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.

614 Comments

  1. Tomi Engdahl says:
    David Post / Washington Post:
    The MPAA and the RIAA pressure ICANN to police the world’s domains for copyright infringement, a practice which would threaten the freedom of the Internet
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2015/03/09/icann-copyright-infringement-and-the-public-interest/
    Reply
  2. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Ernesto / TorrentFreak:
    UK ISPs Quietly Block Sites That List Pirate Bay Proxies
    http://torrentfreak.com/uk-isps-quietly-block-lists-of-pirate-bay-proxies-150310/
    Reply
  3. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Sky Will Hand Over Customer Data in Movie Piracy Case
    http://torrentfreak.com/sky-will-hand-over-customer-data-in-movie-piracy-case-150310/

    The UK’s second largest ISP is about to hand over the personal details of customers to a company known for demanding cash from alleged file-sharers. Sky Broadband says it will hand over the names and addresses of subscribers to TCYK LLC and warns customers that the movie company will probably ask for compensation.

    Reply
  4. Tomi Engdahl says:
    UK ISPs block Pirate Bay proxy sites
    http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-31832137

    UK internet service providers have begun blocking access to websites that provide a list of Pirate Bay alternatives, as part of the battle against online piracy.

    Reply
  5. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Australia May Introduce Site Blocking To Prevent Copyright Infringement
    http://yro.slashdot.org/story/15/03/18/0357215/australia-may-introduce-site-blocking-to-prevent-copyright-infringement

    The conservative Coalition government in Australia is on the verge of introducing legislation requiring ISPs to block sites alleged of copyright infringement.

    Brandis prepares to introduce site blocking legislation
    http://www.itnews.com.au/News/401763,brandis-to-introduce-site-blocking-legislation-this-week.aspx

    The federal government plans to introduce legislation next week allowing content owners to apply for court orders to force internet service providers to block overseas file-sharing websites.

    The Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill – led by Attorney-General George Brandis – was today cleared for introduction into parliament by the Coalition.

    The bill – the text of which is yet to be made public – will facilitate the blocking of overseas websites used for downloading and uploading copyright infringing content.

    John Stanton, CEO of telco industry body the Communications Alliance, said it was “disappointing” that the industry had not been consulted on the bill prior to its impending introduction.

    The Government at the same time said it would also amend the Copyright Act to enable rights holders to apply for a court order requiring ISPs to block access to non-Australian websites that had been proven to provide access to infringing content.

    They claimed rights holders had made efforts to improve content availability and affordability in recent times, but Australians were still downloading content without paying.

    “If you are asking me is it possible for .. The Pirate Bay to then move to another IP address or another URL, of course that is true,” Turnbull said at the time.

    “There’s no silver bullet here. There’s a whole range of solutions and tools both on the side of the ISPs and on the side of the rights owners that will materially mitigate copyright infringement.”

    The site-blocking scheme has been likened to online censorship by critics including consumer advocate group Choice and Pirate Party Australia

    Reply
  6. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Mike Masnick / Techdirt:
    French Government Starts Blocking Websites With Views The Gov’t Doesn’t Like

    French Government Starts Blocking Websites With Views The Gov’t Doesn’t Like
    from the liberte?-egalite? dept
    https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20150318/06273130352/french-government-starts-blocking-websites-with-views-govt-doesnt-like.shtml

    Except… it already appears that France is really just censoring websites with messages it doesn’t like. In that first batch was a site called “islamic-news.info.” The owner of that site not only notes that he was never first contacted to “remove” whatever material was deemed terrorist supporting (as required by the law), but that nothing in what he had posted was supporting terrorism.

    His site is opinionated, but mostly just against current Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad. In fact, he notes that he specifically avoided topics that might be misinterpreted to suggest that he supported terrorists. He did not share ISIS propaganda or similar content.

    But, with no judicial review, no due process at all, the French government declared the site to be a terrorist supporter and now it’s gone.

    Reply
  7. Tomi Engdahl says:
    U.S. Court Extends Global Shutdown of DVD Ripping Software
    http://torrentfreak.com/u-s-court-extends-global-shutdown-of-dvd-ripping-software-150323/

    A federal court in New York has issued a paralyzing verdict against the Chinese-based DVD ripping company DVDFab. Ruling in favor of AACS, the licensing outfit founded by Warner Bros, Disney, Microsoft, Intel and others, the court has issued an updated injunction granting the seizure of several domain names belonging to the software vendor.

    Last year the decryption licensing outfit AACS launched a crackdown on DRM-circumvention software.

