Copyright Industry Publishes Data-Free Report Claiming Pirate Sites Will Damage Computers

from the and-its-'fix'-only-makes-things-worse dept

When incumbents whose legislative future depends on the portrayal of piracy as the destroyer of worlds commission a report on infringement, you can be sure it will be light on info and heavy on implication. Cold, hard facts generally aren't as conducive to swaying political opinion as scare tactics are. So, instead of verifiable data, the public receives this sort of thing instead.

Nearly all the UK's favourite movie and TV piracy sites "contain malware or credit card scams", according to a study published by the media industry.

It analysed 30 of the most visited sites offering access to copyright infringing material, and indicated only one was free of such threats.
The report (a summary of which is embedded below) makes a lot of claims, none of them verifiable. Why? Because the irrational fear of piracy led to this stupid decision:
The report was commissioned by the Industry Trust for Intellectual Property Awareness, whose members include Amazon, BBC Worldwide, HMV, BSkyB, Sony and Walt Disney.

It declined to name the sites involved.
So, the Industry Trust expects everyone to just believe that the 30 "most visited" sites will hit users with anything from "download managers" to ransomware. But the industry's fear of piracy is so great that it refused to name the sites, presumably to keep more people from heading to them. This makes the information presented highly questionable. There's no way to verify whether these sites perform in this manner or if, indeed, they are the "30 most visited." (The dearth of information included indicates Alexa was used to make this determination -- an entity whose site-ranking methodology has been depicted as "questionable," at best.)

The report fails to acknowledge that many legitimate sites and services do the same thing. Sure, they may not drop ransomware and malware on your computer, but they'll serve up unwanted toolbars and other spyware in exchange for a download. Take Java, for example. The always-in-need-of-an-update software bundles an Ask.com toolbar with the download, pre-clicked for "convenience." Free flash game sites throw popups all over the place, some of them designed to look like system dialog boxes. For quite some time, CNET's shareware/freeware site has attempted to push spyware and other assorted crapware/malware on users who clicked the "wrong" download button. So, this behavior is by no means limited to "illegitimate" sites.

The industry also fails to recognize that naming the sites could have a detrimental effect on their traffic, especially those deploying malware, rootkits and ransomware. Instead, the industry believes that any publicity is good publicity for "piracy sites." The report's sole reason for existence appears to be to serve as an advertisement for the industry's FindAnyFilm website, which guides visitors to legitimate sites to purchase/stream/etc. the content they're seeking.

FindAnyFilm.com may not load you up with spyware, but it's not much of a solution either. New movie releases seem to be handled competently, but anything out of that range results in a lot of dead ends. BBC political satire "The Thick of It" is nowhere to be found. A quick Google search will find you plenty of legitimate sources, however, including both digital and physical releases listed at Amazon.co.uk.

How about Game of Thrones, the most-pirated content in the history of content piracy? Nothing. FindAnyFilm claims there are no sources, not even a thumbnail.


But a quick search elsewhere shows that it's available from Amazon (UK) on a per episode basis, via DVD and can be rented from LoveFilm.


If anything, FindAnyFilm seems to be worse at delivering legitimate options than that supposed "pirate's best friend," Google's search engine.

FindAnyFilm's browse function itself is mostly broken as well. Trying to bypass the somewhat useless search engine and browse my way to The Thick of It, I discovered that the site files every offering starting with the word "the" under T. Every letter gives you the option to see the Top 50 or All, but "All" is completely misnamed. The "All" option lists the first 50 titles alphabetically but gives you no way to navigate to the next page of listings.

This solution is no solution. It may send a few infringers toward legitimate sources, but it needs to be significantly better if it's ever going to displace other search methods. Dumping a super-scary report into people's laps without providing either a.) verifiable information or b.) a better option than the half-assed FindAnyFilm site isn't going to stem the bleeding. FindAnyFilm actually contributes to the problem with its own ineptness, presenting movies and TV shows with legitimate sources as being completely unavailable.

You can't scare people straight by presenting a one-sided report with no data to back up the claims. People surfing with ad blockers and not suckered by bordering ads, fake dialog boxes, etc. will continue to download infringing material without negatively affecting their computers. As the report itself points out, no site delivers anything bad without someone clicking something. The sites aren't infected, even if the ads and bright, shiny, fake download buttons are.

That it uses this report to push its "solution" is even worse. It just makes the industry look immoral, like car dealers commissioning a study on the "deceptive sales practices" of Tesla in an attempt to portray the upstart as somehow worse than an industry with a long history of deceptive practices. No one believes the results and quite possibly will take their business elsewhere simply because they don't like being treated like idiots by liars.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    Ninja (profile), May 8th, 2014 @ 9:58am

    No Script. Problem solved (if any).

