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:
    BBC: ISPs Should Assume Heavy VPN Users are Pirates

    In a submission to the Australian Government on the issue of online piracy, the BBC indicates that ISPs should be obliged to monitor their customers’ activities. Service providers should become suspicious that customers could be pirating if they use VPN-style services and consume a lot of bandwidth, the BBC says.

    The BBC begins by indicating a preference for a co-operative scheme, one in which content owners and ISPs share responsibility to “reduce and eliminate” online copyright infringement.

    In common with all rightsholder submissions so far, the BBC wants to put pressure on ISPs to deal with their errant subscribers via a graduated response scheme of educational messages backed up by punitive measures for the most persistent of infringers.

    “ISPs should warn any alleged copyright infringers through a graduated notification system that what they are doing is illegal and, at the same time, educate them about the law, the importance of copyright to funding content and services they enjoy and where they can access the material they want legally. However. if the consumers do not abide by the notifications then more serious action may need to be taken,”

    VPNs are pirate tools

    “Since the evolution of peer-to-peer software protocols to incorporate decentralized architectures, which has allowed users to download content from numerous host computers, the detection and prosecution of copyright violations has become a complex task. This situation is further amplified by the adoption of virtual private networks (VPNs) and proxy servers by some users, allowing them to circumvent geo-blocking technologies and further evade detection,” the BBC explain.

    “It is reasonable for ISPs to be placed under an obligation to identify user behavior that is ‘suspicious’”

  2. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Libraries may digitize books without permission, EU top court rules
    Copying the work to a USB stick is also allowed, but only if the rights holder gets paid, the CJEU said

    September 11, 2014, 6:19 AM — European libraries may digitize books and make them available at electronic reading points without first gaining consent of the copyright holder, the highest European Union court ruled Thursday.

    The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled in a case in which the Technical University of Darmstadt digitized a book published by German publishing house Eugen Ulmer in order to make it available at its electronic reading posts, but refused to license the publisher’s electronic textbooks.

    Under the EU Copyright Directive, authors have the exclusive right to authorize or prohibit the reproduction and communication of their works, the CJEU said. However, the directive also allows for exceptions or limitations to that right, it said.

    “This option exists notably for publically accessible libraries which, for the purpose of research or private study, make works from their collections available to users by dedicated terminals,” it added.

    “The right of libraries to communicate, by dedicated terminals, the works they hold in their collections would risk being rendered largely meaningless, or indeed ineffective, if they did not have an ancillary right to digitize the works in question,” the court said.

    However, libraries cannot permit visitors to use the terminals to print out the works or store them on a USB stick, the CJEU said.

    The library could however permit the users to print or store the works on a USB stick if fair compensation is paid to the rights holder, the CJEU said.

  3. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Bugging out: How rampant online piracy squashed one insect photographer
    Most copyright holders are individuals; most infringers are businesses. Things are broken.

    Here is a true story about how copyright infringement costs my small photography business thousands of dollars every year.

    Or, maybe it isn’t. It could also be a true story of how copyright infringement earns me thousands of dollars every year. I can’t be sure. Either way, this is definitely the story of how copyright infringement takes up more of my time than I wish to devote to it. Copyright infringement drains my productivity to the point where I create hundreds fewer images each year.

    It’s true that every once in a while Hollywood twists together enough tattered legal threads to hang some poor schlub for torrenting Scary Movie 12 or whatever. But such cases are statistical anomalies. A great deal of content on the Internet, perhaps even most content, is uploaded in violation of copyright law. Nothing bad happens to the infringers most of the time.

    To recap—Copyright: great! Internet: great! Where the two intersect, what could possibly go wrong?
    The perpetual battle

    For a concise idea of what could go wrong, let me indulge in a list of recent venues where commercial interests have used my work without permission, payment, or even a simple credit:

    Billboards, YouTube commercials, pesticide spray labels, website banners, exterminator trucks, t-shirts, iPhone cases, stickers, company logos, eBook covers, trading cards, board games, video game graphics, children’s books, novel covers, app graphics, alt-med dietary supplement labels, press releases, pest control advertisements, crowdfunding promo videos, coupons, fliers, newspaper articles, postage stamps, advertisements for pet ants (yes, that’s a thing), canned food packaging, ant bait product labels, stock photography libraries, and greeting cards.

