Business Matters: U.S. Gov't Lists Worst Piracy Sites/Helpful Piracy Primer
Business Matters: U.S. Gov't Lists Worst Piracy Sites/Helpful Piracy Primer
Eminem's "Relapse" on Taobao for as low as 8 Yuan or about $1.20 (Photo: Taobao screen shot)

U.S. Gov't Lists Worst Piracy Markets/Helpful Piracy Primer
-- The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has weighed in on piracy with a report on markets with exceptional piracy problems. Called the Special 301 Out-of-Cycle Review, the report highlights a range of web sites and countries with notoriously bad physical piracy.

Making the list are unnamed clones of shuttered Russian site allofmp3, Chinese search giant Baidu (for its deep linking to copyrighted material), Chinese online auction and shopping site Taobao, Russian social network vKontakte, and torrents tracker Demonoid. Also on the list were more well known sites such as The Pirate Bay, IsoHunt, Btjunkie and Kickasstorrents.

For the uninitiated, the report acts as a helpful primer on all sorts of piracy. While Americans may be familiar with some sports-targeted piracy sites after Homeland Security seized their domains in January, an application such as TV Ants is probably less well known. And if any information is needed on which BitTorrent sites are most popular, it's in this report.

The RIAA welcomed the report. "Whether online or in the physical space, these are firms who either directly profit from the sale or other distribution of illegal materials, or who profit from facilitating such theft -- in many cases through the sale of advertising," said Neil Turkewitz, Executive Vice President, International, in a statement.

The RIAA's statement mentioned a recent decision by the government of the Ukraine to tackle some of its piracy issues and take action against - a site not on the Special 301 report but notorious nonetheless.

Goodbye Tepid 2010 Touring Season, Hello 2011!

-- Investors appear hopeful that the tough 2010 concert season is in the rear view mirror. During the earnings call, Live Nation Entertainment CEO Michael Rapino rattled off a number of metrics that suggested ticket sales are off to a good start this year. So after the company reported a net loss of $124 million on Monday, shares in the company jumped up over 3% in early Tuesday trading. By early afternoon, the stock had risen to a 1% gain after falling into negative territory from midday to mid-afternoon. By late afternoon, the Dow was down 1.4%, the S&P 500 was down 1.5% and the Nasdaq was down 1.8%.

Goldman Sachs showed mixed feelings on the company's earnings. Its analyst lowered the price target to $11.50 from $12.50 and maintained its neutral rating. The research report noted "positive data points for the business so far in 2011" but lowered its earnings per share estimates for the next three fiscal years.

Boxee, A Capitalized Cord-Cutting Option

-- Boxee has raised $16.5 million in Series C funding. New investors Pitango and Softbank joined earlier investors General Catalyst, Spark Capital and Union Square Ventures.

Boxee makes software for a set-top box that connects TVs to the Internet -- either enabling cord-cutting or enhancing the cable/satellite TV experience. But the company takes a different tact. Instead of selling the hardware or even licensing its software, it gives away its software to manufacturers. So Boxee has other plans to generate revenue. For one, in the second quarter it will launch a platform that enables content providers to charge for subscriptions (Boxee will take a cut). The company has also discussed generating advertising revenue through the (hopefully) widely dispersed software.