"Star Wars" clones appear on Net

Discussion in 'Espionage Report' started by AmShak, May 11, 2002.

  1. AmShak

    AmShak Senior Moderator Staff Member

    Copies of the next "Star Wars" movie are circulating online more than a week before its theatrical release, marking the latest setback to the major studios' fight to protect entertainment from Net piracy.
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    "Star Wars: Episode II--Attack of the Clones," which is set to open in movie theatres May 16, can be downloaded from Usenet, or discussion groups linked to the Web. The groups allow visitors to trade conversation, photos, and audio and video files on various topics.
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    Read more here.
     
  2. AmShak

    AmShak Senior Moderator Staff Member

    "Star Wars" clones appear on Net
    Sat May 11,12:46 AM ET
    Stefanie Olsen CNET News.com

    Copies of the next "Star Wars" movie are circulating online more than a week before its theatrical release, marking the latest setback to the major studios' fight to protect entertainment from Net piracy.

    "Star Wars: Episode II--Attack of the Clones," which is set to open in movie theatres May 16, can be downloaded from Usenet, or discussion groups linked to the Web. The groups allow visitors to trade conversation, photos, and audio and video files on various topics.

    The bootleg's availability is a continuing sign of the entertainment industry's uphill battle to fight Net piracy. Newly released films are typically available on the Internet 24 hours after they debut in theatres, according to the Motion Picture Association of America. And as increasing numbers of consumers adopt high-speed access to the Web, downloading large movie files has become easier and provides for higher quality downloads.

    File-sharing communities such as Morpheus are hotbeds for sharing bootlegged material, including audio files and DVDs. Last month, a copy of the hit movie "Spider-Man" was available a day before its theatre debut.

    A sample clip of the "Star Wars" film obtained by CNET News.com showed reasonably good quality. In full-screen mode, the picture was letterboxed and somewhat blurry, inferior to a typical VCR movie. The sound quality was good, however.

    A movie distribution group called "FTFVCD," or "F**K the Feds," took credit for distributing the movie.

    "We are pleased to bring you this early release of one of the most anticipated movies of the summer. We enjoy helping the scene out wherever we can. Haters don't bother us, fans we appreciate," read the notes included with the film.

    Lucasfilm, maker of the "Star Wars" saga, would not comment on its early release over the Net, deferring to the MPAA, which is charged with defending the films of seven movie studios from Web piracy.

    "We investigate all incidents of film theft," said Emily Kutner, director of public affairs worldwide on anti-piracy campaigns for the MPAA. Though she could not comment on any investigation of "Star Wars," Kutner said the organization takes copyright infringement very seriously. This year alone, the MPAA has sent 18,000 cease-and-desist letters to Internet service providers hosting sites that offer movies illegally.

    "Sometimes before a film is put into wide release, the studio may do a screening and unfortunately someone will sneak in with a camcorder. (Then they will) make it illegally available on the Internet," Kutner said.

    Kutner could not estimate the financial losses of Internet piracy to the studios, but she said they are mounting.

    "There is an incalculable financial loss to (the movie industry) right now and that will only grow as the ability to pirate movies on the Internet through broadband access is available to more people," said Kutner.

    The Los Angeles Times first reported the online appearance of "Attack of the Clones."

    News.com's John Borland contributed to this report.
     
  3. AmShak

    AmShak Senior Moderator Staff Member

    'Attack of the Clones' Zapped by Pre-Opening Piracy
    Fri May 10, 4:23 PM ET
    By Sue Zeidler

    LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The countdown has begun to next week's opening of the latest "Star Wars" installment, but digital pirates have already launched their own clone attack by swapping bootleg copies of the blockbuster on the Internet.

    As a result, up to a million people might have seen "Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones" before its much-hyped opening on Thursday, experts said on Friday, underlining the urgent nature of the piracy problem for Hollywood studios.

    "Here you have what everyone expected to be one of the biggest films of the year, but it will already have been seen by a million people," said Bruce Forest, an independent media technology consultant and an expert on piracy.

    Forest said he first detected the swapping of bootleg copies of the movie on Wednesday on the Internet Relay Chat, a network of global chat networks that enables peer-to-peer file-sharing, which is popular among programmers and hackers.

    "Yesterday, it was absolutely maniacal. I was on the IRC all day and it was being put through all the different channel groups," said Forest, who noted the film was starting to trickle into more mainstream channels by Thursday morning.

    Industry sources believe the bootleg version may have been made at a private screening of the "Star Wars" film, using a tripod-mounted digital camcorder pointed at the screen.

    The problem is a growing one for Hollywood, with research firm Viant Corp. estimating that more than 350,000 copies of films are illegally downloaded each day.

    Movie studios, fearing they could be next industry to suffer the sort of damage inflicted on the music business by free Internet song-swap service Napster (news - web sites), have banded together to form legitimate Internet movie ventures as well as launch a legal offensive against such pirates.

    Lucasfilm Ltd, the producer of "Star Wars", and 20th Century Fox, a unit of News Corp. Ltd., which is distributing the film, referred calls to the Movie Picture Association, an industry trade group leading the fight against piracy.

    'GROWING EPIDEMIC'

    "This is a problem we're seeing more and more of ahead of openings large and small," said Richard Taylor, a spokesman for the trade group. "There's a growing epidemic of Internet piracy of motion pictures and its this kind of activity that stands as one of the obstacles to legitimate online offerings."

    Industry observers were split on whether the bootlegging could hurt box office receipts during the movie's opening weekend.

    Copies of "Spider-Man" for instance also premiered on the Internet ahead of its debut, which turned out to be the biggest opening of all time with $114 million in North American ticket sales in its first three days in release last weekend.

    "This will likely not have any substantial impact on the box office revenues. This is a big theater movie and not one you're going to want to watch sitting around your PC on a Friday night," said P.J. McNealy, an analyst with GartnerG2.

    McNealy said he believes the Web traffic could actually help drive the hype surrounding the film, but others, including the studios, believe the cloning could work the other way.

    "If people don't like it, it may affect the box office. It's already being heavily discussed on chat rooms and what viewers say may convince those people who are sitting on the fence about seeing it," said Forest.

    Many experts agreed the piracy could also bite into the sales of videos and DVDS, which typically account for a huge portion of a studio's profits on a movie.

    "I would imagine that the availability of any motion picture on the Net for free would certainly displace some people who would have otherwise gone to the movie or bought the DVD," said Chuck Sims, an attorney has represented Hollywood studios.

    "It's impossible to prove one way or another, but it's something that every economist would say. And if there is one copy out there, I'm not surprised there are many because the nature of the Internet is that they will get replicated."
     

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