  4. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Trans-Pacific Partnership May Endanger World Health, Newly Leaked Chapter Shows

    WikiLeaks has released an updated version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) chapter on intellectual property. The new version of the texts, dated May 2014, show that little improvement has been made to sections critics say would hurt free speech online. Further, some of the TPP’s stipulations could have dire consequences for healthcare in developing nations.

    The TPP may endanger world health, newly leaked chapter shows

    Some of the most-criticized passages are, however, now absent from the leaked version of the texts. WikiLeaks notes, for example, that surgical method patents had been removed. “Doctors’ groups said this was vitally important for allowing doctors to engage in medical procedures without fear of a lawsuit for providing the best care for their patients,” the organization said.

    Nearly all of the changes proposed by the U.S. advantage corporate entities by expanding monopolies on knowledge goods, such as drug patents, and impose restrictive copyright policies worldwide. If it came into force, TPP would even allow pharmaceutical companies to sue the U.S. whenever changes to regulatory standards or judicial decisions affected their profits.

    Professor Brook K. Baker of Northeastern University School of Law told the Daily Dot that the latest version of the TPP will do nothing less than lengthen, broaden, and strengthen patent monopolies on vital medications.

    “Proposed language makes it easier to get successive, secondary patents on minor changes to or new uses of existing medicines and patent term extensions that increase pricing discretion and monopoly profits on vital medicines, but at the cost of reduced access to poor and uninsured patients,” said Baker, a senior policy analyst for Health GAP (Global Access Project).

    One proposal seen for the first time in the latest TPP draft concerns the use of biological medical products, or biologics, which are medicinal treatments derived from biological sources and include many new cancer treatments and vaccines.

    “Public health systems in many countries cannot afford the $100k-plus price tags on most of these new cancer drugs, certainly most people worldwide cannot afford them on their own,” Public Citizen’s Peter Maybarduk, director of Global Access to Medicines Program, told the Daily Dot. “This means that people in need of treatment will suffer and, in too many cases, die, until affordable biosimilars can be brought to market.”

  5. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Updated Secret Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) – IP Chapter (second publication)

    WikiLeaks Release of Secret Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) – Second Release

    Intellectual Property Chapter for All 12 Nations with Negotiating Positions (May 16 2014 consolidated bracketed negotiating text)

  6. Tomi Engdahl says:
    After More Than Two Years, Google Finally Releasing New “Pirate Update” To Fight Piracy

    After recent criticism it’s not doing enough to fight piracy, Google moves to update its long-neglected filtering system.

    In August 2012, to stem accusations that it doesn’t do enough to fight piracy, Google released what’s known as the Pirate Update, a system that penalized sites deemed to be violating copyright laws. Next week, Google is finally going to refresh that system to catch new offenders and release others that may have cleaned up their acts.

    Google announced the new Pirate Update — call it Pirate Update 2 — will come out next week, along with new ad and editorial formats it says may help stem piracy.

    What Is The Pirate Update?

    The Pirate Update — similar to other updates like Panda or Penguin — works like a filter. Google processes all the sites it knows about through the Pirate filter. If it catches any deemed to be in violation, those receive a downgrade.

    Anyone caught by this filter is then stuck with a downgrade until the next time it is run, when, presumably if they’ve received fewer or no complaints, they might get back in Google’s good graces. We don’t really know how that works yet, though, because Google has never rerun the Pirate Update filter.

  7. Tomi Engdahl says:
    ISPs handbagged: BLOCK knock-off sites, rules beak
    Historic trademark victory, but sunset clause applies to future blocks

    The UK’s biggest ISPs must block websites that flog knock-off goods, after a successful High Court case brought by luxury goods firm Richemonte, the first time trademark pirates have been blocked in the EU.

