Movie piracy isn’t new, but this is
Movie piracy has been an unfortunate buzz word for a while. The latest instance of piracy surrounds the action movie Manny. Filmmakers of Manny have filed hundreds of lawsuits against BitTorrent pirates this year, unfortunately, not all of them have been successful.
BitTorrent is a file sharing site where you can share files from device to device, without syncing through the cloud, making it a virtual paradise for pirating, especially for the sharing of films and music.
One Florida judge is shaking up how to makes these pirate walk the plank, however. In a prominent ruling Florida District Court Judge Ursula Ungaro refused to issue a subpoena, arguing that IP address evidence alone is not enough to show who has downloaded a pirated movie. Most reports and lawsuits surrounding piracy fly low on the radar, but U.S. district courts are swamped with piracy lawsuits, particularly those involving film piracy.
Hundreds of lawsuits spanning numerous districts
Before Manny, you may remember the third installation of The Expendables made news, due to it’s highly pirated popularity which effected the gross income of the official release. Now, Manny is put in a similar situation, however, over the past few months they have filed 215 lawsuits, spanning several districts, targeting pirates.
Previously, IP addresses were relied upon as solid evidence as to whom was downloading what, from which device, but Judge Ungaro’s ruling chages up the copyright game quite a bit. No longer will courts be able to grant a subpoena to force an Internet provider to disclose the details of an account holder, based solely on IP address evidence, at least not in Florida. This ruling could be used nationwide to change how information is gathered.
The logic behind the ruling
Universities, libraries, cafes, and other publicly frequented placed, give users access to their Internet services, without recording which individual is using the device. Maybe you loaned a computer to a friend, maybe you’re part of a shared hosting server; multiple client devices can appear to share IP addresses: either because they are part of a shared hosting web server environment, or because a proxy server is acting as an intermediary agent on behalf of its customers, in which case the real originating IP addresses might be hidden from the server receiving a request. Basically, more than one human can be behind an IP address and it’s about time the court recognized it.
Judge Ungaro actually asked the Manny film team to explain how an IP address can pinpoint the actual person who downloaded a pirated film. As well as, how geolocation tools are good enough to prove that the alleged pirate resides in the Court’s district. Their answer? Not a good one, stating, “’all other courts’ [believed an IP address had nothing to with a person and disregarding this notion could set] a ‘dangerous precedent.’”
Not what Judge Ungaro wanted to hear. She stated, “Due to the risk of ‘false positives,’ an allegation that an IP address is registered to an individual is not sufficient in and of itself to support a claim that the individual is guilty of infringement.”
IP not enough to establish a user’s identity
“As in those cases, Plaintiff here fails to show how geolocation software can establish the identity of the Defendant. Specifically, there is nothing linking the IP address location to the identity of the person actually downloading and viewing the copy righted material and nothing establishing that the person actually lives in this district.” Judge Ungaro goes on the state, “even if this IP address is located within a residence, geolocation software cannot identify who have access to that residence’s computer and who would actually be using it to infringe Plaintiff’s copyright.”
This ruling in particular, focuses on the piracy of film, this ruling could be applied to numerous other areas where IP addresses are typically requested, or used as “evidence.” Other states may soon follow suit with Florida and find that IP addresses alone are not enough to confirm the identity of the offender.
Not all judges as enlightened as Ungaro
While not all judges may be as enlightened as Judge Ungaro, this order certainly makes it harder for copyright holders to blindly subpoena an entire list of IP addressses without additional proof. It also gives other defendants, in similar situations, a place to start.
Even in light of this ruling, movie piracy is still against the law and subject to some pretty hefty fines; so don’t hide behind your IP address, waving your free movie flag, because technology is constantly evolving and one day, the movie piracy police will have enough proof to show up at your door. Aargh.
This web platform for cannabis is blowing up online distribution
(BUSINESS NEWS) Dutchie, a website platform for cannabis companies, just octupled in value. Here’s what that means for the online growth of cannabis distribution.
The cannabis industry has, for the most part, blossomed in the past few years, managing to hit only a few major snags along the way. One of those snags is the issue of payment processing, an issue compounded by predominantly cash-only transactions. Dutchie, a Bend, Oregon company, has helped mitigate that issue—and it just raised a ton of money.
Technically, Dutchie is a jack-of-all-trades service that creates and hosts websites for dispensaries, tracks product, processes orders, keeps stock of revenue, and so much more. While it was valued at around $200 million as recently as summer of 2020, a round of series C funding currently puts the company at around $1.7 billion—approximately 8 times its worth a mere 8 months ago.
There are a few reasons behind Dutchie’s newfound momentum. For starters, the pandemic made cannabis products a lot more accessible—and desirable—in states in which the sale of cannabis is legal. The ensuing surge of customers and demand certainly didn’t hurt the platform, especially given that Dutchie is largely responsible for keeping things on track during some of the more chaotic months for dispensaries.
