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:

    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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The Trans-Pacific Partnership
    Leveling the playing field for American workers & American businesses.

    TPP Final Table of Contents

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Andy / TorrentFreak:
    Software pirate in Czech Republic must get 200K YouTube hits on anti-piracy film or face fine after agreement with plaintiffs — Busted Pirate Told to Get 200K YouTube Hits or Face Huge Fine — Over the past 15 years countless individuals have faced financial punishments due to online copyright infringement offenses.

    Busted Pirate Told to Get 200K YouTube Hits or Face Huge Fine
    By Andy on November 25, 2015
    C: 109

    A software pirate is facing the most unusual punishment ever seen in a copyright infringement action. The man lost a case brought by an anti-piracy group but couldn’t pay damages, so instead agreed to star in PSA showcasing his life as a pirate. If that film doesn’t get 200K hits on YouTube, he’ll be required to pay a large fine.

  15. Tomi Engdahl says:

    YouTube Pays Users’ Legal Bills to Defend Fair Use
    By Andy on November 20, 2015
    C: 44

    Google has strengthened its stance towards wrongful DMCA notices that serve to intimidate YouTube users. Drawing a symbolic line in the sand, Google says it will cover legal costs associated with defending four videos which all use copyrighted content but are protected under ‘fair use’ legislation, should they be targeted by rightsholders.

    According to Google more than half a million hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every day. Although with ContentID the company tries, determining the copyright status of every single minute is an almost impossible task.

    While identifying copyrighted movies, TV shows and music are all within the company’s abilities, when used in certain ways all of those things can be legally shown on YouTube, even without copyright holders’ permission.

    Under U.S. law the concept is known as ‘fair use’ and it enables copyrighted material to be used for purposes including criticism, news reporting, teaching and research. However, some copyright holders like to contest the use of their content on YouTube no matter what the context, issuing DMCA takedown notices and landing YouTube users with a ‘strike’ against their account.

    YouTube has been criticized in the past for not doing enough to protect its users against wrongful claims but now the company appears to be drawing a line in the sand, albeit a limited one, in defense of those legally using copyrighted content in transformative ways.

    In a blog post Google’s Copyright Legal Director says that YouTube will showcase several user-created videos in its Copyright Center and cover all legal costs should rightsholders challenge how each uses copyrighted content.

    A Step Toward Protecting Fair Use on YouTube

  16. Tomi Engdahl says:

    German court says ISPs may have to block music-sharing sites

    Germany’s highest court said Internet service providers could be made responsible for blocking websites offering illegal music downloads, but only if copyright holders showed they had first made reasonable attempts to thwart such piracy by other means.

    The federal Supreme Court dismissed two cases brought by music rights society GEMA against Deutsche Telekom and music companies Universal Music, Sony and Warner Music Group against Telefonica’s O2 Deutschland.

    It said on Thursday the plaintiffs did not make enough effort to halt the copyright violations in the first place but it said Internet service providers could in principle be held responsible for blocking music illegally available on the Internet, even if the content remained available elsewhere.

  17. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Ernesto / TorrentFreak:
    German ISPs may have to block pirate sites if copyright holders exhaust all other options to identify operators or hosting providers, supreme court says

    Supreme Court Opens Door for Pirate Site Blockades in Germany
    By Ernesto on November 26, 2015
    C: 43

    The German Supreme Court has today opened the door for ISP blockades of copyright infringing sites. In a landmark decision the court ruled that ISPs can be required to block websites if copyright holders fail to identify their operators or hosting providers.

  18. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Glyn Moody / Ars Technica UK:
    It is now illegal to make private copies of copyrighted media files in the UK after withdrawal of country’s 2014 private copying exception regulations

    Thanks to the music industry, it is illegal to make private copies of music—again
    You’re also forbidden from format-shifting or uploading to the cloud.

    The UK’s 2014 private copying exception, which allowed you to make personal copies of your own music, including format-shifted versions, has now been definitively withdrawn, according to The 1709 Blog. As a result, it is once more illegal to make personal backups of your own music, videos or e-books, rip CDs and DVDs to standalone digital files, or upload your music to the cloud.

    The UK’s new private copying exception had been in a state of legal limbo following a judicial review of the legislation in June, which had been sought by the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors, the Musicians’ Union, and UK Music. In his review, the High Court judge mostly found in favour of the UK government, except for one crucial aspect. He said the UK government’s decision to bring in the new copyright exception was “flawed” because “the evidence relied upon to justify the conclusion about harm was inadequate/manifestly inadequate.”

    This left the UK government with three options. It could carry out further research to prove more rigorously that copyright holders would not suffer from the introduction of this personal copy exception, in which case the law could stand; it could repeal the relevant section of the law; or it could introduce a compensation scheme. In the end, it decide to throw up its hands and withdraw the private copyright exception completely.

  19. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Joe Zadeh / Noisey:
    How Kane Robinson, who ran the obscure music forum Dancing Jesus, became the target of the UK’s biggest piracy case

    How a Kid Running an Obscure Music Forum Became the Target Of the UK’s Biggest Ever Piracy Case

    A 23 year old male had been arrested as the brains behind a music forum called Dancing Jesus, and would be facing court imminently. A year passed, until I saw his name again, this time on the Daily Mail online, and with a lot more criminal gravitas attached. He was now described as “an internet pirate who set up music sharing website that cost industry £240million.” He had been sentenced to 32 months in prison; the longest prison sentence ever given to an internet music piracy case in the UK.

