Posts tagged ‘Copyright’

TorrentFreak: BitTorrent Users are Avid, Eclectic Content Buyers, Survey Finds

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Andy. Original post: at TorrentFreak

Each month 150-170 million Internet users share files using the BitTorrent protocol, a massive audience by most standards. The common perception is that these people are only interested in obtaining content for free.

However, studies have found that file-sharers are often more engaged than the average consumer, as much was admitted by the RIAA back in 2012. There’s little doubt that within those millions of sharers lie people spending plenty of money on content and entertainment.

To get a closer look, in September BitTorrent Inc. conducted a survey among a sample of its users. In all, 2,500 people responded and now the company has published the results. The figures aren’t broken down into age groups, but BitTorrent Inc. informs TF that BitTorrent users trend towards young and male.

Music

From its survey the company found that 50% of respondents buy music each month, with a sway towards albums rather than singles (44% v 32%). BitTorrent users are reported as 170% more likely to have paid for a digital music download in the past six months than Joe Public.

Citing figures from the RIAA, BitTorrent Inc. says its users are also 8x more likely than the average Internet user to pay for a streaming music service, with 16% of BitTorrent users and 2% of the general public holding such an account.

Perhaps a little unexpectedly, supposedly tech-savvy torrent users are still buying CDs and vinyl, with 45% and 10% respectively reporting a purchase in the past 12 months. BitTorrent Inc. says that the latter represents users “engaging and unpacking art as a multimedia object”, a clear reference to how the company perceives its BitTorrent Bundles.

On average, BitTorrent Inc. says its user base spends $48 a year on music, with 31% spending more than $100 annually.

bit-music

Movies

When it comes to movies, 47% of respondents said they’d paid for a theater ticket in the preceding 12 months, up on the 38% who purchased a DVD or Blu-ray disc during the same period.

Users with active movie streaming accounts and those making digital movie purchases tied at 23%, with DVD rental (22%) and digital rental (16%) bringing up the rear.

All told, BitTorrent Inc. says that 52% of respondents buy movies on a monthly basis with the average annual spend amounting to $54. More than a third say they spend in excess of $100.

bit-movie

So do the results of the survey suggest that BitTorrent Inc.’s users have a lot to offer the market and if so, what?

“The results confirm what we knew already, that our users are super fans. They are consumers of content and are eager to reward artists for their work,” Christian Averill, BitTorrent Inc.’s Director of Communications, told TF.

“BitTorrent Bundle was started based on this premise and we have more than 10,000 artists now signed up, with more to come. With 90% of purchase going to the content creators, BitTorrent Bundle is the most artist friendly, direct-to-fan distribution platform on the market.”

It seems likely that promoting and shifting Bundles was a major motivator for BitTorrent Inc. to carry out the survey and by showing that torrent users aren’t shy to part with their cash, more artists like Thom Yorke will hopefully be prepared to engage with BitTorrent Inc.’s fanbase.

Also of note is the way BitTorrent Inc. is trying to position that fanbase or, indeed, how that fanbase has positioned itself. While rock (20%), electronic (15%) and pop (13%) took the top spots in terms of genre popularity among users, 23% described their tastes as a vague “other”. Overall, 61% of respondents described their musical tastes as “eclectic”.

“[Our] users are engaged in the creative community and they have diverse taste. They also do not define themselves by traditional genres. We feel this is a true representation about how fans view themselves universally these days. They are eclectic,” Averill concludes.

While monetizing content remains a key focus for BitTorrent Inc., the company is also making strides towards monetizing its distribution tools. Last evening uTorrent Plus was replaced by uTorrent Pro (Windows), an upgraded client offering torrent streaming, an inbuilt player, video file converter and anti-virus features. The ad-free client (more details here) is available for $19.95 per year.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: U.S. Brands Kim Dotcom a Fugitive, ‘Spies’ on Others

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Ernesto. Original post: at TorrentFreak

megaupload-logoIt’s been nearly three years since Megaupload was taken down by the U.S. authorities but it’s still uncertain whether Kim Dotcom and his fellow defendants will be extradited overseas.

Two months ago the U.S. Government launched a separate civil action in which it asked the court to forfeit the bank accounts, cars and other seized possessions of the Megaupload defendants, claiming they were obtained through copyright and money laundering crimes.

Megaupload responded to these allegations at the federal court in Virginia with a motion to dismiss the complaint. According to Megaupload’s lawyers the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) is making up crimes that don’t exist.

In addition, Dotcom and his co-defendants claimed ownership of the assets U.S. authorities are trying to get their hands on. A few days ago the DoJ responded to these claims, arguing that they should be struck from the record as Dotcom and his colleagues are fugitives.

In a motion (pdf) submitted to a Virginia District Court the U.S. asks for the claims of the defendants to be disregarded based on the doctrine of fugitive disentitlement.

“Claimants Bram van der Kolk, Finn Batato, Julius Bencko, Kim Dotcom, Mathias Ortmann, and Sven Echternach, are deliberately avoiding prosecution by declining to enter the United States where the criminal case is pending,” U.S. Attorney Dana Boente writes.

“The key issue in determining whether a person is a fugitive from justice is that person’s intent. A defendant who flees with intent to avoid arrest is a fugitive from justice,” he adds.

Since Kim Dotcom and his New Zealand-based Megaupload colleagues are actively fighting their extradition they should be seen as fugitives, the DoJ concludes.

“Those claimants who are fighting extradition on the criminal charges in the related criminal case, claimants van der Kolk, Batato, Kim Dotcom, and Ortmann, are fugitives within the meaning of the statute, regardless of the reason for their opposition.”

Megaupload lawyer Ira Rothken disagrees with this line of reasoning. He told TF that the fugitive disentitlement doctrine shouldn’t apply here.

“The DOJ is trying to win the Megaupload case on procedure rather than the merits. Most people don’t realize that Kim Dotcom has never been to the United States,” Rothken says.

A person who has never been to the United States and is currently going through a lawful procedure in New Zealand shouldn’t be seen as a fugitive, according to Rothken.

The recent DoJ filing also highlights another aspect of the case. According to a declaration by special FBI agent Rodney Hays, the feds have obtained “online conversations” of Julius Bencko and Sven Echternach, the two defendants who currently reside in Europe.

These conversations were obtained by law enforcement officers and show that the authorities were ‘spying’ on some of the defendants months after Megaupload was raided.

tapped

“During a conversation that occurred on or about March 28, 2012, Bencko allegedly told a third-party, ‘I can come to Bratislava [Slovakia] if needed .. bu [sic] you know .. rather not travel around much .. ‘ Later in the conversation, Bencko states ‘i’m facing 55 years in usa’,” the declaration reads.

In addition to the two defendants, law enforcement also obtained a conversation of Kim’s wife Mona Dotcom, who is not a party in the case herself.

“During a conversation that occurred on or about February 9, 2012 a third-party told Mona Dotcom, ‘Also Julius [Bencko] wants Kim [Dotcom] to know that he will be supportive in what ever way possible that he needs’,”

According to the U.S. the ‘tapped’ conversations of Bencko and Echternach show that since they are avoiding travel to the United States, they too can be labeled fugitives.

It’s unclear how the online conversations were obtained, but Megaupload lawyer Ira Rothken told TF that he wouldn’t be surprised if civil liberties were violated in the process, as has happened before in the case.

Whether these fugitive arguments will be accepted by the court has yet to be seen. Highlighting the motion Megaupload submitted earlier, Rothken notes that regardless of these arguments the case should be dismissed because the court lacks jurisdiction.

“The United States doesn’t have a stature for criminal copyright infringement,” Rothken tells us. “We believe that the case should be dismissed based on a lack of subject matter jurisdiction.”

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: Court: $30,000 for Sharing a Pirated Movie is Excessive Punishment

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Ernesto. Original post: at TorrentFreak

cashOver the past several years hundreds of thousands of Internet subscribers have been sued in the United States for allegedly sharing copyrighted material, mostly films, online.

The goal of these lawsuits is to encourage alleged downloader to settle, and in some cases copyright holders continue proceedings against the defendants after being identified by their ISPs.

If the alleged pirates then fail to respond, the rightsholder can ask the court for a default judgment, where they usually get their way.

This also happened in lawsuits brought by the makers of the independent films Elf-Man and The Thompsons. In both cases the copyright holders asked the court for a default judgment of $30,000 for sharing a single film.

With 11 defendants, including one couple who would share the fine, the potential damage award amounted to a massive $300,000. The copyright holders argued that this is justified since they suffered significant losses as a result, but the court disagreed.

In related orders U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Rice notes that a $30,000 punishment per shared film is excessive, considering the evidence that was presented.

“This Court finds the evidence in this case, which merely shows that each Defendant copied and published via BitTorrent Plaintiff’s motion picture––the cost of which to rent or purchase was less than $20––rather than distributed for commercial resale, does not support a $30,000 penalty for each Defendant,” Judge Rice writes.

In his order the Judge refers to the Eighth Amendment which prohibits excessive fines as well as cruel and unusual punishments. In this case the requested damages are unconstitutional as they’re seen as excessive in relation to the nature of the offense.

“This Court finds an award of $30,000 for each defendant would be an excessive punishment considering the seriousness of each Defendant’s conduct and
the sum of money at issue,” the order reads.

The filmmakers argued that the pirated downloads threaten the financing of future films and that high damages could serve as a deterrent. Judge Rice, however, was not convinced and set these arguments aside.