    The company sued the makers of popular DVD ripping software DVDFab. It won a preliminary injunction based on the argument that the “DVDFab Group” violates the DMCA’s anti-circumvention clause, since their software can bypass DVD encryption.

    “It is well-established that the Copyright Act doesn’t apply extra-territorially,” the company argued, asking the court to quash the injunction or limit it to the United States.

    While the Judge understands that the DMCA doesn’t apply in other countries he argues that, considering DVDFab’s conduct after the initial injunction, it will only be effective if it applies worldwide.

    As a result DVDFab will lose control over TDMore.com, BluFab.cn, BluFab.com, Boooya.org, DVDFab.de, DVDFab.cn, FabImg.net, Woookao.cn, and Woookao.com which were found to be in violation of the DMCA.

    Reply
  8. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Copyright Industry Keeps Asking For More In Australia: VPN Ban Next?
    https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20150324/10002530414/copyright-industry-keeps-asking-more-australia-vpn-ban-next.shtml

    Techdirt has been following the rather depressing saga of the Australian government’s attempt to ram through new copyright powers for some time now. As TorrentFreak reports, under great pressure from the Australian government, local ISPs have put together a draft voluntary code for dealing with alleged copyright infringement (pdf). The Australasian Music Publishers Association (AMPAL) has now weighed in, and basically wants everything to be much harsher, including the following:

    “The Code does not place a general obligation on ISPs to monitor and detect online copyright infringement,” the publishers write. “AMPAL submits that ideally the Code should include such a duty using ISPs’ monitoring and filtering techniques.”

    In other words, AMPAL wants to get ISPs do all the dirty work, turning them into both cops and executioner. But AMPAL isn’t alone in coming up with disproportionate responses to the ISP code.

    Via ZDNet, here’s a comment from BBC Worldwide (pdf), the wholly-owned commercial arm of the British broadcaster:

    The Code is ill-equipped [to] deal with consumers who spoof or mask their IP addresses to avoid detection, behaviour that we believe will increase as a result of an introduction of a notice scheme.

    The footnote for that point refers to a TorrentFreak article about Canadian piracy notifications boosting demand for VPNs, which confirms that what BBC Worldwide is concerned about here is the ease with which Australians will be able to use things like VPNs to evade sanctions by masking their IP address.

    Reply
  9. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Michael Geist Blog:
    Quebec to block gambling and gaming sites to boost revenues for its own gaming site Espacejeux

    Quebec Takes on the Internet: Government Announces Plans to Require Website Blocking & Studies New Internet Access Tax
    http://www.michaelgeist.ca/2015/03/quebec-takes-on-the-internet-government-announces-plans-to-require-website-blocking-studies-new-internet-access-tax/

    The Government of Quebec released its budget yesterday featuring two Internet-related measures that are sure to attract attention and possible litigation. First, it is moving forward with plans to study a new tax on residential Internet services in order to provide support for the cultural sector. The study was recommended by the Quebec Taxation Review Committee, which is looking for new sources of revenue to support the movie, music, and book publishing industries. There are no further details on how much an ISP tax would be, though the plan would increase Internet access costs at the very time that governments are concerned with improving affordability.

    Second, the government says it will be introducing a new law requiring ISPs to block access to online gambling sites. The list of blocked sites will be developed by Loto-Quebec, a government agency.

    The government views this as a revenue enhancing measure because it wants to channel gamblers to its own Espacejeux, the Loto-Quebec run online gaming site. A November 2014 report found that Espacejeux was not meeting revenue targets since people were using other sites. It believes that the website blocking will increase government revenues by $13.5 million in 2016-17 and $27 million per year thereafter.

    This is a remarkable and possibly illegal plan as the government seeks to censor the Internet for its own commercial gain.

    Reply
  10. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Australian ISPs Must Hand Over Pirates’ Info
    http://yro.slashdot.org/story/15/04/08/004233/australian-isps-must-hand-over-pirates-info

    An Australian court has ordered internet service providers to hand over details of customers accused of illegally downloading a U.S. movie. In a landmark move, the Federal Court told six firms to divulge names and addresses of those who downloaded The Dallas Buyers Club.

    Illegal downloading: Australia internet firms must supply data
    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-32200681

    An Australian court has ordered internet service providers (ISPs) to hand over details of customers accused of illegally downloading a US movie.

    In a landmark move, the Federal Court told six firms to divulge names and addresses of those who downloaded The Dallas Buyers Club.

    The case was lodged by the US company that owns the rights to the 2013 movie.

    The court said the data could only be used to secure “compensation for the infringements” of copyright.

    The judgment comes amidst a crackdown by the Australian government on internet piracy.

