It is no secret that Hollywood is trying to take down as many pirated movies as they can, but their targeting of a Creative Commons Pirate Bay documentary is something new. Viacom, Paramount, Fox and Lionsgate have all asked Google to take down links pointing to the Pirate Bay documentary TPB-AFK. But is it a secret plot to silence the voices of the Pirate Bay’s founders, or just another screw up of automated DMCA takedowns?
In its quest to identify the owner of a file-sharing site, Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN pressured one of the largest banks in the Netherlands to hand over his or her personal details. In a decision this morning the Amsterdam Court said that while BREIN has a responsibility to enforce copyright on behalf of its members, the bank has a greater responsibility to protect its customers’ privacy.
BREIN discovered a bank account with connections to the site and said that ING, one of the largest banks in the Netherlands, could provide the information it was looking for. Citing the Data Protection Act, ING refused to cooperate.
The case went to court and this morning a ruling was handed down. The Amsterdam Court decided that ING is not obliged to hand BREIN the personal details behind the bank account.
The Court recognized that BREIN has responsibilities to take action against those infringing the copyrights of its members but noted that ING has obligations to protect the privacy and interests of its customers. When balancing the two sets of needs, copyright enforcement versus banking privacy, the bank’s responsibilities come out on top.
“Under data protection law, you can only use personal information for proper and clearly defined legal goals. Using information for different goals requires an extraordinary interest that outweighs the privacy of the person involved,” Arnoud Engelfriet, a lawyer specializing in Internet law at the ICTRecht law firm, told TorrentFreak.
“The court says that because of the important position a bank plays in society, this is a really high bar to meet and BREIN has not met it.”
This little known story has met a just conclusion, as Sophia Stewart, African American author of The Matrix will finally receive her just due from the copyright infringement of her original work!!!
A six-year dispute has ended involving Sophia Stewart, the Wachowski Brothers, Joel Silver and Warner Brothers. Stewart’s allegations, involving copyright infringement and racketeering, were received and acknowledged by the Central District of California, Judge Margaret Morrow presiding.
Stewart, a New Yorker who has resided in Salt Lake City for the past five years, will recover damages from the films, The Matrix I, II and III, as well as The Terminator and its sequels. She will soon receive one of the biggest payoffs in the history of Hollywood , as the gross receipts of both films and their sequels total over 2.5 billion dollars.
Stewart filed her case in 1999, after viewing the Matrix, which she felt had been based on her manuscript, ‘The Third Eye,’ copyrighted in 1981. In the mid-eighties Stewart had submitted her manuscript to an ad placed by the Wachowski Brothers, requesting new sci-fi works..
According to court documentation, an FBI investigation discovered that more than thirty minutes had been edited from the original film, in an attempt to avoid penalties for copyright infringement.
The investigation also stated that ‘credible witnesses employed at Warner Brothers came forward, claiming that the executives and lawyers had full knowledge that the work in question did not belong to the Wachowski Brothers.’ These witnesses claimed to have seen Stewart’s original work and that it had been ‘often used during preparation of the motion pictures.’ The defendants tried, on several occasions, to have Stewart’s case dismissed, without success.
Megaupload’s legal team are not restricting their fight with the U.S. Government only to the courts. Today they published a detailed white paper accusing the White House of selling out to corporate interests, particularly Hollywood. “The message is clear. The White House is for sale. More and more of our rights are eroding away to protect the interests of large corporations and their billionaire shareholders,” Dotcom summarizes.
The shuttered file-sharing site Megaupload has accused the United States government of trying to change criminal court procedures to make it easier to prosecute the firm for copyright infringement. In addition to naming CEO Kim Dotcom as a defendant in the criminal case, the US government also named Megaupload, a corporation based in Hong Kong, as a separate defendant.
Megaupload has argued that US law doesn’t allow criminal prosecution of corporations based entirely overseas. Federal rules require notice of an indictment to be sent to a corporation’s last known US address. But Megaupload has never had a US address, the firm argues, so it can’t be prosecuted.
Judge Liam O’Grady rejected that argument in October, reasoning that the government may be able to satisfy the notice requirement by serving papers on Kim Dotcom after he has been extradited to the United States.
On Thursday, Megaupload pressed its case again by pointing to a letter that Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer wrote to the chair of the Advisory Committee on the Criminal Rules, which is part of the judicial branch. The government’s attempts to change the criminal rules are an implicit admission that Megaupload is actually correct on the law, the company argues.
Kanojia says that he is not stealing TV signals and that his technology conforms to federal laws because:
An individual can watch free over-the-air TV using an antenna.