“… this Court is unpersuaded that the remote damages––’downstream revenue’ and destroyed plans for a sequel due, in part, to piracy––justify an award of $30,000 per defendant, even in light of the statute’s goal of deterrence.”

Judge Rice opted to award the minimum in statutory damages instead, which is $750 per film. In addition, he awarded $2,225 in attorney fees per defendant, which brings the total to a little under $3,000.

This is not the first time that the Eighth Amendment has been raised in a file-sharing case. The same argument was used to lower the damages award in RIAA’s case against Jammie Thomas, although this was overturned on appeal.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: MPAA Pays University $1,000,000 For Piracy Research

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Ernesto. Original post: at TorrentFreak

mpaa-logoLast week the MPAA submitted its latest tax filing covering 2013. While there are few changes compared to previous years there is one number that sticks out like a sore thumb.

The movie industry group made a rather sizable gift of $912,000 to Carnegie Mellon University, a figure that neither side has made public before.

This brings the MPAA’s total investment in the University over the past two years to more than a million dollars.

The money in question goes to the University’s “Initiative for Digital Entertainment Analytics” (IDEA) that researches various piracy related topics. During 2012 MPAA also contributed to the program, albeit significantly less at $100,000.

TF contacted IDEA co-director Rahul Telang, who told us that much of the money is spent on hiring researchers and, buying data from third parties and covering other research related expenses.

“For any substantial research program to progress it needs funding, and needs access to data and important stakeholders who care about this research. IDEA center has benefited from this funding significantly,” he says, emphasizing that the research applies to academic standards.

“All research is transparent, goes through academic peer review, and published in various outlets,” Telang adds.

While IDEA’s researchers operate independently, without an obligation to produce particular studies, their output thus far is in line with Hollywood’s agenda.

One study showed that the Megaupload shutdown boosted digital sales while another reviewed academic literature to show that piracy mostly hurts revenues. The MPAA later used these results to discredit an independent study which suggested that Megaupload’s closure hurt box office revenues.

Aside from countering opponents in the press, the MPAA also uses the research to convince lawmakers that tougher anti-piracy measures are warranted.

Most recently, an IDEA paper showed that search engines can help to diminish online piracy, an argument the MPAA has been hammering on for years.

The tax filing, picked up first by Variety, confirms a new trend of the MPAA putting more money into research. Earlier this year the industry group launched a new initiative offering researchers a $20,000 grant for projects that address various piracy related topics.

The MPAA sees academic research as an important tool in its efforts to ensure that copyright protections remain in place, or are strengthened if needed.

“We want to enlist the help of academics from around the world to provide new insight on a range of issues facing the content industry in the digital age,” MPAA CEO and former U.S. Senator Chris Dodd said at the time.

The movie industry isn’t alone in funding research for ‘political’ reasons. Google, for example, heavily supports academic research on copyright-related projects in part to further its own agenda, as do many other companies.

With over a million dollars in Hollywood funding in their pocket, it’s now up to IDEA’s researchers to ensure that their work is solid.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: Why Hollywood Director Lexi Alexander Sides With “Pirates”

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Ernesto. Original post: at TorrentFreak

lexIt’s pretty obvious that Lexi Alexander isn’t your average Hollywood director. Instead of parading on the red carpet sharing redundant quotes, she prefers to challenge the powers that rule Hollywood.

A few months ago Alexander campaigned to get Pirate Bay’s Peter Sunde released from prison, pointing out that throwing people in jail is not going to stop piracy.

She believes that the MPAA and other pro-copyright groups are a bigger threat than casual pirates, and unlike some of her colleagues she is not afraid to tell the world.

Recently Alexander penned five reasons why she’s pro file-sharing and copyright reform. While she’s doesn’t agree with the “everything should be free” mantra of some anti-copyright activists, Alexander believes that file-sharing is mostly a symptom of Hollywood’s failures.

Over the past day or so this turned into a heated debate (e.g. 1, 2) between a movie industry workers on Twitter, where various anti-piracy advocates condemned the movie director and others for siding with “pirates.”

From a Hollywood perspective Alexander’s ‘balanced’ comments may indeed appear extreme, not least since like-minded voices keep quiet for career reasons. So why has she decided to jump on the barricades then? Today, Alexander explains her motivations to us in a short interview.

TF: What triggered you to discuss file-sharing and copyright related topics in public?

Lexi: It wasn’t my intent to be that outspoken about file-sharing, at first I just wanted to expose the hypocrisy of Hollywood going after anybody for any crime. But after I had published that first blog, I was suddenly exposed to a lot more information about the issue, either from people in the copyright reform movement or through outlets like yours.

Frankly, TorrentFreak has a lot to do with the extent of my outspokenness. Sometimes I see your headlines in my Twitter feed and I think I’m in some alternative universe, where I’m the only one who swallowed the red pill. “Another kid in prison for a file-sharing”, “Anti file-sharing propaganda taught in schools”, “torrent sites reported to the state department”, etc., etc. All done in the name of an industry that is infamous for corruption. I mean, doesn’t anybody see that? Hollywood studios shaking their finger at people who illegally download stuff is like the Vatican shaking their finger at pedophiles.

TF: What’s your main motivation to support file-sharing and copyright reform??

Lexi: Well, first and foremost I will not stand for young, bright minds being hunted and locked up in my name. And since I am still part of the film & TV industry, albeit not the most popular member at this point, these acts are done in my name. Even if I would agree with this ludicrous idea that everything to do with file-sharing or downloading is theft and should be punished with prison…then I’d still insist that everybody in Hollywood who has ever stolen anything or cheated anybody needs to go to prison first. If we could somehow make that rule happen with magical fairy dust…you’d never hear another beep about imprisoning file-sharers.

Secondly, I have said this a million times and it’s like I’m talking to the wall…horrible thieves (aka the four letter acronym) are stealing 92.5 % of foreign levies from filmmakers in countries outside of the US, breaking the Berne Convention in the process. It’s actually not legal for those countries to hand any money to anybody else but the creator. But somehow, some very smart con men duped these shady collection societies into handing them all the dough. Ask me again why I need copyright reform?

See, I wish more of my colleagues would come out of the fog…but that fog is made of fears, so it is thick and consistent. Fear to upset the decision makers, fear to get blacklisted and never get to make movies again, fear to get fired by your agents, fear to become unpopular with your film-industry peers, it’s so much easier to blame the British, pimple-faced teenager, who uploaded Fast and the Furious 6, for the scarcity we experience.

I used to get frustrated about my peers’ lack of courage, but lately I feel only empathy. I don’t like seeing talented storytellers ruled by fear. I don’t even enjoy the endless admissions I get anymore from producers or Executives who whisper in my ear that they’re pro file-sharing too (this is often followed by a demonstration of their illegally downloaded goods or their torrent clients, as if they’re trying to make sure I’ll put in a good word, if the power were to shift to the other side one of these days).

TF: Do you believe that your opinions on these topics may impact your career? If so, how?

Lexi: What do you think? LOL

But my opinions on these topics are based on facts, so therefore the question I have to ask myself next is: If I keep the truth to myself and watch innovators get sent to prison by actual criminals…how does that impact my soul?

I do realize how huge the giant I decided to criticize really is whenever I read about the amount of money that’s at play here.

At the moment I still have a TV show under option, which I am currently developing and I’m getting ready to pitch another one. A few things definitely fell through right after my first piracy post and I’m not sure how many people don’t consider me for projects because of my file-sharing stance. I can’t really worry about that. First and foremost I’m still a filmmaker, so if this shit gets too real I have to force my mind down the rabbit hole (filmmaker euphemism for escaping into your screenplays or movies).

TF: File-sharing also has its downsides of course. What’s the worst side of piracy in your opinion?

Lexi: The worst part is that there are a lot of people who suddenly feel entitled to do anything they want with our work, at any given stage. I spoke to a filmmaker the other day whose film got leaked during post production. It was missing the visual effects and it had a temp score (temporary music used as a filler before the real score is ready). Then reviews started popping up about this version of the film on IMDB, yet the people who posted those reviews had no fucking clue what they were judging, revealed by the many comments about “the director ripping off the Dark Knight score”. It was the Dark Knight score, you morons.

That was really heartbreaking and whoever doesn’t understand that can go to hell. I don’t think there’s anybody in the world who’d like their work, whatever it may be, stolen when it’s half way done and paraded around the world with their name on it.

I also will never be able to respect anybody who films or watches one of those shaky cam movies. I don’t buy that there’s anybody who enjoys a movie that way, I think this is all about trying to be the shit on some forum.

TF: In what way do you think file-sharing will (and has) change(d) the movie industry?

Lexi: I entered this industry right at the beginning of the transition to digital technology. I remember insisting to shoot my first two films on film stock, by then people were already dropping the “dinosaur” and “stone age” hints. We were all beaten into submission when it came to new digital technologies, because they reduced production and distribution costs. Then the powers started realizing that those same technologies also made unauthorized duplications much easier, so the narrative changed and now we were told to hate that part of it. It’s almost comical isn’t it?

I quickly realized that file-sharing would shatter borders and as someone who considers herself a citizen of the world, rather than of one country, this made me extremely happy. I have always wanted entertainment events to be global rather than national. This is good for the world.

