Ellen Degeneres: Pirate Enabler? Her Watermarked Copy Of 'Walter Mitty' Leaks Online

from the who-knew? dept

Each year, Andy Baio tracks the online leaking of various screeners for Oscar-nominated films. He apparently just noticed something interesting. On Thursday, a screener for The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, the new Ben Stiller flick, leaked online. That happens. But, there appears to be a massive watermark indicating that the screener copy belonged to talk show star Ellen Degeneres.
Baio notes the likely possibilities:
There's a chance, albeit small, that this watermark was added by someone besides 20th Century Fox — by someone trying to hide the identity of the actual source, maybe.

More likely, the watermark is accurate and Ellen's screener simply ended up in the wrong hands. A postal worker, one of her employees, friend, family member, or countless others in the production and distribution chain could be responsible for ripping the DVD and putting it online.
Indeed, one of those possibilities is the most likely answer, as it's extremely doubtful that Degeneres herself suddenly decided to make a bit of a name for herself in the warez scene. Either way, I'm sure that 20th Century Fox and/or the MPAA enforcement division of the local FBI can now more easily track down the history of how this all got online. I'm sure that large sums of money will be spent tracking it down... without anyone stopping to think that the fact that this is online is unlikely to make even the slightest difference in the eventual revenue for the film, which currently has a 48% approval rating on RottenTomatoes. The film was going to leak online sooner or later no matter what. Does it really matter where it came from?


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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2014 @ 4:02pm

    "Does it really matter where it came from?"

    you appear to think so !

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2014 @ 4:06pm

    and eventually you are going to die, there is nothing you can do about it, sooner or later you will die, so you might as well kill yourself now, does it really matter when you die?? if you are going to die anyway !

    "without anyone stopping to think that the fact that this is online is unlikely to make even the slightest difference in the eventual revenue for the film,"

    is it going to make any difference to the amount of revenue you will make if you are dead ?

    I would think it would make a large difference, same for movies.

     

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      jarfil, Jan 11th, 2014 @ 2:26am

      Response to: Anonymous Coward on Jan 10th, 2014 @ 4:06pm

      So, your point being... since I was not going to watch it anyways, it was as good as dead already, right?

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2014 @ 4:14pm

    know what a Fatalist is ?

    Fatalism, all actions and events are due to fate, its your central argument with copyright, "its going to happen anyway, so might as well accept it and profit however you can"

    might want to look up "defeatism" as well, and 'predeterminism'

     

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    out_of_the_blue, Jan 10th, 2014 @ 4:15pm

    Mike blazing a trail to blithering irrelevancy.

    You end on a question that should stop you from posting this tripe. But, late Friday, you're desperate.

    Here are two items far more important to everyone:

    Sessions: 'For Every One Job Added, Nearly 5 People Left the Workforce'

    http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/sessions-every-one-job-added-nearly-5-people-left-work force_774106.html

    And, on that site, yet another variant of "cloudfront" with fake "security certificate" to host out: u6t6.cloudfront.net. These "security certificates" are the latest trick against those who try to avoid being tracked. Of course, since you kids have your browers in "track me, spam me, load malware, please" mode, you don't even notice.

    Masnicking: daily spurts of short and trivial traffic-generating items.

    12:14:57[n-197-3]

     

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2014 @ 4:25pm

      Re: Mike blazing a trail to blithering irrelevancy.

      It's a wonder that you can even use the internet.

       

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    •  
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      JMT (profile), Jan 10th, 2014 @ 8:26pm

      Re: Mike blazing a trail to blithering irrelevancy.

      "Here are two items far more important to everyone"

      If you don't think Mike's tackling the important issues, get off your lazy ass and start your own blog instead of freeloading off this one. I'm sure it'd be hugely popular...

       

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        qw, Jan 11th, 2014 @ 3:13am

        Re: Re: Mike blazing a trail to blithering irrelevancy.

        We should all share a username 'Into_the_blue' and timeshare the trolling.

         

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          techflaws (profile), Jan 11th, 2014 @ 7:24am

          Re: Re: Re: Mike blazing a trail to blithering irrelevancy.

          Don't you know, ankle-biter #1 invented these glorious horizontal lines and dashing codes so everyone can be sure the sheer stupidity posted is his and his alone.

           

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        John Fenderson (profile), Jan 12th, 2014 @ 2:18pm

        Re: Re: Mike blazing a trail to blithering irrelevancy.

        I like how Blue has somehow determined what items are important to people he doesn't even know. Also, I only counted one item (unless that cloudfront babble was item #2? It's hard to say.)

