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    Top 10 Most Torrented Movies of The Week – 04/19/2021

    news.movim.eu / TorrentFreak · Monday, 19 April, 2021 - 09:37

godzilla vs. kong The data for our weekly download chart is estimated by TorrentFreak, and is for informational and educational reference only.

These torrent download statistics are meant to provide further insight into the piracy trends. All data are gathered from public resources.

This week we have three entries in the list. “Godzilla vs. Kong” is the most downloaded title. The film can be watched online legally on HBO Max, but that’s not available everywhere.

The most torrented movies for the week ending on April 19 are:

Movie Rank Rank last week Movie name IMDb Rating / Trailer
Most downloaded movies via torrent sites
1 (1) Godzilla vs. Kong 6.7 / trailer
2 (…) Nobody 7.5 / trailer
3 (…) The Marksman 5.6 / trailer
4 (2) Zack Snyder’s Justice League 8.4 / trailer
5 (3) Chaos Walking 5.7 / trailer
6 (…) The Courier 7.2 / trailer
7 (5) Raya and the Last Dragon 7.7 / trailer
8 (4) Thunder Force 4.4 / trailer
9 (6) Wonder Woman 1984 5.8 / trailer
10 (7) The Father 8.3 / trailer

Note: We also publish an updating archive of all the list of weekly most torrented movies lists .

From: TF , for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

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    Nintendo Sues Team-Xecuter’s Gary Bowser For Switch Piracy Offenses

    news.movim.eu / TorrentFreak · Monday, 19 April, 2021 - 09:14 · 5 minutes

Team-Xecuter Banner Since the reign of the original Xbox, hacking team Team-Xecuter has built a reputation for defeating the digital locks that prevent users from running pirated games on consoles.

More recently, Team-Xecuter has been strongly linked to the Nintendo Switch scene but last year the operation hit the rocks when their operation found itself at the center of a criminal case prosecuted by the US Government.

Last year the US Department of Justice announced that two members of Team-Xecuter had been arrested. Max Louarn, a 48-year-old French national, and 51-year-old Gary Bowser from Canada, were placed in custody and charged under suspicion of being part of a criminal conspiracy. A third defendant, a Chinese man named Yuanning Chen, 35, was reportedly at large.

As that case progresses in the background, with Team-Xecuter’s future in the balance , Nintendo is now taking direct legal action against one of the defendants.

Nintendo Sues Gary Bowser in a US Court

Filed in Washington court on Friday, the lawsuit describes Bowser as one of the leaders of Team-Xecuter, which in turn is described as a “pirate operation” that unlawfully manufactures and traffics for profit an “unauthorized operating system” called ‘SX OS’ and associated circumvention devices.

“The purpose of the Circumvention Devices and the SX OS —developed, manufactured, and trafficked under Defendant’s leadership — is to hijack the Nintendo Switch by interrupting and bypassing its technological security features and protections,” the complaint reads.

“The Circumvention Devices strip away or circumvent technological protection measures Nintendo put into place to protect its invaluable copyrighted software and video games from unauthorized access and copying.”

Nintendo says that Bowser is one of a handful of key Team-Xecuter members running the operation day-to-day, including by trafficking in SX OS and circumvention devices via websites, marketing, managing advertising, liaising with manufacturers, and dealing with multiple resellers, several of whom have already been dragged through the courts in the US.

The gaming giant claims that Bowser operated at least four websites – Team-Xecuter.com, Xecuter.rocks, and Team-Xecuter.rocks, and Sx-Xecuter.com, through which SX OS and circumvention devices were marketed. Nintendo also claims that Bowser was the founder and operator of MaxConsole.com which served as a central location for customer and reseller support.

According to the complaint, Nintendo was able to match Bowser with the online handles “Gary opa” and “GaryOPA” since at times, the aliases appeared alongside the full name Gary Bowser. This shows that Bowser is Team-Xecuter’s “front man” and that he had control of the websites’ content, Nintendo adds.

Team-Xecuter and Gary Bowser – A History of Hacking

While the complaint only targets alleged Switch-related offenses, Nintendo supplies a potted history of Bowser’s involvement in the hacking scene dating back at least 13 years.

The complaint states that Bowser was charged in Canada in 2008 in connection with an “elaborate operation” to counterfeit Nintendo games and modify games consoles, adding that Bowser has trafficked in circumvention devices for several consoles prior to the Switch including Nintendo DS, Wii, and 3DS.

In respect of SX OS, Nintendo says it was wildly popular and at one point was pre-installed on 89% of modded/hacked Nintendo Switch products available for sale. This caused Nintendo “tremendous harm” and undermined the trust that third-party developers should have in Nintendo that their games won’t be illegally distributed or played.

Multiple and Sustained Breaches of the DMCA

Nintendo says that it should be protected by the anti-circumvention and anti-trafficking provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) but Bowser violated Nintendo’s rights by supplying SX OS and circumvention devices that defeated the company’s technological protection measures.

Trafficking in SX OS and circumvention devices has already been shown to be illegal, Nintendo writes, pointing to a pair of earlier Switch-related cases, one decided last December with a $2m judgment and another with a broad injunction .

“Notwithstanding some of the success Nintendo has had enforcing its rights against resellers of the Circumvention Devices, Defendant has continued to thumb his nose at the law, manufacturing and trafficking in the Circumvention Devices and SX OS,” Nintendo says.

“He has empowered resellers to re-emerge and launch new websites—including after the same websites had been shut down by courts and other vehicles of enforcement—and facilitated additional avenues of distribution, all forcing Nintendo into a game of whack-a-mole.”

Trafficking in Devices in Violation of the DMCA

Section 1201 of the DMCA prohibits the trafficking of devices that are primarily designed to circumvent technological protection measures that control access to and prevent the copying of copyrighted works. This includes their manufacture, importation, and sales to the public.

Nintendo says that Bowser violated its rights when it offered tools including SX OS, SX Tools, SX Installer, SX Server, SX Loader, SX Dumper, and similar software distributed via MaxConsole.com. The defendant also breached the DMCA when he selected and approved resellers of SX OS license codes, since that is considered a “service” as defined under the DMCA.

In addition, every time Bowser recruited people as testers of the SX Core and SX Lite products he shipped circumvention devices to those testers, which Nintendo says amounts to additional trafficking offenses.

For Bowser’s alleged violations of 17 U.S.C. § 1201 , Nintendo says it is entitled to the maximum statutory damages of $2,500 for each breach listed in two counts, plus costs and attorneys’ fees. The company also demands a permanent injunction prohibiting any further acts of trafficking in devices and software.

Nintendo also claims that Bowser infringed its copyrights when he displayed images of the company’s games on the Team-Xecuter site. Interestingly, the statutory damages for each infringement here are substantially larger than for breaches of the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provisions. For each of the nine images displayed, Nintendo is demanding $150,000 in damages plus, costs, fees and a permanent injunction.

Finally, Nintendo wants Bowser to hand over all the domains listed in the complaint, including all of the Team-Xecuter, Xecuter, and MaxConsole variants. It also demands an order that will allow it to seize and destroy all copies of SX OS and circumvention devices in Bowser’s custody.

Nintendo’s complaint against Gary Bowser can be found here (pdf)

From: TF , for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

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    How Hollywood Keeps Breeding New Pirates

    news.movim.eu / TorrentFreak · Sunday, 18 April, 2021 - 14:38 · 2 minutes

the cw not available For online media consumers, things have improved significantly over the years. More content is made available globally than ever before.

The music industry continues to be at the forefront of this transformation. In most countries, legal services are plentiful and affordable. However, the same can’t be said for online video.

While there has been plenty of progress in the availability of movie and TV shows, more problems are created as well. This is one of the main reasons why piracy remains relevant. Even those who want to do the right thing have to be rather self-disciplined to avoid becoming a pirate.

Popular TV-Shows Vanish Locally

One doesn’t have to look far to find some examples of this happening in real-time. Just a few days ago, my 12-year-old niece asked if I knew where she could watch “The Vampire Diaries” and “The Originals,” which are both scheduled to leave Netflix in a few weeks here in the Netherlands.

My niece is lucky as her parents already have a subscription to Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+, Discovery+ and a local streaming platform. However, there is no evidence that any of these services will offer those TV shows when they leave Netflix.

Needless to say, my niece was disappointed when I told her. She’s a passionate fan of these shows and not being able to watch them is a disaster in a teenage mind.