    For a few thousand people, the Dancing Jesus music forum will wreak nostalgia for a time period when you deeply considered buying a Libertines jacket and were proud to know every word to Bloc Party’s “Banquet”. For those unaware, it was a no fuss music message board of around 12,000 users operational between 2006 and 2011. Fans of mostly British indie music would gather to discuss albums, rate gigs, share mixtapes, swap MegaUpload, Mediafire, or Rapidshare links to new and unreleased music, and explain to each other how the hell to use WinRAR.

    “It always makes me laugh when people emphasised in the news stories about me that I’d ran this whole thing from a bedroom on the North East coast,” says Kane. “Where else am I gonna run a fucking website from like? You make a website at home!”

    And the more I talked with Kane and investigated his story, the less I found the nefarious, industry destroying, £240million plundering, criminal mastermind I’d been led to expect, and the more I become acquainted with a slightly naive and over-enthusiastic music fan who made silly mistakes at a very serious time.

    Early on, he promised users there would never be any advertising on the forum, that he would make no money from it, and the bill would always be footed by Kane alone. He already had a job; he just wanted this to be a hobby.

    He made two rooms

    He started out by just telling his mates about it. “I was saying, ‘Look, I’ve set up a forum here, if you wanna share music then come to me because I’ve bought a server so I won’t get shut down as quick as these other websites.’

    Dancing Jesus never actually hosted any illegal files. It didn’t have the means to. It was simply a forum. Users would find files or links elsewhere, and use the forum as a place to share and discuss them. If MegaUpload or Pirate Bay were kalashnikov guarded Colombian cocaine meccas, then Dancing Jesus forum was a dead end British nightclub one thousand miles away, with a small crowd of regulars and a handful of part time dealers – and Kane was the owner. Yes, he was breaking the law – guilty of what is called ‘authorising copyright infringement’ – but he was so far down the food chain, it was barely worth thinking about.

    During its golden years, Dancing Jesus epitomised a unique time in British music. It felt like there was a hype new band every fortnight, and the concept of physical release dates was getting battered by the immediacy demands of the internet and its consumers

    Leaked records and file sharing became pretty much the norm amongst youngsters. Internet service providers had not yet started to crackdown on suspect websites, 28% of Britons admitted to downloading copyright material without paying for it, and 80% admitted they desired a legal form of P2P file sharing going forward. For tech-savvy music fans, it was like the roaring twenties; for label owners, it was like the Great Depression.

    “It got popular, but I was still dead against making money off it,” says Kane. “I had no desire to, and I knew that would just get me into trouble. So, I had no adverts, and I paid for it all myself. I got pleasure from seeing the community grow. People were sharing music with each other, sharing recommendations – just being mates online really. I do suspect some relationships even started on there.”

    Kane didn’t see himself as a cyber criminal. He wasn’t part of some dark cabal exchanging links on encrypted messenger services, gleaning leaks straight from CD pressing plants, or sending ship loads of pirate copies to China. He’d never heard of the warez scene and he didn’t use the darknet. He was just a reasonably tech-savvy indie fan with a little forum, who dabbled in a bit of file sharing. Didn’t everyone?

    His feeling of innocence was probably what blinded him from seeing the hurricane that was beginning to gather at sea. Governments on both sides of the Atlantic were beginning to invest more manpower than ever into internet piracy cases.

    There were other warnings though. New users would spring up on Dancing Jesus, writing that they had been driven there because all their usual hangouts had been closed down and prosecuted. But Kane was unperturbed. “We’d been going for years by now, and purposefully made no money. I was sure that if anyone was annoyed with what I was doing, I would hear from them. I was never told to shut Dancing Jesus down.”

    In his first interview, he accepted all of the blame for the website and rejected opportunities to put any of it onto moderators or forum admins. He was released on bail and surprisingly told that Dancing Jesus, which had been taken down by authorities, could be set online again if he wished, as long as he ensured no download links were hosted on there anymore.

    Apart from that, the only other thing they wanted to know: who was Trix? Kane had no idea. He rebooted the forum, told the users what had happened, and banned the posting of links.

    Then his case went cold.

    Kane was being privately prosecuted by the BPI (British Phonographic Industry), and, from there, things gradually fell apart. His cheap Dallas server had been seized by US Homeland Security, landing Kane in the crosshairs of the world’s most vociferous piracy hunters, and making his case one of the first copyright infringement cases in which US and UK authorities had worked together. Kane started to get a feeling in the back of his mind that this could be getting bigger than he first thought. The BPI were prosecuting him, and it was a big deal. It was time to get some legal aid.

    “Those whole 3 years from arrest to sentencing, people were asking me what’s happening? Are you gonna get jail? Maybe. I’ve no idea. Nobody knew.”

    To understand Kane’s case, you need to look at the mood surrounding it. The high profile failure to prosecute Oink’s Pink Palace and ongoing international case of Kim Dotcom and his expensive defence team, left bad tastes in the mouths of the music industry.

    Hundreds of cases launched by the BPI throughout the 2000s had resulted in nothing more than fines (the most of around £5,000) and suing.

