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    Denuvo wants to convince you its DRM isn’t “evil” / ArsTechnica · Friday, 7 July - 19:54

You have nothing to lose but your chains.

Enlarge / You have nothing to lose but your chains. (credit: Aurich Lawson | Getty Images)

Simply mentioning the name "Denuvo" among some gamers is pretty much guaranteed to get you an instant, strong reaction. Just look at the comment threads underneath any Ars article covering Denuvo and you'll see plenty of complaints about the DRM-enhancing anti-piracy technology.

Irdeto, the company that acquired Denuvo in a 2018 purchase , doesn't generally make a habit of commenting at length on this reputation (or its secretive DRM schemes) in the public press. So when Irdeto Chief Operating Officer of Video Games Steeve Huin agreed to defend his company publicly in an exclusive interview with Ars Technica, I jumped at the chance to talk to him.

Read 20 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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    Plex Plans To Place All Legal Streaming Options (and Piracy) Into One Interface / TorrentFreak · Thursday, 15 April, 2021 - 16:04 · 5 minutes

Plex Since being founded in 2009, the Plex media server and service has grown from strength to strength and with 25 million users worldwide, is now a force to be reckoned with.

Early adopters know Plex as a powerful media server capable of transforming local movie, TV show, and other libraries into a beautiful Netflix-style entertainment experience. Playable on a wide range of devices including PCs, smart TVs and even smartphones, Plex has a strong cult following but in recent years has begun to spread its wings.

While the company would prefer not to acknowledge it, Plex is the playback weapon of choice for millions of pirates. So-called “ Plex for Share ” services aside, direct piracy isn’t strictly possible within the system but when it is fed with movies and TV shows previously obtained from pirate sites, consumption of such media is transformed. The problem then, is how to tempt these users away from the ‘dark’ side.

Plex Spreads its Wings

In 2019, it was revealed that Plex had struck licensing deals with Warner Bros to supply free, ad-supported movies and TV shows to Plex users. Since then, Plex has added free live TV channels and secured more than 240 additional content deals with the likes of Lionsgate, MGM, Sony, AMC and more. This means that when ‘pirate’ users fire up Plex, they are not only presented with their own unlicensed content libraries but also official content too.

This blurring of ‘markets’ is an intriguing proposition that hasn’t been strongly tested before. Legal movie and TV show content from major providers isn’t seen on pirate streaming sites, for example, meaning that users can’t be easily tempted away during their visits. However, by putting licensed content inside Plex, no external navigation is needed, making the switch to revenue-generating content a breeze.

However, this innovation was only the beginning and according to an announcement Wednesday, Plex has an even bigger plan on the horizon, one that could transform the market.

$50m in Funding Secured: One-Stop Shop For Movies and TV

Yesterday, Plex revealed it had completed a growth equity round of $50 million from existing investor Intercap. The financing includes approximately $15 million in new capital for Plex, which the company intends to invest in its mission to become a one-stop-shop for movies and TV. It aims to do this by addressing one of the most frustrating aspects of today’s legal streaming market – fragmentation.

“As the industry grows so does the media chaos, creating a more fractured consumer experience with a dizzying array of services and subscriptions – all served up through a multitude of platforms and apps that the consumer has to keep track of,” Plex explains.

“This experience is painful for consumers who just want to find and easily navigate to movies and TV shows that they like.”

What Plex has in mind is to present users with a “single pane of glass”, a window to access their entire content libraries from within Plex, enabling them to find what they want quickly and easily.

“Everybody knows it’s a pain to sift through all the streaming services to find what you want to watch, and our goal at Plex is to manage your media life for you,” says Keith Valory, CEO at Plex.

“Our job is to understand where everything is, whether it’s from our free library of movies and shows, a subscription service, live on TV, or something you can purchase, and for Plex to be the trusted go-to service to help you find what you want, when you want it.”

One Interface, Endless Options

At the moment, Plex users are presented with their local content libraries and Plex’s movies, TV shows and live TV streams. The plan as described thus far suggests that Plex also hopes to partner with platforms such as Netflix, Prime, and maybe even Disney, so that all content libraries are searchable from one place – a legal content metasearch engine of sorts.