Not the First Setback

Sadly, this isn’t the first setback for my niece either. In recent weeks she already got frustrated by the inability to watch “Legacies”, which is another popular The CW series in the same genre.

Meanwhile, she is looking at hundreds of people who post clips and screenshots of the show on TikTok, Snapchat, and elsewhere. My niece would love to join the party, but she can’t. Not legally at least.

For a moment I was tempted to mention that some people use pirate sites to illegally get these instead, but I chose not to. However, I’m pretty sure that it won’t take long before someone suggests this option to her. And what will happen then?

In an attempt to find out why these and other shows are not being made available internationally, I reached out to The CW. The company swiftly replied and pointed me to Warner Bros TV and CBS TV Studios, who are the official distributors.

At What Cost?

Unfortunately, after several days I’m still waiting for a response from these companies but it is likely that money and licensing play a major role in their decision not to offer the content.

The question is, at what cost? Is it wise to deprive some of the biggest fans of watching their favorite shows, which are readily available elsewhere? Could this somehow backfire?

Without knowing it, my niece answered this question for me. A few days after our chat, her parents noticed that there were several dubious movie streaming apps on their tablet. Apparently, someone was trying to watch her favorite shows through a backdoor.

From: TF , for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

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    GitHub Reinstated YouTube-DL But Restoring Forks is Apparently a Problem

    news.movim.eu / TorrentFreak · Saturday, 17 April, 2021 - 21:37 · 3 minutes

hithub Last October the RIAA infuriated many players in the open source community by targeting YouTube-ripping tool youtube-dl in a DMCA takedown notice filed at GitHub .

What followed was a broad backlash against the RIAA, the likes of which hadn’t been seen for many years. The music industry group’s claims of DMCA violations due to the software allegedly bypassing technological protection measures were met with intense criticism, including from the EFF.

In a surprise move several weeks later, GitHub reinstated the youtube-dl repository after concluding that the code doesn’t violate the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provisions. In addition, GitHub sought to boost its standing with developers by placing $1m into a takedown defense fund.

“We are taking a stand for developers and have reinstated the youtube-dl repo. Section 1201 of the DMCA is broken and needs to be fixed. Developers should have the freedom to tinker. That’s how you get great tools like youtube-dl,” GitHub CEO Nat Friedman explained .

Dust Settles But The Fix Was Incomplete, Dev Says

When the RIAA took down GitHub, its DMCA notice affected many developers who had forked the youtube-dl code. Many repositories were listed in the RIAA’s complaint so those were disabled too, replaced with the familiar GitHub page indicating they had been removed for alleged copyright infringement.

However, despite youtube-dl being reinstated, these forks remain down following the RIAA’s complaint and according to one developer, GitHub isn’t responding to calls to reinstate them.

In a DMCA counternotice filed this week, the operator of the ‘spookyahell’ repo describes the situation, noting that his previous requests to have his repository restored are being ignored by GitHub.

youtube-dl fork

In supporting evidence detailing why the repo should be restored, the developer covers earlier ground noting that the RIAA’s notice was “way too broad”, is believed to be “wildly invalid”, failed to correctly interpret the law, and cited anti-circumvention methods that “do not apply.”

The dev also points out that when the RIAA cited a German legal process that determined that youtube-dl is illegal, that should be considered irrelevant to the United States since European law has “no place in a DMCA takedown”. The RIAA, for its part, insists that the relevant German law is “materially identical to Title 17 U.S.C. §1201 of the United States Code.”

This Dev is Clearly Irritated

While the developer appears to accept that GitHub eventually stood up to the RIAA, he isn’t entirely convinced of the coding platform’s overall support.

“[I]t seems like GitHub is still kinda ‘the bitch of the RIAA’ because they side with RIAA rather than developers who wish to reinstate the repos (unchanged) which according to the EFF would be perfectly legal,” his notice reads.

“The issues that raised from this takedown have lead to a major statement from github and change of already in-place policies and it seems they had to re-convince the developers that they actually support developers. The action they are taking with the actual forks however is unconvincing of their so-called principals [sic].”

The dev continues by stating that in addition to restoring the original project, GitHub should’ve reinstated all the forks as well, while notifying the RIAA that its claims were wrong. However, there are some important issues that the counternotice doesn’t address.

