The UpStream

Porn to Cost Virginia Man $1.5 Million

posted Friday Nov 2, 2012 by Scott Ertz

Porn to Cost Virginia Man $1.5 Million

Porn can be an extremely expensive habit, especially if you pay for it. Uploading it to the Internet can be even more expensive, as one Virginia man has come to discover this week. About a year ago, Kywan Fisher and several others were sued by Flava Works for copyright infringement. It was claimed that the defendants uploaded porn videos owned by the company to Internet sites for free download. Flava Works, who is known to be litigious, appeared in court this week, where defendant Fisher did not. That was his mistake.

For failing to appear, the judge imposed the maximum penalty of $1.5 million. That is a pretty steep price, especially when you consider the fact that Fisher is only charged with uploading 10 files from Flava Works. The company says it can definitely prove that the defendant was responsible, claiming the company "has proprietary software that assigns a unique encrypted code to each member of plaintiff's paid websites. In this case, every time the defendant downloaded a copy of a copyrighted video from plaintiff's website, it inserts an encrypted code that is only assigned to defendant."

While clever, it is not exactly a new concept. In fact, the concept is called DRM (see the title of our media segment on F5 Live). Even with DRM being commonplace, many cases like this have not been successful, and yet the judge chose to impose the maximum fine despite seemingly circumstantial evidence. This cost, when spread over the 3,449 downloads claimed, works out to $435 per download - a pretty steep fee for an industry that lives in the $9.99 price range.

So, why was the penalty so steep? If I had to guess, I would imagine that the judge was not pleased that the defendant did not even show up for his trial. Because of that, it is my guess that the judge chose the $150,000 per download (for "willful" infringement) instead of the more reasonable $750 minimum that could have been imposed. This is a case of a federal judge making a point by making an example of a single defendant.

What do you think? Is it fair to impose a $1.5 million penalty on circumstantial evidence just to make a point? Sound off in the comments.

Ship Date Sort of Announced for Grand Theft Auto V

posted Thursday Nov 1, 2012 by Nicholas DiMeo

Ship Date Sort of Announced for Grand Theft Auto V

It is official, sort of. Last week, Rockstar released a piece of in-game artwork for GTA V ahead of their "big reveal" this week. Unfortunately, due to leaks and a thing called the Internet, we were able to come up with what the big reveal was before their announcement. Also, it's not as big as one would think.

Either way, we now know that the next installment of the Grand Theft Auto series will take place in modern-day Los Santos, in sunny southern California. You may remember the 1990s version of Los Santos and the amazing, yet controversial protagonist, CJ Johnson from the San Andreas iteration, complete with gang warfare and low-rider bicycles. I'd expect to see Los Santos take on a new light and it'll be interesting to see how they move the city forward 20 years.

We were also informed that we will be able to pre-order the game on November 5th, but were only given a launch date of Spring 2013, which goes right along with developers' infatuations with that time of year. I should have known that Rockstar's "big reveal" would be something vague like that. Still, I'm excited to get my hands on this game as soon as it hits shelves. So will you be pre-ordering on November 5th? Let us know in the comments below. Do you need more convincing? We have the trailer after the break.

Disney Adds Lucasfilm to Its Collection of Media Successes

posted Tuesday Oct 30, 2012 by Scott Ertz

Disney Adds Lucasfilm to Its Collection of Media Successes

In a strange turn of events, George Lucas, possibly as part of his retirement plan, has sold Lucasfilm Ltd to Disney for a whopping $4.05 billion. The deal will see Lucas step aside and turn over leadership of the long-time successful production company to Kathleen Kennedy. This is a pretty natural transition for the company, seeing as Kennedy has been working as a producer for Lucas since Raiders of the Lost Ark in 1981.

The buyout marks the second major acquisition from Disney in the growing crossover between nerd culture and pop culture in the past few years. The first, of course, being Disney's purchase of Marvel Entertainment in late 2009. That deal ended up bringing us major motion pictures, such as The Avengers, as well as the formation of a television division to maintain the Marvel brand in all of its facets.

So, what does the Lucasfilm combination bring to us? A new Star Wars film in 2015. Yes, you read that right - Star Wars: Episode 7 is going to happen, whether the world wants it or not. With Lucas not at the helm, the chances of Jar Jar Binks level disasters are significantly less likely, though Disney is not much better at not creating characters that people end up hating for all time. Disney also announced new films every two to three years in the Star Wars universe.

Lucas seems to be pleased with the outcome. He said,

For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next… It's now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers. I've always believed that Star Wars could live beyond me, and I thought it was important to set up the transition during my lifetime. I'm confident that with Lucasfilm under the leadership of Kathleen Kennedy, and having a new home within the Disney organization, Star Wars will certainly live on and flourish for many generations to come.

At least with the transition made now, if Disney or Kennedy are unable to maintain Lucas-level quality, they can still go back to him for advice.

So, are you excited to see "a new generation of filmmakers" take the helm of one of the most iconic film series of all time, or do you think StarWars should be retired with Lucas himself? Let us know in the comments.