    In the US, big piracy prison sentences were being handed out, but the UK felt like a more lenient landscape.

    “The weekend before sentencing, I sat down with my barrister, and he read out that they would be accusing me of pirating 46 of the top 50 singles from 2010/11. I gave him my rebuttal to that. But then, on the day of sentencing, this £240million figure suddenly sprung out of the air. And that ended up being what my entire sentence ended up based on.”

    On November 10th 2014, despite having no prior criminal convictions, Kane was sentenced to 32 months in prison. Richard Graham, aka Trix, was given a shorter sentence of 21 months. Kane’s face was plastered over the front of local and national newspapers.

    The Daily Mail painted his forum like some sort of grandiose Gatsby mansion of pre-release debauchery, writing on Nov 11th 2014 that Dancing Jesus had “70 million users” (more than Apple Music and Spotify put together, if only it were true) who could “listen to almost any song or album after its release date.”

    The severity of Kane’s sentence is a sticking point.

    One can cast a comparative eye to the case of American citizen Bennie Lydell Glover, a former factory worker at a Universal Music CD pressing plant who pirated and leaked hundreds of the biggest albums in the world over a ten year period
    New York Times as “the man who broke the music industry”. In 2010, Glover received three months in prison.

    The £240million tag calculated by the BPI was the fatal blow, and it’s a little difficult to figure out where it came from. How did Kane end up costing the music industry a sum so astronomical with a forum of just 12,000 users? When compared with other piracy cases, it appears almost whimsical. It’s £236million more than Pirate Bay co-founder Hans Fredrik Lennart Neij was ordered to pay in damages. Kim Dotcom, the millionaire internet magnate responsible for the infamous, is only responsible for damages of £100million more than Kane according to his prosecution.

    “The case for authorising infringement is quite straightforward,” explains music law specialist Chris Cooke of Complete Music Update, “and the fact he didn’t host the content is not relevant. But why the court thought it was a criminal matter for prosecution is another thing. If Kane was making no money, then you have to assume that they have taken issue with the sheer size of his operation.”

    Where Kane’s legal aid team had failed, Cook whittled the damages down staggeringly to approximately £500,000. (I contacted the BPI Copyright Protection Unit to request information about how they originally calculated that £240 million total, but they declined to comment,

    “These cyber laws are just a huge grey area,” explains Kane. “That’s how people like David Cook are experts at getting people off. Because we’re at a time where these lawyers know more about the digital laws than the courts do. If you can get the right representation and afford it, then you can get fairer trials for these digital crimes. But if you find yourself with legal aid, going against an entire music industry and a judge that’s new to these types of crimes, then, well, you’re fucked.”

    However, there are huge chasms between the criminality of a CD bootlegging enterprise and a kid running a forum online. Starting a CD bootlegging enterprise is not easy, whereas starting a website is. In CD bootleg cases, it’s often quite easy to see how much the perpetrator made and how much they cost the music industry, because physical sales result in costs and profits that are traceable through bank accounts. But in online music piracy cases, these figures put next to offenders names are usually exaggerated estimations, based on how many people probably downloaded something and how many purchases they probably didn’t make as a result, and what this therefore probably cost the industry. That’s how you get huge estimations like £240million, plucked from the air. It’s very murky ground to equate offline and online music piracy crimes for prison sentence lengths.

  20. Tomi Engdahl says:

    SoundCloud Flags ‘Silence’ As Copyright Infringement

    SoundCloud’s automated copyright take-down system tested, and fails test, as completely silent track taken down

    SoundCloud’s controversial automated copyright system has flagged a completely silent track as having “copyrighted content”.

    Facing ever serious threats from rights-holders, SoundCloud has implemented an automated copyright take-down system designed to detect potential copyrighted works and to remove them automatically. But unlike the more sophisticated system employed by the likes of YouTube to police similar copyright offences, SoundCloud’s system is far more controversial as it appears to be much less accurate, and much more stringent than YouTube’s ContentID.

    And with SoundCloud’s content library being remix heavy, and the very definition of a remix suggesting some part of an original, copyright work is present, SoundCloud’s new copyright policy has not been popularly received.

    In an attempt to protest and troll SoundCloud’s automated copyright take-down system, DJ Detweiler uploaded a “remix” of John Cage’s 4’33. A completely silent, blank remix (which technically is still a remix), and one that should not fall foul of SoundCloud’s system. But it did.

  21. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The Pirate Bay escapes block in Sweden: Report

    The Pirate Bay has been saved from blocking in Sweden, with the District Court of Stockholm allowing the locally hosted file-sharing site to remain accessible to locals.

    The District Court of Stockholm on Friday ruled that controversial file-sharing site The Pirate Bay could not be banned by internet service providers (ISPs) on its home turf, according to local media.

    Reportedly, the court ruled that local ISP Bredbandsbolaget could not be made by copyright holders to block The Pirate Bay which is currently hosted in Sweden.

    “A unanimous District Court considers, therefore, that it is not in a position to authorise such a ban as the rights holders want and therefore rejects their request,” presiding Chief Magistrate Anders Dereborg was reported to say.

    The action was brought on by Universal Music, Sony Music, Warner Music, Nordisk Film, and the Swedish Film Industry

    Bredbandsbolaget allegedly refused to comply and reaffirmed its only role is to provide customers with internet access and to ensure the free-flow of information.