The more the audience becomes familiar with foreign movies and TV shows (not synchronized and released months later, but subtitled and premiering simultaneously) the sooner we will start accepting, maybe even demanding shows and movies with a diverse, global cast from the get go. And since those are the shows I create… it cannot happen fast enough.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: Movie Chief Describes University Piracy Fines as “Terrific”

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Andy. Original post: at TorrentFreak

wifi-dangerIn addition to their obligations under the DMCA, in 2010 a new requirement was put in place which meant that university funding in the U.S. was placed in jeopardy if establishments didn’t take their anti-piracy responsibilities seriously.

The policy hasn’t been repeated in any other key countries in Europe or elsewhere, but that hasn’t stopped educational institutions from introducing their own policies to deal with on-campus infringement. A particularly harsh example can be found in Australia.

The University of New South Wales, which is ranked among the top five universities in Australia, offers its students free Wi-Fi Internet access. Known as Uniwide, the system was upgraded last year to offer speeds of 1.3 Gigabits per second in order to cope with around 20,000 devices being regularly connected to the network.

With students achieving up to 10 megabits per second on their connections, it’s perhaps no surprise that some use the Wi-Fi network for downloading movies, TV shows and other copyrighted content. In order to curtail the practice the university has put in place tough punishments for those who flout the rules.

uniwide

While disconnections and up to $1,000 in fines are serious enough, it may come as a surprise that monies collected don’t go to compensate artists. University of New South Wales pumps the money back into “student amenities” instead.

“I just find it disturbing that a university has decided how it will enforce the laws of the Commonwealth,” Michael Speck, an independent anti-piracy investigator and former NSW policeman told The Age. “It’s quite disturbing and without too much natural justice.”

Adding fuel to the fire, two parties embroiled in the general piracy debate currently raging in Australia have also weighed in with their opinions.

Steve Dalby, chief regulatory officer of Internet provider iiNet, called the fines “very strange”. The response from Dalby is predictable. The ISP famously refused to pass on infringement notices to its customers when prompted to by movie company Village Roadshow, a spat that took the pair to court.

On the other hand, comments from Graham Burke, co-chief executive of Village Roadshow, reveal that the rivals are still just as far apart in their views. Burke said it was “terrific” that the university was fining students and being “proactive and taking responsibility for the users of its network.”

“We think it is more important for students to be educated about copyright by the university imposing these fines than it is for the rights holders to collect damages for the breaches that are occurring,” Burke told The Age.

“In fact the more I think about it this action by the university is helping the future of good citizenship of its many students.”

There can be little doubt that traditionally poor students would find themselves thinking deeply about copyright when landed with a $1,000 fine but whether that would put money back in the artists’ pockets long-term is another matter.

Fortunately not too many WiFi users are falling foul of the rules. According to the university, three students and one staff member have received punishments this year. All had their access suspended and two of the students were fined $480 each.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: Giganews Not Liable for Pirating Usenet Customers, Court Rules

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Ernesto. Original post: at TorrentFreak

giganewsAdult magazine publisher Perfect 10 has made a business out of suing online services for allegedly facilitating copyright infringement.

Over the past several years the company has targeted a dozen high-profile companies including Google, Amazon, Yandex, MasterCard, Visa, RapidShare, Giganews and Depositfiles.

Aside from a few private settlements the company has yet to score its first victory in court. The company was confident that this would happen in their prolonged battle with Usenet provider Giganews, but late last week these hopes were shattered.

On Friday the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California ruled on several motions (1, 2, 3) regarding Giganews’ liability for copyright infringement, as well as the nature of its DMCA takedown process.

In its order the court confirms that there is no evidence that Giganews is directly involved in any infringing practices.

“A claim for direct copyright liability demands evidence that the defendant had a direct hand in causing the infringement. The undisputed evidence before the Court, however, demonstrates that Defendants had no direct causal role in the alleged infringement,” the order reads.

According to the Court, Perfect 10 confuses direct and indirect copyright infringement, as the company has presented no evidence that Giganews employees are engaged in distributing pirated content.

Furthermore, claims of indirect copyright infringement also failed. The Court didn’t accept that Giganews is liable for the alleged copyright infringements of its users, as there is no proof that the company enjoyed direct financial benefit from any Perfect 10 images its subscribers may have distributed.

“[T]he ‘direct financial benefit’ requirement demands more than evidence that customers were ‘drawn’ to Giganews to obtain access to infringing material in general. Perfect 10 must prove with competent evidence that at least some of Giganews’ customers were ‘drawn’ to Giganews’ services, in part, to obtain access to infringing Perfect 10 material.”

“This action is a specific lawsuit by a specific plaintiff against a specific defendant about specific copyrighted images; it is not a lawsuit against copyright infringement in general on the Usenet,” the order adds.

In addition to their infringement claims Perfect 10 also argued that Giganews didn’t respond properly to takedown requests. While the court doesn’t dispute that proper takedown notices would give Giganews actual knowledge of infringements, the publisher’s notices were not proper.

Instead of listing message-IDs that could identify specific content, Perfect 10 sent in screenshots of a newsreader window, instructing Giganew “to conduct searches of specific names within certain newsgroups” and remove all results that were returned “on a certain date.” These notices do not comply with the DMCA’s standards, the court argues.

All in all the orders mean that Giganews is not liable for the infringements Perfect 10 claimed, and as a result the company can put the case to rest after three years.

However, as noted by Techdirt, it’s unlikely that Perfect 10 will stop its legal campaigns anytime soon. Just this summer the company initiated a new suit against hosting service OVH, who thanks to Giganews now have some additional ammunition to fight back.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: The Copyright Monopoly Wars Are About To Repeat, But Much Worse

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Rick Falkvinge. Original post: at TorrentFreak

copyright-brandedPeople sometimes ask me when I started questioning if the copyright monopoly laws were just, proper, or indeed sane. I respond truthfully that it was about 1985, when we were sharing music on cassette tapes and the copyright industry called us thieves, murderers, rapists, arsonists, and genocidals for manufacturing our own copies without their permission.

Politicians didn’t care about the issue, but handwaved away the copyright industry by giving them private taxation rights on cassette tapes, a taxation right that would later infest anything with digital storage capacity, ranging from games consoles to digital cameras.

In 1990, I bought my first modem, connecting to FidoNet, an amateur precursor to the Internet that had similar addressing and routing. We were basically doing what the Internet is used for today: chatting, discussing, sharing music and other files, buying and selling stuff, and yes, dating and flirting. Today, we do basically the same things in prettier colors, faster, and more realtime, on considerably smaller devices. But the social mechanisms are the same.

The politicians were absolutely clueless.

The first signal that something was seriously wrong in the heads of politicans was when they created a DMCA-like law in Sweden in 1990, one that made a server owner legally liable for forum posts made by somebody else on that server, if the server operator didn’t delete the forum post on notice. For the first time in modern history, a messenger had been made formally responsible for somebody else’s uttered opinion. People who were taking part in creating the Internet at the time went to Parliament to try to explain the technology and the social contract of responsibilities, and walked away utterly disappointed and desperate. The politicians were even more clueless than imagined.

It hasn’t gotten better since. Cory Doctorow’s observation in his brilliant speech about the coming war on general computing was right: Politicians are clueless about the Internet because they don’t care about the Internet. They care about energy, healthcare, defense, education, and taxes, because they only understand the problems that defined the structures of the two previous generations – the structures now in power have simply retained their original definition, and those are the structures that put today’s politicians in power. Those structures are incapable of adapting to irrelevance.

Enter bitcoin.

The unlicensed manufacturing of movie and music copies were and are such small time potatoes the politicians just didn’t and don’t have time for it, because energy healthcare defense. Creating draconian laws that threaten the Internet wasn’t an “I think this is a good idea” behavior. It has been a “copyright industry, get out of my face” behavior. The copryight industry understands this perfectly, of course, and throws tantrums about every five years to get more police-like powers, taxpayer money, and rent from the public coffers. Only when the population has been more in the face of politicians than the copyright industry – think SOPA, ACTA – have the politicians backpedaled, usually with a confused look on their faces, and then absentmindedly happened to do the right thing before going back to energy healthcare defense.

However, cryptocurrency like bitcoin – essentially the same social mechanisms, same social protocols, same distributed principles as BitTorrent’s sharing culture and knowledge outside of the copyright industry’s monopolies – is not something that passes unnoticed. Like BitTorrent showed the obsolescence of the copyright monopoly, bitcoin demonstrates the obsolescence of central banks and today’s entire financial sector. Like BitTorrent didn’t go head-to-head with the copyright monopoly but just circumvented it as irrelevant, bitcoin circumvents every single financial regulation as irrelevant. And like BitTorrent saw uptake in the millions, so does bitcoin.

Cryptocurrency is politically where culture-sharing was in about 1985.

Politicians didn’t care about the copyright monopoly. They didn’t. Don’t. No, they don’t, not in the slightest. That’s why the copyright industry has been given everything they point at. Now for today’s million dollar question: do you think politicians care about the authority of the central bank and the core controllability of funds, finances, and taxation?

YES. VERY MUCH.

This is going to get seriously ugly. But this time, we have a blueprint from the copyright monopoly wars. Cory Doctorow was right when he said this isn’t the war, this is just the first skirmish over control of society as a whole. The Internet generation is claiming that control, and the old industrial generation is pushing back. Hard.

We’ve already seen the magic trigger words usually applied to culture-sharing being tried on bitcoin. Like this infamous quote:

“Bitcoin is used to buy illegal drugs!”

