RIAA chairman Mitch Bainwol says that a $105 million out-of-court settlement between record companies and file-sharing software distributor LimeWire ‚Äúis another milestone in the continuing evolution of online music to a legitimate marketplace that appropriately rewards creators.‚ÄĚ
LimeWire, initially released in 2000, grew during the last decade to become one of the world‚Äôs most widely-used file-sharing programs; The Hollywood Reporter has a brief history of the service‚Äôs decade-long run. More at what the settlement means for today‚Äôs music marketplace at CNET.
Movies are the most shared type of copyrighted content online, comprising more than one third of public BitTorrent traffic and commanding a similar percentage of download links on sites such as RapidShare, according to a new study.
The study (.pdf) ‚ÄĒ which was conducted by piracy monitoring firm Envisional and commissioned by NBC Universal ‚ÄĒ¬† reports that films comprised 35.2% of the top 10,000 files available via public BitTorrent services. Music, in comparison, accounted for only 2.9% of the traffic (via Ars Technica); but Envisional points out that BitTorrent technology is inherently more popular with sharers of relatively larger files, such as games and videos.
Films also comprise 35.8% of a random sample of 2,000 file links on 10 ‚Äúcyberlocker‚ÄĚ sites, including Megaupload and RapidShare. In comparison, music files account for 10.1% of the links, while games account for 9.4%.
On the day of Envisional‚Äôs BitTorrent analysis in December, most upload and download activity was concentrated among a small number of torrents: 35% of all peers were involved in sharing the top 10,000 files, which in turn accounted for only 0.37% of all torrents available. Some 6,400 of torrents, accounting for 0.2% of all available had 100 or more active downloaders; while 1.2 million torrents (45% of all available) had no active downloads at all.
The research firm notes copyright infringement is on the rise at smaller video streaming sites. While the traffic at these sites pales in comparison to that of YouTube, it is not insignificant. Envisional relates ComScore data that estimate monthly users of LetMeWatchThis.com (MovieWatch.in) to top 6.5 million, while Movie2K.to claims 5 million unique users per month.
Google‚Äôs search engine has stopped suggesting certain technologies and sites popular with file-sharers, in an apparent step from the search company to help curb copyright infringement.
Typing ‚Äútorrent,‚ÄĚ ‚Äúmegaupload‚ÄĚ or ‚Äúrapidshare‚ÄĚ into Google no longer prompts ‚Äúinstant‚ÄĚ suggestions or auto-completions of the terms, although full-word searches still produce accurate results. At least as of Thursday, the Google engine still auto-completes searches for sites such as The Pirate Bay, Isohunt and Mediafire (as originally reported by TorrentFreak).
The move follows Google‚Äôs pledge to tighten its anti-infringement controls in December. But representatives of companies affected by the measure tell TorrentFreak that Google overreaches in its new filtering scheme, impeding the discovery and legitimate use of file-sharing services.
Study: Top Three File-Sharing Sites Attract 23 Billion Visits a Year; One Site Argues Its Traffic Is Legit
The top three websites serving as hubs of ‚Äúdigital piracy‚ÄĚ collectively generate more than 21 billion visits per year, according to research firm MarkMonitor.
In a new study focusing on the impact of online copyright infringement on 10 unnamed entertainment and media brands (.pdf here), MarkMonitor names file-sharing sites rapidshare.com, megavideo.com, and megaupload.com as the most heavily trafficked among 43 sites whose users offer unauthorized files. The firm derives its rankings from Alexa‚Äôs publicly-available traffic data.
At least one of the sites, RapidShare, takes issue with MarkMonitor‚Äôs characterization and methodology. A spokesperson for the site asserts to CNET (which originally reported the MarkMonitor study) that users who trade infringing files via the site ‚Äúare in the absolute minority compared with those who use our services to pursue perfectly legitimate interests.‚ÄĚ
In related news, Switzerland-based RapidShare hired a Washington, D.C. lobbyist late in 2010 ‚Äúto convince people in Washington and in the content industry that we are…a legitimate company,‚ÄĚ a spokesperson told Mashable earlier this week.
Fox‚Äôs ‚ÄúAvatar‚ÄĚ has the dubious distinction of being the most illegally downloaded film of 2010, with 16.6 million downloading the film via BitTorrent services alone, according to estimates by TorrentFreak. The file-sharing figure for ‚ÄúAvatar‚ÄĚ is 51% higher than that of 2009‚Äôs most-pirated film, Paramount‚Äôs ‚ÄúStar Trek‚ÄĚ (11 million unauthorized downloads). Illegal downloads of Lionsgate‚Äôs ‚ÄúKick-Ass‚ÄĚ (11.4 million) also topped the previous year‚Äôs record.
