You are currently viewing archive for February 2009
02/27 2009 | 02:03 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
If someone told you he’d pay for your FiOS Internet connection in exchange for you putting a Network Attached Storage (NAS) server full of Russian movies in your living room, would you do it? And if someone told you that a network of residential NAS drives could serve your startup’s video needs better than Amazon’s S3, would you believe him? The Bay Area-based video startup Russart believes it can make the case for both.

Russart just introduced a pretty unusual infrastructure play called “People’s CDN” (PCDN) that is entirely based on such residential nodes. The project is still in its infancy, with only two servers up at this time, but Russart CEO Oleg Sinitsin told me the plan is to eventually deploy up to 1,000 nodes, offering competitive rates to content publishers and sharing revenue with the people serving the content. “We are a people’s venture,” he wrote me in an email, “and people like to be rewarded.” Continue reading on

02/27 2009 | 12:01 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The Register's Andrew Orlowski is trying to stir up a controversy by claiming that there's a dark secret related to the media's coverage about the Pirate Bay case. Apparently, no one has been mentioning that one of the defendants is a right-wing extremist. From his article:

"But there seems to be something about Pirate Bay that no one wants you to read: its debt to one of the most notorious fascists in Europe."

At heart of the issue is Carl Lundstrom, heir of the Wasabrod empire and backer of various right wing groups in Sweden. The prosecution is trying to make the case that Lundstrom financed the Pirate Bay. Lundstrom's lawyer and the rest of the defense team instead insist on Lundstrom only playing a minor role in the project. And Orlowski is trying to convince us that copyleft activists and their supporters in the media are trying to hide Lundstrom's politics from the public:

"(N)o English language coverage of the trial has mentioned this."

Oh really?

"Never far from controversy, it has been reported that Lundström has supported political parties on the far right." (The Local)

"The oldest of the quartet, 48-year-old Carl Lundstrom, is already known in his homeland as a right-wing celebrity millionaire." (Forbes)

"He inherited a fortune built on crispbread, and has a long history of involvement with extreme rightwing politics." (The Guardian)

"A fourth person indicted is the Swedish business magnate Carl Lundstrom, who has been called a right-wing extremist by the Swedish press." (me on Newteevee)

02/24 2009 | 09:57 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Have you ever felt like an idiot because you couldn't manage to transfer files from one computer to another within your local network? I know I have. It sounds like an easy task at first, but then one of them is a PC and one is a Mac. Or you don't have the administrator privileges to share data on one of the machines. Or Windows is just having a bad day.

The LAN file sharing application P300 can help you with any of those problems, and many others as well. It's local file sharing on steroids, complete with search, a Web interface and local chat.

pic of p300 ui

P300 is a Java-based, so it runs on Windows, OS X and Linux. It operates as a stand-alone app without the need to install anything on your local machine. You can even start it as a JavaWebStart process straight from your browser.

P300 automatically finds new hosts on your local network via UDP, but you can also always add individual hosts via their local IP address. Don't want to share your files with everyone in your office? No worries, P300 also makes it possible to selectively allow or deny access to certain hosts.

P300's interface is admittedly a little bit minimalistic: Upon starting the client for the first time, all you get to see is an empty host list and two buttons, one of which promises access to P300's configuration. The other button fires up a browser to access the P300 web interface.

pic of p300 file browser

The fact that P300 has so many different interfaces makes it a little confusing (did I mention you can also use WebDAV for accessing files through your Finder or Windows explorer?), but it also offers you different tools for different use cases.

pic of p300 browser ui

I tend to use the web interface if I'm looking for a specific file somewhere, but switch to the client UI for downloading entire folders. Configuring P300 works best with the web UI, network-wide search on the other hand is something the client itself is better at.

pic of p300 search

Speaking of search: This is definitely a feature that makes P300 a must-have. Want to know if one of your buddies on your local dorm network shares a certain song? Just search the entire network in the matter of no time. Looking for something more specific? No problem, you can also restrict your search to a certain host.

pic of p300 search

The chat is an added bonus that I don't really need, but it could come handy in an office or campus LAN type of setting. I'm much more intrigued by another feature that the P300 author has been hinting at for a while: Secure, Jabber-based Internet-wide file sharing. That's admittedly not a new idea. In fact, Limewire is supporting this very function with its new version. But P300 is very lightweight, and it could even become something like the uTorrent of personal file sharing if this is done well.

