CyberLaw Blog

A news resource for CyberLaw and Cyber-Rights issues from around the globe

Archive for the ‘Movie Piracy’ Category

Latest Harry Potter Film Leaks on BitTorrent Before Theater Premiere

Sunday, November 21st, 2010

Latest Harry Potter Film Leaks on BitTorrent Before Theater Premiere: “One of the most interesting leaks of the year has just occurred with the appearance of the first 36 minutes of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 on dozens of BitTorrent sites. The upcoming Harry Potter film will have its worldwide premiere later this week, but not before hundreds and thousands of people have grabbed a copy of an extended preview on BitTorrent.

harry potterHarry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 is the first half of the two part finale of the Harry Potter film series. The film is set to premiere worldwide this Thursday and is expected to gross over a billion dollars in the weeks and months ahead.

Harry Potter films generally generate quite a lot of buzz on BitTorrent as well. Last year, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince ended up in our ‘most pirated movies‘ list with close to 8 million downloads. It is expected that the new film will eventually be downloaded just as much, or more.

Even before the leak, already thousands of people have been searching for a copy of the film online. Yesterday, it was the most searched for film on some torrent sites, which is quite unusual for a title that has yet to be released in theaters. Today, many of these searchers may get excited by the discovery of a partial DVD screener which came out a few hours ago.

Released by the group iNK, the leaked copy is not a usual DVD screener. Yes, the watermarks and other screener features are there, but instead of the full film the leaked copy only covers the first 36 minutes of the highly anticipated release.

Since no full version has followed up until now, it has to be assumed that the source for this leak was only a partial screener. It is not unlikely that it may have been intentionally time-limited because the studio feared a leak, as indeed happened.

A good move, since this leak may actually benefit the movie instead of hurting it.

Warner Bros. Pictures is usually none too fond of leaks, especially if a film gets out before it premieres in theater. However, today’s leak may actually benefit the movie and boost theater attendance, as long as the full version doesn’t leak out too. If the first half hour is compelling enough, people will have to go to the theater and pay for a ticket to see the rest.

It may be going a little bit too far to suggest that Warner Bros. leaked the film intentionally, but from a business perspective it might make sense.

This is not the first time that a Harry Potter ‘Deathly Hallows’ leak has caused controversy. In 2007 a scan of the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows book was posted online before it hit the book stores, and was then quickly transcribed by fans.

Update: Warner Bros. released the following statement in response to the leak: ‘This constitutes a serious breach of copyright violation and theft of Warner Bros. property. We are working actively to restrict and/or remove copies that may be available. Also, we are vigorously investigating this matter and will prosecute those involved to the full extent of the law.’

Article from: TorrentFreak.

(Via TorrentFreak.)

Hurt Locker Makers To Sue Thousands of BitTorrent Users | TorrentFreak

Friday, May 14th, 2010

Hurt Locker Makers To Sue Thousands of BitTorrent Users | TorrentFreak

Written by Ernesto on May 12, 2010

The makers of the Oscar-winning movie Hurt Locker have joined a very lucrative ‘pay up or else’ scheme that will target tens of thousands of U.S. BitTorrent users. The massive lawsuit is expected to be filed in the coming days and if ISPs cooperate, suspected downloaders will receive a settlement letter in the weeks to come.

The Hurt Locker has been a great success on BitTorrent, before and after its Oscar triumph. The film’s screener leaked in February of last year, months before it premiered in movie theaters in the United States. However, the demand on BitTorrent went up significantly after it was chosen as the Best Picture of 2009

The day after the award show ‘the hurt locker’ was the most typed in search phrase on BitTorrent, with ‘hurt locker’ ending up in ninth place. This increased demand was also reflected in the download numbers which skyrocketed. Since its win at the Oscars the film has been downloaded more than three million times, totaling well over 10 million downloads.

