Hulu’s good for stimulating more than multi-billion-dollar buyout bids; as it turns out, the service can send impatient content-seekers to illegal P2P downloads in droves, too. Just a few weeks ago, we speculated whether or not Fox’s new eight day delay for online content would send those of you without a cable subscription to Pirate Bay, or if the online horde would patiently wait the extra week for their Family Guy fix. Well, the policy’s gone live, and it looks like online viewers aren’t the sit around and wait type.
The best laughs in the country aren't found in comedy clubs or celebrity-filled roasts; if you want to really put the "L" in ROFL, you need to turn towards the court system. In today's humor-filled disposition, a store owner accused of selling illegal copies of DVDs says no, sir, he wasn't selling copyrighted DVDs – that's illegal, after all. He was actually giving the movies away for free, you see, and his customers were forking over $5 "donations" for the DVD cases.
Creative associations and ISPs have been trying to cast copyright-infringing file-sharers as digital boogeymen for years now. They've also been lobbying for a version of the Internet based around baseball: three copyright violation strikes and you're out of the Internet, cut off not just from P2P but also Twitter, email and MaximumPC.com. "Hold your horses," says a special report by the UN’s Human Rights Council. Apparently, three-strikes-style laws aren't just a ridiculous overreaction, they're a violation of human rights.
Time Warner Cable doesn't necessarily have the greatest reputation when it comes to looking out for its customers best interests, but luckily for those who were unfortunate enough to try and pirate Uwe Boll's Far Cry 2 it will simply cost them too much to accommodate the lawyers. An independent DC legal outfit has requested the identity of more than 2,000 TWC customers, which in addition to exceeding their current staffing capabilities costs them approximately $45 each.
"Time Warner Cable does not have enough employees to respond to these requests. In a typical month, the company receives an average of 567 IP lookup requests, nearly all of them coming from law enforcement. These lookup requests involve everything from suicide threats to child abduction to terrorist activity, and the company says that such cases take "immediate priority."
The ISP's Subpoena Compliance team at Time Warner currently consists of four full-time workers and one temp who simply don't have enough hours in the day to honor all the requests. The company claims it currently has the capacity to handle about 28 non-critical subpoenas per month, which far exceeds the 809 in 30 days filed by the DC law firm.
One could argue that simply watching Uwe Boll's latest masterpiece is cruel and unusual punishment anyway, so the exact motivation behind the legal proceedings has us somewhat mystified. Perhaps they are hoping for a few glowing box quotes from pirates desperate to avoid a criminal record to help overshadow all the crummy reviews.
Rapidshare is one of the most popular file-hosting services in the world. It is not in an entirely enviable position, though, as the affection it commands among its patrons is offset by the contempt it receives from content owners affected by the abundance of unauthorized content on its servers. The courts have time and again made it clear Rapidshare has no choice but to proactively filter content. Having been pushed into a tight corner, the Germany-based file host has come up with a plan to pacify the entertainment industry.
“If a user finds out that several attempts to download an illegal copy of a DVD are in vain, and if his several attempts to ’steal’ this DVD have just brought him to an online-store, he may finally be frustrated and willing to purchase a licensed version of this movie,” Chang wrote in a letter to entertainment industry executives. “We are willing to invest substantially into this online store and I would be glad to not just talk about RapidShare as a threat for the entertainment industry, but also about RapidShare as an interesting option to sell your products.”
Rapidshare owes most of the several petabytes of data it hosts to its popularity as a safe haven for both uploaders and downloaders of unauthorized content. It is difficult to imagine its success without the free reign its users have enjoyed over the years, although it denies ever conniving at illegal file sharing. Ironically, Rapidshare has no recollection of its past business practices and even accuses competitors of “trying really hard to gain the favor of those users, who rely on cyberlockers to spread and distribute copyright protected content.”