Whether these giants will have any interest in this proposal remains a question but it’s not difficult to see how such a system could be attractive to regular users while also becoming a valuable tool to leverage additional revenue from pirates. These days, only a minority of pirates are ‘hard core’, i.e they only consume content from pirate sources. The majority also consume legitimate content too and it’s not hard to find plenty who also have Netflix and Disney subscriptions, for example.

However, instead of having pirates sit completely isolated in their own ecosystems, with no immediate opportunity to convert them (or more fully convert them) into paying customers, the Plex proposal appears to welcome them to the fold, making all content searchable from one location and potentially negating the need to switch in and out of numerous apps.

That being said, there are problems to overcome.

Subscription and Privacy Concerns Remain

As things stand, even if users can easily search and discover content across multiple legal platforms in one interface, they’ll still be required to subscribe to those platforms to access the content.

For Plex, this could provide a source of affiliate revenue when users choose to sign up but there are limits to how much consumers are prepared to spend. A nice option would be to offer a package of subscriptions at a significantly reduced rate (a Plex Pass Plus option, if you like) but in the current environment, there doesn’t appear to be much of an appetite among providers to consider that.

Also, there are privacy concerns, particularly if Plex wants to assure its pirate and partially-pirate consumers to step onboard and begin the journey.

“Plex will help users discover new things to enjoy based on everything they already watch, with smart recommendations such as ‘you watched this movie, so you might enjoy this podcast, or this musical artist.’ It’s all about creating a custom multi-media entertainment experience that’s easy and enjoyable for each individual’s unique tastes,” the company explains.

While subscribers to Netflix and Disney are already used to these types of recommendations, it will remain to be seen how this is welcomed by pirate users. At this stage, it’s unknown whether Plex intends to start harvesting and/or sharing pirates’ viewing habits with their commercial partners. Also, things could get a little bit awkward if messages appear noting that “Since you watched yet-to-be-released-on-streaming-platforms ‘movie X’, then you might like to watch Y.”

That problem is probably a long way off but nevertheless, Plex’s momentum towards official content partnerships is absolutely clear. Becoming a focal point for lawful content consumption could also mean it faces pressure to do something about piracy too, but only time will tell how that plays out. There are clear opportunities ahead though, including millions of chances to convert pirates while cleaning up the legal streaming market into something cohesive.

From: TF , for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

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    Nigerian ‘Scam Artist’ Used Apple, Amazon and Tidal to Cash in on Pirated Music / TorrentFreak · Saturday, 10 April, 2021 - 11:20 · 3 minutes

wisekid Legal streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music have been the music industry’s most effective weapon against piracy.

Many people don’t even bother ripping or downloading albums of tracks nowadays. The legal alternatives are just more convenient.

Despite this success, legal streaming platforms have their challenges as well. For years, artists have complained about low payouts. And to make things worse, ‘pirates’ are starting to abuse legal services as well now.

Pirated Music on Legal Streaming Services

A few weeks ago we reported that the RIAA was sending DMCA takedown notices that targeted Spotify, Deezer, Amazon, and various other legal music outlets . Apparently, some artists were using the works of others without permission.

At the time we weren’t sure if this was intentional or a mere licensing dispute. The RIAA didn’t respond to our questions on the matter. However, this week we spotted yet another takedown notice and, this time, there is more of a backstory.

On Wednesday the RIAA sent a takedown notice to Google identifying several infringing URLs on the legal streaming service Tidal. The links point to tracks that were published by Nigerian artist Wisekid but, according to the takedown request, they are from the local music star Wizkid .

Wisekid Rips Off Wizkid

Looking more closely at the matter, we quickly noticed that Wisekid appeared to have uploaded an entire album from Wizkid, passing it off as his own.

