movie piracy and popcorn timeLots of news in the copyright, piracy and privacy world of late.  Here’s some worth a look:

First up, this thoughtful piece by Nelson Granados on “How Piracy Is Still Hurting The Filmmakers And Artists You Admire.”  Granados takes direct aim at the fallacy that piracy doesn’t cause damage to Hollywood studios.

Many think naively that studios cannot be hurt too much, because after all, you hear mostly about the movies that make hundreds of millions of dollars. But the reality for many filmmakers is that they often live on the edge, seeking financing to produce quality content, and enduring high uncertainty about whether they will be able to pay off debt and have any profit left. Given the high fixed cost of producing a quality movie, losses from piracy can be the difference between making a profit or not.

He notes that a number of “peer-reviewed” studies quantify this damage.  Bottom line, like any industry, Hollywood depends on making a return on its investment to flourish.  No matter what piracy apologists allege, that’s a basic economic fact.  Granados also touches on the particular vulnerability faced by independent filmmakers.

Most artists struggle to make ends meet as they pursue their creative work with passion and dedication. Piracy may be tipping the next Quentin Tarantino over the financial edge into bankruptcy, and we will all lose.

As I’ve often said, audiences won’t know what we’re missing if it isn’t made.  Piracy’s damage is insidious–and for the public–somewhat invisible. Ultimately it diminishes the quantity (and quality) of film offerings consumers have to choose from.

Here’s a link to Granados’ full article on Forbes. 

Popcorn Time growing stale, but remains alive

Popcorn TimeIn other piracy-related news, the pox that is Popcorn Time rears its ugly head yet again.  According to Torrent Freak, a group of “developers” have launched their own community edition of the piracy platform.  Not surprisingly developers responsible for the new rendition of Popcorn Time rely on well-worn justifications for their thievery:

“Popcorn Time will probably never go away, despite the efforts made by organizations such as BREIN, the MPAA and others. Instead of fighting this great software they should embrace it,” PTCE tells TF.

It appears efforts are being made to quash this new effort, but as of today the site seems to be operational.  Perhaps it would be better if those who love to watch films “embrace” the notion of compensating creators for their work.  Fans of Adele seem to be doing so in record fashion.

Facebook faces further European scrutiny

Facebook privacy

Not really a copyright issue, but it’s always worth paying attention to what’s going on in Europe with regard to the digital economy.  With that in mind…

Max Schrems, an Austrian lawyer and privacy advocate’s battle against Facebook over data privacy concerns gained momentum in October when the European Court of Justice invalidated the safe harbor agreement between the U.S. and Europe that had allowed transfer of personal data between business entities in the U.S. and EU.  With the ruling in hand, Schrems has stepped up his attack against Facebook, filing complaints with data protection authorities  (DPAs) in Ireland, Belgium and Germany.  He outlined his actions in a statement posted on his website:

All complaints suggest a reasonable implementation period, to allow the relevant companies to take all necessary technical and organizational steps to comply with the CJEU judgement. These options may range from moving data to Europe, encrypting data that is stored in the United States or reviewing the corporate structure. Schrems: “Users really don’t have to worry that their screens go dark, but I hope we will see serious restructuring in the background – just like Microsoft has now started to offer more secure data centers in Germany, that are supposedly not subject to US jurisdiction.”

Meanwhile, as Schrems moves forward, the EU and US are busy trying to reach an agreement on a new safe harbor pact that will offer new guidelines on data transfer between companies on both sides of the Atlantic.  It’s important to note that this “safe harbor” should not be confused with the “safe harbor” found in the DMCA so often mentioned in the context of online piracy.