The makers of the 2013 Oscar-winning hit Dallas Buyers Club have launched a legal bid to force a handful of Australian internet companies to hand over details of customers who have illegally downloaded the film.
The company that owns the rights to the film initiated legal action in the Federal Court and named the internet service provider iiNet and several smaller ISPs as respondents.
The move is the latest in a longstanding campaign by entertainment companies to reduce piracy and stem the damage it causes to the multi-billion dollar industry. iiNet, one of Australia’s largest providers of ADSL connections, said it would fight the legal action ::::
“Dallas Buyers Club wants the names and contact details of our customers, which they believe may have illegally shared their film,” said iiNet spokesman Anthony Fisk. “While we don’t support or condone copyright infringement, we’ve decided not to give them the customers’ details.”
iiNet is no stranger to legal action, having won a High Court challenge in 2012 when a group of major US and Australian media companies tried to force it to block customers from downloading pirated content from torrent sites.
The High Court ruled that ISPs are not able to technically prevent users from downloading film and television programs from torrent services.
Mr Fisk said the latest action mimicked attempts in the US to target downloaders directly.
“What’s happened in America is that customers have been contacted directly by Dallas Buyers Club and other movie houses, sending letters demanding settlement amounts of up to $US7,000 and threatening them multiple times if they don’t pay those amounts,” Mr Fisk said. “We’re concerned that such a development would open the floodgates for further claims by rights holders and more Australians being intimidated in this way. This doesn’t happen in Australia and we don’t want it to start happening.”
One of the other companies named as a respondent in Dallas Buyers Club’s application, Amnet, also refused to comply with the request.
“Amnet does not want to expose its customers to unfair practices or unreasonable claims,” the company said in a statement.
Australia’s largest internet service providers, Telstra and Optus, were not among the targeted telcos.
More Pirates, Stealing More Often
Almost 30 percent of Australians aged 18-64 are active pirates, compared with 25 percentjust a year ago. Of the most active pirates, 55 percent are downloading pirated movies weekly, an increase of 20 percent since 2013.
Piracy activity increases with age. Activity peaks in the 18-24 year-old group, with 54 percent admitting to actively accessing pirated films and television shows. The majority of Australian adults agree that the internet requires more regulation – 52 percent – to prevent individuals from downloading or streaming pirated content.
Australian adults and teens, including active pirates, agree there is an increasing number of options for people to legally obtain and watch TV series and movies
National online quantitative study was conducted with Australians aged 12-64, from June – August 2014 by Sycamore Research and Newspoll.
The IP Awareness Foundation, a group set up by the film and television content and distribution industry, has commissioned online research that suggests 29 per cent of adults and teenagers regularly access pirated content online.
A 2011 industry study claimed copyright infringement is costing the Australian film and television industry $1.3 billion a year. But Jon Lawrence from internet users rights advocacy group Electronic Frontiers Australia said piracy would decline if film and television companies made their content more easily available.
“We’ve certainly seen clear evidence from the United States that as services like Netflix, which provides really good content at a reasonable price in a convenient manner, have increased,” Mr Lawrence said. “…and the prices have come down, the prevalence of online piracy has come down accordingly.”
The Federal Government has in the past few months been taking submissions for a discussion paper on a legal framework to stem online copyright infringement.
Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Attorney-General George Brandis have suggested internet service providers should take reasonable steps to make sure their customers are not illegally downloading material. But they also said users had a responsibility not to access pirated content.
A spokesman for the Attorney-General said the government was currently assessing the submissions received.
UPDATE! Landmark Case Sets the Scene for Copyright Holders to Hunt-down Aussie Pirates
In a landmark piracy case, the Federal Court has ruled that the group of ISPs must hand over contact details of Australians accused of illegally downloading the movie Dallas Buyers Club.
Dallas Buyers Club LLC, which owns the rights to the 2013 Hollywood blockbuster, argued a group of internet service providers including iiNet should be forced to hand over the contact details.
Iinet, Dodo, Internode, Amnet Broadband, Adam Internet and Wideband Networks will also be required to disclose customer information. The decision could set the scene for copyright owners to chase hundreds of thousands of illegal downloaders.
Dallas Buyers Club LLC’s parent company Voltage Pictures used German-based firm Maverick Eye UG to hunt down those sharing the film using software such as BitTorrent, and uncovered a total of 4,726 IP addresses. It’s likely that those internet users will now be sent letters threatening legal action unless they settle :: Read the full article »»»»
‘Piracy Cancer’ Will Kill Australian Film and TV Industry
New research, presented at the 69th Australian International Movie Convention on the Gold Coast, showed piracy was increasing in Australia, with 29 per cent of adults admitting to being active pirates, up 4 per cent from 2013. It also showed people were increasing their frequency of downloading pirated film and television content.
