Napster Founder Bringing $50 Movie Rentals to the Home

Sean Parker, philanthropist, Napster founder, and Facebook investor, is said to be working on a project to bring $50 movie rentals to the home. $50? For a movie? Is he nuts? Well, not exactly. Parker’s plan is to make movies available to home viewers on the day of their cinema release, calling the project Screening Room. No need to venture to your latest cinema, nor wait the industry standard 8-12 weeks for the DVD or Blu-Ray release; Screening Room is designed to allow home viewing of new films, while maintaining the prestige (and profit margin) of a box office release.

According to Variety, Screening Room rentals would be transmitted via internet to a $150 set-top box, with each $50 rental available for 48 hours. Parker is keen to get the backing of Hollywood studios for the endeavour, offering them 40% of the takings, while Screening Room would only take an agent’s fee of 10%. The rest of the takings would go to film distributors.

While AMC, the largest cinema chain in the world, is thought to be on-board already, many in Hollywood are resistant to the idea. “This news is so damaging,” one anonymous studio distribution executive told Deadline. “I can’t tell you right now how unhappy I am.” Another insider warned that Screening Room “would be the beginning of the end, and half of the theaters in this country would close.”

Despite their fears, a Variety Twitter poll suggests that film fans are not overly enamoured of the idea:

Image courtesy of Business Insider.

Hackers Hit Hollywood Hospital With Ransomware

It seems that no system is beyond the reach of hackers out to line their own pockets. For almost an entire week, the Hollywood Presbyterian Memorial Medical Center has been without its computer systems, due to the system being taken down by a hack that is described as ransomware.

Without their computer systems, the staff at the hospital have been forced to switch back to pen and paper to take patient records and logs. More worrying is the inability to access medical records of patients which could heavily affect the care they receive. Those patients that require specific care, such as lab tests, scans or pharmacy tasks have been temporarily transferred to other nearby facilities as all of these are currently impaired by the hack.

The hack is currently under investigation by both the LAPD and FBI, however, there is yet to be any conclusive evidence about the culprit. The exact extent of the hack is currently unclear, but it is known that the attackers are demanding the sum of 9000 bitcoin, or around $3.5 million for the encryption key to regain access to the hospital systems. President and CEO at the hospital Allen Stefanek has come out stating that the attack was believed to be random and not maliciously directed at the facility.

It is shocking that a facility as important to the lives of many as a hospital can be affected by such a hack, with no backups available or a swifter way of tackling the issue. This could come as a wake-up call to other hospitals to toughen up their cyber security, or they could befall the same fate and put the lives of their patients at risk.

Popcorn Time Ramps Up For Full Comeback

When the main fork of popular torrent video-on-demand app Popcorn Time closed in October, citing legal issues and splits within the development team, many suspected that the so-called “Netflix for pirates” was a goner.

But it seems that reports of Popcorn Time’s demise has been greatly exaggerated, with the developers releasing a new version of the platform, utilising new APIs to display content – and replacing the now-defunct YTS with TorrentsAPI as its movie provider – via reddit.

The new Popcorn Time also features a new VPN service to protect users and bypass countrywide blocks on sources used by the streaming app. VPN.ht is owned by Wally, who just happens to be the head developer for Popcorn Time. Wally told TorrentFreak that, by pairing the two programs, he could envision a fully functional Popcorn Time again very soon.

“I am still considering a full comeback, I just do not want to release a half working version,” Wally said.

While Popcorn Time allows users to view copyrighted content for free, Wally sees the service not as opportunist theft but instead as a lesson to Hollywood as to what film lovers want and how to give it to them. “The popularity of Popcorn Time should be an example for the MPAA to a build a future streaming platform that will be open to the entire world,” Wally asserts.

Hollywood is to Blame for the Popularity of Popcorn Time

Hollywood is in the midst of an aggressive assault against “Netflix for pirates” movie streaming app Popcorn Time and its users, but the owners of Popcorn Time insists that its VOD service isn’t the problem, Hollywood’s lack of legal rival is. In a statement to TorrentFreak, the Popcorn Time team argues that the US film industry is suffering a problem of its own making, born out of a combination of greed and ignorance of the digital market.

