Category: Film

Google ignores ‘repeat offender’ pirates on Google Drive

Repeat offenders on Google Drive aren’t penalized

Google touts its efforts against piracy on its various platforms, yet, when push comes to shove, the talk is generally more bark than bite.  Much has been made about pledges to down rank or flag repeat offender pirate sites via its search engine, but little mention of another Google product where pirates find safe haven, Google Drive.

Per its own abuse FAQ, Google warns that repeat offenders will have their accounts closed:

Respect copyright laws. Do not share copyrighted content without authorization or provide links to sites where your readers can obtain unauthorized downloads of copyrighted content. It is our policy to respond to clear notices of alleged copyright infringement. Repeated infringement of intellectual property rights, including copyright, will result in account termination. If you see a violation of Google’s copyright policies, report copyright infringement.

Yet, in reality, this pledge rings hollow.  In the past couple months I’ve sent Google numerous DMCA notices requesting the removal of infringing content from a particular Google Drive account.   After reviewing the DMCA notice, Google eventually removed the pirated films reported, but the Drive account itself remains active.  As of today, May 12th, 2017, the account continues to host and share dozens and dozens of other pirated films.  How much is enough Google?

On YouTube account holders get three strikes before their account is closed.  Meanwhile, on Google Drive, it appears that one can pile up strikes with no penalty.  Why does Google drag its feet?  Perhaps it’s because Google Drive accounts are not front and center.  One has to know where to look.  Fact is that many pirate sites have taken to using Google Drive as a favored repository for stolen content.  Upload to drive and share the links and face no penalty.

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First Look, Facebook’s New Rights Manager Tools

Facebook finally joins YouTube in offering anti-piracy content detection tools

Facebook has been promising for some time to introduce tools that would allow rights holders to automatically detect and remove pirated content from its pages.

The company has endured a lot of bad publicity around the freebooting of viral YouTube videos on its pages, but Facebook’s also long been a place where pirated movies and music found a cozy habitat.  That is–until now. I’ve recently begun to utilize this tool to manage Facebook DMCA takedowns and wanted to share my first impressions, but first a bit of background.

First of all, I’m thrilled that Facebook, with all its resources, has finally begun to take copyright infringement seriously.  In introducing the new tool last month the Facebook development team explained why the company had finally stepped up:

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MUSO piracy report spots some new global trends

A report in today’s Torrent Freak noted that content protection firm (anti-piracy) firm Muso recently released its annual Global Piracy Insights Report for 2016 so I was prompted to take a look to see what what’s new on the piracy landscape.  According to the report there’s been a, “massive shift towards direct downloads for music content – growing by 31% in 2015”  In addition the report found that “28% of all visits to piracy sites in 2015 were through mobile devises, up 8% during the year.”

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New study shows bias against women in film continues

Yet again, women in Hollywood find themselves on the short end of the stick

A new infographic by Slated (an organization that filmmakers with talent, financing & distribution) first published in The Hollywood Reporter exposes a “a systemic lack of trust on the part of the film industry when it comes to collaborating with women in the workplace.” 

The infographic’s authors used statistical analysis to look at 1,591 feature films released (theatrically) between 2010 and 2015 and published findings via an infographic.

Bias was documented not only by the woefully low numbers of female directors, but even in categories like supporting actors where only 41% of the roles were filled by women.  While such inequality has been highlighted in previous studies like the Celluloid Ceiling Report published by researchers at San Diego State, Slated’s data analysis looks took another approach by asking, “how data science can best be harnessed to offset what is evidently a pattern of institutionalized bias at play in the marketplace.”

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YouTube’s Content ID Easily Fooled

Doing the job, but not a very good job

When people talk about effective ways to mitigate the impact of online piracy, YouTube’s Content ID is often used as an example of what works. Unfortunately, despite its role as poster boy for anti-piracy tech, in reality it falls flat as a gatekeeper against online piracy.

Aside from a labyrinth-like user interface that seems likely to have been designed–not to help– but to discourage rights holders from using Content ID, the actual fingerprinting technology behind it can be easily fooled.

YouTube introduced the Content ID system in 2007.  At the time, the company was facing pressure from a Viacom lawsuit, among others.  According to YouTube, it’s pretty straightforward:

Videos uploaded to YouTube are scanned against a database of files that have been submitted to us by content owners. Copyright owners get to decide what happens when content in a video on YouTube matches a work they own. When this happens, the video gets a Content ID claim.

Looking to make money off work they don’t own, clever YouTube users have discovered ways to fool the technology so their illegal uploads of copyrighted movies and music don’t get flagged, blocked or removed.

I began noticing this phenomenon more lately as I’ve begun to find full, infringing copies of films uploaded that matched content owned by a film distributor I work for.  This seems to be happening more often and I was curious as to how these pirated copies had avoided detected by Content ID.  When I looked closely I saw that subtle manipulations in brightness had taken place along with slight adjustments to frame size and sometimes the crop of the frame.

When I started poking around YouTube to find other examples of these uploads they were easy to find. It only took me a few minutes to find dozens of copies of a variety of full copyrighted movies, old and new. One title I came across was the 2015 release, Everest.  Below are screen captures from two different full uploads of the movie I found streaming on YouTube.

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