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Block Pirate Bay: UK High Court to ISPs

The British High Court has ruled that Sky, Everything Everywhere, TalkTalk, O2 and Virgin Media, nearly every UK-based ISP, must block access to The Pirate Bay. The move will strip access by internet users in the UK, to the notorious bit-torrent tracker. The Pirate Bay responded, saying that they are not concerned with yet another court-ordered blockade, and pointed out that there are just too many ways to circumvent such censorship. British ISPs responded, saying that they will comply with the ruling.

Source: Torrent Freak

Medal of Honor: Warfighter this October

EA and game developer Danger Close have announced the latest installment of the Medal of Honor franchise will debut this October 23. With a rocking trailer and a few screens the game seems to be going a route similar to a style of the classic Call of Duty games which used various Special Forces operators from multiple countries. The synopsis over at Shacknews had this to say about the game, 'Remember when US Navy SEALs rescued hostages from Somali pirates? How many of you thought "that would be a great level in a game?" Apparently, the team at Danger Close also thought so.

Medal of Honor: Warfighter is the studio's second stab at the rebooted FPS franchise from EA. Whereas the previous game was all about the fight in Afghanistan, Warfighter promises a "global fight," one comprised of real-world events that happen all around the globe. At a Game Developers Conference event in San Francisco last night, Electronic Arts showed off a hands-off demonstration of Warfighter's new direction. The demo level took place in the Philippines, where you were in an assault against Abu Sayyaf in an effort to rescue hostages. This mission isn't inspired by fiction. It happened in real life. "Getting inside this kind of real world event is at the heart of Medal of Honor," executive producer Greg Goodrich told the audience.


Pirate Bay Unveils "Portable Site", RIAA/MPAA's Worst Nightmare Weighs 90 Megabytes

This is arguably every copyright enforcement group's worst nightmare, The Pirate Bay, which calls itself "the most resilient bit-torrent site in the galaxy", unveiled what is known as its "portable version", meaning, when taken down by an enforcement agency, any person, in any part of the world can restore the site, because it now weighs just 90 megabytes. That's right, the 90 MB copy of the site itself contains all its HTML, script and static images, and Magnet Links to over 1,643,194 torrents spread across all its categories.

A little earlier this year, The Pirate Bay transitioned from being a host for .torrent files to a host for magnet:// links. This transition means that each torrent consisted of a typically 50 KB .torrent file, is now reduced to a <1 KB Magnet link in the resource. The copy of the site itself is there for anyone to copy. Enforcement agencies' worst nightmare indeed weighs just 90 MB.

Sources: The Verge, TorrentFreak

Ubisoft Server Maintenance To Render Always-Online DRM Games Unplayable

Next week, Ubisoft will be performing large-scale server maintenance, which could see its DRM-handling go offline. It would directly impact some games that are designed to work with Ubisoft's infamous "Always-Online" DRM, which requires gamers to be connected to the internet when playing games enabled with it. Tom Clancy’s HAWX 2, Might & Magic: Heroes 6 and The Settlers 7 will be unplayable during the course of maintenance. Bigger titles such as Assassin’s Creed: Revelations and Driver: San Francisco, however, will stay online for the duration of the switch-over. Ubisoft is loathed for its hyper-strict DRM that requires you to ping their DRM servers every few moments to reassure them you're not a pirate. It is even known to limit activations to your graphics card. This is yet another example where DRM only ends up hurting legitimate users more than piracy.

Source: PC Gamer

Pirate Bay Founders Stare At Jailtime as Supreme Court Rejects Appeal

Sweden's Supreme Court decided not to grant leave to appeal in the long-running Pirate Bay criminal trial. This translates to the earlier judgement of the Swedish Court of Appeal being upheld. In November 2010, the lower court had found four of the founders of The Pirate Bay, Peter Sunde, Fredrik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm, and Carl Lundström, guilty of criminal copyright infringement. Although Fredrik Neij, Peter Sunde and Carl Lundström all had their prison sentences decreased from the levels ordered at their original 2009 trial, they were ordered to pay increased damages amounting to millions of dollars to the plaintiffs in the entertainment industry.

Peter Sunde, AKA Brokep, faces 8 months in prison. Fredrik Neij, AKA TiAMO, faces 10 months. Businessman Carl Lundström has the lightest sentence of 4 months. All will have to pay their share of a combined 46 million Kronor (US $6.8 million) in damages. In related news, the operators of Pirate Bay changed the domain name of their site from *.org to *.se to prevent seizure by the US Government.

