Patent Allows Watermarking of Already Encrypted Movies

encryptionWhile the name Verance might not be particularly well known, the company’s anti-piracy technology is present in millions of DVD and Blu-ray players and the media they play.

Every licensed Blu-ray playback device since 2012 has supported the technology which is designed to limit the usefulness of pirated content. Illicit copies of movies protected by Cinavia work at first, but after a few minutes playback is halted and replaced by a warning notice.

This is achieved by a complex watermarking system that not only protects retail media but also illicit recordings of first-run movies. Now Verance has been awarded a patent for a new watermarking system with fresh aims in mind.

The patent, ‘Watermarking in an encrypted domain’, begins with a description of how encryption can protect multimedia content from piracy during storage or while being transported from one location to another.

“The encrypted content may be securely broadcast over the air, through the Internet, over cable networks, over wireless networks, distributed via storage media, or disseminated through other means with little concern about piracy of the content,” Verance begins.

Levels of security vary, Verance explains, depending on the strength of encryption algorithms and encryption key management. However, at some point content needs to be decrypted in order for it to be processed or consumed, and at this point it is vulnerable to piracy and distribution.

“This is particularly true for multimedia content that must inevitably be converted to audio and/or visual signals (e.g., analog format) in order to reach an audience,” Verance explain.

While the company notes that at this stage content is vulnerable to copying, solutions are available to help protect against what it describes as the “analog hole”. As the creator of Cinavia, it’s no surprise Verance promotes watermarking.

“Digital watermarking is typically referred to as

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The Next-Generation Copyright Monopoly Wars Will Be Much Worse

copyright-brandedWe’ve been manufacturing our own copies of knowledge and culture without a license for quite some time now, a practice known first as mixtaping and then as file-sharing.

Home mass manufacturing of copies of culture and knowledge started some time in the 1980s with the Cassette Tape, the first widely available self-contained unit capable of recording music. It made the entire copyright industry go up in arms and demand “compensation” for activities that were not covered by their manufacturing monopoly, which is why we now pay protection money to the copyright industry in many countries for everything from cellphones to games consoles.

The same industry demanded harsh penalties – criminal penalties – for those who manufactured copies at home without a license rather than buying the expensive premade copies. Over the next three decades, such criminal penalties gradually crept into law, mostly because no politician thinks the issue is important enough to defy anybody on.

A couple of key patent monopolies on 3D printing are expiring as we speak, making next-generation 3D printing much, much higher quality. 3D printers such as this one are now appearing on Kickstarter, “printers” (more like fabs) that use laser sintering and similar technologies instead of layered melt deposit.

We’re now somewhere in the 1980s-equivalent of the next generation of copyright monopoly wars, which is about to spread to physical objects. The copyright industry is bad – downright atrociously cynically evil, sometimes – but nobody in the legislature gives them much thought. Wait until this conflict spreads outside the copyright industry, spreads to pretty much every manufacturing industry.

People are about to be sued out of their homes for making their own slippers instead of buying a pair.

If you think that sounds preposterous, that’s exactly what has been going

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Top 10 Most Pirated Movies of The Week – 09/01/14

maleThis week we have three newcomers in our chart.

Maleficent is the most downloaded movie for the third week in a row.

The data for our weekly download chart is estimated by TorrentFreak, and is for informational and educational reference only. All the movies in the list are BD/DVDrips unless stated otherwise.

RSS feed for the weekly movie download chart.

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UK Police Accuse Domain Name Registrar of Facilitating Criminal Activity

easydnsOver the past year City of London Police have been working together with the music and movie industries to tackle sites that provide unauthorized access to copyrighted content.

“Operation Creative” began with the sending of warning letters to site owners, asking them to go legit or shut down. Late last year this was followed by a campaign targeted at domain registrars, asking them to suspend the domain names of several “illegal” sites.

Most registrars ignored these letters and only five out of the 75 requests were granted. The police aren’t giving up on their efforts though, as they have now contacted the registrars again, this time with a warning.

EasyDNS was one of the companies who refused to suspend domains without a court order. This week CEO Mark Jeftovic informed TorrentFreak that his company received a new letter from City of London PIPCU titled “notice of criminality.”

Unlike the previous one, the latest letter doesn’t have any concrete demands, but simply puts the registrars on notice.

Receipt of this email serves as notice that the aforementioned domain, managed by EASYDNS TECHNOLOGIES, INC. 28/03/2014 is being used to facilitate criminal activity, including offences under:

Fraud Act 2006
Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988
Serious Crime Act 2007

We respectfully request that EASYDNS TECHNOLOGIES, INC. give consideration to your ongoing business relationship with the owners/purchasers of the domain to avoid any future accusations of knowingly facilitating the movement of criminal funds.