02/23 2009 | 09:58 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The Dutch P2P streaming site has prevailed in a court case against pay TV provider C More Entertainment AB, according to a forum post. is popular with sports fans that want to watch soccer, football or baseball games online.

The site doesn't stream these competitions itself, but instead links to shows streamed through Chinese P2P streaming clients like Sopcast or PPStream. It also provides instructions on how to use these clients. started to take down links to games of the English Premier League and other competitions late January after it had been sued by C More Entertainment in a Dutch court. However, all the links are available again. From the site:

"We won the case against C More! The Dutch court ruled that C More mistakenly initiated injunction proceedings because the case was to complicated, both factually as well as legally. C More was ordered to repay us all our legal costs."

This will most likely not be the last case against Myp2p and similar sites. The Guradian reported recently that the English Premier League is stepping up its fight against streaming media piracy, and other leagues aren't sitting idle either. US-based Major League Baseball reportedly has three people on staff that do nothing but search for unlicensed streams.

02/21 2009 | 09:07 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Hulu caused quite a stir this week when, at the request of rights holders, it shut down Boxee’s access to its streaming video platform. While many discussed the business implications of this move, some are ready to do more than just talk about it. One reader wrote to tell us that he’s gonna stop using Hulu altogether and go back to downloading TV shows via BitTorrent. Lifehacker editor Adam Pash apparently had the same idea, given his post entitled “How to Get Hulu Content on TV Without Hulu’s Help.”

Granted, so far this is all just anecdotal evidence. Chances are the move will cost Boxee more users than Hulu in the near term. However, these aren’t the only dark clouds on the horizon of Hululand; longer ad breaks and old media conflicts could turn people off Hulu-like streaming video platforms. Piracy, on the other hand, is getting easier and easier every day, with torrent sites and other unlicensed platforms just waiting to embrace Hulu renegades. Maybe it’s time to send the following memo to Hollywood: You can still blow this thing. Continue reading on

02/19 2009 | 12:46 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
This is awesome: It's been more than two years since I stumbled across a photo on Flickr that showed a Spanish Blockbuster outlet that someone had defaced with the slogan "I love P2P", complete with a cute heart and everything. I asked the photographer for permission to reprint the photo here, and he said yes.

He also changed the licensing terms of the photo to a Creative Commons license, which allowed others to reprint it as well - and reprinting they did. The photo first showed up on blogs like Torrentfreak and Waxy, then in a Spanish newspaper, and it's been popping up on Digg ever since ever couple of weeks. The original Flickr photo has been viewed over 117,000 times on Flickr alone, and you can find it on countless other sites as well.

But now this meme has gotten a whole different level of recognition: The Madrid-based Ninotchka Art Project recently printed stickers with the same slogan and made photos of them on various places around Madrid as part of a art project called "Copyright is for losers".

pic of i love p2p art project sticker

Here's a statement from the artists about the project from Escrico en la pared, auto-translated by Google:

"The world has progressed and will progress through the exchange of knowledge. We have to defend a free access to culture and not become a consumer product, as this will destroy the valuable works by minority that are always some that do not meet financial expectations that meet the multinationals."

02/18 2009 | 11:24 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Hackers have defaced the website of the Swedish music industry association IFPI today in response to the trial against the Pirate Bay. hack

The page was replaced with a text announcing a "declaration of war" against anti-piracy organizations - an obvious reference to the Trial Edition of Steal This Film, which was released yesterday. The movie opens with a Berlin-based copyleft activist explaining that corporations have declared war on popular culture to protect their intellectual property.

Here's a fairly good automated translation of the hacked page, courtesy of Google:

"Stop lying HĹKAN ROSWALL!

The ruthless hunting by IFPI, Anti-Piracy Office, Warner Bros and all other companies with a pawn in the game, pursued has now resulted in a trial in which four innocent men are accused of copyright infringement.

