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cinema-empty.jpgMegaupload was a haven for movie pirates before its closure at the beginning of the year. One would therefore expect that, following the authorities shutting the site down, ticket sales at cinemas would go up, right?

Apparently not. A new report from the Munich School of Management and Copenhagen Business School suggests that the closure of Megaupload actually led to less people than usual visiting their local multiplex.

Ticket sales were found to be slightly lower than usual following the site's closure.

The report suggests that sites like Megaupload lead to a wider number of viewers for films, which in turn increases the useful circulation of word-of-mouth internet recommendations, which can be particularly useful for movies without mighty Hollywood marketing budgets behind them. As a result, the study found that it was indeed smaller indie flicks that were hit hardest by the drop in cinema ticket sales.

Movie piracy, like all forms of piracy, is of course not to be encouraged. But it's interesting to see how, in some cases, it's not a wholly damaging act.

Via: Torrent Freak

ipad-corner-patent.pngOh Apple. You've really outdone yourself in the petty patent stakes with this one haven't you? After months of debating whether or not such a patent should even be allowed, the Cupertino tech company now hold the patent for rectangles with rounded corners.

What. A. Joke.

The US Patent and Trademark Office accepted Apple's claim based on the design of the first iPad, with Patent no. D670,286 defined by the thick black line in the image above, which outlines the curved-edged perimeter of the device.

It's such a broad patent that it seems almost pointless to pursue it; it'll be near impossible to police, not least of all because of its usage on prior arts grounds.

But still, with Apple and Samsung raging away in the courts as we speak, we wouldn't put it past the iPad makers to pull this one out of the bag in a fix.

porn-laptop-thumb-2.jpgThe largest ever fine levied against a BitTorrent file sharer has been handed down by an Illinois court to pornography sharer Kywan Fisher. A judge has ruled that Fisher must pay $1.5 million dollars to adult movie production hose Flava Works for damages and loss of revenue.

Sharing ten of the company's films, that works out at $150,000 dollars per movie, the maximum amount of damages that can be claimed under current US copywright law.

Flava Works were able to pinpoint Fisher as the source of the piracy leak as he was a paid member of their pornography service, with each movie he downloaded having an encrypted, unique identifying code attached to it.

"Plaintiff has proprietary software that assigns a unique encrypted code to each member of Plaintiff's paid websites," said Flava's representative in court.

"In this case, every time the Defendant downloaded a copy of a copyrighted video from Plaintiff's website, it inserts an encrypted code that is only assigned to Defendant. In this case, the encrypted code for Defendant is: 'xvyynuxl'."

With the evidence stacked against him and Fisher's apparent lack of a defence (it's unclear whether he attempted to represent himself or simply didn't appear in court at all), the courts ruled in favour of FlavaWorks:

"Given the materials submitted by Plaintiff in support of its motion and in light of the absence of any objection by Defendant, Plaintiff's motion for entry of default against defendant 11 is granted. Judgment is entered in favor of the Plaintiff Flava Works, Inc., and against the Defendant Kywan Fisher in the amount of One Million Five Hundred Thousand Dollars ($1,500,000.00)," the judgment reads.

With the films downloaded more than 3,449 times from Fisher as host, that $1.5 million fine works out at $435 per download.

That's pretty much the most expensive w*nk in recorded history we'd imagine.

Via: Torrent Freak

ed-sheeran.jpgA new study into music piracy patterns has revealed singer/songwriter Ed Sheeran as the UK's most pirated artist. We thought the UK had more refined musical taste!

The new research, published by Musicmetric, also reveals Drake as the most pirated artist in the US. Overall, the data shows that 40 million albums and singles were shared in the UK, while 96.6 million were shared in the US.

Globally, Rihanna was the most downloaded artist, with her latest album Talk That Talk racking up 1.2 million illegal downloads.

Despite, directly affecting his sale, Ed Sheeran proves optimistic about the figures when questioned about it in a BBC interview, stating that downloads are likely to inspire fans to come to his gigs (something that they can't pirate) from which he earns more money anyway.

However, it's not a sentiment shared by industry executives.

"A lot of people are getting very rich from stealing other people's things," said Geoff Taylor, chief executive of the BPI.

