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Join Date: May 2001
Location: New England
Peer-To-Peer News - The Week In Review - September 3rd, 22
September 3rd, 2022
Netflix and Disney Request to Expand Blocklist of Pirating Sites in Australia
Netflix and Disney are looking to continue their expansion of a pirate site blocklist in Australia through the Federal Court.
Netflix and Disney are looking to continue their expansion of a pirate site blocklist in Australia through the Federal Court.
Various studios including Netflix and Disney are continuing their push against pirating sites in Australia. The various media companies are asking Australia’s Federal Court for a new court order that would require ISPs to block dozens of additional websites that offer free access to content.
Blocking injunctions have become more and more commonplace in Australia as copyright holders continue to push ISPs to block access to pirate sites. Hundreds of sites have already been blocked including The Pirate Bay, YTS, RARBG, Fmovies, and Flixtor.
Last week (8/24) Netflix, Village Roadshow, and several other studios filed a new site-blocking request, their second blocking demand of the year. The case lists all major Australian ISPs as defendants but the domains they are targeting have yet to be published for the public to see.
Reports on the blocking demand state that copyright holders have identified 52 new pirate sites in their new push. The sites are likely a mix of torrent, streaming, and linking portals. On top of the new order, Disney and Netlfix are actively expanding existing blockades, with the Federal Court granting an extension to the injunction from earlier this year.
A full list of the domain names added in the two recent blockades is listed below.
On August 22 Justice Nicholas amended the February 22, 2022 blocking order with the following domain names:
– 123moviesc.cyou h
On July 5 Justice Nicholas amended the December 21, 2021 blocking order with the following domain names:
Why Some of Your Favorite Shows have Disappeared from HBO Max
Viewers have come to see streaming as an endless bounty of programming choices that are available in perpetuity.
But Warner Bros. Discovery, the new parent of streaming service HBO Max, is demonstrating that there are limits. The company that acquired WarnerMedia has removed 36 series and movies from the streaming site.
The moves come as the company looks to reduce costs by $3 billion after the merger of WarnerMedia and Discovery.
CEO David Zaslav recently announced plans to combine HBO Max and Discovery+ into one streaming offering, beginning next summer.
While it’s not unusual for licensed TV shows and movies to leave a streaming service after a contract is up, 20 of the removed shows were developed and created for HBO Max and were expected to have a home on the site for an extended period. (HBO Max launched in May 2020.) The bulk of the removed programs are animated series and programs aimed at children and tweens.
The purge comes a month after HBO Max pulled several of its less popular scripted series including “Camping,” “Mrs. Fletcher,” “Here and Now” and “Vinyl.”
The moves are generating blowback in Hollywood’s creative community and will probably rankle some subscribers who were watching the shows.
So why is Warner Bros. Discovery making this move now?
By removing the series and films, the company expects to save $100 million annually. Along with Warner Bros. Discovery’s need to reduce debt, media companies with streaming services are up against an unforgiving Wall Street, which wants to see a path to profitability.
Subscriber growth has long been the measurement of success for streaming services (HBO Max and HBO had a combined 76.8 million subscribers at the end of the first quarter, making it one of the more formidable competitors to Netflix and Disney+).
But now financial analysts are scrutinizing programming costs, which have escalated rapidly as companies rushed into the changing TV distribution technology. This decision will help reduce those costs for Warner Bros. Discovery. The company recently cut 70 staff positions at HBO Max, and has killed a number of expensive projects such as the J.J. Abrams series “Demimonde,” and pre-merger initiatives at WarnerMedia such as CNN’s streaming service.
What was the criteria used to determined which shows were removed?
The same criteria that’s been used for decades — shows that weren’t getting a substantial audience got the ax. A similar purge has occurred at Discovery+, the streaming service launched by Discovery Inc. before the merger. Actually, more shows have been removed from Discovery+ than HBO Max, but the latter has a much higher profile in the industry, and therefore is getting far more attention.
Doesn’t HBO own most of its shows? Why can’t it keep those titles around for viewers who still want to watch?
