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Old 24-11-22, 07:12 AM   #1
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Default Peer-To-Peer News - The Week In Review - November 26th, 22

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November 26th, 2022




U.S. Navy Forced to Pay Software Company for Piracy

The federal court charged the U.S. Navy to pay a software company thousands of dollars for copyright infringement.
Nikki Main

The U.S. Navy was found guilty of piracy and is ordered to pay a software company $154,400 for a lawsuit filed back in 2016. The company, Bitmanagement Software GmbH, filed a complaint against the Navy, accusing the military branch of copyright infringement.

GmbH claimed they had issued 38 copies of their 3D virtual reality software, BS Contact Geo, but while they were still in negotiations for additional licenses, the Navy installed the software onto at least 558,466 machines between 2013 and 2015.

In the court filing, GmbH claimed, “Without Bitmanagement’s advance knowledge or consent, the Navy installed BS Contact Go onto hundreds of thousands of computers. Bitmanagement did not license or otherwise authorize these uses of its software, and the Navy has never compensated Bitmanagement for these uses of Bitmanagement’s software.”

The company sued the Navy for nearly $600 million for “willful copyright infringement” of the software which, according to the vendor’s website, is a 3D viewer that “enables you to visualize and interact with state of the art 2D/3D content,” and is based on digital data captured from “various sources (land surveys, CAD, satellite imagery, airborne laser scanning, etc).”

The court filings stated that after GmbH filed the lawsuit in July 2016, the Navy uninstalled the BS Contact Geo software from all of its computers and “subsequently reinstalled the software on 34 seats, for inventory purposes.”

GmbH wrote in the court filing, “The government knew or should have known that it was required to obtain a license for copying Bitmanagement software onto each of the devices that had Bitmanagement software installed. The government nonetheless failed to obtain such licenses.”

However, the Navy responded in a separate court filing, claiming that the existing licenses it obtained allowed them to make additional copies of the software without requiring additional payment.

“Defendant denies that the licenses were limited to installation of BS Contact Geo on a total of 38 Navy personal computers,” the filing argued. “Defendant further avers that the Navy procured concurrent-use network-installation licenses of BS Contact Geo.”

The software company claimed the per-copy license was worth $1,067.76, but the Navy’s expert witness, David Kennedy, a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) for Pricewaterhouse Coopers determined that the price per license amounts to $200.

Kennedy’s testimony was found to be reliable, the court filing says, adding “Kennedy testified he looked ‘at the Navy’s side of the equation, and what they had agreed to previously, and what their use ultimately was of the software, and the limited amount of use.’”

The Court of Federal Claims determined that Kennedy’s conclusion was found “to be fair and reasonable,” and awarded GmbH $154,400.
https://gizmodo.com/navy-copyright-gmbh-1849817872





Bollywood Superstar Amitabh Bachchan Wins ‘Personality Rights’ in Legal Protection Order
Shruti Mahajan

• Counsel for the actor said mobile applications, telephone numbers and websites had mushroomed that monetised his images or likeness without permission
• Lawsuit flagged his name, voice, images, pictures, likeness and ‘unique style of dialogue delivery’ among the traits that fall under legal protection

Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan won interim protection of his personality and celebrity rights from the Delhi High Court Friday.

The court barred not just identified entities from using Bachchan’s persona, without his consent, but also passed a John Doe order, or an order against world-at-large, from infringing his personality rights.

The lawsuit before the court flagged Bachchan’s name, voice, images, pictures, likeness and his “unique style of dialogue delivery” – he is known as “Mr Sexy Baritone” – among the traits which fall under legal protection. Counsel for the actor told the court that mobile applications, telephone numbers and websites had mushroomed that monetised his images or likeness without permission.

“Personality right is a strong right to enforce for persons with high level of identifiability and strength of association,” said Eashan Ghosh, a lawyer specialising in intellectual property rights. “Both these factors hold true for Amitabh Bachchan.”

The victory for one of Bollywood’s biggest stars – whose baritone voice and salt-and-pepper hair is recognised all over India – opens the door for similar cases. Personality or celebrity rights are rights against unauthorised commercial use of one’s persona and have not been codified under any law in India.

The court asked the Indian government’s Department of Telecommunications and telephone service providers to take down web links and take action against parties identified in the case.

