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.

734 Comments

  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.
    http://www.recode.net/2016/6/10/11904004/google-obama-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.”

    Reply
  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
    https://torrentfreak.com/canada-federal-court-restrains-sale-of-pirate-boxes-160610/

    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
    https://torrentfreak.com/police-raid-pirate-android-box-sellers-six-arrested-160318/

    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.

    Reply
  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.”
    http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2016/06/from-file-sharing-to-prison-a-megaupload-programmer-tells-his-story/

    Soon after the domain was registered in Hong Kong, the now-defunct Megaupload.com 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 Megaupload.com 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.

    Reply
  4. Tomi Engdahl says:

    DMCA Notices Remove 8,268 Projects On Github In 2015
    https://news.slashdot.org/story/16/06/29/2325210/dmca-notices-remove-8268-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
    https://torrentfreak.com/dmca-notices-nuke-8268-projects-on-github-160629/

    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
    https://github.com/blog/2202-github-s-2015-transparency-report

    Reply
  5. Tomi Engdahl says:

    ICANN: We Won’t Pass Judgment On Pirate Sites
    https://yro.slashdot.org/story/16/07/03/1735213/icann-we-wont-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
    Breaking
    https://torrentfreak.com/icann-we-wont-pass-judgment-on-pirate-sites-160702/

    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.”

    Reply
  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.

    Source: http://www.tivi.fi/Kaikki_uutiset/tekijanoikeuskirjeista-tuli-tuomio-nain-paljon-tv-sarjan-ja-elokuvan-laiton-levitys-tuli-maksamaan-6564389

    Reply
  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
    https://torrentfreak.com/court-affirms-25m-piracy-verdict-against-cox-rejects-spying-request-160810/

    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.

    Reply
  8. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Cloudflare Faces Lawsuit For Assisting Pirate Sites
    https://yro.slashdot.org/story/16/08/24/1639200/cloudflare-faces-lawsuit-for-assisting-pirate-sites

    In recent months CloudFlare has been called out repeatedly for offering its services to known pirate sites, including The Pirate Bay. These allegations have now resulted in the first lawsuit after adult entertainment publisher ALS Scan filed a complaint against CloudFlare at a California federal court. [...] Copyright holders are not happy with CloudFlare’s actions. Just recently, the Hollywood-affiliated group Digital Citizens Alliance called the company out for helping pirate sites to stay online. Adult entertainment outfit ALS Scan agrees and has now become the first dissenter to take CloudFlare to court. In a complaint filed at a California federal court, ALS describes piracy as the greatest threat to its business.

    Cloudflare Faces Lawsuit For Assisting Pirate Sites
    By Ernesto on August 23, 2016
    https://torrentfreak.com/cloudflare-faces-lawsuit-for-assisting-pirate-sites-160823/

    In recent months CloudFlare has been called out repeatedly for offering its services to known pirate sites, including The Pirate Bay. These allegations have now resulted in the first lawsuit after adult entertainment publisher ALS Scan filed a complaint against CloudFlare at a California federal court.

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

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

    The Pirate Bay is one of the best-known customers, but there are literally are thousands of other ‘pirate’ sites that use services from the San Francisco company.

    As a result, copyright holders are not happy with CloudFlare’s actions. Just recently, the Hollywood-affiliated group Digital Citizens Alliance called the company out for helping pirate sites to stay online.

    “The problems faced by ALS are not limited to the growing presence of sites featuring infringing content, or ‘pirate’ sites. A growing number of service providers are helping pirate sites thrive by supporting and engaging in commerce with these sites,” ALS writes

    These service providers include hosting companies, CDN providers, but also advertising brokers. The lawsuit at hand zooms in on two of them, CloudFlare and the advertising provider Juicy Ads.

    CloudFlare and Juicy Ads’ terms state that they terminate accounts of repeat infringers. However, according to ALS both prefer to keep these sites on as customers, so they can continue to profit from them.

    Reply
  9. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Greg Sterling / Search Engine Land:
    Top EU court rules that linking to copyright-infringing content knowingly or for profit is direct infringement

    European court says linking to illegal content is copyright infringement
    The facts of the present case were egregious but the law created by the court is bad for the internet.
    http://searchengineland.com/european-court-says-linking-illegal-content-copyright-infringement-258442

    In a decision that is already controversial, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has ruled in favor of copyright owners and against hyperlinks. The CJEU decision, though qualified, raises the strong possibility that publishers linking to infringing third party sites will also be liable for infringement.