    As for the lack of facts on MAFIAA studies it can't be solved that easily.

     

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

  2.  
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    Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), May 8th, 2014 @ 10:42am

    Re:

    Sure, it'd be easy. We just need to do the analog equivalent of the "stop the script that is causing problems" on the people commissioning these dataless reports.

     

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

  3.  
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    Mason Wheeler (profile), May 8th, 2014 @ 11:17am

    "Malware and PUPs (Potentially Unwanted Programs)"

    Hmm... Sounds like a perfect description of the DRM that the publishing industry likes to saddle us with on their "legitimate" products. Why didn't they count that in their research?

     

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

  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 8th, 2014 @ 11:18am

    Findanyfilm.com sounds like a "We tried your suggestion, but it didn't work."

     

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

  5.  
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    PenguinBrat (profile), May 8th, 2014 @ 11:19am

    Pirating == NSA backed?

    According to this, shouldn't the NSA be encouraging pirating then?

    Considering that the NSA wants to be able to snoop on all their enemies (IE: everyone) and a compromised system is easier to snoop on than not. Shouldn't the US government ultimately be encouraging copyright theft then?

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 8th, 2014 @ 11:19am

    Re:

    Yes, this completely undermines their whole "We should install rootkits and malware pirates' computers!" tactic.

     

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

  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 8th, 2014 @ 11:19am

    And why not? Copyright infringement finances terrorism, causes child abuse, and promotes just about every evil in society. Proof? Who needs proof? We know this because the copyright cartel has told us so. As a public service, of course, purely out of the goodness of their hearts.

     

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

  8.  
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    Rich Kulawiec, May 8th, 2014 @ 11:20am

    I understand, it's much clearer now.

    "The report was commissioned by the Industry Trust for Intellectual Property Awareness, whose members include Amazon, BBC Worldwide, HMV, BSkyB, Sony and Walt Disney."

    So...if I only go to sites operated/owned by those companies, then I won't have to deal with malware, spyware, toolbars, data breaches, or anything else unpleasant? Fabulous. Sign me right up for that.

    Except, ummm:

    http://www.techspot.com/news/47060-amazon-owned-zappos-hacked-24-million-accounts-compromised.h tml
    and
    http://www.her.ie/entertainment/hmv-twitter-account-is-hacked-by-employees/
    and
    http://www.ibtim es.co.uk/google-play-store-bskyb-apps-hacked-syrian-471601
    and
    http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2 013/dec/29/bbc-server-hacked-at-christmas
    and
    http://www.bit-tech.net/news/2008/07/03/sony-site-offers -up-malware/1
    and
    http://voices.yahoo.com/disney-email-database-hacked-guest-information-compromised-8 213409.html

    I'm sure those were all completely isolated incidents, though, and there is no possibility whatsoever that they'll be repeated in the future.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 8th, 2014 @ 11:22am

    let me fix this,

    free pirate sites MAY damage your computer, DRM malware WILL damage your computer.

     

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

  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 8th, 2014 @ 11:23am

    Re: Pirating == NSA backed?

    don't give them idea, please?

     

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

  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 8th, 2014 @ 11:25am

    FTFY

    Copyright Industry Publishes Data-Free Report Claiming Web Sites Will Damage Computers

     

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

  12.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), May 8th, 2014 @ 11:30am

    You tend to find what you put there.

    I don't doubt that lots of pirate sites have viruses on them. I'd also lay odds that any viruses found on the sites are ether related to third party ads (completely unrelated to the site) or put there as a honeypot by the same people who commissioned this study.

    I've seen it a few times on The Pirate Bay where a virus laden torrent has been tracked back to the producers. Granted, that's not evidence, but I wouldn't put it past these people.

     

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

  13.  
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    DaveK (profile), May 8th, 2014 @ 11:33am

    It's bloody iLivid, isn't it?

    Pretty much everywhere that Primewire sends me has these big dumb banner ads with fake 'Play' and 'Download' buttons to try and trick you into installing iLivid. So that 90% figure could even be true, although it's basically one particular PUP and maybe actual malware one time in a thousand.

     

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

  14.  
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    Killer_Tofu (profile), May 8th, 2014 @ 11:40am

    Re: Pirating == NSA backed?

    ultimately be encouraging copyright theft then?

    We can steal whole copyrights now?!? Somebody, quick, tell the authors and songwriters whose copyright has been locked up by the cartels. They may finally be able to get their copyright back and earn some money!