    The Pirate Bay site went offline after Swedish police raided the site’s main datacentre in Stockholm in December last year; two months later The Pirate Bay reappeared, hosted instead out of Moldova.

    In May, a Stockholm court allowed the Swedish government to take ownership of The Pirate Bay’s two domain names due to the website’s national copyright violation.

    In retaliation, The Pirate Bay set up five new domains with users being directed to a new site which was set up under new domains in regions such as Laos.

    Earlier this month, The Dutch Supreme Court referred a separate case to the highest court in Europe, which will determine if internet providers in the European bloc can be forced to impose site-blocking measures on The Pirate Bay.

    Four years ago, the European Court of Justice ruled, however, that national courts cannot order ISPs to filter out copyright infringing sites from their networks

    Last month, WikiLeaks reported that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) would force ISPs to give up the details of copyright infringers so that rights holders can protect and enforce their copyright through criminal and civil means with few limitations.

  22. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Sony BMG vs Cox Communications: Here’s why it matters
    Life after (the Other) Safe Harbor

    Special Report A court case that begins this week will define new boundaries in the relationship between US ISPs and creators, regardless of which way it goes.

    Music publisher BMG, part of Sony, is suing cable giant Cox Communications for abetting copyright infringement. The core of the issue is how the ISP handled heavy infringers, subscribers responsible for downloading tens of thousands of files via the BitTorrent protocol.

    The case has already caused a minor earthquake: the judge presiding has deemed that Cox lost vital “safe harbour” protections that ISPs enjoy under the DMCA, or Digital Millennium Copyright Act. No detailed explanation has yet been published.

    The other Safe Harbour

    The DMCA’s “Section 512” safe harbour provisions are confusingly, and some say, misleadingly, named. Doubly so, since the “safe harbour” that’s been in the news so much this autumn refers to something completely different: an ad hoc trade arrangement between the EU and the USA over the export of personal data.

    The DMCA’s model 1998 internet legislation, widely copied all over the world, was sensibly intended to remove the risk from well-intentioned actors in the nascent internet business. They would have their risks pegged if they satisfied the legal conditions of being a good corporate citizen, by acting in good faith. The removal of liabilities minimised the risk. Section 512 encoded the protections. Without the provisions, the internet may not have grown so rapidly – investors would have been reluctant to back such high-risk ventures.

    What gets decided?

    The case breaks new ground because the legal term “repeat offender” has never really been fully tested.

  23. Tomi Engdahl says:

    14 strikes and you’re out. Or not. Emails reveal how Cox lost Safe Harbor
    ISP’s policy seems to have sunk it

    We now know why US cable ISP Cox Communications lost the “safe harbor” DMCA liability protection afforded to those who disconnect high volume P2P file sharers.

    It appears to be down to its failure to take infringement notices sufficiently seriously, a US court has ruled.

    Last week in an East Virginia court, a judge stripped Cox of its protection, in a case bought by music publishers BMG Rights Management and its copyright cop, Rightscorp Inc. Cox has already lost legal support from insurer Lloyds over the loss of protection.

    Judge Liam O’Grady’s memorandum explaining his decision, which the court finally published yesterday, contained internal emails which he said suggested that Cox wasn’t taking its legal obligation, or public statements seriously enough.

    The memorandum described how, at the end of a 14-step process, a Cox subscriber who had been ostensibly kicked off for “infringement” could sign up for services again, and have their “infringement” count reset to 0.

    The decision is likely to inspire a flood of “sky is falling” anxiety from technology companies and anti-copyright activist groups. In fact, once the smoke clears, the decision is unlikely to change the landscape in the US much, if at all … provided ISPs that do what they publicly say they already do.

    If ISPs have an effective policy to kick out repeat copyright infringers – and by US law, they must – then nothing has changed.

  24. Tomi Engdahl says:

    ISIS stole this guy’s photo, used it as propaganda

    If, as a photographer, you discover somebody stealing your photo and using it for their own purposes, there’s plenty you can do.

    You can send a DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) takedown that criminalizes the dissemination of copyrighted material, or you could get Pixsy—a website that gives “photographers and independent creatives an opportunity to stand up for themselves”—to send an invoice to the person who helped himself to your photograph without acquiring permission and then threaten legal action.

    But when the Islamic State steals your photo, manipulates the image to suit their needs, and then disseminates it as propaganda, there’s probably not much you can do. And that’s where Brian McCarty finds himself.

    “I’m not happy about [commercial theft], but I’ve had to get pretty thick-skinned,” McCarty told Hyperallergic. “The ISIS theft is something completely different and far more disturbing.”

    McCarthy has been working on his essay for the past four years, and he says it’s “about articulating children’s experiences of war.”

  25. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Ernesto / TorrentFreak:
    Cox found liable for copyright infringements of its customers, must pay music publisher BMG $25M in damages

    Cox Is Liable for Pirating Subscribers, Ordered to pay $25 million
    By Ernesto on December 17, 2015

    Internet provider Cox Communications is responsible for the copyright infringements of its subscribers, a Virginia federal jury has ruled. The ISP is guilty of willful contributory copyright infringement and must pay music publisher BMG $25 million in damages.

    Today marks the end of a crucial case that will define how U.S. Internet providers deal with online piracy in the future.

