Angry Birds CEO sees opportunity in piracy

There is a growing number of people in the various entertainment industries that are calling for a different approach to dealing with piracy other than trying to nuke it from orbit. There will always be a certain amount of piracy, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make money from your products. Especially if you can come up with new ways to turn pirates into customers. This is a problem that requires innovation, not legislation. #seb #piracy #videogames

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Angry Birds CEO: “Piracy May Not Be A Bad Thing”
While lawmakers and Hollywood execs try to come up with ways to combat piracy in ham-fisted, knee-jerk ways that punish everyone, the CEO of Rovio Mobile — better known as the company that makes Angry Birds — has joined his voice to more sensible suits who see online piracy as an opportunity to learn and grow.

While admitting that his company has issues with piracy and unlicensed products that make money off the wildly popular game, Rovio Mobile CEO Mikael Hed said earlier this week, “We c…

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The MPAA: Clueless and built to stay that way

It’s clear that the present leadership in the MPAA is part of the problem. They don’t understand the Internet, they didn’t take the time to understand it, they just rushed out and started trying to legislate it. Not to mention they didn’t even try to develop for it until file sharing was already deeply entrenched. It’s going to take a new generation of Internet savvy people moving up into the leadership roles before it’ll get any better. #seb #MPAA #Internet #piracy

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MPAA’s number two admits industry “not comfortable” with the Internet
A great Mike Masnick Techdirt editorial deals with MPAA second-in-command Michael O’Leary’s statement that, “[the Internet is] a platform we’re not at this point comfortable with.”

The MPAA’s O’Leary concedes that the industry was out-manned and outgunned in cyberspace. He says the MPAA “is [undergoing] a process of education, a process of getting a much, much greater presence in the online environment. This was a fight on a platform we’re not at this point comfortable with, and we were goi…

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Jonathan Coulton on Megaupload, Piracy, and SOPA

One of my favorite performers on why piracy isn’t the horrible end-of-civilization thing Big Media would have you believe it is. #seb #Piracy #Copyright #Laws

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Uh oh, he’s blogging. What happened?
I wrote this thing on Twitter this morning about the MegaUpload shutdown, and it’s gotten some crazy traction on the old internet. In addition, I’ve just done a couple of interviews for NPR on the subject, and I think I may have said some crazy, provocative things. There are many comments and questions out there already with more to come, and rather than have a bunch of separate discussions on a bunch of different social media platforms, I thought I would …

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Companies ripping off small time artists that have gone viral seems to be increa…

Companies ripping off small time artists that have gone viral seems to be increasing.

H&M isn’t the first and certainly not the worst, but they’re learning quickly that the Internet doesn’t take kindly to such acts. If they’re smart, they’ll ink out a decent licensing agreement and then shout it from the rooftops. If they’re stupid, well, they’ll keep doing what they’re currently doing and piss more people off and perhaps invite a lawsuit. #seb #H&M #Copyright #Piracy

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H&M Thinks “Inspired By” Artwork Is Different From “Copied It Exactly”
H&M, better known as the store you go to when you need a decent-looking shirt that you don’t expect to make it through the wash more than twice, is feeling some Internet heat today over allegations that it’s cashing in on the work of a Georgia-based artist without permission or payment.

In 2008, artist Tori LaConsay painted a love letter to her East Atlanta neighborhood that simply, charmingly reads “You Look Nice Today” followed by a little red heart.

“It was a small gesture that I genuine…

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Senators pushing PIPA are pirates? That's unPOSSIBLE!

Actually, it demonstrates that the Senators in question aren't even familiar with the issue they're trying to legislate. How can you possibly craft and support good legislation on an issue you don't have a good understanding of? I doubt any of these Senators was aware he or she had violated copyright in the use of the pictures on their sites, but according to the law they could be fined up to $250,000 for the infringement (let alone jail time). Perhaps it's time the folks in Washington actually took the time to educate themselves about copyright and piracy before they try pass anymore laws aimed at curbing piracy.

Naahhh, it's not like Big Media would go after any of them even if they were knowingly pirating stuff. Hell, they probably get most of it for free from Big Media as it is anyway so they're only really pirating from the small-timers and independents who couldn't afford to sue them if they wanted to. #seb #copyright #sopa #piracy #laws #politics

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Senators behind PIPA are a bunch of copyright infringers
Vice's Jamie Lee Curtis Taete continues to investigate the copyright shenanigans that SOPA and PIPA's authors get up to (see the saga of how SOPA author Lamar Smith (R-TX) ripped off the photo on the front page of his website).

Now Taete is digging into PIPA supporters, having a quick look at their Twitter profile photos and websites, and yup, the Senators backing PIPA are a bunch of depraved pirates.

This is a screencap of PIPA co-sponsor Roy Blunt's Twitter page from a couple of days ago….

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I'd wear the MPAA's disapproval as a badge of honor

I certainly wouldn't lose any sleep over them being unhappy with me. #seb #MPAA #Piracy #DRM

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MPAA attacks Ars for "challenging efforts to curb content theft"
The Motion Picture Association of America doesn't like us. According to the MPAA blog on Tuesday, "Arts Technica" is a "tech blog with a long history of challenging efforts to curb content theft." (If so, we're the only such tech blog that actually encouraged a now-current MPAA lawyer to do copyright coverage for our site and that recommended the pro-rightsholder book Free Ride in this year's holiday guide.)

One can see why MPAA staffers might think this way. "Ars Technica opposes our attemp…

Yeah, sure thing RIAA. We totally believe you.

Yeah, sure thing RIAA. We totally believe you.

You Won’t Believe The RIAA’s Pathetic Excuse For Their Rampant Pirating [Piracy]

Those nauseating RIAA hypocrites were caught illegally downloading $9 million on TV shows. Now they are giving the same pathetic excuse given to them by the people they accused of pirating songs: “someone was using our IP address.”
Somebody please make these sanctimonious pretenders walk the plank.
Talking to CNET, a RIAA’s spokesman said that “those partial IP addresses are similar to block addresses assigned to RIAA. However, those addresses are used by a third party vendor to serve up our …

“The Sims 3” hits torrent sites two weeks ahead of its release date.

It seems any hotly anticipated video game these days is going to end up being pirated weeks before it hits store shelves. That was the case with the heavily DRMed EA game Spore and now it’s the same with The Sims 3 as it appears to already be widely available on torrent sites:

The release notes on the torrent gives pirates instructions, and a stern moral warning: “Be sure to have a firewall prevent the launcher and main game from going online,” it warns. “Support the software developers. If you like this game, BUY IT!”

This is bad news for EA as the game is still two weeks away from release. The game also doesn’t require online activation to play. “The game will have disc-based copy protection—there is a Serial Code just like The Sims 2. To play the game there will not be any online authentication needed,” EA said on the official site. “We feel like this is a good, time-proven solution that makes it easy for you to play the game without DRM methods that feel overly invasive or leave you concerned about authorization server access in the distant future.”

I don’t know if this is really all that much bad news for EA. All of the previous Sims games have been cracked and pirated and yet that hasn’t stopped The Sims from being one of the most financially successful franchises ever. Back in April of 2008 EA announced that they’d sold over 100 million copies of the game and/or its add-ons in the eight years since the first one hit store shelves. The new game is likely to sell just as well as past versions and will probably still earn EA a good chunk of change in the years to come especially given that it will have a built-in store for microtransactions that are all the rage these days.

About the only thing they should probably be worried about is finding out who in their organization is leaking their games early to the pirates. The game will be cracked and available within days of its release regardless of what protection scheme they used, but surely they should be able to keep it under wraps until at least the release date.

“Spore” most heavily pirated game of 2008 despite draconian DRM.

Remember when EA Games Label President Frank Gibeau said the following about why using SecuROM on Spore was a necessary evil:

We assumed that consumers understand piracy is a huge problem – and that if games that take 1-4 years to develop are effectively stolen the day they launch, developers and publishers will simply stop investing in PC games.

We already know that the SecuROM DRM didn’t stop Spore from being cracked and pirated five days before it was released, but surely the inclusion of such heavy-handed copy protection kept the piracy to a minimum, right? Right?

Not according to the folks at Kotaku and TorrentFreak:

TorrentFreak put up a list of the top 10 games copied and shared over BitTorrent for the year 2008, and Spore, quite unsurprisingly, leads them all by a country mile.

[…] TorrentFreak insists its stats don’t include downloads of malicious or malfunctioning torrents (a figure it puts at 1 percent of all available torrents). Spore’s 1.7 million has it well in first. The Sims 2 was No. 2 with 1.15 million. The Sims 2 was released in 2004. Fallout 3’s 645,000 downloads was the next highest among any 2008 game, good for eighth.

See the original article for the full list, but it should go without saying that the only people impacted by the SecuROM DRM are the people who bought legitimate copies. It’s worth noting that five of the top 10 most pirated games of 2008 were all SecuROM protected titles. But if you listen to Electronic Arts they’ll go on about how SecuROM is all about successfully stopping piracy and how it’s doing such a great job of it.

Blu-ray DRM is officially dead. Chinese pirates selling Blu-ray movies for $7 each.

It took a bit longer than I expected, but the Chinese are ripping Blu-ray movies, cracking the DRM, and burning them to disc so they can sell them for next to nothing. The quality drops, but is still technically High Def and the movie industry is not happy:

Law enforcement in Shenzhen, China, raided a warehouse last month that contained HD copies of a number of popular movies. There were over 800 discs (so, what is that, like eight spindles?) that were packaged in faux Blu-ray boxes, complete with holograms to make them appear legitimate. According to the Motion Picture Association International, this is the “first ever” seizure of these types of discs in China.

The pirates are apparently ripping high-def movies (cracking Blu-ray’s AACS and BD+ encryption in the process) and re-encoding them using AVCHD, which offers a 720p picture. Because of the reduction in resolution, file sizes are smaller and can be burned to regular DVDs instead of the more costly Blu-ray discs, netting a tidy profit. Needless to say, the film industry isn’t thrilled by the news. “We are concerned and are assigning priority to this issue,” the MPA’s Asia-Pacific managing director Mike Ellis told the Wall Street Journal.

Movie piracy in China is by no means a new trend, but the proliferation of Blu-ray fakes out of Asia is being viewed as a serious threat that could make its way to other countries quickly. Ellis pointed out that pirates in China can be very enterprising and have exported their wares all over the globe in the past, so there’s nothing stopping them from doing so with this new format. “These syndicates are very quick to spot market opportunities,” he said.

Considering that standard Blu-ray carries an average price of $30 (which is why I only have a few movies on Blu-ray at the moment) the $7 the pirates are asking will probably more than make up for the content “only” being 720P. It won’t be long before those techniques are widespread. Another proof of the adage that if you can make it, they can break it.