ACTA and SOPA – looks bad

ACTA, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, is a punishing, secretly negotiated copyright treaty that could send ordinary people to jail for copyright infringement. ACTA would establish a new international legal framework that countries can join on a voluntary basis and would create its own governing body outside existing international institution. ACTA has been negotiated in secret during the past few years.

Sounds somewhat worrying to me. ACTA has several features that raise significant potential concerns for consumers’ privacy and civil liberties for innovation and the free flow of information on the Internet legitimate commerce. What is ACTA? document gives details on the agreement. The EU will soon vote on ACTA.

La Quadrature ACTA web page says that ACTA would impose new criminal sanctions forcing Internet actors to monitor and censor online communications. It is seen as a major threat to freedom of expression online and creates legal uncertainty for Internet companies. For some details read La Quadrature’s analysis of ACTA’s digital chapter.

La Quadrature du Net – NO to ACTA video (one side of the view):

The Free Software Foundation (FSF) has published “Speak out against ACTA“, stating that the ACTA threatens free software by creating a culture “in which the freedom that is required to produce free software is seen as dangerous and threatening rather than creative, innovative, and exciting.

ACTA has been negotiated in secret during the past few years. It seem that nobody can objectively tell us what ACTA is going to do. You should oppose it for this exact reason. What exactly it will do is so multi-faceted and so deeply buried in legal speak it requires a book or two to explain.

If you don’t like this you need to do something on that quick. The European Parliament will soon decide whether to give its consent to ACTA, or to reject it once and for all. Based on the information (maybe biased view) I have read I hope the result will be rejection.

Another worrying related thing is Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). The bill expands the ability of U.S. law enforcement and copyright holders to fight online trafficking in copyrighted intellectual property and counterfeit goods. The bill would authorize the U.S. Department of Justice to seek court orders against websites in U.S. and outside U.S. jurisdiction accused of infringing on copyrights, or of enabling or facilitating copyright infringement. Proponents of the bill say it protects the intellectual property market. Opponents say it is censorship, that it will “break the internet”, cost jobs, and will threaten whistleblowing and other free speech.

I don’t like this SOPA plan at all, because the language of SOPA is so broad, the rules so unconnected to the reality of Internet technology and the penalties so disconnected from the alleged crimes. In this form according what I have read this bill could effectively kill lots of e-commerce or even normal Internet use in it’s current form. Trying to put a man-in-the-middle into an end-to-end protocol is a dumb idea. This bill affects us all with the threat to seize foreign domains. It is frankly typical of the arrogance of the US to think we should all be subject their authority.


  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Mark Bergen / Recode:
    Google endorses the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership, but says the negotiation process could benefit from greater transparency

    Google backs Obama on the trade deal that some tech advocates hate
    An endorsement of the TPP.

    Google has just lent its support to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an Obama administration policy priority facing significant hurdles in this fraught election year.

    The trade agreement includes key provisions about the global passage of digital data, intellectual property and copyright — measures that have drawn criticism from both the political right and left, including several outspoken tech groups.

    Signed in February, the TPP awaits congressional approval. However, it has hit political roadblocks from all sides.

    The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a privacy advocacy group (and on-again-off-again Google ally) calls the TPP a “secretive, multinational trade agreement” that will restrict IP laws and enforce digital policies that “benefit big corporations at the expense of the public.”

  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Andy / TorrentFreak:
    Canadian court issues temporary injunction banning the sales of some Android-based set-top boxes with piracy software pending a full trial — For years Internet piracy was the preserve of desktop machines running various flavors of peer-to-peer file-sharing software.

    Canada Federal Court Restrains Sale of ‘Pirate’ Boxes

    The Federal Court in Canada has handed down a interlocutory injunction against distributors of Android-based set-top boxes configured for piracy. The devices, which are loaded with software including Kodi (with pirate addons) and Showbox, are now banned from sale pending a full trial.

    For years Internet piracy was the preserve of desktop machines running various flavors of peer-to-peer file-sharing software. Now, with viable computing available in devices as small as a phone, piracy is a do-anywhere affair.

    As a result it’s now common for people to stream media to their living room and for that purpose there are few more convenient solutions than an Android device. Whether phone, tablet, HDMI stick or set-top box, the Android platform can bring all the latest movies, TV shows and live sports to any living room, for little to no outlay.