     

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  15.  
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    Digger, May 8th, 2014 @ 11:42am

    Sony calling ketlle black? Irony?

    Sony infected how many millions of computers with malware in an ill-advised and illegal attempt to "contain" piracy???

    Kettle calling black anyone?

     

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

  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 8th, 2014 @ 11:44am

    Hypocrisy

    CNET is owned and operated by CBS which is part of the content industry and one of the biggest complainers on the planet about piracy and copyright infringement sites. So they are really trying to use scare tactics about malware to criticize "pirate sites" when one of their own is one of the biggest distributors of malware out there via the very same techniques? Uh...can you say, "pot, meet kettle"?

     

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

  17.  
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    JEDIDIAH, May 8th, 2014 @ 11:45am

    Re: It's bloody iLivid, isn't it?

    The problem with claims of this kind is that these same issues exist for perfectly legitimate downloads. Anymore, shareware type download sites are a rats nest of spamware links or the downloads themselves have extra 'goodies' added. You really have to be careful if you're not getting your stuff from some sort of package manager.

    If you are a n00b, you won't likely realize that the top search results are pad advertisements for spamware pushers.

    The whole web has become infested with this crap. It's not just the "bad guys" you have to watch out for.

     

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

  18.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), May 8th, 2014 @ 11:46am

    Re: Re: Pirating == NSA backed?

    Hey, if I'm going to be spied on at least give me GoT.

     

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

  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 8th, 2014 @ 11:55am

    Certainly the copyright industries have no room to brag about malware being gotten somewhere else. Back in the day, the RIAA hired a 3rd party named Loudeye to seed wma files without licenses to file sharing sites after Microsoft came out with the format. It was one of the first formats to support DRM.

    Microsoft added another tab to the properties for the license. Only they didn't add any security assuming that those who could access it were legitimate copyright holders. If the license wasn't there, it would send you to the legitimate site to buy a license. Loudeye instead set up a fake site serving up trojans.

    After almost no one would take a wma file, Microsoft finally got around to putting in security to end Loudeye's practices.

    Everyone knows of Sony and it's rootkit problem.

    Harder to prove but most likely very much the truth, is that most are protecting their income streams by putting out poisoned digital offering. Movies with bad codec, programs with malware, and other little dastardly deeds to try and get paid. There's just too much of it, in too many ways, for it to be otherwise.

    Then there is the recent City of London move to remove reputable advertisers from file sharing sites. So who is going to advertise in their place? Demonoid just shut down all their advertisement after Google claimed they were serving up malware through ads. You can point the finger right back at the copyright industry for that occurrence.

     

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

  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 8th, 2014 @ 11:55am

    Disney ect don't get it

    see it kind of hurts the credibility of the anti piracy argument when they have to lie and mislead people about it

     

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  21.  
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    madasahatter (profile), May 8th, 2014 @ 12:04pm

    Malware Source

    How do they know this? Did they post malware on these sites?

    Seriously, one should be wary of many sites that often have dodgy wares. It is not limited to pirate sites, however.

     

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

  22.  
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    PRMan, May 8th, 2014 @ 12:11pm

    Re:

    The only malware I ever got in my entire life was a rootkit I got from a Sony music CD.

    You'll forgive me if I feel safer with the pirates.

     

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

  23.  
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    Richard (profile), May 8th, 2014 @ 12:14pm

    Re: Disney ect don't get it

    see it kind of hurts the credibility of the anti piracy argument when they have to lie and mislead people about it

    What credibility?

     

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

  24.  
    identicon
    Michael, May 8th, 2014 @ 12:30pm

    Sita Sings the Blues

    Sita Sings the Blues

    "Not Available"

    hmm...

    oh well, I guess I can't get that one online legally.

     

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

  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 8th, 2014 @ 12:30pm

    Re:

    Exhibit A: Sony's rootkit of the early 2000s.

    Exhibit B: early SecuROM.

     

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

  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 8th, 2014 @ 12:37pm

    Re: Re: Disney ect don't get it

    Exactly you have to have credibility in the first place for it to be hurt by something.

     

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

  27.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), May 8th, 2014 @ 12:52pm

    The site list

    "But the industry's fear of piracy is so great that it refused to name the sites, presumably to keep more people from heading to them."

    ...or to keep people from realizing that the 30 sites they've fingered are not actually "pirate sites". They have a really terrible track record at determining if a given site is a pirate site or not.