    Following a two-week trial a Virginia federal jury reached a verdict earlier today (pdf), ruling that Cox is guilty of willful contributory copyright infringement.

    The case was initiated by BMG Rights Management, which held the ISP responsible for tens of thousands of copyright infringements that were committed by its subscribers.

    During the trial hearings BMG revealed that the tracking company Rightscorp downloaded more than 150,000 copies of their copyrighted works directly from Cox subscribers.

    It also became apparent that Cox had received numerous copyright infringement warnings from Rightscorp which it willingly decided not to act on.

    A week before the trial started Judge O’Grady issued an order declaring that Cox was not entitled to DMCA safe-harbor protections, as the company failed to terminate the accounts of repeat infringers.

    The verdict is likely to be appealed by Cox.

  26. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Pirate Bay Founder Builds The Ultimate Piracy Machine
    By Ernesto on December 19, 2015

    Pirate Bay co-founder Peter Sunde served his prison sentence last year but still owes the entertainment industries millions in damages. Some might think that he’s learned his lesson, but with a newly built copying machine he’s generating millions of extra ‘damages,’ which might be worth a mention in the Guinness Book of Records.

    One of Peter’s major frustrations is how the entertainment industries handles the idea of copying. When calculating the losses piracy costs, they often put too much value on pirated copies.

    This is something Peter knows all too well, as he still owes various movie and music companies millions in damages.

    However, this hasn’t stopped him from continuing to copy. In fact, he’s just built the ultimate copying machine using a Raspberry Pi, an LCD display and some Python code.

    With these three ingredients the “Kopimashin” makes 100 copies of the Gnarls Barkely track “Crazy” every second. This translates to more than eight million copies per day and roughly $10 million in ‘losses.’

    Crazy indeed.

    Peter’s machine is part of an art project about the value of digital copies which he’s preparing for an upcoming exhibition.

    “I want to show the absurdity on the process of putting a value to a copy. The machine is made to be very blunt and open about the fact that it’s not a danger to any industry at all,” Sunde tells TF.

    “But following their rhetoric and mindset it will bankrupt them. I want to show with a physical example – that also is really beautiful in it’s own way – that putting a price to a copy is futile.”

    KH000 // Kopimashin

    The Kopimashin creates an endless amount of copies of a specific audio track (gnarls barkley’s crazy). The audio track is copied to /dev/null, a unix data pipe for avoiding permanent storage. The Kopimashins lcd display consists of three rows of information, the serial number of the mashin, amount of copies created and the dollar value it represents in losses for the record labels (Downtown Records / Warner Music), currently represented by USD1,25 per copied piece.

  27. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Kim Dotcom to be finally extradited to the US, New Zealand judge rules
    Megaupload founder promises new appeal in case that’s dragged on for nearly 4 years.

    On Tuesday afternoon (Wednesday, Auckland time) a New Zealand judge ordered that founder Kim Dotcom and his co-defendants are eligible to be extradited to the United States to face criminal charges over alleged massive copyright infringement on his now-shuttered site, Megaupload.

    The judgement, which almost certainly will be appealed, sets the stage for the winding down of Dotcom’s tenacious years-long legal fight against the American judicial system.

  28. Tomi Engdahl says:

    How Hollywood Caught the UK’s Most Prolific Movie Pirates
    By Andy on December 27, 2015

    Last week the UK’s most prolific movie pirates were handed sentences totaling 17 years. With claims in court that the men went to great lengths to hide their identities, just how easy was it to catch them? Papers detailing the investigation obtained by TorrentFreak reveal that tracking the men down was a relatively simple affair.

    Following a three year investigation by Hollywood-backed anti-piracy group the Federation Against Copyright Theft, last week five of the UK’s most prolific movie pirates were sentenced in the West Midlands.

    The men were behind several interrelated movie release groups including RemixHD, 26K, UNiQUE, DTRG and HOPE/RESISTANCE.

    “Over a number of years the groups illegally released online more than 2,500 films including Argo, the Avengers and Skyfall,” FACT said in a statement.

    “The outreach of their criminality was vast. On just one website where the group shared their films there had been millions of downloads.”

    TF has obtained papers detailing the FACT investigation and they reveal that unmasking the men was surprisingly easy.

  29. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Publisher Is Pretty Sure Google Could End Piracy

    Techdirt is running a story about Square One Publishers Rudy Shur, and his confusion over the DMCA process, and exactly what Google has control over. The story goes: “After being contacted by Google Play with an offer to join the team, Shur took it upon himself to fire off an angry email in response. That would have been fine, but he somehow convinced Publisher’s Weekly to print both the letter and some additional commentary. Presumably, his position at a publishing house outweighed Publisher Weekly’s better judgment, because everything about his email/commentary is not just wrong, but breathtakingly so.

    After turning down the offer to join Google Play (Shur’s previous participation hadn’t really shown it to be an advantageous relationship), Shur decided to play internet detective.

    Book Publisher Has No Idea How Google Works But Pretty Sure It Could End Piracy If It Tried

    from the just-do-the-thing!-THE-THING!-how-much-more-clear-do-I-need-to-be?!?! dept

    Here’s the stupidest thing on piracy you’re going to read today. Or this month. Maybe even this whole holiday season. Rudy Shur, of Square One Publishers, has a problem with piracy, which he thinks is actually a problem with Google.