While youtube-dl was indeed reinstated, that didn’t take place before the original code was tweaked. Its functionality doesn’t appear to have been degraded but an examination of the code reveals that before it was put back, modifications took place to remove references to copyright works, including a song by Taylor Swift.

If we work on the premise that GitHub believed that these changes were enough to ease youtube-dl back onto the non-infringing side of the fence, then any original forks would still relate to the unmodified code, meaning that the RIAA’s original takedown notice would carry more weight.

This probably explains why GitHub hasn’t reinstated this developer’s repository on request, despite the filing of a counternotice.

Technically speaking, GitHub still has a number of days left before it needs to reinstate the fork under the DMCA, pending the filing of a lawsuit by the RIAA. However, since the music group has had since October to take action against youtube-dl itself, that doesn’t seem likely.

To learn more about how Github views the situation, TorrentFreak contacted CEO Nat Friedman for additional information, including whether youtube-dl forks will be restored automatically or if devs need to file an official DMCA counternotice. Friedman did not immediately respond to our request for comment but it seems likely that devs will have to let their original forks go and fork the modified project instead.

From: TF , for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

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    Reckless DMCA Takedown Purges Legitimate Websites from Google Search

    news.movim.eu / TorrentFreak · Saturday, 17 April, 2021 - 15:24 · 2 minutes

Over the past few years, copyright holders have asked Google to remove billions of links to allegedly pirated content.

Most of these DMCA notices are pretty accurate but occasionally mistakes are made as well, which can do serious harm.

This week our eye was drawn to a request that RightsHero filed on behalf of the company Vuclip Middle East, which offers on-demand entertainment to emerging markets.

The DMCA notice identifies more than 7,000 URLs that allegedly infringe the copyrights of several movies, including the United Arab Emirates series عود حي, which translates to “Live Oud.”

Error After Error

When we took a closer look, we soon noticed that the takedown notice is nothing short of a trainwreck that involves some high-profile names.

For example, NASA’s live streaming and multimedia pages are targeted. The same is true for Al Jazeera’s live streaming site, as well as the BBC’s page that allows people to stream Radio One.

NASA down

None of these pages are infringing. In fact, the only thing that ties them to the “Live Oud” series is the word ‘live’, which comes back in other reported URLs as well.

BBC and other takedowns

In fact, the takedown notice is filled with these ‘live’ errors. It lists a page from the UK Government which gives advice on living in Austria, a page where Apple provides information on Live Photos, and the ‘Live’ entry in the Cambridge dictionary.

We can go on for a while but the point is clear. This DMCA notice should have never been sent. The good news is that Google caught all the errors we pointed out above. This means that these were not removed from search results.

Homepages Removed

Unfortunately, not all targeted sites were that lucky. We spotted several legitimate websites that had their homepages removed from Google simply because they somehow reference the word “live” or “living.”

This includes the homepage of Live Nation Asia , the Living Architecture website, as well as the homepage of the UK technology company Living Map .

living takedowns

All have been purged from Google, which shows the following message at the bottom of the search results . “In response to a complaint that we received under the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act, we have removed 12 result(s) from this page.”

removed

Needless to say, these are all obvious errors that should have been avoided if there was some human oversight. It also shows how risky relying on ‘automated filters’ and ‘takedown bots’ can be.

From: TF , for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

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    Nintendo Wins US-Wide Injunction Against Seller of RCM Loader ‘Piracy’ Device

    news.movim.eu / TorrentFreak · Friday, 16 April, 2021 - 20:19 · 4 minutes

RCM Loader Nintendo is currently engaged in a war of attrition against individuals and groups who help people to pirate and play unlicensed Switch games.

Products and individuals involved with the infamous Team-Xecutor became targets last summer and alongside, Nintendo has been chipping away at other sellers of similar circumvention devices.

Lawsuit Filed Against Amazon Vendor

Last November, Nintendo filed a lawsuit against Le Hoang Minh, an Amazon vendor doing business under the name ‘Winmart’. According to the gaming giant, the trader was selling RCM Loader, a Switch device marketed as a plug-and-play solution for injecting payload files to allow booting into custom firmware (CFW), including Team-Xecutor’s SX OS.

“Once this circumvention has occurred, the unauthorized CFW modifies the authorized Nintendo Switch operating system, thereby allowing users to obtain and play virtually any pirated game made for the Nintendo Switch. All of this happens without authorization or compensation to Nintendo or to any authorized game publishers,” the company explained.