“People are ready to pay a fee, but a lot of them currently refuse to pay for a petty catalog with country-specific restrictions,” says the Popcorn Time team. “The price can also be a hurdle for some people: $20 a month is not the same in Uganda and the United States. But obviously, the most problematic issue is the complete lack of legal availability in some places.”

Popcorn Time takes aim specifically at Hollywood’s counter-intuitive regional deals, protected by geo-blocks, as a way in which potential consumers are being turned off. “Why would people in France wait two years to see a movie that’s already being broadcasted in the US, when they both are paying almost the same amount of money?” the team asks. “The Internet has brought people closer, and they start to notice that some things aren’t acceptable. And then they turn to alternatives, even if it means diving into illegality.”

“Maybe it is time to consider the will of the people and offer them a legal, complete and useful service, no matter where they were born, instead of trying to punish people for… well, for wanting the see the content artists and industries are offering,” Popcorn Time adds, in one final swipe. “Currently, piracy is fulfilling the demand of the people because the industry fails at the transition into the modern age. We think it’s as simple as that.”

Thank you TorrentFreak for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Dribble.

MPAA Seeking Programmer to Take Down Pirates

Are you a software programmer in need of a job? Do you hate people who torrent the latest instalment in the Twilight franchise (brave stance, I know)? Yes? Then the Motion Picture Association of America wants you! The MPAA is an organisation with a history of throwing its weight around to get its own way, resorting to duplicitous and Machiavellian schemes when that doesn’t work. Now, it intends to take the law into its own hands, seeking to hire a software programmer to hunt, track, and report on computer users suspected of sharing any copyrighted content that falls within the MPAA’s purview.

A job posting has revealed that the Software Programmer will work directly under the Vice President of Internet Content Protection, and responsibilities include developing tools to monitor and collect large amounts of data on pirates.

“They will develop and use automated tools for gathering large amounts of data from online websites and resources, and generate meaningful statistics to help guide and bolster enforcement actions,” reads the application.

Key Responsibilities are listed as:

  • Assist the Vice President and Internet Intelligence Managers in developing and executing a global internet strategy.
  • Designing and developing applications; tasks include programming, coding and debugging, both for proprietary and third-party systems.
  • Develop scripts for conducting automated scrapes of online information for intelligence gathering and enforcement purposes.
  • Conduct detailed forensic analysis of online content, including reviewing technical infrastructure of online platforms and sites.
  • Analyze, investigate and report on websites at the code level (PHP, HTML, JavaScript, CSS, etc.).
  • Organizing the intake of vendor-supplied information into internal tracking and case management systems.
  • Monitor, investigate and report on copyright infringement occurring online via established and emerging content distribution technologies.
  • Creating, developing and/or revising business processes and applications to aid in the streamlining of Internet Intelligence activities.
  • Perform customized trainings with self-produced materials on technical topics in support of internal staff, association members and law enforcement.

If the MPAA put as much energy into making film content more easily accessible into persecuting those that download torrents, it might actually Onbecome effective at fighting piracy. Some may think Hollywood doesn’t really care.

Thank you TorrentFreak for providing us with this information.

E-mails Reveal MPAA Planned Media Campaign to Smear Google

Back in December last year, we brought you a story revealing that Google had filed a lawsuit against the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and Mississippi State Attorney General Jim Hood, with whom it is alleged the MPAA has a more than cosy relationship with. The lawsuit accuses Hood of working with the MPAA, the banner under which major Hollywood studios operate, to launch a secret campaign to attack Google. The campaign, which was codenamed Goliath, was discovered thanks to leaked documents from last year’s Sony Pictures hack.

Since the lawsuit was filed, Hollywood studios have resisted Google’s subpoenas regarding their relationship with Hood, who is accused of investigating Google at the behest of the MPAA, denying the company its First Amendment rights in the process. Some of the materials Google has managed to lay its hands on through the filing, however, have uncovered the shocking revelation that Hood and the MPAA were conspiring to use Hollywood’s media arms, including popular morning television show The Today Show and the Wall Street Journal newspaper, to publicly smear Google in its effort to undermine the internet giant. The e-mails were revealed during a new filing on Thursday (23rd July).

