Holiday Season Top Movies Heavily Pirated Before Releases

Shortly after screeners were sent to voters for awards consideration, some of Hollywood’s top movies of the current holiday season — most notably “The Revenant” and “The Hateful Eight” — have been pirated. Within a 24-hour period after being posted by Hive-CM8 and other piracy groups, “The Revenant” was downloaded to over 739,580 unique IP addresses, and “The Hateful Eight,” to 569,153 IP addresses. Both are slated to premiere on Christmas Day. “Creed,” although already released, logged 499,082 illegal downloads. Continue reading Holiday Season Top Movies Heavily Pirated Before Releases

Apple Plans to Leverage Hi-Res Audio Format for Streaming

Apple Music subscribers are poised to enjoy the results of recent Apple development of the new Hi-Res Audio format with an expanded 96kHz, 24-bit sampling rate. The Hi-Res Audio format leverages the high fidelity audio output capability of Apple’s new Lightning ports, which were introduced last year and utilized by Philips, JBL and others for Lightning-equipped headphones. Japanese site Macotakara, with input from inside sources, says Apple Music will debut Hi-Res music streaming next year. Continue reading Apple Plans to Leverage Hi-Res Audio Format for Streaming

‘Star Wars’ Smashes Box Office, Rallies Blockbuster Strategy

On its opening weekend, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” demolished box office records — as well as the trope that crowds no longer throng to movie theaters, even in the first days. The Walt Disney Company’s latest “Star Wars” movie brought in about $517 million globally, a success that is stunning in its size and scope, and that underscores Hollywood studios’ efforts to focus on repurposing the blockbuster, from “Avatar” to “Frozen.” According to Disney, 3D screenings account for 47 percent of the gross. Continue reading ‘Star Wars’ Smashes Box Office, Rallies Blockbuster Strategy

Boon for 4K: HEVC Advance Lowers Video Licensing Rates

The prospects of 4K video have brightened. That’s because the HEVC Advance group that licenses the H.265/HEVC video format enabling 4K’s higher data rate to traverse through existing pipes just adjusted its royalty rates. Up until now, the group wanted steep rates, even from free outlets, and without a cap. With the new, revamped licensing scheme, HEVC Advance not only cuts rates in half but sets a yearly cap between $2.5 million to $40 million per year, depending on the service or device type. Continue reading Boon for 4K: HEVC Advance Lowers Video Licensing Rates

Juniper Networks Backdoor Hack Likely From Foreign Nation

Tech giant Juniper Networks just found unauthorized code — essentially a backdoor — in the operating system running some of its firewalls. The hidden backdoor, found in versions of the company’s ScreenOS software dating back to at least August 2012, enable hackers to take complete control of Juniper NetScreen firewalls as well as decrypt encrypted traffic running through the Virtual Private Networks (VPN) on the firewalls. The FBI is investigating the breach, which appears to be the work of a foreign government. Continue reading Juniper Networks Backdoor Hack Likely From Foreign Nation

Copyright Infringement Ruling: Cox to Pay BMG $25 Million

In a significant victory for BMG and copyright enforcer Rightscorp, a federal jury in Virginia found Cox Communications guilty of ignoring music piracy, directing that it pay BMG $25 million for the violations. Although Rightscorp was not named as a plaintiff, it provided the evidence that made it possible for BMG to go to trial. Rightscorp has been sending out copyright notices asking for $20 to $30 per song for what users believed were pirated songs. Cox was the biggest holdout, making them a target for BMG and Rightscorp. Continue reading Copyright Infringement Ruling: Cox to Pay BMG $25 Million

Google to Spin Off Autonomous Cars as Alphabet Company

In 2016, Google will spin off its driverless car unit, currently part of Google X, as a standalone business under the Alphabet aegis. With more than 1 million miles clocked on public roads, the company already has a hefty lead on competitors, including Uber Technologies, which has raised more than $10 billion towards its own work creating an autonomous car. Google first plans to launch a service, with fleets of large and small vehicles deployed in closed areas such as college campuses, military bases and corporate complexes. Continue reading Google to Spin Off Autonomous Cars as Alphabet Company

FCC Queries Comcast, AT&T and T-Mobile About Data Caps

Comcast, AT&T, and T-Mobile USA received a letter from the FCC asking them to answer questions about their use of “zero rating,” by which some types of content are exempted from a customer’s data cap. Though FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler insisted this doesn’t constitute an investigation, the FCC has previously noted that data cap exemptions can favor the exempted content over content that counts against a customer’s data use. The FCC asked the companies’ technical and business personnel to be available for discussions by January 15. Continue reading FCC Queries Comcast, AT&T and T-Mobile About Data Caps

Disney Partners with Alibaba to Bring OTT Service to China

Having inked a multi-year licensing agreement, Alibaba and The Walt Disney Company will begin pre-sales of DisneyLife, an OTT system aimed to increase sales of movie-related toys and trips to Disneyland. The system’s device will be sold on Alibaba’s online shopping site Tmall starting December 28. Priced at $125, the Mickey Mouse-shaped device comes with a free one-year subscription and lets customers connect to Disney and Pixar movies, cartoon series, e-books, music and games, as well as plan a trip to the Shanghai and Hong Kong Disneyland theme parks.

Continue reading Disney Partners with Alibaba to Bring OTT Service to China

Federal Ruling Updates Royalty Rates for Streaming Music

When a panel of federal judges increased the royalty rates that free Internet radio services pay, there were winners and losers. The rate for pure-play Internet services rose to 17 cents from 14 cents, disappointing SoundExchange, the non-profit licensing agency representing record companies, which had asked for 25 cents. The Copyright Royalty Board also evened the playing field between pure-play and broadcasters with Web streams such as iHeartRadio, with the latter owing less — 22 cents rather than 25 cents — for their paid subscriptions. Continue reading Federal Ruling Updates Royalty Rates for Streaming Music

BBC Turns to Parrot Analytics AI to Measure Show Demand

BBC Worldwide has recently employed artificial intelligence to analyze global demand for specific TV shows. In the most notable case, the BBC turned to New Zealand company Parrot Analytics’ AI and data science to learn that Germany, China, India and Singapore had high demand for its contemporary “Sherlock” series. After extensive testing, the BBC has again used Parrot’s data for several other shows, to find territories and platforms where demand exists. Parrot’s research includes multiple screens and markets. Continue reading BBC Turns to Parrot Analytics AI to Measure Show Demand

European Commission Enacts Data Protection Regulations

The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm; the European Parliament and member states just approved stringent data protection regulations, considered there to be of equal importance to freedom of expression. The rules, slated to go into effect by early 2017, will give individuals more power over how their information is collected and managed, as well as make data protection regulations consistent across the EU. Officials have been meeting since summer 2015 to hammer out rules that all 28 members could agree to. Continue reading European Commission Enacts Data Protection Regulations

Open Source Speeds Developments in Artificial Intelligence

When Tesla released all of its patents to the public in 2014, it jumpstarted the electric car ecosystem while continuing to succeed. Facebook made its data-center architecture available to the masses, still making a tidy $12+ billion in revenue last year. Open source code is now fueling tremendous innovation and digital capabilities. Whereas companies in the past dominated by using licensed software to create monopolies, today’s companies relying on open source code differentiate themselves by the services they offer. Continue reading Open Source Speeds Developments in Artificial Intelligence

Virtual Reality Roller Coasters Are Coming to Theme Parks

In 2016, virtual reality will go on a roller coaster ride at several theme parks. Plans for nine VR roller coasters are already slated, with haunted mazes and thrill rides in the planning stages. At the Wonderland amusement park, outside Toronto, Canada, the Thunder Run roller coaster will begin to offer virtual reality headsets, for an added fee, to a limited number of riders. During the off-season, the park tested the VR experience, where riders fly on the back of a fire-breathing dragon over a medieval village. Continue reading Virtual Reality Roller Coasters Are Coming to Theme Parks

Netflix Adopts New Streaming Plan for Better Pix, Less Data

Netflix is changing how it streams video, the first such effort since the company launched in 2007. Beginning in 2011, Netflix has been working on a new streaming algorithm that will not only improve image quality but also save up to 20 percent of data. Netflix currently accounts for nearly 40 percent of all data consumed during peak Internet viewing hours. As Netflix focuses on entering more international territories, including nations with less developed Internet capabilities, streaming quality and data usage are critical. Continue reading Netflix Adopts New Streaming Plan for Better Pix, Less Data

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