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:
    Why the Beatles’ bootleg 1963 album is coming to iTunes Tuesday

    Two words: Copyright expiration. And then there’s the money.

    To Mathis, it’s all about what he sees as the losing battle Apple (AAPL), still wedded to Steve Jobs’ theory that people want to own their music, is waging with Pandora, Spotify, Google Play and the rest of streaming music services.

    The truth is both simpler and more cynical. Copyright protection on the 59 hitherto unreleased songs — two hours of outtakes, BBC recordings and demos (track list below) — expires at the end of the December, 50 years after they were recorded.

    But thanks to a November revision of European Union intellectual property laws, copyright protection of released songs is extended to 70 years. If Apple Corps, which owns the copyrights, didn’t make these recordings available for sale, every Beatles collector with bootleg MP3 files could legally put out their own album.

    As the BBC reported:

    Bob Dylan’s record label rushed out 100 copies of an album last year containing early TV performances
    Officially called The 50th Anniversary Collection, it carried a subtitle which explained its true purpose: The Copyright Extension Collection, Vol. 1.

  2. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Kim Dotcom Ratted Out Rival File-Sharing Sites, Court Documents Claim
    By David Kravets

    Three months before federal authorities shuttered Megaupload and indicted its top seven executives, the file-sharing site’s founder, Kim Dotcom, urged PayPal not to do business with rival sites because of their “criminal activity,” according to a 200-page document Virginia federal prosecutors unveiled today.

    If true, the revelation, one of countless the authorities noted in their filing, adds a touch of irony to a long-stalled criminal prosecution of what U.S. authorities have said is “among the largest criminal copyright cases ever brought by the United States.”

    It’s not the first time Dotcom, who is in New Zealand fighting extradition charges to the United States, has undermined his rivals.

    Eighteen months before Megaupload’s operators were indicted in January 2012, the company complied with a secret U.S. search warrant targeting five of its users, who were running their own file-sharing service using Megaupload’s infrastructure, according to interviews and court documents.

    The June 24, 2010 warrant to search the Megaupload servers in Virginia (.pdf) was part of a U.S. criminal investigation into NinjaVideo, which was piggy-backing on Megaupload’s “Megavideo” streaming service. Though the feds had already begun quietly investigating Megaupload months before, in this case the government treated Megaupload as NinjaVideo’s internet service provider, serving Megaupload with the warrant and asking them to keep it quiet.

    Megaupload kept the warrant a secret and turned over information on the alleged NinjaVideo operators, as well as database information on the 39 pirated movies detailed in the warrant. The NinjaVideo probe led to the indictment of the five top NinjaVideo administrators, including founder Hana Beshara, on charges similar to those now faced by Dotcom and other Megaupload operators.

    Megaupload says it’s innocent of the federal criminal copyright charges, was acting as an internet service provider and is immune to its customers’ activities under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The government claims Megaupload does not enjoy the so-called DMCA “safe harbor” protection because it accuses Megaupload of failing to remove content at the request of rightsholders, an accusation and others that Megaupload disputes.

  3. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Empirical Copyright: A Case Study of File Sharing and Music Output

    In copyright, we are guided by a simple intuition: More revenue leads to more original works. But the relationship between revenue and creative output is not so simple. Broadening copyright in order to increase the revenue associated with any given work may ensure the expected profitability, and hence the creation, of additional works at the margins.

    Broader copyright may thus entail a trade-off between two marginal effects: More original works from new authors along one margin, but fewer original works from the most popular existing authors along a second.

    If the second effect outweighs the first, then more revenue may lead to fewer original works. Conversely, less revenue may lead to more original works.

    While this may seem radically counterintuitive, it also happens to be true.

    I show that the sharp decline in music industry revenue that paralleled the rise of file sharing was associated, ceteris paribus: (i) with fewer new artists entering the market; but (ii) also with more hit songs, on average, by those new artists who did enter.

    Thus, for the music industry, the rise of file sharing and the parallel decline in revenue has meant the creation of more new music.

  4. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Court: ISP Subscribers Not Liable For Pirating Family Members

    Germany’s Supreme Court has just handed down a landmark ruling on the liability of Internet subscribers in copyright disputes. Overturning an earlier decision by a lower court the Federal Court of Justice said that an account holder could not be held liable for piracy carried out by an adult family member if he had no reason to believe any was being carried out.

    Copyright holders – especially those conducting troll-like operations – would like to create the impression that everything that happens on an Internet connection is the bill payer’s responsibility.

    This notion, if it were true, would make their lives very simple. By holding the Internet subscriber responsible, infringement ‘fines’ could be sent to households safe in the knowledge that the person’s name they have on file could not escape liability.

    Fortunately this is not the case in most Western legal systems which generally require the actual infringer to be held responsible, unless the bill payer was complicit in some way.

  5. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Viewing Pirated Streams is Not Illegal, German Govt Says

    The controversial RedTube case in Germany has provoked an interesting response from the Ministry of Justice. Although it says the question will ultimately be answered by the European Court, the Ministry says that it believes the mere viewing of copyright infringing streams is not illegal under current law.