Source: TorrentFreak 1, 2

Origin Expands Games Catalog, DRM-Free Evangelist Joins DRM Scheme

Origin is the fledgling online download account-based DRM service from Electronic Arts launched last June, that is home to Battlefield 3. To compete effectively against other similar services, the industry-leading Steam in particular, it must offer more content. To this end, Origin has added 11 publishers to its portfolio, reports CVG. These are Trion Worlds, Robot Entertainment, Freebird Games, Recoil Games, Autumn Games, 1C Company, inXile entertainment, Paradox Interactive, Core Learning Ltd, N3V Games and CD Projekt RED. That last one is interesting, because CD Projekt RED owns and runs www.gog.com, the website dedicated to selling DRM-free games.

In Wake Of SOPA Defeat and Rising Profits, IFPI Calls For 'SOPA Plus' Migraine Tablet

Yes, that's right, SOPA might have been set back for now, but the vested interests from the big media corporations (music/movies/news etc) that want it implemented unsurprisingly aren't sitting idle and are pushing for ever more draconian measures aka 'SOPA Plus'. A digital music report (PDF) asks for everything that was in the original SOPA and then some, with a wishlist of seven 'fixes':

The Pirate Bay Shifts Away From Torrents, Replaces Them With DHT

Famous and very popular media search engine, The Pirate Bay, perpetually in the crosshairs of Big Media to shut it down, is to shift away from torrent files from next month and replace them with Distributed Hash Table (DHT) and Peer Exchange (PEX) technology reports ExtremeTech. They have actually been using these for quite a while now, as this is the technology underlying their Magnet links which have appeared next to the torrent links as an alternative way to download. They have done this, because torrent files are stored centrally on a web server, which makes them vulnerable to aggressive rights holders who want to take them down, while Magnet links are decentralized "trackerless", removing this vulnerability. Also, at the moment, it's impossible for anti-piracy outfits to tell how many files a user is sharing when using Magnet links, or what they are. From next month therefore, only Magnet links will be available. Note that Magnet links are compatible with various anonymizing services, for anonymous downloading, but there can be a significant performance impact on those services. In fact, TPB has been using Magnet links with torrents for some now too, but just did so quietly, without telling anyone.

Popular BitTorrent clients such as uTorrent already use Magnet links as easily as torrent files, so there won't be much difference to the user experience. The main difference, is that they can take a bit longer to get going, but the final download speed isn't any less, due to the cascading exponential pyramid nature of incoming peer connections guaranteed to max out any internet connection, when there are enough peers.

An Open Letter to the Gaming Community from CD Projekt RED

A month ago, we reported that CD Projekt RED, makers of The Witcher 2 had claimed that they could identify '100% of pirates' and had started an RIAA-style 'settlement letter' shakedown (extortion) tactic in Germany. Well, unsurprisingly, this hasn't gone down too well with their customers and the outcry has been loud and strong, especially on gog.com, where their forums have been full of posts from disgruntled customers. Well, it looks like the pressure has gotten too much for them and they have backpedalled furiously on this decision and issued an open letter, published on rockpapershotgun.com. In it, they state that they want people to continue to have faith in them and stressed how they're still totally against 'piracy' of their products and appealed for gamers to refrain from engaging in it:
In early December, an article was published about a law firm acting on behalf of CD Projekt RED, contacting individuals who had downloaded The Witcher 2 illegally and seeking financial compensation for copyright infringement. The news about our decision to combat piracy directly, instead of with DRM, spread quickly and with it came a number of concerns from the community. Repeatedly, gamers just like you have said that our methods might wrongly accuse people who have never violated our copyright and expressed serious concern about our actions.

Anno 2070's Draconian DRM: Guru3D's Graphics Card Review Killed Off

Anno 2070's Draconian DRM: Guru3D's Graphics Card Review Killed Off (UPDATED)

Hilbert Hagedoorn of well-known PC tech review site guru3d.com recently bought a copy of Ubisoft's Anno 2070 and wanted to use it in one of his graphics card reviews. However, he became badly unstuck. This game comes on the Steam platform and the store page states: "3rd-party DRM: Solidshield Tages SAS 3 machine activation limit". Unfortunately for Guru3D, they found out exactly what this means, which resulted in just one performance graph, an aborted review, an unplayable game – and bad publicity for Ubisoft once again. They have published an article about their experience, pledging not to use their titles again because of this DRM.

Now GOG.com Joins Opposition to SOPA and PIPA

The highly controversial SOPA & PIPA bills currently being rushed through Congress by Big Media are encountering ever more opposition from minor and major players alike, such as Google. Now gog.com, owned by parent company CD Projekt RED, has come out against these bills too and are one of many games companies to do so. They address the questions of "will it work?" and "will it stop piracy?" with the answers being sort-of and no.