Despite the recognition from Academy members and the huge success among downloaders, the U.S box office revenue has been relatively low at $16.4 million. In an attempt to increase the film’s revenue its makers will threaten to sue thousands of BitTorrent users who have illegally downloaded (and therefore uploaded/distributed) a copy in recent months.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Hurt Locker team has signed up for the services of the U.S. Copyright Group, who will launch a mass lawsuit targeted at tens of thousands of Hurt Locker sharers. The lawsuit is expected to be filed this week and will ask U.S. ISPs to reveal the account owners linked to the IP-addresses that shared the movie on BitTorrent.

The U.S. Copyright Group announced its mass litigation scheme in March, when it targeted thousands who allegedly infringed copyright on several indie film titles. All infringers that have been identified were kindly asked to settle the dispute, or face further legal action. It is expected, however, that the scope of this new round of letters will be much greater due to the high demand for the Hurt Locker on BitTorrent.

‘You can guess that relative to the films we’ve pursued already, the order of magnitude is much higher with Hurt Locker,’ said Thomas Dunlap, a lawyer at the U.S. Copyright Group. Dunlap also said that 75 percent of ISPs have cooperated thus far and that 40% of the BitTorrent users that were targeted early this year have already settled.

Although U.S. Copyright Group say it is their intent to sue individuals who do not pay, in reality that eventuality is impossible to maintain on any scale. Their aim will be to scare as many people as possible into paying, perhaps backed up with legal action against a tiny minority to prove a point.

As we reported earlier, the ‘pay up or else’ scheme is not only lucrative for the rights holders, who get only 30 percent of the settlement money. The remaining 70 percent goes to the U.S Copyright Group and its anti-piracy partners.

In the UK these schemes have been highly criticized by the public, consumer organizations and politicians because of the intimidating tactics and lack of solid evidence. In the UK House of Lords they have been labeled a scam, and the lawyers operating them accused of ‘harassment, bullying and intrusion’ and ‘legal blackmail.’ We expect that the U.S. equivalent will also meet great opposition.

Porn Studios Set To Target 65,000 Movie Uploaders

Monday, September 14th, 2009

Article from: TorrentFreak, check out our new blog at FreakBits.

Porn Studios Set To Target 65,000 Movie Uploaders Two months ago, a collection of fifty US and Japan-based adult movie studios filed a mass copyright complaint against around 10,000 South Koreans accused of being heavy uploaders of porn.

The studios also filed suit against 80 websites accused of aiding and abetting the distribution of the illegally uploaded movies.

A National Police Agency spokesman said that the lawsuit was filed at 10 police stations in the South Korean capital, Seoul, and in the Gyeonggi province. The studios asked the police to investigate the infringements, which carry a potential jail sentence.

However, from the 10,000 complaints issued, prosecutors charged just 10 people with copyright infringement. In response, the disappointed studios say they will fight back. Next week they promise to re-file their lawsuit, but this time will increase the number of individuals accused to 65,000.

Kim Han-Seo, a lawyer representing the movie producers, said that the prosecutors were not tough enough so they had decided to up the ante.

‘Now, we’ve drawn up a new list of some 65,000 users who fit this guideline,’ he said. ‘We’ll see whether the prosecutors will press charges against them all.’

As we reported earlier on our sister site FreakBits, at the end of August distributors of a hit Korean disaster movie called in the police after it was leaked to the Internet and was downloaded 100,000 times. Kim Han-Seo said that the Korean authorities had responded quickly to that local problem, but accused them of different standards when it comes to protecting foreign content, such as the material produced by his porn movie employers.

‘We believe that [the prosecution] should not be discriminatory in applying copyright laws. Illegal copying and distribution run rampant in Korea because it is one of the world’s most wired countries. We decided to take legal action to minimize our past business losses and to protect anticipated future profits,’ he said.

The threat now is that if the local Korean authorities fails to act in a way that pleases the porn producers, they will take their case directly to the US government instead.

