Gaming news summary for June 7, 2015
Welcome to the Game Replay, the twice-weekly look at the wider world of gaming by the staff of MacNN and Electronista. In today's edition, an upgraded Xbox One leaks on Amazon, Harmonix reveals why it isn't making Rock Band 4 for the PC, and Destiny players have raised over $1 million in Bungie's Nepal earthquake charity effort.
Microsoft clarifies stance on free Windows 10 upgrade qualification
Microsoft will not be providing the free Windows 10 upgrade to owners of pirated operating systems, the software giant has clarified. A blog post by operating systems vice president Terry Myerson doubles back from earlier comments suggesting users of pirated software would receive the update, with the affected users now being required to pay for a full Windows license before receiving Windows 10.
Microsoft to provide PCs in China running pirated Windows with free upgrade
Microsoft may end up allowing more people to use a free version of Windows 10 than previously thought. One report claims Microsoft is going to be trying to make it easier for Android users to switch to a Windows mobile device by transforming their existing smartphone, and some pirates may also end up being able to upgrade their existing Windows installation to the new release.
Estimated pirate downloads of HBO show double second place program
Game of Thrones has become the most-pirated TV show for the third year running, according to a report. TorrentFreak's research, using statistics from multiple public BitTorrent trackers, suggests that the season finale of the HBO show achieved more than 8 million illegal downloads, close to double the number of downloads of its nearest competitors.
Six movie studios, including Sony, provided $500,000 per year for the MPAA's campaign against Google
In the past weeks, quite a lot has been revealed about Sony's role in ongoing anti-piracy efforts due to the leak of emails as part of the fallout of the North Korean-based GOP attack on the studio. In a post on Thursday on the Google Public Policy Blog, Kent Walker, Google SVP and general counsel, outlined even more leaks that describe a combined and carefully planned effort by Sony and five other studios that began this year to provide funding and legal support for the MPAA's efforts to court State Attorney Generals and target Google directly.
Multiple sites taken down as Swedish police seize Pirate Bay servers
Notorious piracy website The Pirate Bay was taken offline yesterday, as part of a raid by Swedish authorities. The server raid in Stockholm, which took place yesterday morning, is said to be performed as part of a large operation to protect intellectual property, with several servers and other computers seized for further examination by the police.
Neij caught entering country from Laos, transfered to Bangkok to await extradition
The law has finally caught up with all of the founders of The Pirate Bay, as authorities in Thailand arrested co-founder Fredrik Neij on November 3 as he attempted to enter the country. Neij is the final founder of the piracy gateway to be caught, after fleeing Sweden following a 2009 conviction for aiding copyright infringement.
Joint statement announces update in 'zero-tolerance policy' to include wearables
Wearing Google Glass in any movie theater in the United States could soon mean a visit from law enforcement, thanks to the efforts of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and National Association of Theatre Owners. The organizations released a joint statement this week, announcing that wearable devices are now added to official anti-piracy polices.
Enforcement group wants to install 'piracy wheel clamp' through ISPs in the future
It appears that the piracy enforcement group Rightscorp has been looking into a new strategy when it comes to repeat infringers of its clients' intellectual property. In an earnings conference call last week, the company revealed a different direction that it was considering for the future, one that includes working with Internet service providers (ISP) to block Internet browsing until a payment is made to the group.
Publisher activates anti-piracy measures after thousands of plays turn up online
It turns out that winning an early access to game isn't enough to satisfy every fan, as mobile developer Gameloft recently learned. In a contest that gave fans access to Modern Combat 5: Blackout before its expected July 24 release date, one of the lucky winners decided to crack the game and upload it for illegal distribution. Afterward, thousands of players turned up in the game before its release on Android, iOS and Windows 8 devices.
Data collected from BitTorrent, Hollywood Stock Exchange used to find figures
Economist Kolem Strumpf of the University of Kansas School of Business recently conducted a study looking into the financial impact of movie piracy on film revenues. Using data from BitTorrent and the Hollywood Stock Exchange (HSX), Strumpf looked at the top 150 films each year from 2003 to 2009. The study found that there's a "quite small" revenue displacement caused by the illegal films.
Concurrent torrent user record broken shortly after season finale broadcast
Game of Thrones has set new records for piracy, according to a report, with the final episode of the current season resulting in the largest ever recorded BitTorrent swarm. Within hours of the episode appearing on torrenting sites, over 254,000 peers were said to be sharing one single torrent at one point, beating the old record of more than 200,000 peers held by an earlier episode of the show in the same season.
Alamo Drafthouse institutes policy requiring Glass be removed during films
Alamo Drafthouse is taking its policy on interruptive technology to new levels this week with a ban on Google Glass. Company CEO Tim League announced the official adoption of the policy on Twitter yesterday. While the ban doesn't keep people from wearing the recording devices inside the theaters, once a film starts playing, it is now required that the device be removed from the wearer's head.
Search ranking demotions, autocorrect reporting among anti-piracy suggestions
Google is not doing enough to protect the UK film and music industry from piracy, an adviser to Prime Minister David Cameron has claimed. A report by MP Mike Weatherley, an adviser specializing in intellectual property, calls for Google and other search engines to fight harder against piracy, which is estimated to cost content producers in the country over Â£400 million ($669.3 million) annually.
Piracy warning letters deal close to completion, lacks penalty for infringing
Internet service providers (ISPs) in the United Kingdom are close to an agreement with parts of the entertainment industry, which will attempt to fight piracy in the country. The Voluntary Copyright Alert Program (Vcap), stemming from the Digital Economy Act of 2010, will see BT, Talk Talk, Virgin Media, and Sky sending warning letters to customers identified as possible infringers, though it appears that, unlike the Six Strikes system used by the Center for Copyright Infromation in the US, the scheme may not penalize infringers at all.
Judge states that participation in swarm is too imprecise
In December, an Iowa judge dealt a heavy blow to the multiple-party anonymous "Doe" lawsuits involving piracy when she ruled that defendants couldn't be joined together due to the nature in which BitTorrent works. District Judge Stephanie M. Rose ruled that the cases, in which three independent films were pirated, couldn't have defendants lumped into single cases and must instead be limited to one party each.
Ruling the first of its kind favoring the Pirate Bay
The Court of the Hague today ruled that Dutch ISPs Ziggo and XS4ALL are not required to block traffic to and from BitTorrent tracker The Pirate Bay, reversing a January 2012 order. The court found during the hearing that the blocks were both ineffectual and unnecessary censorship, and forced anti-piracy group BREIN to pay 326,000 Euro ($445,600) in damages to the affected broadband providers.
New ruling speaks towards weakness of IP address as a definite identification
In a ruling likely to complicate mass-piracy lawsuits, a judge in Washington state tossed out a lawsuit accusing eight "John Does" and four named individuals of illegally downloading the movie Elf-Man. The presiding judge has declared that an IP address alone isn't sufficient to identify a user, and lacks sufficient granularity of identity to sue the possessor for copyright infringement.
Piracy figures triggered Prison Break purchase for Netflix in the Netherlands
Netflix monitors piracy sites for shows being downloaded, in order to decide what to acquire for its users. The video streaming service uses statistics relating to video piracy as a social barometer, along with other metrics, in working out what shows and films it doesn't currently offer that it needs to secure for members to view.
PirateBrowser to use Tor for circumventing connection blocks
The Pirate Bay has launched its own web browser, as part of its tenth-anniversary celebrations. The browser, dubbed "PirateBrowser," is a combination of Firefox 23 and a Tor client, which the BitTorrent site hopes will allow users to be able to access the site, which is currently blocked from view by a considerable number of Internet service providers.
Plan will provide downloaders with legal content links, claims report
Comcast is said to be working on its own alternative to the Copyright Alert System (CAS) anti-piracy system, also known as "six strikes," operated by the Center for Copyright Infromation (CCI). The rumored system would see Comcast providing users identified as downloading infringing content links to buy or rent the content legally.
Drives developers to freemium model, hurts platform
New research from F-Secure Labs on the prevalence of malware on smartphones, along with developer data on game app piracy rates paints a pretty clear -- and damning -- portrait of Android compared to other mobile platforms. The growth in mobile malware on Google's platform is increasing at such a pace that the malware threat is approaching the relative level of compromised Windows systems, while the rampant piracy is driving developers away and making paid apps scarce in favour of the "freemium" model.
Piracy fails to 'negatively impact DVD sales' of Game of Thrones
Game of Thrones may retain its crown of being the most pirated television show, based on reports. Despite the number of downloads of the season premiere entering the millions within 24 hours of its first broadcast, the programming president of HBO appears to be taking the dubious accolade as a compliment.
Over 2.5 million copyright infringement notices received per week
Google has seen the number of copyright removal requests increase by a factor of ten since the search giant started to publicize takedown notices. Requests have increased from around 250,000 per week in May to over 2.5 million notices a week, continuing the trend of the number of copyright infringement notices vastly accelerating ever since the service started.
Statement claims China 'pays the most' for IP, software
Amidst the Chinese 18th Communist Party congress, the State Intellectual Property Office head Tian Lipu claims that there is deliberate distortion of the piracy issue in China by the Western media, caused by the country's bad reputation overseas. Despite the claimed mischaracterization he defended the practice, claiming that "Speaking honestly, there is a market. People use and buy pirated goods."
Court fees plus undetermined copyright damages due from host
Anti-piracy outfit BREIN has won a prescedent-setting case against web host XS Networks, the previous provider for torrent site SumoTorrent. XS Networks was found to be culpable in facilitation of copyright infringement, and has been acting unlawfully against the interests if the copyright holders represented by BREIN. The landmark ruling at the Court of the Hague has implications worldwide for the liability of hosting companies for the conduct of and content hosted by paid clients.
Comments also made about Google search, 'four strikes' rules
Chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America and former Senator Christopher Dodd told Wired in an interview that the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA) are not going to return to to the congressional floor. Dodd claimed that "that legislation is gone. It’s over. It’s not coming back" after an appearance at the San Francisco-based Commonwealth Club on Tuesday night.
Will take content complaints into account for search results
Google is set to become more aggressive against sites hosting allegedpirated material. From next week, the search engine will start to factor in the number of valid copyright notices it receives against a site, penalizing those with high numbers by placing them lower in search results. The ranking will "help users find legitimate, quality sources of content more easily," according to a post in the company's blog post.
Motion to suppress subpoenas filed, information not revealed
Internet provider Comcast historically complies with content owner's requests to name BitTorrent infringers when provided with sufficient data, but a legal skirmish in the Illinois district court is playing out differently. Comcast has asked the court to dismiss the subpoenas for subscriber's information issued in a battle with four adult video purveyors, saying the case is about coercing settlements out of the 264 potential infringers rather than pursuing legal action.
Tax is 'compensation for private copying'
German publication Heise is reporting that the ZPÜ, the German organization responsible for administering a tax on blank media, has announced a sizable increase in the blank media levy. According to the ZPÜ's announcement, the fee on flash drives and similar storage devices up to 4GB will rise from about 10 cents to $1.93. For devices larger than 4GB, the fee will jump from 10 cents to $2.42. For the smaller devices, the new tax rate amounts to a 1,850 percent increase, while the rate jumps 2,338 percent for larger storage media.
Survey finds piracy rampant worldwide, especially developing world
Computer users the world over are engaging in software piracy, according to a new study (pdf) from the Business Software Alliance, an industry group consisting of Apple, Microsoft, and Adobe, among others. The BSA's survey found more than half of all respondents pirating software, up dramatically over last year's findings. Additionally, the study found that piracy is quite popular in the developing world, with users in those markets installing several times more pirated software than their peers in the developed world.
Demands from anti-piracy group BREIN defied by some ISPs
Internet service providers in the Netherlands are refusing to block The Pirate Bay, following the file sharing site changing its IP addresses. TorrentFreak reports that the addition of a new proxy-friendly version of the site on a new IP address is allowing customers on ISPs blocking The Pirate Bay to access the site once again, with anti-piracy group BREIN attempting to censor the extra addresses to mixed results.
US defendant offered deal to implicate UK couple
It is a terrible cliché when a writer begins a story by claiming that a series of real-life events "reads like a Hollywood movie script," but occasionally dramatic stories occur that are hard to distinguish from the intricate plottings of screenwriters or novelists. An unusual operation involving the US-based Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) hiring investigators to spy on a UK couple that ran a "links to streaming video" site has resulted in prosecution with the help of a US defendant.
Previously lowered then reinstated damages award upheld
The Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal against a $675,000 damages award to the RIAA and Sony in a file-sharing trial, reports Wired. Attorneys for Joel Tenenbaum, formerly a Boston college student, argued the defendant should be protected against "unrestrained discretionary jury damage awards against individual citizens for copyright infringement," but was denied by the court without further comment.
Leaked album piracy raised sales by 60 on average
A recent study has found that raised BitTorrent piracy may be related to higher album sales. North Carolina State University assistant professor Robert Hammond monitored prerelease albums being downloaded through BitTorrent and compared the numbers with actual album sales. The investigation is said to have uncovered a direct correlation between the two, albeit minor.
New system tracks and shuts down infringing torrents
Microsoft has joined with a Russian startup in an effort to crack down on online copyright infringement. The resulting partnership could prove a boon for Hollywood, which has long sought to curtail illegal filesharing on the Web. Pirate Pay, as the startup calls itself, may be the answer to copyright holders' prayers, as it targets torrents directly and takes them down.
Fear operation would start up again off-shore
The movie industry watchdog MPAA has asked the court that is presiding over the Megaupload case to prevent the file locker site from buying the servers, and the data stored on them, from the hosting site where the equipment and data currently reside. The motion comes after Virginia-based Carpathia, which owns the servers, made an emergency motion to the court, complaining that it's incurring costs of $9,000 daily in order to maintain the data. The stored information takes up 25 petabytes of space.
Ruling covers both music and book downloads
A German appeals court has ruled that RapidShare musit monitor the traffic being uploaded by its user to look for and try to stop pirated content. The ruling upholds three lower court decisions against the storage and sharing service. In each case, the company was told to do more to prevent any violation of any copyrights.
Judge 'erred' in challenging constitutionality
A federal appeals court has reversed a federal judge's slashing of damages against college student Joel Tenenbaum, who was found guilty of sharing 30 music tracks on Kazaa -- and reinstated the jury's award of $675,000 in damages, or $22,500 per song, reports Wired reports. The previous judge, Nancy Gertner of Boston, had reduced the jury's verdict to 10 percent, or $67,500 ($2,250 per song). The appeals court ruled that Gertner should have used a different approach.
Claims Warner removed 100s of files it didn't own
The battle over software and video piracy took a turn yesterday when a Florida file hosting service sued Warner Brothers for allegedly engaging in copyright fraud and abuse of anti-piracy laws. Hotfile accuses the Warner Bros. of using the hosting company's anti-piracy tools to remove titles the studio doesn't own, including open source software. Hotfile is asking a court to make it whole for the losses they claim Warner Bros. caused.
France's HADOPI laws yet to make an impact
France’s HADOPI “three-strikes” anti-piracy measures have led to the identification of 18 million alleged illegal file-sharers over the past 9 months. However, due to the high volumes of pirates being tracked, only 470,000 of the 18 million traced have received an infringement warning to date. Those who have received a second-strike total 20,000, while only 10 have been issued with a third warning. A judge is currently investigating the 10.
Baidu to use ad revenue to compensate musos
China search engine provider Baidu has made has signed a deal that with the music industry after years of tension over the way its site handles music searches. Baidu’s music search service delivers results for illegal music downloads as well as allows users to stream music through its website. According to the Wall Street Journal [sub. req.], it has now agreed to pay songwriters who belong to the Music Copyright Society of China when users download or stream their songs using Baidu’s search engine.
Solution said to be regional pricing strategies
A group of researchers has released a report, labeled the Media Piracy Project, that describes the prevalence of content piracy in emerging economies as a problem of inflexible pricing rather than enforcement. The researchers have focused on the cost of software, movies and albums relative to the average wages in various countries.
Tobias posts code to assist developers secure apps
Tobias, the white hat hacker who recently revealed a proof-of-concept crack for the copy protection on Windows Phone 7 apps has taken steps to develop a solution for his own hack. His FreeMarketplace code (only 65.5kb in size) took only about 6 hours to develop, but in the process demonstrated how easily the Microsoft’s app DRM copy-protection for WP7 could be stripped. The crack was not intended to harm the WP7 Marketplace, but was intended as a critique of Microsoft’s seemingly lax security. To help protect developers in the interim, while Microsoft develops its own solution, Tobias has posted code that developers can deploy in their apps to help protect them from piracy.
P2P web domains, among over 70 shut down
Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a division of the Department of Homeland Security has shut down a number of online music and movie file sharing websites according to a NYTimes report. Among the sites that ICE seized were torrent-finder.com, onsmash.com and rapgodfathers.com. At least 70 other websites that were supporting either counterfeit clothing, DVDs and other items were also taken down.
iPad actually performs well in 5GHz band
The iPad's screen capture capability has created some controversy among comic book companies. Comic book reading has been a major selling point of the iPad with full color high-resolution comics now available on the platform. The iPad's screen capture -- achieved by clicking the power button and home button concurrently -- has allowed users to grab the high resolution imagery which could then be easily pirated and distributed against the wishes of the copyright holders.
Could impose harsh measures on suspects
The French government has taken one step further towards enacting a controversial piece of Internet piracy legislation, says the Associated Press. A bill today passed through the National Assembly, having already gained approval from the Senate in July. Only one step remains before it becomes law, that being a third approval by a committee bridging both houses of parliament.
RIAA filesharing money
Lawyers are now challenging some of the basic tactics of the RIAA's campaign against filesharing, reports note. The most powerful allegations have been put forth in the defense of college student Brittany English, whose pro bono lawyer, K.A.D. Camara, has asked courts to declare RIAA damage requests unconstitutional. The group has asked for unreasonable statutory damages in a ratio as high as 150,000:1, according to Camara, and moreover used the potential judgments to bully individuals into settlements. The RIAA should be made to return the $100 million or more it has accrued through illicit methods, Camara insists.
iWork drops serial numbers
Apple has removed a common security measure from its iWork '09 office suite, according to an official support document. Mirroring a decision taken with iLife, which is bundled with new Macs as well as sold separately, Apple has eliminated the need to enter a serial number when installing a retail copy of iWork '09. A number is still needed to unlock trial versions of iWork, unless users install a retail copy over top.
Windows 7 beta leaked
A beta version of the Microsoft's next operating system, Windows 7, has been leaked online and is available for download, according to a Tuesday report. Labeled "Build 7000," a 32-bit version of Windows 7 is currently being distributed via BitTorrent networks, with available copies numbering in the thousands. Those who have downloaded the illegal software are said to believe the build is the genuine article.