An individual can legally copy a TV show or movie for private use.
A company can remotely copy and store digital information for a consumer and then transmit the content to the consumer.
“You combine those three, and you have Aereo,” Kanojia said. The company assigns a tiny antenna in an Aereo-run antenna farm to a subscriber, grabs broadcast-TV signals out of the air based on what the subscriber would like to watch, stores the TV content on a remote digital-video recorder, and then streams the TV content over the Internet to the subscriber.
So even though many people may be watching the same TV show, each TV show is individually received by a subscriber-specific antenna, copied on a DVR, and then streamed.
Goldstein, the Chicago lawyer, said, “There is a perceived loophole in the Copyright Act, and these companies like Aereo are taking full advantage of it.”
Where the definition of ‘loophole’ of course means ‘the establishment doesn’t get any money from it’
Every few years the proposal for a “broadcast treaty” comes up again. The idea is to give a new copyright-like right to broadcasters. So, for example, should NBC broadcast a public domain film, like George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, it could then effectively claim a copyright-like control over it, so that you couldn’t record it and make use of it yourself. If that seems like a really dumb idea to you, welcome to the club. You’re not alone. Basically, everyone who isn’t tied to a broadcaster thinks it’s a terrible idea. Even Mr. Mythbuster Adam Savage spoke out against the idea two years ago when it last came around.
In a comical display of meta-censorship several copyright holders including 20th Century Fox and NBC Universal have sent Google takedown requests asking the search engine to take down links to takedown request they themselves sent. Google refused to comply with the movie studios requests and the “infringing” DMCA notices remain online. Meanwhile, the number of takedown notices received by Google is nearing 20 million per month.
google bayThere’s a dark side to Google’s transparency efforts, especially when it comes to publishing DMCA requests it receives from copyright holders.
With more than 100 million links to pirated files Google is steadily building the largest database of copyrighted material. This is rather ironic as it would only take one skilled coder to index the URLs from the DMCA notices in order to create one of the largest pirate search engines available.
The standards are shifting in other ways too. No longer is Google merely asked to remove direct links to copyrighted material as the DMCA prescribes, but also links to links to links to copyrighted material.
What does this sound like? Yes, it’s a textbook case of a protection racket. It is organized crime, plain and simple. It is an abuse of the legal system, an abuse of the patent system, and a moral affront.
Meanwhile, progress is being made to legalize cellphone unlocking. With grassroots groups leading the charge, the Obama administration announced its support for overturning the ban last week. Since then, members of Congress have authored no fewer than four bills to legalize unlocking.
This is a step in the right direction, but it’s not enough. Let’s make one thing clear: Fixing our cars, tractors, and cellphones should have nothing to do with copyright.
As long as Congress focuses on just unlocking cellphones, they’re missing the larger point. Senators could pass a hundred unlocking bills; five years from now large companies will find some other copyright claim to limit consumer choice. To really solve the problem, Congress must enact meaningful copyright reform. The potential economic benefits are significant, as free information creates jobs. Service information is freely available online for many smartphones from iFixit (my organization) and other websites. Not coincidentally, thousands of cellphone repair businesses have sprung up in recent years, using the repair knowledge to keep broken cellphones out of landfills.
As long as we’re limited in our ability to modify and repair things, copyright — for all objects — will discourage creativity. It will cost us money. It will cost us jobs. And it’s already costing us our freedom.
In this paper we analyze how one such anti-piracy intervention, the shutdown of the popular Megaupload site, affected the digital sales of movies for two major studios.
Our analysis across 12 countries suggests that, in the 18 weeks following the shutdown, digital revenues for these two studio’s movies were 6-10% higher than they would have been if not for the shutdown. Thus our findings show that the closing of a major online piracy site can increase digital media sales, and by extension we provide evidence that Internet movie piracy displaces digital film sales.
Here’s the Carnegie Mellon page that announces it, and says “The creation of IDEA was made possible through a gift from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), allowing Smith and Telang to extend their groundbreaking research along with faculty from across the university, including the Tepper School of Business and the School of Computer Science.”
“Smith” is Michael Smith who is the co-author of the paper.
It’s not impossible that their research and figures are a) correct, b) actually lead to the conclusions they claim, and c) just happen to be funded by the MPAA, but this isn’t something I would trust on the face of it.
The controversial file-sharing website said it is now operating out of North Korea, after recently being forced out of Sweden. The Pirate Bay said Kim-Jong Un invited the website to North Korea, and the site’s logo, which is a pirate ship, now features the North Korean flag on its sails.