    Critics charge the CJEU decision amounts to judicial lawmaking and is an attack on the free flow of information online, contrary to the way the internet has operated to date. It also places a burden of investigation on the linking publisher to determine whether the linked content is authorized or infringing. In some cases that may be easy to determine but in many others it won’t be.

    The facts of the present case were egregious but the law created by the court is bad for the internet.

    Reply
  10. Tomi Engdahl says:

    “If KickassTorrents is a Criminal Operation, Google Should Start Worrying”
    By Ernesto on October 2, 2016
    https://torrentfreak.com/if-kickasstorrents-is-a-criminal-operation-google-should-start-worrying-161002/

    Polish authorities have extended the arrest of Artem Vaulin, the alleged owner of KickassTorrents. His defense team is currently preparing to fight the U.S. extradition request, which will start next month. According to Artem’s U.S. lawyer, operating a torrent site is not a criminal offense. “If KickassTorrents is a criminal operation, then Google should start worrying,” he says.

    “In fact, in my opinion operating an index search engine cannot constitute a crime in the United States because secondary infringement is not criminalized under US law. If KickassTorrents is a criminal operation, then Google should start worrying,” Gurvits says.

    Reply
  11. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Someone is pulling pages off Google with bogus defamation claims
    http://www.theverge.com/2016/10/10/13234558/google-defamation-takedown-deindex-scam-reputation-management

    Someone has perfected a playbook for pulling webpages off Google, according to a new post by UCLA lawyer Eugene Volokh. Volokh finds a series of unusual court cases that resulted in web pages being de-indexed by Google, making them unavailable to search or other services. In some cases, reputation management firms were apparently charging as much as $6,000 a month for the service.

    Google will generally de-index pages if it receives a credible report that the page contains pirated content or defamatory statements. The reports are available in a public archive, and the vast majority of them concern pirated content. The standard for a successful request can be somewhat complex, but a legal injunction against the offending party is typically sufficient to de-index a site, making it effectively invisible to Google searches.

    Volokh seems to have uncovered a way of gaming that system, giving bad actors the power to de-index any site they want. In the cases he describes, plaintiffs file lawsuits against dummy defendants who immediately agree to the proposed injunctions against them. The cases never see trial, and in many cases, the defendants themselves seem not to exist — but they exist long enough to get a court-approved injunction that can be sent to Google to de-index the site.

    Dozens of suspicious court cases, with missing defendants, aim at getting web pages taken down or deindexed
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2016/10/10/dozens-of-suspicious-court-cases-with-missing-defendants-aim-at-getting-web-pages-taken-down-or-deindexed/?postshare=6791476107006382&tid=ss_fb&utm_term=.2751668f1e23

    Reply
  12. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Trump vs. Clinton III – TPP looks dead, RussiaLeaks confirmed
    Reg finds tech needle in a haystack of stupid
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/10/20/presidential_debate_3/

    Expect an outbreak of denials from whoever’s got the credentials to @Wikileaks at the moment: Hillary Clinton has said no fewer than 17 civilian and government intelligence agencies point the finger to Kremlin interference in the election.

    Both candidates also said they have little interest in ratifying the controversial Trans Pacific Partnership treaty, leaving its copyright extension provisions likely sunk .

    Reply
  13. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Ernesto / TorrentFreak:
    Copyright holders asked Google to remove 1B+ allegedly infringing links in past year; Google removed more than 90% of the reported links

    Google Asked to Remove a Billion “Pirate” Search Results in a Year
    https://torrentfreak.com/google-asked-to-remove-a-billion-pirate-search-results-in-a-year-161128/

    Copyright holders asked Google to remove more than 1,000,000,000 allegedly infringing links from its search engine over the past twelve months. A new record, in line with the continued rise of takedown requests and the increase in pressure on Google to do more to tackle piracy.

    Copyright holders continue to flood Google with DMCA takedown requests, targeting “pirate links” in the company’s search results.

    In recent years the number of notices has exploded, breaking record after record.

    This week TorrentFreak crunched the numbers in Google’s Transparency Report and found that over the past 12 months Google has been asked to remove over a billion links to allegedly infringing pages, 1,007,741,143 to be precise.

