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:
    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
  2. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Ernesto / TorrentFreak:
    UK ISPs Quietly Block Sites That List Pirate Bay Proxies
  3. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Sky Will Hand Over Customer Data in Movie Piracy Case

    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.

  4. Tomi Engdahl says:
    UK ISPs block Pirate Bay proxy sites

    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.

  5. Tomi Engdahl says:
    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,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

  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

    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 “” 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.

  7. Tomi Engdahl says:
    U.S. Court Extends Global Shutdown of DVD Ripping Software

    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,,,,,,,, and which were found to be in violation of the DMCA.

  8. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Copyright Industry Keeps Asking For More In Australia: VPN Ban Next?

    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.

  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

    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.

  10. Tomi Engdahl says:
    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

    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.

  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

    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”

  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

    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.

  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.

    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.

  14. Tomi Engdahl says:
    HBO Targets Torrent Users Over Game of Thrones Leak
    By Ernesto on April 19, 2015

    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.

  15. Tomi Engdahl says:
    RIAA, back on anti-piracy warpath, sues song-linking site MP3skull
    RIAA says the piracy on a suspected Russian site is “brazen and egregious.”

    There’s a new public enemy #1 for US record labels when it comes to online piracy: a website called “MP3skull.”

    The MP3skull site, which was sued for copyright infringement by the major US record labels on Friday, is a no-frills listing of hit songs available for download within a few clicks. The site hosts no content, instead linking to MP3 music files that are available on other sites.

    “You can find your favorite songs in our multimillion database of quality mp3 links,” the site suggests on its front page. “We provide fast and relevant search… Hope you enjoy staying here!”

    The complaint describes how MP3Skull operators actively helped users download “obviously infringing files,”

    “MP3Skull is a very popular rogue website devoted to encouraging and facilitating the massive, brazen and egregious theft of millions of copyrighted sound recordings,”

    US record labels have taken down numerous file-sharing sites in the past via litigation, although it has often been a long battle.

  16. Tomi Engdahl says:
    HBO Cracks Down on Paying VPN “Pirates”
    By Ernesto on April 20, 2015

    HBO has started to crack down on paying customers who access the HBO Now service from outside the United States. Subscribers from countries including Canada, the UK, Germany and Australia who use VPNs and other unblocking tools are now being threatened with account terminations.

    In an effort to gain more subscribers HBO launched its standalone “HBO Now” service earlier this year.

    The subscription allows Americans to access HBO’s content, including Game of Thrones, without the need to have a television subscription.

    With the offer HBO hopes to drive people away from pirate sites, but it also created a new form of unauthorized use. As with Netflix and Hulu, many people outside the U.S. signed up for the service through VPNs and other geo-unblocking tools.

    Although they are paying customers, using HBO Now from outside the U.S. is not permitted under the company’s terms of use.

    HBO is cracking down on VPN and proxy pirates to protect the value of their licensing deals. If millions of foreigners use the U.S. version, local partners in these countries are going to complain.

  17. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Movie streaming service Popcorn Time blocked by UK court

    Popcorn Time has painted a rather large target on its back with its movie-streaming service. Due to its questionable legality, movie studios have sought to block the service, but a shift to Bittorrent-based distribution has allowed it to continue operating while Hollywood scrambles a response. One place the studios have been able to deal a blow, however, is in the UK, where they’ve managed to restrict access to the original Popcorn Time client.

    The High Court yesterday ruled that five of the UK’s biggest broadband providers begin blocking five websites offering the streaming software for download. Sky, BT, EE, TalkTalk and Virgin Media will all be forced to comply, just as they have with popular Bittorrent websites like ThePirateBay (even if those blocks have later been rendered useless).

    Although Popcorn Time is indifferent about its legal position, the judge had no issue calling out its real motive. “It is manifest that the Popcorn Time application is used in order to watch pirated content on the internet and indeed it is also manifest that that is its purpose,” notes Judge Briss. “No-one really uses Popcorn Time in order to watch lawfully available content.”

  18. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Music Industry ‘Shuts Down’ Top Torrent Trackers
    By Ernesto on April 29, 2015

    A regional court in Hamburg has ordered a hosting company to identify the operators of three iconic BitTorrent trackers that together coordinated dozens of millions of transfers per day. The order is the result of a complaint from German music group BVMI, which says it’s behind the shutdown of the trackers shut down earlier this year.