Even when a network or streaming service owns a show, there are still profit participants — creators, producers and sometimes actors — who have to be paid unless their financial interests are bought out ahead of time. Those are part of the costs that are being saved with the removal of the programs.
Warner Bros. Discovery executives are also concerned about having too much little-watched content on the site, which can make it harder for viewers to find the shows they really want to see. The new buzzword in the streaming business is “decluttering.”
Why are so many children’s shows being removed?
Warner Bros. Discovery executives have determined that HBO Max is an adult-themed service. The strategy may shift once HBO Max and Discovery+ are combined into a single service next year.
Two hundred episodes of “Sesame Street” are among the programs coming off. Wasn’t the 2015 deal to make the show available on HBO aimed at preserving an iconic educational program?
Even after the purge, there are still 400 “Sesame Street” episodes available on HBO Max. HBO will also continue to present the new season of episodes six months ahead of their appearance on PBS. But if you wanted to check out the Bert and Ernie dynamic during the 1980s, you are out of luck.
“The Not-Too-Late Show With Elmo,” a 2020 series from Sesame Workshop created for HBO Max, was among the shows that were dropped.
How are show creators reacting to their shows being pulled?
Not well. “It feels like being kicked to the curb,” show creator Jennifer Skelly told Variety after learning her animated series “Little Ellen” was among the casualties. There have been a number of accounts in the entertainment trades of producers being upset over the move. One executive at a another streaming service, who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly, said competitors are likely to cite the situation when negotiating on projects as a reason to accept their offers over HBO’s.
The blowback certainly won’t help ease the tension Zaslav already faces from the creative community over his decision to shelve a nearly completed $90 million “Batgirl” movie for a tax write-down.
Studio Ghibli Film Catalog Now Available on Digital Rental Platforms
Some of the most acclaimed films in animation history are finally available to rent online.
GKIDS, the animation specialist distributer, has released the catalog of acclaimed Japanese animation house Studio Ghibli starting Tuesday. 22 films from the studio — including Oscar winner “Spirited Away” and nominees such as “Howl’s Moving Castle” and “When Marnie Was There” — will be made available to rent on all major digital platforms, including Apple TV, Amazon VOD, Vudu, Google Play and Microsoft. The films will be be priced at $4.99 per title, and all will be available in HD, with most being offered in the original Japanese language as well as English dubs.
The news marks the first time that Ghibli’s films have been made available via digital rental. The catalogue has been one of the pillars of GKIDS’ business since the distributer acquired the North American film distribution rights to the studio’s films in 2011, followed by the home media rights in 2017 — previously, the majority of Studio Ghibli films were distributed via the Walt Disney Company. Since 2017, GKIDS has partnered with Fathom Events to host a series of limited run screenings of the studio’s films throughout the year. The catalog was made available for digital purchase in 2019, and GKIDS has an exclusive deal to stream the films in the United States on HBO Max, where they have been included since 2020.
Established in 1985 by directors Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata and producer Toshio Suzuki, Studio Ghibli is one of the most acclaimed movie studios in the world, with many of its films and characters reaching iconic status inside Japan and abroad. Four of their films — “Spirited Away,” “Howl’s Moving Castle,” “Ponyo” and “Princess Mononoke” — are among the 10 highest grossing Japanese-produced films of all time. The GKIDS catalog includes the majority of films released by the company, with the exception of acclaimed war film “Grave of the Fireflies,” due to its distribution rights belonging to Shinchosha Publishing instead of the studio. The selection also includes Miyazaki’s “Nausicaš of the Valley of the Wind,” which was released the year before the studio was founded but was acquired by the company later.