A segment from an incriminating e-mail reads:

Media: We want to make sure that the media is at the NAAG meeting. We propose working with MPAA (Vans), Comcast, and NewsCorp (Bill Guidera) to see aboutworking with a PR firm to create an attack on Google (and others who are resisting AG efforts to address online piracy). This PR firm can be funded through a nonprofit dedicated to IP issues. The “live buys” should be available for the media to see, followed by a segment the next day on the Today Show (David green can help with this). After the Today Show segment, you want to have a large investor of Google (George can help us determine that) come forward and say that Google needs to change its behavior/demand reform. Next, you want NewsCorp to develop and place an editorial in the WSJ emphasizing that Google’s stock will lose value in the face of a sustained attack by AGs and noting some of the possible causes of action we have developed.

Not only does the e-mail reveal a covert and coordinated media attack on Google, but flat-out admits that the Google-bashing inflammatory content pushed through The Today Show and the WSJ would be developed by the MPAA. Beyond the MPAA’s insidious Goliath campaign, this disclosure calls into question all editorial content within The Today Show, the Wall Street Journal, and any and all media outlets owned or run by major Hollywood studios.

Thank you TechDirt for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Variety.

New Images from Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice

Who’s the better superhero isn’t something you should say out loud in a comic book shop, but it might be a question that will be answered for some in the upcoming Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice movie.

Comic-Con in Sand Diego is less than a week away and it is just pure logic that we would get some new images from the new science fiction movie around this time. The new images come to us thanks to Entertainment Weekly and we would like to share them with you too. We know that a lot of people are looking forward to this movie.

As you’ll know by now, the film finds Kal-El (Henry Cavill) going up against Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) as a world-weary Batman decides that Superman is just too much of a threat to ignore.

Naturally Batman can’t fight someone like Superman on his own, he’s just a guy with gear – so that gear has been upgraded and reinforced with some handy Kryptonite.

Batman and Superman aren’t the only two superheroes you’ll get to see in this movie, Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) is also present.

These are all basically good guys (and girl) and a Hollywood movie can’t be a Hollywood movie without a real bad guy. And who better than good old Lex Luthor.

Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice is scheduled for March 25th next year, so we still need a little patience in that regards. Until then you can watch the official teaser trailer and more fresh pictures below.

 

Thank You EW for providing us with this information

Whistleblower Reveals Hollywood is Exploiting Video on Demand Services

Advocates of video piracy have long justified its existence though studios failing to make their content conveniently (legally) available. Over recent years, positive steps have been taken to facilitate this aim, thanks to high-profile video-on-demand services, such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Instant Video. While great for consumers, it seems that Hollywood is exploiting these services, holding them to ransom in order to take the majority of the profits, according to a whistleblower that spoke to TorrentFreak.

The anonymous source, who works for an unnamed VoD service, revealed that major studios set terms they know streaming services can’t turn down if they want content they can provide to customers, forcing them to host bad films in order to access the good ones, while leaching up to 70% of revenue shares from streamed movies.

The source said:

For quite some time we’ve been working with “Major Studios” such as Warner Bros, Walt Disney, Universal, Sony, 20th Century Fox and Paramount. We would like to refer to it as collaboration, but unfortunately it’s really been a one way street thus far. Money transits and the final destination is the Majors’ pockets.

For a video on demand (VOD) operator to distribute any given catalogue, it must pay “Minimum Guarantees (MG’s)” to the studio. This allows one to exploit the catalogue. Mind you, you don’t get to choose what you pay for. That would be too simple.

Output deals are the norm and in essence they mean you need to take every licensed film as part of a single deal. If you want the latest blockbuster, you must also take the latest winner of the Golden Raspberry awards, and take our word for it, there are some pretty unworthy films in there. These Minimum Guarantees are quoted in millions of dollars per deal, and as a result VOD services like ourselves have to operate on very small profit margins.

On top of MG’s, distributors must also agree to pay revenue shares. Should the sales top the Minimum Guarantee on a given year the rev share kicks in. Revenue shares are usually in the studio’s favor (between 70% and 50% depending on whether we’re speaking of recent releases or old ones).

If a given platform manages to recoup its costs it must also share its future revenue with the Rights Holder, while providing the majority of the value chain involved in a streaming service: Storage, streaming costs, platform development, DRM licenses and geoblocking tools.