    OpenBitTorrent, PublicBT and have long been the three largest BitTorrent trackers on the Internet, coordinating the downloads of 30 million people at any given point in time.

    This means that these non-commercial services, powered by the open source Opentracker software, handled a staggering three billion connections per day – each.

  19. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Extreme Secrecy Eroding Support For Trans-Pacific Partnership

    news that political support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership is drying up because of the secrecy involved in developing it. Members of Congress can read the bill if they want, but they need to be located in a single room within the basement of the Capitol Visitor Center, and they can’t have their staff with them. They can’t have a copy, they can’t take notes, and they can only view one section at a time. And they’re monitored while they read it. Unsurprisingly, this is souring many members of Congress on the controversial trade agreement.

    Extreme secrecy eroding support for Obama’s trade pact

    Classified briefings and bill-readings in basement rooms are making members queasy.
    Read more:

  20. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Ernesto / TorrentFreak:
    The Pirate Bay’s .SE domain to be seized, rules a Stockholm District Court, so service moves to .GS, .LA, .VG, .AM, .MN, and .GD domains

    Pirate Bay Moves to GS, LA, VG, AM, MN and GD Domains
    By Ernesto on May 19, 2015
    C: 114

    A few hours ago news broke that The Pirate Bay’s .SE domain will soon be seized. The prosecution and copyright holders have welcomed the decision, but the Pirate Bay teams seems unimpressed. Shortly after the ruling they set up six new domain names which they will rotate for the time being.

  21. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Canadian Piracy Rates Plummet As Industry Points To New Copyright Notice System

    Canada’s copyright notice-and-notice system took effect earlier this year, leading to thousands of notifications being forwarded by Internet providers to their subscribers

    piracy rates in Canada have plummeted, with some ISPs seeing a 70% decrease in online infringement.

    Canadian Piracy Rates Plummet as Industry Points to Effectiveness of Copyright Notice-and-Notice System

    While the problems with notice-and-notice must be addressed, the leading notice sender says that they are proving to be extremely effective in reducing piracy rates. In fact, the system has proven so successful that a consortium of movie companies now want the U.S. to emulate the Canadian approach. According to CEG TEK, there have been “massive changes in the Canadian market” under notice-and-notice. They claim that piracy rates have dropped by the following rates in Canada:

    • Bell Canada – 69.6% decrease
    • Telus Communications – 54.0% decrease
    • Shaw Communications – 52.1% decrease
    • TekSavvy Solutions – 38.3% decrease
    • Rogers Cable – 14.9% decrease

    Some of the decrease may be attributable to the inclusion of settlement demands, but the evidence has long suggested that the notices alone have an education effect that leads to a significant reduction in infringement.

  22. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Controversial TISA Treaty Leaked

    A February draft of the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) was leaked last week, the Electronic Frontier Foundation reports. The secret international treaty had been leaked in the past, but the recent version is more extensive.
    TISA is a trade agreement secretly making rules for the internet, and is in danger of passing under legislative Fast Track. TISA, which focuses on services rather than goods


  23. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Dutch efforts to decapitate Pirate Bay could end up before ECJ
    Legal eagle: Euro court must decide if TPB is breaking the law

    The Netherlands’ attorney general wants the European Court of Justice to decide whether The Pirate Bay (TPB) is communicating illegal content to the public.

    In his published opinion (in Dutch) on Friday, he said that this was the first point of EU law that must be cleared up before a local court case can continue.

    If TPB isn’t breaking the law, said the attorney general, Robert Van Peursem, then the ECJ should rule whether ISPs can be ordered to block the site on other grounds.

    Although his opinion isn’t legally binding, in practice the local Dutch courts do follow the attorney general’s suggestions. The case in question has been going on since 2010 and involves BREIN’s (a Hollywood-backed, anti-piracy group) efforts to force ISPs Ziggo and XS4ALL to block access to the Pirate Bay website.

  24. Tomi Engdahl says:
    WikiLeaks offers $100k for copies of the Trans-Pacific Partnership – big biz’s secret govt pact
    Politicians still won’t reveal super-hush-hush trade treaty

    The document-leaking website, run by Julian AssangeTM, is offering a $100,000 (£65k) reward for the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Three of the 29 chapters of the trade deal have already been leaked, and WikiLeaks will pay big bucks for the other 26 so it can display them to the world.