         

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        Pragmatic, Jan 13th, 2014 @ 7:04am

        Re: Re: Mike blazing a trail to blithering irrelevancy.

        She did, it bombed, and so she's here frantically seeking attention. Her funniest moment was attempting to whore out her alleged article-writing skills to Mike right here in the comments. She even promised to be good and not insult us. Nothing doing, so she's back to insulting us in the Longest Tantrum Ever.

        She's a failed content creator hoping to be handsomely compensated by the magic of copyright, etc. and I'm fairly certain she's not being paid by any legacy industry because she's too nutty for them. I understand she's a regular on the conspiracy theory circuit, but isn't very popular and can't admit it.

         

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      Reality Check (profile), Jan 11th, 2014 @ 8:57am

      Re: Mike blazing a trail to blithering irrelevancy.

      Again, you feel the need to chime in...

      Not about the actual blog entry, but to pontificate pusillanimously on what you think he should be posting about.

      Start your own bilious blog where you alternate raving about how large corporations are all evil, and then about how the government granted monopolies in the form of Copyright and Patents to create mega-corporations is the opposite of evil. And how criminalizing people is the best way for the mega-corporations to make a profit.

      Or write about your balding cat or your obsession with your neighbors underage daughter. I don't care. But if you can't find a blog you like... Make your own.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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        John Fenderson (profile), Jan 12th, 2014 @ 2:21pm

        Re: Re: Mike blazing a trail to blithering irrelevancy.

        Blue knows very well that nobody would read his blog, so he has to come where there is actually an audience. By his definitions, he's just grifting.

         

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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Jan 10th, 2014 @ 4:17pm

    So what are they going to do about it?

    I bet the studio was expecting to nab a grip or someone. I can't imagine they'll stop sending Ellen screeners.

     

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    Listens to Music, Jan 10th, 2014 @ 4:19pm

    Watermarks

    This is why I don't buy music containing personal information (e.g. anything purchased through iTunes and Amazon MP3 albums which state they include "record company required metadata").

    I don't pirate music, but I can't guarantee someone who has access to my computer won't post all my music online. That's why I avoid iTunes and only buy music I know contains no personal information of any kind.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2014 @ 7:53pm

      Re: Watermarks

      identifying information in mp3s is limited to id3 tags (which can all be easily stripped out) or proprietary extra "garbage" at the beginning or end of the audio (again, easily detected and stripped out).

      I'm more concerned with the changing of words, punctuation etc of the author(s)' content in ebooks to create a unique "fingerprint"

       

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        Julian Perez, Jan 12th, 2014 @ 10:13pm

        Re: Re: Watermarks

        I'm more concerned with the changing of words, punctuation etc of the author(s)' content in ebooks to create a unique "fingerprint"

        You really have nothing to worry about, then. Different versions of e-books sounds VERY clever when you first hear it, but give the matter some thought and it's even more trivial to crack: just compare two copies and list the differences.

        Seriously, this strategy for texts was obsolete the instant UNIX created the -diff command decades ago.

         

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    That One Guy (profile), Jan 10th, 2014 @ 4:59pm

    Yes, actually, it does matter

    The film was going to leak online sooner or later no matter what. Does it really matter where it came from?

    It matters because this will be yet another case showcasing how 'piracy' is only something bad enough to ruin a life over when someone 'small' does it, but not even a blip on the radar when someone big or 'important' does it.

    Had it been some no-name reviewer, or someone not as well known, you can bet there would be multiple companies and groups out for blood, bound and determined to make them pay by absolutely burying, and bankrupting, them through lawsuits and charges.

    Because it's someone so well known however, someone who has connections, and fans, and most importantly money, they'll likely chalk it up to an 'innocent mistake' or something equally bland, and/or try and pin the blame on someone else.

     

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      Just Sayin', Jan 10th, 2014 @ 5:18pm

      Re: Yes, actually, it does matter

      "It matters because this will be yet another case showcasing how 'piracy' is only something bad enough to ruin a life over when someone 'small' does it, but not even a blip on the radar when someone big or 'important' does it."

      Another conclusion not supported by the situation.

      Aside from knowing that this was a copy specifically sent to Ellen, we have no idea if (a) she ever got it, (b) if it came from her copy and not a duplicate made at the time it was created, and (c) perhaps one or more of the people who might have access to her material borrowed it.