“This is truly an ironic situation. We have been fighting for a free world, and our opponents are mostly huge corporations from the United States of America, a place where freedom and freedom of speech is said to be held high,” a press release by the site says. “And to our help comes a government famous in our part of the world for locking people up for their thoughts and forbidding access to information.”
The world has changed. I feel it in the water. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air. Much that once was is lost. For none now live who remember it. It began with the forging of the great ISPs. Three were given to the UK, immortal, wisest and fairest of all beings. Seven to Europe, great miners and craftsmen of the mountain halls. And nine, nine ISPs were gifted to the US, who above all else desired power. For within these ISPs was bound the strength and will to govern the internet.
But they were all of them deceived for another ISP was made. In the land of North Korea, in the fires of East Asia, the dark Kim Jong-un forged in secret a master ISP, to control all others and into this ISP, he poured his cruelty, his malice, and his will to dominate all life. One ISP to rule them all.
Oh yes I would.
To say events at the Drive4COPD 300 race in Daytona Beach on Saturday were a nightmare would be an understatement. Nearly 30 fans sustained injuries after parts of driver Kyle Larson’s car tore through the stands in the wake of a final-lap crash involving multiple cars.
A video of the wreck, shot by a fan and uploaded almost immediately to YouTube, detailed some of the carnage that swept across the stands and the race-goers that filled them. In a particularly intense moment, one person appeared to be pinned down by an errant wheel that flew off one of the wrecked cars.
But just as quickly as it was uploaded, the video was taken down from YouTube at Nascar’s request, citing copyright concerns.
“The fan video of the wreck on the final lap of today’s Nascar Nationwide Series race was blocked on YouTube out of respect for those injured in today’s accident,” said Steve Phelps, Nascar SVP and Chief Marketing Officer, in a statement issued to AllThingsD.
So doing things under false pretenses is now a legitimate form of showing respect to someone. I’ll try to remember that, it might come in handy!
Last week, when the world was watching crazy Russian meteorite videos on YouTube, Germans weren’t.
As a result of an ongoing dispute between Google (YouTube’s parent company) and GEMA, the primary German performance rights organization, a number of Russian YouTube videos have been blocked from within Germany. The reason? These videos contain background music playing from a Russian car radio.
I know when I can’t afford to buy a song and I want to hear it for free without the RIAA coming after me, I like to queue up some Russian dash-cam videos and hope some Russian with the same taste as me is blasting it on a hopefully high-quality sound system that their dash-cam has also recorded in good quality. It’s just like the real thing!
“‘The lack of interest, the disdain for history is what makes computing not-quite-a-field,’ Alan Kay once lamented. And so it should come as no surprise that the USPTO granted Google a patent Tuesday for the Automatic Deletion of Temporary Files, perhaps unaware that the search giant’s claimed invention is essentially a somewhat kludgy variation on file expiration processing, a staple of circa-1970 IBM mainframe computing and subsequent disk management software. From Google’s 2013 patent: ‘A path name for a file system directory can be “C:temp\12-1-1999\” to indicate that files contained within the file system directory will expire on Dec. 1, 1999.’ From Judith Rattenbury’s 1971 Introduction to the IBM 360 computer and OS/JCL: ‘EXPDT=70365 With this expiration date specified, the data set will not be scratched or overwritten without special operator action until the 365th day of 1970.’ Hey, things are new if you’ve never seen them before!”
Amazon.com this week won a broad patent on technology that lets customers schedule product deliveries to their doorsteps or mailboxes on a recurring basis, without needing to submit a new order every time. The patent filing says this approach will be particularly useful to overcome “the challenges presented by the delivery of perishable goods or other consumables.”
“For instance,” the filing explains, “a customer may request delivery of one bunch of bananas every week and two gallons of milk every two weeks.”
Gee, where did they come up with this one?
There is a good reason why the MPAA and RIAA are not on Facebook. They would become cannon fodder, and every word they post would be carefully dissected by an angry mob.
However, Iceland’s version of the MPAA didn’t get this memo and SMAIS decided to create a Facebook page of their own last week. This didn’t go well for them.
As expected, there were dozens of Facebook users who started attacking the group’s views in the comments. Initially SMAIS responded to the critique, but the response from the public was so overwhelming that the group couldn’t keep up after a while.
What certainly didn’t help was that SMAIS itself never paid for the film and game rating software they purchased from the Dutch company NICAM back in 2007.
While many of the submitted URLs do indeed link to infringing content, there are also occasional mistakes, often caused by automated filters. Not a big surprise considering the number of requests that go out, but these mistakes can still be quite embarrassing.