IP Awareness Foundation executive director Lori Flekser said she believed the solution to online piracy was a combination of legislation that provided framework to protect copyright and education to help consumers understand the value of content and impact of piracy.
“I think our focus has to be on young people and where the habits start,” Ms Flekser said. “We can see from research, piracy increases with age. We really want people to understand in their teens what the real impact of pirating is. We want to see a landscape in which copyright is respected and the law helps to protect content creators, distributors and exhibitors.”
Ms Flekser said the research showed a trend towards an increasing disregard for the value of content.
“This builds on what we know of Australia’s profile as a nation of avid online pirates,” Ms Flekser said. “With the issue of copyright reforms now very much on the table, our research reinforces the urgency for a clear legislative framework that guides online behaviours and restricts access to unauthorised or unlicensed content.”
She said the research also showed pirating was still not the social norm amongst Australians, despite the assertion “everyone does it”.
It showed 60 percent of Australian adults and 66 percent of Australians aged 12 to 17 said they have never downloaded or streamed pirated content.
Illegal Downloads Difficult to Chase
According to industry insiders, the local film industry is struggling because going to the cinema has become to expensive.
The director of the University of Canberra’s Centre for Internet Safety, Nigel Phair, said that while there are criminal and civil mechanisms to pursue consumers for illegal downloading in Australia, cases are rare.
“They really are difficult matters to prosecute, very time intensive and I would argue for the police their time could be better spent elsewhere,” Mr Phair said.
In 2012, the High Court ruled that internet provider iiNet could not be held responsible for individual customer’s downloading activities, making civil cases difficult to pursue.
“Corporations do a few trophy cases just to rattle the cage so to speak, but basically they don’t, unless they can identify you as a really big downloader of illegal content,” Mr Phair said. “That takes time, it takes resources, it takes intelligence and it’s a cost-benefit analysis for them.”
Industry Backs Tougher Laws
An industry insider says the industry was calling on the the Government to do more to tackle digital piracy.
“What we would hope is that and we’re really pleased that the Commonwealth Attorney Senator General George Brandis is looking at this issue of film and content piracy in Australia,” the insider said. “I think what we need, such as other countries in the world have done, is to update our laws to deal with this issue, to protect the 900,000 people that work in the creative content industry in this country.”
In February this year, Senator Brandis said the Government was considering asking internet providers to warn customers who download illegally or to block file-sharing websites.
The local film and television industry says evidence suggests that schemes where ISPs inform customers who illegally download of legitimate options for accessing content has worked overseas.
“For example in France, on the graduated response way of dealing with peer-to-peer styles of piracy, you saw 70 per cent of people change their behaviour when they received their first notice from the ISP, with site blocking… in various countries in Europe and in the UK, you’ve seen a dramatic decrease in illegal internet traffic and an uptake in legitimate sales.”
Downloading Laws Easy to Circumvent
But Mr Phair said further legislation was not the answer. “What they’re trying to do is make law that ISPs will be responsible for providing an effective solution to stopping their customers downloading their content,” he said. “We can always implement laws… doing something about those laws is a completely different thing. Blocking websites is difficult mainly because it’s so easy to get around. “I think we need to look at the range of mechanisms that make people want to download illegal content and that includes everything from the price and the culture of that we have within society that ‘well it’s available on the internet therefore I’m just going to take it for free’.”
A spokesman for the Attorney-General told the said in a statement that “the Government is actively considering a range of options to tackle online piracy and no decision has been made”.
RELATED! Game of Thrones Sets Piracy Record
A record number of Game of Thrones downloads this week shows industry moves alone will not curb piracy, according to the Australian Home Entertainment Distributors Association – AHEDA – head.
In a new agreement between the home entertainment industry and film exhibitors, movies will now be released for legal download or on DVD 90 days after screening in cinemas rather than 120 days.
AHEDA CEO Simon Bush said the industry was trying to make content available sooner to prevent Australians illegally downloading.
“I think it’s a positive step, I think it’s welcomed by content owners, we want to get our content out to consumers on any platform they choose to view it and we want to get it to them as early as we can,” Mr Bush said.
But Mr Bush said while the industry was doing the best it could to make it easy for consumers to access content, it would not be enough for everyone.
“At the end of the day, you can’t compete with free… and where there are legitimate and cost-effective and instant access to content, some people will still aim for the free option.”
File-sharing website TorrentFreak reported Game of Thrones set a new record for illegal downloads this week, with about 1.5 million file sharers downloading a pirated copy of the season four finale of the show in the 12 hours after it was released in the US.
