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How Pirates Use New Technologies for Old Sharing Habits

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/how-pirates-use-new-technologies-for-old-sharing-habits-180415/

While piracy today is more widespread than ever, the urge to share content online has been around for several decades.

The first generation used relatively primitive tools, such as a bulletin board systems (BBS), newsgroups or IRC. Nothing too fancy, but they worked well for those who got over the initial learning curve.

When Napster came along things started to change. More content became available and with just a few clicks anyone could get an MP3 transferred from one corner of the world to another. The same was true for Kazaa and Limewire, which further popularized online piracy.

After this initial boom of piracy applications, BitTorrent came along, shaking up the sharing landscape even further. As torrent sites are web-based, pirated media became even more public and easy to find.

At the same time, BitTorrent brought back the smaller and more organized sharing culture of the early days through private trackers.

These communities often focused on a specific type of content and put strict rules and guidelines in place. They promoted sharing and avoided the spam that plagued their public counterparts.

That was fifteen years ago.

Today the piracy landscape is more diverse than ever. Private torrent trackers are still around and so are IRC and newsgroups. However, most piracy today takes place in public. Streaming sites and devices are booming, with central hosting platforms offering the majority of the underlying content.

That said, there is still an urge for some pirates to band together and some use newer technologies to do so.

This week The Outline ran an interesting piece on the use of Telegram channels to share pirated media. These groups use the encrypted communication platform to share copies of movies, TV shows, and a wide range of other material.

Telegram allows users to upload files up to 1.5GB in size, but larger ones can be split, in common with the good old newsgroups.

These type of sharing groups are not new. On social media platforms such as Facebook and VK, there are hundreds or thousands of dedicated communities that do the same. Both public and private. And Reddit has similar groups, relying on external links.

According to an administrator of a piracy-focused Telegram channel, the appeal of the platform is that the groups are not shut down so easily. While that may be the case with hyper-private groups, Telegram will still pull the plug if it receives enough complaints about a channel.

The same is true for Discord, another application that can be used to share content in ‘private’ communities. Discord is particularly popular among gamers, but pirates have also found their way to the platform.

While smaller communities are able to thrive, once the word gets out to copyright holders, the party can soon be over. This is also what the /r/piracy subreddit community found out a few days ago when its Discord server was pulled offline.

This triggered a discussion about possible alternatives. Telegram was mentioned by some, although not everyone liked the idea of connecting their phone number to a pirate group. Others mentioned Slack, Weechat, Hexchat and Riot.im.

None of these tools are revolutionary. At least, not for the intended use by this group. Some may be harder to take down than others, but they are all means to share files, directly or through external links.

What really caught our eye, however, were several mentions of an ancient application layer protocol that, apparently, hasn’t lost its use to pirates.

“I’ll make an IRC server and host that,” one user said, with others suggesting the same.

And so we have come full circle…

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

How The Pirate Bay Helped Spotify Become a Success

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/how-the-pirate-bay-helped-spotify-become-a-success-180319/

When Spotify launched its first beta in the fall of 2008, many people were blown away by its ease of use.

With the option to stream millions of tracks supported by an occasional ad, or free of ads for a small subscription fee, Spotify offered something that was more convenient than piracy.

In the years that followed, Spotify rolled out its music service in more than 60 countries, amassing over 160 million users. While the service is often billed as a piracy killer, ironically, it also owes its success to piracy.

As a teenager, Spotify founder and CEO Daniel Ek was fascinated by Napster, which triggered a piracy revolution in the late nineties. Napster made all the music in the world accessible in a few clicks, something Spotify also set out to do a few years later, legally.

“I want to replicate my first experience with piracy,” Ek told Businessweek years ago. “What eventually killed it was that it didn’t work for the people participating with the content. The challenge here is about solving both of those things.”

While the technical capabilities were certainly there, the main stumbling block was getting the required licenses. The music industry hadn’t had a lot of good experiences with the Internet a decade ago so there was plenty of hesitation.

The same was true of Sweden, where The Pirate Bay had just gained a lot of traction. There was a pro-sharing culture being cultivated by Piratbyrån, Swedish for the Piracy Bureau, which was the driving force behind the torrent site in the early days.

After the first Pirate Bay raid in 2006, thousands of people gathered in the streets of Stockholm to declare their support for the site and their right to share.

Pro-piracy protest in Stockholm (Jon Åslund, CC BY 2.5)

Interestingly, however, this pro-piracy climate turned out to be in Spotify’s favor. In a detailed feature in the Swedish newspaper Breakit Per Sundin, CEO of Sony BMG at the time, suggests that The Pirate Bay helped Spotify.

“If Pirate Bay had not existed or made such a mess in the market, I don’t think Spotify would have seen the light of the day. You wouldn’t get the licenses you wanted,” Sundin said.

With music industry revenues dropping, record labels had to fire hundreds of people. They were becoming desperate and were looking for change, something Spotify was promising.

At the time, the idea of having millions of songs readily and legally available was totally new. Many immediately saw it as an “alternative to music piracy” and even Pirate Bay founder Peter Sunde was impressed.

“It was great. It was always what was missing in the pirate services, that intuitive interface,” Sunde told Breakit.

Sunde also believed that The Pirate Bay and all the buzz around piracy in Sweden was a great boon to Spotify. But while the latter turned into a billion-dollar business that’s about to go public, Sunde and the other TPB founders still owe the labels millions in damages.

“Without file-sharing, The Pirate Bay and the political work done by Piratbyrån, it was not possible to get the licensing agreements Spotify received,” Sunde said. “Sometimes I think I should have received 10, 20 or 30 percent of Spotify, as a thank you for the help.”

In addition to creating the right climate for the major record labels to get on board, The Pirate Bay also appears to have been of more practical assistance.

When Spotify first launched several people noticed that some tracks still had tags from pirate groups such as FairLight in the title. Those are not the files you expect the labels to offer, but files that were on The Pirate Bay.

Also, Spotify mysteriously offered music from a band that decided to share their music on The Pirate Bay, instead of the usual outlets. There’s only one place that could have originated from.

The Pirate Bay.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

The Early Days of Mass Internet Piracy Were Awesome Yet Awful

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/the-early-days-of-mass-internet-piracy-were-awesome-yet-awful-180211/

While Napster certainly put the digital cats among the pigeons in 1999, the organized chaos of mass Internet file-sharing couldn’t be truly appreciated until the advent of decentralized P2P networks a year or so later.

In the blink of an eye, everyone with a “shared folder” client became both a consumer and publisher, sucking in files from strangers and sharing them with like-minded individuals all around the planet. While today’s piracy narrative is all about theft and danger, in the early 2000s the sharing community felt more like distant friends who hadn’t met, quietly trading cards together.

Satisfying to millions, those who really engaged found shared folder sharing a real adrenaline buzz, as English comedian Seann Walsh noted on Conan this week.

“Click. 20th Century Fox comes up. No pixels. No shaky cam. No silhouettes of heads at the bottom of the screen, people coming in five minutes late. None of that,” Walsh said, recalling his experience of downloading X-Men 2 (X2) from LimeWire.

“We thought: ‘We’ve done it!!’ This was incredible! We were going to have to go to the cinema. We weren’t going to have to wait for the film to come out on video. We weren’t going to have to WALK to blockbuster!”

But while the nostalgia has an air of magic about it, Walsh’s take on the piracy experience is bittersweet. While obtaining X2 without having to trudge to a video store was a revelation, there were plenty of drawbacks too.

Downloading the pirate copy took a week, which pre-BitTorrent wasn’t a completely bad result but still a considerable commitment. There were also serious problems with quality control.

“20th Century fades, X Men 2 comes up. We’ve done it! We’re not taking it for granted – we’re actually hugging. Yes! Yes! We’ve done it! This is the future! We look at the screen, Wolverine turns round…,” …..and Walsh launches into a broadside of pseudo-German babble, mimicking the unexpectedly-dubbed superhero.

After a week of downloading and getting a quality picture on launch, that is a punch in the gut, to say the least. Arguably no less than a pirate deserves, some will argue, but a fat lip nonetheless, and one many a pirate has suffered over the years. Nevertheless, as Walsh notes, it’s a pain that kids in 2018 simply cannot comprehend.

“Children today are living the childhood I dreamed of. If they want to hear a song – touch – they stream it. They’ve got it now. Bang. Instantly. They don’t know the pain of LimeWire.

“Start downloading a song, go to school, come back. HOPE that it’d finished! That download bar messing with you. Four minutes left…..nine HOURS and 28 minutes left? Thirty seconds left…..52 hours and 38 minutes left? JUST TELL ME THE TRUTH!!!!!” Walsh pleaded.

While this might sound comical now, this was the reality of people downloading from clients such as LimeWire and Kazaa. While X2 in German would’ve been torture for a non-German speaker, the misery of watching an English language copy of 28 Days Later somehow crammed into a 30Mb file is right up there too.

Mislabeled music with microscopic bitrates? That was pretty much standard.

But against the odds, these frankly second-rate experiences still managed to capture the hearts and minds of the digitally minded. People were prepared to put up with nonsense and regular disappointment in order to consume content in a way fit for the 21st century. Yet somehow the combined might of the entertainment industries couldn’t come up with anything substantially better for a number of years.

Of course, broadband availability and penetration played its part but looking back, something could have been done. Not only didn’t the Internet’s popularity come as a surprise, people’s expectations were dramatically lower than they are today too. In any event, beating the pirates should have been child’s play. After all, it was just regular people sharing files in a Windows folder.

Any fool could do it – and millions did. Surprisingly, they have proven unstoppable.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN discounts, offers and coupons

No Level of Copyright Enforcement Will Ever Be Enough For Big Media

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/no-level-of-copyright-enforcement-will-ever-be-enough-for-big-media-180107/

For more than ten years TorrentFreak has documented a continuous stream of piracy battles so it’s natural that, every now and then, we pause to consider when this war might stop. The answer is always “no time soon” and certainly not in 2018.