Several states in which the sale of cannabis was illegal also voted to legalize recreational use, giving Dutchie even more stomping ground than they had prior to the lockdown.
Dutchie also recently took on 2 separate companies and their associated employees, effectively doubling their current staff. The companies are Greenbits—a resource planning group—and Leaflogix, which is a point-of-sale platform. With these two additions to their compendium, Dutchie can operate as even more of an all-in-one suite, which absolutely contributes to its value as a company.
Ross Lipson, who is Dutchie’s co-founder and current CEO, is fairly dismissive of investment opportunities for the public at the moment, saying he instead prefers to stay “focused with what’s on our plate” for the time being. However, he also appears open to the possibility of going public via an acquisition company.
“We look at how this decision brings value to the dispensary and the customer,” says Lipson. “If it brings value, we’d embark on that decision.”
For now, Dutchie remains the ipso facto king of cannabis distribution and sales—and they don’t show any plans to slow down any time soon.
Ford adopts flexible working from home schedule for over 30k employees
(BUSINESS NEWS) Ford Motor Co. is allowing employees to continue working from home even after the pandemic winds down. Is this the beginning of a trend for auto companies?
The pandemic has greatly transformed our lives. For the most part, learning is being conducted online. At one point, interacting with others was pretty much non-existent. Working in the office shifted significantly to working remotely, and it seems like working from home might not go away anytime soon.
As things slowly get back to a new “normal”, will things change again? Well, one thing is sure. Working from home will be a permanent thing for some people as more companies opt to continue letting people work remotely.
And, the most recent company on the list to do this is Ford Motor Co. Even after the pandemic winds down, Ford will allow more than 30,000 employees already working from home to continue doing so.
Last week, the automaker giant announced its “flexible hybrid model” schedule to its staff. The new schedule is set to start in the summer, and employees can choose to work remotely and come into the office for tasks that require face-to-face collaborations, such as meetings and group projects.
How much time an employee spends in the office will depend on their responsibilities, and flexible remote hours will need to be approved by an employee’s manager.
“The nature of work drives whether or not you can adopt this model. There are certain jobs that are place-dependent — you need to be in the physical space to do the job,” David Dubensky, chairman and chief executive of Ford Land, told the Washington Post. “Having the flexibility to choose how you work is pretty powerful. … It’s up to the employee to have dialogue and discussion with their people leader to determine what works best.”
Ford’s decision to implement a remote-office work model has to do in part with an employee survey conducted in June 2020. Results from the survey showed that 95% of employees wanted a hybrid schedule. Some employees even reported feeling more productive when working from home.
Ford is the first auto company to allow employees to work from home indefinitely, but it might not be the only one. According to the Post, Toyota and General Motors are looking at flexible options of their own.
Unify your remote team with these important conversations
(BUSINESS NEWS) More than a happy hour, consider having these poignant conversations to bring your remote team together like never before.
Cultivating a team dynamic is difficult enough without everyone’s Zoom feed freezing halfway through “happy” hour. You may not be able to bond over margaritas these days, but there are a few conversations you can have to make your team feel more supported—and more comfortable with communicating.
According to Forbes, the first conversation to have pertains to individual productivity. Ask your employees, quite simply, what their productivity indicators are. Since you can’t rely on popping into the office to see who is working on a project and who is beating their Snake score, knowing how your employees quantify productivity is the next-best thing. This may lead to a conversation about what you want to see in return, which is always helpful for your employees to know.
Another thing to discuss with your employees regards communication. Determining which avenues of communication are appropriate, which ones should be reserved for emergencies, and which ones are completely off the table is key. For example, you might find that most employees are comfortable texting each other while you prefer Slack or email updates. Setting that boundary ahead of time and making it “office” policy will help prevent strain down the road.
Finally, checking in with your employees about their expectations is also important. If you can discuss the sticky issue of who deals with what, whose job responsibilities overlap, and what each person is predominantly responsible for, you’ll negate a lot of stress later. Knowing exactly which of your employees specialize in specific areas is good for you, and it’s good for the team as a whole.
With these 3 discussions out of the way, you can turn your focus to more nebulous concepts, the first of which pertains to hiring. Loop your employees in and ask them how they would hire new talent during this time; what aspects would they look for, and how would they discern between candidates without being able to meet in-person? It may seem like a trivial conversation, but having it will serve to unify further your team—so it’s worth your time.
The last crucial conversation, per Forbes, is simple: Ask your employees what they would prioritize if they became CEOs tomorrow. There’s a lot of latitude for goofy responses here, but you’ll hear some really valuable—and potentially gut-wrenching—feedback you wouldn’t usually receive. It never hurts to know what your staff prioritize as idealists.
Unifying your staff can be difficult, but if you start with these conversations, you’ll be well on your way to a strong team during these trying times.
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