      See, piracy apologists always want to be able to say "SODDI" - some other dude did it. They blame weak wireless standards, friend who paid a visit, the neighbor's kids, their own kids, whatever excuse that you can come up with. "The dog clicked my mouse on the porn video, he thought that b**ches in heat was about dogs!". Everything comes with an excuse.

      Perhaps you should apply your own fuzzy, weak, and never responsible standards to Ellen. By your standards, she's a victim, not a responsible party.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jan 12th, 2014 @ 9:42pm

        Re: Re: Yes, actually, it does matter

        Yes, she is a victim. And since copyright enforcers have always been out for blood, they should have been out for hers on the usual bullshit claims of "subscriber tied to the account" and "negligence". Had this been the case she would be defended.

        Since she was not, it reinforces the original point of "high court, low court". Celebrities have never been dragged through the mud or courts when found allegedly infringing on copyright.

        You're an idiot if you can't see that point being made.

         

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        That One Guy (profile), Jan 13th, 2014 @ 12:54am

        Re: Re: Yes, actually, it does matter

        Thank you for proving my point AJ.

        In two consecutive paragraphs you both try and claim that it's 'not her fault' because 'reasons', and then, immediately afterwards claim that 'piracy apologists' are the ones always trying to shift the blame.

        So which is it? Are you admitting to being a 'piracy apologist' by trying to shift the blame to someone other than the person who's name showed up in the watermark in the file, or is that glaring double standard I mentioned rearing it's head, and suddenly it's everyone's fault but hers, simply because she's rich and well known, meaning it couldn't possibly be her fault?

        And heck, if we're going to talk about 'wrongfully accused victims', off the top of my head I don't exactly remember you ever defending those accused of file sharing elsewhere, it was always 'they were accused, they must be guilty', and in those cases it was a matter of IP address, something far less likely to accurately identify a person, this case involves something that literally has the person's name attached to it, so why aren't you calling for the blood of the 'filthy pirate'?

         

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        PaulT (profile), Jan 13th, 2014 @ 1:13am

        Re: Re: Yes, actually, it does matter

        "Aside from knowing that this was a copy specifically sent to Ellen, we have no idea if (a) she ever got it, (b) if it came from her copy and not a duplicate made at the time it was created, and (c) perhaps one or more of the people who might have access to her material borrowed it."

        I seen nothing in TOG's post that refutes that idea. But that wasn't the point he was making. All of the above could apply equally to anybody else identified in this way. However, I suspect that you'd be one of the ones baying for blood rather than allow that they could be innocent - the exact point being made. If DeGeneres isn't going to face the full consequences that would face a lesser-known person, it's a double standard.

        However:

        "piracy apologists"

        Stop with the lying and name-calling. Making wild attacks on people you've never met, using absolutely zero evidence of any wrongdoing on their part will just make you look like a lying ass.

        This argument would be so much easier if people like you didn't feel the need to defend a broken industry at all costs and lie about people who question them. The point being made above is simple - DeGeneres appears to be allowed greater benefit of the doubt and less likelihood to face legal consequences than a lesser-known person would in the same circumstances. Why not address this actual argument, rather than the strawmen you constructed here?

        "always want to be able to say "SODDI" - some other dude did it"

        Wasn't that exactly what you were trying to argue in the first part of your post I quoted? It's hilarious to see someone try to deflect criticism of someone whose copy was pirated by blaming someone else, then attack people for using the very argument you just used. Logical consistency is as important as sticking to the facts if you want to be taken seriously - try it.

         

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    jupiterkansas (profile), Jan 10th, 2014 @ 6:17pm

    It's free online?
    Still don't care enough to watch it.

     

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      Pragmatic, Jan 13th, 2014 @ 8:33am

      Re:

      It's actually pretty good, with Stiller playing an amiable goofball. As usual. Okay, I liked it.

      And I paid to see it, copyright shills. We pirates DO go to the cinema, etc., and buy tickets for the stuff we like. It's a myth that we want everything for free.

       

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        That One Guy (profile), Jan 14th, 2014 @ 4:18am

        Re: Re:

        Okay, I just have to ask: Why?

        After all the stuff this site covers, why would you still throw money at hollywood like that, knowing what they use that money for?

        If you really must see a movie put out by hollywood, wait until it's been out long enough for the dollar theater, or Redbox/Netflix, and at least minimize the money going to those parasites. As an added incentive, waiting allows you to check the review for a movie, so you're less likely to waste your time and money on a crappy film.

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2014 @ 6:19pm

    Send in the Cops!

    Send the cops after that dirty pirate! She can prove her innocence in court. That's what the MPAA says should happen, and for once I agree with them.

     

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    Bergman (profile), Jan 10th, 2014 @ 7:50pm

    It IS possible Ms Degeneres did leak it...

    ...only she didn't think of it as a leak. She thought it was good and gave it to a friend to read, who gave it to another friend, etc.

     

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    gyffes, Jan 10th, 2014 @ 8:27pm

    I dunno

    I've watched these screeners for years and have never seen m'mom's identifying information so plainly. Having said that, we're under pretty strict orders when we watch these to keep 'em to ourselves, for fear they'd get out like this one has.

     

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    santa clause, Jan 10th, 2014 @ 11:51pm

    so go after the place it got leaked

    everyone involved on the pirate side should get banned from piracy ...cause this is a trap....meant to gain inroads so they can nerf a few more kids

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 11th, 2014 @ 5:11am

    Yet another remake

    So Hollywood's still completely void of originality, eh? Sad, but not particularly surprising.

     

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      Pragmatic, Jan 13th, 2014 @ 8:36am

      Re: Yet another remake

      Good point; I'd be interested to know if they licensed it from James Thurber's estate, the grifters! /s

       

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    PopeRatzo (profile), Jan 11th, 2014 @ 5:59am

    Could be anything

    What if she just tossed it into the trash and her housekeeper picked it up and brought it home and her son saw what it was and put up a torrent?

    I mean, come on. When we buy a DVD are we now on the hook for making sure it is disposed of in a secure way so nobody can ever copy it? I'm sure that's in the Trans Pacific Partnership.

    I've dumped tons of copywritten material in the garbage over the years (including a fair amount of my own). I don't believe I'm responsible for anything that happens to it after I drop it in my wastebin.

     

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    Mike, Jan 11th, 2014 @ 3:08pm

    Walter Mitty? I'm serious, I've never heard of it.

     

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    evilk666, Jan 12th, 2014 @ 4:17pm

    invisible/inaudible Watermarks

    You'd be surprised what achieved ages ago in means of invisible/inaudible watermarking. Especially what kind of massive picture degradation they survive.
    They are designed to survive even the worst cam-rip encoded at a catastrophic bitrate.
    Though, that kind of watermarking would require a full re-encoding per Screener-DVD. Re-Encoding is done already, however, just by small snippets (every few minutes a visible watermark is stamped into the picture for a couple of seconds/minutes).
    Re-encoding a full DVD is not that a time-consuming task nowadays. Especially if billions of dollars are at stake, as they keep on telling everyone all the time.

     

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      Anonymous, Jan 12th, 2014 @ 5:12pm

      Re: invisible/inaudible Watermarks

      Back when the Disney movie "The Princess And The Frog" was in theatrical release, I downloaded it from the internet. At one point, the words "Property Of Walt Disney Studios - Do Not Duplicate" appear for a few seconds.

       

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        evilk666, Jan 12th, 2014 @ 6:19pm

        Re: Re: invisible/inaudible Watermarks

        Well, that's hardly what I meant with invisible ;)
        Digital watermarking is mathematically altering the picture in a way you will not recognize with the naked eye. You can choose to either embed more data that is less robust or less data that in turn is very robust. Usually the latter one is preferred. Expect something like 0.2 bits of data per second - i.e. you have to wait for 10 seconds in order to gain 2 data bits or wait for 1 minute to receive 2 bytes. In order to embed a unique ID you'll need a couple of bytes=minutes, which shouldn't be a problem for movies, tv-series etc...

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2014 @ 8:14am

    Did the black helicopters full of Navy Seals, FBI, Swat, ICE, and Walt Disney descend on Ellen DeGeneres' compound yet and seize everything she owns while taking her into custody?

    I've got the popcorn and am flipping through the news waiting for it to happen. This is going to be epic!

     

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    John85851 (profile), Jan 13th, 2014 @ 2:32pm

    This isn't as bad as cam-cording

    You say vast sums of money will be spent getting to the bottom of this? Sorry, but I disagree 100%.

    First, the MPAA isn't going to risk offending its own screeners over this "accident" or "miscreant", especially someone as public as Ellen Degeneres. Does anyone think for a minute that Degeneres, or any of her staff, will even be questioned about this?

    Second, I would be willing to bet that there will be a story from the MPAA in the next few days about how they just scored another "win" by arresting a teenager trying to record 5 seconds a movie on her cell phone.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 9:36pm

    horse with no name just hates it when due process is enforced.

     

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