Le Hoang Minh, who according to Nintendo is a resident of Vietnam, was sent a DMCA notice by Nintendo via Amazon, citing the anti-circumvention provisions of the DMCA. As a result, a specific listing was taken down by Amazon but the defendant subsequently filed a counternotice stating that Nintendo had made an error. As a result, the listing was restored.

In its lawsuit, Amazon claimed that Le Hoang Minh was not only a seller of RCM Loader devices but also the manufacturer too, going on to demand the maximum statutory damages available under the DMCA and a broad injunction preventing any future sales. Nintendo also demanded relief for the defendant’s alleged abuse of the DMCA’s counternotification system.

Defendant Fails to Respond, Nintendo Moves For Default

In a motion for default judgment filed this week, Nintendo says that it filed its lawsuit in response to the defendant’s counternotice, in order to keep the Amazon listing down. However, the defendant failed to respond to the lawsuit or enter into discussions with Nintendo.

As a result, Nintendo demanded a default judgment on each of its claims, arguing that since the defendant is in Vietnam, only a ruling from a US court would allow it to prevent sales of RCM Loader taking place in the United States.

To promote what Nintendo describes as “an efficient resolution” of the matter, the gaming giant reduced its damages claims to just $2,500 for all actions carried out by the defendant in breach of the anti-trafficking provisions of the DMCA.

“This request for a $2,500 award is intended to be very conservative and does not reflect anything close to the full amount of damages Nintendo could reasonably seek from Defendant,” the company writes.

“Nintendo could…credibly seek a separate award for every device Defendant sold — almost certainly many devices, given that Defendant’s RCM Loader device was available online for many months. However, rather than attempt to quantify Defendant’s total sales, Nintendo seeks to facilitate an efficient resolution of this case through entry of judgment awarding damages for a single § 1201 violation.”

Nintendo also informed the court that it had incurred considerable costs pursuing the case but was not seeking to have those reimbursed. However, the company still demanded a judgment in its favor in respect of the DMCA violations, the misrepresentations made by the defendant in his DMCA counternotice, and the request for a permanent injunction.

Court Sides With Nintendo

After considering Nintendo’s motion for default, the court ruled that should be granted. In a final judgment issued Thursday, the court laid down the terms.

A permanent injunction was granted against Le Hoang Minh and all other individuals and entities acting in concert, restraining all from circumventing or assisting in circumventing any technological security measures that effectively control access to Nintendo’s copyrighted works.

The same are also restrained from manufacturing, offering for sale, distributing, exporting or otherwise trafficking into the United States “any and all products, services, devices, components or parts thereof” that are designed or produced for circumventing security measures in Nintendo’s consoles, products and protected works.

Turning to RCM Loader and any product with identical function, the court restrained the defendant from carrying out sales, distribution, imports and/or shipping to any person or entity in the United States. Le Hoang Minh is also banned from indirectly infringing, facilitating, encouraging, promoting or inducing the infringement of Nintendo’s copyrights, whether in existence now or in the future.

In an effort to prevent sales on platforms such as Amazon, the defendant was restrained from offering RCM Loader or any similar product for sale or distribution. Any seller or online marketplace who receives notice of the order must also “immediately cease and permanently refrain” from offering any such products in the United States.

The court also authorized Nintendo to seize and destroy all circumvention devices and software that violate its copyrights or exclusive licenses. It further granted the $2,500 in statutory damages requested by Nintendo and reminded the defendant that any violation of the order may be punishable as contempt of court.

Nintendo’s Motion for Default Judgment can be found here (pdf)

The Final Judgment and Permanent Injunction can be found here (pdf)

From: TF , for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

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    UK Pirates Remain Driven by Convenience, Availability and Cost

    news.movim.eu / TorrentFreak · Friday, 16 April, 2021 - 12:20 · 3 minutes

uk Every year the UK Government publishes a new edition of its Online Copyright Infringement Tracker.

This report is the result of an annual survey that polls the piracy habits of people twelve years old and above.

Earlier this week the UK Intellectual Property Office published the tenth wave of the report. As always, there are some positive changes compared to earlier years, as well as some negative ones.

Fewer Pirates

Starting with the good news, the study finds that the overall level of copyright infringement across all content categories has dropped. In previous years this number was stuck at 25% but has now reduced to 23%. This means that nearly a quarter of the people who consumed online content have used illegal sources.