This is a declaration of war against anti-piracy and industry players behind it, and we urge the public to boycott and lynching of those responsible. IFPI is only the beginning. Continued.

The new generation

# credz to: anakata, TiAMO and brokep"

Update: The defacement has since been removed and replaced by a placeholder.

02/18 2009 | 12:03 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The makers of the freely available file-sharing documentaries Steal This Film and Steal This Film II have released a new movie just in time for the lawsuit against the Pirate Bay. The 51-minute film features interviews with the three administrators-turned-defendants as well as Electronic Frontier Foundation senior staff attorney Fred von Lohmann, Harvard Professor Yochai Benkler, Reddit co-founder Aaron Swartz, Smart Mobs author Howard Rheingold and many others. It can be downloaded in its entirety via BitTorrent from the filmmakers’ web site.

The film in its current form is a kind of preview of Steal This Film III, which is expected to be released later this year. The subject of the last part of the trilogy will be the Pirate Bay, and the makers are currently in Stockholm to shoot footage of the trial, according to TorrentFreak. The first two episodes were apparently downloaded around 5 million times, and I wouldn’t be too surprised at all if part three will become even more popular, if only because of the extensive media coverage of the trial. Continue reading on

02/17 2009 | 01:24 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The world may look to Sweden for the Pirate Bay trial these days, but rights holders would like us to remember that there are other countries harboring pirates as well. The International Intellectual Property Alliance submitted its annual report on copyright issues to the US Trade Representative today, singling out 13 countries as the worst offenders and recommending that the new Obama administration keeps a close eye on another 25 countries.

One of the countries singled out for lax online enforcement is Canada, which has "gained a regrettable but well-deserved reputation as a safe haven for Internet pirates," as the report reads. It goes on:

"A number of the world’s most notorious and prolific BitTorrent sites for online piracy are hosted or have operators based in Canada. (...) Multiple, and often connected, Internet sites in Canada are used as a massive international distribution vehicle for pirated audio-visual material."

Canada is of course the home of, which has been sued by the MPAA. The site also started a preemptive lawsuit against the Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA) last September. CRIA previously had been successful in shutting down a number of torrent sites, while others were forced to leave the country. The IIPA suggest that Canada should amend its copyright in order to make lawsuits against Bittorrent sites more successful and force ISPs to disconnect subscribers that commit infringement.

Anoher country that has been on the IIPA's naughty list for years is China. However, the organization used to just complain about pirated DVDs. Not anymore so: "Internet and mobile device piracy worsened significantly in 2008", the report reads. It points to well-known search engines likeBaidu and Yahoo China as the main source for MP3 piracy, but also mentions P2P services like Xunlei, PPLive, Verycd and BTpig. The report concludes, complete with dramatic exclamation mark:

"(P)iracy (...) is the main driver of Internet growth in China!"

So what about Sweden, the home of the Pirate Bay and the center of the world's media attention during the site's ongoing trial? Well, Sweden is actually not that bad. Or at least not as bad as Canada and China, because the northern European country didn't quite make the cut for the report's worst-offender priority watch list. Still, the IIPA is concerned: "Sweden has become a notorious Internet piracy safe haven." It estimates that 22% of the world's "Top Sites" warez servers are hosted in Sweden.

And then there's the Pirate Bay, "impacting legitimate markets around the world." IIPA is obviously happy that the site's administrators are finally on trial, but apparently a little put off by their attitude: "The owners do not profess to be worried at all; the site continues to operate today." The organization also seems to be irritated by the fact that the Bay's supporters actually see this as a political issue. From the report:

"Pirates have even established a political party, The Pirate Party (“Piratpartiet”), which had about 0.63 percent of the votes in the September 2006 elections (fortunately less than was expected)."

So what's the remedy against such unruly behavior, according to IIPA? Basically the same as in Canada, or anywhere else in the world for that matter: Tougher copyright laws, lawsuits against file sharers, and ISP disconnects for repeat infringers. However, the authors seem to sense that this might not go over so well in Sweden:

"Such actions will be unpopular among some segments of the citizenry but this is the only way to restore the rule of law that has been so undermined to date in Sweden."

