game allows players to create a video game start-up company in the 1980's and make it a successful enterprise by developing cutting edge video games. Players will have to design games, research new technologies, build custom game engines, manage office space, build out their development teams, and avoid pitfalls like piracy.
On August 1 Russia began using a new law designed to reduce online copyright infringement. Many called it Russia's version of SOPA, but the system is proving to be less draconian than many had first anticipated. The goal of the new law is to identify and block (at the ISP level) sites online that traffic in copyrighted material online such as movies, TV shows, music, video games, and more. As of this Thursday the system will have been in effect for three weeks, but the results might be considered surprising.
Game of Thrones is a show on HBO. It's kind of a big deal. I don't watch TV but even I've heard of it.
The show is so popular, in fact, that it's apparently one of the most pirated shows on TV. Let's take this straight to the top. HBO is owned by Time Warner. What do you think CEO Jeff Bewkes has to say about people watching without an HBO subscription?
"That's better than an Emmy."
Nintendo of America has filed a lawsuit against HackYourConsole.com, a web site that - Nintendo claims in its complaint - promotes selling unauthorized copies of Nintendo titles and game copying devices such as the R4. The website does sell R4 devices, but on its Frequently Asked Questions page, it highlights the fact that using software with the R4 device is probably illegal:
In an interesting and lengthy interview on Games.on.net Trevor Longino, Head of Marketing and PR at GOG.com shares his personal opinions on piracy, file-sharing and game sharing amongst friends. The interview also offers a lot of casual talk about gaming in general, but the most interesting part of the interview has to do with whom Good Old Games considerers its competition.
The French government has decided that one of the tools used in its supposed "three-strikes" copyright enforcement law (commonly called Hadopi) is not necessary. Prior to the change one of the tools that the government had at its disposal was the ability to disconnect individuals who continually engaged in illicit file-sharing of copyrighted materials after several warnings and actions. Now a panel has decided that disconnecting citizens from the Internet as a punishment isn't that good of an idea.
Seguros Universales, one of the largest insurance companies in Guatemala has sued Microsoft over what is being called an unwarranted and extortion-like anti-piracy raid. With the help of local law enforcement Microsoft demanded an on the spot payment of $70,000 from the company for the use of pirated software or they said would have all of a company’s computers confiscated.
Google and Russia's biggest search engine Yandex are voicing their opposition to a new bill that would block sites accused of hosting (in some way) copyrighted material. The new bill, which has already passed Russia's State Duma, is being called Russia's version of the Stop Online Piracy Act. The bill gives intellectual property holders the ability to sue a web site that they claim is hosting copyrighted materials. The accused site then has 72 hours to remove the offending material (without the option of reviewing the claim).
After three years in place and "millions" of threatening letters being sent to alleged illegal file sharers in France, the French three-strikes anti-piracy law Hadopi has finally led to the disconnection of one person from the Internet. The individual, who was not named, faces two weeks without access to certain internet functions like web access and access to P2P software and a 600 euro fine.
The individual was caught sharing a few files online and never responded to earlier warnings.
Legendary Nintendo designer Shigeru Miyamoto says that used games are less of a concern than the elephant that has always been in the room: piracy. Speaking to CVG Nintendo's most prominent and prolific game creators said that piracy is a bigger threat to his company's business than the used games market.
A Russian coder and hacker known only as "Barabus" has ported Ska Studios popular "M" rated XBLA action game The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile to the PC. But before you celebrate, this PC version of the game is not an official port and doesn't exactly have the blessing of Ska Studios founder James Silva. It is basically pirated version of the game.
Barabus defends his action by arguing that the developer of the game should have made a PC port himself and that by not doing so is "not very nice."
The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) released its 2012 Annual Report (PDF) today, revealing that it sent a total of 3.4 million takedown notices for copyright infringement and helped remove more than 99,500 Google links containing infringed game files during 2012. The trade group that represents the video game industry (and operates the ESRB and the E3 trade show) also said that it helped to create a 10 percent decrease from 2011 in the speed of removing infringing files.
The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has released its 2013 Special 301 Report, detailing regions outside of the United States that are havens for piracy and do not enforce US copyrights. At the top of that list (which mentions 40 different countries) is Russia. Russia is named in the Priority Watch List, along with Algeria, Argentina, Chile, China, India, Indonesia, Venezuela, and Pakistan. China gets a lot of attention in this particular report, as does Russia.
Developer Greenheart Games has released a "cracked version" of its $8 PC and Mac title Game Dev Tycoon on torrents that's specifically for pirates. The cracked version of the game causes game development studios in the sim go bankrupt due to rampant in-game piracy. Greenheart claims that the pirated version of the game made up 93 percent of its player base at launch, and caused an outburst from pirates complaining about their in-game titles failing through (ironically) piracy.
House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) announced yesterday plans to conduct a serious of hearings aimed at identifying problems with U.S. copyright laws and updating them for the modern digital age. Goodlatte was a key sponsor of the failed Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) last year alongside the bill's author, former chairman of the Judiciary Committee Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas).