CyberLaw Blog

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Archive for April 4th, 2009

Unfinished X-Men Movie a Hit On BitTorrent

Saturday, April 4th, 2009

Post from: TorrentFreak

Unfinished X-Men Movie a Hit On BitTorrent

wolverineApril 1st. What fun. Everywhere you look torrent sites and release sites are being shut down, that’s if they aren’t teaming up with the movie studios. But what if there’s some really serious news to report? What if one of the summer’s biggest sci-fi movies leaked out onto the Internet way before its release, and before it was even completed? Still unconvinced?

This is the reality today with Fox’s ‘upcoming’ X-Men Origins: Wolverine and it’s spreading with determination on BitTorrent. At the time of writing there are at least three different ‘workprint’ versions, presumably from the same source. One is reported to be a few minutes longer than the others but all are missing special effects. The film, penned for a May 1 2009 release, was due to compete alongside the likes of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Star Trek in this year’s summer blockbuster campaigns but has ‘premiered’ a little earlier than planned.

Here at TorrentFreak we’ve been monitoring this leak and since the movie hit BitTorrent just a few hours ago it has been downloaded at least 75,000 times, a rate comparable to that of the DVDrip ‘release’ of The Dark Knight. Interest is likely to be significant. X-Men’s target audience are tech-savvy people who are likely to have heard about BitTorrent. Multiply this by the desire to see something unusual and something you’re not supposed to have (like an unfinished Hollywood sci-fi movie) and things got hot – quickly.

The leak is the source of much speculation, but one particularly interesting discussion surrounds the source of the leak of this ‘workprint’ copy. Many early ‘reviewers’ of the movie noted that not only was the video and audio of a high quality (screenshots), but there were no ‘watermarks’. This is not strictly true. A little way into the movie from the top of the screen pops a very brief message which names Rising Sun Pictures and a date, 2nd March 2009.

Founded in 1995, Rising Sun Pictures (RSP) is an Australian visual effects company which has previously worked on the Harry Potter, Superman and Batman movies, so they have quite a pedigree. Of course RSP would absolutely not endorse any leak and the leak could have happened before the print even reached them, but somehow a print marked with their company name has made it onto the Internet and the downloads are mounting quickly.

Another interesting development is that Devin Faraci over at Chud.com said that he’d been told that the Wolverine DVD had been ‘switching hands’ over the last couple of weeks.

TorrentFreak contacted Rising Sun Pictures but as yet we’ve had no response.

Update: Fox has released a statement confirming the leak. The FBI and MPAA are investigating the case.

(Via TorrentFreak.)

France to Block The Pirate Bay, Disconnect File-Sharers

Saturday, April 4th, 2009

Post from: TorrentFreak

France to Block The Pirate Bay, Disconnect File-Sharers

In order to clamp down on piracy the French have passed a new law requiring Internet service providers to cut off Internet access for persistent offenders. Under the new legislation ISPs have to warn alleged copyright infringers twice, and if they they ignore these warnings their Internet access is terminated for up to a year.

One of the biggest problems with the new law is that copyright infringers will be identified only by an IP-address, which will undoubtedly lead to many false accusations. Those who want to prove their innocence have only one option, namely, to install a spyware application that will monitor their every move on the Internet and report it back to the authorities. Hardly practical.

The law goes much further than disconnecting alleged file-sharers though. In addition it is now possible to take ‘any action’ in order to put a halt to copyright infringement. Minister of Culture, Christine Albanel, explicitly named The Pirate Bay as one of the sites that could be easily blocked under the new law.

Thus, without having to provide evidence that a website is engaging in illegal activities, it can still be blocked. Potentially this could mean that access to BitTorrent sites is disallowed in France, as well as access to sites like YouTube or perhaps even Google.

In summary, the new law introduces unlimited options for the copyright holders to go after sites and people that may or may not infringe copyright, without having to actually proove that the accused are guilty. To date, this is by far the most aggressive and unbalanced piece of copyright legislation that we’ve seen.

Even more so, only last week the European Parliament spoke out against such disproportionate legislation by adopting a report that aims to protect the rights and freedoms of Internet users and excludes ‘three strikes’ as a punitive sanction. Unfortunately, members of the French parliament completely ignored this.

What struck us most is that the people who get to decide on these issues have no clue about file-sharing at all. Many of them don’t know what BitTorrent is, or how it works. Yet, they decide the fate of hundreds of thousands of Internet users.

(Via TorrentFreak.)