    Judge Arnold did agree with David Allen Green (aka the blogger “Jack of Kent”) for the Open Rights Group that the block should contain information about who asked for the block, and “that affected users should have the right to apply to the Court to discharge or vary the order”.

    He also agreed the blocks should have a “sunset clause”, which he thinks should be two years.

    VPN blocking

    Arnold had to balance the EU InfoSec Directive, limiting liability for service providers, with the EU E-commerce Directive which protects trade.

    “Each of the techniques described above can readily be circumvented by users who have a little technical knowledge and the desire to do so,” Arnold added.

    Blocks are ineffective against VPN users. However, there’s no burden under Article 3(2) of the Enforcement Directive on rightsholders to establish that they’ll reduce overall infringement — merely that they can be effective against a rogue trader. Arnold agreed with ISPs that effectiveness was as an important factor in deciding on proportionality.

    And they’re cheap — one ISPs put the cost at £3,600 per website per year, while Sky and BT’s cost estimates are in the same region. ISPs who blocked sites were briefly attacked (via DDOS or malicious DNS poisoning) but the reprisals weren’t repeated.

  8. Tomi Engdahl says:
    EU Court Rules Embedding YouTube Videos Is Not Copyright Infringement

    “The Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled that embedding a copyrighted YouTube video in your site is not copyright infringement.”

    Embedding Is Not Copyright Infringement, EU Court Rules
    By Ernesto
    on October 25, 2014

    The Court of Justice of the European Union handed down a landmark verdict this week. The Court ruled that embedding copyrighted videos is not copyright infringement, even if the source video was uploaded without permission.

    One of the key roles of the EU’s Court of Justice is to interpret European law to ensure that it’s applied in the same manner across all member states.

    This week the Court of Justice issued a landmark ruling on one such case that deals with a crucial and integral part of today’s Internet. Is it legal to embed copyrighted content without permission from the rightsholder?

    While EU law is clear on most piracy issues, the copyright directive says very little about embedding copyrighted works. The Court of Justice, however, now argues that embedding is not copyright infringement.

    The full decision has yet to be published officially by the Court’s website but TorrentFreak has received a copy (in German) from the defendants’ lawyer Dr. Bernhard Knies, who describes it as a landmark victory.

    The Court argues that embedding a file or video is not a breach of creator’s copyrights under European law, as long as it’s not altered or communicated to a new public. In the current case, the video was already available on YouTube so embedding it is not seen as a new communication.

    “The embedding in a website of a protected work which is publicly accessible on another website by means of a link using the framing technology … does not by itself constitute communication to the public within the meaning of [the EU Copyright directive] to the extent that the relevant work is neither communicated to a new public nor by using a specific technical means different from that used for the original communication,” the Court’s verdict reads.

    The Court based its verdict on an earlier decision in the Svensson case, where it found that hyperlinking to a previously published work is not copyright infringement. Together, both cases will have a major impact on future copyright cases in the EU.

  9. Tomi Engdahl says:
    EFF Rates Which Service Providers Side With Users

    The Electronic Frontier Foundation has issued a report grading online service providers for how well they side with users over intellectual property disputes. They looked at sites like YouTube, Imgur, tumblr, and Twitter.

  10. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Twitter and Etsy get high marks in report card on copyright and free speech

    When it comes to balancing creative rights on the internet, companies like Twitter and Pinterest play an important role as middlemen. How are they performing?

  11. Tomi Engdahl says:
    YARR! Pirates walk the plank: DMCA magnets sink in Google results
    Spaffing copyrighted stuff over the web? No search ranking for you

    Advert slinger Google has said it’s started burying websites that help people illegally download copyrighted stuff.

    The web giant claimed today it sinks pro-piracy sites way down its search results – yes, beyond page two, the grim wastelands of the web. It’s hoped this may dissuade people from seeking out pirated movies, games, TV and so on, until they discover torrenting or Netflix.