Since this is laughably used in defense of the US Dollar, that argument cannot go uncountered by the trivial observation that “So… you’re claiming that the US Dollar isn’t?”. But we’re already seeing the arguments that were used in the copyright monopoly battle getting rehashed against the next generation of peer-to-peer technology. The exact same trigger words: organized crime, file sharing, child porn, drug trade. The trigger words that mirror the way “communism” was used in the US in the 1950. And “jazz music” before then, by the way.

Beyond bitcoin, there are technologies like Ethereum and Counterparty, which aim to make the more core services of government – incorporation, courts, arbitration – obsolete and circumvented. The old structures will not accept that development sitting down.

The entire copyright monopoly war is about to repeat. But rather than brushing it off because politicians don’t care about what’s being discussed, this time, the technology and social changes are going to be attacking the very core power of politicians head-on. This time, they will try to crush technology and its users quite deliberately, rather than out of ignorance. This time, they will hold no punches and consider no balance against rights to privacy, life, happiness, or liberty.

But this time we’re ready. This time, we have a blueprint for exactly what will happen, because the copyright monopoly wars were the tutorial missions in the game of civil liberties. To be honest, we haven’t played the tutorial very well. But we know all the adversary’s capabilities, moves, and patterns now.

The end of that development is either a Big Brother society beyond dystopian nightmares, or a society where cryptocurrency is firmly established and the copyright monopoly has also been abolished to cheers and whistles from a new, liberated generation, who have new problems to deal with instead of those that defined our grandparents’ generation.

About The Author

Rick Falkvinge is a regular columnist on TorrentFreak, sharing his thoughts every other week. He is the founder of the Swedish and first Pirate Party, a whisky aficionado, and a low-altitude motorcycle pilot. His blog at falkvinge.net focuses on information policy.

Book Falkvinge as speaker?

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: Hey UK: Jailing File-Sharers for Years is Shameful

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Andy. Original post: at TorrentFreak

jailMonday this week, Kane Robinson and Richard Graham, an admin and uploader of now-defunct file-sharing forum Dancing Jesus, had their lives turned upside down when they were handed jail sentences of 32 and 21 months respectively.

The pair had got involved in Dancing Jesus years ago, when they were teenagers. The site dealt in leaked music, no one disputes that, but if you knew of Dancing Jesus before the site got raided you were in the minority. It was a niche site, to say the least.

Still, the UK record labels claimed the duo had cost them around £240m ($378m) in losses. It appears the court believed them and as a result the pair are locked away at this very moment for a very long time indeed.

Sadly that estimate can only be a dramatic exaggeration. If we are to believe claims from the other side of the Atlantic, the behemoth that was Megaupload – the subject of the world’s largest copyright case – ‘only’ managed to cost the entertainment industry an alleged $500m, and that’s the estimate of a notoriously aggressive US Government.

Also, Megaupload hosted 12 billion unique files and had 100 million users. Dancing Jesus had 12,000 registered users and carried 22,500 allegedly infringing links. Robinson and Kane made no money from their activities, that much was accepted in court. Megaupload made an alleged $175m.

The sums don’t add up, anyone can see that, but at this point, today, none of that means much to the pair staring at four gray walls with devastated families at home and ruined lives behind them.

Ok, they knew what they were doing and many will argue that there needs to be some kind of punishment for distributing content to the public without permission, but this week’s sentences go way too far by most sensible standards.

Before his incarceration, Graham told TF that he’d been taking school exams when the music industry first homed in on him, and since being arrested he’d gone on to university and obtained a degree.

And leading up to Dancing Jesus, Kane Robinson was headhunted to run the official Arctic Monkeys website by the band’s manager.

“Kane’s fansite (which ironically shared their tracks for free and gained the band a lot of exposure) was receiving a lot more traffic than theirs. He ran that for several months,” Kane brother Kyle informs TF.

After the closure of Dancing Jesus, both men had put file-sharing behind them and were working in legitimate jobs. Dangerous? No. Violent? No. Dancing Jesus years behind them? No doubt. Compassion then? Not a chance.

To underline the harshness of this week’s sentences we could compare them with cases recently before the UK courts.

Consider the pilot who admitted to flying a plane whilst three times over the drink limit yet faces a maximum two years in jail? Or what about the sex offender caught file-sharing Category A-rated child abuse images on file-sharing networks? He got a 15 month suspended sentence just days after Robinson and Graham were given 32 and 21 months each.

Instead, however, let’s take a look at a file-sharing case that concluded last week in Finland. It involved a 40-year-old man also accused of making copyrighted content available to the public – 964 video files, 49,951 music tracks and 573 other sundry files to be precise.

Last week the court found the man guilty of copyright infringement, fined him 1,000 euros with 2,000 euros in legal costs. He was also ordered to pay damages to local music rights group Teosto to the tune of 1,500 euros plus 3,000 euros to IFPI. Jail wasn’t on the agenda.

Whether this is a fair punishment for the offenses in hand is for others to decide. However, it seems unlikely that those with the ability to look beyond this week’s “£240 million losses” headlines will feel that it’s proportionate for two non-violent men to spend the next few Christmas Days behind bars.

That said, in today’s legal climate it’s unrealistic to expect UK-based file-sharing site operators to simply walk away from a court without some kind of punishment, even if they did only operate a linking forum. But even then, several years in jail makes little to no sense for non-commercial operators, especially when supposed financial losses are either plucked from thin air or a product of highly speculative accounting.

The lesson here is simple. The ground rules, at least in the UK, have changed. The last three big cases in the UK (SurftheChannel, Fast and Furious ‘cammer’, Dancing Jesus) were all private prosecutions by the entertainment industries and have all ended in prison time for the defendants. There is no reason to think things are about to change.

In the meantime, people like Kane’s family are left trying to rally support on Facebook in an attempt to scrape together £5,000 in a GoFundMe fundraiser to finance an appeal aimed at achieving a more realistic sentence.

In conclusion it now appears that anyone other than low-level UK file-sharers need to consider whether their “fun” hobby is really worth losing years of their freedom over. And of course, shameful as it might be, that’s the message the industry wanted to send all along.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: Mega Terminates Kim Dotcom’s Account For Repeat Infringements

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Ernesto. Original post: at TorrentFreak

dotcom-laptopNew Zealand-based entrepeneur Kim Dotcom has dealt with numerous copyright infringement allegations in recent years.

The United States launched a criminal case against Dotcom and wants him extradited, while the major movie and music companies filed their own suits against Megaupload’s former boss.

This week he can add another allegation to this growing list, a rather unusual one too as it comes from cloud hosting service Mega, a company he founded.

Dotcom has been using Mega to share his first music album “Good Times” with everyone who wants to give it a spin. While he holds all the rights, several prominent music labels kept informing Mega that the album was “infringing.”

A few weeks ago we learned that the takedown requests were all inaccurate, and triggered by a prankster. However, that apparently didn’t stop them from coming in and as a result Dotcom has now had his Mega account terminated for repeatedly violating the terms of service.

Those who try to grab a copy of the album via the official download link on Kim.com see the following message:

“The file you are trying to download is no longer available. The associated user account has been terminated due to multiple violations of our Terms of Service.”

megatosviol

The account termination probably won’t last as it was triggered by false takedowns. However, it shows how easy it is to abuse the takedown process to shut down people’s accounts, at least temporarily.

Previously Mega told TF that they take every takedown notice seriously, but that they also plan to set up a system where repeated false takedowns can be flagged to prevent this type of abuse in the future.

“We are improving our systems to monitor the takedown process and will eventually be able to identify repeated incorrect notices,” a Mega spokesperson said.

For now, we hope that Dotcom has his files backed up in a safe place.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: Liam Neeson Downloaders Face Anti-Piracy Shakedown

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Andy. Original post: at TorrentFreak

File-sharers in the United States, Germany and the UK are particularly familiar with the tactics of so-called copyright trolls. In recent years the lucrative nature of the business has attracted many companies, all out to turn piracy into profit.

Most countries have managed to avoid the attentions of these outfits, Sweden, the spiritual home of The Pirate Bay, included. However, in a surprise move the Scandinavian country has now appeared on the file-sharing lawsuit radar.

Along with Universal Pictures and Studio Canal, Check Entertainment is one of the companies behind the 2014 Liam Neeson movie, Non-Stop. According to latest figures from Box Office Mojo it has done very well, bringing in excess of $222 million on a $50 million budget.

Nevertheless, according to Dagens Media, Check Entertainment has hired lawfirm Nordic Law to go to court in Sweden to obtain the identities of individuals said to have downloaded and shared the action thriller.

The U.S.-based company has targeted subscribers of five local Internet service providers – Com Hem, Bredbandsbolaget, Banhof, Telia Sonera and Telenor – with the aim of forcing them to turn over the names and addresses of 12 of their Internet subscribers. Data on the alleged file-sharers was captured by German anti-piracy outfit Excipio.

At this point Check Entertainment says it wants to “investigate and prosecute” the subscribers for alleged copyright infringement but if cases in the rest of the world are any yardstick the aim will be a cash settlement, not a full court case.

Interestingly, one ISP from the five has indicated that its customers do not have to be concerned about possible lawsuits or shakedowns.

Service provider Banhof, a company long associated with subscriber privacy, says it is currently the only ISP in the Swedish market that does not store data on its customers’ Internet activities.

The development dates back to April when the EU Court of Justice declared the Data Retention Directive to be invalid. In response, many Swedish ISPs stopped storing data but since then most have reversed their decision to comply with apparent obligations under the Swedish Electronic Communications Act. Banhof did not, however.