Australia was one of the main download locations for the program, along with the US, the UK and Canada. Game of Thrones was available at a premium for Foxtel subscribers hours after the program aired in the US. Fans could legally download the full season on Google Play a day later for $2.99 an episode.
Tribeca Film Festival Programmer Says Forget Piracy, Embrace Internet
Mainstream movie makers need to get over their fear of piracy and accept the internet as the way of the future. That is the view of a content programmer at a major US film festival who has added her voice to the growing chorus of industry insiders concerned about the issue.
New York’s annual Tribeca Film Festival begins this week with an expanded online format spanning feature films, documentaries and music videos. For the first time this year, the festival also features a showcase of content producers who work exclusively online.
Tribeca programmer Cara Cusumano says it is the third year the festival has taken to the internet and that she and her team believe the online realm is very much where the film industry will live in future. She says mainstream movie distributors need to embrace online technologies rather than trying to avoid them.
“Piracy is less about people not wanting to pay and more about just wanting the immediacy – people saying, ‘I want to watch Spiderman right now’ and downloading it,” Ms Cusumano said. “I think that if companies were willing to put that material out there, moving forward, consumers will follow.”
Internet piracy made the news again this month when anti-piracy firm Irdeto revealed a four-week snapshot of illegal downloads from early 2014. It identified Game of Thrones as the most pirated TV show in the world. But official viewing figures for the series have also risen steadily – ratings for the recent HBO premiere of episode one from season four went through the roof.
There is also evidence to suggest the more a TV show or movie is pirated the better it sells, prompting some within the film industry to suggest that illegal downloads could more accurately be viewed as a form of promotion. US company Netflix has shown it is possible, indeed profitable, to embrace an online distribution model for the release of a TV series.
This begs the question – why is the same model not being adopted for feature films? Ms Cusumano insists piracy is not merely people wanting something for nothing.
“It’s just that they want to consume films online and they’re ready to consume films that way and we’re not necessarily offering them in that way,” Ms Cusumano said. “So it’s the distribution models that need to catch up. People will pay for the content – I mean we happen to be showing ours for free, which is great, but we really did see that hole and Tribeca as a whole is very interested in exploring that space with new technologies and online distribution and all the ways and different models for the industry side.
“On the filmmaking side, we’re evolving in response to these technologies. The online space made a lot of sense for us to move into.” Ms Cusumano said. “VOD – video on demand – is the new forefront of distribution – seeing films through iTunes or cable on demand, but there’s definitely a lot of space online to expand if people are willing to go there – there’s certainly an appetite for it.”
Movie distributors ‘should focus on the internet’. Ms Cusumano believes the internet is where mainstream movie distributors need to be focused in future.
“I do, I think we will see that,” Ms Cusumano said. “That’s definitely a reason Tribeca has planted a flag in the online space and that we see it in that direction and we would love be right there exploring it along with the filmmakers and distributors.”
The film industry has been slow to embrace the internet, arguably to its own detriment. Teeth have been further set on edge by the appearance of Popcorn Time, an interface for accessing illegally downloaded films that is free and remarkably easy to use.
Popcorn Time itself is not illegal – it does not host the movies but provides a funnel through which they can be sourced. It is also decentralised, with no money changing hands, making it virtually impossible to shut down.
Subversive innovations such as these mean the movie industry has no choice other than to adapt.
Audiences demanding more content on the net. Screen Producers Australia executive director Matt Deaner agrees the industry needs to be more responsive to audience demand for content via the internet.
“Because it’s on a hiding to nothing if it doesn’t,” Mr Deaner said. “It’s where the content is increasingly going to be accessible and accessed from.”
But he suggests changing the way the industry operates is not as easy as some might think.
“It’s a complicated set of moving parts,” Mr Deaner said.”We also need to reward investment risk. The business models that work to reward that risk might not always allow for immediate or online supply. There are layers of decision-making that have been debased by certain platforms that wanted to have control. We sit in a production creation space and they are investing in content to get a return back – that’s where the disconnect happens.”
Mr Deaner says there are plenty of examples. “Foxtel is offering HBO content based on exclusivity,” Mr Deaner said. “For HBO, it’s better to have that guaranteed return from Foxtel. Netflix is predominantly an aggregator of other people’s intellectual property, licensing other people’s content. It’s also producing original content, but that’s not its main business model – it’s investing in one or two high-profile projects each year. Usually movies are hot because a distributor has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars promoting the product in print and TV and other forms of advertising. The major Hollywood studios spend millions on this process with marketing costs rivalling the costs of production. They are attempting then to monetise through returns that can justify the investment in both the costs of promotion and production.”