     

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

  28.  
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    zip, May 8th, 2014 @ 1:10pm

    Re: Re:

    For Mac users, the worst DRM of all time had to be the Celine Dion CD that destroyed iMacs.

    see: Celine Dion kills i-macs
    http://www.dslreports.com/shownews/17697

     

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

  29.  
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    Geno0wl (profile), May 8th, 2014 @ 1:28pm

    The Answer is obvious

    The real answer to why they won't release the names of the sites is because they want to avoid potential for lawsuits.
    If I claim site X has malware or CC scams and said operator wanted to he could easily sue and claim defamation.
    By not naming names the report doesn't have any type of risk for scrutiny.

    Not to mention if they named the one site that doesn't have scams/malware you can bet people would flock to that site.

     

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

  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 8th, 2014 @ 1:42pm

    Re: Re:

    Exhibit C: Starforce, that dreadful DRM that replaced the device driver for CD/DVD with its own.

    Exhibit D: tages, that DRM scheme that used undocumented system functions and vulnerabilities, leading to incompatibilities up to preventing booting all together.

    Exhibit E: obscure self made DRM that is so broken, that you NEED to crack them so that it works at all.

     

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

  31.  
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    That One Guy (profile), May 8th, 2014 @ 2:16pm

    Re: The site list

    What are you talking about, their methodology to determine whether or not a site is a 'pirate' site is extensive and thorough, and goes as follows:

    1) Does the site make content available to visitors?

    If 'yes', move on to 2.

    2) Is site owned, operated or controlled by a major label and/or studio?

    If 'yes', go to 3a. If 'no', go to 3b.

    3a) Site is not a pirate site.
    3b) Site is a pirate site.

     

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

  32.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 8th, 2014 @ 3:48pm

    every single section of the entertainments industry know full well that the worse sites are the ones that are supposed to be 'legitimate'. the reason being, they want to get as much money as possible from people and are not satisfied with getting just sufficient to run the site. on top of that, they dont care what else they do to get money from people, including adding in the odd toolbar and pop ups you cant stop! yes, there are ads on most 'piracy' sites but no more than on every other site on the 'net! and remember, those sites give customers what they want, unlike the 'legitimate' sites. the quality, speed of release, speed of download, no drm, and no ridiculous over the top fees! if the industries were genuinely interested in stopping 'illegitimate' sites, they need to compete against them and give at least as good as is available elsewhere. this continuous ploy of continuously complaining to politicians to do something, while they sit there, thumb up ass, brain out of gear, using the bait trick just to be able to sue people is what needs stopping! how can it be right that they can do nothing and be able to sue anyone? they dont do what customers want and complain because customers go and get what they want from elsewhere. if i were to leave my door unlocked and the house was burgled, and i told police when asked that i had left the door unlocked on purpose, just so as to get the police involved and looking for the thief, what would be said? the first time, i would be told i was stupid. the second time, i would be questioned harder than any thief, the third time i doubt if any police officer would do anything. that being the case, how come the industries can sit there doing nothing and get away with it? they need telling that if they dont do what customers want to expect their works to be copied. fulfill customers wants, no more problems

     

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

  33.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 8th, 2014 @ 5:03pm

    Re:

    I think Jenny McCarthy should start looking into copyright infringement as a more plausible cause of autism than vaccines.

     

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

  34.  
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    Daemon_ZOGG, May 8th, 2014 @ 5:57pm

    "...Claiming Pirate Sites Will Damage Computers"

    The INTERNET will damage your computer in your an idiot! And don't protect your computer from everyday viruses, worms, trojans, malware, etc. Been downloading license-free or Open-license material from the Pirate Bay for years. Never had any issues. These oxy-moron claims are nothing but FUD.

     

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

  35.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 8th, 2014 @ 6:09pm

    Re: You tend to find what you put there.

    And the only people who fall prey to those on TPB are the ones who don't know to look for the skulls - or who don't know to look at an uploaders history and apply some critical thinking skills. If someone is seeding multiple movies that haven't even been released in the theater yet, there's a good chance they're not releasing real content.

     

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

  36.  
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    Whatever, May 8th, 2014 @ 8:59pm

    In a related story...

    in a related story, Demoniod gets blocked by Google for having malware all over their site.

    "Yes, pirate sites are perfectly safe!" - Iraqi Information Ministry

     

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

  37.  
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    techflaws (profile), May 8th, 2014 @ 10:19pm

    Re: In a related story...

    "Yes, media files like MKVs can be infected with malware/viruses"

    - The rightsholders

     

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

  38.  
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    PaulT (profile), May 9th, 2014 @ 1:04am

    Re: Re: Re:

    To be fair, anyone buying a Celine Dion CD gets what they deserve...