This means that even if the ISP is ordered by the court to reveal which subscribers were behind a particular IP address at a certain time, it has no data so simply cannot comply.

“We have no such data. We turned off data storage on the same day that the EU judgment was handed down,” Banhof CEO Jon Karlung told Dagens Media.

While Sweden has a long tradition of file-sharing and the state regularly prosecutes large scale file-sharers, actions against regular sharers of a single title are extremely rare, ‘trolling’ even more so.

“It’s pretty rare,” Karlung says. “It has been quite a long time since it happened last.”

The big question now is whether the courts will be sympathetic to Check Entertainment’s complaint.

“We have submitted [our case] to the district court and now we want to see what the service providers say in response,” Nordic Law’s Patrick Andersson concludes.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: Anti-Piracy Firm Rightscorp On The Brink of Bankruptcy?

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Ernesto. Original post: at TorrentFreak

rightscorp-realFor years the entertainment industries have been complaining that online piracy hurts their revenues.

This problem has motivated people to start anti-piracy companies such as Rightscorp, a company that uses standard DMCA takedown requests to send settlement offers to alleged copyright infringers.

Rightscorp had big plans and went public last year on the NASDAQ exchange, aiming to help the biggest entertainment companies turn piracy into profit. Thus far, however, the results have been rather disappointing.

Despite teaming up with prominent names such as Warner Bros. and BMG, the company hasn’t been able to turn a profit.

In their latest SEC filing published earlier today the company reports a total loss of $2.2 million for the current year. This brings the total loss since its founding in 2011 to more than $6.5 million.

“The Company had a cumulative net loss from inception to September 30, 2014 of $6,540,194. The Company has not yet established an ongoing source of revenues sufficient to cover its operating costs and to allow it to continue as a going concern,” the SEC filing reads.

For Rightscorp to remain in business it desperately needs extra investment. The current revenue stream of $250,000 per quarter from piracy settlements doesn’t come close to covering operating costs.

In a word of caution to investors, Rightscorp warns that without extra funding the company may have to cease its operations.

“If the Company is unable to obtain adequate capital it could be forced to cease operations. Accordingly, these factors raise substantial doubt as to the Company’s ability to continue as a going concern,” the filing reads.

Investors appear to have foreseen Rightcorp’s troubles as the companies stock price continues to nosedive, straight to the bottom. This week it reached a new low of 13 cents per share.

riht

One of Rightscorp’s problems is that they can only reach a fraction of U.S. Internet subscribers. Most large ISPs, including Comcast, have thus far refused to forward their settlement demands.

Several smaller providers are not eager to forward the “settlement” DMCA notices either. In an attempt to force them to do so the company recently obtained several DMCA subpoenas against local ISPs, but these are also being protested.

Whether Rightscorp will be able to survive these setbacks has yet to be seen. One thing’s for sure though, profiting from piracy is not as easy as they had hoped.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: Anti-Piracy Boss Spent $50K in Brothels to ‘Protect Copyright’

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Andy. Original post: at TorrentFreak

Most commonly known as SGAE, the Spanish Society of Authors and Publishers (Sociedad General de Autores y Editores) is Spain’s main collecting society for songwriters, composers and music publishers.

The group, which also acts as the leading music anti-piracy outfit in the country, has campaigned endlessly for tougher penalties for both file-sharing site operators and the unauthorized downloader at home.

SGAE’s position is to protect the rights of artists, but in 2011 a dark cloud fell over the organization. More than 50 police, tax officials and staff from Spain’s Audit Office raided SGAE’s headquarters in Madrid following allegations of fraud and misappropriation of funds.

One of those investigated was Pedro Farré, SGAE’s former head of corporate relations and the boss of its anti-piracy office. This week he was sentenced to 30 months in jail and the back story is quite extraordinary.

Farré’s problems stemmed from his penchant for spending time in the company of prostitutes. While some might argue that’s a personal matter that should remain private, it became a public interest story when Farré chose to mix his pleasures with the business of protecting copyrights.

To carry out his work the anti-piracy chief had been given a credit card by SGAE to cover legitimate business expenses. However, Farré ran up bills on the VISA card in numerous visits to brothels where he used it to withdraw cash from the premises which he spent on champagne and prostitutes.

According to Publico.es, evidence at trial revealed that on at least once occasion Farré had taken a booth at a brothel “..at five in the afternoon and left at six o’clock the next day, consuming drinks, champagne, and frequently changing girls.”

All told, Farré ran up bills of almost 40,000 euros ($50,000) on the SGAE card, falsifying receipts as he went. He claimed that money had been spent on meals with guests, entertaining the police commissioner, financing meetings with journalists and holding a university seminar.

The judge did not buy Farré’s version of events and said it was “pure absurdity” that academics and those involved in protecting copyrights would go to a brothel to discuss the topic. Farré’s claims that he went to the brothels to check their music rights compliance was rejected as “pure nonsense”.

Former SGAE CFO Ricardo Azcoaga, who was also arrested in 2011, was jailed for 12 months after concealing Farré’s expenditure.

The sentences can be appealed.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: Hollywood Demands Tougher Penalties for Aussie Pirates

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Ernesto. Original post: at TorrentFreak

ausThe MPAA has published its latest submission to the U.S. Government. It provides an overview of countries the studios believe could better protect the interests of the copyright industry.

The movie group lists more than two dozen countries and describes which “trade barriers” they present.

In recent years the Obama administration has helped Hollywood to counter online piracy and with a letter, signed by MPAA Chairman Chris Dodd, the movie organization urges the Government not to drop the ball.

“The US government must not falter from being a champion of protecting intellectual property rights, particularly in the online market,” Dodd told the United States Trade Representative.

According to the MPAA there are more than two dozen countries that require special attention. This includes Australia, which has one of the highest online piracy rates in the world

“Australia has consistently ranked amongst the highest incidence of per capita P2P infringement of MPAA member company films in the region,” the MPAA chief writes.

One of the main grievances against Australia is the lack of thorough copyright laws. On this front the movie studios put forward a specific recommendation to draft legislation to deter ‘camming’ in movie theaters.

“Australia should adopt anti-camcording legislation. While illegal copying is a violation of the Copyright Act, more meaningful deterrent penalties are required,” the MPAA notes.

In recent years there have been several arrests of people linked to scene release groups who illegally recorded movies in theaters. However, instead of several years in jail they usually get off with a slap on the wrist.

“For instance, in August 2012, a cammer was convicted for illicitly recording 14 audio captures, many of which were internationally distributed through his affiliation with a notorious release group; his fine was a non-deterrent AUD 2,000,” the MPAA writes.

“These lax penalties fail to recognize the devastating impact that this crime has on the film industry,” they add.

The MPAA hopes that the U.S. Government can help to change this legal climate Down Under. The most recent anti-piracy plans of the Aussie Government are a step in the right direction according to the Hollywood group.

This is not the first time that the MPAA has become involved in Australian affairs. Previously a Wikileaks cable revealed that the American movie group was also the main force behind the lawsuit against iiNet.

In addition to Australia, the MPAA also points out various copyright challenges in the UK, Canada, the Netherlands and Sweden. The latter country is seen as a “safe haven” for pirates and lacks effective enforcement, as The Pirate Bay remains online despite the convictions of its founders.

“The law [in Sweden] must also change in order to effectively curb organized commercial piracy, as evidenced by the difficulties thwarting The Pirate Bay – an operation the court system has already deemed illegal,” MPAA writes.

MPAA’s full list of comments and recommendations is available here.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: Columbia Pictures Wants Anti-Piracy Policies Kept Secret, Indefinitely

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Ernesto. Original post: at TorrentFreak

columbiaIt’s been almost a year since Hotfile was defeated by the MPAA, but the case hasn’t yet gone away completely.

Earlier this year the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) asked the court to unseal documents regarding the workings of Warner Bros.’ anti-piracy tools.

These documents are part of the counterclaim Hotfile filed, where it accused Warner of repeatedly abusing the DMCA takedown process. In particular, the EFF wants the public to know what mistakes were made and how these came to be.

In September the Court ruled that the sealed documents should indeed be made public, and the first information was released soon after. Among other things the unsealed records showed that Warner Bros. uses “sophisticated robots” to track down infringing content.

This week the MPAA submitted its proposed schedule (pdf) for the release of the other documents. With regards to Warner’s anti-piracy system they propose a wait of at least 18 months before more information is unsealed. By then Warner will have changed its systems significantly so that the information can no longer be used by pirates to circumvent detection.

In the case of Columbia Pictures, however, things are more complicated. The sealed information of the Sony Pictures owned studio would still be beneficial to pirates for decades to come, the court is told.

“Defendants have cited two specific pieces of information regarding Columbia’s enforcement policies that, if revealed to the public, could compromise Columbia’s ability to protect its copyrighted works,” the MPAA’s lawyers write.

In a sworn declaration Sony Pictures’ Vice President Content Protection, Sean Jaquez, explains that the redacted documents describe broad policy decisions regarding online copyright enforcement that are unlikely to change in the foreseeable future.

“Columbia intends to continue to implement these confidential copyright enforcement policies indefinitely,” Jaquez writes.

“These confidential enforcement policies will not become less sensitive over time because they reflect broad policy judgments, rather than specific implementation features of Columbia’s anti-piracy enforcement system that are likely to change as technology evolves or time passes,” he adds.

To keep these secrets out of the public eye, the MPAA asks the court to keep the records relating to Columbia Pictures under seal indefinitely. If that’s too much, the information should remain secret for at least ten years.