    “The transparency clock has run out on the TPP. No more secrecy. No more excuses. Let’s open the TPP once and for all,” said AssangeTM.

    Of course, WikiLeaks doesn’t actually have $100,000 just lying around. After it was blockaded by the payment industry following the leak of US State Department cables supplied by Chelsea Manning, the organization has been chronically short of cash. So, it is crowdfunding the reward, and has brought in nearly $38,000 in the first day of fundraising.

  25. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Pirate Bay Co-Founder Fredrik Neij Released From Prison
    By Ernesto on June 1, 2015

    Pirate Bay co-founder Fredrik Neij has been released from prison today. Neij was the last person to serve a custodial sentence handed down after the Pirate Bay trial, marking the end of a controversial chapter in the site’s turbulent history.

  26. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Wikileaks publishes TiSA: A secret trade pact between US, Europe and others for big biz pals
    This one covers Western countries and telecoms, e-commerce, foreign workers

    Fresh from offering $100,000 to anyone that leaks the still-secret parts of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Wikileaks has published large chunks of the related Trade In Services Agreement (TiSA).

    TiSA is one of a triumvirate of trade treaties being negotiated across the world, except this one does not include the so-called BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).

    It does however includes the US, European Union and 23 other countries (such as Australia, Canada, Israel, Mexico) that together represent more than two-thirds of the world’s trade. So it is a huge deal.

    Like the other two treaties, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), this accord has been negotiated in secret, with governments going to extraordinary lengths to keep them so, and the overall upshot is to benefit multinational corporations.

    TiSA is, as its name suggests, focuses on trade in services i.e. in professional services, e-commerce, delivery, air traffic and so on. It also, ironically, includes a section on transparency.

    Ok, so what’s in it?

    Wikileads has published 17 documents, including drafts and annexes. The one of most interest for El Reg is likely to be the e-commerce annex, which includes:

    Article 2 covers “Movement of Information” or more accurately “Cross-Border Information Flows”.

    There is general agreement that countries should not be allowed to prevent a company from transferring information outside that country.

    No Party may prevent a service supplier of another Party from transferring, [accessing, processing or storing] information, including personal information, within or outside the Party’s territory, where such activity is carried out in connection with the conduct of the service supplier’s business.

    More accurately, this text means that countries can’t make companies store information on their citizens in their country – an issue that has been in the forefront of people’s minds following the NSA revelations that showed the US government stores and searches such information all the time.

    Non-controversial elements

    Many parts of the treaty are good and useful.

    Article 3 is about Online Consumer Protection and basically just lays own the fact that people should have access to their own consumer protection agencies when purchasing goods or services online. It’s important and probably difficult to implement, but not controversial.

    Article 4 deals with Personal Information Protection and obliges countries to come up with ways of protecting their citizens’ personal information in law, publishing them and making those laws fit with international norms.

    Article 5 covers spam. It obliges countries to make it possible to stop spam and include such things as consumer consent, a way to punish companies that send spam and to work cooperatively with other countries to reduce or limit spam. The only people that won’t like this part are spammers.

    Article 7 is very short and covers interoperability. Basically it says that countries should make sure their systems government services work online.

    Article 8 ensures open networks – basically letting the internet do its job. Citizens should be allowed to use services and applications online, connect to the internet, and be told if their ISP is restricting anything.

    Article 6 seems innocuous but may have a significant side-effect:

    1. No Party may require the transfer of, or access to, source code of software owned by a person of another Party, as a condition of providing services related to such software in its territory.
    2. For purposes of this Article, software subject to paragraph 1 is limited to mass-market software, and does not include software used for critical infrastructure.

    And lastly Article 9 is, like Article 2, about storing local data in a particular country.

    No Party may require a service supplier, as a condition for supplying a service or investing in its territory, to:
    (a) use computing facilities located in the Party’s territory;
    (b) use computer processing or storage services supplied from within the Party’s territory; or
    (c) otherwise store or process data in its territory.

    Nothing in here is as troubling as the stuff that is in the other two treaties – like giving corporations the ability to sue governments, or extending intellectual property rights far beyond what many will feel is reasonable.

  27. Tomi Engdahl says:
    The Almighty Buck
    Emails Show How Industry Lobbyists Basically Wrote The Trans-Pacific Partnership

    This Techdirt story shows how industry lobbyists influenced the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, to the point that one even openly celebrates that the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) version copied his own text word for word.

    Revealed Emails Show How Industry Lobbyists Basically Wrote The TPP
    from the well-isn’t-that-great… dept

  28. Tomi Engdahl says:
    EU legal eagles to vote on lonely pirate Reda’s copyright report
    Yarr! There’s 550 amendments seeking to water down me beauty, says MEP

    The legal affairs committee of the European Parliament will vote today on Pirate Party MEP Julia Reda’s controversial copyright report.

    The report is not legislatively binding, but will contribute to the debate surrounding forthcoming copyright reforms. A new draft law is expected to be proposed by Digi Commissioner Gunther “H-dot” Oettinger by September.

    Reda’s report looks at the current functioning of the so-called Infosoc Directive from 2001. The report has received more than 550 amendments – a staggering amount for an own-initiative evaluation report.

  29. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Andy / TorrentFreak:
    Australia passes controversial law allowing overseas ‘pirate’ sites to be blocked at ISP level

    Australia Passes ‘Pirate’ Site Blocking Law
    By Andy on June 22, 2015
    C: 71

    A few minutes ago Australia passed controversial new legislation which allows for overseas ‘pirate’ sites to be blocked at the ISP level. Despite opposition from the Greens, ISPs and consumer groups, the Senate passed the bill into law with a vote of 37 in favor and 13 against. Expect The Pirate Bay to be an early target.

  30. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Abbott government calls on internet providers to punish illegal downloaders

    Malcolm Turnbull and George Brandis release a discussion paper calling for ISPs to police online piracy

    The Abbott government has moved to crack down on illegal downloading, saying internet service providers (ISPs) will be forced to take “reasonable steps” to prevent it – including possible sanctions against offending customers.

    The proposals, contained in a discussion paper, are likely to be controversial with Australian consumers who are among the world’s most prolific illegal downloaders of popular shows such as Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad.

    The government says it has to toughen the law – possibly forcing ISPs to punish customers who repeatedly infringe copyright – after a 2012 high court decision in which Village Roadshow and other companies unsuccessfully argued that the ISP iiNet had not taken “reasonable steps” to stop the downloading and sharing of films and TV shows.

  31. Tomi Engdahl says:
    TPP partners plot milder copyright takedown rules
    Still hostile to users, says EFF

    A leaked copy of Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiating text from May seems to show the US trying to mollify the other countries finagling over the deal.

    The leak, obtained by Politico, isn’t yet posted anywhere, but the Electronic Frontiers Foundation reckons the newly-revealed draft shows America is backing away from a wholesale export of its DCMA regime to other countries.

    In particular, the EFF’s information is that America is bending to demands it recognises safe-harbour schemes in place in various TPP nations.

    The EFF cites Canada’s notification scheme, which doesn’t impose automatic takedowns; and Chile’s system of judicial review.

    Australia’s new Internet filter, in which rights-holders will ask courts for take-downs of infringing sites, would probably pass muster if the US position is softening.

  32. Tomi Engdahl says:
    How a Cali court ruling could force a complete rethink of search results
    The extraordinary case of the online retailer, special ops watches, and John Belushi

    We could be looking at a complete overhaul of search results thanks to a case involving Amazon and a high-end watch manufacturer.

    Earlier this week, California’s Ninth Circuit reversed a district court decision that the online retail giant does not infringe the trademark of Multi Time Machine (MTM) when it displays competitors’ products following a search on its product name.

    A search for “mtm special ops” produces a page of watches to buy but none of them are what the consumer is likely to be looking for (MTM’s Special Ops range), for the simple reason that MTM does not actively sell through Amazon, and does not allow its retailers to either.

    MTM claims that displaying competitors’ products following a search of its trademark is an infringement of that trademark and could lead to consumers being confused that the watches shown are actually its products.

    Amazon argued in response that the watches shown clearly identified the manufacturer (in this case Luminox), and so there would be no real customer confusion, and hence no infringement.

    The district court agreed with Amazon, but the appeals court did not. It felt instead that there was a real risk of confusion. For example, people could think MTM had been sold to Luminox, or that Luminox actually made MTM watches in the same way as Timex makes Versace watches.

    The district court decision was reversed, which means that it will now go to trial. The implications could be huge.

    The argument is that if someone searches for a particular product on a company’s website and they do not have it, they should make that clear.

    The judgment notes that on Overstock, for example, a search for “mtm special ops” brings up the text: “Sorry, your search: ‘mtm special ops’ returned no results.” It includes no pictures of watches.

    Amazon on the other hand knows that when people type in “mtm special ops,” they are looking for a particular type of military style watch. It then displays the military style watches that it has in its database.

    There are a number of different ways of looking at this issue, all of which could have far-reaching implications for online searches.

    Since the Ninth Circuit of California is the most influential court in the United States on internet matters, and given the continued dominance of American companies online, any decision would also have global implications.

    Working for consumers or for yourself?

    First up, the approach taken by Amazon could be seen as it using its market dominance to penalize any company that doesn’t sell products through its systems.

    By seamlessly offering military style watches to a search for a very particular brand (MTM in this case), Amazon is effectively making MTM invisible to huge numbers of people who are actively looking for its product. It’s no wonder MTM is furious.

    On the other hand, Amazon is offering its customers something useful. And it has gone to some lengths to make its search engine work extremely well for customers.

    Of course that assumes that Amazon actually sells both products. If it doesn’t offer one of them, the process becomes self-reinforcing: people buy whatever other product is close to what they looked for, and that in turn pushes it in front of future customers. The product that everyone is searching for becomes invisible. Good news for Amazon and for the companies that sell through it. Not so good for those that choose to avoid the company.

    The problem with putting trademark rights ahead of a company’s ability to improve its search technology is that it could end up limiting innovation. If every company has to consider trademark rights within its own systems or face being sued, it is going to put a quick stop to experimentation.

    Companies might decide it’s best just to give customers dead-end responses rather than try to figure out what they are trying to find. In short, online navigation may go backward instead of forward.

    The bigger question, however, is whether consumers are actually confused by Amazon’s approach.

    Will they really think that the products shown are MTM’s Special Ops watches? Or will they think: “Amazon doesn’t have what I’m looking for, but these might be good”?

    The judgment notes: “MTM did not submit colorable evidence of actual confusion. MTM offered its president’s testimony that he had knowledge of actual confusion. The district court found this testimony was too vague to constitute evidence.”

    the future of online search may be dependent on how confused a man called Eric was while looking for a watch that is used by the US military’s special forces.

    But if you really want some irony, consider this: there is no evidence that US special forces actually use MTM’s Special Ops products.

  33. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Brent Kendall / Wall Street Journal:
    In trade dispute over orthodontic devices, appeals court will consider whether the ITC can stop digital transmissions that infringe on intellectual property

    Imports of Digital Goods Face Test

    Court to decide if ITC has power to halt digital transmissions in trade dispute over orthodontic devices

    The clash over protecting a free-flowing Internet while also fighting online piracy has shifted to an unlikely and largely unknown setting: a legal battle about teeth-alignment devices at a federal trade body.

    A U.S. appeals court this month will consider whether federal tariff law gives the International Trade Commission the power to order a halt to foreign digital transmissions into the U.S. when those communications infringe U.S. intellectual property. Traditionally, the ITC has intervened only to stop the importation of physical goods.

    In a proceeding closely watched by tech companies and the movie, music and publishing industries, the commission expanded its approach last year while reviewing a trade dispute over orthodontic devices. The ITC decided it could take action against virtual material coming into the U.S. and ordered a Texas-based company, ClearCorrect, to stop receiving digital models and data from Pakistan for the manufacture of teeth aligners, invisible mouthpieces used as an alternative to braces.

    The Internet Association, a trade group representing companies like Google Inc., Inc. and Yahoo Inc., opposes the ITC’s approach, saying it could disrupt the global Internet and interfere with cloud-computing networks, where data is stored in centers all around the world.

    The current case is about patents, but the ITC also can take action against goods that infringe copyrights, an issue important to Hollywood and other rights holders. They are eyeing the ITC as a new venue for combating foreign websites that trade in pirated digital material and the ability of U.S. consumers to access them.

    The ITC process allows companies to file complaints alleging they are being harmed by illegal imports. The only remedies available to the commission are to exclude imports and to order companies to cease-and-desist from selling or distributing infringing goods. Companies using the process for physical goods often file related lawsuits in federal court seeking monetary damages and injunctions against infringing activity.

    As the teeth case has gained steam, open-Internet advocates have raised concerns about expanded ITC powers.

    “The concern is that the ITC is opening the door to Internet site-blocking, the policy that killed SOPA,” said Mr. Duan, director of Public Knowledge’s patent reform project. “Blocking data transmissions based on their content cuts against the general principles of the openness of the Internet, which has been a foundation of its success.”

  34. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Eriq Gardner / Hollywood Reporter:
    Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr ask to file amicus brief in movie studio suit against MovieTube, which seeks broad site-blocking SOPA-like power

    Tech Giants to Hollywood: Stop Trying to Resurrect SOPA

    Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr file a brief with the MPAA in the film studios’ lawsuit over MovieTube sites.

    With strong echoes of the tensions between the entertainment and tech sectors at the height of war over the Stop Online Piracy Act, a group of leading tech companies is interjecting its opinions in a piracy lawsuit being handled by the Motion Picture Association of America.

    Two weeks ago, Paramount, Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox, Columbia Pictures, Universal and Disney sued the anonymous operators of various MovieTube websites. The film companies aimed to do something about illegal streaming sites offering films like Avengers: Age of Ultron ahead of theatrical release.

    But was the lawsuit a Trojan horse for grander ambitions? The lawsuit not only aimed to shut down the pirates, but also sought a broad injunction that would order “third-party service providers [to] cease providing services” to those same sites.

    Now, Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr are asking a judge’s permission to file an amicus (“friend of the court”) brief.

  35. Tomi Engdahl says:
    UK police are waging war on piracy sites’ funding — and it’s working

    Most big piracy sites don’t charge their users a fee, but are still able to profit off of copyright infringement. Why? Because the operators plaster their pages in advertising.

    But British police now say they are making major headway in tackling this: On Wednesday, the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) announced that Operation Creative, launched in 2013, has led to a 73% decline in advertising “from the UK’s top ad spending companies on copyright infringing websites.”

    As part of Operation Creative, PIPCU created a kind of blacklist, the Infringing Website List (IWL). Sites hosting illegal content that do not engage with the agency when approached will be placed on the list, which is then circulated with Operation Creative partners and those in the ad business so they know not to advertise on those sites.
    Household brands inadvertently advertising alongside illegal copyrighted content has long been a problem online.
    Companies often rely on automated, programmatic advertising processes to place their adverts around the web. But if not properly policed, it can result in their ads appearing next to objectionable or illegal content. A 2013 report by the Digital Citizens Alliance estimates that advertising brought in $227 million in revenue for piracy sites.

    “The criminals behind these sites are making substantial sums of money from advertising,” said PIPCU chief inspector Peter Ratcliffe, “and inadvertently brands and advertisers are funding this online crime.”

    Read more:

  36. Tomi Engdahl says:
    The UK’s War On Porn: Turning ISPs Into Parents

    With British Prime Minister David Cameron announcing plans for porn users to be required to register their bank account/debit card as a means of age verification, Spiked-Online writer Stephen Beard explores the privacy implications, technical feasibility and motivations of such a plan.

    The UK war on porn: turning ISPs into parents


    11 August 2015

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    n a bid to ‘protect children’, British prime minister David Cameron has recently proposed further measures to regulate porn websites. His government plans to require internet service providers (ISPs) to filter porn sites that do not comply with new guidance, whereby they will have to verify the ages of visitors through credit-card or bank-account details. Currently, many porn sites just have an ‘enter your birthday’ method of age verification, which is inadequate, for obvious reasons, yet desirable in its anonymity and simplicity.

    It’s not as if ISPs don’t have enough to deal with, what with the growing list of ridiculous and pointless demands from government to censor the internet on its behalf. Now ISPs are being coerced into helping people raise their children, too. Because that’s what these plans amount to: state meddling in what should be a parental responsibility.

    The implications for privacy of this war on porn are immense. Suddenly, porn habits will be tied to someone’s bank account. Who is going to want that? After all, if Sony can be hacked, what’s to prevent a porn site from having user information hacked, and then leaked online? Such information could, thanks to our neurotic societal attitudes towards sex and sexuality, be used for the purposes of blackmail. As a result, many users are likely to find other, less regulated sources of porn, which may not fully adhere to industry standards.