When swapping files over the Internet first began it wasn’t a particularly widespread activity. A reasonable amount of content was available, but it was relatively inaccessible. Then peer-to-peer came along and it sparked a revolution.

From the beginning, copyright holders felt that the law would answer their problems, whether that was by suing Napster, Kazaa, or even end users. Some industry players genuinely believed this strategy was just a few steps away from achieving its goals. Just a little bit more pressure and all would be under control.

Then, when the landmark MGM Studios v. Grokster decision was handed down in the studios’ favor during 2005, the excitement online was palpable. As copyright holders rejoiced in this body blow for the pirating masses, file-sharing communities literally shook under the weight of the ruling. For a day, maybe two.

For the majority of file-sharers, the ruling meant absolutely nothing. So what if some company could be held responsible for other people’s infringements? Another will come along, outside of the US if need be, people said. They were right not to be concerned – that’s exactly what happened.

Ever since, this cycle has continued. Eager to stem the tide of content being shared without their permission, rightsholders have advocated stronger anti-piracy enforcement and lobbied for more restrictive interpretations of copyright law. Thus far, however, literally nothing has provided a solution.

One would have thought that given the military-style raid on Kim Dotcom’s Megaupload, a huge void would’ve appeared in the sharing landscape. Instead, the file-locker business took itself apart and reinvented itself in jurisdictions outside the United States. Meanwhile, the BitTorrent scene continued in the background, somewhat obliviously.

With the SOPA debacle still fresh in relatively recent memory, copyright holders are still doggedly pursuing their aims. Site-blocking is rampant, advertisers are being pressured into compliance, and ISPs like Cox Communications now find themselves responsible for the infringements of their users. But has any of this caused any fatal damage to the sharing landscape? Not really.

Instead, we’re seeing a rise in the use of streaming sites, each far more accessible to the newcomer than their predecessors and vastly more difficult for copyright holders to police.

Systems built into Kodi are transforming these platforms into a plug-and-play piracy playground, one in which sites skirt US law and users can consume both at will and in complete privacy. Meanwhile, commercial and unauthorized IPTV offerings are gathering momentum, even as rightsholders try to pull them back.

Faced with problems like these we are now seeing calls for even tougher legislation. While groups like the RIAA dream of filtering the Internet, over in the UK a 2017 consultation had copyright holders excited that end users could be criminalized for simply consuming infringing content, let alone distributing it.

While the introduction of both or either of these measures would cause uproar (and rightly so), history tells us that each would fail in its stated aim of stopping piracy. With that eventuality all but guaranteed, calls for even tougher legislation are being readied for later down the line.

In short, there is no law that can stop piracy and therefore no law that will stop the entertainment industries coming back for harsher measures, pursuing the dream. This much we’ve established from close to two decades of litigation and little to no progress.

But really, is anyone genuinely surprised that they’re still taking this route? Draconian efforts to maintain control over the distribution of content predate the file-sharing wars by a couple of hundred years, at the very least. Why would rightsholders stop now, when the prize is even more valuable?

No one wants a minefield of copyright law. No one wants a restricted Internet. No one wants extended liability for innovators, service providers, or the public. But this is what we’ll get if this problem isn’t solved soon. Something drastic needs to happen, but who will be brave enough to admit it, let alone do something about it?

During a discussion about piracy last year on the BBC, the interviewer challenged a caller who freely admitted to pirating sports content online. The caller’s response was clear:

For far too long, broadcasters and rightsholders have abused their monopoly position, charging ever-increasing amounts for popular content, even while making billions. Piracy is a natural response to that, and effectively a chance for the little guy to get back some control, he argued.

Exactly the same happened in the music market during the late 1990s and 2000s. In response to artificial restriction of the market and the unrealistic hiking of prices, people turned to peer-to-peer networks for their fix. Thanks to this pressure but after years of turmoil, services like Spotify emerged, converting millions of former pirates in the process. Netflix, it appears, is attempting to do the same thing with video.

When people feel that they aren’t getting ripped off and that they have no further use for sub-standard piracy services in the face of stunning legal alternatives, things will change. But be under no illusion, people won’t be bullied there.

If we end up with an Internet stifled in favor of rightsholders, one in which service providers are too scared to innovate, the next generation of consumers will never forget. This will be a major problem for two key reasons. Not only will consumers become enemies but piracy will still exist. We will have come full circle, fueled only by division and hatred.

It’s a natural response to reject monopolistic behavior and it’s a natural response, for most, to be fair when treated with fairness. Destroying freedom is far from fair and will not create a better future – for anyone.

Laws have their place, no sane person will argue against that, but when the entertainment industries are making billions yet still want more, they’ll have to decide whether this will go on forever with building resentment, or if making a bit less profit now makes more sense longer term.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN discounts, offers and coupons

Court Won’t Drop Case Against Alleged KickassTorrents Owner

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/court-wont-drop-case-against-alleged-kickasstorrents-owner-170804/

kickasstorrents_500x500Last summer, Polish law enforcement officers arrested Artem Vaulin, the alleged founder of KickassTorrents.

Polish authorities acted on a criminal complaint from the US Government, which accused Vaulin of criminal copyright infringement and money laundering.

While Vaulin is still awaiting the final decision in his extradition process in Poland, his US counsel tried to have the entire case thrown out with a motion to dismiss submitted to the Illinois District Court late last year.

One of the fundamental flaws of the case, according to the defense, is that torrent files themselves are not copyrighted content. In addition, they argued that any secondary copyright infringement claims would fail as these are non-existent under criminal law.

After a series of hearings and a long wait afterwards, US District Judge John Z. Lee has now issued his verdict (pdf).

In a 28-page memorandum and order, the motion to dismiss was denied on various grounds.

The court doesn’t contest that torrent files themselves are not protected content under copyright law. However, this argument ignores the fact that the files are used to download copyrighted material, the order reads.

“This argument, however, misunderstands the indictment. The indictment is not concerned with the mere downloading or distribution of torrent files,” Judge Lee writes.

“Granted, the indictment describes these files and charges Vaulin with operating a website dedicated to hosting and distributing them. But the protected content alleged to have been infringed in the indictment is a number of movies and other copyright protected media that users of Vaulin’s network purportedly downloaded and distributed..,” he adds.

In addition, the defense’s argument that secondary copyright infringement claims are non-existent under criminal law doesn’t hold either, according to the Judge’s decision.

Vaulin’s defense noted that the Government’s theory could expose other search engines, such as Google, to criminal liability. While this is theoretically possible, the court sees distinct differences and doesn’t aim to rule on all search engines in general.

“For present purposes, though, the Court need not decide whether and when a search engine operator might engage in conduct sufficient to constitute aiding and abetting criminal copyright infringement. The issue here is whether 18 U.S.C. § 2 applies to 17 U.S.C. § 506. The Court is persuaded that it does,” Judge Lee writes.

Based on these and other conclusions, the motion to dismiss was denied. This means that the case will move forward. The next step will be to see how the Polish court rules on the extradition request.

Vaulin’s lead counsel Ira Rothken is disappointed with the outcome. He stresses that while courts commonly construe indictments in a light most favorable to the government, it went too far in this case.

“Currently a person merely ‘making available’ a file on a network in California wouldn’t even be committing a civil copyright infringement under the ruling in Napster but under today’s ruling that same person doing it in Illinois could be criminally prosecuted by the United States,” Rothken informs TorrentFreak.

“If federal judges disagree on the state of the federal copyright law then people shouldn’t be criminally prosecuted absent clarification by Congress,” he adds.

The defense team is still considering the best options for appeal, and whether they want to go down that road. However, Rothken hopes that the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals will address the issue in the future.

“We hope one day that the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals will undo this ruling and the chilling effect it will have on internet search engines, user generated content sites, and millions of netizens globally,” Rothken notes.

For now, however, Vaulin’s legal team will likely shift its focus to preventing his extradition to the United States.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Piracy Brings a New Young Audience to Def Leppard, Guitarist Says

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/piracy-brings-a-new-young-audience-to-def-leppard-guitarist-says-170803/

For decades the debate over piracy has raged, with bands and their recording industry paymasters on one side and large swathes of the public on the other. Throughout, however, there have been those prepared to recognize that things aren’t necessarily black and white.

Over the years, many people have argued that access to free music has helped them broaden their musical horizons, dabbling in new genres and discovering new bands. This, they argue, would have been a prohibitively expensive proposition if purchases were forced on a trial and error basis.

Of course, many labels and bands believe that piracy amounts to theft, but some are prepared to put their heads above the parapet with an opinion that doesn’t necessarily tow the party line.

Formed in 1977 in Sheffield, England, rock band Def Leppard have sold more than 100 million records worldwide and have two RIAA diamond certificated albums to their name. But unlike Metallica who have sold a total of 116 million records and were famous for destroying Napster, Def Leppard’s attitude to piracy is entirely more friendly.

In an interview with Ultimate Classic Rock, Def Leppard guitarist Vivian Campbell has been describing why he believes piracy has its upsides, particularly for enduring bands that are still trying to broaden their horizons.

“The way the band works is quite extraordinary. In recent years, we’ve been really fortunate that we’ve seen this new surge in our popularity. For the most part, that’s fueled by younger people coming to the shows,” Campbell said.

“We’ve been seeing it for the last 10, 12 or 15 years, you’d notice younger kids in the audience, but especially in the last couple of years, it’s grown exponentially. I really do believe that this is the upside of music piracy.”