The album in question, titled “Lasgidi Made” is the same as Wizkid’s “Made in Lagos,” but the track order and titles have been changed, apparently to make the similarity less obvious.

wisekid amazon

This ‘pirated’ album made its way onto popular music services including Apple Music, Amazon, and Tidal, and reportedly generated substantial revenue for the scam artist.

Millions of Streams

Apparently, Wisekid was quite proud of his accomplishments as he posted a screenshot on Twitter showing off that he had millions of streams and more than a thousand digital sales on Apple’s service. This is when things started to go downhill.

wisekid revenue

Several commenters on social media noticed the similarities between Wizkid and Wisekid, accusing the latter of running a scam and ripping off a hard-working musician.

Wisekid, however, claimed to be innocent. Instead, he indirectly blamed his distribution company “Freeme Digital” for being responsible. Or in his own words (edited for readability);

“I don’t know who did that. I just accessed my apple artist name I saw streams. I just wanted to get people to check me out nothing more,” he wrote.

“Freeme Digital is the company that distributes all my songs. I’m just an upcoming artist and I know nothing about this. Please, I am not the one distributing Wizkid’s album on apple music.”

Deny and Delete

Soon after, the news was picked up by the Nigerian press while Wisekid removed his Twitter profile. Around the same time, the distribution company responded to the controversy, denying any involvement.

While Freeme Digital indeed worked with Wisekid, the company said that the ‘Lasgidi Made’ album was not distributed via their platform. The company also decided to cut its ties with the artist.

“We will be deleting the rest of Wisekid’s content on our platform and we have informed our legal team to immediately commence investigation on the issue and prosecute the matter to the full extent of the law.”

Removing Pirated music (and More)

Meanwhile, Wizkid’s management said it was working hard to take down the illegal uploads across all digital platforms. The RIAA helped out as well, which brings us back to the takedown notice we spotted on Wednesday.

In addition to the RIAA, UK-based industry group BPI also sent a takedown notice identifying Wisekid’s infringing upload. Sadly, this notice also flagged several news reports as copyright infringement, but that’s a different rabbit hole.

From: TF , for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

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    Games Publisher “Cracked & Pirated” ‘The Sinking City’, Developer Alleges / TorrentFreak · Tuesday, 2 March, 2021 - 10:54 · 5 minutes

Over the past few days a drama has been developing around the videogame The Sinking City .

Created by Ukrainian development team Frogwares, the company made the unusual step of taking to Twitter to warn consumers NOT to buy the version of its game that appeared on Steam.

In its tweet , Frogwares wrote that it had “not created the version of @thesinkingcity that is today on sale on @Steam. We do not recommend the purchase of this version. More news soon.”

Background: History of Legal Issues

After being released in 2019, The Sinking City was pulled from Steam and other platforms in 2020, with Frogwares stating that it had been forced to end its contract with French publisher Nacon. Frogwares cited breaches of its licensing agreement and according to various reports, Nacon was still collecting revenue from sales of The Sinking City, something which prompted Frogware to pull the plug.

The background is available in an open letter that was published on the Frogwares site in August last year. It stated that in return for a “financial contribution” to the development of the game, publisher Bigben/Nacon were given the rights to commercialize the game on Xbox One, PS4, Steam and Epic Games Store.

“The intellectual property would still belong to Frogwares, which has always been the only producer and owner of its games, including The Sinking City,” the developer wrote.

Frogwares launched legal action against Bigben/Nacon during August 2019 but in October 2020, the Paris Court of Appeal ruled that Frogwares should not have pulled The Sinking City from sale, adding that no further action should be taken until the dispute between the parties had been resolved.

Game Appears on Steam, Disappears, Reappears

In January 2021, Frogwares released The Sinking City on Steam but it was soon pulled , only to be replaced by Nacon last week. That move was met with disappointment from fans, who complained that the version being offered by Nacon was old and incomplete , with “no DLC, no cloud saves, no achievements.”

This reappearance prompted Frogwares to deter fans from buying the version of the game uploaded by Nacon to Steam. Then, in an announcement made yesterday, Frogwares put some additional meat on the bones, stating in a blog post that Nacon had “Cracked and Pirated” The Sinking City.