    More than 90 percent of the links, 908,237,861 were in fact removed. The rest of the reported links were rejected because they were invalid, not infringing, or duplicates of earlier requests.

    https://www.google.com/transparencyreport/removals/copyright/explore/?

    Reply
  14. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Why Did Japan Just Ratify The TPP?
    https://yro.slashdot.org/story/16/12/12/0041216/why-did-japan-just-ratify-the-tpp?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Slashdot%2Fslashdot%2Fto+%28%28Title%29Slashdot+%28rdf%29%29

    The controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership can’t go into effect without U.S. approval, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has acknowledged. Yet despite president-elect Trump’s promise to withdraw from the agreement — Friday Japan’s parliament voted to approve it.

    Why did Japan’s Parliament ratify ‘dead’ TPP agreement?
    http://www.businesstimes.com.sg/opinion/why-did-japans-parliament-ratify-dead-tpp-agreement

    Reply
  15. Tomi Engdahl says:

    EFF: The Music Industry Shouldn’t Be Able To Cut Off Your Internet Access
    https://entertainment.slashdot.org/story/16/12/12/2150201/eff-the-music-industry-shouldnt-be-able-to-cut-off-your-internet-access

    No one should have to fear losing their internet connection because of unfounded accusations. But some rights holders want to use copyright law to force your Internet service provider (ISP) to cut off your access whenever they say so, and in a case the Washington Post called “the copyright case that should worry all Internet providers,” they’re hoping the courts will help them.

    The copyright case that should worry all Internet providers
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2016/08/12/the-copyright-case-that-should-worry-all-internet-providers/?utm_term=.d8affb278c62

    Will Internet providers have to start cracking down harder on their own customers for suspected copyright infringement?

    That’s one of the big questions being raised in the wake of an obscure court ruling that finds that Cox Communications is liable for the illegal music and movie downloads of its subscribers.

    Earlier this week, a federal judge said Cox Communications will have to pay a $25 million penalty that a jury had awarded in December to BMG, the music rights company.

    BMG had been using a third-party company called Rightscorp to monitor the Internet for filesharing activity and notify Internet providers when it found evidence of it. The expectation was that Cox would pass along Rightscorp’s notices to consumers.

    The finding that Cox is liable for its customers’ piracy should absolutely worry other Internet providers, according to legal analysts at the consumer group Public Knowledge. The precedent raises fresh questions about what else Internet providers may be liable for beyond copyright, for example, and what the risk of litigation could mean for their ability to grow and provide reliable service to their subscribers. It may also lead to greater monitoring and control of individual customers.

    Reply
  16. Tomi Engdahl says:

    ISPs: Blocking The Pirate Bay is Dangerous Censorship
    https://torrentfreak.com/isps-blocking-the-pirate-bay-is-dangerous-censorship-161211/

    Two major Swedish ISPs are warning that a possible court-ordered Pirate Bay blockade will introduce a dangerous and unwarranted form of censorship. Instead, they encourage copyright holders to collaborate with them to find better solutions to the piracy problem.

    Reply
  17. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Claire Reilly / CNET:
    Australian federal court orders ISPs to block torrenting sites, including The Pirate Bay, within 15 business days under new site-blocking law

    The Pirate Bay to be blocked Down Under by year’s end
    https://www.cnet.com/au/news/australian-isps-block-the-pirate-bay-rights-holders-pay-village-roadshow-foxtel-telstra-tpg/

    Goodbye Pirate Bay, farewell TorrentHound — Australia’s ISPs have been ordered to block a raft of torrenting sites, though rights holders like Foxtel and Village Roadshow have to foot the bill.

    Reply
  18. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Crim charges slapped on copyright trolls who filmed porn, torrented it then sued downloaders
    Disgraced smut-slinging catch one in the eye from Uncle Sam
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/12/16/doj_pounds_prenda_lawyers_with_36_criminal_counts/

    More than a dozen criminal charges have been filed against Prenda Law lawyers, who are accused of using porno movies to extort millions of dollars from victims.

    Attorneys Paul Hansmeier and John Steele have each been charged in a US federal indictment with ten counts of wire fraud, five counts of mail fraud, and one count each of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud, conspiracy to commit perjury and suborn perjury, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

    Handmeier, 35, of Minnesota, and Steele, 45, of Florida, were two of the lawyers behind the notorious Prenda Law firm, which dragged people through the courts for downloading and sharing grumble flicks online. The marks would be accused of infringing copyright and pressured into coughing up cash to make the lawsuits go away.

    According to US prosecutors, Prenda Law was in fact an illegal shakedown operation that planted its own raunchy films on download sites with the aim of extorting money from people who viewed their X-rated movies.

    Reply
  19. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Rogue lawyers made $6 million shaking down porn pirates, Feds say
    The defendants filmed and uploaded videos, then sued downloaders, according to a federal indictment
    http://www.theverge.com/2016/12/16/13989378/pornography-piracy-phony-copyright-notice-fraud-indictment

    The copyright violation notice is every pirate’s worst nightmare, a clear legal sign that a major copyright holder knows what you’ve been torrenting and is ready to make you pay for your crimes.

    But according to an indictment filed today in Minnesota federal court, that system has also opened the door to some very creative forms of fraud. The indictment alleges that two lawyers — Paul R. Hansmeier and John L. Steele — used the copyright system to extort roughly $6 million out of porn pirates over the course of three years.

    Prosecutors say the lawyers uploaded their own pornographic videos to torrent services — including the embattled Pirate Bay — then aggressively targeted users who downloaded the content, discovering names through the standard copyright violation process and then threatening pirates with damages up to $150,000 unless they agreed to a settlement. The typical cost of a settlement was $4,000, far less than the cost of challenging the order in open court.

    Throughout the process, Feds allege that Hansmeier and Steele concealed their role in uploading the videos, although the underlying copyright claim was often legitimate.

    “The defendants used extortionate tactics to garner quick settlements from individuals who were unaware of the defendants’ role in uploading the movie, and often were either too embarrassed or could not afford to defend themselves,”

    Reply
  20. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Telstra: First Aussie ISP to block subscriber access to The Pirate Bay; defeated in seconds
    https://www.neowin.net/news/telstra-first-aussie-isp-to-block-subscriber-access-to-the-pirate-bay-defeated-in-seconds

    Following a case brought by rightsholders including Roadshow Films, Foxtel, Disney, Paramount, Columbia, and 20th Century Fox, that took much of this year to preside over, more than 50 internet service providers in Australia are now required to block subscriber access to selected pirate websites.

    On Tuesday the service provider began its blocking regime, starting with The Pirate Bay. As ordered by the Federal Court, visitors to the site are now being met by a landing page which explains why they can no longer access it.

    The order of the Federal Court allows ISPs to choose how to implement the blockade, including DNS blocking, IP address blocking (or IP re-routing), URL blocking, or “any alternative technical means” approved by a rightsholder.

    And it appears that Telstra has opted for the DNS block, the weakest option available. As a result, it is defeated in a matter of seconds with a just a few clicks and not a penny spent. Many users are already choosing to configure their computers to use Google’s DNS or the Cisco owned OpenDNS instead of Telstra’s

    https://developers.google.com/speed/public-dns/

    Reply
  21. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Kelly Fiveash / Ars Technica UK:
    Google and Microsoft’s Bing agree to demote piracy search results in the UK by 1 June 2017, as part of a deal with the entertainment industry — Deal struck after lengthy spat between search engines and entertainment industry. — Google and Microsoft’s Bing have agreed to crack …

    Google and Microsoft agree to demote piracy search results in the UK
    Deal struck after lengthy spat between search engines and entertainment industry.
    https://arstechnica.co.uk/gaming/2017/02/google-and-microsoft-demote-piracy-sites/

    Google and Microsoft’s Bing have agreed to crack down on piracy sites in the UK after years of wrangling with film and music rights holders.

    The tech giants have inked a voluntary code of practice with the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) and Motion Picture Association following a series of talks overseen by the UK’s copyright watchdog and steered by the department for culture, media, and sport.

    Google—which commands more than 90 percent of the search market in Europe—was keen to play down the significance of the agreement. “Google has been an active partner for many years in the fight against piracy online,” it said in a statement to Ars. “We remain committed to tackling this issue and look forward to further partnership with rights holders.”

    The BPI sees thing differently, though. It said that the new voluntary code represented a “first-of-its-kind initiative” to tackle illegal piracy.

    Reply
  22. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Not Warning Kid About Piracy Makes Father Liable, Court Rules
    https://torrentfreak.com/not-warning-kid-about-piracy-makes-father-liable-court-rules-100303/

    A German court has ruled that a father is liable for an audiobook his 11-year old son downloaded. The man told the kid to only use the computer for school purposes and not to simply download things. However, the court ruled that this was not a proper anti-piracy instruction.