Star of evergreen classics Sholay, Zanjeer and Deewaar, Amitabh Bachchan has dominated Bollywood since the 1970s. He boasts dozens of awards – among them India’s top civilian honours – a net worth of US$400 million, and starring roles in 200 films.

Additional reporting by South China Morning Post
https://www.scmp.com/magazines/style...ticle/3176954/





Stable Diffusion Made Copying Artists and Generating Porn Harder and Users are Mad

Changes to the AI text-to-image model make it harder for users to mimic specific artists’ styles or generate NSFW output, but offer other functional improvements.
James Vincent

Users of AI image generator Stable Diffusion are angry about an update to the software that “nerfs” its ability to generate NSFW output and pictures in the style of specific artists.

Stability AI, the company that funds and disseminates the software, announced Stable Diffusion Version 2 early this morning European time. The update re-engineers key components of the model and improves certain features like upscaling (the ability to increase the resolution of images) and in-painting (context-aware editing). But, the changes also make it harder for Stable Diffusion to generate certain types of images that have attracted both controversy and criticism. These include nude and pornographic output, photorealistic pictures of celebrities, and images that mimic the artwork of specific artists.

“They have nerfed the model”

“They have nerfed the model,” commented one user on a Stable Diffusion sub-reddit. “It’s kinda an unpleasant surprise,” said another on the software’s official Discord server.

Users note that asking Version 2 of Stable Diffusion to generate images in the style of Greg Rutkowski — a digital artist whose name has become a literal shorthand for producing high-quality images — no longer creates artwork that closely resembles his own. (Compare these two images, for example). “What did you do to greg” commented one user on Discord.

Changes to Stable Diffusion are notable, as the software is hugely influential and helps set norms in the fast-moving generative AI scene. Unlike rival models like OpenAI’s DALL-E, Stable Diffusion is open source. This allows the community to quickly improve on the tool and for developers to integrate it into their products free of charge. But it also means Stable Diffusion has fewer constraints in how it’s used and, as a consequence, has attracted significant criticism. In particular, many artists, like Rutkowski, are annoyed that Stable Diffusion and other image generating models were trained on their artwork without their consent and can now reproduce their styles. Whether or not this sort of AI-enabled copying is legal is something of an open question. Experts say training AI models on copyright-protected data is likely legal, but that certain use-cases could be challenged in court.

Stable Diffusion’s users have speculated that the changes to the model were made by Stability AI to mitigate such potential legal challenges. However, when The Verge asked Stability AI’s founder Emad Mostaque if this was the case in a private chat, Mostaque did not answer. Mostaque did confirm, though that Stability AI has not removed artists’ images from the training data (as many users have speculated). Instead, the model’s reduced ability to copy artists is a result of changes made to how the software encodes and retrieves data.

“There has been no specific filtering of artists here,” Mostaque told The Verge. (He also expanded on the technical underpinning of these changes in a message posted on Discord.)

Little comparison thread between v1 & v2, using prompts and examples from @_StockAI

V1 V2 https://t.co/Npc9NgeuUO pic.twitter.com/LMGeHRwa4l
— Danny Postma (@dannypostmaa) November 24, 2022

What has been removed from Stable Diffusion’s training data, though, is nude and pornographic images. AI image generators are already being used to generate NSFW output, including both photorealistic and anime-style pictures. However, these models can also be used to generate NSFW imagery resembling specific individuals (known as non-consensual pornography) and images of child abuse.

Discussing the changes Stable Diffusion Version 2 in the software’s official Discord, Mostaque notes this latter use-case is the reason for filtering out NSFW content. “can’t have kids & nsfw in an open model,” says Mostaque (as the two sorts of images can be combined to create child sexual abuse material), “so get rid of the kids or get rid of the nsfw.”

One user on Stable Diffusion’s sub-reddit said the removal of NSFW content was “censorship,” and “against the spirit philosophy of Open Source community.” Said the user: “To choose to do NSFW content or not, should be in the hands of the end user, no [sic] in a limited/censored model.” Others, though, noted that the open source nature of Stable Diffusion mean nude training data can easily be added back into third-party releases and that the new software doesn’t affect earlier versions: “Do not freak out about V2.0 lack of artists/NSFW, you’ll be able to generate your favorite celeb naked soon & anyway you already can.”

