The government’s surprise decision to include copyright term extension for sound recordings and performances in this week’s budget is being painted by the music industry as important for Canadian artists. But sources suggest that the key reason for the change is lobbying from foreign record labels such as Universal Music and Sony Music, who were increasingly concerned with the appearance of public domain records from artists such as the Beatles appearing on store shelves in Canada. As discussed in this post, Canadian copyright law protects the song for the life of the author plus 50 years. However, the sound recording lasts for 50 years. That still provides decades of protection for record companies to profit from the records, but that is apparently not long enough for them. Earlier this year, a Canadian company called Stargrove Entertainment began selling two Beatles records featuring performances that are in the public domain in Canada. The records were far cheaper than those sold through Universal Music and were picked up by retail giant Walmart, who continues to list the records on their website (Can’t Buy Me Love, Love Me Do). There were additional titles featuring the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, and the Beach Boys. Some of the titles are still available for sale through Walmart.
In a particularly spectacular display of corporate delusion, John Deere—the world’s largest agricultural machinery maker —told the Copyright Office that farmers don’t own their tractors. Because computer code snakes through the DNA of modern tractors, farmers receive “an implied license for the life of the vehicle to operate the vehicle.”
It’s John Deere’s tractor, folks. You’re just driving it.
Over the years we have seen various illustrations of the educational importance of piracy in developing countries. When the e-book portal Library.nu was shut down, for instance, we were contacted by a United Nations worker in Kenya, who voiced his disappointment.
“I am very concerned about the recent injunction against library.nu. The site was particularly useful for people like me working in Nairobi, a city that has no more than four bookshops with nothing but bestsellers,” the UN worker informed TF at the time.
In an effort to determine how piracy affects literacy and the spread of knowledge, the African Governance and Development Institute conducted an in-depth study comparing piracy and human development data from 11 African countries.
The findings, presented in a paper titled “The Impact of Software Piracy on Inclusive Human Development: Evidence from Africa” show that “software piracy increases literacy”.
“Adoption of tight IPRs regimes may negatively affect human development by diminishing the literacy rate and restricting diffusion of knowledge,” the authors write.
There have been some radical solutions to online piracy in recent years but one coming out of India today is perhaps the most ‘ambitious’ so far. The Tamil Film Producer’s Council says it is in discussion to stop releasing all films for at least three months which means that pirates will have nothing to copy and will therefore go out of business.
picarddmcaAt least once a month TorrentFreak reports on the often crazy world of DMCA takedown notices. Google is kind enough to publish thousands of them in its Transparency Report and we’re only too happy to spend hours trawling through them.
Every now and again a real gem comes to light, often featuring mistakes that show why making these notices public is not only a great idea but also in the public interest. The ones we found this week not only underline that assertion in bold, but are actually the worst examples of incompetence we’ve ever seen.
Earlier this year, we told you about Keurig’s attempt to quash off-brand coffee by integrating DRM into its newest model of brewing machine. At the time, we thought that coffee barons locking their customers into name-brand coffee pods was the most boneheaded deployment of DRM we’d ever seen.
Turns out, we were wrong.
You know what else features DRM these days? Kitty litter. Welcome to the future, people. Now, even your cat’s crap comes with a steaming side of corporate crap.
The family farmer who owns this tractor is a friend of mine. He just wanted a better way to fix a minor hydraulic sensor. Every time the sensor blew, the onboard computer would shut the tractor down. It takes a technician at least two days to order the part, get out to the farm, and swap out the sensor. So for two days, Dave’s tractor lies fallow. And so do his fields.
Dave asked me if there was some way to bypass a bum sensor while waiting for the repairman to show up. But fixing Dave’s sensor problem required fiddling around in the tractor’s highly proprietary computer system—the tractor’s engine control unit (tECU): the brains behind the agricultural beast.
One hour later, I hopped back out of the cab of the tractor. Defeated. I was unable to breach the wall of proprietary defenses that protected the tECU like a fortress. I couldn’t even connect to the computer. Because John Deere says I can’t.
Porn production companies are currently engaged in a scorched earth copyright infringement campaign against torrenting sites with URLs containing specific keywords—say, “thrust” or “glob-watcher.” GitHub, a popular site for coders that allows professionals and hobbyists to create open source software together, is getting caught in the crossfire.