    In a case before a Leipzig court the defendant denied having downloaded an audiobook, as he wasn’t home at the time of the infringement. His wife and 11-year-old son were, and as the case progressed it became clear that the latter was the offender.

    Nonetheless, in a rather unique verdict the court decided to hold the father liable. Although it’s not uncommon for parents to be held responsible for the actions of their children, the court specifically referenced a lack of anti-piracy education.

    In his defense, the father argued that he’d asked his son to keep any Internet activity limited to school purposes, a statement that was backed up by the man’s partner. In addition, the 11-year-old was warned not to download random things or do anything dangerous.

    However, according to the court’s verdict, this doesn’t count as an adequate instruction since it lacks a specific explanation as to what illegal downloads are.

    Reply
  23. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Film Company Launches Fake KickassTorrents to Convert Pirates
    https://torrentfreak.com/film-company-launches-fake-kickasstorrents-to-convert-pirates-170305/

    Anti-piracy measures come in many different flavors but are often characterized by aggressive and sometimes counter-productive execution. That being said, there are other ways.

    A Costa-Rica based film distributor has launched its very own KickassTorrents look-a-like site with a mission to convert would-be pirates. None of the listed torrents provide pirate copies of the movies in question, but they are worth obtaining as they contain two free tickets to watch the movie in a local theater.

    Their work can be seen over at LegalTorrents.net, a site that has clearly been modeled on one of the most famous torrent indexes ever.

    Clicking on a torrent opens up an information page (such as this one for ‘Split) which provides images, an IMDb rating, and the all-important download (descargar) button. There’s even a feature for magnet links. However, on this site, nothing is quite how it seems.

    While the torrents do actually exist, they do not contain the movies in question. Once downloaded and opened they play a short trailer of the relevant movie followed by a message explaining how piracy affects the industry.

    Fake torrents are nothing new so at this point, most pirates would probably find themselves getting very annoyed at having been duped and then lectured.

    Reply
  24. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Filmmakers Take Dutch State to Court Over Lost Piracy Revenue
    By Ernesto on March 9, 2017
    https://torrentfreak.com/filmmakers-take-dutch-state-court-lost-piracy-revenue-170309/

    A coalition of Dutch film and TV producers is following through on their threat to file a lawsuit against the local Government. The filmmakers hold the authorities responsible for the country’s high piracy rates. They claim the government tolerated and even encouraged unauthorized downloading for years and want to see compensation as a result.

    Like many other countries around the world, downloading music and movies is hugely popular in the Netherlands.

    In part, the popularity was facilitated by the fact that downloading pirated music had long been legal under local law.

    This tolerant stance towards online piracy changed in 2014 when the European Court of Justice ruled it to be unlawful. As a result, the Dutch Government quickly outlawed unauthorized downloading.

    Dutch filmmakers and distributors previously accused the Government of not doing enough to counter piracy, while threatening legal action.

    Reply
  25. Tomi Engdahl says:

    UK to block Kodi pirates in real-time: Saturday kick-off
    But will it work? We’re about to find out
    https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/03/14/uk_new_realtime_live_server_blocking_order/

    Last week in the High Court, Justice Arnold agreed to a request from the Football Association and the Premier League, and supported by the BBC, amongst others, that broke new ground, technically and legally.

    The order, which has the support of the major UK ISPs, is unusual in several ways. It permits the ISPs to block access to servers (such as those accessed by third-party software addons), rather than a website.

    The blocking occurs in real-time, for a few minutes at a time: the duration of a football match. And the order expires in May – when the English football season ends.

    It’s also the first time the major ISPs here have agreed to an extension of content-blocking without a fight: BT/EE, Sky and Virgin Media approved the request, and TalkTalk and BT’s PlusNet did not contest the request.

    At £10m per Premier League game, the buyers are strongly incentivised not to see unlicensed streaming options, such as modified Kodi-based USB sticks, become more commonplace.

    Arnold was convinced of the argument for harm from this:

    “There is increasing evidence of football fans turning to streaming devices which access infringing streams as a substitute for paid subscriptions to services such as those offered by Sky and BT. This undermines the value of FAPL’s rights and, if unchecked, is likely to reduce the revenue returned by FAPL to football clubs, sports facilities and the wider sporting community,”

    In addition, the offshore operators ignore infringement notifications.