First tests with the new @StableDiffusion V2 depth2image feature. This has potential...@EMostaque @StabilityAI #stablediffusionv2 pic.twitter.com/XZGng0w5HJ
— Saad Ahmed (@microsaad) November 24, 2022

Although the changes to Stable Diffusion Version 2 have annoyed some users, many others praised its potential for deeper functionality, as with the software’s new ability to produce content that matches the depth of an existing image. Others said the changes did make it harder to quickly produce high-quality images, but that the community would likely add back this functionality in future versions. As one user on Discord summarized the changes: “2.0 is better at interpreting prompts and making coherent photographic images in my experience so far. it will not make any rutkowski titties though.”

Mostaque himself compared the new model to a pizza base that lets anyone add ingredients (i.e. training data) of their choice. “A good model should be usable by everyone and if you want to add stuff add stuff,” he said on Discord.

Mostaque also said future versions of Stable Diffusion would use training datasets that would allow artists to opt-in or opt-out — a feature that many artists have requested, and that could help mitigate some criticism. “We are trying to be super transparent as we improve the base models and incorporate community feedback,” Mostaque told The Verge.

A public demo of Stable Diffusion Version 2 can be accessed here (though due to high demands from users the model may be inaccessible or slow).
https://www.theverge.com/2022/11/24/...s-data-changes





Internet Providers Play Tricks to Raise Your Bill

Here are the worst.
Story by Geoffrey Fowler

Dear internet service providers of America: We’re onto your tricks.

Last year, I encouraged Washington Post readers to participate in a major nationwide study of ISPs by uploading a copy of their monthly bills to Fight for Fair Internet, a project of Consumer Reports and other partners. Some 22,000 Americans did, and the results released Thursday reveal the many ways internet and cable companies get away with jacking up our bills.

For you and me, the study of big and small ISPs alike offers a clearer view of their worst behaviors — and how to fight back. The most important cost-saving lesson: Calling up and threatening to quit your internet service works. It’s super annoying, I know, but Verizon (for example) applied discounts to 58 percent of the bills people submitted, with an astounding monthly median discount of $40.

The study’s spotlight on ISP tricks, including bogus fees, data caps and wildly inconsistent pricing, also is fresh evidence that in many parts of the United States, there just isn’t a competitive market for internet service. Who would put up with it if there were? About 200 million people live in parts of the country with only one or two choices for reliable, fast internet, according to a 2021 report from the White House.

The study also suggests that prices are higher in places where we don’t have good options. In Zip codes where customers received bills from only one provider, the median monthly price was $75. In Zip codes where they received bills from four or more providers, the median bill was $65.

That ought to crank up the heat on regulators including the Federal Communications Commission, which has largely allowed the broadband industry to get away with writing its own rules for prices, fees and even how transparent providers need to be on our bills. “It’s helpful to know in one of the most-deregulated businesses what people are actually paying,” says Jonathan Schwantes, a senior policy counsel for Consumer Reports’ advocacy division, who led the research.

It’s important to be clear about what the study does — and doesn’t — tell us. Even though Consumer Reports got bills from every state, this isn’t a nationally representative sample. There’s not enough data to draw conclusions about some questionable industry behaviors, such as charging residents of poorer communities more for internet service.

Some in the industry claim we can’t learn anything from studying these bills. The Consumer Reports effort is an “unscientific study which actively seeks frustrated customers to submit bills,” emailed Brian Dietz, the senior vice president for strategic communications for the Internet & Television Association, known as NCTA. He also cited a 2021 survey by Consumer Reports that found 77 percent of Americans with broadband say they’re “satisfied.”

Satisfied that your service keeps running isn’t the same as being pleased with the sales shenanigans of cable and internet companies. The study “represents the state of the broadband market at a moment in time,” Schwantes says. It gives us a point of reference from which we can spot high, low and just plain weird behaviors among actual bills.

Digging into the data, here’s what caught my eye — and what it can teach us.

Highest (non-discounted) prices: Optimum and Suddenlink

Altice’s Optimum, one of the nation’s largest cable companies, and its subsidiary Suddenlink charged study participants a median price of $89.99 per month for internet service.

Altice spokeswoman Janet Meahan said “the $89.99 price point is our rate card pricing and is in most cases not what the customer is paying for their internet service after taking into account their full package and any promotional credits.”
Is your internet service unreliable? There may be fiber in your future.

The Consumer Reports study did measure non-discounted prices — but Altice’s rate is still very high. The nationwide median non-discounted price was $74.99, across more than 18,000 bills where a line-item price for internet service could be determined. (Altice declined to say what Optimum’s median price is after discounting.)

Lowest (non-discounted) prices: Sonic

Sonic, a provider in California, charged participants a median of $49 per month. What’s more, that’s the price Sonic charged for gigabit-speed fiber service — making it a very good deal.

The only problem: the reach of Sonic’s gigabit service has been limited, particularly in cities that make laying new fiber-optic cable difficult. “It’s no good to have a great ISP in the neighboring city, or state, as the case may be,” said Dane Jasper, Sonic’s CEO. “Expansion of our network beyond California is in the works now, with a number of markets around the U.S. in various stages of planning, engineering and permitting.”

Where you might pay more for less: AT&T

The more you pay, the faster your speed, right? Not necessarily. Getting sub-broadband speed can cost as much as or more than a super-fast connection.

On volunteer bills, AT&T’s median pricing across different speed plans was all over the map. People getting:

• 12 mbps paid $63.
• 45 mbps paid $80.
• 100 mbps paid $60.
• 1000 mbps paid $80.

Why should people who aren’t even getting minimum broadband speeds (25 mbps) be paying more than people getting zippy service? ISPs can and will charge whatever they can get away with in your neighborhood.

“The charges on those bills may reflect older plans that we no longer sell,” said AT&T spokesman Jim Kimberly. “Customers with older plans can check on our website or call in to see if a lower cost offer is available to them for faster speeds and switch service.”

That’s another lesson for all of us: It’s always worth checking to see if there’s a new deal available. Unlike the cellphone carriers, ISPs rarely proactively switch consumers into cheaper or better plans.

Biggest discounter: Consolidated Communications

Consolidated, which serves more than 20 states, applied discounts to 66 percent of participants’ bills, with a median discount of $30. Verizon, which serves the mid-Atlantic and New England, followed closely with 58 percent and a $40 median.

For you and me, this is a mixed bag: Discounts gives us some ability to go in and negotiate. (Even if there isn’t another good option, it can’t hurt to try.) But ultimately, it’s also bad because it means every year or two you’re shocked to see your bill has shot up — and you have to call up your ISP and go through a dance to get back to a market rate. The companies are just hoping you’ll forget or be conflict-averse enough to allow them to keep overcharging you.

“There are some older pricing plans which included deeper discounts on regular rates. These plans are being updated to new, straightforward and simple plans,” said Consolidated spokeswoman Nicole Elton. “We aim to be transparent with our billing, and provide details on our website, advertising and consumer bills.”

Verizon spokeswoman Adria Tomaszewski said, “Verizon offers a variety of affordable and reliable broadband options to hundreds of millions of customers nationwide.”

ISPs: If you want Americans to like you, stop acting like used-car salesmen. Sonic, for one, has a firm no-discounting rule.

Biggest bundler: Comcast

Some 32 percent of participants’ bills from Comcast, the country’s largest ISP, bundled internet with TV or other services in such a way that it was impossible to know how much they were paying for internet. That’s a problem, because without knowing the broadband price, how do you know if your package is actually a good deal?

The FCC and ISPs have been fighting for years over the idea of requiring a standardized broadband “nutrition label” on monthly bills that would break apart and explain the components of bundled pricing.

Comcast spokesman Joel Shadle says the company is rolling out a new bill format that “clearly breaks out the cost of specific services, including internet.” New customers will get the new bill when they sign up and older ones will get it when they renegotiate or re-up their contracts.

Weirdest fee that isn’t actually a government mandate: Windstream

Respondents’ broadband bills were filled with strange mandatory fees.

The biggest head-scratcher: Windstream, which serves primarily rural areas in 18 states, charged study volunteers a “Deregulated Administration Fee” for a median price of $7.77. A glossary on the company’s website says, “This fee is not a tax or charge required by the government.”

Wait, wasn’t the argument supposed to be that deregulation leads to lower prices?

That DAF fee “was added to broadband customers’ bills years ago to help cover the ongoing cost of maintaining our network as we expanded it to support our customers’ broadband demands,” said Windstream spokesman Scott Morris. In recent years, he said, the company has begun including it as part of the regular rate, and customers should get in touch with the company to switch plans.