Today, for example, we stumbled upon a DMCA notice sent on behalf of HBO in which Google was asked to remove “infringing” links to ‘Eastbound and Down’ content in HBO’s very own store.
And that’s not the only mistake they’ve made.
It is worth noting that the DMCA notice in question was sent by DtectNet. This is the anti-piracy division of MarkMonitor, the same company that is also responsible for tracking down BitTorrent pirates as part of the upcoming six-strikes anti-piracy scheme.
You would have thought by now that people would understand that DRM is not only a bad idea, but totally unnecessary: Apple dropped DRM from music downloads in 2009 and seems to bemaking ends meet. Despite these obvious truths, the stupidity that is DRM continues to spread. Here, for example, is a particularly stupid example of DRM stupidity, as revealed by Manu Sporny:
A few days ago, a new proposal was put forward in the HTML Working Group (HTML WG) by Microsoft, Netflix, and Google to take DRM in HTML5 to the next stage of standardization at W3C.
After all, this is exactly what Web users have been crying out for: “just give us DRM for the Web, and our lives will be complete….”
Sporny runs through some technical reasons why this is doomed to failure — little things like sending decryption keys in the clear — and points out the awful re-balkanization of the Web that it would cause:
The EME [Encrypted Media Extensions] specification does not specify a DRM scheme in the specification, rather it explains the architecture for a DRM plug-in mechanism. This will lead to plug-in proliferation on the Web. Plugins are something that are detrimental to inter-operability because it is inevitable that the DRM plugin vendors will not be able to support all platforms at all times. So, some people will be able to view content, others will not.
He also notes a fundamental problem with the following Use Case for the proposed technology:
What use cases does this support?
Everything from user-generated content to be shared with family (user is not an adversary) to online radio to feature-length movies.
That clearly implies that when people are not sharing their own content with family and friends, then they are indeed adversaries:
This “user is not an adversary” text can be found in the first question about use cases. It insinuates that people that listen to radio and watch movies online are potential adversaries. As a business owner, I think that’s a terrible way to frame your customers.
Thinking of the people that are using the technology that you’re specifying as “adversaries” is also largely wrong. 99.999% of people using DRM-based systems to view content are doing it legally. The folks that are pirating content are not sitting down and viewing the DRM stream, they have acquired a non-DRM stream from somewhere else, like Mega or The Pirate Bay, and are watching that.
This is the fundamental reason why DRM is doomed and should be discarded: the only people it annoys are the ones who have tried to support creators by acquiring legal copies. How stupid is that?
But the problems may go deeper than that. The Verge has now learned that the facts of the case are somewhat different than the story CNET and CBS had previously shared with the public. According to sources familiar with the matter, the Hopper was not simply an entrant in the Best of CES awards for the site: it was actually chosen as the winner of the “Best of Show” award (as voted by CNET’s editorial staff).
Apparently, executives at CBS learned that the Hopper would win “Best of Show” prior to the announcement. Before the winner was unveiled, CBS Interactive News senior-vice president and General Manager Mark Larkin informed CNET’s staff that the Hopper could not take the top award. The Hopper would have to be removed from consideration, and the editorial team had to re-vote and pick a new winner from the remaining choices. Sources say that Larkin was distraught while delivering the news — at one point in tears — as he told the team that he had fought CBS executives who had made the decision.
Apparently the move to strike the Hopper from the awards was passed down directly to Larkin from the office of CBS CEO, Leslie Moonves. Moonves has been one of the most outspoken opponents of the Hopper, telling investors at one point, “Hopper cannot exist… if Hopper exists, we will not be in business with (Dish).”
Bob Dylan has made some puzzling moves in his celebrated career, but the compilation that his record label recently released may be as odd as anything he’s ever put out.
The compilation, 50th Anniversary Collection, is a limited-edition, four-CD set that was only released in Europe. It seems to have been designed by the label to exploit a recent change in European copyright law.
The collection is a scrapbook of recordings from the first years of Bob Dylan’s career: unreleased home tapes, live performances from Greenwich Village folk clubs and outtakes from the sessions for his second studio album, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan.
The packaging of the 50th Anniversary Collection is minimal — just four discs, a brown paper cover and a cursory list of the 86 tracks.
Dylan’s record label declined requests to talk about the collection or its unconventional release strategy.
But the subtitle, The Copyright Extension Collection, Volume 1, speaks for itself.
“Even record executives occasionally stray into honesty,” says James Boyle, a law professor at Duke University. “This is, in fact, a copyright extension collection. That’s what it is.”