Several Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) complaints filed to Google by companies representing various porn companies in the last month alone have resulted in dozens of legitimate GitHub URLs being removed from the search engine’s results, TorrentFreak first reported.
Among the offending URLs were GitHub support pages, entire code repositories, and user profile pages. Tomasz Janczuk, a former Microsoft employee, had part of his GitHub repository removed from Google’s search results after a December 20th, 2014 DMCA complaint by Takedown Piracy LLC, a company representing Adam & Eve, a porn production company.
According to Janczuk, removing GitHub pages from Google’s search results could harm the open source software community by reducing its visibility online.
“Removal of GitHub content or reduction of its visibility would have a substantial impact on companies or individuals participating in the open source model,” Janczuk sad in an email, “since high visibility of [open source software] content is frequently part of a marketing strategy.”
Janczuk’s URL, “https://github.com/tjanczuk/edge,” was apparently too close to The Edge, a 2001 movie made by Adam & Eve, for the company’s liking.
Porn companies aren’t alone in this practice, though a perusal of Google’s transparency report reveals that the vast majority of DMCA complaints against GitHub in the last six months were filed by Takedown Piracy on behalf of a range of porn companies.
Swedish collection outfit STIM says that car stereos perform music to the public and as a result rental companies are breaching copyright if they don’t have a suitable license.
Last week, we wrote about how some of the leaked emails from the Sony hack revealed that the MPAA was funding and coordinating various Attorneys General attacks on Google, even over topics that have nothing to do with copyright infringement. In response, Mississippi AG Jim Hood told the Huffington Post that he barely knows anyone at the MPAA, and has no idea who their lawyers are — and that the MPAA has “no major influence” on what he’s working on:
Hood said the MPAA “has no major influence on my decision-making,” although he noted that content creators occasionally provide reports and advice to him. “They’re just reporting wrongdoing. There’s nothing unusual about that,” he said. Hood said he has never asked MPAA a legal question, isn’t sure which lawyers they employ, and doesn’t think he’s ever met the organization’s general counsel.
Okay. Now keep that above paragraph in mind as you read the latest report from the NY Times, in which reporters Nick Wingfield and Eric Lipton (who just a few months ago had written that big article on questionable lobbying of Attorneys General) dig deeper into the Sony emails concerning the MPAA and AGs Jim Hood and Jon Bruning from Nebraska. The Times also uses some public records requests to show that the infamous letter that Hood sent to Google was almost entirely written by the MPAA’s lawyers. You can see the whole thing at the link, but this thumbnail shows a pretty long letter with the only parts actually written by Hood’s office being the intro at the top in green and a few minor word choices. All the rest came from the MPAA’s lawyers at Jenner and Block.
The Pirate Bay was deep-sixed this week in its home port of Stockholm, Sweden, after cops raided a data center hosting the world’s most famous piracy organization. But its absence appears to have put hardly a dent in global piracy activity over the last four days.
On Monday, Dec. 8, a total of 101.5 million Internet addresses worldwide were engaged in torrent downloads of relevant titles tracked by anti-piracy firm Excipio (including movies, TV shows, music, videogames, software and other digital media). On Dec. 9, Swedish law-enforcement authorities — acting on a complaint from an anti-piracy group based in the country — descended on a Web-hosting facility used by Pirate Bay and confiscated its servers and other equipment.
The result: The total number of IP addresses engaged in peer-to-peer downloads of content tracked by Excipio dropped slightly from 99.0 million on Dec. 9 to 95.0 million and 95.6 million the following two days, before bouncing back to 100.2 million on Friday, Dec. 12. That’s roughly in line with the daily average of 99.9 million since Nov. 1, according to Excipio.
To oversee national lightbulb markets and their respective development in global trade, Phoebus established a supervisory body, chaired by Meinhardt of Osram. The cartel’s other main activities were to facilitate the exchange of patents and technical know-how and to impose far-reaching and long-lived standards. To this day, we still use the screw-type socket—devised by Thomas Edison back in 1880 and designated E26/E27—thanks to the cartel. Most significantly for consumers, Phoebus expended considerable technical effort into engineering a shorter-lived lightbulb.