The initial lawsuit indicated that the studios had also harvested the IP addresses of around 100,000 individuals who downloaded the adult movies but to date, there is no indication that they will become a target.

Israeli MPAA Goes After Premier Subtitling Site

Monday, September 14th, 2009

Article from: TorrentFreak, check out our new blog at FreakBits.

Israeli MPAA Goes After Premier Subtitling Site

Translated subtitles are a wonderful tool for those who either can’t read the official language of a movie or TV show or are suffering from deafness.

Big Media attacks on those who provide these subtitles have been documented regularly here on TorrentFreak. From WikiSubtitles in Spain, to a broad assault on many outlets in Greece, threats of legal action are commonplace.

Of course, those who rely on translated and home-made subtitles can be very passionate about the enjoyment they can bring, so when anti-piracy groups moved against Legendas subbing group earlier this year, hackers were motivated enough to take their revenge.

While Legendas argued that fansubbers aren’t thieves but avid customers, anti-piracy outfits clearly don’t agree.

One such group is ALIS, Israel’s arm of the MPAA. In late 2007 it assisted in raids on the admins of three sites known as ‘xvoom’, ‘MYakuza’ and ‘Donkey‘ which carried Hebrew subtitles for US movies. In the end ALIS reached private compensation and closure agreements with the owners of two of the sites and took legal action against a third.

Now in 2009 ALIS is again active against creators of subtitles. Targeting Qsubs, one of Israel’s best translation groups, ALIS is threatening legal action against three of its members after sending them cease and desist letters last week.

ALIS is demanding that Qsubs, which has dozens of translators, stops their activities and is ordering the three translators to pay damages of around $264,000 each. They also want the individuals to issue a public apology for creating subtitles. ALIS believes that the three individuals it has identified are administrators of Qsubs.

In addition to copyright claims over subtitles, ALIS lawyer Eran Presenti says that there are further infringements on Qsubs such as movie and TV artwork along with various screenshots.

While the legal ramifications are digested by the Qsubs team, its subtitling activities have been suspended.

According to intellectual property lawyer Ran Camille, movie and TV show scripts are considered ‘dramatic creations’ and therefore subject to copyright law. Article 16 of the Copyrights Act states that only the primary copyright holder has the right to distribute any part of a finished product, subtitles included. However, it is unclear how this legal position is affected by subtitles translated from another language.

‘We have been doing this for years and never got a dime for our services, everything was done for free,’ Qsubs spokesman Amit told TorrentFreak. ‘We have a lawyer already which is costing us a lot of money that comes out of our own accounts,’ he added.

Although Qsubs can finance their lawyer right now, they need further funds in order to mount their defense or sadly they could be forced to close down and pay huge damages. Anyone wishing to contribute can do so by pressing the PayPal donation button on the Qsubs site.

BBC News: File-sharers’ TV tastes revealed

Friday, August 28th, 2009

BBC NEWS | Technology | File-sharers’ TV tastes revealed

Page last updated at 00:16 GMT, Friday, 28 August 2009 01:16 UK
By Rory Cellan-Jones
Technology correspondent, BBC News

Millions of television viewers are now using illegal file-sharing services to access free and unauthorised copies of programmes, research has revealed.

US drama Heroes was the most popular illegal download this year, according to research firm Big Champagne.

Around 55 million people downloaded the show, whilst 51 million chose to access Lost, the second most popular show.

Visits to leading “torrent” sites, which index video and music files, have also nearly doubled in the last year.

The proportion of file-sharing involving films and television rather than music is continuing to rise, the research shows.

“Millions of television viewers now access free, unauthorised versions of favourite shows at least some of the time,” says Eric Garland the chief executive of Big Champagne.

“This is a socially acceptable form of casual piracy – and it is replacing viewing hours.”

All of the programmes in the top 10 were American, but the survey also examined unauthorised downloads of popular BBC show Top Gear.