    Reply
  26. Tomi Engdahl says:

    ‘Pirate’ Movie Streaming Sites Declared Legal By Italian Court
    By Andy on March 27, 2017
    https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-movie-streaming-sites-declared-legal-by-italian-court-170327/

    A Court of Appeal in Rome has overturned a 600,000 euro ruling against four unlicensed sites that offered streaming movies to the public. The Court found that merely providing links does not qualify as distributing files protected by copyright, even though the sites generated revenue via advertising.

    It began in 2015 when the operator of four sites that linked to pirated movies was found guilty of copyright infringement by a local court and ordered to pay more almost 600,000 in fines and costs. As a result, filmakers.biz, filmaker.me, filmakerz.org, and cineteka.org all shutdown but in the background, an appeal was filed.

    The appeal was heard by the Rome Court of Appeal in February and now, through lawyer Fulvio Sarzana who defended the sites’ operator, we hear of a particularly interesting ruling.

    “The Court ruled that the indication of links does not qualify as making direct disposal of files protected by copyright law,” Sarzana told TF in an email.

    Often in these kinds of cases, the presence of a financial motivation by a site operator can play a crucial role. In this matter, however, even revenue generation via advertising failed to tip the scales in the prosecution’s favor.

    “The Judge has recognized as lawful the portals’ activities, and this despite the presence of advertising banners,” Sarzana says.

    According to the lawyer, it is not enough to simply show that the ‘pirate’ site generates income. The prosecution must also show that profit activity is connected to an individual. If it does not, the sharing aspect could be considered as merely avoiding an expense rather than a for-profit activity designed to generate “significant gain”. In the event, that’s exactly what happened.

    Reply
  27. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Ernesto / TorrentFreak:
    District court judge rules in RIAA case that DMCA doesn’t shield CloudFlare from anti-piracy injunctions, opening up the CDN to broad legal challenges

    DMCA Doesn’t Shield Cloudflare From Anti-Piracy Injunctions, Court Rules
    By Ernesto on March 28, 2017
    https://torrentfreak.com/dmca-doesnt-shield-cloudflare-from-anti-piracy-injunctions-court-rules-170328/
    Breaking

    When the RIAA targeted CDN provider Cloudflare with an injunction to block access to a known pirate site, the company objected. Cloudflare argued that the DMCA shielded the company from the broad blocking requirements. However, a Florida federal court has now ruled that the DMCA doesn’t apply in this case, opening the door to widespread anti-piracy filtering.

    Reply
  28. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Selling Media Players With Pirate Add-ons is Illegal, Says Top EU Adviser
    https://torrentfreak.com/selling-mediaplayers-with-pirate-add-ons-is-illegal-161208/

    Selling media players with pirate add-ons violates EU law, according to a recommendation from Advocate General Campos Sánchez-Bordona. He issued the advice in a landmark case over the legality of pre-loaded XBMC/Kodi devices, which are widely sold across Europe. Whether users of these players also liable depends on whether they know that the content is infringing.

    Online streaming continues to gain in popularity, both from authorized and pirate sources.

    Particularly popular are Kodi-powered applications or set-top boxes. While Kodi itself is a neutral platform, there are lots of add-ons available that turn it into a pirate’s heaven.

    In Europe, the European Court of Justice is currently handling a landmark case that should provide more clarity on the legality of set-top boxes that are sold with “links” to infringing content.

    The issue was raised in a case between Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN and the Filmspeler.nl store, which sells “piracy configured” media players. While these devices don’t ‘host’ any infringing content, they ship with add-ons that make it very easy to watch infringing content.

    The sale of a multimedia player which enables films that are available illegally on the internet to be
    viewed easily and for free on a television screen could constitute an infringement of copyright
    http://curia.europa.eu/jcms/upload/docs/application/pdf/2017-04/cp170040en.pdf

    Reply
  29. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Four Men Jailed For Running Pirate Movie Sites
    By Andy on May 10, 2017
    https://torrentfreak.com/four-men-jailed-running-pirate-movie-sites-170510/

    Four people, including a board member of the Pirate Party, have been jailed for running a network of pirate sites. The men, aged between 21 and 31, ran streaming portal Dreamfilm and were involved in others including Piratehub and Tankefetast. They will serve between six and ten months in prison, sentences similar to those handed down to the operators of The Pirate Bay.