It’s now up to Judge Williams to decide whether the proposed timeframes are reasonable and whether Columbia can keep its anti-piracy secrets locked up forever.

To be continued.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: Dotcom Loses Lawyers – Then They Erase All History of Him

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Andy. Original post: at TorrentFreak

mysterAll major Internet entrepreneurs with complex lives need legal advice. That is especially true for Kim Dotcom, who needs clerks just to keep up with the mountains of paperwork generated by his myriad legal issues.

Currently the Megaupload founder is dealing with legal action in three major jurisdictions – the United States, Hong Kong and New Zealand. In the former matters are handled by lawyer Ira Rothken, a veteran of copyright cases who also runs Dotcom’s worldwide legal operations. In the latter, however, Dotcom now has new issues to overcome.

The first signs of developments in New Zealand came on November 6 when Rothken tweeted, “We are looking for awesome lawyers in NZ and US to assist our global legal team in the @KimDotcom related cases.” Rothken also linked interested parties to a new site titled MegaScholar.

Now, almost a week later, it’s been revealed that high-profile Queen’s Counsel Paul Davison, QC, and Simpson Grierson, one of New Zealand’s biggest lawfirms, are stepping down from Dotcom’s legal team.

“Paul Davison & Simpson Grierson of NZ are stepping down from @KimDotcom legal team. They did world-class legal work & were great colleagues,” Rothken tweeted.

Davison has been representing Dotcom in his U.S. extradition case and various Simpson Grierson partners including William Akel and Tracey Walker have represented the entrepreneur in civil actions brought by the Hollywood studios.

While Rothken has made it clear that he was pleased with the work of the outgoing legal team, there is a rather unusual element to the story. When we searched the Simpson Grierson website for the history of the Dotcom case, it appears that the company has erased it, an unusual move for such a high-profile action.

And it doesn’t stop there. Senior litigation partner William Akel has removed all reference to Dotcom from his case history. The image below shows his profile, before and after, with Dotcom’s case now erased.

after-akel

Partner Greg Towers has gone one step further. Not only has he deleted all mention of Dotcom from his profile but has also erased references to the work he did with Mega, the cloud-hosting service founded by Dotcom.

after-towers

But perhaps most telling is the way Chairman Kevin Jaffe has attempted to distance his company from Kim Dotcom.

Announcing the first edition of ‘Aluminate’ – the Simpson Grierson alumni newsletter, Jaffe singled out Dotcom’s case as one of just two big company projects worthy of a mention. As can be seen below, a year on and history has just been rewritten.(Original: Bing cache, rewrite here)

after-chairman

Of course, as is professional in these circumstances, no one is saying anything on the record about why Simpson Grierson has parted with Dotcom. However, with Dotcom’s extradition battle only a few months away, the timing could hardly have been worse for the Megaupload founder.

Dotcom and Rothken are now racing against the clock to bring new lawyers on board which, incidentally, is also something Simpson Grierson have just done with the appointment of former New Zealand Minister of Justice, Tony Ryall.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: Internet Pirates Always a Step Ahead , Aussies Say

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Andy. Original post: at TorrentFreak

aus-featAs the debate over Internet piracy sizzles Down Under, groups on all sides continue to put forward arguments on how to solve this polarizing issue.

The entertainment industries are clear. The current legal framework in Australia is inadequate in today’s market and tough new legislation is required to deter pirates and hold service providers more responsible for the actions of their users.

ISPs, on the other hand, are generally concerned at the prospect of greater copyright liability, with many viewing content availability at a fair price as the sustainable way to solve the piracy problem.

In order to better understand the opinions of the consumer, Aussie telecoms association the Communications Alliance has conducted a new study, the results of which were published this morning.

The survey, carried out among a sample 1,500 Australians, reveals a public split roughly 50/50 on whether piracy is “a problem” but one that also believes that it will eventually end up paying the bill for solving it.

A recurring theme for the prevalence of piracy in Australia is availability of content at a fair price, and the results of the survey appear to back up that belief. A total 60% of respondents said that improved entertainment product release strategies would lead to less piracy while 66% noted that cheaper, fairer pricing could achieve the same.

Just 19% felt that Government regulation resulting in stiff penalties for file-sharers would do the trick, and when it comes to pushing anti-piracy responsibilities onto service providers, almost three-quarters felt the approach would be ineffective.

Unsurprisingly the issue of cost is important for consumers, with 69% holding the opinion that “identifying, monitoring and punishing” ‘pirate’ subscribers would eventually lead to more expensive Internet bills for everyone. When questioned, 60% of respondents felt that the bill for dealing with piracy should be paid by the rightsholders.

Privacy was also an issue for 65% of respondents who said that monitoring Internet users’ downloading habits would have “serious privacy implications.” However, the most popular reason for not shifting responsibility to ISPs is the fact that pirates are always a step ahead, with 72% believing that given rapidly changing technology, a way around any technical measures will always be found.

“This research comes as the Government considers responses to its discussion paper on online copyright policy options. It paints a picture not of a nation of rampant pirates, but rather a majority of people who agree that action taken should include steps to reduce the market distortions that contribute to piracy,” commented Communications Alliance CEO, John Stanton.

While the entertainment companies have their tough demands and the ISPs have their objections, it seems likely that a solution will be found in the middle ground. Better pricing and availability will have an effect on the market while educational campaigns will help to sway some of those sitting on the fence. A total 59% of respondents favored the latter approach.

Whether ISPs will have to play a more active role remains to be seen, but given developments in the UK and United States, a notice-and-notice scheme to warn and educate consumers seems particularly likely.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: ISP Protects Subscribers From Piracy “Fishing Expedition”

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Ernesto. Original post: at TorrentFreak

rightscorp-realWorking for prominent clients such as Warner Bros. and BMG, Rightscorp began sending DMCA subpoenas to dozens of smaller local ISPs in the United States this year.

Unlike regular subpoenas these are not reviewed by a judge and only require a signature from the court clerk. This practice raises questions because federal courts have long decided that DMCA subpoenas are not applicable to file-sharing cases.

Perhaps unaware of the legal precedent most ISPs have complied with the requests, but the tide is slowly changing. Earlier this year Texas provider Grande Communications protested a broad subpoena and now Atlanta-based ISP CBeyond has followed that lead.

CBeyond, owned by Birch Communication, is refusing to hand over its customer data. The ISP has filed a motion to quash the subpoena at a federal court in Georgia arguing that Rightscorp is on a piracy fishing expedition.

“Rightscorp served an invasive and overly broad Subpoena on CBeyond seeking personal identifying information of more than a thousand of CBeyond’s subscribers,” CBeyond writes.

“This Court should not allow Rightscorp to use the federal court system as a vehicle to embark on a fishing expedition, and instead should quash Rightscorp’s Subpoena,” the company adds.

Among other things the ISP points out that Rightscorp ignores federal precedent which states that DMCA-subpoenas are not applicable to P2P-filesharing cases, as the Internet provider itself doesn’t store any content.

This matter was previously decided in a case between Verizon and the RIAA more than a decade ago, and has been upheld in subsequent cases. The fact that Rightscorp ignores these cases warrants sanctions, according to CBeyond.

The Atlanta ISP further accuses Rightscorp of trying to exploit the lack of knowledge of smaller ISPs, pointing out that they have already obtained the personal details of many U.S. subscribers through these “fishing expeditions.”

“This year alone, Rightscorp has filed approximately 100 miscellaneous actions like this one, trying to force regional ISPs to disclose personal identifying information from their subscribers,” CBeyond writes.

“Rightscorp’s strategy is to gamble on regional ISPs being unaware that Section 512(h) does not support these subpoenas on a pass-through ISP, and to hope that regional ISPs will avoid involving counsel and incurring legal expenses to fight Rightscorp’s subpoenas,” they add.

The motion to quash from CBeyond is similar to that of Grande Communications earlier this year. However, where Rightscorp was quick to pull their subpoena in the Texas case, the anti-piracy company now intends to file a reply.

Rightscorp CEO Christopher Sabec previously told TF that the court made the wrong decision in the RIAA case and that they were willing to fight this in court.

“The issue has actually not been addressed by the vast majority of Circuit Courts. We believe that the decision you cite will be overturned when the issue reaches the Supreme Court,” Sabec told us.

Whether that’s the case has yet to be seen…

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

Bradley M. Kuhn's Blog ( bkuhn ): Groupon Tries Take GNOME’s Name

This post was syndicated from: Bradley M. Kuhn's Blog ( bkuhn ) and was written by: Bradley M. Kuhn. Original post: at Bradley M. Kuhn's Blog ( bkuhn )

It’s probably been at least a decade, possibly more, since I saw
a a proprietary software company
attempt to take the name of an existing Free Software project
. I’m
very glad GNOME Foundation had the forethought to register their trademark,
and I’m glad they’re defending it.

It’s important to note that names are really different from copyrights.
I’ve been a regular critic of the patent and copyright systems,
particularly as applied to software. However, trademarks, while the system
has some serious flaws, has at its root a useful principle: people looking
for stuff they really want shouldn’t be confused by what they find. (I
remember as a kid the first time I got a knock-off toy and I was quite
frustrated and upset for being duped.) Trademark law is designed primarily
to prevent the public from being duped.