Highest data-cap fee: Cox Communications

Some ISPs put caps on how much data you can use at home, after which they start charging overage fees or requiring you to pay even more for “unlimited” data.

Among participants’ bills, major ISP Cox charged the most, with a median $49.99 “unlimited data plan” fee on top of their regular monthly bill. And Consumer Reports received at least one bill in which Cox charged a customer without the unlimited plan $100 in overage fees.

What’s not clear is whether there’s any technical justification for these fees; in a fixed broadband system, it shouldn’t cost the companies more money to deliver more data.

Cox spokeswoman Stacie Schafer didn’t answer that question but said “more than 95 percent of our customers will not be charged for overages in a given month.”

Highest equipment rental fee: Wave Broadband

Many ISPs encourage you to rent your modem and WiFi router from them for a monthly fee. The highest fee that Consumer Reports volunteers reported was a median $16 per month from Astound’s Wave Broadband, which serves customers in Washington, Oregon and California.

Wave spokesman Mark Peterson said the fees “enable our customers to have the very latest required equipment, receive needed upgrades or service, and ensures speed compatibility.”

But he also said 99 percent of Wave’s customers have the option to skip the rental fee and own their own equipment, if they want to.

Key lesson: These rentals are almost always a bad deal in the long run. For example, you can buy your own cable modem for as little as $40.

If there’s one thing Americans seem to agree on, it’s that they don’t like their internet service providers. They have a lot of good reasons to be frustrated, according to a survey of US broadband service from Consumer Reports released Thursday.

Consumer Reports collected and analyzed over 22,000 internet bills in an unprecedented study scrutinizing 500 internet service providers from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The study uncovered arbitrary price differences, confusing bills, hidden fees, wildly varying speeds, and an overall lack of transparency that rendered it extremely difficult for anyone to get a clear picture of what it should cost to connect to the internet.

“We knew we’d uncover a lot of nonsense, but it was surprising to see how difficult it is for consumers to understand bills that should really be straightforward,” said Jonathan Schwantes, senior policy counsel at Consumer Reports. “Policymakers need to step in to make things more affordable and transparent, and address competition issues.”

Speed was a major issue. People who participated in the study had download speeds that regularly failed to match the speeds that ISPs promised. Ironically, that problem was worse for people paying for “premium” plans that advertise higher speeds between 940 and 1,200 Mbps. In reality, speeds fell between 360 and 373 Mbps.

Nationally, prices ranged from less than $40 to over $100, with a median price of $74.99. The study found inconsistent pricing for identical services, though. Internet service providers (ISPs) even charged some people the same or higher prices for download speeds less than 25 Mbps (extremely slow) as others paid for speedy 300 Mbps plans. But issues with the bills were even more troubling when the researchers drilled into the details.

The bills were rife with fees that make prices even more confusing, which can surprise consumers and hide the true cost when you’re signing up. More than a dozen providers charged so-called junk fees with names like “network enhancement fee,” “internet infrastructure fee,” “deregulated administration fee,” and “technology service fee.” Some fees are avoidable, like an extra charge for renting a WiFi router, but most aren’t.

“These make a lot of mealy mouthed excuses for why they charge these fees, but they’re really just charging extra to cover the cost of doing business,” Schwantes said. “Maintaining your high speed fiber network sounds like something my 60 bucks should cover, why do you need to charge me an extra seven dollars?”

The study found that providers including Comcast, Cox, AT&T, and Wave Broadband use data caps in some areas and charge extra fees for going over the caps. While unlimited data plans are an option, they can add as much as $49.99 to the monthly price.

The study wasn’t nationally representative, but it’s one of the most ambitious efforts to understand the real cost of broadband service in the US. (Disclosure: this reporter formerly worked at Consumer Reports in the company’s journalism division, which is separate from its research arm.)

“We’re always working on ways to present customers with service information in a clear and transparent way so they can easily understand the details of their service and have a positive experience,” said Joel Shadle, a spokesperson for Comcast (aka Xfinity). Shadle said Comcast is rolling out a new bill format that breaks out the cost of bundled services, and supports efforts to improve transparency in the industry.

“These findings do not match our current offers. The charges on those bills may reflect older plans that we no longer sell. Customers with older plans can check on our website or call in to see if a lower cost offer is available to them for faster speeds and switch service.” an AT&T spokesperson said.