Verizon Teams Up with Redbox to Deliver Video Streaming Service Redbox Instant

posted Sunday Oct 28, 2012 by Nicholas DiMeo

Verizon Teams Up with Redbox to Deliver Video Streaming Service Redbox Instant

Verizon is trying something new this quarter; they are working with Redbox to launch a streaming and DVD rental subscription service, which is currently in its beta phase. Verizon's President of Consumer and Mass Business, Robert Mudge, said in a keynote this week that the service should be up and running publicly by the end of the year.

We will be in the market in the fourth quarter. Quite frankly, this has been a heavy lift... (We will be) the provider than can give the consumer any of those video choices at a reasonable price.

The service will be called Redbox Instant and will be a separate service that customers can pay monthly for that is outside of its FiOS offerings and environment. This means that those interested in the US can have any broadband connection from any ISP and still be able to sign up, putting Redbox Instant right in-line to compete with Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Mudge added in his keynote that this move is to help Verizon's overall goal of a "borderless lifestyle" that allows a Verizon customer to access everything they want on as many devices as possible, home or on the go, with a wired or wireless connection.

Mudge then said that Verizon conducted a new consumer research study, called the FiOS Innovation Index, and found that 39 percent of US adults who buy tech gadgets are already considered to be living this borderless lifestyle. This is important because 48 percent of those people make $75,000 a year, with just over half of them having graduated college, which means these are people that will spend money.

After all is said and done though, is another video streaming service going to gain momentum so late into the game? Amazon Prime is even struggling to remain relevant, even after some big improvements that make it superior to Netflix in certain areas. Can Redbox Instant be a service that will bring together the best of all the other services and squash the competition? I doubt it, but the service is still in beta and not many have seen what it can really do. As soon as we get our hands on it, we'll let you know if it can compete.

Yahoo to Ignore Do Not Track in Internet Explorer 10

posted Sunday Oct 28, 2012 by Scott Ertz

Yahoo to Ignore Do Not Track in Internet Explorer 10

While Yahoo's new CEO may see mobile as a big part of their future, they do not see privacy as part of it. Announced this week on their Policy Blog, Yahoo has stated that they will be ignoring the Do Not Track header on Internet Explorer 10. It's pretty clear you are wondering why they would do this to just a single version of a single browser brand. Yahoo explained this.

In principle, we support "Do Not Track" (DNT). Unfortunately, because discussions have not yet resulted in a final standard for how to implement DNT, the current DNT signal can easily be abused. Recently, Microsoft unilaterally decided to turn on DNT in Internet Explorer 10 by default, rather than at users' direction. In our view, this degrades the experience for the majority of users and makes it hard to deliver on our value proposition to them. It basically means that the DNT signal from IE10 doesn't express user intent.

Ultimately, we believe that DNT must map to user intent - not to the intent of one browser creator, plug-in writer, or third-party software service. Therefore, although Yahoo! will continue to offer Ad Interest Manager and other tools, we will not recognize IE10's default DNT signal on Yahoo! properties at this time.

So, because Microsoft turned on privacy by default in their browser, Yahoo is mad. That makes sense considering targeted ads is the only way Yahoo makes any money right now. This brings up an interesting topic, though. Should Yahoo have the ability to opt out of the DNT system because they disagree with a browser's default settings? Google recently lost a case revolving around ignoring a browser's privacy settings, so it seems like, legally, the ball falls in Microsoft's court here. On the other hand, DNT is not yet a standard set by the World Wide Web Consortium, so ignoring its settings could simply be a condition of "strict HTML compliance."

It's a bad time for Yahoo to be playing around with possibly pissing customers off with their turn around plan only getting started. Is this enough for you to not use Yahoo, even as they launch new products and services? Let us know in the comments.

Mayer, Yahoo's New CEO, Says Shift to Mobile is Needed for Success of Company

posted Sunday Oct 28, 2012 by Nicholas DiMeo

Mayer, Yahoo's New CEO, Says Shift to Mobile is Needed for Success of Company

Since Marissa Mayer took over the CEO position at Yahoo, everyone wanted to know if she could be the person to save the once major player on the web. However, because of the birth of her child, she had to temporarily step away shortly after accepting the job. Now that the baby is born and is healthy, Mayer is able to step back into her newly appointed role as CEO and announce her initiatives to bring Yahoo back into relevancy.

Mayer said this week that her plan on reviving Yahoo revolves around a stronger emphasis on mobile and search advertising business. On a conference call, she said, "The mobile wave is a huge wave for us to ride." She added that Yahoo has "underinvested" in their mobile offerings and she would see to it that sports results, news and email would all be updated to make them more usable on smartphones.

Our vision is to make the world's daily habits inspiring and entertaining. Mobile represents not only a daily habit, but a platform shift we have to ride in order to be relevant... We do need more mobile engineers here. It is clear that at some point in the future Yahoo! will have to be a predominately mobile company.

It is nice to hear that she sees the need in putting more focus in the mobile, because Yahoo hasn't been important on the web for a while. Yahoo does still get 700 million users visiting their site a month, however the time spent on the site is rapidly decreasing. Perhaps an increased shift of time and energy to the mobile field will allow them to at least compete with the myriad of apps that are out there providing similar services that Yahoo intends to offer. Recent deals with Clear Channel, Facebook, ABC News and CNBC, this shift might be a positive thing for the company, as Yahoo now good relationships with several news companies, which could help syndicate their content. These next twelve months will be very crucial for Mayer and Co. and we'll see if Yahoo will be able to pick up any traction moving forward.

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