Did you buy compact fluorescent light bulbs, to save the planet and to save you money? Did they last long enough to break even? Will you change to LED bulbs?
Is piracy to blame for “The Expendables 3’s” puny box office debut this weekend or were viewers ready to euthanize the film’s aging action heroes?That’s the question Hollywood’s asking after the thriller fell short of initial projections by roughly $10 million, debuting to a paltry $16.2 million.As the dwindling numbers trickled in over the weekend, studio executives privately pointed the finger at a leaked copy of the film that hit the internet three weeks before its debut and was seen by 2.2 million people.“This is really a clear situation where this had an impact,” said Phil Contrino, vice president and chief analyst of BoxOffice.com. “It’s hard to measure, but the ripple effect, not only of the downloads, but of the word-of-mouth that spread as a result, can be seen in the soft opening.”
Well, if you produce a turd, and people can tell each other it’s a turd before the opening weekend, your opening weekend is going to suck.
And you prove it in the same article:
For instance, an unfinished copy of “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” was widely distributed online a month before the film opened in 2009, but the picture still managed to rack up $373 million globally. That’s a big number and one that suggests a lot of people were still willing to shell out for the finished product.
And that’s because, you guessed it, people tell each other it’s not a turd.
The engineers at CarShield, a connected-car startup, were working on their trip-route optimization features when a patent troll interrupted their day. This troll didn’t bother sending a demand letter, it just filed a lawsuit. No prior notification. This was odd, as the plaintiff — 911 Notify, LLC — claimed to own a patent on notifications. The notification CarShield did eventually receive was an offer to settle the lawsuit for $250,000. They were shocked.
Startups in this situation are trapped between a rock and a hard-place. They can either pay off the troll (unsavory) or defend the lawsuit (expensive). Many startups decide to hold their nose and pay the trolls. Everyone would prefer to defend the lawsuit, but not everyone can afford the cost of defense. This is why we started using law school clinics to do free legal defense. It’s a win-win arrangement: students cut their teeth on real litigation, startups get free legal defense, and patent trolls get nothing.
Brooklyn Law School’s BLIP clinic tried it last semester, and was fairly successful in getting a patent troll lawsuit dismissed. I’ll tell you a little about the clinic, the case, and how other law schools can do similar work.
Former NSA Director Keith Alexander is patenting a variety of techniques to protect computer networks. We’re supposed to believe that he developed these on his own time and they have nothing to do with the work he did at the NSA, except for the parts where they obviously did and therefore are worth $1 million per month for companies to license.
No, nothing fishy here.
This time around, Strumpf looks at the relationship between the stock price of producers, and when illicit copies of movies hit the file-sharing sites. The thesis is that if investors considered a Torrent of Transformers: Age of Extinction represented a greater risk for DreamWorks than the quality of the movie, it would be reflected in the share price.In the more academic language Strumpf uses: “forward-looking markets can be used to establish the unobserved counter-factual of how movie revenues would change on any possible file sharing release date, particularly those prior to the theatrical premier.
An interesting observation in the paper is that “one consistent result is that file sharing arrivals shortly before the theatrical opening have a modest positive effect on box office revenue”, suggesting that “free and potentially degraded goods such as the lower quality movies available on file sharing networks can have some beneficial effects on intellectual property”.
Overall, however, “The estimates indicate that the displacement effect is quite small, both on a movie-level and in aggregate” – in other words, no, BitTorrent isn’t what’s destroying Hollywood.
You take an idea that’s not all that original and implement it on a computer. For that, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously Thursday, you don’t deserve a patent.Seeking to do its part to trim the proliferation of software patents, the high court nevertheless tread carefully to avoid ensnaring too many legitimate business patents along the way.The case had attracted legions of lawyers on both sides to the high court’s chamber in March, as well as hundreds of pages of briefs from the likes of Google, Microsoft and IBM. Many had urged a solution similar to what the justices sought to devise Thursday: a reduction in flimsy patents without affecting the deserving ones.The specific patent in question uses a computer to safeguard complex financial transactions, largely among banks. The program is intended to reduce the risk that one party can’t hold up its end of the deal.Justice Clarence Thomas, writing for the entire court, ruled that the third-party settlement concept is an ‘abstract idea,” and using a computer to implement it “cannot transform a patent-ineligible abstract idea into a patent-eligible invention.”