Frogwares notes that the final decision on whether it is required to deliver a Steam version of The Sinking City is set to be decided by the court “in the next months or even years”. However, it alleges that after giving Frogwares an ultimatum in December to upload a “new Steam master”, Nacon bought a copy of The Sinking City from Gamesplanet and uploaded it to Steam.

Frogwares says it managed to stop this from being distributed but then last week, Nacon uploaded the game to Steam once again.

“So on February 26th 2021 to our great surprise, we found a new version of The Sinking City was uploaded to Steam and launched. But Frogwares didn’t deliver such a version,” the company writes.

“Nacon under the management of its president Alain Falc asked some of their employees, who we even identified, to crack, hack and pirate our game, change its content in order to commercialize it under their own name.”

Frogwares’ Explanation of How ‘Crack’ Took Place Nacon Hacking

“In order to make changes Nacon had only one way: to decompile or hack the game using a secret key created by Frogwares since the totality of the game’s content is archived with an Epic Unreal Engine encryption system,” the developer continues.

“To be clear this is hacking and when hacking has the purpose to steal a product and make money with it, it’s called piracy or counterfeiting. In order to achieve this goal, programmers with serious skills need to be involved. This is not DIY work by inexperienced people, this is done by programmers who know Unreal engine well.”

Nacon Obtained Encryption Key

Frogwares says that in order to ‘crack’ its game, Nacon needed to obtain the encryption key. The developer says it knows how that was achieved and will inform the French court dealing with the dispute. Frogwares says it carried out its own checks by downloading the version Nacon uploaded to Steam and testing its own key, which worked.

“The hackers didn’t even care to use a different encryption key than the one we created when recompiling,” the company says.

“We therefore opened the packages and we identified immediately in the config files the version that was stolen and hacked: it is a commercial version coming from the site Gamesplanet that was purchased by Nacon like any other player.”

Using information obtained from Steam, Frogwares argues that the ‘crack’ was carried out by someone at Belgian studio Neopica, which was acquired by Nacon in October 2020.

“There are long term damages we need to take care of, Nacon unpacked our data, stole our source code and used it. Nacon can create a new version of The Sinking City using our assets; they can resell, reuse, recycle our content and our tools etc,” Frogwares writes.

“We have to take the measure of what happened now and follow the best path on the legal side to prevent anything like this happening again. The owner of Nacon, Alain Falc will have to face the legal consequences of the decision of pirating and stealing Frogwares property,” the developer concludes.

In a statement, Nacon said it regrets that Frogwares “persists in disrupting the release of The Sinking City” but puts the blame at the developer’s door.

“It was Frogwares who came to Nacon to request financing for the development of the game, and to date, more than 10 million euros have been paid to Frogwares by Nacon. It was Frogwares that relied on our marketing and promotion teams, representing thousands of hours of work and several million euros worth of investment,” the statement reads.

“Now that the game has been fully developed, and published, largely thanks to Nacon’s money and work, Frogwares would like to revise the terms of the contract to their sole advantage. It’s easy to play the victim, but all we seek is that Frogwares respect its commitments both in the contract and as demanded by the courts.”

From: TF , for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

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    Police Around Asia Crack Down on Pirate IPTV With Raids & Arrests / TorrentFreak · Saturday, 13 February, 2021 - 11:47 · 3 minutes

Streaming Key While pirate streaming operations around the United States and Europe attract the most headlines, unlicensed IPTV and similar platforms are now mainstream in most parts of the world.

Authorities in the West are tackling this problem using quiet ‘behind-the-scenes’ agreements through to civil litigation and criminal enforcement. The situation in Asia is similar and over the past couple of weeks a number of cases have been made public.

Police in Taiwan Arrest Nine

As reported by Japan-based anti-piracy group CODA , authorities in Taiwan carried out an operation through the latter part of January and early February targeting what is described as a “criminal organization” involved in the supply of illegal streams. With assistance from the prosecutor’s office, police, and detective agencies, officers arrested nine people.