While this is a big number, the survey also shows that many of these pirates consume content legally as well. For example, 20% of all film fans occasionally pirate content, but only 3% use piracy services exclusively.

The same effect can be found in other content categories, including music consumers of which 18% used unauthorized sources last year, but only 2% did so exclusively. For games, these numbers are 10% and 2% respectively.

For the above categories, a relatively small percentage of the pirating public used illegal sources exclusively. However, that picture is the other way around for software and digital magazines, where the majority of all pirates never purchased anything legally.

Sports Piracy is Booming

Similar to last year, the highest percentage of pirates can be found among the live sports streamers. Of all the people who consumed sports streaming content last year, 37% used illegal channels. That is up from 34% last year. Roughly a third of the sports streaming pirates never used legal services.

This brings us to the motivation people have to pirate content. Here we see a familiar picture emerge as well. People pirate because something is not available or because they can’t or don’t want to pay additional costs.

Movie fans, for example, may not want to pay for yet another monthly streaming subscription to see a film. Or, the content they desire may not be legally available at all, as we have seen with some of this year’s Oscar contenders.

COVID Had a Limited Impact

Despite some small shifts in piracy levels not much has changed. There is a small decline in music, movie and TV piracy, while the proportion of sports, gaming and software pirates increased a bit.

Interestingly, the COVID pandemic doesn’t appear to have a strong or lasting effect. Some people reported that their piracy activity increased, but there aren’t necessarily more people who pirate.

“In terms of levels of infringement, the findings from the qualitative phase showed that while many reported no change in their use of illegal sources, some noted that owing to their general consumption in entertainment increasing, so too did their use of illegal sources,” the report notes.

How to Stop Pirates?

While the yearly reports help to track how piracy trends develop over time, it does little to address the problem. However, the latest report does give some advice on how to motivate pirates to ‘go legal.’

The study tested a variety of messages focused on the negative consequences of piracy, to see what would make pirates change their behavior. This leads to some interesting insights.

For example, mentioning the financial losses of big corporations or the broader economy has virtually no impact. People don’t seem to care that the revenue of major movie studios or sports organizations is impacted.

A more effective approach, according to the study, would be to focus on the financial impact piracy has on individual artists and employees who work in the creative industries. Those messages even impacted hardcore pirates, who also showed concern about their own risks, including malware and viruses.

Finally, hasher punishment could work as well, according to one of the report’s conclusions.

“There is potential to explore messages around risk of greater legal action and consequences for those who infringe – this is not currently seen as a viable threat but was mentioned by a few as a potential deterrent if enforced more widely.”

A summary of the tenth copyright infringement tracker survey is available on the UK Intellectual Property Office website .

While not mentioned, it may also make sense for the entertainment industries to change something themselves. After all, harsher publishment is not going to improve the convenience, availability, and cost of legal alternatives.

From: TF , for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

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    Plex Plans To Place All Legal Streaming Options (and Piracy) Into One Interface

    news.movim.eu / TorrentFreak · Thursday, 15 April, 2021 - 16:04 · 5 minutes

Plex Since being founded in 2009, the Plex media server and service has grown from strength to strength and with 25 million users worldwide, is now a force to be reckoned with.

Early adopters know Plex as a powerful media server capable of transforming local movie, TV show, and other libraries into a beautiful Netflix-style entertainment experience. Playable on a wide range of devices including PCs, smart TVs and even smartphones, Plex has a strong cult following but in recent years has begun to spread its wings.

While the company would prefer not to acknowledge it, Plex is the playback weapon of choice for millions of pirates. So-called “ Plex for Share ” services aside, direct piracy isn’t strictly possible within the system but when it is fed with movies and TV shows previously obtained from pirate sites, consumption of such media is transformed. The problem then, is how to tempt these users away from the ‘dark’ side.

Plex Spreads its Wings

In 2019, it was revealed that Plex had struck licensing deals with Warner Bros to supply free, ad-supported movies and TV shows to Plex users. Since then, Plex has added free live TV channels and secured more than 240 additional content deals with the likes of Lionsgate, MGM, Sony, AMC and more. This means that when ‘pirate’ users fire up Plex, they are not only presented with their own unlicensed content libraries but also official content too.