    After being contacted by Google Play with an offer to join the team, Shur took it upon himself to fire off an angry email in response. That would have been fine, but he somehow convinced Publisher’s Weekly to print both the letter and some additional commentary. Presumably, his position at a publishing house outweighed Publisher Weekly’s better judgment, because everything about his email/commentary is not just wrong, but breathtakingly so.

    rting with this paragraph, Shur’s arguments head downhill… then off a cliff… then burst into flames… then the flaming wreckage slides down another hill and off another cliff. (h/t The Digital Reader)

    [W]e did discover, however, was that Google has no problem allowing other e-book websites to illegally offer a number of our e-book titles, either free or at reduced rates, to anyone on the Internet.

    There’s a huge difference between “allowing” and “things that happen concurrently with Google’s existence.” Shur cannot recognize this difference, which is why he’s so shocked Google won’t immediately fix it.

    DMCA notices are issued to websites hosting the pirated material. Google also delists search results in response to DMCA notices. What never happens is Google arbitrarily delisting sites just because someone notices piracy exists. Google is also not “The Internet” and lacks the power to shut down websites it doesn’t own. It is not Google’s job to police the web for infringement, no more than it’s Yahoo’s or Microsoft’s.

    No offense, Shur, but maybe let someone else — someone who actually understands the things they’re talking about — lead the charge. You can’t win if you don’t even know what game you’re playing.

  30. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Ernesto / TorrentFreak:
    Intel, Warner Bros. sue LegendSky, a Chinese maker of HDFury devices that allow users to pirate 4K streams by stripping HDCP encryption

    Warner Bros and Intel Sue 4k Content Protection “Stripper”
    By Ernesto on January 4, 2016
    C: 109

    Warner Bros. and Intel’s daughter company Digital Content Protection have sued a hardware manufacturer that creates devices enabling consumers to bypass 4K copy protection. The devices, sold under the HDFury brand, can be used by pirates to copy 4k video from streaming platforms as well as other HDCP 2.2 protected content.

    Last November several pirated copies of 4K videos started to leak from both Netflix and Amazon. These leaks were unusual as online 4k streams were always well protected against pirates.

    While it’s still not clear how these videos were copied, a new lawsuit from Warner Bros. and Intel’s daughter company Digital Content Protection (DCP) suggests that HDFury devices may be involved.

    The companies have filed a lawsuit at a federal court in New York against the maker of the devices, technology company LegendSky.

    Starting a few weeks ago the Chinese company launched a range of new devices which allow users to strip the latest HDCP encryption. This hardware sits between a HDCP-compliant source device and another device, allowing it to pass on a “stripped” 4K signal.

  31. Tomi Engdahl says:

    TPP Signing Ceremony To Take Place In February

    New Zealand officials are hoping that the TPP signing ceremony is to take place in February in Auckland, New Zealand. According to the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, it is expected that all 12 countries are going to sign the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Those 12 countries are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the U.S., and Vietnam. Note: signing doesn’t necessarily make the agreement law, but it is one critical step closer to ratification.

    Govt confirms plans to sign TPP in Auckland

  32. Tomi Engdahl says:

    All 12 Member Countries Sign Off On the TPP

    News is surfacing that the TPP has officially been signed by all 12 member countries. This marks the beginning of the final step towards ratification.

    TPP is signed but hurdles remain

    Signed and sealed but not yet delivered, the Trans-Pacific Partnership will now be put through the wringer in member countries for ratification.

    The 12 ministers in Auckland yesterday for the signing were relentlessly positive about its likely benefits to their economies and to the ease of trade in goods and services.

    The TPP has two years to be ratified but will not come into force unless the US and Japan ratify it.

    US Trade Representative Mike Froman told the TPP press conference he was “confident” members of Congress would see the benefits of the deal for the US economy and their constituents “and we’ll have the necessary bipartisan support for it to be approved”.

    Mr Froman sought to address concerns about the investor-state dispute procedures in which investors and a government in dispute can enter binding arbitration.

    He said the 12 countries had shared a number of concerns about the way these procedures had been used “and that’s why this agreement goes further than any agreement before”. That included closing loopholes they had seen in other agreements “to ensure that government can regulate in the public interest”.

  33. Tomi Engdahl says:

    TPP Signed Off, Marking the Beginning of the Final Fight

    The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has been signed by all countries involved in the agreement. The agreement was marked by protests from citizens all around the world. Now, all that remains is ratification.

    The TPP missiles have launched and citizens have about 2 years before the agreement hits their countries. That may be one way of describing the feeling many are having after trade ministers from around the world signed off on the agreement that has been so heavily criticized.

    So, what’s next? The final step of TPP implementation is ratification. It’s the only step remaining before the agreement becomes law. It’s likely that citizens are only going to ramp up pressure to try and have the deal rejected in their respective countries. Unfortunately, stopping the TPP dead in its tracks may be an uphill battle from now on. Provisions in the agreement legally oblige the signatory countries to ratify the provisions in the agreement within a certain time frame. Which provisions and which countries this affects varies, but deadlines do exist within the TPP to force countries to carry through on their promises all based on their signatures. Still, killing the deal isn’t entirely impossible either.