“Optimum offers a variety of competitively priced services, packages, and promotions across different price points, from our multi-gig fiber services to our internet and mobile savings offers and more,” said Erin Smyth, a spokesperson for Altice, owner of Optimum. Cox and Verizon didn’t answer Gizmodo’s questions.

Thousands of bills had problems that made it hard to understand the true cost of internet service, which stops people from comparison shopping for the best price. More than half of the bills from AT&T and Verizon included promotional, introductory and conditional discounts, typically running from $10 to $50. Obviously discounts are a good thing, but they can be problematic because it’s generally difficult to tell when those discounts will expire and what the actual cost of service will be afterward. Many ISPs including Comcast, the largest provider, often fail to itemize packages that bundle internet, phone, and TV, which makes it impossible to know the price of each service.

A lack of competition exacerbates the issue, the study found. In over 9,000 zip codes, Consumer Reports only detected one ISP, and in the vast majority of zip codes, the study only received bills from one or two providers. Unsurprisingly, the study found lower prices in areas with competition. Prices were about $5 less per month in areas with 3 ISPs, and costs decreased as the number of providers went up. ISPs are at least partially responsible for that issue: industry lobbyists have fought against attempts to set up government run internet service.

Overall, the study pointed to a bigger problem: a total lack of regulation. During ex-president Donald Trump’s administration, the FCC reclassified internet service so it faces far less regulatory scrutiny, an issue that circled around the Net Neutrality debate. Instead of regulating internet providers as an essential part of modern life like phone, gas, and electric companies, the government treats broadband service like a luxury with hardly any oversight.

Schwantes said that the problems highlighted in the report could be solved if the FCC reinstates its authority to regulate ISPs. “We’re talking about billions of dollars in internet infrastructure. It’s a farce that the FCC isn’t regulating broadband as a telecommunications service,” he said.
https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/comp...st/ar-AA14dqod





Nutrition Labels for Broadband Internet are Finally Nearly Here

The FCC says most carriers have to slap on nutrition labels within six months — well, after some last paperwork.
Sean Hollister

Six years after we saw the FCC formally propose “nutrition labels” for your carrier’s potentially confusing array of plans, the agency says it’s finally happening. This week, it’s ordering US internet service providers to adopt the label format you’re looking at below — or it will, as soon as some last bureaucratic elements get worked out.

They’ve changed a bit since 2016 — now, each plan will apparently have its own label rather than ISPs trying to cram all of them into a single sheet, they don’t warn you about coverage, and apparently, ISPs will be able to point you to their network management policy legalese instead of having to ding themselves for throttling data or giving some apps a fast lane. They won’t have to report packet loss, either, it seems.

Thankfully, ISPs will still need to report their typical speeds and latency, not just reiterate their advertised speed. Hopefully, someone will audit that.

Most big ISPs will have six months to slap the new labels onto their websites and distribute them in stores, though the FCC’s giving ones with less than 100,000 subscribers a full year to comply. But none of those shot clocks start until the Office of Management and Budget reviews the order to make sure it complies with the Paperwork Reduction Act and similar statutes, the FCC notes, so it might be a bit longer.

In the meanwhile, FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel suggests that ISPs might want to get ahead of things and adopt them on their own.

The FCC also says it hopes these labels will evolve from here, so it’s seeking comment on some additional changes, too, including “more comprehensive pricing information, bundled plans, label accessibility, performance characteristics, service reliability, cybersecurity, network management and privacy issues, the availability of labels in multiple languages, and whether the labels should be interactive or otherwise formatted differently so the information contained in them is clearer and conveyed more effectively.”

None of this will solve the problem of broadband competition in the United States, but at least it might make the contracts easier to read!
https://www.theverge.com/2022/11/18/...l-fcc-internet





Movie Theater Stocks Pop after Report Says Amazon Plans to Spend $1 billion on Releases
Annie Palmer

Key Points

• Cinemas stocks got a boost after a report surfaced that Amazon plans to spend $1 billion a year on theatrical film releases.
• The movie theater industry has struggled to return to prepandemic levels because of a lack of film content.
• A theatrical commitment from Amazon would be a confidence booster for the industry.

Cinemas stocks got a boost Wednesday after a report said Amazon plans to spend $1 billion a year on theatrical film releases.