Boyle says Dylan’s label appears to be exploiting an obscure but potentially lucrative change in European copyright law.
The European Union recently extended the term of copyright for sound recordings from 50 years to 70 years. But, there’s a catch.
“You actually have to have, at some point, distributed these songs during that initial 50-year period. These were masters that were lying in the vaults,” Boyle says, “and none of them had ever seen the light of day. And so he had to get them out before that 50-year period expired in order to get the extra 20 years.”
I think they may end up with a wee bit more than just 100 copies
Elkin-Koren predicted that as books turn into e-books, they will move from being commodities to being services, and publishing will merge with retailing. "There is no difference between a bookseller, a publisher, and a library," she said.
Thought-provoking claim, I thought. It seems somewhat obvious that the difference between publishing and retailing is shrinking: Amazon is becoming a publisher, and publishers sell e-books directly to readers (e.g. O-Reilly, Baen, etc).
The remaining claim is that when it comes to e-books, libraries as we know them have no future. This is supported in part earlier in the post by observing that publishers are resisting letting libraries lend e-books, essentially because they don’t think they can afford to.
“So you’re claiming anyone on a network with a scanner owes you a license?” asked Vicinanza. “He said, ‘Yes, that’s correct.’ And at that point, I just lost it.”
Vicinanza made the unusual choice to fight back against Hill and “Project Paperless”—and actually ended up with a pretty resounding victory. But the Project Paperless patents haven’t gone away. Instead, they’ve been passed on to a network of at least eight different shell companies with six-letter names like AdzPro, GosNel, and FasLan. Those entities are now sending out hundreds, if not thousands, of copies of the same demand letter to small businesses from New Hampshire to Minnesota. (For simplicity, I’ll just refer to one of those entities, AdzPro.)
Ars has acquired several copies of the AdzPro demand letter; the only variations are the six-letter name of the shell company and the royalty demands, which range from $900 to $1,200 per employee. One such letter, in which AllLed demands $900 per worker, is published below. The name of the target company has been redacted.
This year the Irish newspaper industry asserted, first tentatively and then without any equivocation, that links -just bare links like this one- belonged to them. They said that they had the right to be paid to be linked to. They said they had the right to set the rates for those links, as they had set rates in the past for other forms of licensing of their intellectual property. And then they started a campaign to lobby for unauthorised linking to be outlawed.
Samsung, the south Korean electronics giant, could face fines running to billions of pounds from the European commission over its attempts to use its “standard-essential” patents on 3G to ban sales of Apple’s iPhone and iPad in Europe.
The Google-owned smartphone company Motorola Mobility may face similar penalties over its attempts to ban sales of Microsoft’s Xbox 360 through its use of SEPs relating to Wi-Fi and the H.264 video standard.
Both companies could yet receive fines in the US as well, where the federal trade commission weighed in earlier in December in a court case between Motorola and Apple, arguing that Motorola’s use of SEPs amounted to a “hold-up”. Samsung is also being investigated by the US justice department over its use of SEPs in cases against Apple.
The European commission’s competition arm, run by Joaquin Almunia, issued a formal statement of objections last Friday.
The potential fines can run to 10% of a company’s worldwide turnover, which in tSamsung’s case would amount to nearly $15bn (£9.3bn), based on its 2011 revenues of $148.9bn. The commission opened its investigation into Samsung in January.
ACTA is completely, finally, no-turning-back dead-and-buried in Europe, with the European Commission admitting that there is “no realistic chance” of the treaty being adopted in Europe.
The frank assessment of the future of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement was made as the EC withdrew its request that the European Court of Justice examine the treaty’s compatibility with European law.
Another Apple patent is in the spotlight tonight, after the United States Patent and Trademark Office has preliminarily rejected all 20 claims of Patent No. 7,844,915, or the so-called “pinch to zoom” patent.
Instagram said today that it has the perpetual right to sell users’ photographs without payment or notification, a dramatic policy shift that quickly sparked a public outcry.
The new intellectual property policy, which takes effect on January 16, comes three months after Facebook completed its acquisition of the popular photo-sharing site. Unless Instagram users delete their accounts before the January deadline, they cannot opt out.
A leading Australian Internet service provider has pulled out of negotiations to create a warning notice scheme aimed at reducing online piracy. iiNet, the ISP that was sued by Hollywood after refusing to help chase down alleged infringers, said that it can’t make any progress with righthsolders if they don’t make their content freely available at a reasonable price. The ISP adds that holding extra data on customers’ habits is inappropriate and not their responsibility.