  37. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Dallas Buyers Club case dealt blow by Australian court

    An Australian court has blocked a US company from accessing details of customers who illegally downloaded the US movie Dallas Buyers Club.

    The company, which owns the rights to the 2013 movie, is seeking compensation from people who pirated the movie.

    But the Federal Court of Australia said the company had to pay a large bond before it could access their data.

    Many Australians regularly illegally download digital content, such as movies.

    ‘Speculative invoicing’

    Dallas Buyers Club LLC (DBC) said it had identified 4,726 unique IP addresses from which the film was shared online using BitTorrent, a peer-to-peer file sharing network.

    But the Federal Court of Australia said DBC would have to pay A$600,000 ($442,000; £283,000) to obtain customer details.

    In a judgement published on Friday, the court also limited any damages DBC could seek from alleged copyright infringers.

    The ruling will prevent the company from so-called speculative invoicing.

    Friday’s judgement said that even after the court had seen the proposed letters, as well as the scripts DBC staff would follow in phone conversations with alleged infringers, it was unclear how much money the company would ask customers to pay.

    The judgement said DBC wanted to pursue alleged infringers for:

    the cost of an actual purchase of a copy of the film
    a “substantial” one-off licence fee for each infringer on the basis they were engaged in the widespread distribution of the film
    a claim for additional damages
    a claim for damages arising from the amount of money it had cost DBC to obtain each infringer’s name.

    Justice Nye Perram said the second and third requests were “untenable”.

  38. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Legal Scholars Warn Against 10 Year Prison For Online Pirates

    The UK Government wants to increase the maximum prison sentence for online copyright infringement from two years to ten. A number legal experts and activists are pushing back against the plan.

    Online pirates could face 10 years in jail

    Online copyright infringement currently carries a maximum penalty of two years’ imprisonment.

    Ministers have launched a consultation on increasing it to 10 years – bringing it into line with copyright infringement of physical goods.

  39. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Police Arrest Men For Spreading Popcorn Time Information
    By Andy on August 19, 2015

    Police in Denmark have arrested the alleged operators of two Popcorn Time guide websites. The domains of both operations have also been seized by the authorities. The case is controversial in that both sites were Popcorn Time information resources and neither linked to copyright-infringing material.

    More than a year after its 2014 launch and the popularity of the now famous Popcorn Time video streaming application is showing no signs of fading away.

    However, since millions of people use the various forks of the software every day, Popcorn Time is increasingly attracting the attention of copyright holders, anti-piracy groups and law enforcement agencies.

    While neither of the main forks have yet been targeted, others around them are feeling the heat. In fact, the latest news coming out of Denmark suggests that the authorities are even prepared to hit those barely on the perimeter.

    While arrests of file-sharers and those running sites that closely facilitate infringement are nothing new, this week’s arrests appear to go way beyond anything seen before. The two men are not connected to the development of Popcorn Time and have not been offering copyrighted content for download.

    Importantly, neither site hosted the Popcorn Time software, instead choosing to link to other sites where the application could be downloaded instead. Nevertheless, this doesn’t appear to have saved them from the Danish authorities.

    Both men stand accused of distributing knowledge and guides on how to obtain illegal content online and are reported to have confessed.

    Inspector Michael Hellensberg from the Danish police Fraud Squad told local media that the case is a significant one in a number of respects.

    “The case is important because, firstly, it shows that [site operators] can be revealed by the police. This has consequences and it also conveys the message that this behavior is illegal,” Hellensberg said.

  40. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Two Danes face up to six years in jail for explaining how to use Popcorn Time
    Another case of disproportionate punishment just because copyright is involved.

    Danish police have arrested two men alleged to be the operators of sites related to the open-source program Popcorn Time, which adds a user-friendly front-end to a BitTorrent client to make the whole process of finding, downloading, and viewing video torrents extremely simple. The two domains, and, have now been shut down, but copies on the Wayback Machine show that both were merely information sites, and neither offered material that infringed on copyrights, nor any version of the Popcorn Time software itself. Both sites warned users about potential copyright infringement issues.

    The men are accused of “distributing knowledge and guides on how to obtain illegal content online,” as TorrentFreak reports, and have apparently pleaded guilty. Moreover, distributing information is considered such a serious violation of Danish copyright law that “they could face punishment under section 299b of the penal code—offenses which carry a maximum prison term of six years.” That seems an extraordinarily harsh and disproportionate upper limit for merely explaining how to use a program, just because copyright is involved in some way.