Church Of Kopimism: The New File Sharing Religion

Church Of Kopimism: The New File Sharing Religion (updated)

With file sharers all over the world being hunted by copyright holders and aided by the governments they lobby, there's now a new angle to this fight: file sharers turn their hobby into a religion. Since 2010, a group of self-confessed Swedish 'pirates' have tried to have their beliefs recognized as an official religion, but were denied several times. However, just before Christmas, they have finally succeeded in convincing the authorities that the Church Of Kopimism is a real, genuine bona fide religion. How they exactly achieved this isn’t clear, however. The Missionary Church of Kopimism was founded by philosophy student Isak Gerson, who is one of a large group of Swedes that believe file copying to be a sacred act. Gerson is ecstatic at this development and hopes more people will now feel able to come out as 'Kopimists'.

Gerson explained to TorrentFreak, "I think that more people will have the courage to step out as Kopimists. Maybe not in the public, but at least to their close ones. There’s still a legal stigma around copying for many. A lot of people still worry about going to jail when copying and remixing. I hope in the name of Kopimi that this will change."

The Most Pirated Games of 2011

Today Kotaku is reporting the top 5 games pirated for major platforms this year according to TorrentFreak. As usual the PC platform is the most guilty almost doubling in pirated copies then its competitors.

Some of the titles listed are not surprising but the lack of a certain title filled with dragon slaying is. Why Skyrim didn't make the top five is anyone's guess. Either Steam is in fact the most user friendly DRM or people just love Skyrim. Either way this is just a small glimpse into the world of pirated software.

Top Five Pirated PC Games

1. Crysis 2 (3,920,000) (March 2011)
2. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (3,650,000) (November 2011)
3. Battlefield 3 (3,510,000) (October 2011)
4. FIFA 12 (3,390,000) (September 2011)
5. Portal 2 (3,240,000) (April 2011)Source: Kotaku

Hurt Locker Copyright Extortion Racket In Tatters, Plaintiffs' Hypocrisy

Voltage Pictures, producers of movie Hurt Locker attempted to use a reverse class action tactic to extort hundreds of millions in 'settlement' claims aka extortion demands over alleged 'losses' due to 'piracy' – something that has never and can never, be quantified and proved. However, their attempt has failed miserably – plus read on for how Voltage Pictures did a little content 'theft' of their very own to make the movie.

The idea was to use the services of the US Copyright Group (USCG) to extract personal subscriber information from ISP's via subpoenas and then send demand letters averaging US $2,000 to hapless victims, with the hope of racking in a grand total of around US $94 million - way more than the film ever made, about US $12.6 million.
The USCG quickly unloaded lawsuit claims against 47K members of the unwitting American public, even as Voltage Picture spewed a stream of vitriol suggesting that the children and families of file sharers would hopefully "end up in jail".
explained DailyTech, putting it very well. Yes, let's get the kiddies in the name of corporate copyright and profit...

Congress Debates SOPA, Hypocritically Downloads Illegally Itself

Almost everyone who understands something about technology will have heard of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) (H.R.3261) currently being debated in the U.S. House. This is internet censorship legislation by any other name and anyone that doesn't have a vested interest in it like the big media cartels is against it. This is because it hands almost total control of the internet to powerful (read: money) special interest groups, allowing them to shut down websites at the mere whiff of an accusation of 'piracy', however small and however unfounded. This will easily ruin many legitimate businesses, all on the pretext of 'protecting copyright' from supposed 'financial losses' due to content 'theft'. It also does an awful lot of other things, all of them bad, which are fully detailed in the link above. Now, if anyone thinks that this is far-fetched, just look at how the current 'darling' of the internet, GoDaddy operates: they pulled the DNS records of weebly.com, because of one little complaint against the site and without even contacting the domain owner first to advise of the situation. Disgraceful. Give them SOPA and a webmaster doesn't stand a chance, regardless of their size.

uTorrent Goes Freemium: $24.95/Yr Option For Extra Features

Well, it looks like the freemium model of selling software is working quite well in the industry, as Bram Cohen's very popular BitTorrent application, uTorrent, has just adopted this model. Known for being fast, efficient and light on system resources, it has now gained a few pounds, sorry features in version 3, some of which are available only for a subscription of $24.95 per year. These include things like an antivirus scanner powered by BitDefender, a media player and integrated support for converting popular video file types such as MPEG4, H.264, Theora, and VP8, as well as MP3, AAC and AC-3 audio files. The media player is interesting, in that it allows playback of videos that are still downloading. Note that this feature is also available in the free version.

For those that still want to hang on to the lean and mean free version, it's still available and isn't going away any time soon. Both versions can be compared here. Perhaps it's ironic that this legal application which is often used for software "piracy" can now itself be pirated… Cohen's take on this will be interesting.


Source: TechSpot
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