  6. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Meta search engines may infringe database rights: EU Court of Justice
    Really. You’re dodging my car-searching site while searching for cars on it?

    Operators of websites in the EU that allow users to search for content on other sites and then display the information on their own site may be in breach of intellectual property laws as a result of a recent ruling by the EU’s highest court.

    In a judgment issued last month, the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) said that aggregators’ re-utilisation of data in this way can, in certain circumstances, be a breach of content owners’ database rights.

  7. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Corporations Abusing Copyright Laws Are Ruining the Web for Everyone

    Picture this somewhat typical scenario: Before breakfast, you use WordPress to write your morning blog post, which includes a screen shot of a movie you saw last night, along with your thoughts about the film. During your workday, a colleague shows you a viral YouTube parody of a popular music video (found via a Google search). On your lunch break, you shop for a new book on Amazon, which you buy after reading a few reader reviews that include short quotations from the book. After work, you take pictures of your Brooklyn loft replete with Obey art posters and post them to Airbnb, hoping to rent it out for the week you’re visiting family. At night, you catch up on an episode of Downton Abbey that you recorded to your DVR earlier in the week.

    Whether you know it or not, each one of these activities is made possible by the legal term “fair use.” It’s an indispensable part of our lives, enabling many of the websites and services we use daily or depend on for our livelihoods. Fair use also happens to be an exception to content owner’s rights under copyright law.

    By allowing limited use of copyrighted material for things like criticism, review, commentary, parody, or just personal non-commercial use, fair use has a widespread and often invisible impact on today’s social internet. Yet its very ubiquity means it’s often taken for granted by individuals — and the internet companies who benefit from it.

    This is worrying because fair use is under threat, and one of the culprits is the DMCA takedown notice that provides copyright owners an easy tool to remove content they claim to be unlawfully posted. Copyright owners send these notices to web companies who host content; the companies must then remove the content or risk legal liability themselves. Meant to promote the quick removal of impermissible copyright infringement, the DMCA system works well in many cases.

  8. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Judge: IP-Address Does Not Prove Copyright Infringement

    A federal judge in Washington has issued a key order in one of the many ongoing mass-BitTorrent piracy lawsuits in the United States. The judge ruled that a complaint from the “Elf-Man” movie studio is insufficient because the IP address evidence does not prove that an account holder is guilty of copyright infringement.

  9. Tomi Engdahl says:
    China cuffs 60,000 pirates in 2013 crackdown
    Claims to have cracked cases worth £17 BEEELION

    Police in China arrested just shy of 60,000 people suspected of copyright abuses last year, in cases worth 173 billion yuan (£17bn).

    A total of 59,222 perps involved in 55,180 cases were cuffed in 2013, according to Ministry of Public Security stats revealed by state-run newswire Xinhua.

    Some 1,260 criminal networks were crushed and more than 90 million tonnes of pirated goods confiscated.

    The government periodically releases such stats to show how serious it is about cracking down on intellectual property abuse, although there’s little way of independently verifying them.

    However, there’s definitely a greater political will these days to improve China’s woeful record on piracy and counterfeit goods.

  10. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Prince Targets Facebook Users in $22m Live Concert Piracy Lawsuit

    International superstar Prince is back on the copyright warpath, yet again targeting individuals who are quite possibly some of his biggest fans. In a lawsuit filed in the Northern District of California, Prince is chasing down fans who found links to his live concerts and posted them on Facebook and blogs. The unlucky 22 individuals, 20 of whom are yet to be identified, face a damages claim of $22 million.

    “The Defendants in this case engage in massive infringement and bootlegging of Prince’s material,” the lawsuit reads.

    While it’s clear by now that Prince doesn’t share the same opinions as the Grateful Dead or Nine Inch Nails on bootlegs, for once a file-sharing site isn’t in the cross hairs. The lawsuit says that the defendants used Facebook and Google’s Blogger “to accomplish their unlawful activity”, either by running fanpages or blogs and linking to live concert recordings without permission.

    “Prince has suffered and is continuing to suffer damages in an amount according to proof, but no less than $1 million per Defendant,” the lawsuit reads.

  11. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Dutch court rules that IP blocks are ineffective against piracy, unblocks The Pirate Bay!tMgnC

    The Court of Appeals in The Hague, Netherlands has today ruled that two ISPs operating in the country no longer have to block access to The Pirate Bay, as doing so was an ineffective measure against piracy.

    “ In applying the case law from the European Court of Justice (ECJ), the Court of Appeal held that an access provider is not under an obligation to take measures that are disproportional and/or ineffective,”

    rights holders like the MPAA and BPI will have to find a different approach to curb the piracy that they say is costing them dearly.

  12. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Antivirus Software Starts Blocking Pirate Websites

    Popular Russian anti-virus vendor Dr. Web has rolled out a new feature that prevents users from visiting allegedly copyright infringing URLs. The company is accepting takedown requests from copyright holders, and blocking access to pirated files when claims are considered legitimate.

    For years the MPAA and RIAA have been warning people not to visit The Pirate Bay and other sites where pirated files are traded. These sites pose a threat to the public, they argue, and Russian anti-virus vendor Dr. Web agrees.