    A similar case has already been heard in the UK, where it was found that sites offering downloads of the Popcorn Time software contributed to the copyright infringement that results from its use.

    The fact that such a tangential involvement in copyright-infringing activities could lead to criminal charges and years in prison shows how hard the film industry is trying to stamp out the use of Popcorn Time, which is difficult to attack using conventional lawsuits because of how it is produced and made available freely.

  41. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Maira Sutton / Electronic Frontier Foundation:
    Hollywood and big media could derail tech industry’s effort to improve TPP copyright and fair use rules

    Will Hollywood’s Whining Thwart Better TPP Copyright Rules?

    As far as secret, corporate-driven trade agreements go, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a particularly terrible deal for users, not least because it empowers Hollywood and other big publishers at the expense of everyone else. But there seems to be a glimmer of hope that one critical part of it could be improved. Some tech companies and policymakers are lobbying hard to increase the flexibility of the TPP’s language on exceptions and limitations to copyright. According to reports, lobbyists representing companies like Google and other members of the Internet Association and lawmakers like Sen. Ron Wyden have been working behind the scenes to pressure the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) to reopen the text for amendment.

  42. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Two Danes face up to six years in jail for explaining how to use Popcorn Time
    Another case of disproportionate punishment just because copyright is involved.
  43. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Pirate Music Site Op Pleads Guilty, Faces Five Years in Prison
    By Andy on August 24, 2015
    C: 6

    A man who operated websites offering unauthorized copies of music has pleaded guilty to several copyright infringement offenses. Rocky P. Ouprasith, 23, of Charlotte, N.C., operated the popular sites RockDizMusic and RockDizFile. He now faces up to five years in federal prison when he is sentenced later this yea

  44. Tomi Engdahl says:
    75,000 Popcorn Time Users in Crosshairs of Anti-Piracy Group
    By Andy on August 25, 2015

    The Norwegian division of Rights Alliance says it has gathered data on tens of thousands of Popcorn Time users and is now considering its next steps. A change in the law allows the Hollywood affiliated anti-piracy group to monitor suspected Internet users and it is now warning of “a surprise in the mail” this fall.

    Less than 18 months since its original launch in 2014 and the controversial Popcorn Time software is still making headlines. The application’s colorful and easy to use interface has proven a hit with users and now anti-piracy groups in the United States and Europe are fighting back.

    Last month Norwegian anti-piracy group Rettighets Alliansen (Rights Alliance) blamed Popcorn Time for a piracy explosion in the country and warned that it was monitoring pirates. More information is now being made available.

    Norway has a population of just over 5.1m and it’s estimated that around 750,000 obtain video from illegal sources. However, it’s now being claimed that a third of those – 250,000 – are using Popcorn Time on a weekly basis. Rights Alliance says it has been watching them closely.

    “In relation to the legislation we have in Norway, Rights Alliance is fully entitled to collect IP addresses of Popcorn Time users. This is not problematic as we see it,” explains Inspectorate Director Bjorn Erik Thon

    “Rights Alliance may collect IP addresses, but to find out the identities of who is behind them requires a trial,” he notes.

  45. Tomi Engdahl says:
    UK police triples use of ad-hijacking tech on alleged piracy websites
    Highly targeted approach is welcome, but lack of judicial oversight an issue.

    The City of London Police has stepped up its ad-hijacking program, trebling the number of alleged piracy websites that it targets. The program, called Operation Creative, replaces conventional revenue-driving ads with anti-piracy warnings. Last year, the City of London Police targeted 74 websites; this year, according to information obtained by TorrentFreak with a Freedom of Information request, the number of sites is up to 251.

    Operation Creative was launched in 2013 with the aim of reducing the advertising carried by sites offering unauthorised copies of copyrighted works. In a recent press release, the City of London’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) claimed that since the start of the scheme, “there has been a 73% decrease in advertising from the UK’s top ad spending companies on copyright infringing websites.”

    A key element of the system is the Infringing Website List, which provides the digital advertising sector with “an up-to-date list of copyright infringing sites, identified by the creative industries, evidenced and verified by PIPCU, so that advertisers, agencies and other intermediaries can cease advert placement on these illegal websites.”


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