Taiwan IPTV Raids

Taiwan established a dedicated team in early 2020 to tackle the illegal streaming of TV shows to pirate devices and since then 18 locations have been searched, resulting in the seizure of hundreds of set-top devices and computer servers. After analysis, it was found that some of the devices provided illegal access to broadcasts from Taiwan and Japan.

“It is believed that the criminal organization deciphered the broadcast signals of each major TV station through network servers installed in domestic telecommunications equipment rooms and sent them to infringing set-top devices via the Internet,” CODA reports.

Thai Police Raid Five Premises Linked to Illegal Streaming

Over the past several years Thailand’s Department of Special Investigation (DSI) has carried out numerous actions against individuals involved in the supply of pirate IPTV and similar streaming services.

Two Brits and a local were arrested in 2017 under suspicion of violating the rights of the Premier League and in 2019, DSI shut down the country’s most popular pirate site,, following a request from the Motion Picture Association.

Last weekend, the DSI unit was in action again, raiding five premises linked to the illegal movie streaming. According to Pol Lt Col Korawat, among the items seized were 100 receivers, decoders, satellite dishes, computers, notebooks, hard disks and mobile phones. It’s believed that the equipment was used to supply pirated movies and TV content to the website That site is currently down.

According to the Bangkok Post , the main players behind the streaming operation were not discovered during the raids and the authorities were only able to arrest technicians hired to run the operation. was reportedly founded in 2012 and was Thailand’s largest broadcaster of pirated movies and sport, including content owned by the Premier League.

Prosecution in Malaysia

Over in Malaysia, a company director behind the operation to supply ‘Long TV’ pirate TV devices to the public pleaded guilty on Monday. According to local reports, the individual was charged with selling the devices and breaching intellectual property rights last September.

“The company, located at I-City, Persiaran Multimedia, Section 7, Shah Alam, Selangor has violated Section 41(1)(ha) of the Copyright Act 1987 for selling any technology or device for the purpose of bypassing any effective technological measures stated under subsection 36A(3) of the same Act,” a statement from the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs reads.

According to the Ministry, the yet-to-be-named individual faces a fine of up to RM40,000 (around US$9,900) and a prison sentence of up to 10 years.

Educational Initiatives in Japan

Last August, Japan’s Agency for Cultural Affairs, a body of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, hired Hello Kitty to become its Copyright Ambassador. Since then, local anti-piracy group CODA has been releasing educational content featuring the famous character in an effort to keep people away from sources of pirated content.

Masaharu Ina, CODA’s Director of Overseas Copyright Protection, recently sent TorrentFreak a new video to promote compliance with Japan’s brand new anti-piracy law along with a Hello Kitty quiz designed to test people’s knowledge of copyright.

The video is embedded below and the quiz can be found here .

From: TF , for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

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    ‘Cheating’ Fortnite Kid Settles Copyright Lawsuit with Epic Games / TorrentFreak · Friday, 5 February, 2021 - 21:27 · 2 minutes

battle fortnine More than three years ago, Epic Games decided to take several Fortnite cheaters to court, accusing them of copyright infringement.

Pretty much all of these lawsuits have been settled but there is one that proved to be quite a challenge.

One of the alleged cheaters, who was also accused of advertising and distributing the cheat via his YouTube channel, turned out to be a minor. The game publisher wasn’t aware of this when it filed the lawsuit, but the kid’s mother let the company know in clear terms.

Mother Intervenes

“This company is in the process of attempting to sue a 14-year-old child,” the mother informed the court back in 2017.

The letter was widely publicized in the press but Epic Games didn’t back off. Due to his young age, the Carolina District Court ordered that the kid, who operated the “Sky Orbit” YouTube channel, should only be referred to by his initials C.R. The case itself continued, albeit slowly.

Since C.R. didn’t retain an attorney or otherwise respond in court, Epic filed a motion for default judgment. The court didn’t accept this right away, however, instead deciding that the mother’s letter should be treated as a motion to dismiss the case.