02/15 2009 | 01:02 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The trial against the Pirate Bay will start in Sweden on Monday, and file sharers and P2P journalists alike can hardly contain themselves. The Times of London has dubbed it the “Internet piracy trial of the decade,” and the Pirate Bay’s staff and supporters have planed an ongoing spectacle in front of the courthouse, involving, among other things, a brass band, rallies and an old bus that will be used as a press center.

But what is the case really about? Who are the people involved, what can we expect to happen in court, and what’s at stake in case of a guilty verdict? Continue reading on

02/12 2009 | 09:39 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The Participatory Culture Foundation (PCF) unveiled version 2.0 of its open-source video player, Miro, yesterday. The new version features a revamped UI, a smaller memory footprint and the ability to access streaming video sites like from right within the client. We covered those changes in greater detail a few weeks back, and others have added their own take. However, one important new feature so far hasn’t gotten much coverage at all: Miro’s new channel guide.

Miro uses the guide to offer easy access to more than 4,000 web video shows and podcasts. Users can also access the guide on the web and use it to stream or download shows from right within their browser. The folks from the PCF have been comparing the site to other web video program guides like Odeo, but it’s fairly obvious that they’re really trying to replace the one content catalog that rules them all: the podcast directory of Apple’s iTunes Store. And they might just do it, too. Continue reading on

02/11 2009 | 03:03 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
This is interesting: Informa Telecoms & Media analyst Giles Cottle apparently had the same question I had when he looked at the Pirate Bay's new tracker usage map mash-up: What does this tell us about global broadband usage patterns? Cottle extracted some of the key numbers and compared them with global broadband penetration rates. From the post:

"The 1/3 of traffic that Chinese internet users generate is in spite of the fact that they make up only 1/6 of the world’s internet users. Conversely, the 6.7% of traffic that Japan generates is less impressive considering the fact that 6.2% of all internet users are Japanese."

I noticed some similar patterns when I wrote about the map last week for Newteevee, although I do have to admit that I may have underestimated the number of Japanese broadband subscribers.

Still, one of the most striking facts to me was that countries with relatively slow broadband connections like China are so well represented, whereas Korea with its uber-fast residential broadband pipes seems to largely ignore the Pirate Bay. My theory was that faster broadband connections spur the development of cloud storage solutions that make P2P obsolete. Cottle believes that demographics play a role as well:

"Where broadband penetration is lower, internet users are often younger people, historically the largest demographic for file-sharing. As penetration increases, a country’s internee user base starts to be more representative of a country’s population, many of whom are less interested in peer to peer."

That seems plausible as well. Either way, it will be interesting to see what else we will be able to gather from the Pirate Bay's statistics. By the way, the map is now available both as a current snap-shot and a summary of user activity for the last 24 hours.

02/10 2009 | 03:25 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Trent Reznor did it, and Mike Masnick from Techdirt used his Midemnet presentation to explain how it worked. Here's the video:

(via hypebot)

02/10 2009 | 08:31 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The Participatory Culture Foundation is releasing version 2.0 of its Miro video player today. The new version features a streamlined UI that looks more professional than previous iterations as well as the option to integrate third party video platforms. Users can now easily access sites like Joost or Hulu from within the client. Part of the relaunch is also a completely redesigned homepage as well as a new channel guide.

Here's a video introducing the client and its new features:

Readers of this blog might also be interested in the fact that Miro features a built-in Bittorrent client based on the libtorrent library.

I've always thought that Miro was a great client in concept that was struggling with some technical issues. I played around with the official preview release to version 2.0 a couple of weeks ago and was positively surprised by the fact that it was actually runnng quite smoothly on older hardware, as I wrote back then for

We will see whether that's enough to actually win over any new users, but there's definitely a need for an alternative to iTunes when it comes to video podcasts, and Miro 2.0 could be a step in the right direction. And come to think of it: Wouldn't it be quite ironic if a media reform project like Miro would finally become popular because of its integration of a mainstream TV platform like Hulu?