Platforms have 90 days to pay for a Minimum Guarantee if they expect to turn a profit on a film. And keep in mind most of the profit just gets funneled back to the studios anyway with the revenue share clause. After that a title simply gets pulled off their catalogues to allow for Pay-TV and linear TV distribution. The title can come back in the catalogue after 12 to 18 months, given of course that it’s properly paid for.

The whistleblower later cites studio policies as evidence that tackling piracy is merely a smokescreen, saying:

Surely this is because piracy is not hurting them as much as they want us to believe. By cutting some slack to their partners they would have concrete tools to cut down piracy. They’re simply too comfortable to consider that as an option.

Remember this next time you download a movie: Hollywood could make it easily and legally accessible, benefiting both themselves and the consumer. They just don’t want to.

Thank you TorrentFreak for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Swisscom.

Hollywood Wants Exception to Net Neutrality Rules to Fight Pirates

Hollywood thinks it’s special, and can play by its own rulebook in its fight against online piracy, so the latest move by the Motion Picture Association (MPA) to bypass Brazil’s “Internet Constitution” – essentially the country’s version of net neutrality legislation – in order to block pirates is very much in character. The MPA has appealed to Brazilian Justice Minister to amend the Brazilian Civil Rights Framework for the Internet (Marco Civil da Internet), still in its infancy, to allow special exceptions for choking traffic to notorious torrent sites.

In its appeal to Justice Minister José Eduardo Cardozo, the MPA writes:

“[Our] position is that the regulation should contain cases of exception to the general rule of net neutrality, enabling the judiciary to determine that traffic to a given illegal repository can be blocked.”

“The aforementioned suggestion is based on the premise that an adequate service must be in harmony with the possibility of allowing the judiciary to block access to content that, based on judicial scrutiny, is illegal for any reason, from a case of child pornography and trafficking of illegal substances, to the case of systematic disregard for the consumer and violation of intellectual property rights.”

The Marco Civil da Internet legislation has been in development since 2009 and is designed to protect online privacy and net neutrality. What the MPA is asking for is the addition of a “But…”, giving Hollywood studios the privilege – something the film industry is already swimming in – to abuse those privacy and net neutrality laws for the sake of money.

The new law has been in place for a year this month, and was fast-tracked after the Edward Snowden leak back in 2013. Amongst confidential documents revealed by Snowden were cables indicating that the US had been intercepting Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s private phone calls and e-mails, as well as digital data from Petrobras – Brazil’s biggest oil company – and millions of Brazilian citizens.

Thank you TorrentFreak for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of apcm.org

Daniel Radcliff Set to Star in Upcoming Grand Theft Auto Movie

Daniel Radcliffe, widely known for his role in the Harry Potter movies, is reportedly undergoing talks with BBC TV officials to get the lead role in an upcoming Grand Theft Auto inspired movie.

Before everyone gets overly excited expecting to see a lot of explosions, excessive drug use or whatever you may think appropriate for Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto, you should know that the upcoming title will be based on the book Jacked: The Outlaw Story of Grand Theft Auto.

The book is said to emphasise the high-profile fight between Rockstar Games creator Sam Houser and Miami lawyer Jack Thompson in the wake of the release of GTA 3. Hollywood Reporter also states that Radcliffe is to play Houser in the movie.

“Unlike many coding success stories, Grand Theft Auto was not created in Silicon Valley — it was the brainchild of a bunch of British gaming geniusus who had known each other since their school days,” BBC wrote in a blog.

“GTA offered gamers the chance to step into a fantasy world where they could behave like criminals, gun down rival gangsters and cops, hijack cars and venture deeper into an imaginary American gangland underworld.”

“But the violent gameplay coupled with its outstanding success led to fierce opposition: from parents worried about children immersing themselves in such a violent world; from politicians, alarmed at the values it encourages; and above all from moral-campaigners, who have fought passionately to stop it.”

Lastly, Owen Harris, the director of Misfits and Black Mirror, is said to be in charge of the upcoming movie, which is expected to begin shooting in late April.

Thank you News.com.au for providing us with this information

LG Electronics Starts Promoting 8K UHD Displays

While 4K UHD displays haven’t even been adopted properly due to the high prices, lack of content and sufficient performance of graphics adapters, LG goes further ahead and begins promoting the next step in resolution, the 8K UHD.