When Santa Barbara startup FindTheBest (FTB) was sued by a patent troll called Lumen View last year, it vowed to fight back rather than pay up the $50,000 licensing fee Lumen was asking for. Company CEO Kevin O’Connor made it personal, pledging $1 million of his own money to fight the legal battle.
Once FindTheBest pursued the case, the company dismantled the troll in short order. In November, the judge invalidated Lumen’s patent, finding it was nothing more than a description of computer-oriented “matchmaking.”
At that point, FindTheBest had spent about $200,000 on its legal fight—not to mention the productivity lost in hundreds of work hours spent by top executives on the lawsuit, and three all-company meetings.
Now the judge overseeing the case has ruled (PDF) that it’s Lumen View, not FindTheBest, that should have to pay those expenses. In a first-of-its-kind implementation of new fee-shifting rules mandated by the Supreme Court, US District Judge Denise Cote found that the Lumen View lawsuit was a “prototypical exceptional case.”
A federal appeals court on Friday reversed a federal judge’s ruling that Oracle’s Java API’s were not protected by copyright.
The debacle started when Google copied certain elements—names, declaration, and header lines—of the Java APIs in Android, and Oracle sued. A judge largely sided with Google in 2012, saying that the code in question could not be copyrighted.
“Because we conclude that the declaring code and the structure, sequence, and organization of the API packages are entitled to copyright protection, we reverse the district court’s copyrightability determination with instructions to reinstate the jury’s infringement finding as to the 37 Java packages,” the US Appeals Court for the Federal Circuit ruled Friday.
Google, which said it was exploring its legal options, decried Friday’s ruling. The Mountain View, CA-based media giant said the decision “sets a damaging precedent for computer science and software development.”
If this ruling stands, it will significantly damage the ability to develop software in the US and any country that honors US copyrights.
For starters, reverse engineering as a practice is dead. Any clean-room reimplementation is no longer possible since the interfaces themselves are copyrighted. Alternative implementations, drop-in replacements, etc., are gone without the express consent of the API copyright holder.
Developing software is about to get impossible.
It’s become fairly clear that the TPP agreement is in trouble these days (for a variety of reasons). And it appears that President Obama is losing his cool concerning the agreement and its critics. In a press conference with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, President Obama lashed out at TPP critics, calling them “conspiracy theorists” whose criticism “reflects lack of knowledge of what is going on in the negotiations.” Oh really?
Um. You know why those complaining may “lack knowledge of what is going on in the negotiations”? Perhaps it’s because the USTR — a part of the Obama White House — has insisted that the entire negotiations take place in complete secrecy with no transparency at all. If President Obama doesn’t want conspiracy theories about the agreement, and wishes that its critics were more informed about the negotiations, he can change that today by instructing the USTR to release its negotiating positions and promise to make all future negotiating positions public.
Sony is warning shareholders to expect poor financial results for its fiscal year ending March 31, 2014. The electronics giant previously expected to pull in an operating income of 80 billion yen ($782 million) over the financial year, but is today adjusting that figure down to just 26 billion yen ($254 million).
The second charge is due to what Sony calls “demand for physical media contracting faster than anticipated,” especially in Europe.
Well… if the choice is between stuff like netflix or your Apple TV starting a movie in seconds, or loading a disc and waiting through minutes of unstoppable legal threats, trailers and disclaimers just to get to the main menu…
Congratulations! You win! I created my game CandySwipe in memory of my late mother who passed away at an early age of 62 of leukemia. I released CandySwipe in 2010 five months after she passed and I made it because she always liked these sorts of games. In fact, if you beat the full version of the android game, you will still get the message saying “…the game was made in memory of my mother, Layla…” I created this game for warmhearted people like her and to help support my family, wife and two boys 10 and 4. Two years after I released CandySwipe, you released Candy Crush Saga on mobile; the app icon, candy pieces, and even the rewarding, “Sweet!” are nearly identical. So much so, that I have hundreds of instances of actual confusion from users who think CandySwipe is Candy Crush Saga, or that CandySwipe is a Candy Crush Saga knockoff. So when you attempted to register your trademark in 2012, I opposed it for “likelihood of confusion” (which is within my legal right) given I filed for my registered trademark back in 2010 (two years before Candy Crush Saga existed). Now, after quietly battling this trademark opposition for a year, I have learned that you now want to cancel my CandySwipe trademark so that I don’t have the right to use my own game’s name. You are able to do this because only within the last month you purchased the rights to a game named Candy Crusher (which is nothing like CandySwipe or even Candy Crush Saga). Good for you, you win. I hope you’re happy taking the food out of my family’s mouth when CandySwipe clearly existed well before Candy Crush Saga.