     

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

  39.  
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    PaulT (profile), May 9th, 2014 @ 1:07am

    Re: Disney ect don't get it

    Lies are all they have. Without them, they'd have to admit that not only isn't piracy anywhere near as damaging as they claim, but that it's often their own tactics (windowing, regional restrictions, DRM, etc.) that drive people to piracy in the first place...

     

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

  40.  
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    PaulT (profile), May 9th, 2014 @ 1:11am

    Re: The Answer is obvious

    "Not to mention if they named the one site that doesn't have scams/malware you can bet people would flock to that site."

    Yep. The real reason is that they've finally started to learn from at least one of their own mistakes. Every major lawsuit against a piracy site has led to a big increase in the people using that site. The legal action often works as free advertising.

    They're not scared of lawsuits, they just want to avoid giving free publicity to those 30 sites.

     

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

  41.  
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    DaveK (profile), May 9th, 2014 @ 5:07am

    Re: the Celine Dion CD that destroyed iMacs

    That wasn't DRM - it was a mercy killing! :-p

     

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

  42.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 9th, 2014 @ 5:19am

    Re: Re: In a related story...

    MKV might be safe, but Microsoft's formats (WMV/ASF) used to be infected with malware/viruses pretty often back in the day (using their DRM support).

     

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

  43.  
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    Paul Renault (profile), May 9th, 2014 @ 5:21am

    Our tactics need some changing.

    Since the copyright industries and their minions are completely of embarrassment, especially when making claims, a better options is to name and shame the newspaper, TV reports, etc, that repeat the baseless claims made by the copyright industry. Here's a template you all could use:

    "Dear editors,

    Really, I don't know why I still read newspapers. But I do (or used to). I'm beginning to feel as if I'm a modern-day Diogenes, in a Quixotic quest for some considered, cogent, and honest reporting.

    But yesterday's article about (fill in latest lies) was the last straw. Your reporter and editors feel that their jobs are to quote, verbatim, industry news releases. None of your fact-checkers verified, and no one provided any historical analysis of all the other times in the recent past that the (BCC, MPAA, RIAA, whichever) issued a fact-free 'report'.

    If your reporters and editors don't think that it's vitally important, in a modern, open, and vibrant democracy, that news organizations check their sources and check their information and report their findings, then I may as well just get my news for free from wild-eyed, paranoid bloggers living in their parents' basement.

    At least, in their case, I get what I pay for. In your case, I pay you and you spit in my face by repeating these copyright industry lies.

    Sir, please cancel my subscription, forthwith."

     

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

  44.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 9th, 2014 @ 5:36am

    Re: Re: It's bloody iLivid, isn't it?

    Even the AVG free install comes with malware....

     

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

  45.  
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    techflaws (profile), May 9th, 2014 @ 8:57am

    Re: Re: Re: In a related story...

    So what? Noone in their right mind downloaded such crappy formats. And if they did, they had it coming.

     

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

  46.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 9th, 2014 @ 10:25am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: In a related story...

    Back in the day, it was that or .mpg (or realplayer...). MKV didn't exist yet. Heck, even divx didn't exist yet! ALL formats were crappy.

     

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

  47.  
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    GEMont (profile), May 9th, 2014 @ 11:04am

    Federally Poisoned Booze

    This is simply an attempt to pre-cover-up the damage being planned by Anti-P2P program users, to insert bad code into the packets of material being downloaded from P2P sites. This process has been ongoing for years, and the success of their programs stealth has lead to escalation of the kinds of damage they intend to cause.

    They dream of the day they can insert killer code that will cause your computer to malfunction, as punishment for your audacity to download from a P2P website.

    These phony 'P2P Downloads Cause Computer Damage' "news" stories are an attempt to make people think that the damage is coming from the P2P sites and shared wares, rather than coming from Anti-P2P code insertion.

    This is exactly what the Fed did during Prohibition. They poisoned captured booze stocks with various toxins and then put the poisoned booze back on the market so the press could write stories about how bootleg booze caused blindness and death.

    If you would like to see a massive example of this government approved criminal vigilante activity, simply install PeerBlock on your computer for a day, and then scan the PeerBlock logs.

     

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

  48.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 9th, 2014 @ 6:28pm

    Re: In a related story...

    You're an idiot, horse with no name.

     

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

  49.  
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    techflaws (profile), May 9th, 2014 @ 10:49pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: In a related story...

    Back in the day it was AVI and xvid which also meant no harm to the downloaders no matter how desperately the rightsholder claimed they would.

     

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

  50.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 13th, 2014 @ 1:32pm

    Linux ftw.

     

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


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