    From a technological perspective, the trade deal would bring in a host of restrictive copyright laws. As we earlier examined, the trade deal would force countries to ratify many other copyright treaties including various WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) treaties, kill Internet privacy for domain name registrants, create a so-called “TPP Commission”, extend the length of copyright, add criminal liability to the circumvention of a DRM, effectively institute statutory damages for non-commercial infringement, mandate government spying on the Internet for the purpose of tracking copyright infringement, possibly add unlimited damages for copyright infringement, allow “destruction” orders of any product circumvents copy protection, allows authority to enforce copyright laws even when infringement hasn’t taken place (ala “imminent” infringement), seize personal devices at the border for the purpose of enforcing copyright law (and destroys your property and forces you to pay if a border guard believes you have copyright infringing content on your personal devices), institute traffic shaping and site blocking for the purpose of allegedly enforcing copyright, implement a notice-and-takedown regime, force ISPs to install backdoors for others to enforce copyright law, and force ISPs to hand over customer’s personal information without court oversight or compensation to the ISP. So, in short, the TPP is a major crackdown on civil rights on the Internet.

  34. Tomi Engdahl says:

    TTIP: A locked room, no internet access, two hours, 300 pages and lots of typos
    Inside the surreal world of US-EU trade treaties

    A German MP has given an insight into the surreal restrictions imposed around the upcoming US-EU trade deal, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

    Katja Kipping has written a personal account of her visit to a special reading room at the German Ministry of Economics that was set up after Parliamentarians fought and won the right to see the text being negotiated on their behalf by bureaucrats.

    In it, she describes the extraordinary lengths that the German government has gone to in order to prevent any useful information on the trade deal being made public.

    First, Kipping was required to book the room for a given period and was allowed only two hours to review the 300+ pages of the current deal (or 25 seconds per page).

    Then she was only permitted to enter the specific room at the Economic Ministry by herself. She was required to leave her jacket, her bag and her phone outside the room so she was not able to take notes or otherwise record or picture the text.

    That text was made available on one of a number of computers in the rooms. She was assigned a specific computer which did not have an internet connection. Before being allowed to sit down in front of the terminal, however, she was required to sign up to the “visitors’ rules” – one of which is that she is not allowed to discuss the content of anything that she has seen.

    As a democratically elected member of parliament, Kipping took particular offense. “I’d always thought that elected MPs have a right to information,” she wrote. “Yet the TTIP negotiators (and who gave them their legitimacy?) reckon they are GRANTING us access out of the goodness of their hearts. ”

    Despite all of these restrictions, Kipping still wasn’t granted access to the full text. She was informed in the instructions on using the room that the deal’s terms and conditions would not be made available as they had already been agreed – despite the TTIP still being under negotiation.

    One last, remarkable observation she made was that the document was crawling with typos, such as “teh” instead of “the” and extras “d”s on the end of “and”s. Such is the level of paranoia and security surrounding the deal – which when enacted will impact millions of people – that Kipping hypothesizes that the typos are a form of security, introduced deliberately and specifically for each reader so that if the text does leak it can be tracked back to whoever viewed that version.

  35. Tomi Engdahl says:

    News Technology Your Rights Online
    Hollywood Escalates “DVD Ripping” Case To International Incident

    A group of Hollywood studios and technology partners have asked the U.S. Government to assist in solving a long-running court battle against the Antique based software company SlySoft. Despite an earlier conviction SlySoft continues to offer its DVD and BluRay ripping tools. To progress the matter, rightsholders have asked the U.S. to place Antigua on the Priority Watch List

    Hollywood Escalates “DVD Ripping” Case to International Incident

    A group of Hollywood studios and technology partners have asked the U.S. Government to assist in solving a long-running court battle against the Antigua based software company SlySoft. Despite an earlier conviction SlySoft continues to offer its DVD and BluRay ripping tools. To progress the matter, rightsholders have asked the U.S. to place Antigua on the Priority Watch List.

    slysoftAACS, the decryption licensing outfit founded by a group of movie studios and technology partners including Warner Bros, Disney, Microsoft and Intel, has targeted several DRM-circumvention tools in recent years.

    The company sued the makers of popular DVD ripping software DVDFab in the U.S and also went after the Antigua-based company SlySoft, known for its AnyDVD software.

    “Circumvention through programs such as SlySoft’s AnyDVD HD is a source for widespread, large-scale and commercial copyright infringement by users located in the United States, as well as Antigua & Barbuda, and many other countries,” AACS writes

    According to AACS the DVD ripping software has been downloaded by “tens of thousands of individuals” over the past two years, while categorizing the harm it’s done as “extremely high.”

    Placing Antigua on the Priority Watch List is a logical next step, according to AACS, which will put pressure on the Caribbean island and permit the parties involved to carefully investigate the matter.

    That said, this is not the first trade dispute between Antigua and the United States.

  36. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Cox Refuses to Spy on Subscribers to Catch Pirates
    By Ernesto on February 15, 2016

    Cox Communications is objecting to a broad permanent injunction requested by music publisher BMG. The music group wants the ISP to spy on its subscribers and take action against those who download pirated material. Cox informs the court that these demands are overbroad, vague and possibly illegal.

    Last December a Virginia federal jury ruled that Internet provider Cox Communications was responsible for the copyright infringements of its subscribers.

    The ISP was found guilty of willful contributory copyright infringement and must pay music publisher BMG Rights Management $25 million in damages.