According to easyDNS the warning appears to suggest that registrars themselves could face legal trouble if they fail to take action. A rather worrying development considering that no court has deemed the sites to be violating local law.

“We think this time the intent is not to actually get the domain name

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Four ISPs Sued For Failing To Block Pirate Movie Sites

pirate-cardFavorable rulings in both the European Court of Justice and the local Supreme Court earlier this year gave Austrian anti-piracy groups the power they needed to move forward on site-blocking.

What transpired was an attack from two directions. The first involved VAP, the anti-piracy association of the Austrian film and video industry. The second was launched by the local branch of IFPI, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry.

In late July, VAP wrote to UPC, Drei, Tele2 and A1 with a request for the ISPs to block ThePirateBay.se plus streaming sites Movie4K.to and Kinox.to. Days later in a letter dated August 4, the IFPI asked five local ISPs to block access to four torrent sites – ThePirateBay,se, isoHunt.to, 1337x.to and H33t.to.

Unfortunately for VAP and the IFPI, the ISPs were going to need more than just a letter to begin censoring the Internet. By mid August, with their deadlines expired, none had initiated blockades. That led to threats of lawsuits from both anti-piracy groups.

With August now drawing to a close, VAP has made good on its word. CEO Werner Müller confirmed to German media that his organization has now sued four Austrian ISPs. Müller would not be drawn on their names, but DerStandard spoke with UPC and A1 who both confirmed receiving letters.

“[The decision on blocking] should be left to the judgment of a judge, since in a specific case the rights of Internet users and the movie / music industry can be weighed more,” said A1 spokeswoman Livia Dandrea-Böhm. “We will now take a position in the time allowed by the court. Thereafter, the judge has to decide.”

Of further interest is VAP’s decision to exclude The Pirate Bay from their legal action and only sue for blockades against kinox.to and

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“Six Strikes” Anti-Piracy Warnings Double This Year

pirate-runningFebruary last year, five U.S. Internet providers started sending Copyright Alerts to customers who use BitTorrent to pirate movies, TV-shows and music.

These efforts are part of the Copyright Alert System, an anti-piracy plan that aims to educate the public. Through a series of warnings suspected pirates are informed that their connections are being used to share copyrighted material without permission, and told where they can find legal alternatives.

During the first ten months of the program more than more than 1.3 million anti-piracy alerts were sent out. That was just a ramp up phase though. This year the number of alerts will grow significantly.

“The program doubles in size this year,” says Jill Lesser, Executive Director of the overseeing Center for Copyright Information (CCI).

Lesser joined a panel at the Technology Policy Institute’s Aspen Forum where the Copyright Alert System was the main topic of discussion. While the media has focused a lot on the punishment side, Lesser notes that the main goal is to change people’s norms and regain their respect for copyright.

“The real goal here is to shift social norms and behavior. And to almost rejuvenate the notion of the value of copyright that existed in the world of books and vinyl records,” Lesser said.

The notifications are a “slap on the wrist” according to Lesser, but one which is paired with information explaining where people can get content legally.

In addition to sending more notices, the CCI will also consider adding more copyright holders and ISPs to the mix. Thus far the software and book industries have been left out, for example, and the same is true for smaller Internet providers.

“We’ve had lots of requests from content owners in other industries and ISPs to join, and how we do

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KickassTorrents Goes Secure, Encrypts Traffic For All Visitors

KATLike most Internet users, torrent site visitors prefer not to have their browsing habits exposed to third parties.

One way to prevent this from happening is by using SSL encryption. This is supported by more and more sites, and last year Google even went as far as encrypting all searches by default.

Most of the larger torrent sites such as The Pirate Bay and Torrentz also offer SSL support. However, KickassTorrents is the first to force encryption. This means that everyone who visits the site will now be sending data over a secure https connection.

TorrentFreak spoke with the KickassTorrents team who told us that the new feature was implemented by popular demand.

“We’re just thinking about those people who will feel safer when they know all the data transferred between them and KAT is completely encrypted. People requested it, so we respond,” the KAT team informs TF.

SSL encryption will prevent one’s boss, school, or ISP from monitoring what pages are visited what data is sent or retrieved from the site. However, it’s still possible to see that the KickassTorrents domain was accessed, and how much time was spent there.

Also, it’s worth emphasizing that it doesn’t anonymize the visitor’s IP-addresses in any way, as a VPN or proxy might.

That said, enabling encryption is a good way for KickassTorrents to offer its users a little more security. On top of that, Google recently noted that it would prioritize SSL encrypted sites in its search results, something the site’s operators probably wont mind either.

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Warner Bros. Sues New York Bar For Playing 80-Year Old Song

giacomoMany bars, pubs and restaurants like to entertain their guests with live music, with bands often playing covers of recent hits or golden oldies.

As with all music that’s performed in public, the bar owners are required to pay the royalties, even if there are just handful of listeners present.

Royalty collection agencies take this obligation very seriously and drive around the country visiting local bars and pubs to check whether they obey the law. Those who don’t usually get a bill in the mailbox, and if they refuse to pay up it gets worse.

Every year hundreds of small establishments are sued by copyright holders, often with help from performing rights organizations ASCAP and BMI. This week, Giacomo Jacks, a restaurant/bar from Amityville, New York, became a target.

The bar is being sued by Warner Bros. and Pure Songs for playing two songs without permission back in February. As they failed to secure the rights, Giacomo Jacks now faces a maximum of $60,000 in damages.

While these lawsuits are fairly common, the song over which Warner Bros is suing stands out immediately, as it’s more than 80 years old.

The song in question is the classic love song “I Only Have Eyes for You,” written by Harry Warren and lyricist Al Dubin and used in Warner Bros’ 1934 movie Dames. Since then it has been covered dozens of times, including the well-known Flamingos version.

I Only Have Eyes for You (1934)copyreg

In the lawsuit Warner Bros. claims to have been severely harmed by the public performance in the Amityville bar, for which it demands proper compensation. Since the actual damage can’t be calculated they ask for up to $30,000 per infringement.

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Leaked Draft Reveals Hollywood’s Anti-Piracy Plans

us-ausAs the discussions over the future of anti-piracy legislation in Australia continue, a draft submission has revealed the wish-list of local movie groups and their Hollywood paymasters.

The draft, a response to a request by Attorney-General George Brandis and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull for submissions on current anti-piracy proposals, shows a desire to apply extreme pressure to local ISPs.

The authors of the draft (obtained by Crikey, subscription, ) are headed up by the Australia Screen Association, the anti-piracy group previously known as AFACT. While local company Village Roadshow is placed front and center, members including the Motion Picture Association, Disney, Paramount, Sony, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal and Warner make for a more familiar read.

Australian citizens – the world’s worst pirates

The companies begin with scathing criticism of the Australian public, branding them the world’s worst pirates, despite the ‘fact’ that content providers “have ensured the ready availability of online digital platforms and education of consumers on where they can acquire legitimate digital content.” It’s a bold claim that will anger many Australians, who even today feel like second-class consumers who have to wait longer and pay more for their content.

So what can be done about the piracy problem?

The draft makes it clear – litigation against individuals isn’t going to work and neither is legal action against “predominantly overseas” sites. The answer, Hollywood says, can be found in tighter control of what happens on the Internet.

Increased ISP liability

In a nutshell, the studios are still stinging over their loss to ISP iiNet in 2012. So now, with the help of the government, they hope to introduce amendments to copyright law in order to remove service providers’ safe harbor if they even suspect infringement is taking place on their networks but fail to take action.

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MPAA Research: Blocking The Pirate Bay Works, So…..

FCT tyWebsite blocking has become one of the favorite anti-piracy tools of the entertainment industries in recent years.

The UK is a leader on this front, with the High Court ordering local ISPs to block access to dozens of popular file-sharing sites, including The Pirate Bay and KickassTorrents.

Not everyone is equally excited about these measures and researchers have called their effectiveness into question. This prompted a Dutch court to lift The Pirate Bay blockade a few months ago. The MPAA, however, hopes to change the tide and prove these researchers wrong.

Earlier today Hollywood’s anti-piracy wish list was revealed through a leaked draft various copyright groups plan to submit to the Australian Government. Buried deep in the report is a rather intriguing statement that refers to internal MPAA research regarding website blockades.

“Recent research of the effectiveness of site blocking orders in the UK found that visits to infringing sites blocked declined by more than 90% in total during the measurement period or by 74.5% when proxy sites are included,” it reads.

MPAA internal researchmpaa-leak

In other words, MPAA’s own data shows that website blockades do help to deter piracy. Without further details on the methodology it’s hard to evaluate the findings, other than to say that they conflict with previous results.

But there is perhaps an even more interesting angle to the passage than the results themselves.

Why would the MPAA take an interest in the UK blockades when Hollywood has its own anti-piracy outfit (FACT) there? Could it be that the MPAA is planning to push for website blockades in the United States?

This is not the first sign to point in that direction. Two months ago MPAA

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