While the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act wends its way through the U.S. Senate, the Department of Homeland Security‚Äôs Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) unit is intensifying its effort against file-sharing and the sale of counterfeit physical goods ‚ÄĒ reportedly seizing more than 80 domain names of websites dedicated to such activities late last week.
An ICE spokesperson told the New York Times that the court-ordered seizures were part of an ongoing investigation. While commenters on website TorrentFreak.com noted the obscurity of most of the seized domains, the website reported that the list included a ‚Äúlarge hip-hop file-sharing links forum‚ÄĚ as well as a BitTorrent meta-search engine.
The Supreme Court has showed interest in reviewing a file-sharing case in which a Texas teenager was disallowed from using an ‚Äúinnocent infringer‚ÄĚ defense.
According to the Legal Times blog (via Billboard), the nation‚Äôs highest court requested a response last week from Maverick Recording Company, after counsel for Whitney Harper filed a petition with the court in May. At issue is whether Harper had sufficient notice that downloading songs from file-sharing site Kazaa was illegal. Needless to say, a Supreme Court review of the case could hold major ramifications for the music industry and copyright holders in general.
The lawsuit brought by film producer Voltage Pictures against 5,000 John Does over unauthorized BitTorrent sharing of its Oscar-winning ‚ÄúThe Hurt Locker‚ÄĚ looks to be moving forward. A customer of Internet service provider Qwest Communications told CNET last week that the ISP recently notified the customer of a subpoena from Washington, D.C.-based law firm Dunlap, Grubb & Weaver.
CNET reports that those accused by the law firm are presented either with a choice of fighting in court to quash the subpoena, or settling the case for $2,900. But according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a certain number of those accused by the law firm don‚Äôt know anything about BitTorrent. ‚ÄúJust because you show up with a bunch of IP numbers doesn‚Äôt mean they‚Äôre any good,‚ÄĚ Cindy Cohn, the EFF‚Äôs legal director, tells the news website.
Copyright holders still occasionally bandy about prospective damages of $150,000 per willful infringement in ligitation against file sharers. In reality, plaintiffs have a tough time winning a fraction of that amount. Judges continue to question whether such sums for acts of non-commercial file-sharing are unconstitutionally excessive.
CNET reviews the debate over a federal judge‚Äôs recent slashing of a jury award to the RIAA of $675,000 to $67,500, in a case against a college student who shared 30 songs.
A trio of hackers claims to have breached the database of The Pirate Bay and downloaded the names, IP addresses, and email addresses of some 4 million registered users. In an interview with Internet security blogger Brian Krebs, a member of the hacker group says they performed the stunt not to capture the list for copyright enforcers, but simply ‚Äúto tell people that their information may not be so well protected.‚ÄĚ
User vulnerability has long been associated with unauthorized file sharing, and content owners may view the incident as lawbreakers receiving their just deserts. But as the recent reports of fraud on iTunes demonstrate, problems of porousness can beset above-board content distributors as well.
The Pirate Bay is back online with a new ISP, one day after the file-sharing search engine‚Äôs former service provider stopped hosting the site under a German court order. By CNET‚Äôs count, the return marks the third such comeback for the Pirate Bay, despite Hollywood‚Äôs ongoing efforts to shut it down for good. By CNET
Earlier this week, a New York federal court granted summary judgment in favor of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in its copyright lawsuit against the maker of LimeWire. The decision likely spells the end of the popular file-sharing network, according to a lawyer who represented LimeWire‚Äôs former CTO in the case. “If they don‚Äôt shut down,‚ÄĚ lawyer Michael Page tells CNET, ‚Äúthe other side will likely make a request for an injunction and there’s nothing left but to go on to calculating damages.‚ÄĚ By CNET
RapidShare, the popular file-sharing site, has been ordered by a court in Hamburg, Germany to take down or sever access to digital files for 148 books, following a lawsuit from six publishers. RapidShare accounted for 36% of the 53,000 takedown notices issued by publishers between July and December, according to a study by Attributor, a content monitoring consulting service based in Redwood City, CA. By the Los Angeles Times
Legitimate streaming businesses are superseding unauthorized file-sharing of copyrighted media content, according to a new report from Lightspeed Research and Trendstream. The research firms argue that consumers most value instant access to content: 42% of those who paid for TV show or film downloads, for example, cite instant access as their chief motivation. By Lightspeed Research