Here’s the full list of Studio Ghibli films available to rent:
“Castle in the Sky”
“The Cat Returns”
“Earwig and the Witch”
“From Up on Poppy Hill”
“Howl’s Moving Castle”
“Kiki’s Delivery Service”
“My Neighbor Totoro”
“My Neighbors the Yamadas”
“Nausicaš of the Valley of the Wind”
“The Secret World of Arrietty”
“The Tale of The Princess Kaguya”
“Tales from Earthsea”
“When Marnie Was There”
“Whisper of the Heart”
“The Wind Rises”
Flicking the Kill Switch: Governments Embrace Internet Shutdowns as a Form of Control
From Sudan to Syria, Jordan to Jaipur, the trend towards digital authoritarianism is deepening
Julia Bergin, Louisa Lim, Nyein Nyein and Andrew Nachemson
On 1 February 2021, reporter Ko Zin Lin Htet received a panicked phone call from a source in Yangon, Myanmar’s most populous city. The caller said the military had seized power and was arresting opposition politicians, then hung up. Ko Zin Lin Htet remembered what he did next: “I checked my phone and my internet connection. There was nothing there.”
He got on his motorbike and drove to the parliament, where he saw military personnel, not police, guarding the buildings. At that moment, Ko Zin Lin Htet realised there had been a coup – and that by cutting internet access, the new junta had thrown the country back into the pre-internet era.
For months the military had been questioning the results of the November 2020 election, won in a landslide by Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy. The coup took place on the day the new parliament was due to be sworn in.
Protest over internet service blockade in Srinagar<br>epa08081345 Kashmiri youth hold placards during a protest against an Internet, SMS and prepaid mobile services blockade, in Srinagar, Kashmir, India, 19 December 2019. The internet, SMS and prepaid mobile services remained shut since 05 August 2019 when the government of India abrogated Article 370 of the Indian constitution, that accorded a special status to Indian Kashmir. EPA/FAROOQ
In the early hours of the morning, the junta had sent soldiers to the country’s internet providers to force engineers to shut down connections to the outside world. It was the first stage of a digital coup designed to exert control over communications by slowing and strategically shutting off the internet.
Nathan Maung was another Burmese journalist who recalls the confusion and disbelief on the day of the military takeover. “The internet was out.” He looked for his most recent texts – “The last messages from my friends said, ‘Shit happened’. I have no clue what shit happened.”
The whole country had been plunged into an information black hole.
‘Cloak of darkness’
From Ukraine to Myanmar, government-run internet outages are picking up pace around the world. In 2021, there were 182 shutdowns in 34 countries, according to Access Now, a non-government organisation that tracks connectivity around the world. Countries across Africa and Asia have turned to shutdowns in a bid to control behaviour, while India, largely in the conflict-ridden region of Jammu and Kashmir, plunged into digital darkness more times than any other last year.
The increasing use of the kill switch underlines a deepening global trend towards digital authoritarianism, as governments use access to the internet as a weapon against their own people. Internet shutdowns have also become a modern canary in the coalmine.
“The internet going off is well known in many countries to be a sign or a signal that something bad is about to happen,” says Simon Angus, an economist from Monash University whose Monash Internet Observatory tracks global internet connectivity in real time. “That seems to be aligned closely with human rights abuses because it really is a cloak of darkness.”
The shutdowns disconnect emergency workers and hospitals and paralyse financial systems, yet governments are using them with ever more frequency. Figures from Access Now show outages increased globally 15% in 2021, compared with the year before. Such outages cause immense economic damage – an estimated $5.5bn last year – but go largely unnoticed by the outside world, because information flows in and out of the affected countries have been severed.
The UN Human Rights chief, Michelle Bachelet, in June condemned internet shutdowns: “Switching off the internet causes incalculable damage, both in material and human rights terms.”
‘There’s no freedom’
In Ukraine, that cloak of darkness fell one hour before Russia’s invasion in February, when a massive state-sponsored cyber-attack on a key satellite internet network knocked tens of thousands of Ukrainian modems offline, while Sudan severed the internet after its military coup. Civil unrest in Ethiopia and Kazakhstan has triggered internet shutdowns as governments try to prevent political mobilisation and stop news about military suppression from emerging.
Yet experts say Myanmar has enforced the sharpest restrictions on internet freedom on record.
“Every different style of outage was reflected in the first few weeks [of the coup],” says Doug Madory of Kentik internet monitoring platform.
After sporadic daylong shutdowns in mid-February, the junta began shutting off the internet every night, an act that continued with metronomic regularity for three months. Under the cover of digital darkness, they carried out nightly raids, smashing down doors to drag out high-profile politicians, activists and celebrities. The raids had a profound psychological toll.
“I used to chat with my friends late at night,” says one woman from Yangon. “As 1am approached every night, that feeling of frustration would start building. It felt like they controlled everything. There’s no freedom.”
The nightly shutdowns became “a form of terror”, according to Angus. “It becomes a psychological rhythm and marker that people have to endure. It sends a signal as well. It says: ‘We’re still in control.’”
The period of nightly outages was followed by a complete nationwide shutdown for 73 days.
Impact of shutdowns
Internet shutdowns are not just used by governments facing civil unrest. Every year millions of internet users from Sudan to Syria, Jordan to India also lose internet access during exam season as governments pull the plug in a bid to avoid hi-tech cheating.
For the past five years, 21-year-old trainee doctor Aya Hich has been forced to sit her medical exams in Algeria without access to the internet. That’s because every year the government severs the internet for five days to ensure that high school students do not cheat on their baccalaureate exams.
“It is always frustrating year after year that we have to be cut off from the rest of the world,” Hich says.
The economic costs – and other less obvious impacts – of shutdowns radiate across industries. Sudanese architect Tagreed Ahdin remembers the difficulties of surviving for a month with no online banking when the new military junta shut down the internet in 2021. “We raided the kids’ wallets and pooled everything,” she says. But one of the biggest issues was simply staying cool in the 40-degree heat, when the apps selling electricity no longer functioned.
“Our first panic moment came when we realised we couldn’t buy electricity,” she says. “We were shutting down everything all over the house, while the kids begged for air conditioning. It was so hot.”
India leads total shutdowns globally. In 2021, the world’s largest democracy shut off its internet 106 times – more than the rest of the world combined. Hardest-hit was the conflict-ridden region of Jammu and Kashmir, which was subject to 85 shutdowns under the guise of containing separatist violence. The blackouts shut down Zoom classes for students, stopped doctors from communicating with their remote patients and crippled the banking system, causing mortgage holders to default on their loans. Apple crops rotted before they could be sold and businesses were paralysed.
“We didn’t have anything to do. We weren’t even able to watch television,” says Sajid Yusuf Shah, a criminal lawyer turned media entrepreneur. “I was in a depression at that time. We feel helpless, we feel isolated, we feel handicapped.”
India’s high level of shutdowns highlights a concerning trend, says David Kaye, a law professor at the University of California Irvine and a former UN special rapporteur for freedom of expression.
“One way of thinking about how bad it is [is] to see how it’s spread from places like Tajikistan or Togo or southern Cameroon, where rule of law is already pretty spotty, to a place like India.
“It’s migrated into a toolbox for governments that actually do have the rule of law.”
Major VPN Services Shut Down in India over Anti-Privacy Law; Apple hasn’t yet Commented
Major VPN services have shut down service in India, as there is no way to comply with a new law without breaching their own privacy protection standards.
The law also applies to iCloud Private Relay, but Apple has not yet commented on its own plans …
New rules from India’s Computer Emergency Response Team
India’s Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) has said that new rules will apply to VPN providers from September 25. These will require services to collect customer names, email addresses, and IP addresses. The data must be retained for at least five years, and handed over to CERT on demand.
This would breach the privacy standards of major VPN services, and be physically impossible for services like NordVPN, which keep no logs as a matter of policy. The company is registered in Panama specifically because there are no data-retention laws there, and no international intelligence sharing.
Major VPN services shut down Indian servers
The Wall Street Journal reports that major VPN services have shut down their Indian servers.