"That's wrong, and we think that musicians deserve to be paid for what they do, just like everyone else."

You can view a breakdown of the tracks most downloaded locally by putting your postcode into a widget provided by the BBC here. Well done to my neighbours who, illegal piracy activities aside, showed themselves to have great taste by mostly downloading Bob Marley tracks.

Game-of-Thrones-Cast-Wallpaper-1.jpegNewly collated figures show that Game of Thrones is the most illegally downloaded show of 2012 so far.

The swords-and-sorcery epic, based on the novels of George R.R. Martin has been already been downloaded over 25 million times, despite the series being far from over. That's the equivalent of of 2.5 million downloads per day.

Broadcast and made by HBO in the US, and screened in the UK on the Sky Atlantic channel, analysts believe the reason the show is being downloaded by so many is that it is unavailable through HBO's TV catch up services for free.

"The fact that it's consistently at the top of the Pirate Bay's top one hundred TV show chart seems like an in-your-face leading indicator of the huge volume at which this is being shared," said Big Champagne analyst John Robinson.

"This is absolutely a reaction to the show's not being available elsewhere online It's a very tricky game trying to create this kind of scarcity."

However, with a budget that rivals a large scale movie production, it's unlikely that HBO will change their attitude to Game of Thrones video on demand availability any time soon, lest they struggle to recoup the show's giant costs.

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Over 9,000 O2 broadband customers caught illegally downloading pornography will have their personal details handed over to a major porn baron pressing for a settlement payout, it has been revealed today.

Ben Dover, the pseudonym for British porn actor, director and producer Lindsay Honey of Golden Eye International and Ben Dover Productions, was awarded the court order that saw O2 required by law to match iP addresses to the personal details of those downloading Honey's films. 9,124 IP addresses in total were matched up, with Honey now expected to push for a settlement sum.

In O2's defence, the ISP at least put up a good fight, trying to defend the privacy of their users. O2 fended off twelve court orders from the porn producers before unlucky number 13 forced their hand. According to the High Court, they eventually felt that "the claimants' interests in enforcing their copyrights outweigh the intended defendants' interest in protecting their privacy and data protection rights".

O2's fight however may have strengthened the rights of pirates in the future however. O2 may have set a new precedent, having fended off so many court orders demanding the personal details of their users. The speculative invoicing of lawyers like ACS :Law will now likely require far greater proof from claimants before users' details are shared.

Via: The Telegraph

pirate-bay-logo.jpgThe Pirate Bay are considering moving their servers into the sky aboard low-orbit, unmanned drones in an attempt to thwart the ground-based authorities looking to close the file sharing site down.

Looking to harness the power of super-small PCs like the Raspberry Pi, the site claims their new method would require aerial military action in order to see them closed down, evading earthbound piracy laws.

"With the development of GPS controlled drones, far-reaching cheap radio equipment and tiny new computers like the Raspberry Pi, we're going to experiment with sending out some small drones that will float some kilometers up in the air," explained the Pirate Bay team in the post.

"This way our machines will have to be shut down with aeroplanes in order to shut down the system. A real act of war."

"We're just starting so we haven't figured everything out yet. But we can't limit ourselves to hosting things just on land anymore.

"These Low Orbit Server Stations (LOSS) are just the first attempt. With modern radio transmitters we can get over 100Mbps per node up to 50km away. For the proxy system we're building, that's more than enough.

"But when time comes we will host in all parts of the galaxy, being true to our slogan of being the galaxy's most resilient system. And all of the parts we'll use to build that system on will be downloadable."

The first signs of paranoia-induced madness kicking in for the Pirate Bay team, or a genius (if crazy) way of circumventing the pressure they're facing from authorities on the ground? Either way one thing's for certain; their ship won't sink without a hell of a fight.

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The Pirate Bay have announced that they will no longer be hosting torrent files, and will instead now focus on providing file-sharers with magnet links.

Though one would assume torrent files are the bread-and-butter of the service, this new move will not cause any significant changes to the way visitors use the site. Magnet links will still let users share files through associated torrent platforms, but, as The Pirate Bay will no longer be storing any file information, and instead only the data in the links, it will be much harder for courts to accuse them of copyright infringement.