The tech company plans to make between 12 and 15 movies for movie theaters each year, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with the matter. A smaller number of films will be produced in 2023 as Amazon builds up its output, the report said.

Cinemark jumped 11% on the news, with IMAX up 7% and AMC up 5%.

Amazon declined to comment.

Amazon has deepened its investments in original content over the years through its Prime Video streaming unit, as well as its movie and television studios. The company spent $13 billion on content for its video and music streaming services last year, up from $11 billion in 2020, as it looks to remain competitive in the crowded media landscape.

Earlier this year, the e-retailer bolstered its media ambitions when it acquired legendary movie maker MGM Studios for $8.45 billion.

Amazon founder and executive chairman Jeff Bezos has made no secret of his desire to expand the company’s media business, and he has long believed that it can help drive Prime subscriptions and additional purchases on its core e-commerce site.

Amazon has released movies in theaters in the past. It premiered the first two episodes of its Lord of the Rings series in cinemas for a limited window, and its 2017 comedy “The Big Sick” was shown in theaters. But the company has primarily launched its original content directly on the Prime Video service.

While a $1 billion annual investment for film development is on the lower end of what major Hollywood studios spend each year, its a positive sign for the movie theater business, which has struggled in the wake of the pandemic.

Audiences have returned to cinemas, but because the production pipeline was stalled in 2020 and 2021, fewer movies have been released in cinemas in 2022. Blockbuster films continue to drive significant, sometimes record breaking, domestic box office numbers, but without a steady slate of new content, the overall industry remains significantly below prepandemic levels.

There has been about one-third fewer wide releases — films that debut in more than 2,000 theaters — and that has meant that the overall box office is down about one-third as well compared to 2019.

“We certainly applaud content makers when they decide to spend on quality movies,” said Jeffrey Kaufman, chief content officer and senior vice president of film and marketing at Malco Theatres. “But to date, no streaming company has committed to a robust theatrical distribution model, including Amazon. We would love if any streamer would support the theatrical space with wide quality releases.”

Already, 2023 is expected to be a stronger year at the domestic box office, as production levels returned to normal in 2022, but Amazon’s additional film commitments gives the industry another confidence boost.
https://www.cnbc.com/2022/11/23/amaz...ma-stocks.html





Twitter’s Broken Its Copyright Strike System, Users Are Uploading Full Movies
Paul TassiSenior

While Twitter, the website, remains online and has not simply collapsed after the vast majority of workers were fired or resigned under Elon Musk, we are already starting to see the cracks spreading through the walls.

Last night, it became apparent that Twitter’s automated copyright strike/takedown system was no longer functional. A user went viral for uploading the entirety of The Fast and the Furious Tokyo Drift in two minute chunks over a 50 tweet thread. While it’s offline this morning, here’s where things get weirder still:

• The media itself was never taken down. Usually, you used to see a “this media cannot be displayed” message when a takedown happens. The tweet and account will be up, but the media is stripped. In this case, it appears someone at Twitter had to manually suspend the entire account.

• And as evidence of a further bug, right now, on mobile, I can still see the tweets from the suspended account. As in, the movie is literally playing in a tweet I am watching on my phone right now, some lingering artifact of account suspension. I can’t see it on desktop, but the tweets I favorited last night to write this article this morning are still actively viewable.

And again, fundamentally the copyright system does seem broken. Yes, this specific account was suspended, but only because it went viral and was spotted by someone working there, I think. A separate user has uploaded another full movie, 1995’s Hackers, two minutes at a time in a similar thread, and that remains online at the time of this writing:

It should be fairly obvious to anyone what kind of liability it opens Twitter up to if their copyright system is non-functional, and its newly limited pool of workers are going to need to manually hunt down infringers. Once media companies get wind of this, we could see Twitter hit with all sort of DMCA claims and potential legal issues if they can’t get a handle on this quickly. I’m picturing Disney content starting to be uploaded here and them going nuclear.

Also, it should be noted that one of Elon Musk’s big ideas for Twitter Blue is to allow users to upload long, 40+ minute videos. That would be a nightmare if they can’t fix their copyright enforcement system, but it’s not clear that anyone there is working on this issue in any meaningful capacity barring suspending that one specific Tokyo Drift account.

A drama a day at Twitter these days, with no signs of slowing down.
https://www.forbes.com/sites/paultas...ng-full-movies

















Until next week,

- js.



















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