Def Leppard celebrate their 40th anniversary this year, and the fact that they’re still releasing music and attracting a new audience is a real achievement for a band whose original fans only had access to vinyl and cassette tapes. But Campbell says the band isn’t negatively affected by new technology, nor people using it to obtain their content for free.

“You know, people bemoan the fact that you can’t sell records anymore, but for a band like Def Leppard at least, there is a silver lining in the fact that our music is reaching a whole new audience, and that audience is excited to hear it, and they’re coming to the shows. It’s been fantastic,” he said.

While packing out events is every band’s dream, Campbell believes that the enthusiasm these fresh fans bring to the shows is actually helping the band to improve.

“There’s a whole new energy around Leppard, in fact. I think we’re playing better than we ever have. Which you’d like to think anyway. They always say that musicians, unlike athletes, you’re supposed to get better.

“I’m not sure that anyone other than the band really notices, but I notice it and I know that the other guys do too. When I play ‘Rock of Ages’ for the 3,000,000 time, it’s not the song that excites me, it’s the energy from the audience. That’s what really lifts our performance. When you’ve got a more youthful audience coming to your shows, it only goes in one direction,” he concludes.

The thought of hundreds or even thousands of enthusiastic young pirates energizing an aging Def Leppard to the band’s delight is a real novelty. However, with so many channels for music consumption available today, are these new followers necessarily pirates?

One only has to visit Def Leppard’s official YouTube channel to see that despite being born in the late fifties and early sixties, the band are still regularly posting new content to keep fans up to date. So, given the consumption habits of young people these days, YouTube seems a more likely driver of new fans than torrents, for example.

That being said, Def Leppard are still humming along nicely on The Pirate Bay. The site lists a couple of hundred torrents, some uploaded more recently, some many years ago, including full albums, videos, and even entire discographies.

Arrr, we be Def Leppaaaaaard

Interestingly, Campbell hasn’t changed his public opinion on piracy for more than a decade. Back in 2007 he was saying similar things, and in 2011 he admitted that there were plenty of “kids out there” with the entire Def Leppard collection on their iPods.

“I am pretty sure they didn’t all pay for it. But, maybe those same kids will buy a ticket and come to a concert,” he said.

“We do not expect to sell a lot of records, we are just thankful to have people listening to our music. That is more important than having people pay for it. It will monetize itself later down the line.”

With sites like YouTube perhaps driving more traffic to bands like Def Leppard than pure piracy these days (and even diverting people away from piracy itself), it’s interesting to note that there’s still controversy around people getting paid for music.

With torrent sites slowly dropping off the record labels’ hitlists, one is much more likely to hear them criticizing YouTube itself for not giving the industry a fair deal.

Still, bands like Def Leppard seem happy, so it’s not all bad news.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Pornhub Piracy Stopped Me Producing Porn, Jenna Haze Says

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/pornhub-piracy-stopped-me-producing-porn-jenna-haze-says-170531/

Last week, adult ‘tube’ site Pornhub celebrated its 10th anniversary, and what a decade it was.

Six months after its May 2007 launch, the site was getting a million visitors every day. Six months after that, traffic had exploded five-fold. Such was the site’s success, by November 2008 Pornhub entered the ranks of the top 100 most-visited sites on the Internet.

As a YouTube-like platform, Pornhub traditionally relied on users to upload content to the site. Uploaders have to declare that they have the rights to do so but it’s clear that amid large quantities of fully licensed material, content exists on Pornhub that is infringing copyright.

Like YouTube, however, the site says it takes its legal responsibilities seriously by removing content whenever a valid DMCA notice is received. Furthermore, it also has a Content Partner Program which allows content owners to monetize their material on the platform.

But despite these overtures, Pornhub has remained a divisive operation. While some partners happily generate revenue from the platform and use it to drive valuable traffic to their own sites, others view it as a parasite living off their hard work. Today those critics were joined by one of the biggest stars the adult industry has ever known.

After ten years as an adult performer, starring in more than 600 movies (including one that marked her as the first adult performer to appear on Blu-ray format), in 2012 Jenna Haze decided on a change of pace. No longer interested in performing, she headed to the other side of the camera as a producer and director.

“Directing is where my heart is now. It’s allowed me to explore a creative side that is different from what performing has offered me,” she said in a statement.

“I am very satisfied with what I was able to accomplish in 10 years of performing, and now I’m enjoying the challenges of being on the other side of the camera and running my studio.”

But while Haze enjoyed success with 15 movies, it wasn’t to last. The former performer eventually backed away from both directing and producing adult content. This morning she laid the blame for that on Pornhub and similar sites.

It all began with a tweet from Conan O’Brien, who belatedly wished Pornhub a happy 10th anniversary.

In response to O’Brien apparently coming to the party late, a Twitter user informed him how he’d been missing out on Jenna Haze. That drew a response from Haze herself, who accused Pornhub of pirating her content.

“Please don’t support sites like porn hub,” she wrote. “They are a tube site that pirates content that other adult companies produce. It’s like Napster!”

In a follow-up, Haze went on to accuse Pornhub of theft and blamed the site for her exit from the business.

“Well they steal my content from my company, as do many other tube sites. It’s why I don’t produce or direct anymore,” Haze wrote.

“Maybe not all of their content is stolen, but I have definitely seen my content up there, as well as other people’s content.”

Of course, just like record companies can do with YouTube, there’s always the option for Haze to file a DMCA notice with Pornhub to have offending content taken down. However, it’s a route she claims to have taken already, but without much success.

“They take the videos down and put [them] back up. I’m not saying they don’t do legitimate business as well,” she said.

While Pornhub has its critics, the site does indeed do masses of legitimate business. The platform is owned by Mindgeek, whose websites receive a combined 115 million visitors per day, fueled in part by content supplied by Brazzers and Digital Playground, which Mindgeek owns. That being said, Mindgeek’s position in the market has always been controversial.

Three years ago, it became evident that Mindgeek had become so powerful in the adult industry that performers (some of whom felt their content was being exploited by the company) indicated they were scared to criticize it.

Adult actress and outspoken piracy critic Tasha Reign, who also had her videos uploaded to Pornhub without her permission, revealed she was in a particularly tight spot.

“It’s like we’re stuck between a rock and a hard place in a way, because if I want to shoot content then I kinda have to shoot for [Mindgeek] because that’s the company that books me because they own…almost…everything,” Reign said.

In 2017, Mindgeek’s dominance is clearly less of a problem for Haze, who is now concentrating on other things. But for those who remain in the industry, Mindgeek is a force to be reckoned with, so criticism will probably remain somewhat muted.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Sean Parker’s ‘Screening Room’ Patents Anti-Piracy Technologies

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/sean-parkers-screening-room-patents-anti-piracy-technologies-170526/

Sean Parker is no stranger when it comes to online piracy.

The American entrepreneur, who co-founded the file-sharing application Napster, brought copyright infringement to the masses at the turn of the last century.

Fast forward two decades, during which he also served as Facebook’s first president, Parker is back with another controversial idea.

With his latest project, known as the Screening Room, he wants to pipe the latest blockbusters into homes on the day they’re released. For $50 per movie, people should be able to watch new films on their own screens, instead of going to a movie theater.

The project has been praised by some and criticized by others. Several movie industry insiders are skeptical because they believe movies should be seen on the big screen. Others fear that Screening Room will provide quick, quality content for pirate sites.

Given the Napster connection, Parker and his colleagues are particularly aware of these piracy fears. This is likely one of the reasons why they plan to ship their system with advanced anti-piracy technology.

Over the past several weeks, Screening Room Media, Inc. has submitted no less than eight patent applications related to its plans, all with some sort of anti-piracy angle.

For example, a patent titled “Presenting Sonic Signals to Prevent Digital Content Misuse” describes a technology where acoustic signals are regularly sent to mobile devices, to confirm that the user is near the set-top box and is authorized to play the content.

Similarly, the “Monitoring Nearby Mobile Computing Devices to Prevent Digital Content Misuse” patent, describes a system that detects the number of mobile devices near the client-side device, to make sure that too many people aren’t tuning in.

Screening Room patents

The patents are rather technical and can be applied to a wide variety of systems. It’s clear, however, that the setup Screening Room has in mind will have advanced anti-piracy capabilities.

The general technology outlined in the patents also includes forensic watermarking and a “P2P polluter.” The watermarking technology can be used to detect when pirated content spreads outside of the protected network onto the public Internet.

“At this point, the member’s movie accessing system will be shut off and quarantined. If the abuse or illicit activity is confirmed, the member and the household will be banned from the content distribution network,” the patent reads.

P2P polluter, and more

The P2P polluter will then begin to flood file-sharing networks with corrupted content if a movie leaks to the public.

“Therefore, immediately ‘diluting’ the infringement to a rate that would be extraordinarily frustrating, if not impossible, for further piracy of that copy to take place.”

As if that wasn’t enough, Screening Room’s system also comes with a wide range of other anti-piracy scans built in. Among other things, it regularly scans the Wi-Fi network to see which devices are connected, and Bluetooth is used to check what other devices are near.

All in all, it’s clear that Parker and co. are trying to do whatever they can to prevent content from leaking online.

Whether that’s good enough to convince the movie studios to offer their content alongside a simultaneous theatrical release has yet to be seen. But, with prominent shareholders such as J.J. Abrams, Martin Scorsese, and Steven Spielberg, there is plenty support on board already.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Mac DeMarco Tells Fans to Grab Leaked Album From The Pirate Bay, Or Kazaa…

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/mac-demarco-tells-fans-to-grab-leaked-album-from-the-pirate-bay-or-kazaa-170418/

“Piracy is killing the music industry” is a phrase we’ve been hearing from industry execs for many years now.

So in that regard, it can be quite refreshing to hear a different perspective from someone whose livelihood depends on music.

This is exactly what happened at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival last Friday.