This blurring of ‘markets’ is an intriguing proposition that hasn’t been strongly tested before. Legal movie and TV show content from major providers isn’t seen on pirate streaming sites, for example, meaning that users can’t be easily tempted away during their visits. However, by putting licensed content inside Plex, no external navigation is needed, making the switch to revenue-generating content a breeze.

However, this innovation was only the beginning and according to an announcement Wednesday, Plex has an even bigger plan on the horizon, one that could transform the market.

$50m in Funding Secured: One-Stop Shop For Movies and TV

Yesterday, Plex revealed it had completed a growth equity round of $50 million from existing investor Intercap. The financing includes approximately $15 million in new capital for Plex, which the company intends to invest in its mission to become a one-stop-shop for movies and TV. It aims to do this by addressing one of the most frustrating aspects of today’s legal streaming market – fragmentation.

“As the industry grows so does the media chaos, creating a more fractured consumer experience with a dizzying array of services and subscriptions – all served up through a multitude of platforms and apps that the consumer has to keep track of,” Plex explains.

“This experience is painful for consumers who just want to find and easily navigate to movies and TV shows that they like.”

What Plex has in mind is to present users with a “single pane of glass”, a window to access their entire content libraries from within Plex, enabling them to find what they want quickly and easily.

“Everybody knows it’s a pain to sift through all the streaming services to find what you want to watch, and our goal at Plex is to manage your media life for you,” says Keith Valory, CEO at Plex.

“Our job is to understand where everything is, whether it’s from our free library of movies and shows, a subscription service, live on TV, or something you can purchase, and for Plex to be the trusted go-to service to help you find what you want, when you want it.”

One Interface, Endless Options

At the moment, Plex users are presented with their local content libraries and Plex’s movies, TV shows and live TV streams. The plan as described thus far suggests that Plex also hopes to partner with platforms such as Netflix, Prime, and maybe even Disney, so that all content libraries are searchable from one place – a legal content metasearch engine of sorts.

Whether these giants will have any interest in this proposal remains a question but it’s not difficult to see how such a system could be attractive to regular users while also becoming a valuable tool to leverage additional revenue from pirates. These days, only a minority of pirates are ‘hard core’, i.e they only consume content from pirate sources. The majority also consume legitimate content too and it’s not hard to find plenty who also have Netflix and Disney subscriptions, for example.

However, instead of having pirates sit completely isolated in their own ecosystems, with no immediate opportunity to convert them (or more fully convert them) into paying customers, the Plex proposal appears to welcome them to the fold, making all content searchable from one location and potentially negating the need to switch in and out of numerous apps.

That being said, there are problems to overcome.

Subscription and Privacy Concerns Remain

As things stand, even if users can easily search and discover content across multiple legal platforms in one interface, they’ll still be required to subscribe to those platforms to access the content.

For Plex, this could provide a source of affiliate revenue when users choose to sign up but there are limits to how much consumers are prepared to spend. A nice option would be to offer a package of subscriptions at a significantly reduced rate (a Plex Pass Plus option, if you like) but in the current environment, there doesn’t appear to be much of an appetite among providers to consider that.

Also, there are privacy concerns, particularly if Plex wants to assure its pirate and partially-pirate consumers to step onboard and begin the journey.

“Plex will help users discover new things to enjoy based on everything they already watch, with smart recommendations such as ‘you watched this movie, so you might enjoy this podcast, or this musical artist.’ It’s all about creating a custom multi-media entertainment experience that’s easy and enjoyable for each individual’s unique tastes,” the company explains.

While subscribers to Netflix and Disney are already used to these types of recommendations, it will remain to be seen how this is welcomed by pirate users. At this stage, it’s unknown whether Plex intends to start harvesting and/or sharing pirates’ viewing habits with their commercial partners. Also, things could get a little bit awkward if messages appear noting that “Since you watched yet-to-be-released-on-streaming-platforms ‘movie X’, then you might like to watch Y.”

That problem is probably a long way off but nevertheless, Plex’s momentum towards official content partnerships is absolutely clear. Becoming a focal point for lawful content consumption could also mean it faces pressure to do something about piracy too, but only time will tell how that plays out. There are clear opportunities ahead though, including millions of chances to convert pirates while cleaning up the legal streaming market into something cohesive.

From: TF , for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.