    The new feature, which is included in the latest release of Dr.Web 9.0, is the first of its kind. Unlike other blocklists Dr. Web’s database of pirate URLs is built based on reports from copyright holders.

    “Antivirus products have a built-in web-filtering system, therefore it’s no problem to block URLs. In the parental control module many malicious URLs have already been blocked for years,” Sharov tells TF.

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  14. Tomi Engdahl says:
    That’s a lot of pirating: 68% of Europeans download or stream movies for free

    A study from the European Commission finds huge numbers of people streaming and downloading movies for free.

    The report’s authors don’t distinguish between legal and illegal downloading and streaming: They say that they avoided the word piracy “in order to maximize responses…Some rights owners permit free downloads and streaming, some films are freely available on services such as YouTube and Vimeo, and others may come from legal catch-up services.”

  15. Tomi Engdahl says:
    REVEALED: MPAA’s latest anti-piracy move accidentally, completely screws Hollywood studios

    Pando has learned that visual effects industry workers plan a mass demonstration against the major studios’ ongoing efforts to offshore post production work. That offshoring has led to the slow collapse of the American FX industry at the very moment digital effects have become a central ingredient in entertainment products.

    The fight between the studios and the tech wizards who actually make movies possible is not new.

    And here’s the twist: It is a weapon the MPAA itself created in its own desperate attempt to prevent Internet piracy.

    An upcoming documentary on the offshoring situation in Hollywood puts the number of firms lost at a whopping 21, including some of the industry’s highest profile companies.

    The Visual Effects Society summed it up by saying “the amazing irony is that while 47 of the top 50 films of all time are visual effects driven and billions of dollars of profits are generated yearly, the actual people who create the work are becoming an endangered species in California.” Variety boiled it down to a simple headline: “Foreign Incentives Help Crush Once-Booming F/X Biz in U.S.”

    With political power players like the MPAA so invested in offshoring, the decimated visual-effects industry hasn’t had much recourse.

    On the face of it, that esoteric legal argument from the MPAA seemed unremarkable — since the failure of SOPA, the movie industry has tried everything it can to protect its bottom line. Yet, Lay’s lawyers soon realized that the MPAA’s legal position had enormous implications for offshored post-production workers.

    If, as the MPAA insists, movies should be recognized as imports then so too should post-production work. That means visual effects work would be subject to the same subsidy-busting provisions which previously were primarily applied to physical goods like steel and lumber.

    In other words, emboldened by the MPAA’s filing, the visual effects workers are now in a position to use the big studios’ own arguments to compel the government to slap trade tariffs on those studios’ own productions in high-subsidy countries.

    With its own grounding in digital commerce, Silicon Valley has an obvious interest in how digital goods are classified. Underscoring that, Google has weighed in on the same obscure 3-D printing case, perhaps in an effort to legitimize its own current or future offshoring practices.

  16. Tomi Engdahl says:
    A Win For Fair Use After Record Label, Copyright Lawyer Settle

    An Australian record label that threatened to sue one of the world’s most famous copyright attorneys for infringement has reached a settlement with him.

    The settlement includes an admission that Lawrence Lessig, a Harvard Law School professor, had the right to use a song by the band Phoenix.

    Liberation Music says it will also pay Lessig for the harm it caused. The amount is confidential under the terms of the agreement

    Liberation Music agreed to adopt new policies around issuing takedown notices.

  17. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Top EU Court Backs Internet Bootlegging Ruling
    Decision Could Raise Costs for Internet Service Providers

    The European Union’s highest court said on Thursday that Internet service providers may have to block access to websites that infringe copyrights.

    The ruling, which confirms an opinion last year from the European Court of Justice’s advocate general, could raise costs for Internet service providers in the 28-country EU, but leaves leeway for national courts to decide on the best course of action to fight copyright violations.

  18. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Attempt to cut off illegal websites’ advertising revenue

    Websites offering illegal copyrighted material could see their advertising revenue cut under a new initiative.

    Police have created an online database of websites “verified” as being illegal.

    Top piracy sites generate millions of pounds thanks to advertising.

  19. Tomi Engdahl says:
    ISPs’ pirate-choking blocking measures ARE effective – music body
    Says BitTorrent use down 11% in EU lands suffocating access

    High Court orders dished out to telcos in the UK and elsewhere in the European Union demanding that they block access to sites serving pirated content have helped to decrease access to BitTorrent trackers, a music industry body has claimed.

    The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry published its annual report on digital music (PDF) on Monday. It said that file-sharing had dropped by 11 per cent in the countries where such measures were imposed on ISPs, based on figures from comScore/Nielsen.

  20. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Pirate Bay’s Longest Surviving Torrents Turn 10 Years Old

    Exactly ten years ago a Pirate Bay user uploaded a torrent linking to “Top Secret Recipes” ebooks. Today, this torrent is the oldest surviving torrent file on the notorious torrent index. The book torrent beats an Italian teen’s homevideo and the Linux documentary “Revolution OS” which were uploaded one and two days later respectively.


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