Although it won’t affect other cases, the RIAA was handed a small smackdown this week when a U.S. district judge rejected their request for a summary judgement, and ruled that putting song files in a shared directory was not enough proof that infringement had occurred.
When Dean recorded HBO’s new Tom Hanks-produced miniseries “John Adams”—which is not a pay-per-view or on-demand program—he was surprised to see it was flagged by Tivo’s Macrovision software, which controls how many times you may watch a program and how long you can store it before it’s automatically deleted. Now the question is, was this a mistake on the part of HBO or Dean’s cable provider Comcast? Or—considering HBO’s infamous anti-consumer stance on time-shifted programming—is it the beginning of a sneaky “back-door” approach to locking down all their content, something Tivo’s own people said would probably not happen when they added Macrovision to their recorders in 2004?
Last week the House voted 354-58 to approve a college funding bill that requires colleges to “make plans to offer some form of legal alternative to P2P file-swapping” and to implement some form of network filtering. Luckily for sane people everywhere, the White House has already made veto-noises at the bill for other reasons—but still, the MPAA came that much closer to forcing its admittedly false worldview on universities.
AT&T and Comcast may be willing to help Hollywood control piracy on their networks, but Verizon wants none of it, says the New York Times.
BONUS QUOTE:“Illegal peer-to-peer file-sharing is a society-wide problem. Some of it occurs at college s and universities but it is a small portion of the total,” [Terry Hartle ,vice president of the American Council on Education] said, adding colleges will continue to take the problem seriously, but more regulation isn’t necessary.
The RIAA wants you to know that everyone loses with pirated products, so they’ve put together a fake news story and sent it out to TV stations around the country—maybe it will show up on your cash-strapped local news over the next few days, if you’re lucky. We’re torn, though, on posting this because it’s being leaked (promoted?) heavily by the video news release (VNR) company that produced it—we want you to scoff at it with us, but keep your bullshit “stealth marketing” sensors up.
Remember Sony’s cringe-inducing copy protection scheme a couple of years ago, where they secretly installed rootkits on millions of customers’ PCs and then pretended it was no big deal? (“Most people, I think, don’t even know what a rootkit is, so why should they care about it?” — Thomas Hesse, Sony BMG’s President of Global Digital Business.) There’s a new article (PDF) about to be published in the Berkely Technology Law Journal called “The Magnificence of the Disaster: Reconstructiong the Sony BMG Rootkit Incident.” It’s a very detailed and entertaining read that examines the conditions that led Sony BMG “toward a strategy that in retrospect appears obviously and fundamentally misguided.”
The elite cyber-squad freedom fighters of the The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) released findings today that Comcast does indeed meddle with peer-to-peer file sharing. They’re also giving away some software you can install to test your own ISP. The FCC still has yet to respond to complaints and reports of Comcast’s interference.
Sometime next year, Walgreen will introduce kiosks where customers can select and purchase movies—mostly older ones that aren’t as frequently stocked in stores—and have them burned onto DVDs while they wait (for about 15 minutes). Although the idea seems like one that someone should have had years ago, it wasn’t a commercial possibility until last month, when the organization responsible for licensing CSS—the widespread copy restriction software that’s coded into pretty much every Hollywood DVD release—expanded its licensing structure to make room for business models like this one.
Four benjamins will no longer get you an iPhone, now that Apple is requiring credit cards for all iPhone purchases. The new policy, which is billed as an anti-piracy initiative, also prevents customers from buying more than two iPhones per visit. Apple claims the policy went into effect this Thursday, however we received the following tip more than a week ago:
Media companies including CBS Corp., Microsoft Corp., News Corp.’s Fox and MySpace, Viacom, Walt Disney and NBC have all agreed to some über-pact of copyright “guidelines” to protect their work, and have said they will announce the details later today. “The agreed principles include using technology to eliminate copyright-infringing content uploaded by users to Web sites and blocking any material before it is publicly accessible.” [Reuters]
Radiohead may have moved 1.2 million copies of its new album “In Rainbows” when it was released last week, but according to industry analysts, over 500,000 copies were downloaded through old-fashioned file sharing networks, eroding the perceived success of the distribution plan and possibly hindering similar release plans for other artists in the future.
While piracy funds kills babies, we support the idea of people being free to modify devices they have purchased with they money they earned through blood, sweat and toil, so we were glad to hear that an appeals court said that hacking your DirecTV card shouldn’t be penalized under a more punitive clause of the Federal Communications Act.
The MPAA is serious about stopping piracy—so serious that they’ve hired DVD-sniffing dogs to patrol border-crossings. No, we’re not kidding. DVD-sniffing dogs are real and they’re already on the job!
We’ve been hearing all this fantastic sh*t about how we omg, totally have to get Bioshock right now. Well, it seems that although the game is cool, the DRM is a huge pain in the ass.
Here’s the creepiest complaint we’ve received in a long, long time. Reader Sam says he was filmed by a security guard contracted by Time/Warner during a recent showing of The Invasion at an AMC movie theater.
Officials might consider counterfeit Chinese “translations” of copyrighted work illegal, but we like to think of them as the marketplace’s version of outsider art; it’s like fanfic and Lulu.com got together and opened up a bookstore in Shanghai. The New York Times teases its readers with awesome excerpts from a handful of recent Harry Potter knockoffs, with titles far better than the real ones:
Harry Potter and the Chinese Porcelain Doll
Harry Potter and the Leopard-Walk-Up-to-Dragon
Harry Potter and the Chinese Overseas Students at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry