Tag Archives: piracy

Google Makes Changes in Effort to Fight Piracy

GoogleGoogle has made some changes recently in an effort to fight piracy. They have released a 26 page PDF titled How Google Fights Piracy that you can read if you want to know all the details. The key point seems to be an effort to highlight legitimate resources where people can legally purchase (or rent) music, movies, and other digital content. Google says “The right combination of price, convenience, and inventory will do far more to reduce piracy than enforcement can.”

The PDF (or “white pages” as some have termed it) mentions Google Play and points that Android users can visit Google Play and legally purchase music, movies, TV shows, ebooks, apps, and games. The implication is that Google Play is an example of “the right combination of price, convenience, and inventory”.

Google also gives details regarding copyright removal notices and ranking. Websites that have had a high number of removal notices may appear lower in search engine results. In other words, a new algorithm will push websites that have had a lot of valid copyright removal requests lower in the search rankings. I think the idea is to make it easier for people to find legitimate sources of content by making those websites appear higher in the ranking.

There has also been a change to Google’s autocomplete. Google has taken steps to prevent “terms closely associated with piracy” from appearing an the autocomplete. At the same time, they are putting links to legitimate sources of copyrighted content that match your search into the right hand panel (where the ads appear).

This change also goes along with one of Google’s anti-piracy principles, specifically the one that can be summarized as “follow the money”. Part of that principle states: “Rogue sites that specialize in online piracy are commercial ventures, which means the most effective way to combat them is to cut off their money supply”.

Even Pirates are Frustrated by Piracy

Greenheart GamesGreenheart Games has done something unique, and fascinating, with the release of their brand new game. They released a cracked version of Game Dev Tycoon that contained something that the real version did not. The results show that even people who pirate software become frustrated when someone pirates from them.

Game Dev Tycoon is a Sim game where you run a game development company. The idea is to create some great games and make as much money as you can. The cracked version included in-game messages that were designed to look just like the regular ones. One such message reads:

Boss, it seems that while many players play our new game, they steal it by downloading a cracked version rather than buying it legally. If players don’t buy the games they like, we will sooner or later go bankrupt.

In the cracked version of the game, that is exactly what happens. Every time the player creates a good game, he or she finds that more people are pirating it than paying for it. They will, over time, go bankrupt as a result. Greenheart Games found a unique way to hold a mirror up to the nefarious and unfair behavior of people who choose to steal games instead of paying for them.

The irony is apparent in the comments that the pirating players left in regards to this particular in-game difficulty. They were obviously frustrated. Greenheart Games has posted a few really telling comments on their blog. Keep in mind, the players who had this particular in-game problem were the ones who obtained pirated copies of Game Dev Tycoon.

I find this fascinating! As a former teacher, I am well aware the learning potential in experiencing something for yourself (rather than just reading about it). Those who felt frustrated by virtual players pirating their games will, hopefully, consider buying the next video game that interests them. Game Dev Tycoon sells for about $8.00 USD.

GNC-2012-01-30 #738 The Voice

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The iPod is 10 Years Old Today

First Generation iPod
First Generation iPod

As I reported on my Day in Tech History show, the iPod was introduced on this day in 2001. Steve Jobs got up on stage and talked about a change. They wanted to get into the digital music revolution, which was not doing too well. Jobs stated that Sony and Sonic Blue were trying their hands at this genre, but there was no real market leader.

Then Apple became that market leader.

The “First Generation iPod” came in models of 5 GB and 6 GB starting at $399. At the standard MP3 rate of 128 kbps, you could put 1000 songs on the device (as Steve put it – “That is some people’s whole music library”). The iPod connected to iTunes (which was a program you could only get on the Mac at the time) and used the Firewire port for connection.

Jobs also called the device the “Ultra-portable”, whereas the (then) iBook was the mini-portable. The first iPod was the size of a deck of cards, so you could easily put it in your pocket.  With the 100 hour battery life, you could listen to music hours on end.

How iPod Changed the Mobile Landscape

Even though Kramer created the first one, Steve Jobs and Apple changed the landscape. It was amazing how this little device shaped the 21st century. Records, cassettes, 8-tracks and CDs would soon start to give way to the digital download.

Legal Issues with Apple

The company was in battle from three main angles – One, for download piracy issues and the other from Apple records (the Beatles record label). Apple records made an arrangement with Apple computers that since they didn’t do the same thing, Apple records would not go after them. However, that all changed when the iPod came out. Eventually they settled, and in 2010, the Beatles finally appeared in the iTunes store.

The third was for the iPod itself. The idea actually was first created in 1979. British inventor Kane Kramer put together the first digital audio player, which he called the IXI. The device could only play one song. He patented the idea, but did not renew in 1998. However, Kramer did eventually get credit for his creation.

So here we are, ten years later. This version of the iPod has made it’s way as the iPod Touch, iPod Nano, iPod Shuffle, iPhone and iPad have joined in this “Digital music revolution”. You can still get what is now called iPod Classic with 35x more storage and a color screen for $249. But it really was on October 23, 2001 that Steve Jobs turned this market upside-down.

GNC-2011-02-17 #648 Special Apple Product Announcement!

For those of you that actually read the show notes and I know 10’s of thousands do not the clue on the Apple Product announcement is in the show notes.. You want to talk about a product that the koolaid drinkers will get excited about. Action packed show, of course I had to have a mini soap box time over recent App Store announcements. Hope you enjoy the show. Action hotline is available 24/7 at +1-619-342-7365 leave your comments there or drop me an e-mail.

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Show Notes:
Comet Particles Sounded like Bombs!
To Jupiter and Beyond.
ISS to get Japanese Anime Robot. ;)
Solar Activity on Rise.
WISE is shutdown.
Fetus Brain Activity.
Darpa want’s you!
Dumb Criminal Department.
Righthaven tries again.
TSA Thieves!
Microsoft makes dumb Policy.
SSd’s are not Secure.
Send a Robot to Moon and Win!
Android Malware.
Smart Red Light.
Clearwire Gains but still looses Money.
10 Core Chip on Way.
Facebook recognizes Civil Unions.
Coupon Cutters like Spending.
NSA wants to Protect Private Infrastructure?
Thought Controlled Devices.
Hack PS3 get Banned.
Apple + Devices + Kids = Ohhh Man
Apple 15 Minute Purchase Window under Review.
National Broadband Map.
Comcast 24/7 3d Content.
No Small iPhone.
Chevrolet MyLink.
Google OnePass.
Sony not leaving iTunes.
What Happens when you Meet a Semi?
Dual Screen Tablet.
Gov’t Mistakes Kills 84k Websites but it gets much Worse!
P2P lawsuits dropped by Thousands.
P2P Users giving up cash for no reason.
RIAA says Canada and Spain Worse?
Facebook News Feed Stream Change.
Facebook Pop up Pictures Hack.
Borders Bankrupt.
Web Savvy Cars Finally.
AT&T – Fast / Verizon -Slow on iPhone Speed Test.
Firefox 4 coming!
Portable Speaker Mini
Anti Sleep Pilot for iPhone.
Cord Cutting for only 25 and Below.
Roku Tips.
Wild Pirate Stats.
Plex comes to Android.
Video Piracy goes Underground.
Next New Networks and Google.
iPhone Menu hack for Jailbreakers.
Netflix and Vudu on Boxee.
Apple about to commit grand larceny.
Movies on your iOS Device.
Rewdbox to Stream.
2012 Chevy Volt Rebates.
Sprint and LTE.
Rovi and Delivery Agent.
Apple Water.
Google Navigation.
Bing Bar Changed!
Tetris Game powered by HTML5
See the Google Android Booth.
Stardust Flyby.
Cosmo 101 Heavy Stuff.
EU Launches Massive load to ISS.
Steve Jobs Destroyed Home.

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There is so much great tech in this show, that I did not get through the entire stack some of the stuff at the end I only casually covered due to time constraints. Join me on Saturday for The Morning Show. Should be a great show, we have two new guest, one calling in from the UK. Have suggestions on topics for the morning show get them in today. Huge Thanks to all of the supporters of the show.

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The MPAA may have a point…

…or at least a bit more justification than the RIAA for their fear of downloaders.

I have discussed in past posts how the biggest downloaders of music files are generally the biggest purchasers of music.  This makes a policy of prosecuting downloaders a strange one since they are attacking their biggest customers.  In the case of music, piracy can actually mean better sales.

Early this year I noticed how many people I came across were casually mentioning downloading movies in general conversation.  It sparked a note of interest and I have been taking a bit of an informal, and completely unscientific, study of peoples movie piracy habits.

The first thing that has changed radically from when I first studied music downloading 3 years ago is that people with very low technical ability are participating.  It is not just the computer literate and teenagers.  I have heard from people who still double click on web-links that have no trouble downloading a movie and burining it to a DVD to watch.  I have particularly seen a huge number of parents that are talking openly about either downloading movies, or borrowing copies of pirated movies off other people.

While the most common type of movie mentioned is a new release, i.e. a movie that is currently in cinemas, the essentially free access to movies has not prevented many of these families from going to the cinemas.  I would be surprised if there was no impact at all to movie attendance, however the impact of the GFC and the current state of movie quality have a greater impact on the box-office than piracy.  There is potentially also an impact to later DVD sales which is again unlikely to be large.  The people I have talked to have generally been happy to pay for the better quality, and the extras on movies that they liked.

Another potential loser is the rental market.  Again this did not seem to be so much of an issue.  The general usage case seems to be that people pirate the new release movies that they are sort of interested in, but are not willing to choose as one they see when they go to the cinema.  The second most common reason people gave for the piracy was that they had a level of interest that was too low to invest the cost of a cinema visit too, but high enough to not wait for it to get to video or TV.  Movie rentals will undoubtably have a larger impact to them than cinema attendance or DVD sales though.

The biggest loser in all this seems to me to be TV.  Most people were using the pirated movies as their choice of casual entertainment.  Rather than watching whatever was on TV.  They had a stash of movies that they would slot in when they wanted some casual entertainment and were not happy with the choices on TV.  Not only would the impact be to the viewers of general TV, viewership for premier movies on free to air and cable TV probably decline as well.

Regardless of whether piracy might actually be harming movie company profits, it is a mistake to be trying to use technology like DRM to block piracy.  As has been shown many times in the past and present, whatever DRM technology used will eventually be circumvented.  The only effect it has is to restrict what legitimate customers can do with their legal purchase.  While this might be part of the intent of the movie companies it actually lowers the value of their product to consumers and gives a justification to pirates to continue their practices.  In purely economic terms, reducing the value of your product has two negative effects.  It reduces the amount you can charge for your product, and it pushes more people over the cost/benefit line of piracy.

Even launching legal action against casual piraters (i.e. those that make no money from the practice) makes no sense.  People that are consuming pirated media are essentially your potential customers.  They want to use the media companies product, it is simply not available at a price and convenience level attractive to them.  Downloading movies is not getting it for free.  Regardless of your plan the bandwidth used has a real cost.  There is also the time and effort required to do the download and the cost of burning or storing the media.  These costs are neither large nor negligable.

The answer for movie companies is to find a tiered delivery method that caters to the time, convenience and cost factors.  The other clear answer is for them to stop limiting the useage rights of their legitimate customers, or try to use release schedules to force customers into higher cost consumption practices they do not wish.  The first step in this would be to have close to simultaneous release across multiple distribution models.

  • Cinemas would cater to the event crowd at a premium price.  Releasing a short time earlier (like 1-2 weeks) would also gather in the early adopters in this group.
  • DVD release with extras to entice those that want the movie to keep or to see the background information, deleted scenes, etc.
  • Online download for the home viewer convenience.  These need to be free of limitiations on how quickly, or how often it can be viewed.  It also needs to be at a cost at somewhere around half that of the DVD or less.
  • Potentially even release at the same time to a TV option, free to air or cable depending on who will pay more.  I’m not knowledgable enough on the economics of the TV movie market to know whether this could pay off or not.

The key is to have the movie available at the cost level that is attractive to all potential customers in a convenient fashion.  The higher cost methods then offer more experience or value to cover their higher cost.  DVDs offer the extra content and cinemas give the going out experience.  As I said in the beginning my analysis is based on anecdotal evidence.  From this though, the main driver for movie piracy seems to be less about price and more about a combination of convenience, price and lack of restrictions.  It does no seem that hard for movie companies to come up with a distribution method to fox this.  Changing your model is a scary thing though, much easier to whinge about how your customers don’t like your artificial barriers.