Most Popular Film Torrents
Watchmen; 16,906,452
The Curious case of Benjamin Button; 13, 133, 137
Yes Man; 13,038,364
Twilight; 11,632,645
Fast and Furious; 10,613,668
Gran Tourino; 9,880,700
Marley and Me; 9,099,219
Slumdog Millionaire; 8,840,884
Bolt; 8,690,633
Australia; 8,628,012

During the most recent series, the figures show around 300,000 downloads of each episode in the days immediately following their broadcast in the UK.

But the UK accounted for just 4% of the download activity, with 47% coming from the United States.

Big Champagne says Top Gear has been among the most pirated television programmes internationally.

The series appears on BBC America some time after it is shown in the UK, and it appears that some American fans are eager to download it before it is available legally.

The research also looks at unauthorised film downloads and shows they are getting lower audiences than those for TV programmes.

Most Popular TV Torrents
Heroes; 54,562,012
Lost; 51,151,396
24; 34,119,093
Prison Break; 29,283,591
House; 26,277,954
Fringe; 21,434,755
Desperate Housewives; 21,378,412
Grey’s Anatomy; 19,916,775
Gossip Girl; 19,706,870
Smallville; 19,598,999

Top of the chart was Watchmen, downloaded nearly 17 million times, followed by The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, with 13 million.

The Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire, a relatively low budget film compared with the two Hollywood blockbusters, was viewed by nearly 9 million unauthorised downloaders.

The research will be presented on Saturday at the Edinburgh Television Festival in a session on what television can learn from the music industry’s experience with online piracy.

Mr Garland says there are major differences between the two industries and the impact on television may not be as severe as some TV executives fear: “We may see a lot of disruption but it is premature to say ‘we’re next’.”

“The effect on the business is going to be very different.”

Big Champagne’s research also shows that the rate of piracy for live events, such as sport or talent shows, is much lower than that for popular drama series.

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 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.)

Online Pirates vs MPAA – The 2009 Oscars

Saturday, January 24th, 2009

Post from: TorrentFreak

Online Pirates vs MPAA – The 2009 Oscars

oscar torrentLast year we took a look at the excellent research carried out by Waxy’s Andy Baio, as he provided detailed piracy stats for every Oscar-nominated movie since 2003. Andy contacted us to announce that he’s been working hard again in 2009 – we take a look at his findings.

For the 2009 Oscars, 26 movies were nominated. In alphabetical order they are: Australia, Bolt, Changeling, Defiance, Doubt, Frost/Nixon, Frozen River, Happy-Go-Lucky, In Bruges, Hellboy II, Iron Man, Kung Fu Panda, Milk, Rachel Getting Married, Revolutionary Road, Slumdog Millionaire, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Dark Knight, The Duchess, The Reader, The Visitor, The Wrestler, Tropic Thunder, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Wall-E and Wanted.

Of these 26 movies, 25 were available online by yesterday’s nomination day – only Rachel Getting Married made the date piracy-free. An MPAA-worrying 23 of these were downloadable in either DVD Screener or Retail DVD format (Region 5 included). In the past months many of the nominees appeared in our weekly download charts, with The Dark Knight as the absolute winner topping 7 million downloads in 2008.

Of course, the MPAA is always keen to point to the ‘evils’ of camcorder piracy and has clamped down heavily on this in recent years. However, it doesn’t seem able to deal effectively with its own internal issues. Of the 26 nominated films, 20 were distributed to Oscar voters in DVD Screener format. Many of them leaked onto the web, with the exceptions countable on one hand.

In 2003 the MPAA temporarily banned Oscar screeners to prevent them from leaking, but this decision was eventually reversed. Since then, the industry has touted technical solutions such as Cinea to protect their content, but for various reasons it hasn’t stopped the leaks. This year the average time from DVD Screeners being delivered to voters and subsequently leaking out to the web, was just 6 days.