During his set, singer-songwriter Mac DeMarco told the crowd that his latest album “This Old Dog” had leaked online. That’s not insignificant, as it’s nearly three weeks before the official May 5 release date.

However, instead of begging fans to wait for the official release to come out, DeMarco said that he didn’t give a shit and encouraged them to download it from pirate sites.

“We’re going to play a song we’ve only played twice before. It’s a new song, came out a couple of days ago. But you know what? The album leaked yesterday, so I don’t give a shit anymore.”

“Download it. Pirate Bay, Torrents.to, Soulseek, Napster, Limewire, Kazaa. Just get it, just get it,” DeMarco added.

Pirate Bay, Torrents.to, Soulseek, Nepster, Limewire, Kazaa…

The comments are noteworthy since artists don’t regularly encourage fans to get their work on The Pirate Bay, for free. However, the sites and services that the singer-songwriter mentioned are also worth highlighting.

It appears that Mac DeMarco hasn’t been actively participating in the piracy scene recently as the references are a bit dated, to say the least.

The original Napster application ceased to operate in 2001, when Demarco was 11-years-old, and Kazaa and Limewire followed a few years later. Even Torrents.to is no longer operational from its original domain name.

The only two options that remain are The Pirate Bay and Soulseek, which are both icons in the file-sharing world. Perhaps it’s time for this old dog to learn some new tricks?

Despite the active “promo,” thus far interest in the leaked album is rather modest. The torrent on The Pirate Bay has roughly 100 people sharing it at the time of writing, and that’s the most popular one we’ve seen.

Or could it be that some fans just gave up after they tried to get outdated and malware infested copies of Kazaa and Limewire up and running?

Download…

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Discogs Attacked By Two Kinds of Horrible ‘Pirate’ Spam

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/discogs-attacked-by-two-kinds-of-horrible-pirate-spam-170415/

It’s often claimed that pirate sites only exist to generate revenue from other people’s hard work, but there are plenty of other entities making money from the online piracy boom too.

For every few dozen pirate sites on the Internet, there’s an anti-piracy outfit claiming that it can claw profits back for copyright holders. Whether or not they live up to these promises is up for debate, but there can be big differences in how these companies go about their trade.

While some clearly strive to be accurate, others make errors that are so huge it raises questions whether there’s much oversight at all. Case in point, the recent wave of DMCA notices targeting Discogs.

For those out of the loop, Discogs is one of the best music databases on the Internet. From its inception in 2000, it has crowdsourced information on 8,400,000 recordings and 5,000,000 artists across all genres, with a particular emphasis on electronic and dance. The site also has a massive marketplace offering more than 23 million titles for sale.

According to anti-piracy outfit Rivendell, however, Discogs is actually a hub of pirate activity.

For the past several weeks on an almost daily basis, Rivendell has been bombarding Google with requests to delist thousands of Discogs URLs, claiming that the site infringes its clients’ copyrights. A small sample is shown in the image below.

Bogus Discogs Takedown Requests

What’s most annoying about these bogus reports is that in many cases they target the work of Discog contributors, who volunteer their time to build one of the most comprehensive databases available today. The site actually works as a brilliant promotional platform, but Rivendell seems intent on making content as difficult to find as possible.

With that in mind, it’s likely that considering their aggressive attitude towards Napster, Metallica won’t appreciate the irony of their listings being repeatedly targeted by the anti-piracy outfit.

Just one of the pages targeted

Fortunately for Discogs, Google appears to be rejecting the bogus complaints filed by Rivendell which means that its listings are safe for now. However, the music database site has another piracy related problem to deal with, again through no fault of its own.

As illustrated via the custom Google search below, Discogs is being used by spammers to promote ‘pirate’ downloads. Pages and pages of results are available for a wide range of video content, from TV shows such as The Walking Dead to Hollywood movies.

Site-specific searches (such as Putlocker and Vodlocker) yield plenty of results, as do more generic terms such as ‘free’, ‘download’, and ‘HD’. However, for those thinking this might be a good way to download a movie or TV show for free, think again.

In common with most online spam, these ‘pirate’ entries on Discogs are often worse than useless, leading unsuspecting users to fake streaming sites that probably deliver malware, subscription traps, or other content best avoided.

Fake movie streaming anyone?

But of course, if they can’t tell the difference between a database entry on Discogs and a pirate music download site, anti-piracy outfits won’t be able to tell the difference between a scam and copyright infringement. To that end, they’ve been taking down fake pages too.

Taking down fake entries

It must be said though, that since these pages are designed to deceive, it shouldn’t be a surprise that some get caught up in the anti-piracy dragnet. It’s actually one of the few situations where most people would welcome a wrongful takedown.

At the time of publication, Discogs had not responded to our request for comment.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Studios Mull New Movies at Home, 30 Days After Release For $30

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/studios-mull-new-movies-at-home-30-days-after-release-for-30-170322/

Aside from the thorny issue of price, content availability is often cited as one of the major drivers of Internet piracy. If consumers can access content easily without being made to wait, it’s believed that significant numbers will choose legal options.

With its global Friday release strategy and largely instantaneous availability on streaming platforms, the music industry has taken massive strides in dealing with this gaping hole in supply and demand. But for the movie industry, with its complex structure and multi-platform delivery system, things are not so straightforward.

Giving customers access to new movies on multiple formats on the day they’re released might seem to be the logical move to combat piracy, but Hollywood is fiercely protective of its windowing system since it offers multiple opportunities to sell and re-sell the same content to the same people.

Now, however, there are signs that the studios could be softening their stance towards consumers being able to rent new movies in the home shortly after their theatrical release.

According to a Variety report, six of the seven biggest Hollywood studios are considering plans to allow new movies to be delivered via VOD into the living room between 30 and 45 days after launch for around $30.

Fox and Warner are said to favor this structure but other plans are also floating around. Universal are reported to be pushing for a VOD release less than three weeks after launch, with Warner Bros. suggesting a shorter 17-day delay but with a larger $50 rental price.

Of course, any move to bring content to the home more quickly could have a profound effect on the many theater chains around the United States and present a serious stumbling block in negotiations. However, a proposal from Warner would see exhibitors receiving a cut of VOD revenues, if they agree to a narrowing of the theatrical release window.

While the rest of the major studios are keen to move forward, Disney is reported to be against the proposal. For a company that came up with the artificial restrictions embodied in the Disney Vault, for example, that probably won’t come as too much of a surprise.

But for those hoping for a smooth transition to quick releases in the home, breath holding is not advised, at least for now. Variety reports that negotiations have been underway for more than a year already and due to a number of considerations, they are pretty complex.

While Universal wants to go early across the board, others are considering longer or shorter release windows depending on the number of screens a movie is still showing on. In other words, the sooner people get bored of the theatrical release, the quicker it might appear in homes. That probably doesn’t bode well for fans of the more successful movies that enjoy longer theatrical runs and are more prone to piracy.

But while innovation is being sought, it’s also worth noting that exhibitors are seeking to reel it back in other areas. Lower priced movie rentals can currently appear 90 days after release and exhibitors are reported as seeking assurances that this will remain the case for up to 10 more years.

The news that the studios are considering their own model for early distribution will come as a blow to Napster founder Sean Parker. A year ago this month, news broke that the disrupter had a plan to bring first-run movies to the home on the same day they’re released in theaters.

While that may have been a little optimistic, Parker’s overall framework sounds very much like the plan Warner is now in favor of – a $50 rental price tag with a $20 cut going to exhibitors. Also included in Parker’s price would have been two free movie tickets, something that doesn’t appear to be on the table now.

Also in doubt is whether the currently proposed two to four-week window will be long enough to quash fears that early VOD delivery would contribute heavily to online piracy.

Last year, Art House Convergence, a cinema organization representing 600 theaters and allied cinema exhibition businesses, said that Parker’s day-and-date model would encourage the “wildfire spread of pirated content” and herald a “decline in overall film profitability through the cannibalization of theatrical revenue.”

It’s safe to say that nobody in the movie business wants that. Stay tuned.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

BT’s Piracy Warning Information is Confusing and Outdated

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/bts-piracy-warning-information-confusing-outdated-170117/

btAs recently reported, UK ISPs will soon partner up with the Get it Right From a Genuine Site campaign to send warning notices to users whose accounts have been used to share copyright content.

While the campaign is educational in both tone and aim, it is still likely to worry warning recipients, even though there are no immediate repercussions for being caught. With that in mind, ISPs are preparing to inform their users as to what the scheme is all about.

A couple of hours ago via its website, it appears that BT became the first ISP to officially announce the campaign’s arrival. Virgin Media has had a section bookmarked on its site for some time but currently there is no information available.

The other ISPs involved, TalkTalk and Sky, seem less prepared at this point, so well done to BT for going first. However, BT’s announcement has the potential to cause confusion, despite starting well.

“Peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing is the transfer of data from one person’s computer directly to multiple other computers without the use of an intermediate server. This is known as a file sharing network and is set up using peer-to-peer software on your computer (also known as a programme, application or client),” it reads.

From here, BT gets its apples and pears a bit mixed up.

“You may have heard of networks like Gnutella, Napster, Torrentz and ThePirateBay. If your computer is online and you make files available for sharing in a peer-to-peer network, other members within that network can download files from you without you noticing,” the ISP writes.

While Gnutella and Napster are indeed the names of peer-to-peer networks, both Torrentz and ThePirateBay are torrent index sites. What makes the situation even more confusing is that the Napster peer-to-peer service has been dead for 15 years and is now a legitimate content platform. That could make less well-informed Napster customers believe they’re paying for a product that could get them a warning notice.

The Gnutella network (on which the LimeWire operated) is technically alive but on continual life support, and Torrentz shut down last year so doesn’t even exist. And suggesting that people can download files from torrent users without them knowing is clearly a step too far.