LG has reminded in a new press release that it is working on releasing 8K UHD 7680 x 4320 pixels displays, namely the 98-inch Color Prime Ultra HDTV presented at CES 2015. The company has also stated that it has improved the brightness of its 55-inch 8K UHD IPS panel boasting a resolution of 7680 x 4320 and 500nit by implementing M+ panel technology, adding textures to the existing RGB sub-pixel structure.

The company did not state when it will start mass production of the displays, but Apple has announced that they will be revealing an iMac 8K later this year. If it is an all-in-one PC or a standalone display, it remains to be seen when Apple decides to reveal its product. At the same time, Microsoft’s Windows 10 has already confirmed it will support 8K resolution displays.

While 8K sounds great at this stage, the market still lacks content in 8K. Currently, the only place that streams 8K resolution is NHK in Japan and the Technical Research Institute of Korean Broadcasting System. Even major Hollywood studios shoot movies in 6K and it will be a while until they adopt the 8K standard. Nonetheless, LG seems to be very optimistic about the future of 8K.

Thank you KitGuru for providing us with this information

Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us is Coming to the Big Screen

This is either going to be the best film of all time or the biggest let down of the 21st century. This seems to be the opinion of those I personally have spoken to about the news, others may think differently but i’m assuming the vast majority are extremely happy it’s going to be a film but are scared that Hollywood will destroy every good thing about it, they haven’t got an exactly good reputation for making good movies based on games.

My personal experience with The Last of Us is one I’m proud to say I will never forget, yes it’s on a PlayStation 3, yes it’s only 720p but who cares when a game can bring actual tears to a mans eyes more than once in a single play through. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who shed a manly tear or two, am I right!? The game has won over 200 game of the year awards, anyone who has played through it at least once, or even just played it at all for that matter, will know why. Incredible story telling, scripting, voice acting, animation, you name it, it’s probably won some form of award about it.

Hollywood has a huge standard to meet, but they won’t be doing it alone. Neil Druckmann, who wrote the game, will be writing the script for the film, at least me know that part is in good hands. As for a director of the film, there isn’t one yet, Druckmann says it’s still very early days and that “nothing’s been signed”.

I shall leave you with a quote from Neil himself, hopefully it will make you feel better about the film adaptation.

“There’s never been a great video game adaptation for film,” said Druckmann. “We’re going to work our asses off to make this thing great. Why wait? We have a great opportunity here. Go for it.” 

Let’s just hope it’s out before 2017!

Thanks to Empireonline for supplying us with this information.

Image courtesy of eTeknix.

Anti-piracy Group Shuts Down Pirated TV/Movie Script Provider

One of the well known TV series and Movie streaming script site “TVstreamScript” voluntarily shuts down after facing immense pressure from the American movie industry. It’s also being said that the site owners have even signed over the domain “TVstreamScript.com” to FACT, which is currently now a parked domain for the time being.

FACT has been using the Vickerman verdict to put pressure on sites that stream movies and TV series, and ask them to ‘voluntarily’ shut down and hand over the domain names in exchange of escaping prosecution. TVstreamScript is the latest streaming script site to do just that. However, some streaming websites are not willing to handover their domain and trying to recover from this and to restart their sites.

For those who won’t know, Anton Vickerman is a 38-Year-old was the owner of surfthechannel.com which was setup in 2007 and it earned about £35,000 a month by linking to pirated movies and TV series. But he was sentenced to four years in Prison and becoming the first British national to be jailed for linking to pirated movies and TV shows. But, he was not charged for copyright offense at that time, rather was convicted on two counts of “conspiracy to facilitate copyright infringement”. It was because of this case

Its because of this, many websites that uses TVstreamScript’s online streaming script have been rendered useless. Some of the sites that was using these scripts are TVsuperstream, Infinityshows, cinesheet, streamflix, watchon, seriesvk, yeahstream, canaltv, tvshows2k, watchtvstream, online24tv, movifan and tvdrot.

The movie industry’s anti- piracy group FACT said,”“When contacted, some site owners agree to sign over their domains to FACT, and we then use that domain to help direct visitors to legitimate ways of watching movies, TV programmes or sporting events”.

Currently, most streaming websites that were taken down are either displaying 404 error, re-directing to another website or show an “invalid license key” notification.

Source: TorrentFreak