    Australians are among the world’s most regular illegal downloaders of digital content. The delay in release dates for new films and TV shows, and higher prices in Australia for digital content, have prompted many Australians to find surreptitious ways to watch new shows.

    The ISPs involved in the case, including Australia’s second-largest provider iiNet, said releasing customer information would be a breach of privacy and lead to what is known in the US as “speculative invoicing”.

    But Justice Nye Perram ruled that the customer information could be released on condition it was only used to recover compensation for copyright infringement.

    Reply
  11. Tomi Engdahl says:
    EU Commish mulls new bloc-wide rule on web content takedowns
    National laws? No no no, our unelected rulers need to dictate this one
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/04/08/eu_commish_mulls_single_blocwide_rule_on_web_content_takedowns/

    The European Commission is considering creating an EU-wide complaint procedure for people whose websites are wrongly blocked by internet service providers.

    Justice Commissioner Věra Jourová said in a letter that “the Commission is analysing the need for a specific initiative on notice-and-action procedures to bring legal certainty and transparency to the way online intermediaries take down content that is alleged to be illegal.”

    However, those familiar with the planned Digital Single Market legislative package, due to be presented next month, say there is no specific reporting measure included as yet.

    “The blocking of internet sites without prior judicial authorisation which recently started in France is a clear example of the risks that such measures represent for human rights, and particularly for freedom of expression and the right to receive and communicate information”

    Reply
  12. Tomi Engdahl says:
    TTIP: Protect our privacy in EU-US trade deal or ELSE, snarl MEPs
    Lawmakers rattle sabres, Commish doesn’t blink, for now
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/04/09/ttip_eu_parliament_rattles_eu_commissions_cage_data_protection/

    MEPs have called on American and European negotiators to guarantee citizens’ right to privacy in an international trade deal.

    Members of the European Parliament’s civil liberties committee said last week that an “unambiguous, horizontal, self-standing provision” in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) must be created to safeguard Europe’s data protection laws.

    Although the ongoing negotiations on TTIP do not specifically deal with data protection, MEPs say that they “touch upon international data flows, while excluding privacy and data protection entirely.”

    Ignoring data privacy has raised the ire of many in the civil liberties committee and they warned EU Commission negotiators to “keep in mind that Parliament’s consent to the final TTIP agreement could be endangered as long as the blanket mass surveillance activities are not completely abandoned and an adequate solution is found for the data privacy rights of EU citizens.”

    In other words, the EU Parliament could hold the Commission to ransom.

    The Commission is currently discussing a so-called data protection “umbrella agreement” with the US as well as mulling a new data retention law. If the Commish wants MEPs to approve its TTIP position it will likely have to give ground in these areas.

    Reply
  13. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Rightscorp: Class-action lawsuit against us violates our free speech
    Rightscorp filed 142 DMCA petitions to get customer info, now hotly disputed.
    http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2015/04/rightscorp-class-action-lawsuit-against-us-violates-our-free-speech/

    Janis Joplin famously sang that “freedom” is just another word for nothing left to lose. In the contentious arena of online copyright claims, one person’s “freedom” might be another’s “illegal robo-calls.”

    Controversial copyright enforcer Rightscorp was hit with a proposed class-action lawsuit in November, claiming that its method of collecting cash from alleged online pirates included harassing phone calls, which are illegal under federal law. Now the company has struck back against that lawsuit, saying that a secondary claim in that lawsuit is actually a violation of California’s anti-SLAPP statute. The California law is meant to allow defendants to quickly strike down lawsuits that threaten “public participation.”

    Rightscorp says it has to serve subpoenas on ISPs to find out who’s infringing their clients’ copyrights. “Such a subpoena is at the heart of this lawsuit,” Rightscorp lawyers state.

    Reply
  14. Tomi Engdahl says:
    HBO Targets Torrent Users Over Game of Thrones Leak
    By Ernesto on April 19, 2015
    http://torrentfreak.com/hbo-targets-torrent-users-over-game-of-thrones-leak-150419/

    HBO has sent thousands of warnings to Internet subscribers whose connections were used to share leaked Game of Thrones episodes. While there are no legal strings attached for the affected subscribers, HBO hopes that some will think twice before downloading future episodes.

    Last week’s pre-release leak of four Game of Thrones episodes is one of the most prominent piracy cases in TV history.

    The first copies, leaked from a review screener, quickly spread across public torrent sites and were downloaded millions of times.

    Through its anti-piracy partner IP-Echelon, HBO instructs Internet providers to relay the alerts to the account holder associated with the infringing IP-address.

    Nonetheless, HBO hopes that the warnings will deter some from downloading future episodes. And indeed, some users may panic when they see that their downloads were flagged.

    Reply

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