Trademark is also designed to prevent a new actor in the marketplace from
gaining advantage using the good name of an existing work. Of course,
that’s what Groupon is doing here, but Groupon’s position seems to have
come from the sleaziest of their attorneys and it’s completely disingenuous
Oh, we never heard of GNOME and we didn’t even search the trademark
database before filing. Meanwhile, now that you’ve contacted us, we’re
going to file a bunch more trademarks with your name in them.
BTW, the
odds that they are lying about never searching the USTPO database for GNOME
are close to 100%. I have been involved with registration of many a
trademark for a Free Software project: the first thing you do is search the
trademark database. The USPTO even provides a public search engine for
it!

Finally, GNOME’s legal battle is not merely their own. Proprietary
software companies always think they can bully Free Software projects.
They figure Free Software just doesn’t matter that much and doesn’t have
the resources to fight. Of course, one major flaw in the trademark system
is that it is expensive (because of the substantial time
investment needed by trademark experts) to fight an attack like this.
Therefore, please donate to the GNOME
Foundation
to help them in this fight. This is part of a proxy war
against all proprietary software companies that think they can walk all
over a Free Software project. Thus, this issue relates to many others in
our community. We have to show the wealthy companies that Free Software
projects with limited resources are not pushovers, but non-profit charities
like GNOME Foundation cannot do this without your help.

Update on 2014-11-11 at 12:23 US/Eastern: There was a
href="https://engineering.groupon.com/2014/misc/gnome-foundation-and-groupon-product-names/#comment-45497">Groupon
responded to the GNOME Foundation publicly on their
“engineering” site
. I wrote the following comment on
that page and posted it, but of course they refused to allow me to post
a comment id="#return-no-comments-allowed-groupon">0, so I’ve posted my comment here:

If you respected software freedom and the GNOME project, then you’d have
already stop trying to use their good name (which was trademarked before
your company was even founded) to market proprietary software. You say
you’d be glad to look for another name; I suspect that was GNOME
Foundation’s first request to you, wasn’t it? Are you saying the
GNOME Foundation has never asked you to change the name of the product
you’ve been calling GNOME?

Meanwhile, your comments about “open source” are suspect at
best. Most technology companies these days have little choice but to
interact in some ways with open source. I see of course, that Groupon has
released a few tibidits of code, but your website is primarily proprietary
software. (I notice, for example, a visit just to your welcome page at
groupon.com attempts to install a huge amount of proprietary Javascript on my
machine — lucky I use NoScript to reject it). Therefore, your argument
that you “love open source” is quite dubious. Someone who loves
open source doesn’t just liberate a few tidbits of their code, they embrace
it fully. To be accurate, you probably should have said: We like open
source a little bit
.

Finally, your statement, which is certainly well-drafted Orwellian
marketing-speak, doesn’t actually answer
any of the points the GNOME Foundation raised with you
. According to the
GNOME Foundation, you were certainly communicating, but in the meantime you
were dubiously registering more infringing trademarks with the USPTO. The
only reasonable conclusion is that you used the communication to buy time to
stab GNOME Foundation in the back further. I do a lot of work
defending copyleft communities against
companies that try to exploit and mistreat those communities, and yours the
exact types of manipulative tactics I often see in those negotiations.


href="http://ebb.org/bkuhn/blog/2014/11/11/groupon.html#return-no-comments-allowed-groupon">0While it’s
of course standard procedure for website to refuse comments, I
find it additionally disingenuous when a website looks like it
accepts comments, but then refuses some. Obviously, I don’t think
trolls should be given a free pass to submit comments, but I
rather like the solution of simply full disclosure: Groupon
should disclose that they are screening some comments.
This, BTW, is why I just use a third party application (pump.io)
for my comments. Anyone can post. :)

TorrentFreak: Copyright Holders Want Pirate Bay Blocked in Sweden

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Ernesto. Original post: at TorrentFreak

tpb-logoThe Pirate Bay is without doubt one of the most censored websites on the Internet.

Courts all around the world have ordered Internet providers to block subscriber access to the torrent site, and this list continues to expand.

Now the music and movie industries plan to bring the blockades to Sweden, Pirate Bay’s home country. To that end, record labels Universal Music, Sony Music and Warner Music teamed up with Nordisk Film and the Swedish Film Industry to file a lawsuit against one of the country’s largest ISPs, B2 Broadband.

The copyright holders demand that the Internet provider blocks access to The Pirate Bay as well as streaming site Swefilmer, Dagens Media reports.

According to the lawsuit, the companies previously asked the ISP to take action against the piracy that occurs on its networks, but without result. B2 doesn’t believe that it’s responsible for the actions of its users and turned down the request.

The copyright holders disagree. In their complaint they write that the ISP is responsible for the pirating activities of its users on both The Pirate Bay and Swefilmer.

“In each case, the objective conditions are met for B2 Broadband to be deemed guilty of being complicit in the copyright infringement that’s committed,” the complaint reads.

Attorney Henrik Bengtsson is convinced that the music and movie companies have a good chance of winning the case, as similar blockades are already in place in Denmark, the UK and elsewhere.

If they indeed win the case, Bengtsson believes that they may demand similar blockades from other large ISPs in the country.

Rick Falkvinge, founder of the first Pirate Party in Sweden, is not happy with the attempt to make B2 responsible for the traffic it transmits.

“It’s neither the first time nor the last that this parasitic industry has found it easier to attack the messengers. This is why we have messenger immunity, why the mailman is never responsible for the contents of a message and the phone company not liable for what’s said in a phonecall” Falkvinge tells TF.

“The Internet must catch up to modern civil liberties standards,” he adds.

Thus far the copyright holders have not commented publicly on the lawsuit to avoid a media spectacle. “We have deliberately chosen not to push this. Neither party wants to make this media process,” Bengtsson says.

If the court sides with the copyright holders it will be the first time that a Swedish ISP has been required to block a website on copyright grounds.

Whether such a blockade will be very successful remains to be seen though, as there are plenty of alternatives and circumvention tools available. This includes VPN services, the many proxies that make up 9% of The Pirate Bay’s total traffic, and TPB’s own PirateBrowser.

Earlier this year the Dutch Pirate Bay blockade was lifted because the court deemed it disproportionate and ineffective.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: Online Music Pirates Hit With Lengthy Jail Sentences

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Andy. Original post: at TorrentFreak

Early October it was revealed that the BPI was following the lead of the Federation Against Copyright Theft by pursuing alleged Internet pirates in their own privately prosecuted case.

Their targets were former members of the now-defunct file-sharing links forum Dancing Jesus. The site was taken offline in 2011 following an investigation carried out by the BPI and IFPI, with assistance from the US Department of Homeland Security.

Two men were arrested by City of London Police, one the owner of the site and the other one of the forum’s top uploaders. Homeland Security played its part by seizing a Dancing Jesus server hosted in the United States.

After dragging on for years, in January 2014 site owner and admin Kane Robinson of South Shields pleaded guilty to illegally distributing music. Richard Graham, one of the site’s top uploaders, went on trial early October 6 at Newcastle Crown Court. After the hearing began the Leicestershire man changed his plea to guilty.

In a decision that must have stunned both Robinson and Graham, yesterday Judge Deborah Sherwin handed the down the harshest sentences ever in a case involving UK-based music file-sharers.

For his part in offering a site with a reported 22,500 links to 250,000 titles, Robinson was given a jail sentence of 32 months, reduced from 4 years in recognition of his earlier guilty plea.

After reportedly making available more than 8,000 tracks, of which around two-thirds were pre-release according to the BPI, Graham was handed a total of 21 months.

Following his guilty plea, TF had the opportunity to speak with 22-year-old Graham but for legal reasons haven’t been able to disclose any information until now. He told us that he hoped that his young age at the time would help his case and that the site was filled with music lovers and was never a commercial concern.

“At the time they accused me of this, I was at school taking my exams, for which I gained excellent grades. Since I was arrested in 2010, I have gone to university and completed a degree, in fact finishing it before I was even told I would be prosecuted,” Graham told us earlier this month.

“I am still amazed by the fact that so much time and money was expended [prosecuting] a small website of music lovers who spent way more on music, gigs etc than the average person. I myself spent thousands,” he added.

“It’s also clear that no money was made from any activity, which also makes me wonder. People make thousands a week from piracy, why don’t they go for them? I believe they were just looking for an easy win after all their high-profile losses, and unfortunately they chose me.”

On the flip side David Wood, Director of BPI’s Copyright Protection Unit, said the sentences handed down should serve as a warning to those running ‘pirate’ sites which give consumers a “sub-standard experience” and give nothing back to artists.

“Today’s sentencing sends a clear message to the operators and users of illegal music sites that online piracy is a criminal activity that will not be tolerated by law enforcement in the UK or overseas. Piracy – particularly pre-release – can make or break an artist’s career, and can determine whether a record label is able to invest in that crucial second or third album,” Wood said.

David Cook, a cyber crime specialist solicitor who was instructed to provide expert opinion to the defense in the case, told TorrentFreak this morning that the harsh sentence may be linked to the way rightsholders present their cases.

“When it comes to the sentencing in the criminal courts for intellectual property matters, rights holder groups proffer figures relating to the losses due to ‘IP crime’ and the damage that such offenses cause the industry. Of course, these statistics appear to be entirely self-serving, given the role of the rights holder group and their duty only to their members,” Cook explained.

“The gathering and presentation of statistics by these organizations is not open to scrutiny. The survey methodology used is not particularly transparent. Interviewer effects, the nature of questions posed and/or survey sampling bias may be significant. In terms of the values ascribed to the losses to the industry, the figures often seem ludicrously high and may be based more on apocryphal assumptions and calculations always based on ‘the worst case scenario’.”