02/09 2009 | 04:22 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Apple has started an online survey for users of the Apple TV device that among other things asks them about their DVD ripping and torrent downloading habits, Apple Insider reports. The survey asks users where exactly the videos on their Apple TV come from. One of the possible sources mentioned:

"Movies or TV shows from the Internet (Peer 2 peer, Bittorrent, other sources for downloading."

Users can also state how much of their video catalog comes from ripped DVDs. This is noteworthy because Apple TV officially doesn't support either, and ripping DVDs is illegal under the DMCA because it circumvents copy protection mechanisms.

So why dose Apple want to know this? One option is, as Apple Insider suggests, that the company is trying to get studios to allow the transfer of DVD copies to the device. From the Apple Insider article:

"Many observers have stated that the success of the iPod was in large part due to its ability to work with content users already had, particularly the tight integration with iTunes' ability to rip CDs. Apple TV lacks any ability to play back DVDs remotely, and requires a more complex, do-it-yourself process to transcode DVDs into playable files"

Another option would be that Apple just wants to start supporting more codecs to make the device more useful. Apple TV currently doesn't support DivX or Xvid playback, and Apple has historically been very keen on limiting the number of available codecs. Then again, the same could be said for Microsoft, and the software giant is including Xvid support in Windows 7.

Either way, Apple's interest in P2P is apparently not something the company wants to be widely discussed. The survey has been take offline after Apple Insider linked to it.

02/07 2009 | 03:08 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Sometimes it’s tough to be the winner. CNN attracted by far the largest online audience for its web stream of President Obama’s inauguration, delivering a total of 25 million streams on Jan. 20th. It did so by utilizing Octoshape’s P2P plug-in for Adobe’s Flash player, a fact that was widely known within the industry but only received very little coverage. Until yesterday, that is, when Windows Secrets suddenly came out blasting the network for “deceptive marketing,” alleging that CNN hijacked its users’ upload bandwidth. Others quickly jumped on the bandwagon, going so far as to suggest that “the most trusted name in news just stole your computer.”

I got in touch with CNN and Octoshape to get both sides of the story, which are, unsurprisingly, slightly different. Both companies reject the claim that they misled viewers. But Mike Wise, technical adviser of the R&D group of CNN parent company Turner Broadcasting System, had an even more important point to make: CNN used P2P, he told me, because it had to. Continue reading on

02/07 2009 | 11:28 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Techcrunch reported today that college music service Ruckus has shut down without any warning, leaving many of its users in the cold.

pic of ruckus shut down notice

Ruckus was a campus-based music subscription service that offered students free, ad-supported and DRM-protected music. From Techcrunch:

"We’re told that music that has not passed its “renew date” still works, but that music that has expired will no longer work because the DRM licensing server has apparently shut down."

Ruckus used Microsoft's Windows Media DRM to protect its music, and users hat to get a new license every 30 days, which means that there will be a whole lot of songs on hard disks in doorm rooms nationwide that will transform themselves into useless digital garbage within the next 30 days.

It's unclear how many users Ruckus had until it shut down, but the service had a substantial foot print in the college market: Ruckus had official relationships with 250 schools nationwide, and it claimed to have users at more than 1000 schools. Mashable reported back in 2007 that Ruckus clocked about 20 million song downloads per month.

However, the college market was apparently hard to monetize. Napster previously tried to get college students to sign onto its service with heavily discounted subscription rates that were bundled with tuition fees, but the company abandoned this idea last summer because it wasn't making them any money.

With Ruckus shut down, users will undoubtedly be looking for alternatives. I wouldn't be too surprised if many just go back to downloading music from P2P networks and sites like Rapidshare. However, this doesn't necessarily have to be a bad thing for the music industry. Warner Music hired online music visionary Jim Griffin a year ago to pursue the idea of legalizing file sharing throuh collective licenses, and Griffin is reportedly busy setting up a licensing body called Choruss.

First order of business for Choruss will be to license universities. The plan calls for students to pay a small fee as part of their tuition, maybe 5 dollars per month or so, and in return get the right to legally share music with their peers in any way they want. Swap MP3s with Limewire, download torrents from the Pirate Bay, restart those LAN sharing search engines, or whatever else they have in mind. With Ruckus shut down, universities could have yet another good reason to sign up for Choruss.