That said, BT correctly gives The Pirate Bay a prominent position, since the vast majority (if not all) of the warning notices going out will target BitTorrent users. However, instead of telling users how BitTorrent sharing works, the ISP focuses on how old-fashioned and largely redundant applications offer content for download.

By default, peer-to-peer software applications search for and share content on your computer with others. Normally, peer-to-peer software usually runs as soon as you turn on your computer and continues to run in the background. Even if you disable sharing/uploading, copyrighted content in a “shared” folder on your computer it can still be seen by others using the same peer-to-peer network. Some peer-to-peer software can even reset your preferences to resume uploading.

While the above might have been true when KaZaA, LimeWire and Morpheus ruled the pirate seas way over a decade ago, this is not the way BitTorrent works at all. BitTorrent users are completely aware of what they’re sharing, because they have to obtain a torrent file first to get the content. BitTorrent software does not search users’ computers for content to share without their permission, users are in complete control.

In fact, the ‘shared folder’ applications referenced by BT are more or less antiques in today’s file-sharing landscape. Like VHS and cassette tapes, there are still people out there using ‘shared folder’ applications, but these people are not the focus of the GetitRight campaign. Giving them a prominent mention is confusing and makes little to no sense.

Things also get messy when BT ventures into the world of file-sharing protocols and clients.

There are many different file types (also called protocols) that are used for the file sharing, such as BitTorrent, Deluge, iLivid, and Tixati etc. Each Protocol will have its own client. Popular BitTorrent clients are Vuze, Transmission, Deluge, uTorrent, Tribler, Tixati, BitComet, Torch etc.

First off, the term ‘file types’ is not interchangeable with the term ‘protocol’. A file type is something like .doc, .mp3 or .avi. A protocol is the technical communications system a file-sharing client relies upon to share with other clients. While BitTorrent is indeed a file-sharing protocol, Deluge, iLivid and Tixati are either torrent clients or download managers, they are not file-sharing protocols at all.

All that being said, in the rest of the announcement BT does a good job of explaining how users are tracked by copyright holders and detailing when notices will be sent out. It also offers reassurance that users’ details have not been shared with copyright holders and that broadband services will not be affected as a result of receiving a warning.

Finally, BT also provides some new information which indicates that users will able to see what content they’re being accused of downloading by following a link in warning notices. BT customers will be required to login using their BTID and password which will get them access to the Get it Right Information Portal.

“Once you click through the link on the email you will land on a BT page which from where you can go through to the portal. BT only provides you a secure access to the Get It Right Information Portal so that your data is kept completely confidential,” the company concludes.

While there’s clearly no intent on BT’s behalf to mislead, its advisory (here) could be improved by the removal of several paragraphs and the editing of others.

Received a warning notice from any UK ISP? Contact TF in confidence here.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Pirates: You Can Click But You Can’t Can Hide

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/pirates-you-can-click-but-you-cant-can-hide-170101/

mpaa-logoAt the turn of the century and just before Napster began to burn, a whole generation was turned on to the possibilities of Internet file-sharing.

With the music industry bewildered by the sudden and unauthorized transition to digital media via platforms such as KaZaA, another beast appeared on the horizon. BitTorrent had arrived and quickly became a painful thorn in Hollywood’s side.

By 2004, with hundreds of thousands – perhaps millions – of users frequenting both public and private torrent sites, Hollywood ran out of patience. With plans already being formed to target some of the larger US-based sites, the MPAA decided it was time to educate the consumer.

The ‘Respect Copyrights’ campaign launched with the now-common multi-faceted approach, with the MPAA first explaining what copyright is all about in a tone which by today’s standards seems a little old-fashioned.

“When some people hear the word ‘copyright,’ they think of a complicated legal term that doesn’t apply to them. In fact, copyrights touch us all. Simply put, copyrights protect creativity,” the MPAA said.

Of course, today’s audience is a lot more aware of what copyright is all about, but when it comes to the scare tactics deployed now and then, not much has changed.

“If you use peer-to-peer file-sharing services, you are almost certainly exposing your computer to harmful viruses, worms, Trojan horses, and annoying popups, and you are inviting strangers to access your private information. That makes it pretty easy for law enforcement to track you as well,” the MPAA warned.

Respect Copyrights campaign, 2004respect1

The idea that file-sharing in 2004 and 2005 wasn’t an anonymous activity was one that the MPAA was determined to drive home. As part of the larger campaign, Hollywood launched a sub-project which aimed to convince growing numbers of file-sharers that the Internet offered them no privacy.

The ‘You Can Click But You Can’t Hide’ campaign appeared to take its lead from comments made by boxer Joe Louis in 1946. When asked about upcoming opponent Billy Conn’s touted “hit and run” tactics, Louis said he might be able to run, but he wouldn’t be able to hide. The MPAA hoped the same would be true of file-sharers.

The subsequent campaign was targeted at young people at home, largely sitting in their bedrooms, together with students studying in the United States and further afield. Yes, you can download movies from file-sharing networks, the campaign said, but we can see everything you do.

clickbutcant1

To say that the ‘You Can Click But You Can’t Hide’ campaign wasn’t well received was a bit of an understatement. In addition to using emotive terms such as “trafficking” to describe file-sharing, it also tried to convince ordinary members of the public that sharing a single movie was very likely to result in a $150,000 fine.

Perhaps worse still, the campaign was also run as an advert in cinemas before movies. By default, that meant targeting paying customers in a way that the still current FBI warning does at the start of official DVDs and Blu-rays. That prompted the inevitable parody backlash.

Annoying customers…clickbutcantparody

However, the most remembered use of the campaign’s logo and message was on websites that had been shut down by the MPAA and FBI during 2004 and 2005. Perhaps the best early example was the appearance on popular public torrent site LokiTorrent which was shut down by the MPAA in 2005.

Previously, 28-year-old site admin Ed Webber told almost 700,000 users he was going to fight Hollywood’s lawsuit after accepting around $43,000 in legal battle donations. However, that money quickly disappeared into what was presumed to be the MPAA’s coffers. Were those donors and other site members going to be able to hide after they’d clicked?

The same questions were to be asked later in 2005 when the same campaign message went up on the busted EliteTorrents private tracker, a raid that resulted in several multi-year jail sentences for its operators and uploaders. In the end, no regular site users were ever punished, which certainly took some of the sting out of the campaign.

While its claims were still technically true for most people, as time went by the MPAA’s message began to look more and more dated. The campaign was eventually withdrawn but by then file-sharers were becoming acutely aware that anonymity is something you have to work for online. Then, in 2006, file-sharers were offered a solution, at a price.

Although not the first service of its type, the Relakks VPN service promoted by the Swedish Pirate Party was the first to be targeted mainly at file-sharers. Just a year after the MPAA’s campaign and for a small price, anyone could click whatever they liked and hide, pretty much completely.

Now, ten years later, protecting anonymity online is big business. There are hundreds of VPN suppliers, some better than others, which ensure that there could never be a repeat of the MPAA’s “Click But Can’t Hide Campaign.” Nevertheless, plenty of people are still falling into its trap and failing to heed a decade-old warning.

Every month, millions of file-sharers are tracked online due to them using no kind of protection, with thousands receiving warning notices, fines and even lawsuits for their trouble. It’s surprisingly easy to both click and hide these days, but the majority still haven’t got the message.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

James Cameron: Theater Experience Key to Containing Piracy

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/james-cameron-theater-experience-key-to-containing-piracy-160727/

james cameronWith blockbusters including Avatar, Titanic, Terminator (1&2) and Aliens under his belt, James Cameron is without doubt one of the most successful and respected filmmakers of modern times.

While promoting the 30th anniversary of “Aliens” at Comic-Con last week, Cameron and his wife Gale Anne Hurd (who produced the movie) spoke to Variety on a number of movie industry issues.

Among them were the potentially intertwined topics of Napster co-founder Sean Parker’s Screening Room project and, of course, the thorny debate over Internet piracy.

While Screening Room sounds exciting to some, Cameron does not share the sentiment. He believes that having first-run movies in the home will stop people heading off to the cinema, the place where filmmakers can really showcase their art and take the fight to piracy.

“The biggest hedge against piracy is still the sanctity of the viewing experience in a movie theater — when it comes to movies,” he says.

“With ‘The Walking Dead’ or something like that, that’s not what you’re selling, but if we’re talking about movies and theatrical exhibition, keeping it great, making it a special experience, is still the biggest hedge against [piracy].”

Interestingly, Cameron also says that even if piracy somehow became legal and download speeds were drastically improved, viewing content outside the theatrical setting would still come up short.

“You’re still watching [movies] on a small platform, and it’s not that social experience,” he explains.

The notion that innovation is the key to dealing with piracy is a belief that Cameron has held for a number of years.

Back in 2010 the filmmaker was basking in the glory of Avatar making more than $2.6 billion at the box office, despite pirate copies being available online. The sci-fi movie later went on to become the most pirated movie of all time, and the most successful too.

But without offering something different, something unique, the movie industry could face the same threat as the music industry did, Cameron warns.

“Just collectively the industry needs to know if we fail at creating a premium immersive experience in the theater, then the Napster-like downloading phenomenon will destroy the industry,” Cameron says.

“You won’t be able to afford to make a movie like ‘Avatar’ or ‘Transformers’ or ‘Captain America’ or any of these big films. The economics will no longer make sense. And you simply won’t have them in any format or platform.”

But while Cameron talks innovation, his producer wife Gale Anne Hurd cautions that those sharing content online might be doing so with rose-tinted glasses.

“‘File Sharing’ sounds like a good thing. It’s file stealing,” she told Variety.

“I’ve just seen the figures — there’s money to be made in it and that’s not what people are thinking about. If they go to a torrent site or whatever, [the site’s operators] are making money through advertising.”

While that isn’t anything new to most file-sharers, Hurd also attacks the driving force behind many sharing platforms – the community’s idea that by uploading content to peers they’re spreading the enjoyment.

“So it’s not like, ‘Oh, your friend is helping you out’,” she says.

“There’s billions that people are making. The more that’s siphoned away because people are like, ‘Oh, I’ll just wait and I’ll stream it and I don’t even have to pay to stream it from a legitimate source,’ that is making it so much tougher on the exhibitors,” Hurd concludes.

Only time will tell whether projects such as Screening Room will be able to co-exist with the theatrical experience. If done well, however, both should be able to chip away at piracy – if the forecasts of Cameron and Fanning are to be believed.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

RIAA-Approved File-Sharing Service Hacked, 51m User Details Leaked

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/riaa-approved-file-sharing-service-hacked-51m-user-details-leaked-160613/

imesh-logoBack in 2003, when file-sharing technology was still in its relative infancy, several platforms had aspirations of becoming the next Napster. One of those was Israel-based iMesh, which at four years old was practically a veteran already.

But in September that year an increasingly irritable RIAA said enough is enough and sued iMesh in the United States. At the time, both parties were defiant. The RIAA insisted that iMesh should be shut down, while iMesh’s owners claimed they’d done nothing wrong.

However, in the summer of 2014 an unusual peace was reached, with iMesh paying the RIAA more than $4m in compensation and continuing business as normal. As strange as it may seem, the RIAA appeared to have licensed people they’d already branded as pirates.

There were changes though. iMesh was forced to release a new client that carried filtering technology provided by Audible Magic, with the aim of stopping infringement on the network. From the release of iMesh v6 in October 2005, it’s almost certain that the RIAA had access to vast amounts of iMesh user data.

Now, however, some of that data has landed in the public arena. Following the sudden disappearance of iMesh in recent weeks, LeakedSource is reporting that it has obtained an iMesh database containing 51,310,759 user records.

“Each record contains an email address, a username, one password, an IP address, a Country location and a join date,” the site says.

The breach, which appears to have taken place in September 2013, lists users from 55 countries participating on iMesh. With 13.7m users, the United States was by far the most popular country.

imesh-1

Sadly, as is often the case when such breaches are made public, the password situation on iMesh was pretty bleak.

“Passwords were stored in multiple MD5 rounds with salting. ‘Salting’ makes decrypting passwords exponentially harder when dealing with large numbers such as these, and is better than what LinkedIn and MySpace did but MD5 itself is not nearly hard enough for modern computing. The methods iMesh used, albeit 3 years ago were still insufficient for the times,” LeakedSource notes.

Only making matters worse are the passwords deployed by users. Close to a million of iMesh’s users went for ‘123456’, with more than 330,000 going for the slightly longer variant ‘123456789’.

imesh-pass

For what would turn into a largely crippled file-sharing network, iMesh was still attracting plenty of new users. The leak shows that in 2006, just after the release of the RIAA-approved client, iMesh had 4.8 million people sign up. During 2011, 9.4 million jumped on board. The last data available shows 2.5 million new members in 2013.

Now, however, iMesh is suddenly no more. After more than a decade of working with the RIAA (and even the MPAA who had a deal to limit movie sharing on the service), several weeks ago iMesh suddenly shut down. May 5 is the last date an active page is available on Wayback Machine, boasting access to 15 million licensed songs and videos.

Unsurprisingly, the iMesh shutdown is just one of many. At the same time several other platforms closed down including Bearshare, Shareaza and Lphant. Each show an almost identical shutdown message on their homepages since underneath they were all one and the same software operated by the same company.

But while it is customary for file-sharing fans to mourn the loss of file-sharing services, few with knowledge of how this network operated will be disappointed that these have gone, and not just because of the RIAA deal either.

The original Shareaza and Lphant projects were both subjected to hostile action by Discordia, the owners of iMesh, in circumstances that remain murky to this day. The original and safe version of Shareaza continues on Sourceforge, somewhat against the odds.

Users concerned that their data may have been compromised can check here.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

MPAA Lobbyist / SOPA Sponsor to Draft Democratic Party Platform

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/mpaa-lobbyist-sopa-sponsor-to-draft-democratic-party-platform-160531/

berman-smallLast week Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Democratic National Committee Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz chose a panel of individuals to draft the party’s platform.

As previously reported, 15 were selected, with six chosen by Clinton, five chosen by Bernie Sanders and four chosen by Wasserman Schultz. While other publications will certainly pick over the bones of the rest of the committee, one in particular stands out as interesting to TF readers.

Howard L Berman is an attorney and former U.S. Representative. He’s employed at Covington & Burling as a lobbyist and represents the MPAA on matters including “Intellectual property issues in trade agreements, bilateral investment treaties, copyright, and related legislation.”

It will come as no surprise then that the major studios have been donors throughout Berman’s political career. As shown in the image below, the top five contributors are all major movie companies.

hberman1

Born in 1941, Berman’s work with the film industry earned him the nickname “the congressman from Hollywood” and over the years he’s been at the root of some of the most heated debates over the protection of intellectual property.

In 2007 and as later confirmed by Wikileaks, Berman was one of the main proponents of ACTA, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.

Just five short years later Berman was at the heart of perhaps the biggest copyright controversy the world has ever seen when he became a co-sponsor of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).

“The theft of American Intellectual Property not only robs those in the creative chain of adequate compensation, but it also stunts potential for economic growth, cheats our communities out of good paying jobs, and threatens future American innovation,” Berman said in the run-up to SOPA.

While these kinds of soundbites are somewhat common, it’s interesting to note that Berman showed particular aggression towards Google during hearings focusing on SOPA. On November 16, 2011, Berman challenged the search giant over its indexing of The Pirate Bay.

google-bayInsisting that there “is no contradiction between intellectual property rights protection and enforcement ensuring freedom of expression on the Internet,” Berman said that Google’s refusal to delist the entire site was unacceptable.

“All right. Well, explain to me this one,” Berman demanded of Google policy counsel Katherine Oyama.

“The Pirate Bay is a notorious pirate site, a fact that its founders proudly proclaim in the name of the site itself. In fact, the site’s operators have been criminally convicted in Europe. And yet…..U.S.-Google continues to send U.S. consumers to the site by linking to the site in your search results. Why does Google refuse to de-index the site in your search results?” he said.

Oyama tried to answer, noting that Google invests tens of millions of dollars into the problem. “We have hundreds of people around the world that work on it,” she said. “When it comes to copyright….”

Berman didn’t allow her to finish, repeating his question about delisting the whole site, again and again. Before Berman’s time ran out, Oyama was interrupted several more times while trying to explain that the DMCA requires takedowns of specific links, not entire domains. Instead, Berman suggested that Oyama should “infuse herself” with the notion that Google wanted to stop “digital theft.”

“[T]he DMCA is not doing the job. That is so obvious,” he said. “[Y]ou cannot look at what is going on since the passage of the DMCA and say Congress got it just right. Maintain the status quo.”

These arguments continue today in the “takedown, staydown” debate surrounding the ongoing review of the DMCA, with Hollywood lining up on one side and Google being held responsible for the actions of others on the other. But simply complaining about the DMCA is a little moderate for Berman.

Almost one and a half decades ago in the wake of Napster and before the rise of BitTorrent, Berman had a dream of dealing with peer-to-peer file-sharing by force. In 2002 he proposed the Peer To Peer Piracy Prevention Act, which would have allowed copyright holders to take extraordinary technical measures against file-sharers in order to stop the unauthorized distribution of their content.

H.R.5211 sought to amend Federal copyright law to protect a copyright owner from liability in any criminal or civil action “for impairing, with appropriate technology, the unauthorized distribution, display, performance, or reproduction of his or her copyrighted work on a publicly accessible peer-to-peer file trading network.”

The bill didn’t deal in specifics, but “impairing” was widely believed to be a euphemism for DDoS and poisoning attacks on individual file-sharers in order to make sharing impossible from their computers.

At the time “shared-folder” type sharing apps were still popular so bombarding networks with fake and badly named files would also have been fair game, although distributing viruses and malware were not on the table. Eventually, however, the bill died.

Berman, on the other hand, appears to be very much alive and will be soon helping to draft the Democratic Party platform. On past experience his input might not be too difficult to spot.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Piracy Fails to Prevent Another Box Office Record

Post Syndicated from Andy original http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Torrentfreak/~3/YYnMhRVozf8/

mpaa-logoMPAA chairman and CEO Chris Dodd made his fifth keynote speech at CinemaCon yesterday, pouring buckets of cold water on the idea that piracy is somehow threatening the very existence of the movie industry.

“I’m proud to say that the state of our industry has never been stronger,” the former U.S. senator said.

Indeed. Yesterday the MPAA released its latest Theatrical Market Statistics Report which revealed that global box office revenues reached $38.3 billion in 2015, up 5% on 2014’s total. The United States and Canada turned in $11.1 billion with international box office revenues hitting $27.2 billion.

“To paraphrase Mark Twain, the death of the movies has been greatly exaggerated,” Dodd said.

Exaggeration was the name of the game four years ago during the SOPA debate, when one might have been forgiven for believing that Hollywood’s very existence was hanging by a thread. But now, according to the MPAA itself, things could hardly be better, with 708 films released in 2015 and those released by MPAA members up 8% on the previous year.

Almost 70% of the U.S./Canada population (235.3 million people) went to the cinema at least once in 2015, a 2% increase over 2014. Frequent movie goers who attended at least once a month accounted for 49% of all tickets sold in the same region. Indeed, the number of tickets purchased by everyone from hardcore fans to the very casual viewer increased last year.