Cook, whose previous case history includes defenses in the OiNK, FileSoup, SceneTorrents and Richard O’Dwyer cases, says that he finds the apparently harsh sentences “troubling” and “perhaps due to the extraordinary estimates of loss to the music industry forwarded by the prosecution.”

It is not yet clear whether or not there will be an appeal.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: ISP Wants to Understand Technology Used to Track Pirates

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Andy. Original post: at TorrentFreak

Following a leak of the movie Dallas Buyers Club onto the Internet in January 2013, owner Voltage Pictures took the opportunity to extract cash payments from hundreds of US citizens said to have downloaded the movie.

The practice is lucrative, so much so that the company is now testing the Australian market. Among others, Dallas Buyers Club LLC (DBCLLC) are targeting subscribers of iiNet, a local ISP with a reputation for defending its customers.

(DBCLLC) recently applied to the Federal Court to have iiNet and others reveal the identities of people they say have downloaded and/or shared their movie without permission, but to date iiNet (which also owns fellow targeted ISPs Internode and Adam) is opposing the application for discovery.

Earlier today the parties were in Federal Court in Sydney before Justice Nye Perram. DBCLLC wants iiNet to hand over its subscribers’ identities, but the ISP suspects that instead of giving targets their day in court the movie company simply wants to scare settlements out of them.

According to ZDNet, Barrister Richard Lancaster, SC representing iiNet, told Justice Perram that the ISP needs to know more about the anti-piracy tracking system that was used to track the alleged copyright infringers.

DBCLLC hired Stuttgart, Germany based outfit MaverickEye UG, an outfit that claims to provide “world-class surveillance” of intellectual property on the leading P2P networks including BitTorrent. The company also claims experience with other law firms operating similar pay-up-or-else business models.

“Maverickeye UG work very closely with several law firms focused on the protection of intellectual property and specialized in filing legal claims against people who infringe on your intellectual property,” the company says on its website.

It’s now also becoming clearer why DBCLLC selected iiNet as a target. In its prolonged legal battle with movie company Village Roadshow which concluded two years ago, iiNet said it would’ve handed over subscriber information had there been a successful application to the High Court. DBCLLC lawyer Ian Pike told the Court today that he will indeed be relying on those statements.

Next Monday will see another hearing, this time on the issue of security and costs. To ensure that it’s not left with a huge legal bill, iiNet has requested that DBCLLC deposit AUS$100,00 (US$86,700) into a holding account in the event the movie company loses in its bid to obtain the ISP’s customers’ details. That amount is already in dispute with DBCLLC reportedly prepared to put forward just AUS$30,000 (US$26,000).

During December another hearing will determine whether iiNet will be able to call Maverick Eye’s Daniel Macek as a witness to determine whether the company’s anti-piracy tracking system is up to the job of identifying an infringer.

Then, during February 5 and 6, 2015, the full case will be heard. A win for iiNet could mean a significant setback for DBCLLC, while a victory could signal a green light to other companies plotting similar action. In the United States, DBCLLC demands payment of up to US$7,000 (AUS$8,000) from each person it targets.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: Comcast Sent 1,000,000 Copyright Alerts to ‘Pirating’ Subscribers

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Ernesto. Original post: at TorrentFreak

comcast-logoFebruary last year the MPAA, RIAA and five major Internet providers in the United States launched their “six strikes” anti-piracy plan.

The main goal of this Copyright Alert System is to educate the public. Through various notifications subscribers are informed if their connections are being used to share copyrighted material without permission, and told where they can find legal alternatives.

Thus far the Center for Copyright Information (CCI), which oversees the program, has only released details of the number of warnings that were sent out during the first 10 months. During this period 1.3 million anti-piracy alerts were sent out.

This year the number of notices are expected to double, but no exact details have yet been released. However, based on information received last week we can now report that Comcast sent out its one millionth warning recently.

A million warnings translates to a little under 2,000 notices per day, a similar rate to the one we reported earlier this year. The ISPs and copyright holders previously agreed to cap the Copyright Alert volume, which may hover around this number.

TorrentFreak asked Comcast to verify our findings, but the Internet provider would neither confirm nor deny that it has sent out 1,000,000 alerts.

“We have no official data to disclose at this time,” a Comcast spokesperson wrote in a brief emailed reply.

Part of Comcast’s initial Copyright Alertcomcast-copyright-alert

So what’s in store for those who receive an alert? ISPs and copyright holders have stressed that the focus of the Copyright Alerts lie in education, but repeat infringers face a temporary disconnection from the Internet or other mitigation measures.

For example, Comcast has chosen a browser “hijack” which makes it impossible for customers to browse the Internet, but without interrupting VOIP and other essential services.

“If a consumer fails to respond to several Copyright Alerts, Comcast will place a persistent alert in any web browser under that account until the account holder contacts Comcast’s Customer Security Assurance professionals to discuss and help resolve the matter,” Comcast writes.

How quickly customers will be able to resolve the matter and what they will have to do is unknown, but Comcast stresses that no accounts will be terminated under the Copyright Alert program.

“We will never use account termination as a mitigation measure under the CAS. We have designed the pop-up browser alerts not to interfere with any essential services obtained over the Internet.”

Thus far there’s no evidence that Copyright Alerts have had a significant impact on piracy rates. However, the voluntary agreement model is being widely embraced and similar schemes are in the making in both the UK and Australia.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: Night Time Eiffel Tower Photos Are a Copyright Violation

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Ernesto. Original post: at TorrentFreak

eiffelMost people know that they are not allowed to share copies of their favorite band or film without permission. However, in some areas even your own creations may be illegal to share.

In several countries architectural structures are protected by copyright. That means you have to ask permission from the copyright holder to use your own picture in public.

This is also true for the Eiffel Tower in Paris. The famous landmark was built in 1889 which means that it falls within the public domain. However, the light show was added later and this is still protected by copyright.

It may sound absurd, but taking a picture of the Eiffel Tower at night and sharing that online may be copyright infringement. The stance is confirmed by the Société d’Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel, who note the following on their website.

“Daytime views from the Eiffel Tower are rights-free. However, its various illuminations are subject to author’s rights as well as brand rights. Usage of these images is subject to prior request from the Société d’Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel.”

The issue above was brought to the forefront by the EU Observer, who note that taking pictures of public buildings may lead to copyright violations in France, Belgium and Italy.

Dimitar Dimitrov, policy expert for Wikipedia’s European Wikimedia chapters in Brussels, told the EU Observer that nightly pictures of the Eiffel Tower may indeed be infringing.

“The lightshow is protected by copyright,” Dimitrov notes.

Similar legislation also prevents the public from using photographs of some famous landmarks in Belgium, including the Atomium. This is also why the Atomium’s Wikipedia entry has censored versions or models of the building on its website, instead of the real deal.

Censored Wikipedia entry (Norwegian)
atomium

In most other countries in Europe there is no ban on photos of architectural projects, thanks to a clause in the EU’s Information Society Directive. However, in Belgium, France and Italy this hasn’t been transposed into law.

According to Dimitrov this effectively means that people are not allowed to publicly use photos of the Atomium, Eiffel Tower at night, or any other copyrighted architecture. Not even on social media.

“If you take an image of the Atomium and put it on Facebook, that is copyright infringement,” Dimitrov says.

Good luck enforcing that…

Photo credit

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: Court Orders Cloudflare to Expose Pirate Site Operators

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Ernesto. Original post: at TorrentFreak

cloudflareAs one of the leading providers of DDoS protection and an easy to use CDN service, Cloudflare is used by thousands of popular sites across the globe.

This includes many “pirate” sites who rely on the U.S. based company to server loads down.

While Cloudflare may help to keep servers up and running, the U.S. connection also poses a risk of exposure for the owners. Through a so-called DMCA-subpoena, copyright holders only have to ask a court clerk for a signature to be able to demand all personal information of alleged copyright infringers.

This is exactly what Japanese adult magazine publisher KK Magazine has done. After sending three takedown requests to Cloudflare asking them to take down content on the allegedly infringing Javrip.org and Jpav.tv sites, the company obtained a subpoena.

Without oversight from a judge the clerk signed a subpoena ordering Cloudflare to hand over the personal details of the clients connected to these domains including their names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, IP-addresses, account numbers, credit card numbers and any other identifying information.

Subpoena to Cloudflare
clouddmca

The magazine publisher’s subpoena doesn’t come out of the blue for Cloudflare. Two weeks ago the Japanese company sent a third takedown notice warning Cloudflare that it may lose its safe harbor protections and become liable for the infringements of its client.

“You/your customer has actively and repeatedly collected, organized and introduced new direct download links containing the infringing videos corresponding to the foregoing Infringing Works. Such actions shall disqualify you from any safe harbors for which you may be eligible under [the DMCA],” KK Magazine wrote.

“Regardless of the nature of the services you may provide, a service provider which fails to implement a repeat infringer policy is ineligible for any safe harbors under [the DMCA]. Based on the infringement activities provided herein, MAGAZINE intends to take necessary legal action.”

Whether Cloudflare has complied with the subpoena is unknown at this point but the company has until next week to respond.

For now both allegedly infringing sites remain up and running through Cloudflare’s servers. However, a notice on the Jpav.tv website suggests that some content was made inaccessible.

“Hello friends ! We re-uploading files was removed. You try download again. thanks!” a broken English notice on the site reads.

Try again…
tryagain

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.