02/06 2009 | 12:49 PM
Posted by: Guest column

This is the argument the RIAA and similar groups make when explaining why downloading music is bad. Except, when you steal a CD, you get a misdemeanor, pay a couple bucks in fines, and the store has one less CD to sell. When you download a song, you get sued for up to $150,000 and no one has lost anything. It's like if you light your candle using someone else's candle and they sue you for stealing their flame. In other words, it makes perfect sense to consider copyright exactly the same as tangible property.

This comic and commentary by Terry Hart originally appeared on Hart draws his comics with a graphics tablet, and you can check out more of his stuff, including a great series about law school, here.

02/05 2009 | 10:51 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The New York Times published a good piece about movie and TV piracy today, which essentially rehashes the whole discussion about torrent and streaming media piracy for a more mainstream audience. The paper did get a few small things wrong, most notably the home country of Torrentfreak, but it also got one important point right: Piracy is so prevalent that you can't just litigate it out of existence.

That message even seems to have reached Hollywood. From the article:

"John Malcolm, the (MPAA's) director of worldwide antipiracy operations, said that although the group does not sue individuals for watching pirated videos, other lawsuits against Web sites are forthcoming, and he acknowledged that the challenge is stiff. 'There are a lot of very technologically sophisticated people out there who are very good at this and very good at hiding,' Mr. Malcolm said. 'We have limited resources to bring to the fight.' "

02/05 2009 | 12:11 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The folks at the Pirate Bay released a Google Maps mash-up Wednesday that illustrates its worldwide user base, with exact percentages by country. It’s a pretty fascinating project in that it helps to dispel certain myths about BitTorrent, namely that while piracy may be a global phenomenon, swapping movies via the Pirate Bay definitely isn’t. For example, did you know there are roughly as many BitTorrent users in Portugal as there are in all of the African countries put together? And that downloaders in Spain are neck-in-neck with those of the U.S. for the No. 2 slot?

Of course, a map like this doesn’t tell us everything. It’s only a temporary snapshot of the Pirate Bay’s user base, which could change any day. Previous studies have also indicated that folks in some countries just tend to prefer other P2P protocols to get their movies and TV shows. But the information it provides can help us map out the world of online piracy. Continue reading on

02/04 2009 | 05:56 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
I covered Project Kangaroo for Newteevee last week, describing how the BBC and its local nonprofit partners Channel 4 and ITV were hoping to replicate Hulu's success with their own web-based streaming and download platform. Part of the article was a reference to a study that blamed the lack of such a UK-based Hulu-like site for online piracy.

However, Project Kangaroo was contested by private broadcasters like Sky and Virgin that thought it might stifle commercial competition. Well, guess what: The UK's Competition Commission just ruled that Project Kangaroo won't be able to launch. Cnet UK has all the details:

"The Competition Commission found that Kangaroo 'would be too much of a threat to competition in this developing market and has to be stopped'"

I guess Sky and the likes won't have to fear any competition from the BBC and its partners now, and instead can watch people desert to the Pirate Bay ...

02/03 2009 | 10:50 AM
Posted by: Guest column
Every year Andy Baio does a very cool thing, he tracks how quickly the films nominated for the Oscars got leaked online to P2P networks. It’s interesting for a number of reasons, but primarily for demonstrating how unreliable the actual Academy members themselves are in keeping Hollywood’s goods off the Internet. Every year the results are relatively similar: usually within a week, or sometimes a bit longer, after an Academy screener is released a version of the movie is available for download via Bittorrent (to say nothing of Usenet, Rapidshare, etc.).

pic of movie posters

What would be interesting to see, however, is if the illegal downloading activity spiked after the nominations came out, to see if the file-sharing community is as affected by the hype surround Oscar nominations as the box office often is. Alas, that would be very difficult to study with any great confidence since the data is not really available. In general, though, the most reliable analysis of Bittorrent behavior is provided by TorrentFreak in their weekly top 10 lists, which generally show a strong correlation between mainstream audience taste and downloaders’ preferences, with some notable exceptions, that is, pretty much anything Science Fiction.