Pair this with the recent domain move from thepiratebay.org to thepiratebay.se (taking them out of US web jurisdiction), and the site's owners are now in a more powerful position than ever, despite having been refused an appeal to their charges for copyright infringement.

"Quite some time ago we decided to not host torrent files anymore," said Pirate Bay in a statement discussing the changes.

"In following with that decision, we decided to make Magnet links the default option for the Download buttons!

"We've just changed places on the links. Magnet is now default, Download torrent is now where the magnet links used to be. The reason is the same as always: Magnets are now good enough to use, and it's not as easy to block as .torrent files. Also it saves us a huge amount of bandwidth!"

As part of the changes, The Pirate Bay will be torrent free by 29th February, other than those torrents that only have 10 or less peers associated with them.

Via: Torrent Freak

wikipedia-blackout.jpgTried to get onto Wikipedia today? If you're from an English-speaking nation, then you were probably presented with the image above, and not the free source of community-built knowledge that the web encyclopedia is known for. And it's going to stay that way until 5am (GMT) tomorrow too.

Why? In protest to controversial US anti-piracy bills: The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and its Senate partner, the Protect IP Act (PIPA).

The bills are intended to strengthen the position of intellectual property holders and content providers on the net, who argue their industries are being monumentally damaged by online pirates. Their argument is sound, but many feel the bills' combative methods are not; while the music, film and software industries may be protected by the SOPA and PIPA bills, Internet advocates fear the heavy-handed tactics proposed by the bills will lead to a stifling of free speech on the net.

The new legislation would support laws already in place to protect copyrighted material, like the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). However, while the DCMA targets the removal of the infringing content, SOPA and PIPA set their sights on the platforms hosting the content, giving the Justice Department the power to hunt down even foreign websites, cutting their support (and often revenue streams) from US-based advertisers, ISPs and card companies.

It essentially means all webmasters worldwide would have to vigorously monitor their sites for infringing content, something that many feel not only crosses the line into censorship, but, in the case of massively popular websites, would also prove a gigantic policing task and resource hog. Start-ups couldn't defend against possible violations, and the Internet's growth would be cut short.

And while the legislation primarily targets foreign sites hosting the infringing content, even domestic US sites could face heavy penalties, just for linking to the foreign pages in question. On a community driven site like Reddit, which relies on the sharing of content and healthy, open forum it has created to survive, it could eventually spell the end.

As a result, many sites alongside Wikipedia (including BoingBoing, Mozilla, WordPress, TwitPic, MoveOn.org and Reddit) are putting a "blackout" blanket over their sites to illustrate the potential dangers of the bills. Other sites, like Twitter and Facebook, have not took part in the blackout, but have been equally vocal in opposition, while Google too has a protest doodle with the message" Tell Congress: Please don't censor the web" alongside it.

"Today Wikipedians from around the world have spoken about their opposition to this destructive legislation," said Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia co-founder.

"This is an extraordinary action for our community to take - and while we regret having to prevent the world from having access to Wikipedia for even a second, we simply cannot ignore the fact that SOPA and PIPA endanger free speech both in the United States and abroad, and set a frightening precedent of Internet censorship for the world."

It's been an important few days in the fight against the bills. While no-one questions the fact that Internet piracy is a massive problem for the creative industries, even the White House has now began to withdraw support for SOPA, awaiting modifications for the legislation.

However the Senate is still scheduled to hold a procedural vote on PIPA on January 24th, which could yet see the bill instated.

If you think this is primarily a US concern, think again. The USA, in effect, could potentially hold the entire web to ransom, and where the US leads, the UK is sure to follow with similar legislation on our own domestic sites. With so many massive companies and media conglomerate's bank-balances tied to the success of PIPA and SOPA, there is heavy pressure for the bills to be passed.

The Internet as we know it could be about to change forever.

Wikipedia-Logo-300x300.jpgWikipedia have announced that they are to "blackout" their immensely popular web encyclopedia on January 18th in protest against proposed anti-piracy acts in the US.

After 72 hours of discussions between 1800 Wikipedia members, the decision to fight against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) with an unprecedented period of intentional downtime was confirmed.