But despite the impressive numbers (full report – pdf), the MPAA insists that piracy is still a problem. According to Dodd the box office would be more healthy to the tune of $1.5 billion if piracy could be brought under control.

There are plenty of theories on how that can be achieved, including making content more readily available to the consumer. The plan currently making the most noise along those lines is being touted by Napster co-founder Sean Parker, whose Screening Room project hopes to bring first-run movies into the home via a set-top box.

While at first this might sound like a recipe for spoiling record box office revenues, Screening Room has a trick up its sleeve. Customers prepared to pay the required $50 to watch at home would get two tickets to watch the movie in the cinema, which could either boost or at least maintain box office attendance.

Nevertheless, those in the movie screening business are less optimistic. Last month The Art House Convergence (AHC), a cinema group representing 600 theaters, said it “strongly opposes” the plan and warned that it would only fuel torrent sites and piracy.

Interestingly, however, Chris Dodd told reporters yesterday that the MPAA would meet with the people behind Screening Room.

“I want to hear what they have to say,” Dodd said.

Reading between the lines though, it seems unlikely that the MPAA is seriously thinking of signing on the dotted line. In his speech yesterday Dodd repeatedly underlined the unique experience offered by a theatrical screening.

“Despite the noisy suggestions otherwise, the cinema provides a unique and powerful experience that just cannot be re-created,” he said. One of his colleagues made things even more clear.

“I assure you, we are not going to let a third party or middleman come between [the studio and the cinema owners],” Warner Bros. Entertainment Chief Executive Kevin Tsujihara said during his presentation.

And those cinema owners have been vocal too. As reported by the LA Times, National Assn. of Theatre Owners chief John Fithian yesterday described Screening Room as a “big distraction” from the great results published by the MPAA, noting that “it’s up to the exhibitors and the distributors to decide the future of [release] windows.”

Interestingly, however, Fithian acknowledged that there may be some room for change.

“More sophisticated window modeling may be needed for the growing success of a modern movie industry,” he said.

Parker, standing by.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Steal This Show S01E08: Maybe Free Is Not The Future

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Torrentfreak/~3/TCIKYYiK7r0/

steal240Featuring Ashwin Navin and Dave Harrison – founders of BitTorent Inc., and currently CEO and CTO of Samba TV respectively.

We discuss Screening Room, the founder of Napster’s plan to bring movies to your living room on release day; the BPI’s prodigious anti-piracy efforts and why the future may doom them to failure; and the ongoing war between Google and the MPAA.

Finally, Ashwin and Dave share what they’ve learned since the early days of BitTorrent, hint at where things are headed in the world of online TV, point to a couple of interesting developments in the P2P world, and wonder if maybe free is not the future, after all.

Steal This Show aims to release bi-weekly episodes featuring insiders discussing copyright and file-sharing news. It complements our regular reporting by adding more room for opinion, commentary and analysis.

The guests for our news discussions will vary and we’ll aim to introduce voices from different backgrounds and persuasions. In addition to news, STS will also produce features interviewing some of the great innovators and minds.

Host: Jamie King

Guests: Ashwin Navin and Dave Harrison.

Produced by Jamie King
Edited & Mixed by Eric Bouthiller
Original Music by David Triana
Web Production by Siraje Amarniss

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

My first computer

Post Syndicated from Eevee original https://eev.ee/blog/2016/04/05/my-first-computer/

This month — March, okay, today is March 36th — Vladimir Costescu is sponsoring an exciting post about:

How about this: write about your very first computer (e.g. when you were a kid or whatever) and some notable things you did with it / enjoyed about it. If you’ve ever built your own computer from parts, feel free to talk about that too.

My first computer

I could swear I’ve written about this before, but I can’t find it, so it must’ve never escaped Twitter.

My very very first computer was this bad boy, which I had when I was… geez, I’m not even sure. 7, maybe?

The VTech PreComputer 1000, from back in the days when “1000” still sounded futuristic. It had a screen with one entire row of pixellated LCD characters, a qwerty keyboard complete with Caps Lock (?!), and a wide variety of trivia games. Ran on six C batteries.

I seem to recall that the behavior of Caps Lock was to reverse the usual capitalization, by which I mean holding Shift while Caps Lock was on would produce lowercase characters. Wild. (edit: A great many people have informed me that this is in fact how Windows always worked, which surprises me a lot, because I very distinctly remember being surprised by a real computer’s behavior! It seems that at least some combination of MSDOS 6.22 and a particular keyboard model would ignore Shift when Caps Lock is on, so maybe that’s what I remember.)

In a kind of precursor to DLC, there were also several extra cartridges you could buy. They were about the size of a thick wallet and came with different sets of… more trivia games.

Then there was the part that changed my life forever: a built-in BASIC interpreter.

It was a huge, huge pain in the ass. I could only see or edit one line at a time, of course. There was also no writable internal storage — this machine was released in 1988, when the idea of a video game that could save your progress was still novel! — so any program I wrote was lost as soon as I turned the thing off.

It did come with a book full of documentation and sample programs. The documentation was helpful enough to get me to make some things, but perhaps not particularly well aimed at the target audience of 9-year-olds, as I remember there being several constructs I didn’t understand in the slightest. The sample programs weren’t described particularly well, had no comments at all, and at the longest ran beyond 30 lines. 30 lines doesn’t sound like a lot to me now, but it was the biggest program I’d ever seen at the time, and typing it all in on a one-line display was daunting. (There were nine “canonical” sample programs baked into the ROM, but the programming tutorial had several lengthy examples that had to be typed in.)

I really wish I could find a copy of the book online, but it predates the web, alas! This was all so long ago that I can’t really remember any of the sample programs. I want to say there was the usual “guess a number” game, a temperature converter, and maybe hangman? Haven’t the foggiest idea what kind of little programs I wrote from scratch, unfortunately.

I’m tempted to go find and buy one of these, partly for the nostalgia and partly to see how much I can convince a baby BASIC to do. Mine might even still be in my parents’ attic, if they haven’t thrown it out by now.

While I resist the urge to scour ebay, let’s move on a year or two.

Addended interlude: the manual

Aha, a commenter has found a post with a scan of the BASIC part of the manual (at the bottom)! There are a lot of gems in here I’d forgotten about, like how switching to BASIC mode would automatically turn Caps Lock on (something I remember hating, even as a kid). I also fondly remember the goofy proportional font they used, even for code, that used a ∅-like glyph for zero. I even spotted a missing semicolon in some example code that I could swear I’d noticed before.

I’m surprised to learn that there is some semblance of debugging available, though I doubt I understood it at the time — you could add a STOP statement to a program and it will halt there, returning you to the default REPL, where you could presumably print out variables or change lines of the running program.

Something that particularly fascinates me now is the error reporting. A syntax error would be reported as ?SN ERROR, and you would have to look at the list of error codes in the manual to find out that SN meant SYNTAX ERROR. Why not just say SYNTAX ERROR, then? This had me thinking that they adapted an existing BASIC interpreter rather than writing their own, and indeed, the errors have the same names as MSXBASIC’s errors. Not sure where the two-letter codes came from, though.

I’ve copied all the example programs into a gist for easier perusal. Looking at them with a more seasoned programmer’s eye, a few things stand out to me.

  • There were clearly several different authors here! Programs 6 and 9 are the only ones to start numbering from 100, to have 999 END as their last line, to ask if the player wants to play again, and to only accept YES as an affirmative answer. 3 and 4 are the only two to use the SOUND statement, and both omit the space between the word SOUND and its first argument. 1 and 8 are the only programs to finish with an END that doesn’t use 999 as its line number.

  • The PRINT statement accepted multiple arguments, separated by either semicolons or commas, though the manual doesn’t explain the difference (if any). Program 1 stands out as the only program to manually insert a space at the end of a literal string followed by a variable. The tutorial part of the manual implies that PRINT inserted spaces between its arguments automatically, which makes me wonder why this one program felt the need to add its own. Program 8, seemingly by the same author, never prints two things on the same line.

  • Program 4 appears to simulate a one-second delay with a 630-iteration empty loop. There is, of course, nothing explaining why this is the case. 630 might have been my very first magic number.

  • Program 8 is an implementation of selection sort! This is the only use of DIM — the statement for declaring an array — in the example programs. I remember being very confused as to what DIM even did, let alone realizing the point of the program. None of them have any kind of explanation or comments, except for a couple comments dividing up the rather long program 9.

  • The only built-in functions used in any of these programs are INT() in program 9 and RND() in program 5. None of the example programs demonstrate use of FOR ... STEP, ABS(), SGN(), SQR(), LOG(), EXP(), SIN(), COS(), TAN(), ATN(), LEN(), STR$(), VAL(), LEFT$(), RIGHT$(), MID$(), ASC(), CHR$(), GOSUB ... RETURN, AND, NOT, READ, DATA, or RESTORE.

  • Program 9 implements the perfect single-pile Nim strategy. If the player doesn’t correctly decide whether to go first or second, or doesn’t play perfectly, the computer will always win.

My first actual computer

We got it in the mid-90s — a 486 DX running MSDOS 6.22 and Windows 3.11 for Workgroups. It screamed along at 25 MHz 33 MHz, and if that wasn’t enough for you, it had a turbo button that would boost it all the way to 100 MHz! I had to turn turbo off when I won at sol.exe, or else the card waterfall animation would play nearly instantly, but otherwise turning turbo off resulted in a hard lock and a loud angry endless beep. Thanks to an upgrade, it also had 40MB of RAM. Nice.

It came with a huge CRT monitor with an incredible high-def resolution of 1280×1024. (The full-size photo of the PreComputer above is 1024×801.) It had a keyboard lock, too, which I eventually learned how to pick using a paperclip. For reasons.

I distinctly remember its price tag of $1999 $1995. I didn’t know what many things cost yet, nor did I have any sense of how much money people with jobs actually made, so that might as well have been “infinity dollars”. Twenty years later, you can buy a phone that’s orders of magnitude better than that computer for a third of the price.

Thanks to the power of the Internet, I actually managed to track down one of the original ads! This is from page 331 of the May 30, 1995 issue of PC Mag, courtesy of Google Books, which incredibly has a searchable index of quite a few old PC Mag issues. That pins down the date we bought this to the summer of 1995, when I was 8 years old. Damn, I remember those little speakers and that joystick too.

I graduated naturally from toy-computer-BASIC to a real programming language: QBasic. I first encountered it on school computers, and mostly enjoyed it for the fascinating sample programs, nibbles.bas (Snake) and gorillas.bas (a game where two large gorillas standing on skyscrapers try to throw exploding bananas at each other). I remember scrolling through their source code numerous times, having absolutely no idea how any of it worked. I didn’t really understand the feeling at the time, but I’m sure I was amazed and confused at how the same tools I’d used to make guess-a-number could also make these graphical, uh, masterpieces.

Lurking in there is a critical stop along the way to several flavors of enlightenment: realizing and internalizing that the amazing creative things you see and admire were just made by regular people, using regular tools. You can do it too.

I only remember one notable thing I made in QBasic in those days. I must’ve still been in middle school, which would mean I was 9 or 10? I got regular homework that involved taking a set of vocabulary words and making “word pyramids” out of them, like this:

1
2
3
c    d
ca   do
cat  dog

…except that the words were more like ten letters long. I guess the point was to learn their spelling, but as someone who was just fine at spelling thank you very much, I thought this was agonizingly boring and a waste of time. So I decided to write a program to do it. I spent well over a week on it, but I did it, and it worked! I managed to get pyramids (effectively squares, really) of different sizes arranged on a page automatically and to print out (directly to the printer) one line at a time. I felt like a fucking wizard for what may have been the first time.

Alas, the teacher wouldn’t accept a printout for some reason.


The 486 was the family computer for a while, what with its being our only one, but after a few years my parents bought a better one (a Pentium!) and I inherited the 486. The glorious beast. I must’ve been 11 or 12.

Somewhere along the way it also got an upgrade to Windows 95, which I hated initially. It was just a blank screen! Where was Program Manager?! Where was Cardfile?

This was just before the turn of the millenium, right when digital music was getting popular. By “digital music”, of course, I mean “Napster”, as the music industry was still a few years away from hearing that the Internet exists. You could download a massive 4 MB MP3 of your favorite song in only ten minutes!

You could, anyway. I could not. My 486 couldn’t decode MP3s in real time, even with the turbo button. In other words, it took more than one second to understand one second of music. I think I had a single WAV, but 40MB was a huge chunk of my 851MB hard drive (later improved to 1.2GB thanks to DoubleSpace, and partly mitigated by a 100MB Zip drive), so I mostly listened to MIDIs.

The timeline is a bit fuzzy, but at some point I graduated from QBasic to a few different things. I think the earliest was some proprietary shareware scripting language I’d read about in PC Magazine or whatever; it was clumsy, but it could be triggered by hotkeys and manipulate existing programs, which let me do more interesting tinkering than the confines of a command prompt would allow. I want to say it was “Wilson WindowWare” or something similarly alliterative; that finds me a extant company with a product called “WinBatch“. The name doesn’t ring a bell, but it fits the description, so maybe that was it.

I ended up with a copy of Visual Basic 6 at some point (free copy on a CD with a magazine, maybe?) and built a few little toy programs with it, like a color picker and a really bad “encryption” program. I also got into JavaScript (!) for a little while, back before anyone was even saying “DHTML”, back when XSS was unheard of and I was free to embed rainbow-text JS into a forum post. That largely fell by the wayside when I discovered server-side Perl, which was magical. veekun was probably the first big thing I tried to build (and stuck with for more than a month or two).

My first built computer

I was still using a 486 in 2000 or 2001, at which point it was comically obsolete. Again, the timeline is fuzzy here, because I could swear that I got a new machine by 2001, but I distinctly remember building it in a place I thought I only lived in 2003. I don’t think I had an extra machine in the middle there, either.

I couldn’t tell you much about the process of building it, but I imagine it went much the same as my experience with building computers now: get a bunch of parts, wiggle them together because everything only fits one way, spend all day trying to figure out why it doesn’t boot only to find that a stick of RAM is sticking out one millimeter too far.

It was a Pentium something in a tower case, which was quite a change. I named it kabigon, the Japanese name for Snorlax, beginning a theme that I’ve continued ever since.

I also put Gentoo on it for reasons I cannot fathom. This was back in the day when the “real” way to install Gentoo was from stage1, which means you don’t get an installer; you just get a massive, massive list of instructions on how to manually bootstrap everything from scratch. It took days to get a working system, including a day or two to compile X and KDE, but I sure did learn a lot about Linux and how a desktop environment is put together.

I’m not sure XP was actually out at this point, so consumer Windows still had no built-in way to share an Internet connection, and ISPs weren’t yet giving out routers. The very concept of a router was still pretty alien. Up until this point, we’d been sharing the connection via some terrible shareware garbage called WinGate (which is somehow still around) that mostly worked, except when it didn’t. I, despite having no clue what the hell I was doing, offered to instead have my computer act as the router, because Linux is better at being a router than Windows ME. Which is true! The plan almost fell apart when my parents got tired of waiting for days for me to finish creating a computer, but in the end I did manage to get kabigon acting as the router, by blindly pasting a bunch of iptables rules my boyfriend gave to me. Hm, actually, I think my interest in Linux can all be traced back to (and squarely blamed on) him.

In 2003 I was also in a high school programming class. The class really had two classes taught at the same time: computer science 1, where the teacher taught maybe 16 or 20 kids to do simple stuff in QBasic; and computer science 2, where four of us who vaguely knew what we were doing basically had free reign. I’d taken the AP Computer Science AB class and exam a year or two prior (and was nearly constantly mystified by why C++ was such a pain in the ass compared to everything else I knew), so by now I was finally dipping my toes into building slightly more complex stuff.

One such thing I remember well is an implementation of Hex, the board game on a hexagonal grid where two players try to be the first to connect their two opposite sides of the board. I remember it so well, in fact, that I have managed to exactly reproduce the source code and placed it in this gist just for you. Also I made this screenshot.

C++ implementation of Hex, with Allegro

Or maybe I just still have most of the code I wrote in that class because I’m a packrat. I’m glad, too, because it’s the oldest window I have into what the heck I was doing thirteen years ago. I see I was also showing off. At one point the computer science 1 class had been told to write a change-giving program, where you enter a cost and an amount paid, and the program spits out the assortment of coins and bills you should get back. It’s not too difficult a problem; read a line of input, do a little math, print out a few numbers. I, however, decided that not only would I also write this program, but I would be a total dick about it.

Giving change

Don’t worry, I’ve got the source code for that, too! And it is unreadable slop.

I also remember an assignment about drawing a picture using QBasic’s drawing primitives. So I dug up a picture an artist friend had drawn me, reduced it to 16 colors, and wrote a Perl script to generate a QBasic program that would render it one pixel at a time. Alas, I don’t have the source code for that.

But my greatest achievement was probably writing a Chip’s Challenge clone, complete with a bunch of tiles that were supposed to be in the eternally-delayed Chip’s Challenge 2 (incidentally, now released at last). I had no understanding of a game clock or an event queue or any of that nonsense, so it’s entirely turn-based; the game waits for you to move, and then the entire world updates. I never got around to making any monsters, so it would’ve been purely puzzle-based, except I never got around to making any levels, either. I don’t think you could even die; the game would just not let you walk onto hazards. Also it was just DOS characters, no graphics. I was working on a level editor, but never finished it. Tragic.

Just like Chip's Challenge, except not very good at all

That’s all of interest I can remember. A couple years later, I was in college, playing a lot of World of Warcraft and making bad stubs of websites that never saw the light of day.

Appendix: all my computers ever

If you’re curious! Primary, in order:

  • fushigidane (Bulbasaur, named retroactively for being the first): the 486, running Windows 3.11 and later Windows 95 — current location unknown, possibly parents’ attic?
  • kabigon (Snorlax, named for being gigantic): the Pentium I built, running Gentoo — left behind at a friend’s house many years ago and not seen since
  • rapurasu (Lapras, named for portability): a lumbering brick of a Dell laptop I had in college, running XP and then eventually Kubuntu — still in my possession
  • myuutsuu (Mewtwo, named for its nebulous origins): a Frankenstein(‘s monster) assembled from my roommate’s spare parts after I left home, running XP — eventually returned to its component parts
  • tekkanin (Ninjask, named for its impressive speed): the first machine I actually bought for myself, running Ubuntu — I believe was incorporated into a former roommate’s media center
  • perushian (Persian, named because I splurged on it): my current machine, running Arch — typing on it right now

Secondary:

  • nyarumaa (Glameow, named for Apple aesthetic): a glossy white MacBook I bought for work in 2007, running Ubuntu — current location unknown
  • rukushio (Luxio, named for being medium-sized, blue, and electric): a “big” netbook I bought on a whim, originally running Ubuntu, then Arch, then accidentally bricked when I tried to update it after a long time — current location unknown
  • jarooda (Serperior, named “because it is a smug macbook for smug people”): the MacBook Pro that Yelp loaned me while I worked there, running OS X and Arch — returned to Yelp
  • zeruneasu (Xerneas, named for being newest??): a System76 laptop I bought after getting sick of fighting to get Apple hardware to work with Linux, running Ubuntu — in my bedroom, though rarely used nowadays
  • itomaru (Spinarak, named because… web…): a Soekris 6501 running pfsense and acting as our router — still doing that