    Reply
  30. Tomi Engdahl says:

    ExtraTorrent Shuts Down
    The second most popular BitTorrent site has shut down
    http://news.softpedia.com/news/extratorrent-shuts-down-515813.shtml

    Reply
  31. Tomi Engdahl says:

    European court of justice rules Pirate Bay is infringing copyright
    https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/jun/15/pirate-bay-european-court-of-justice-rules-infringing-copyright-torrent-sites

    The ruling comes after seven-year legal battle and could lead to ISPs and governments blocking access to other torrent sites across Europe

    The European court of justice (ECJ) has ruled that BitTorrent site The Pirate Bay is directly infringing copyright, in a move that could lead to ISPs and governments blocking access to other torrent sites across Europe.

    The ruling comes after a seven-year legal battle, which has seen the site, founded in Sweden in 2003, blocked and seized, its offices raided, and its three founders fined and jailed.

    At the heart of the case is the Pirate Bay’s argument that, unlike the previous generation piracy sites like Napster, it doesn’t host infringing files, nor link to them. Instead, it hosts “trackers”, files which tell users of individual BitTorrent apps which other BitTorrent users to link to in order to download large files – in the Pirate Bay’s case, usually, but not exclusively, copyrighted material.

    But the ECJ disputed those claims, arguing that the Pirate Bay goes further than a protected site should, by offering not just a search feature, but also categorising files, deleting faulty trackers, and filtering out some types of content. That means, in the court’s eyes: “The operators of the platform play an essential role in making those works available.”

    Reply
  32. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Ernesto / TorrentFreak:
    Top EU court rules that ISPs can be ordered to block The Pirate Bay and other torrent sites

    Pirate Bay Facilitates Piracy and Can Be Blocked, Top EU Court Rules
    By Ernesto on June 14, 2017
    https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-bay-facilitates-piracy-and-can-be-blocked-top-eu-court-rules-170614/

    Breaking

    Internet providers in Europe can be ordered to block access to The Pirate Bay, even though the site itself doesn’t store any infringing material. This is the conclusion of the EU Court of Justice in what has proven to be a landmark case. According to the Court, The Pirate Bay and similar sites commit an “act of communication” by helping their users to share infringing content.

    Reply
  33. Tomi Engdahl says:

    ISPs plot to take over the browsers of movie pirates, which is all kinds of screwed up
    http://bgr.com/2017/06/15/isp-torrent-notice-rightscorp-um-what/

    According to a report from TorrentFreak, movie rightsholders and major internet service providers are in “very thorough” discussions on new anti-piracy measures. You might think “measures” means a scary ad or a threatening letter, but the movie companies are thinking much, much nastier.

    The idea being proposed by Rightscorp, an anti-piracy outfit that represents a number of movie studios, is to effectively suspend internet services until people suspected of violating copyright have paid a small fee:

    “In this program, we ask for the ISPs to forward our notices referencing the infringement and the settlement offer. We ask that ISPs take action against repeat infringers through suspensions or a redirect screen. A redirect screen will guide the infringer to our payment screen while limiting all but essential internet access.”

    The “program” that Rightscorp is talking about is the slimely-named “ISP Good Corporate Citizenship Program,” which wants to use internet providers as the enforcement arm of movie studios. Currently, Rightscorp tracks BitTorrent downloads tied to IP addresses, and sends notices about those IP addresses to the relevant ISP, along with a small fine, normally $20 to $30.

    The problem Rightscorp currently has is that most people ignore those letters, or the ISPs never bother to pass them on. Rightscorp could try and take individual users to court, but that’s expensive, unpopular, and just a lot of effort for a movie studio.

    Instead, Rightscorp wants to suspend all internet service until someone suspected of a crime — with no trial or submitted proof — pays up. Suspending service or forcing an ISP to show a redirect page is a huge overreaction to a possible crime, especially given the lack of proof.

    “Top ISPs” Are Discussing Fines & Browsing Hijacking For Pirates
    By Andy on June 14, 2017
    https://torrentfreak.com/top-isps-are-discussing-fines-browsing-hijacking-for-pirates-170614/

    Some of the “top ISPs” are in “very thorough” discussions with anti-piracy outfit Rightscorp over proposals to hijack the browsers of alleged pirates until a fine is paid. Rightscorp is presenting this as an opportunity for ISPs to avoid being sued as well as a way to generate profit for the company.

    Reply

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