Though SOPA is now thought to be beaten (with the White House pulling support for the bill), the Wikipedia community still fear the potential dangers of the PIPA bill, which could lead to widespread, damaging censorship on the net.

While online piracy is a major problem on the web, costing the creative industries in particular dearly (as well as software developers), many see the proposed bills as too heavy-handed in the almost-blanket like approach to censorship.

"PIPA is still extremely dangerous," said Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia co-founder.

"Today Wikipedians from around the world have spoken about their opposition to this destructive legislation. This is an extraordinary action for our community to take - and while we regret having to prevent the world from having access to Wikipedia for even a second, we simply cannot ignore the fact that SOPA and PIPA endanger free speech both in the United States and abroad, and set a frightening precedent of Internet censorship for the world."

The Wikipedia blackout will begin 5AM GMT on Wednesday 18th January until 5AM GMT on Thursday 19th January.

pirate-bay-logo.jpgInternet service providers and UK telecoms giant BT are being put under pressure by the BPI (a coalition of music industry officials, publishers and Hollywood studios) to pull access to file-sharing site The Pirate Bay.

The request comes following a landmark high-court ruling that aims to enforce UK copywright law was passed, causing fellow file-sharing site Newzbin2 to be blocked by BT.

With that precedent set, BPI member groups and Pact, the Motion Picture Association and the Publishers Association, are hoping to force BT's hand, switching off the website for BT's 6 million customers.

Speaking to the Guardian, a BT spokesperson said "We can confirm we are now in receipt of a letter from the BPI [ requesting that BT block the Pirate Bay site]. BT is considering its response.

In line with the Newzbin judgment, a court order will be needed before any blocking could begin. BT is currently focused on implementation of that order."

The BPI are hoping BT will act voluntarily.

It wouldn't be the first time The Pirate Bay has been pulled by an ISP. In other territories across Europe, including Ireland, Denmark, Italy, Belgium and Sweden service providers have also removed the access to the torrent-hosting site.

PeteTownshend.jpgThe Who's windmilling guitarist Pete Townshend has marked Apple as a "digital vampire" during his talk at the first annual John Peel lecture in Salford last night (October 31st).

Stating that the internet is "destroying copyright as we know it" and causing new artists to struggle, the "My Generation" star levelled much of the blame at Apple.

"Is there really any good reason why, just because iTunes exists in the wild west internet land of Facebook and Twitter, it can't provide some aspect of these services to the artists whose work it bleeds like a digital vampire, like a digital Northern Rock, for its enormous commission," said Townshend.

"Apple should employ 20 talent scouts from the dying record business to give guidance to new acts and provide financial and marketing support to the best ones."

Townshend also spoke of the dilemna struggling new artists must face when their music is shared illegally.

"A creative person would prefer their music to be stolen and enjoyed than ignored. This is the dilemma for every creative soul: he or she would prefer to starve and be heard than to eat well and be ignored."

Townshend is not the only person to attack Apple as the root cause of a flailing music industry. Jon Bon Jovi famously stated that the late Steve Jobs was "killing the music business" through the creation of iTunes and growth of digital music in the wake of the iPod.

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Nintendo's Zelda franchise hits the iPhone!

Well, sort of.

"Ultimate iZelda Climb", developed by Audio Attack is the app in question.

Rather than being a swashbuckling adventure full of magic, dungeons and fair maidens however, Ultimate iZelda Climb is a DoodleJump clone. It's as classy as it is likely to get official endorsement from old Ninty.

We're pretty sure Nintendo President Satoru Iwata will be more than a bit miffed at this unauthorized app. Speaking to Japanese business daily Nikkei back in September, he stated that Nintendo gaming apps were "absolutely not under consideration," despite relatively tough times for the company following the less-than-stellar response to the Nintendo 3DS.

"If we did this, Nintendo would cease to be Nintendo," continued the Nintendo boss. "It's probably the correct decision in the sense that the moment we started to release games on smartphones we'd make profits.

"However, I believe my responsibility is not to short term profits, but to Nintendo's mid and long term competitive strength."

What with Apple's stringent app approval process, you can't help but think the Cupertino team are having a bit of a laugh at Nintendo's expense with this one.