I have spent over three years working on this game as an independent app developer. I learned how to code on my own after my mother passed and CandySwipe was my first and most successful game; it’s my livelihood, and you are now attempting to take that away from me. You have taken away the possibility of CandySwipe blossoming into what it has the potential of becoming. I have been quiet, not to exploit the situation, hoping that both sides could agree on a peaceful resolution. However, your move to buy a trademark for the sole purpose of getting away with infringing on the CandySwipe trademark and goodwill just sickens me.
This also contradicts your recent quote by Riccardo in “An open letter on intellectual property” posted on your website which states, “We believe in a thriving game development community, and believe that good game developers – both small and large – have every right to protect the hard work they do and the games they create.”
I myself was only trying to protect my hard work.
I wanted to take this moment to write you this letter so that you know who I am. Because I now know exactly what you are. Congratulations on your success!
President (Founder), Runsome Apps Inc.
The work at the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) on adding DRM to HTML5 is one of the most disturbing developments in the recent history of technology. The W3C’s mailing lists have been full of controversy about this ever since the decision was announced.
Most recently, a thread in the restricted media list asked about the requirements for DRM from the studios — who have pushed for DRM, largely through their partner Netflix — and discoverd that these requirements are secret.
It’s hard to overstate how weird this is.
Last fall, we noted that the City of London Police, who had just set up a special “intellectual property crime unit” which appeared to be taking orders directly from Hollywood, had issued bizarre orders to registrars, based on no court order or ruling, that they hand over domain names to the police, point them to a splash page that advertised Hollywood-approved businesses, and block the transfer of those domains to anyone else. A bunch of registrars actually did this, despite the lack of a court order or ruling of any kind. Just because the City of London Police said so. The only registrar who apparently resisted was EasyDNS, who pointed out that there’s such a thing called due process. Furthermore, EasyDNS pointed out that the registrars who complied with the order almost certainly violated ICANN policies for registrars, which has a very specific set of conditions under which a registrar can freeze a whois record, none of which include “because some Hollywood-controlled police force says so.”
The owners of at least one of the frozen domains sought to then (smartly) move the domain to EasyDNS, who would actually protect them. EasyDNS went to Verisign with a “request for enforcement” against the registrar who froze the whois, the incredibly misnamed “Public Domain Registry.” For reasons that make no sense at all, Verisign responded with a “no decision.”
EasyDNS appealed that ruling, and finally after all of that, the National Arbitration Forum has pointed out exactly what EasyDNS said from the very beginning: Public Domain Registry cannot freeze the domain:
No court order has been issued which would prohibit the transfer of the domain names at issue from the Registrar of Record to the Gaining Registrar. Therefore, there is nothing in the Transfer Policy which authorizes the Registrar of Record to refuse to transfer the domain names.
On Practical Machinst, there’s a fascinating thread about the manufacturer’s lockdown on a high-priced, high-end Mori Seiki NV5000 A/40 CNC mill. The person who started the thread owns the machine outright, but has discovered that if he moves it at all, a GPS and gyro sensor package in the machine automatically shuts it down and will not allow it to restart until they receive a manufacturer’s unlock code.
Effectively, this means that machinists’ shops can’t rearrange their very expensive, very large tools to improve their workflow from job to job without getting permission from the manufacturer (which can take a month!), even if their own the gear.
For the last couple of years TorrentFreak has run semi-regular articles on the efforts of GoldenEye International, an adult movie outfit affiliated with the Ben Dover porn brand and one that realized there’s money to be made from the bullying game.
Just like most other trolls their business model is simple. Send threatening letters to ISP account holders telling them that they have been caught watching some pretty embarrassingly titled movies and inform them that paying a cash settlement is the only way to remedy the situation.