Major global providers of virtual private networks, which let internet users shield their identities online, are shutting down their servers in India to protest new government rules they say threaten their customers’ privacy […]
Such rules are “typically introduced by authoritarian governments in order to gain more control over their citizens,” said a spokeswoman for Nord Security, provider of NordVPN, which has stopped operating its servers in India. “If democracies follow the same path, it has the potential to affect people’s privacy as well as their freedom of speech,” she said […]
Other VPN services that have stopped operating servers in India in recent months are some of the world’s best known. They include U.S.-based Private Internet Access and IPVanish, Canada-based TunnelBear, British Virgin Islands-based ExpressVPN, and Lithuania-based Surfshark.
ExpressVPN said it “refuses to participate in the Indian government’s attempts to limit internet freedom.”
The government’s move “severely undermines the online privacy of Indian residents,” Private Internet Access said.
Customers in India will be able to connect to VPN servers in other countries. This is the same approach taken in Russia and China, where operating servers within those countries would require VPN companies to comply with similar legislation.
Apple’s iCloud Private Relay affected
The law also applies to iCloud Private Relay, which is effectively a VPN service used only for Safari.
The design of the iCloud Private Relay system ensures that no single party handling user data has complete information on both who the user is and what they are trying to access.
To do this, Private Relay uses modern encryption and transport mechanisms to relay traffic from user devices through Apple and partner infrastructure before sending traffic to the destination website.
Apple has not yet commented on its own planned response, but we have reached out to the company and will update with any response.
Cloud services also included
Cloud storage services are also subjected to the new rules, though there would be little practical impact on Apple here. iCloud does not use end-to-end encryption, meaning that Apple holds a copy of your decryption key, and can therefore already comply with government demands for information.
Opinion | Textbook Piracy is Morally Justified
Aparna Lakkaraju, Opinions Editor
The semester has begun, and it is evident from the long lines and empty shelves at the Illini Union Bookstore that textbooks are in high demand.
The beginning-of-the-semester scramble to purchase textbooks is a harrowing and financially draining experience for students across the nation. The average full-time undergraduate student pays around $1200 for books and supplies in one academic year.
Historically, students have attempted to cut down on these costs through multiple avenues, such as buying used textbooks or renting copies. One very popular — albeit unlawful — avenue amongst students is downloading PDF copies of textbooks from illegal sites online — also known as textbook piracy.
Copyright infringement, which textbook piracy falls under, is illegal and can result in fines ranging from $750 to $30,000, according to 17 U.S. Code 504.
Although pirating textbooks is against the law, textbook publishing companies have been financially exploiting students for decades — they are the criminals hiding in plain sight.
The textbook publishing industry made $7.85 billion in revenue in 2020 alone, and this market is dominated by the “big three” publishers: Pearson, McGraw Hill and Cengage.
Publishing companies take advantage of the fact that college students are a captive market since they are obligated to buy textbooks for classes and do so by drastically marking up textbook prices. Outrageously, college textbook costs have risen by 162% since 2000, which is more than three times the amount of the average increase for all goods and services, even after accounting for general inflation.
It’s no wonder that students resort to illegal measures to access textbooks, since saving a little goes a long way in college, and books and supplies are a supplemental cost on top of already expensive college tuition.
Publishers are robbing students blind. Pirating a textbook should not be considered the same as pirating a new show or movie, since students have no choice but to use textbooks for learning in college and getting a degree.
Another unfortunate development in the textbook industry is the popularization of online learning platforms such as Cengage’s Webassign or McGraw Hill’s Connect. These platforms require students to purchase access codes to work on graded assignments for a class — if a student cannot afford the (often expensive) access code, they are presented with no other solution than to drop out of the course or settle for a lower grade.
These online platforms also block students from looking for cheaper alternatives, so downloading PDFs, renting books, buying used copies or borrowing from a library are all out of the question.
Measures such as these only work to add another layer of unaffordability to higher education and render it inaccessible for financially disadvantaged students. Students should be able to access textbooks any way they can — even if it is through methods the law would frown upon.
Until next week,
Current Week In Review
Recent WiRs -
August 27th, August 20th, August 13th, August 6th
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