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) â€” which was conducted by piracy monitoring firm Envisional and commissioned by NBC Universal â€”Â 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 â€ścyberlockerâ€ť 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 Envisionalâ€™s 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.
The Supreme Court has showed interest in reviewing a file-sharing case in which a Texas teenager was disallowed from using an â€śinnocent infringerâ€ť defense.
According to the Legal Times blog (via Billboard), the nationâ€™s 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.
Courts would be able to order Internet service providers to block consumer access to file-sharing websites and others â€śdedicated to infringing activities,â€ť as part of the governmentâ€™sÂ latest proposal to counter online copyright infringement.
The â€śCombating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act,â€ť introduced in the Senate Tuesday by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and senior Republican member Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), would give power to the U.S. Attorney General to secure court orders directing Internet service providers to block access to domain names.Â Under the proposal, the federal government would be able to file â€śin remâ€ť actions against domestic domain names as well as sites registered abroad.
Like any other proposed legislation, the bill has a ways to go before it comes a law. But Washingtonâ€™s entertainment lobbies praise the new bipartisan effort.
â€śThis bill is a welcome first step toward cutting off the financial lifeline that sustains these illegal operations and threatens the livelihoods of countless members of the American music community,â€ť says RIAA CEO Mitch Bainwol. â€śWhile improvements can be made to strengthen its effectiveness, this legislation is a good start.â€ť
The bill has drawn criticism too. Advocacy groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation warn that the governmentâ€™s anti-piracy net would be so wide that it would ensnare â€śan enormous amount of noninfringing contentâ€ť as well. Others argue that the legislation might constitute a misuse of federal resources.
Wired points out that in 2008, President George W. Bush threatened to veto the legislation that created the nationâ€™s first copyright czar unless Congress removed similar (and less expansive) powers as those Leahy and other senators are proposing now.
The Bush administration argued that delegating infringement suits to the Attorney General â€ścould result in Department of Justice prosecutors serving as pro bono lawyers for private copyright holders regardless of their resources. In effect, taxpayer-supported department lawyers would pursue lawsuits for copyright holders, with monetary recovery going to industry.â€ť
In some respects, online copyright infringement has only proliferated since President Bush signed the Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act into law in late 2008.
The new Senate bill comes as television and film studios grapple with the advent of unauthorized streaming services on file-sharing sites. In a spotlight on what it calls a rapidly growing problem, the Los Angeles Times quotes an unnamed measurement service as stating that some 1.25 million people watched the season finale of HBOâ€™s â€śTrue Bloodâ€ť via unauthorized streams.
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 judgeâ€™s 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.
The judge in the RIAAâ€™s copyright infringement suit against the operators of LimeWire granted the file-sharing serviceâ€™s counsel two weeks to respond to the recording industryâ€™s motion for a permanent injunction. The record-label trade group is also seeking damages that could exceed one billion dollars. By CNET