One young man told us that his parents had gone crazy when his father, as the bill payer, had been accused of downloading porn. Trying to protect himself against the wrath of his wife, the finger of blame naturally got pointed by the father at his son who in turn contacted us, desperate for a solution to clear his name. Another told us how his mother could no longer cope after receiving a third letter asking for money despite her innocence.
In cases like these where we believe that people have been wrongly accused we are more than happy to help. Throughout the year we corresponded with a couple of dozen individuals, half a dozen or so on a regular basis, in order to keep pace with their cases.
And guess what?
Of those who stuck in their heels, stood by their principles and refused to pay, GoldenEye stopped threatening 100% of them. After the initial three or four letters bounced back and forth, the company backed off, a characteristic of most bullies when they realize their intended victim is refusing to become one.
As a result, today these people are able to enjoy Christmas with their families. Rather than finding themselves £500 in the hole in order to finance GoldenEye’s Christmas party or Ben Dover’s festive lunch, that money is being spent were it should be.
“The final letter GoldenEye sent said that they were going to review my case and then make a decision on whether they were going to proceed or not. At that point I started to understand what was going on finally,” says ‘John’, a recipient of a £500 threat letter.
“GoldenEye are a company who just send letters to people to try and threaten and bully them into paying money, but do not take it any further. It was just like a game of poker to me as they were bluffing all the time so I played the game and won as I didn’t back down to their demands.”
Canada-based telecom Nortel went bankrupt in 2009 and sold its biggest asset—a portfolio of more than 6,000 patents covering 4G wireless innovations and a range of technologies—at an auction in 2011.
Google bid for the patents, but it didn’t get them. Instead, the patents went to a group of competitors—Microsoft, Apple, RIM, Ericsson, and Sony—operating under the name “Rockstar Bidco.” The companies together bid the shocking sum of $4.5 billion.
Patent insiders knew that the Nortel portfolio was the patent equivalent of a nuclear stockpile: dangerous in the wrong hands, and a bit scary even if held by a “responsible” party.
This afternoon, that stockpile was finally used for what pretty much everyone suspected it would be used for—launching an all-out patent attack on Google and Android. The smartphone patent wars have been underway for a few years now, and the eight lawsuits filed in federal court today by Rockstar Consortium mean that the conflict just hit DEFCON 1.
Google probably knew this was coming. When it lost out in the Nortel auction, the company’s top lawyer, David Drummond, complained that the Microsoft-Apple patent alliance was part of a “hostile, organized campaign against Android.” Google’s failure to get patents in the Nortel auction was seen as one of the driving factors in its $12.5 billion purchase of Motorola in 2011.
Rockstar, meanwhile, was pretty unapologetic about embracing the “patent troll” business model. Most trolls, of course, aren’t holding thousands of patents from a seminal technology company. When the company was profiled by Wired last year, about 25 of its 32 employees were former Nortel employees.
The suits filed today are against Google and seven companies that make Android smartphones: Asustek, HTC, Huawei, LG Electronics, Pantech, Samsung, and ZTE. The case was filed in the Eastern District of Texas, long considered a district friendly to patent plaintiffs.
Starbucks has filed a lawsuit against a Bangkok-based coffee stall owner in a dispute over its logo.
The US firm says the green-and-white “Starbung” emblem used by 43-year-old Damrong Maslae – which features a man in a skullcap pouring coffee and holding up a victory sign – infringes on its intellectual property rights. It is suing Maslae and his brother Damras, with whom he operates the stall, for 300,000 baht (£6,000).
Maslae, a father of six who has been serving coffee for 15 years, told the Guardian that his logo was created by a design-savvy friend and inspired not by the US firm but by Maslae’s religion, Islam.
“My logo is halal and has a moon and a star, and is green for the colour of Islam,” said Maslae, better known by customers as Bung. “Starbucks has insisted I take out the green and the words star and coffee. I can’t do that.”
The new Obamacare website Healthcare.gov has had its fair share of problems over the past weeks, and the trouble continues.
While using open-source software is fine, the makers of Healthcare.gov decided to blatantly remove all references to its owners or the original copyright license.
In other words, they simply took the open-source software and are passing it off as their own, a clear violation of the GPL v2 and BSD (3-point) licenses DataTables uses.