    This type of Internet piracy is thriving all around the world and has already resulted in arrests in the UK and civil actions elsewhere.

    The broadcasters’ claims are relatively straightforward. As station operators they own the Canadian rights to a variety of TV shows. The defendants (ITVBOX.NET, My Electronics, Android Bros Inc., WatchNSaveNow Inc and MTLFreeTV) all sell devices that come ready configured with software designed to receive copyrighted content over the Internet.

    Unsurprisingly the devices contained at least three sets of software – Kodi (along with the necessary infringing addons), the Popcorn Time-like Showbox application, plus tools to receive pirate subscription channels for a monthly fee.

    Describing pre-loaded set-top boxes as an “existential threat” to their businesses, the plaintiffs said that piracy and subsequent declining subscriptions are the main factors behind falling revenue. On this basis and as a deterrent to others supplying such devices, an injunction should be granted.

    Vincent Wesley of MTLFreeTV told the court that he had nothing to do with the development or maintenance of the installed software. The set-top boxes, he argued, are just pieces of hardware like a tablet or computer and have “substantial non-infringing uses.”

    The court wasn’t convinced.

    “This is not the first time a new technology has been alleged to violate copyright law, nor will it be the last.”

    Police Raid Pirate Android Box Sellers, Six Arrested
    By Andy on March 18, 2016

    The UK’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit has arrested six individuals suspected of being involved in the supply of ‘pirate’ set-top boxes configured to obtain free TV from the Internet. The operation, targeting the north of England, was carried out in conjunction with the Federation Against Copyright Theft.

  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    From file-sharing to prison: A Megaupload programmer tells his story
    Programmer Andrew Nõmm: “I had to be made an example of as a warning to all IT people.”

    Soon after the domain was registered in Hong Kong, the now-defunct grew into one of the world’s most popular file-sharing sites. At its peak, the site engaged nearly 50 million users a day and took up around four percent of the world’s Internet traffic. Users uploaded nearly 12 billion files overall.

    But the infamy of the site’s rise is only matched by the infamy of its fall. In January 2012, US authorities closed down and the network related to it. The feds arrested seven people and froze $50 million in assets.

    Take for instance self-taught programmer Andrus Nõmm. The now 37-year-old grew up in a small Estonian town called Jõhvi. When he built up the Mega advertising platform Megaclick and the video hosting service Megavideo, Nõmm earned as much as $10,000 a month—more than he could’ve ever imagined as a child. But when US authorities came after the entire Megaupload operation, suddenly he found himself in the middle of the world’s most sensational criminal copyright infringement scandal.

    Nõmm pleaded guilty to felony copyright infringement and was sentenced to a year and a day in a US federal prison. The US Attorney General’s office called the conviction, “a significant step forward in the largest criminal copyright case in US history.” In court documents, Nõmm acknowledged the financial harm to copyright holders “exceeded $400 million.”

    While in prison, Nõmm’s teenage son and Turkish wife lived through all of this drama back in their home in Izmir, Turkey. Today, Nõmm is back with them. He’ a free man looking to set his life back on track.

    Deep down, did you feel guilty of anything?

    I still think I shouldn’t have been on the list of defendants.

  4. Tomi Engdahl says:

    DMCA Notices Remove 8,268 Projects On Github In 2015

    Github’s transparency report for 2015 shows that the site received many DMCA notices that removed more than 8,200 projects. “In 2015, we received significantly more takedown notices, and took down significantly more content, than we did in 2014,” Github reports. For comparison, the company received only 258 DMCA notices in 2014, 17 of which responded with a counter-notice or retraction. In 2015, they received 505 takedown notices, 62 of which were the subject of counters or withdrawals.

    DMCA Notices Nuke 8,268 Projects on Github

    Popular code repository GitHub has just published its transparency report for 2015. While receiving a relatively modest 12 subpoenas for user data last year, the site also handed seven gag orders. It also received large numbers of DMCA notices which took down more than 8,200 projects.

    Without a doubt, Github is a huge player in the world of coding. The platform is the largest of its type in the world with the company currently reporting 15 million users collaborating across 38 million repositories.

