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Roku Delivers Free, Ad-Supported Movies on New Channel

Owners of Roku streaming players, sticks and TVs will now have access to a new service — “The Roku Channel” — that offers free, ad-supported streaming of movies and TV shows. The channel, which will roll out in phases “over the coming weeks,” features content that Roku has licensed directly from studios including Lionsgate, MGM, Paramount, Sony and Warner Bros. — and movies from other channel publishers currently on the Roku platform such as American Classics, FilmRise, Nosey, OVGuide, Popcornflix, Vidmark and YuYu. Roku expects additional publishers to participate in the future.

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Pirates Flock to Google Drive, Other Cloud Storage Services

DMCA takedown requests reveal that pirates of television and movie content are turning to cloud storage services such as Dropbox, Google Drive and Kim Dotcom’s Mega since the demise of many public torrent sites. Last month, almost 5,000 takedown requests centered on activity on Google Drive, with each listing a few hundred links. Although some Google Drive links host full movies, others are empty except for an embedded YouTube video. Google reiterated that it takes copyright infringement seriously. Read more

Facebook Paying for Music While Building its New ID System

Facebook has focused on an increase in video on its site, but with the growth of video has come a contentious music rights issue. Many of those uploaded videos include music to which Facebook doesn’t have the rights, and the involved rights owners have to ask Facebook to take down the infringing content. After many months of negotiation with music rights owners, Facebook vowed to build a system to identify music that infringes copyrights. While that system is being constructed, say sources, Facebook has begun paying rights holders. Read more

Facebook Testing Business Messaging Tools via WhatsApp

Facebook, which bought WhatsApp for $22 billion in 2014, is now testing two free business tools on the messaging service. WhatsApp Business lets small businesses answer customer questions and send updates; larger businesses can avail themselves of another free tool that plugs in to the WhatsApp platform. Facebook is also debuting verified profiles for businesses on WhatsApp, to distinguish them from individuals. Businesses in Brazil, Europe, India and Indonesia, including KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, are testing the new tools. Read more

Amazon Now Spends More on R&D Than Other Companies

Despite an overall slowdown in U.S. productivity, tech companies currently lead the charge in overall spending on research and development, a key factor in measuring productivity of an economy. According to data about companies in the S&P 500 collected by analytic software firm FactSet, Amazon spends more on R&D than any other company in the U.S., followed by Alphabet, Intel, Microsoft and Apple. Other tech companies on the Top 20 list include Oracle, Cisco, Facebook, IBM and Qualcomm. Read more

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