If you're interested, you can grab the app by clicking here. It costs 0.69p. Be quick though, this one will be pulled faster than you can say "bootleg Triforce".

Pirate Party in Berlin election support surge

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jollyroger.gifThe Pirate Party, an independent political group who claim to represent digital rights and civil liberties for file sharers, have gained a landmark 8.9% of votes in the preliminary results of the Berlin local elections.

Boasting 12,000 members since forming in 2006, the party opposes European data retention laws and information privacy, as well as calling for major changes to copyright laws.

With legislation like the Digital Economy Act dividing voters in the UK, and similar laws being introduced in a state-by-state basis in the US, expect to see more political parties leaning heavily on issues of digital rights.

"We will get right to work," said Andreas Baum, Pirate party to ZDF television according to the Washington Post.

"This is all new for us."

netflix-password.jpgLawmakers in the state of Tennessee have passed a measure which could potentially drastically change the way we use premium online services like Netflix and Rhapsody. The new law, awaiting the Tennessee governor's signature, would make it a crime to share login information for paid-for online content portals.

While it's unlikely those living in Tennessee who share accounts with a sibling or spouse will come under fire, those who share a single account with many friends that may live many miles apart could potentially be breaking the law when the measure becomes standard.

The bill is aimed at preventing hackers and black market merchants from selling passwords to bulk buyers, and is intended to quell the growing tide of piracy that password and licence sharing online now facilitates.

Though the law so far has only been put forward in Tennessee, it has the potential to set a precedent for lawmakers across the States, and potentially the rest of the globe too. It would likely receive the full backing of all major record industry labels, as they continue to struggle to find effective ways to monetise their music catalogues online.

Via: The Huffington Post

limewire-thumb.jpgThe long-running court case between P2P file-sharing service LimeWire and a handful of record labels has concluded, resulting in a bill of $105 million worth of damages to be paid by LimeWire.

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), representing 13 labels that include Warner and Sony, have spent the last year in court against LimeWire, suing for breaching copyright.

With the court ruling in the RIAA's favour, CEO Mitch Bainwol shared his pleasure by saying:

"We are pleased to have reached a large monetary settlement. Designing and operating services to profit from the theft of the world's greatest music comes with a stiff price.

"The resolution of this case is another milestone in the continuing evolution of online music to a legitimate marketplace that appropriately rewards creators."

Surprisingly, LimeWire founder Mark Gorton seemed equally happy to put the whole case behind him, despite losing. A statement from his law firm reads, "Lime Wire and its founder, Mark Gorton, are pleased that this case has concluded."

In some senses, you can't blame him; at one point LimeWire was accused of owing $75 trillion worth of damages. $105 million must feel like pocket money in comparison.

Via: Reuters

Facebook granted "Face" trademark

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zuckerberg-facebook.jpg
After months of legal wranglings, it looks as though Facebook will soon own the trademark for the word "Face".

Zuckerberg's empire have had their trademark application accepted by the US Patent and Trade Office, with the reins passing to them from Faceparty.com.

If you were worried about you're own ugly mug incurring legal dealings because of the move, you needn't; the trademark only covers the use of "face" in regards to "telecommunication services, namely, providing online chat rooms and electronic bulletin boards for transmission of messages among computer users in the field of general interest and concerning social and entertainment subject matter, none primarily featuring or relating to motoring or to cars".

That means if you're planning on starting a social network or online communications system of any form with the word "Face" in the title, you could be in trouble. If you're not online, or not social however, you should still be able to use "Face", it would appear.

Facebook have three months to seal the deal, which you'd assume they most certainly will. Excuse me while I go apply for the trademark to the words "Eye", "Nose" and "Bum". And, just to throw a spanner in the works "Faceb" too.

r4_cartridge.jpgHigh-fives all around at Nintendo HQ today, as the High Court has ruled that importing, advertising or selling R4 cartridges in the UK is now illegal.

R4 cards can be used to download and play illegally ripped versions of Nintendo DS games from ROM sites on the web. While some argue that the cards have a legitimate use in the homebrew community, allowing budding coders and developers a platform to test their work on, the court found the card's widespread application for piracy too damaging to ignore.

The news follows a similar court ruling in the Netherlands just a week ago.