    “In 2015, we received significantly more takedown notices, and took down significantly more content, than we did in 2014,” Github reports.

    GitHub’s 2015 Transparency Report

  5. Tomi Engdahl says:

    ICANN: We Won’t Pass Judgment On Pirate Sites

    Following more pressure from rightsholders, domain name oversight body ICANN has again made it clear that it will not act as judge and jury in copyright disputes. In a letter to the president of the Intellectual Property Constituency, ICANN chief Stephen Crocker says that ICANN is neither “required or qualified” to pass judgment in such cases.

    ICANN: We Won’t Pass Judgment on Pirate Sites
    By Andy on July 2, 2016

    Following more pressure from rightsholders, domain name oversight body ICANN has again made it clear that it will not act as judge and jury in copyright disputes. In a letter to the president of the Intellectual Property Constituency, ICANN chief Stephen Crocker says that ICANN is neither “required or qualified” to pass judgment in such cases.

    There are plenty of options for copyright holders seeking to hinder the progress of pirate sites but one of the most effective is attacking domains.

    The strategy has been employed most famously against The Pirate Bay and over the past couple of years the site has lost most of the domains it deployed to stay online.

    At the very top of the domain name ‘tree’ is the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). This non-profit body is responsible for the smooth-running of the Internet’s Doman Name System. However, if copyright holders had their way, ICANN would also act as the Internet’s piracy police by forcing registrars to prevent illegal use of domain names.

    Last year, ICANN told TorrentFreak that it had no role to play in “policing content” but of course, copyright holders continue to pile on the pressure.

    However, ICANN also made it crystal clear that it won’t be getting directly involved in disputes involving allegedly infringing domains.

    Finally, ICANN notes that there is nothing stopping “harmed parties” from taking action against registries, registrars or domain owners “through administrative, regulatory or judicial bodies to seek fines, damages, injunctive relief or other remedies available at law.”

  6. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The Market Court has given judgment in the first so-called copyright letter case. ended up in the case of the Market Court judgment came one movie and TV series of the ten unauthorized distribution.

    Convicted ordered to pay the holders of the right to reasonable compensation of € 600, plus default interest. The Market Court considered that a reasonable compensation in respect of a cinematographic work is EUR 100 and EUR 50 for one episode of a television series. Initially, the owners of the rights claimed compensation of EUR 8,500, EUR 7,500 television sets and 1,000 euros from the film.

    In addition to the offender must pay the other party’s legal costs, totaling over EUR 31 000.


  7. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Ernesto / TorrentFreak:
    Court affirms $25M judgment against Cox, holding the ISP responsible for copyright infringement by customers — Last December a Virginia federal jury ruled that Internet provider Cox Communications was responsible for the copyright infringements of its subscribers.

    Court Affirms $25m Piracy Verdict Against Cox, Rejects Spying Request

    Cox Communications is liable for the copyright infringements committed by its users and must pay $25 million in damages to music licensing outfit BMG. A federal court in Virginia has denied Cox’s request for judgment as a matter of law or a new trial. On the upside, Cox will not be required to spy on its users using deep packet inspection.

    “In reaching this conclusion, the Court acknowledges that the application of traditional contributory infringement to large intermediaries like Cox magnifies the uncertainties in this area of the law and raises the specter of undesirable consequences that may follow.

    While the ISP will be disappointed with this outcome, it will be pleased to see that BMG’s request for a permanent injunction was also denied.

    The music licensing group requested a permanent injunction against Cox, requiring the Internet provider to expose the personal details of pirating subscribers, and monitor their actions to limit or prevent further infringements.

    The court rules that the requested injunction is too vague. BMG failed to explain what actions the ISP would have to take, and Judge O’Grady notes that “limit” and “prevent” are two entirely different things.

    Among other things, BMG suggested that the ISP could ‘spy’ on its subscribers by using deep packet inspection, but it failed to provide more specifics.

    “Perhaps, as BMG suggests, Cox could require a subscriber to remove BitTorrent from their computers in order to remain on the network. Aside from the obvious point that this does not appear in the injunction, there was minimal testimony about deep packet inspection or its viability as a court-ordered solution here,” O’Grady writes.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *