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:
    Russian social network ordered to act on piracy

    A Russian social network, notorious for streaming pirated music, has been ordered by a court to use technology to prevent future copyright infringement.

    Record labels Warner and Universal sued VKontakte (VK) in 2014, demanding the removal of the pirated music and 50 million rubles ($1.4m) in damages.

    The court ruling goes one step further by asking it to install preventative technology.

    In July, VKontakte reached a settlement with Sony Music.

    The Russian social network is something of an anomaly in the market, according to the body which represents the music industry, IFPI .

    It told the BBC that VK is one of the few widely used social networks to still make pirated music available.

    It had requested that the social network be forced to use fingerprint technology which could match uploaded music against a file of copyright music to filter out all pirated tracks.

    “VK’s infringing music service has been a huge obstacle to the development of a licensed business in Russia, making available hundreds of thousands of copyright-infringing tracks to more than 70 million daily users.”

  2. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Owen Williams / The Next Web:
    Leaked TPP agreement requires member countries to honor copyright takedowns

    Wikileaks has released what it says is the final text of the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, a “free trade” deal between the United States and eight other countries.

    The text contains an interesting provision in the Intellectual Property Rights chapter regarding ISPs and their obligations to copyright holders.

    Under the TPP, an ISP is defined quite broadly:

    For the purposes of this Section, “ Internet service provider” means: (a) A provider of online services for the transmission, routing, or providing of connections for digital online communications, between or among points specified by a user, of material of the user’s

    By that definition an ISP is your internet provider, but would also ​extend to​ companies like Dropbox, Mega and other file storage services hosted within member countries.

    The section requires that member countries instate “legal remedies” for copyright holders to co-operate with ISPs and deter “unauthorized storage and transmission” of pirated materials such as movies, music and other content.

  3. Tomi Engdahl says:
    The Final Leaked TPP Text Is All That We Feared

    Today’s release by Wikileaks of what is believed to be the current and essentially final version of the intellectual property (IP) chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) confirms our worst fears about the agreement, and dashes the few hopes that we held out that its most onerous provisions wouldn’t survive to the end of the negotiations.

    Binding Rules for Rightsholders, Soft Guidelines for Users

    f you dig deeper, you’ll notice that all of the provisions that recognize the rights of the public are non-binding, whereas almost everything that benefits rightsholders is binding.

    Another, and perhaps the most egregious example of this bias against users is the important provision on limitations and exceptions to copyright (QQ.G.17). In a pitifully ineffectual nod towards users, it suggests that parties “endeavor to achieve an appropriate balance in its copyright and related rights system,” but imposes no hard obligations for them to do so, nor even offers U.S.-style fair use as a template that they might follow.

    Perhaps the biggest overall defeat for users is the extension of the copyright term to life plus 70 years (QQ.G.6), despite a broad consensus that this makes no economic sense, and simply amounts to a transfer of wealth from users to large, rights-holding corporations.

    Ban on Circumventing Digital Rights Management (DRM)

    The provisions in QQ.G.10 that prohibit the circumvention of DRM or the supply of devices for doing so are little changed from earlier drafts, other than that the opposition of some countries to the most onerous provisions of those drafts was evidently to no avail.

    The odd effect of this is that someone tinkering with a file or device that contains a copyrighted work can be made liable (criminally so, if wilfullness and a commercial motive can be shown), for doing so even when no copyright infringement is committed. Although the TPP text does allow countries to pass exceptions that allow DRM circumvention for non-infringing uses, such exceptions are not mandatory, as they ought to be.

    The parties’ flexibility to allow DRM circumvention also requires them to consider whether rightsholders have already taken measures to allow those non-infringing uses to be made. This might mean that rightsholders will rely on the walled-garden sharing capabilities built in to their DRM systems, such as Ultraviolet, to oppose users being granted broader rights to circumvent DRM.

    Criminal Enforcement and Civil Damages

    On damages, the text (QQ.H.4) remains as bad as ever: rightsholders can submit “any legitimate measure of value” to a judicial authority for determination of damages, including the suggested retail price of infringing goods.

    No exception to these damages provisions is made in cases where the rightsholder cannot be found after a diligent search, which puts the kibosh on ideas for the introduction of an orphan works regime that would cap remedies available against those who reproduce these otherwise-unavailable works.

    Trade Secrets

    The severity of the earlier language on trade secrets protection has not been abated in the final text. It continues to criminalize those who gain “unauthorized, willful access to a trade secret held in a computer system,” without any mandatory exception for cases where the information is accessed or disclosed in the public interest, such as by investigative journalists or whistleblowers.

    Top-Down Control of the Internet

    ICANN, the global domain name authority, provoked a furore earlier this year over proposals that could limit the ability for owners of domain names to shield their personal information from copyright and trademark trolls, identity thieves, scammers and harassers.

    The TPP has just ridden roughshod over that entire debate (at least for country-code top-level domains such as .us, .au and .jp), by cementing in place rules (QQ.C.12) that countries must provide “online public access to a reliable and accurate database of contact information concerning domain-name registrants.”

    ISP Liability

    The provisions on ISP liability (Appendix Section I), as we previously found in the last leaked text, are not quite as permissive as we hoped. It will still require most countries to adopt a version of the flawed U.S. DMCA notice-and-takedown system, albeit with a few safeguards such as penalties for those who issue wrongful takedown notices, and allowing (but not requiring) a Japanese-style system of verification of takedown notices by an independent body of ISPs and rightsholders.

    Good Points?

    Quite honestly there are no parts of this agreement that are positively good for users. Of course, that doesn’t mean that it’s not improved over the earlier, horrendous demands of the U.S. negotiators.

  4. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Ernesto / TorrentFreak:
    Google urges US government not to require whole-site removal of copyright infringing domains

    Google Opposes Whole-Site Removal of “Pirate” Domains
    By Ernesto on October 21, 2015

    Google is rejecting calls from copyright holders to remove entire domain names from Google search based on copyright infringements. In a letter to the U.S. Government the company points out that this would prove counterproductive and lead to overbroad censorship.

    In recent years the movie and music industries have continually pressured Google to take action against online piracy.

    Ideally, groups including the MPAA and RIAA want search engines to remove clearly infringing websites from their search results entirely, especially if courts have previously found them to be acting illegally.

    Just recently the MPAA reiterated this stance in recommendations to U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator (IPEC) Daniel Marti.

    However, Google disagrees and is now urging the Government not to facilitate or promote so-called “whole-site” removals. According to the search giant this may lead to overbroad censorship.

    “Unfortunately, whole-site removal is ineffective and can easily result in censorship of lawful material,” Google writes.

    according to Google the current DMCA takedown system is both effective and efficient enough to deal with all infringing content

    “The DMCA provides copyright owners with an effective and efficient framework for removing any infringing page on a site,” Google stresses, noting that it has removed hundreds of millions of URLs already this year.

    Removing or blocking entire websites might not only chill free speech but also prove counterproductive, Google says.

    “Whole site removal would simply drive piracy to new domains, legitimate sites, and social networks,” the company notes, adding that copyright holders should go after the site’s revenue sources instead.

    Another downside of whole-site removal is that the U.S. would send the wrong message to the rest of the world.

    If the U.S. is prepared to censor entire websites based on copyright violations, then other regimes may find it easier to demand the same based on local laws. For example, by demanding the removal of news sites based on political statements, or insults to religion.

    “This would jeopardize free speech principles, emerging services, and the free flow of information online globally and in contexts far removed from copyright,” Google notes.

  5. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Google Says It Will Not De-List Entire Sites For Copyright Violations

    In an open letter to the Office and Management and Budget’s Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator, Google announced today that it opposes the practice of removing entire sites from search results.

    Google’s letter is in response to a public solicitation by Daniel H. Marti, the United States Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator. In early September, the United States’ head intellectual property office asked for public and input in shaping the country’s Joint Strategic Plan on Intellectual Property from 2016-2019.

    In their recommendations to the Joint Strategic Plan, Google stated its opposition to the current practice of whole-site removal. This is when search platforms like Google remove entire domains from search results if any part of them contains infringing materials.

    TorrentFreak Google Comment — Development of the Joint Strategic Plan on Intellectual Property Enforcement

  6. Tomi Engdahl says:
    The most popular Popcorn Time fork has been shut down
    Perhaps for good

    Is Popcorn Time’s wild run coming to an end? One of the two biggest versions of the illegal streaming service,, was reportedly shut down for good last week after a dispute between developers. The website itself is unavailable, the app no longer works, and an official Twitter account announced last Friday (in what it described as “probably” its last message) that users should instead download Butter, a legal version of the app.

    Earlier last week, a number of’s core developers left the project, fearing that the proposed inclusion of a paid anonymizing VPN service would lead to legal trouble.

    So, is this the end for Popcorn Time? Yes and no. was the most popular version of the app, endorsed by the streaming service’s original creators (who left the project in March last year), but other forks remain, including Time4Popcorn, which is hosted at However, while the .io version was generally thought to be safe to use, the .se fork has been frequently accused of hosting adware and viruses that infect users’ computers.

    In other words, one of the qualities that made Popcorn Time so popular — its relative safety compared to shadier pirating sites — is no longer assured.

  7. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Eriq Gardner / Hollywood Reporter:
    MPAA claims responsibility for shutting down and torrent site YTS — MPAA Touts Big Legal Success Against Popcorn Time — The studios trade association has scored injunctions in Canada and New Zealand over and the torrent outfit YTS.

    MPAA Touts Big Legal Success Against Popcorn Time

    The studios trade association has scored injunctions in Canada and New Zealand over and the torrent outfit YTS.

    The Motion Picture Association of America is hailing a success in the ongoing fight against piracy with word that the trade association has won the shutdown of the “official” Popcorn Time fork as well as torrent outfit YTS.

    In an announcement on Tuesday, the MPAA says that closed after a court order in Canada. The shutdown of the main Popcorn Time fork was first reported in late October and attributed at the time to in-fighting by some of its core developers.

    In the past few weeks, the MPAA appears to have ramped up its international efforts on the legal front.

  8. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Controversial Trade Deal May Actually Help Net Neutrality

    The Trans-Pacific Partnership has its fair share of critics among the digerati. Activists have been up in arms for years over leaked chapters of this international trade proposal, which is under consideration by US law makers. These critics say that the proposal favors patent and copyright holders over consumers, and some worry that it could harm net neutrality—the notion that all Internet traffic should be treated equally.

    The release of the full text of the agreement has done little to stem the complaints. Privacy advocates say the proposals privacy protections are too weak. But it’s not all bad news for digital rights groups. Some experts believe that the TTP could actually help with net neutrality.

    Although it stops short of requiring that member states adopt network neutrality laws, the telecommunications chapter may give regulators authority to impose more strict rules on internet service providers, says John Bergmayer, a senior staff attorney at digital right advocacy organization Public Knowledge.

  9. Tomi Engdahl says:
    TPP: ‘Scary’ US-Pacific trade deal published – you’re going to freak out when you read it
    ‘Cos all those pitchforks you bought will go to waste

    The text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has finally been revealed, after seven years of negotiations and following formal approval last month.

    The text was first published by the government of New Zealand, but was swiftly followed by the United States government, which has uploaded it across a number of websites and in different formats.

    US president Barack Obama has informed Congress that he intends to sign the deal in 60 days. Unless Congress formally prevents him from doing so, the biggest trade deal in a generation, covering trade between most countries on the Pacific Rim (with the notable exception of China), will likely come into effect in 2016 and 2017.

    The deal is long and complex: it stretches to 2,000 pages and is written in largely technical and legal language, making quick analysis difficult.

    Probably the best place to scour the text is through the US government posts on Medium. There it is broken out by section and easily readable.

    If you are more of a PDF person, then all sections are downloadable on the US Trade Representative website.

  10. Tomi Engdahl says:
    The Trans-Pacific Partnership
    Leveling the playing field for American workers & American businesses.

    TPP Final Table of Contents

  11. Tomi Engdahl says:
    UK’s Intellectual Property Obliteration office attacked by Parliament
    ‘If the copyright cops won’t protect rights, who will?’

    With the British economy now increasingly dependent on “intangibles” – brands, designs, patents and copyright – a cross-party group of MPs and peers has called for stronger support for the industries which produce such things at Whitehall. It has also called for bureaucrats to stop kicking these industries in the nuts whenever they can.

    “If the Intellectual Property Office isn’t trying to protect IP and it’s called the IPO – I wonder who is,” said Lord Timothy Clement-Jones, the Lib Dem culture spokesman in the Lords, at the launch of the report.

    “The way IPO describes its own role is extraordinary,” Clement-Jones said. “It never talks about protecting and enhancing IP, or the enforcement of IP. There’s a huge gap there in government”.

    “The inquiry came about because of a growing concern that people who depend on intellectual property rights for their livelihoods thought it was not getting sufficient recognition in government,” said Whittingdale. “The IPO was very good at some things but there were areas where it could be stronger.”

    The report noted the difficulty that the IPO bureaucrats had when attempting to describe IP in hearings before the Group earlier this year. Their reference to a “framework” implicitly undermines it, the report points out, and lends itself to regulatory tweaking, rather than consumer-friendly market building.

  12. Tomi Engdahl says:
    BitTorrent Usage Doesn’t Equal Piracy, Cox Tells Court

    U.S. Internet provider Cox Communications is scheduled to go to trial soon, defending itself against copyright infringement claims from two music companies. In a new motion Cox asks the court to prohibit the use of any material claiming that BitTorrent equals piracy. BitTorrent has plenty legitimate uses and equating it to infringement would mislead the jury during trial, the ISP argues.

    Last year BMG Rights Management and Round Hill Music sued Cox Communications, arguing that the ISP fails to terminate accounts that are frequently used to pirate content.

    The case is crucial as it may define the obligations of Internet providers hoping to keep their safe harbor protections. Ideally, the music companies would like to have the accounts of repeat infringers terminated.

    Both sides are currently preparing for trial and Cox recently submitted a motion to the court, where it asks for a ban on statements and evidence which equate BitTorrent to piracy.

    “Plaintiffs seek to introduce testimony and third-party hearsay — with inflammatory statements such as ‘File-Sharing Is Really About Piracy’ — as proof that BitTorrent use equates to the existence of infringement,” Cox writes

    Instead of generalizing BitTorrent traffic as copyright infringement, the music companies should offer direct proof that Cox subscribers pirated their work. Any other allegations are inappropriate and misleading according to Cox.

    “Plaintiffs are free to try to prove that specific BitTorrent users on Cox’s network actually infringed Plaintiffs’ copyrights”

    The Internet provider further stresses that there are plenty legitimate uses for the popular file-sharing protocol. It’s not just a technology that’s exclusidely used by pirates.

  13. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Sky warning over ‘cash for porn’ letter

    Sky has warned some of its customers they are likely to receive letters demanding cash for illegally downloaded pornographic films.

    The letters, from the Golden Eye company, which has previously targeted O2 customers, threaten legal action.

    While Sky stops short of telling users not to pay, it advises them to “carefully read the letter”.

    The practice of so-called speculative invoicing has been criticised by judges and solicitors in other cases.

    Speculative invoicing is defined by the Citizens’ Advice Bureau as a “pay up or else” scheme in which “some unscrupulous solicitors and companies… target subscribers to internet services and demand payment from them for copyright infringement to avoid having to go to court”.

    Sky said Golden Eye had “successfully applied for a court order against Sky”.

    This required the internet service provider (ISP) to hand over the IP addresses Golden Eye had identified as being associated with downloading films illegally.

    “We have written to all affected customers, advising them carefully to read the letter from Golden Eye, and if they want any further help, to contact the Citizens’ Advice Bureau,” Sky said.

    Golden Eye director Julian Becker told the BBC that letters would be sent to “thousands” of Sky customers.

    He denied that the company was involved in speculative invoicing, saying that “rights holders… both adult and mainstream producers have every right to protect their content and livelihood from internet thieves”.

    “We have only written to those account holders for whom we have evidence of copyright infringement,” he said.

    Michael Coyle, who has represented hundreds of clients who have faced similar letters, said those people who receive them were in a difficult position.

    “If they go to a solicitor, they will want a minimum of £500 to £700, and that is about what Golden Eye will ask for compensation, so many will think that it is easier to pay to make it go away,” he said.

  14. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Perfect 10 Owes Giganews $5.6m But Won’t Pay Up
    By Andy on November 22, 2015

    Adult publisher and copyright troll Perfect 10 bit off more than it could chew when it took on Usenet provider Giganews. After mounting an aggressive copyright lawsuit, Giganews fought back, won its case, and the court landed Perfect 10 with a $5.6m bill. However, eight months later and not a single penny has been paid. Giganews is losing patience.

    Over the course of several years, adult publisher Perfect 10 became less known for its love of women of a certain size and more for its desire to drag companies to court on dubious copyright grounds.

    In fact, the company became so litigious that one of its main sources of ‘business’ was the suing of everyone from Google, Amazon, MasterCard and Visa, to RapidShare, Depositfiles and hosting providers LeaseWeb and OVH.

    Like most copyright trolls Perfect 10 prefers private settlements since court wins are harder to come by. However, when the adult publisher took on Usenet provider Giganews, a company that was never likely to fold, things went from bad to worse.

    In November 2014 a court found that Giganews was not liable for the infringing activities of its customers and in February this year Perfect 10 received its biggest mauling so far, with a court handing Giganews victory and slamming Perfect 10 for the way it conducted its case.

    In March 2015 came the icing on the cake, when the United States District Court for the Central District of California ordered the publisher to pay Giganews $5.6m in attorney’s fees and costs. However, the battle is not over yet.

    According to various court filings in recent weeks, Giganews is having trouble getting money out of Perfect 10.

    While $5.6m is indeed a large amount, the attorney reveals that in the past eight months Perfect 10 hasn’t paid the Usenet provider a single penny.

    Perfect 10 already owes an additional $8,610.03 in accrued interest.


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