    Google already tosses out links to pages from its results if it receives a takedown request from a copyright owner. Now it’s tweaked its algorithms to lower a site’s placement in the rankings if its pages are routinely DMCA’d

    “In addition to removing pages from search results when notified by copyright owners, Google also factors in the number of valid copyright removal notices we receive for any given site as one signal among the hundreds that we take into account when ranking search results,”

    “Consequently, sites with high numbers of removal notices may appear lower in search results.”

    The company said that while it works with copyright owners to keep pirated content off its services, the best way to stem the flow of piracy is to provide users with better streaming media and on-demand services.

  12. Tomi Engdahl says:
    EFF asks for the right to revive “abandoned” online games
    DMCA exemption would allow “dead” games to live on through legal, third-party servers.

    While playing the original versions of classic games on aging original hardware can sometimes be difficult, it’s at least typically possible. That’s not the case for many online games, which are functionally inoperable once the developer or publisher decides to shut down the official servers that provide the only way for players to communicate with each other. Unofficial hobbyist projects that try to create new servers for these abandoned games could run afoul of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and its ban on “the circumvention of access control technologies.”

    The Electronic Frontier Foundation wants to change that. In an official exemption request (PDF) filed with the Library of Congress this week, the nonprofit advocacy group asks that users be allowed to modify access controls and online authentication checks in legally obtained games “when the [game] servers authorized by the developer are permanently shut down.” In this way, those users can access third-party servers in order to regain “core functionality” that is no longer available through the defunct official servers.

    The EFF gives the specific example of Nintendo’s Mario Kart games, which used a proprietary protocol to communicate with Nintendo’s servers before Nintendo shut those servers down for the Wii and DS. Reverse-engineering that protocol could be considered “circumvention” in the DMCA’s current broad prohibitions, as could modifying the game’s code to allow for connection to new, non-Nintendo servers.

  13. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Are open Wi-Fi network bods liable for users’ copyright badness?
    EU top court asked to make ruling

    The EU’s highest court has been asked to rule on whether commercial providers of free and open Wi-Fi networks can be held liable for copyright infringement carried out without their knowledge by a user of their network.

    A court in Munich has asked the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) to provide it with guidance on how to interpret laws contained in the EU’s E-Commerce Directive which concern third party liability for unlawful activity over electronic communication networks.

    “The Munich court has asked the CJEU to determine whether non-private providers of Wi-Fi hotspots can be held ‘liable for disturbance’,” Zollner said. “This is a concept of German law that equates to a breach of duty of care. A record label in Germany has argued that an entrepreneur is liable for disturbance by operating an open, free-to-use Wi-Fi network that was used, it has claimed, to infringe its copyright.”

  14. Tomi Engdahl says:
    New Euro digi chief says he WILL consider an EU-wide copyright law
    But sets ridiculously tight timeframe for it, say sources
  15. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Anti-Piracy Firm Rightscorp On The Brink of Bankruptcy?

    Rightscorp, a prominent piracy monitoring firm that sends settlement requests for Warner Bros. and other copyright holders, may soon go out of business. The publicly listed company is losing millions of dollars per year and says it desperately needs a fresh cash injection to survive.

    rightscorp-realFor years the entertainment industries have been complaining that online piracy hurts their revenues.

    This problem has motivated people to start anti-piracy companies such as Rightscorp, a company that uses standard DMCA takedown requests to send settlement offers to alleged copyright infringers.

    Despite teaming up with prominent names such as Warner Bros. and BMG, the company hasn’t been able to turn a profit.

    One of Rightscorp’s problems is that they can only reach a fraction of U.S. Internet subscribers. Most large ISPs, including Comcast, have thus far refused to forward their settlement demands.

  16. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Ubisoft found a creative way to screw with gamers who steal Far Cry 4

    Generally-speaking, it’s a bad idea to yell “I totally just stole something from you!” as you’re sprinting out the door of a store, with pilfered goods. Yet people on social media are doing just that.

    In a novel approach to fighting game piracy, Ubisoft decided to make a field of view (FOV) slider, something that players could access only if they downloaded a day one patch for the game. They could only download the day one patch if they bought the game legitimately. Therefore, anyone complaining about not having the FOV slider has outed themselves as having pirated Far Cry 4.


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