“Distributors are usually wanting to encourage cinema-going as part of this process and restrict the immediate access to online so as to encourage the maximum number of people to go to the cinema.” Mr Deaner said. “In Australia there are currently restrictions on quantities of tax support that a film can receive unless the film has a traditional cinema release so this needs to change in order to keep up with audience expectations and where the market for cinema content is sitting.”
Ms Cusumano says many filmmakers whose works are on show at Tribeca are more than happy for their work to be streamed online. This year, Tribeca is streaming two documentaries and two feature films to a limited US audience during the festival.
“The way we position it in the online festival is that it’s sort of another screening at the festival,” Ms Cusumano said. “The views are capped at a certain number and it’s set up as an online screening room so we present it to the filmmakers as if we’re adding a screening of their film and it happens to be online rather than in a theatre. A lot of filmmakers are happy for that and they love to get their work out there. There’s also an audience award available to one of the four films – people who watch them vote and then one of the four will win a prize of $10,000.”
This year for the first time Tribeca also ran a competition urging online content makers to produce an interactive music video for a track by one of three musical artists – Damon Albarn, Ellie Goulding or Aloe Blacc.
A jury will select a winner for each artist’s song, earning those three video creators a prize of $10,000 each, a trip to the festival and the promise that their work will be used to promote the music.
Another section of the online festival, Tribeca NOW, will feature work by 12 creators who make web series, music videos, short films and documentaries specifically for an online audience.
“Whether they see themselves as online creators permanently or they’re looking to jump-start into TV or film we just wanted to identify this talent and curate it,” Ms Cusumano said. “There’s such a glut of people making work online and so much content available and very little curation happening. We felt like there’s a space there for us to say, ‘hey here’s 12 filmmakers doing really interesting things that we’d love for the world to pay attention to’ and put that under the Tribeca online umbrella. We’ve selected them and will feature editorial pieces on them on the website along with three examples of their work and invite them out to New York and take part in the festival and take meetings and maybe help meet collaborators or pursue their goals for their next project.”
Non-commercial filmmakers Broaden Audience via Internet
Ms Cusumano says independent and non-commercial film and documentary makers are already very interested in using the internet to broaden their potential audiences. Establishing an audience online also offers a greater possibility for projects that are labours of love to pay for themselves, making it easier for non-commercial filmmakers to move on to future projects.
But thus far the mainstream industry has kept its doors closed to the online space.
“We have studio films at the festival and they use the festival to launch their films into the market, opening to just the press and having a big premiere,” Ms Cusumano said. “I think that evolves into a more traditional distribution model, but it’s not necessarily mutually exclusive.”
Malware Bundled in Popular µTorrent WILL Destroy Your Computer
More than 100 million users of the trusted torrent platform are at serious risk of having their laptops and PCs literally destroyed. T
Bundled with the latest install of the free software is a program called Epic Scale leeching your laptop’s resources in secret.
Epic Scale is a currency miner that generates revenue for its creators, though it publicly sells itself on being a completely philanthropic venture :: Read the full article »»»»
Tech Giants Scramble to Fix ‘Freak’
As Google, Apple and Microsoft scramble to patch a long missed security flaw it might be timely to remember how we got here. Way back at the latter end of the last century – the 1990s, when Netscape browser was all the rage and – SSL (Secure Socket Layer) encryption was brand-spanking-new, the U.S. government wanted control over export of “weapons grade” encryption.
Its theory was that domestic communications could benefit from stronger, 128-bit encryption, but ‘backdoors’ should be available to U.S. intelligence and law enforcement when it came to foreign communications, the concept of weaker, “export grade” encryption was born.
Turns out that this theory and it’s legacy backdoor, a vulnerability that we’ve come to know in recent days as ‘FREAK’ still exists in up to 30 percent of U.S. web servers. It’s a sad example of how zombie-security from the era that gave us grunge can come back and bite us on the posterior.
Meanwhile, Apple and Google are saying they’ve developed fixes/patches – though we note Apple has yet to deploy – to mitigate the ‘Freak’ security flaw. Initially thought to be immune, Microsoft released an advisory which warned hundreds of millions of Windows PC users are also vulnerable to the security vulnerability :: Read the full article »»»»
Australian Telco Fined For Privacy Breach
Last year a Fairfax journalist discovered that the telco had published the names, phone numbers and addresses of customers. The journalist alerted the telco to the breach, and also informed the – OAIC – Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.
The OAIC launched a year-long investigation with the Australian Communications and Media Authority – ACMA – and the agencies have now handed down their reports.
They have found Telstra made the information of 15,775 customers available for 15 months during 2012 and 2013. The information included more than 1,257 customers with silent line numbers, and related to customer data from 2009 and earlier. There were at least 166 unique downloads of the records ::Read the full article »»»»
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