While the homebrewing community will be up in arms, many agree with the High Court ruling. Not least of all do ELSPA (the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association ) who released this statement following the news:

"We are delighted with today's decision to make the advertisement, importation and sale of R4 copier cards illegal. The ELSPA Intellectual Property (IP) Crime Unit was central in bringing the defendants to the attention of law enforcement authorities. I am grateful to them and our partners at Nintendo and Trading Standards in securing this significant judgement," said Michael Rawlinson, Director General of ELSPA. "Intellectual property theft is an important issue for the videogames industry, and this judgement will assist the IP Crime Unit team in actively pursuing and stopping other individuals who deal in R4 cards."

So where do you stand? Is it wrong to deny the innocent tinkerers the right to develop and practise their coding skills on the DS with the cards, not to mention opening up the hardware beyond limitations imposed upon it by Nintendo. Or do you consider the whole homebrew scene too small a community to defend those who use the cards for fairly widespread piracy?

Leave your feelings in the poll below.


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ministry-of-sound thumb.jpgUK dance music label Ministry of Sound have issued letters to thousands of UK based file-sharers, demanding compensation for copyright theft, or else have the accused face further legal action.

As many as 2,000 people are thought to have been recipients of the letters from intellectual property lawyers Gallant Macmillan, asking for as much as £350 from those believed to have downloaded and shared Ministry of Sound albums over the web illegally.

However, many of the recipients are protesting that they are innocent, oblivious to the accusations being levelled at them. Speaking to the Guardian was Luke Bellamy, who recently was asked by the label for compensation.

"Getting a letter like this is extremely worrying," Bellamy said. "I have never downloaded anything from this website and yet I am being chased for this money. My parents have been worried by this, and frankly I've got better things to do with my time than deal with this."


Steve Purdham, CEO of music steaming website we7, believes it very difficult to identify the core, harmful file-sharers in cases like this: "This is a move which is directed at protecting the media industry and copyright law, while it's very important that the music industry has a legal and enforceable method to deter and convict copyright infringers, we have to realise that with technologies such as spoofing and zombies (where a person's machine is effectively used without their knowledge) it is still exceptionally difficult to enforce the current legal approach.

"File-sharing sites have risen in the gulf between what consumers wanted and what has been available. Internet users don't want to use p2p networks; most are far from intuitive, full of sub-standard products and leave users' computers open to attack and infection.[...] At we7, we believe most people want to support the music they care about and we think with the rise of legitimate services the momentum is going in the right direction".

Have you received a letter from the Ministry of Sound? Were you file-sharing or have you been wrongly singled out? Let us know.

Via: The Guardian

Prince thumb.jpegPrince AKA The Artist Formerly Known as Prince AKA The Symbol AKA the little crazy dude with a preference for purple, has predicted the death of the internet as a viable way for musicians to make money.

The singer, whose new album "20Ten" will be given away free with the Daily Mirror and Daily Record newspapers, has said in an interview that his tech-phobic stance will mean it is unlikely he will sell the new over the internet at all. His main target for attack appears to be Apple's iTunes.

"The internet's completely over," he explained in a Daily Mirror interview. "I don't see why I should give my new music to iTunes or anyone else. They won't pay me an advance for it, and then they get angry when they can't get it."

"The internet's like MTV," he continued "At one time MTV was hip and suddenly it became outdated. Anyway, all these computers and digital gadgets are no good. They just fill your head with numbers, and that can't be good for you."

However, Steve Purdham, CEO of we7, believes that Prince is being a little short sighted.

"However, the Internet is increasingly becoming a basic requirement of modern life, just like electricity and flowing water, and we haven't seen anything yet as the Internet as we know it is still in its infancy.  Regarding Prince's reference to MTV, it's just a series of TV programs which has fallen out of vogue, TV certainly hasn't died."

"It's a clear fact that within 10 minutes of Prince's album being released, it will be available globally via the Internet," Purdham continued. "Nevertheless, choosing to distribute his latest album using newspapers is a great way to get all of his money in one go and mitigate the risk of failure or piracy, and that tactic has to be applauded."

Either way, it looks as if that iPod I bought for Prince's birthday will be going up on eBay then...

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