Among other defenses, the mother highlighted that the EULA, which the game publisher relies heavily upon in the complaint, isn’t legally binding. The EULA states that minors require permission from a parent or legal guardian, which was not the case here.

Default judgments Denied

The court reviewed these arguments but concluded that they were not sufficient to dismiss the case. After that ruling things went quiet. Neither C.R. nor his mom responded, which prompted Epic Games to file another motion for default judgment, which was also denied.

According to the court, it is not allowed to order default judgments against minors who haven’t been represented. That brought the case back to square one, and Epic Games saw no other option than to ask the court to appoint a guardian to represent C.R. This request was granted in the summer of 2019.

Settlement Agreement

This strategy eventually paid off and it brought all parties together again. After more than three years, Epic Games and C.R have agreed to settle the case.

The legal paperwork doesn’t reveal any details regarding the outcome. Epic Games specifically asked to keep the agreement out of the public eye, to protect C.R. who hasn’t turned 18 yet.

“In this case, the minor Defendant’s privacy interests outweigh the public interest to access,” Epic Games informed the court (pdf) .

“There is no proper purpose or public service that could be achieved by public disclosure of the private details of the settlement agreement – rather, the minor could be exposed to public scrutiny and unfairly disadvantaged as a result.”

Money Isn’t a Motive

Since C.R. previously continued promoting cheats on YouTube while the lawsuit was active, we assume that the settlement will strictly forbid this type of activity going forward.

A large settlement sum seems unlikely, as previous cases have shown that the games developer isn’t trying to financially ruin its targets. The company is mainly interested in preventing them from cheating in the future.

At the time of writing, the court has yet to officially approve the settlement publicly. The docket lists an order dated today, but that’s sealed and not available to outsiders.

From: TF , for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

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    Don’t Be Hostile Towards Pirates, Game Developer Warns / TorrentFreak · Saturday, 30 January, 2021 - 12:34 · 3 minutes

Lego Pirate Dealing with pirates raises all sorts of issues for content providers and entertainment companies. On the one hand these are people trying to get something for nothing but on the other, many pirates are potential and even current customers.

Converting pirates into paying customers is a puzzle that many companies have tried to crack. Many do so with free trials, hoping that after tasting the real thing people will like it enough to come back for more, wallets in hand. Some innovate, offering a product or service that cannot easily be emulated. Others prefer to intimidate.

Screaming At Pirates

As reported last week, UFC President Dana White enjoys tackling pirates with threats and profanity , treating them as a danger to be eradicated by any means. The jury is still out on whether consumers ever respond to this type of approach but if we think of consumers as regular people, few – if any – appreciate being shouted out and called names.

Judging by the number of insults leveled at White late weekend, it’s pretty safe to say that his actions rubbed many people up the wrong way. To be clear, White will not give a damn if this is the case but according to games developer Adam Coster of Butterscotch Shenanigans , being hostile to pirates isn’t an approach he recommends.

No Open Hostility Towards Pirates

Writing in this week, Coster explains that the problem of piracy is emotionally charged but the overall goal should be to limit the harm, not only on the business itself, but also on the people creating the content.

“We don’t want to spend our time and resources fighting piracy — it’s exhausting, expensive and, frankly, doomed from the start. We want our time going into making games and building an amazing community,” Coster says.

“We certainly don’t condone or accept piracy, and we explicitly tell our players that when the topic arises. We also don’t allow players in our communities to advocate for or help others pirate games. But when we discover pirates in our midst we stay friendly .”

While big companies tend to be outwardly hostile to pirates, stating that “theft-is-theft” and there are no excuses for getting something for free, Coster doesn’t mind acknowledging that there can be reasons why people go down that route. People without financial resources, for example, or people seeking access to his games where they aren’t legitimately available.

Keeping Things Nice Has Benefits For The Developer

Despite his understanding, Coster doesn’t condone freeloading behavior but still prefers to keep things civil. There are benefits to that, he says, including keeping the environment around games consumption (and indeed, games creation) a nice place to be.

“Our non-hostile approach has helped foster a positive community, including a handful of converted pirates. But more importantly, it has been essential for our team’s mental health. Adversarial relationships take a terrible toll,” he concedes.

Keeping the pirating masses happy – or at least emotionally compliant – has some interesting benefits for Coster’s company. He believes that almost all of his potential players are pirates so it makes little sense to have an adversarial relationship with them – especially when a “jillion angry people” descend on community management and customer support teams to air their displeasure.

A Better Approach

Given that this is one of the likely outcomes of being hostile towards pirates (or if one prefers, potential customers, who may walk away after being threatened) Coster says that anti-piracy measures should not be about the pirates. The starting point, whether he likes it or not, should be an empathetic approach along with gentle encouragement to buy his games when they can.

“People will try to steal your game. Huge numbers of them. This is just the reality. Treat it as a design constraint,” he says.

“This is a business problem. Do your best to ignore how you feel about it. Yes, this is far easier said than done. Now get out there and make something worth stealing.”

The full piece, which is a must-read for developers, can be found here

From: TF , for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

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    ‘Pirate’ Releases Recover From Historic Drop Caused By Scene Busts / TorrentFreak · Thursday, 28 January, 2021 - 19:36 · 2 minutes

Pirate Fire Last year, the US Department of Justice booked one of its biggest successes in its battle against online piracy.

In August 2020, law enforcement upset the international piracy ecosystem by targeting several high-profile Scene members , which were the source for many pirated movies and TV-shows.

The criminal investigation focused on the SPARKS release group of which three alleged members were indicted. However, the crackdown, which resulted in raids in various countries, had a much broader impact.

Following the raids, several topsites went offline. Some of these had their infrastructure caught up in the enforcement, but many others decided to lay low as a precaution . Meanwhile, the rumor mill was in full swing, with some fearing that the action was just the start.

Historic Scene Release Drop

After a few days, it became apparent how broad the impact was. Not just in The Scene but also further down the piracy pyramid, where torrent and streaming sites noticed a lack of fresh content.

In a report published in early September, we showed that there were 1,944 new scene releases the Wednesday before the enforcement actions. A week later, a day after the first raids, this number had shrunk to 168 releases .

During the weeks that followed things slowly but steadily started to recover. With help from we decided to take another look at the release volume at the start of the new year. Based on recent figures, we can conclude that the release volume ultimately recovered.

We compared the release numbers starting the week before the raids (Monday-Sunday), followed by the two weeks after, and finally data from last week. For a clean comparison this analysis doesn’t cover the week the raid took place, which included the largest dip.

Release Volume Recovers

The bar chart below shows the releases across all categories. This started at 12,776 before the raid, then dipped to 3,680 and 4,463 in the two weeks after. From there it gradually climbed back to 11,759 last week, which is pretty much back to normal.

Total new releases before and after the raids

recover scene releases all

Looking at individual categories, there are similar recoveries. The TV-X264 category initially dropped 90% from 5,254 to 572, but is now back at 4,913 . And Anime, Movies-X264, and XXX releases all bounced back too, as shown below.

New releases before and after the raids (selected categories)

recover scene releases categories

Based on these data we can conclude that the US Government’s enforcement actions had a major impact, but not one that’s lasting. This doesn’t mean that all groups continued business as usual, but there are certainly plenty left.

Prosecutions Continue

While the dust appears to have settled a bit in the Scene, the legal troubles for the three indicted SPARKS members are far from over.

Thus far Jonatan Correa (aka ‘Raid’) is the only defendant to have appeared in court. He pleaded guilty earlier this month and will be sentenced this spring. Due to his cooperative stance, the prosecution agreed to a sentencing guideline of 12 to 18 months imprisonment, instead of the maximum of five years.

The two other defendants, George Bridi from Great Britain and Norway resident Umar Ahmad (aka ‘Artist’), have yet to appear in US court. According to the information we have available, Bridi has yet to be extradited from Cyprus where he was previously detained while Ahmad is still at large.

From: TF , for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.