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Cyberlockers and Streaming - the New Piracy Threat

by July 01, 2010
Argh... there be streaming pirates here!

Argh... there be streaming pirates here!

It used to be that movie studios feared illegal downloads... and in part they still do. After all, with uncertain revenues from theaters and the growing market of streaming media they are consistently unsure of how their business model may shake up in the next decade. Now they are facing a new problem: cheap, fast, and completely illegal subscription services. And these companies look and feel professional. The movies are stored in what's known as "Cyberlockers" - places where users can go to stream pirated movie content... for as little as $5/month!

According to an article on The Hollywood Reporter, foreign companies, apparently even mob-run ones, collect these illegally obtained movies and then operate for-profit websites that look reputable and sell almost unlimited digital movie files.

"Cyberlockers now represent the preferred method by which consumers are enjoying pirated content"

- Fred Huntsberry, Paramount Pictures CEO

Fred Huntsberry, CEO of Paramount Pictures, detailed to industry professionals at the Cinema Expo the methods piracy pros are using to obtain and manipulate content for these Cyberlockers. Namely, they are going into theaters and capturing first-run movies with camcorders... Later, they are immediately updated with pristine quality copies once the DVD and Blu-ray versions are released. The problem is so pervasive and sophisticated that feature films are able to be made available just days after they are released in theaters. This isn't just an American problem either. Films are being systematically dubbed and configured for streaming into a myriad of languages within the first month of a theatrical debut.

These cyberlocker-style businesses are being run out of Russia, Ukraine, Colombia, Germany, Switzerland and elsewhere, yet several of them have been so legitimate-looking (and so well-run) that they have been able to sell online ads to such mainstream companies as Kentucky Fried Chicken and even, ironically, Netflix. Studios aren't sure what to do about the problem, but are cautioning consumers that participating in these ventures is likely to expose you to credit card scams and identity theft. Other than that they are forced to deal with the problem legally, using other countries' laws and copyright measures - something that is far easier to enforce domestically than abroad.

In the UK, a new law means that consumers caught downloading material will now receive an e-mail alert followed by formal letters. Those who persist in downloading and streaming copyright-protected material can have their Internet access revoked for a period of time. In France there is a law against using a camcorder in movie theaters - one of the only European states to do so.

This looks to be the start of a very intense and ongoing battle for the movie studios and one fight from which they aren't likely to back off.

About the author:
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Clint Deboer was terminated from Audioholics for misconduct on April 4th, 2014. He no longer represents Audioholics in any fashion.

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Recent Forum Posts:

GlocksRock posts on July 01, 2010 14:45
All I can say is that I hope physical media sticks around for a long time. I have heard talk about gaming going to the clouds, but I hope that doesn't happen any time soon. I like my consoles, and I like the functionality that's being added to them on a regular basis.
krzywica posts on July 01, 2010 13:54
its phillip, post: 730108
Unless every single studio or production company gets on board with vod/streaming, there will be plenty of movies out there that aren't available for streaming. Another thing is potential network issues. What if your connection goes down for whatever reason? It could be affected by weather, it could be affected by other people in the house, you could drop a hammer on your modem, etc. The streaming site could go down for maintenance. Your system drive/video card/mobo/cpu/psu could crap out.

Movies look nice on the shelf too

What if Wiley Coyote drops an Acme anvil on your Bluray player?

How often does my network go down at home? I haven't had it go down in almost a year. Thats not even a flicker. Does everyone have reliable service like this? Probably not.

But in all honesty if studios choose not to get onboard it will only lead to their undoing.
its phillip posts on July 01, 2010 12:32
Unless every single studio or production company gets on board with vod/streaming, there will be plenty of movies out there that aren't available for streaming. Another thing is potential network issues. What if your connection goes down for whatever reason? It could be affected by weather, it could be affected by other people in the house, you could drop a hammer on your modem, etc. The streaming site could go down for maintenance. Your system drive/video card/mobo/cpu/psu could crap out.

Movies look nice on the shelf too
krzywica posts on July 01, 2010 12:20
its phillip, post: 730092
I disagree with this 100%. When I buy a book, cd, game, or movie, I can do whatever I want with them/sell them or whatever. I do believe that streaming and/or digital distribution has its place, but I certainly don't want it to take the place of physical media. If I buy a game on steam and find out I don't like it, I can't sell it or even give it away. Same thing for an ebook. DRM'd music files are a big no-no for me. Also, the majority of digital music stores offer lossy files only, which I will never pay for. I would be willing to pay $5 or $10 a month for streaming of movies (I already do with netflix), but I certainly don't want to pay $15 for an album or $20 for a movie or $50 for a game that is restricted in some manner. This isn't worded very well :/

Yeah I see what you mean…..but I think most people would rather have unlimited streaming content for a flat monthly fee than buy each movie they want to watch…maybe not…maybe its just me.
its phillip posts on July 01, 2010 12:08
krzywica, post: 730075
Physical media should have died off and been relegated to the niche market years ago.

I disagree with this 100%. When I buy a book, cd, game, or movie, I can do whatever I want with them/sell them or whatever. I do believe that streaming and/or digital distribution has its place, but I certainly don't want it to take the place of physical media. If I buy a game on steam and find out I don't like it, I can't sell it or even give it away. Same thing for an ebook. DRM'd music files are a big no-no for me. Also, the majority of digital music stores offer lossy files only, which I will never pay for. I would be willing to pay $5 or $10 a month for streaming of movies (I already do with netflix), but I certainly don't want to pay $15 for an album or $20 for a movie or $50 for a game that is restricted in some manner. This isn't worded very well :/
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