A couple of categories get overlooked by Andy, however, including the documentary and foreign nominees, and also whether any of the nominated films are available in HD resolutions. The documentary and foreign films are easy to skip since they barely appear on the radar of most film-goers to begin with, and HD is not something that is too relevant to Andy’s study as all of the official screeners are standard definition DVD’s.

As someone very interested in foreign and documentary films, however, I wanted to see what I could find out about their availability for download. The reality of file trading community is that while it tends to reflect a young, male, tech-savvy demographic, it is also vast, diverse, and maturing. Napster was almost 10 years ago, and the first large-scale video sharing happened after 1998 with the release of DeCSS, early versions of DivX, and The Matrix DVD.

In other words, there are a large number of file traders who have been doing it for some time, and their tastes have likely developed as well. It would not surprise me if there is a large amount children’s video available for download, as the initial generation of traders got older and started having kids. But fundamentally, a savvy video downloader likely has a far better library of available content than any one legitimate service could possibly provide, and that includes the relatively esoteric world of foreign and documentary films, and while not every one of the Oscar nominees are currently uploaded, quite a few of them are.

Two of the documentaries and three of the foreign films have been leaked as screeners, so exactly half of these two categories combined. Better than the rest of the nominees to be sure, but there clearly is some interest at least in these films.

leak dates spreadsheet

On the question of HD, since none of the screeners were in high-def, the leaks of the nominated films in better resolution versions tracks when they became available commercially. My guess is that this situation will change in the future as more Academy members become comfortable with Blu-Ray. After all, Oscar films are precisely the kinds of movies that benefit from a better visual presentation and while seeing them in the theaters would be optimal, if home viewing is the only option, Blu-Ray is certainly preferable to standard DVD. Of the feature nominees in all categories, 13 are available in HD (720p, h.264 codec, mkv container), including two of the documentaries, although none of the best picture films that usually come out closer to the end of the year.

hd leaks spreadsheet

It will be interesting to see what the future holds. How quickly will the studios switch to Blu-Ray for their screeners? My guess is not very quickly as Blu-Ray adoption in general is still pretty weak. Will the studios try other forms of DRM? None the previous systems worked, so that remains unlikely. Maybe a future studio will try to allow streaming of a potential nominee to Academy members, a sort of a closed Hulu approach. That might actually keep the content off P2P networks, but would be difficult to set up and maintain, and might not work for the notoriously non-techy Academy.

This post by Bruce Lidl originally appeared on Bruce is an expert in PR, marketing, community outreach, and social media and especially interested in the intersection of HD and P2P.

02/02 2009 | 04:44 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Some European countries have been moving towards a so-called three strikes model to disconnect repeat P2P infringers from the Internet, but Germany's not having it. The German Department of Justice recently met up with leading ISPs for a confidential consultation to discuss the music industry's new favored strategy against piracy.

There isn't too much know about what went down behind closed doors, but the German IT news service is reporting that both sides agreed that Three Strikes is incompatible with German pirvacy and telecommunications laws. Participating ISPs called the meeting "successful", according to

The German music industry would probably disagree. The local IFPI branch recently complained that Germany's entertainment industry is going to have a competitive diadvantage if countries like Ireland enact Three Strikes, but Germany doesn't. Ireland's biggest ISP Eircom recently agreed in an out-of-court settlement with major music labels to forward warning notices to alleged infringers. Users that are caught three times will find heir accounts terminated.

Update: The German blog Spreeblick wanted to know more and asked Germany's Secretary of Justice Brigitte Zypries for an official statement. Zypries did actually respond, and her answer leaves few doubts that we won't see a Three Strikes-type scenario in Germany anytime soon. Here's what Zyrpies had to say:

"I don't think that (Three Strikes) is a fitting model for Germany or even Europe. Preventing someone from accessing the Internet seems like a completely unreasonable punishment to me. It would be highly problematic due to both constitutional and political aspects. I'm sure that once the first disconnects are going to happen in France, we will be hearing the outcry all the way to Berlin."