    The verdict was a massive victory for the music company and a disaster for Cox, but the case is not closed yet.

    A few weeks ago BMG asked the court to issue a permanent injunction against Cox Communications, requiring the Internet provider to terminate the accounts of pirating subscribers and share their details with the copyright holder.

    In addition BMG wants the Internet provider to take further action to prevent infringements on its network. While the company remained vague on the specifics, it mentioned the option of using invasive deep packet inspection technology.

    Last Friday, Cox filed a reply pointing out why BMG’s demands go too far, rejecting the suggestion of broad spying and account termination without due process.

    “To the extent the injunction requires either termination or surveillance, it imposes undue hardships on Cox, both because the order is vague and because it imposes disproportionate, intrusive, and punitive measures against households and businesses with no due process,” Cox writes

  37. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Copyright Professor’s Lecture Removed From YouTube Over Sony Content-ID Claim

    William Fisher, a professor of intellectual property law at Harvard, posted to YouTube a lecture titled “The Subject Matter of Copyright: Music.” In discussing the complexities of music licensing and cover songs, Fisher played several short clips of music by Hendrix, Santana, and others. Sony responded by having the lecture removed from YouTube, ignoring any fair use protection in excerpting works for educational purposes.

    YouTube Copyright Complaint Kills Harvard Professor’s Copyright Lecture (Update)
    By Ernesto on February 17, 2016

    YouTube has removed access to a copyright lecture from Harvard Law professor William Fisher, following a takedown request from Sony Music. While the online course includes snippets of well-known Jimi Hendrix covers, the clearly educational use makes this a perfect example of fair use.

  38. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Operator of Sweden’s Largest Streaming Site Arrested on Secret European Warrant
    By Andy on March 1, 2016


    A man suspected of being the main operator of what was once Sweden’s largest streaming site has been arrested in Germany following the execution of a secret European warrant. The man, reportedly a Turkish national, is believed to have set up advertising deals at Swefilmer resulting in around $1.7m in revenue.

  39. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Kanye West caught using The Pirate Bay

    RAPPER AND MOUTHHOLE Kanye West has been caught fiddling with The Pirate Bay, a website that we thought he loathed.

    Not so, apparently, as he actually uses the thing as a visitor and as a downloader.

    Anyway, people who follow him on Twitter noticed that his web browser was showing a couple of Pirate Bay tabs, which suggests that he’s been Googling himself, or is prepping for his one-man legal fight against the download site, or that he uses it.

    It seems like it was only five minutes ago that West railed against The Pirate Bay for serving up his life of Pablo album, not to mention holding his hand out for Silicon Valley donations.

  40. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Microsoft To Court: Make Comcast Give Us Windows-Pirating Subscriber’s Info

    Microsoft is using the IP address ‘voluntarily’ collected during its software activation process to sue a Comcast subscriber for pirating thousands of copies of Windows and Office. The Redmond giant wants the court to issue a subpoena which will force Comcast to hand over the pirating subscriber’s info. If the infringing IP address belongs to another ISP which obtained it via Comcast, then Microsoft wants that ISP’s info and the right to subpoena it as well.

    Microsoft to court: Make Comcast give us the Windows-pirating subscriber’s info

    Microsoft is using the IP address ‘voluntarily’ collected during its software activation process to sue a Comcast subscriber for pirating thousands of copies of Windows and Office

    In the legal arena, Microsoft is going after Comcast in order to unmask the person behind an infringing IP address which activated thousands of Microsoft product keys stolen from Microsoft’s supply chain.

    The Redmond giant wants the court to issue a subpoena which will force Comcast to hand over the pirating subscriber’s info. If the infringing IP address belongs to another ISP which obtained it via Comcast, then Microsoft wants that ISP’s info and the right to subpoena it as well.

    From 2012 to 2015, Microsoft maintains that an IP addy assigned to Comcast pinged its servers in Washington over 2,000 times during the software activation process. “Detailed information” such as the activation key and IP address activating Microsoft products is transmitted to Microsoft; it’s considered to be “voluntarily provided by users.”

  41. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Ashley Cullins / Hollywood Reporter:
    RIAA, other industry organizations, music stars call for DMCA reform ahead of April 1 public comments deadline, say safe harbor, takedown provisions do not work

    Music Industry A-Listers Call on Congress to Reform Copyright Act

    “Artists spanning a variety of genres and generations are submitting comments to the federal government’s U.S. Copyright Office today and tomorrow demanding reforms to the antiquated DMCA which forces creators to police the entire Internet for instances of theft, placing an undue burden on these artists and unfairly favoring technology companies and rogue pirate sites,” said the statement.

    On Dec. 31, the Copyright Office announced its intent to evaluate the safe harbor provisions of the DMCA, which — to an extent — protect Internet service providers from third parties who illegally share content online.

    The petition claims the safe harbor and notice-and-takedown provisions of the DMCA create a shield for tech companies and allow infringers to repost material after it has been removed.

    The RIAA says 18 major music organizations submitted a 97-page joint brief “explaining the myriad flaws in the DMCA

    The Internet Association, a group that represents leading tech companies like Facebook, Google and Netflix, commented on the issue Tuesday and said the DMCA is working effectively as intended.

  42. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Ernesto / TorrentFreak:
    Study finds that of 108M DMCA takedown requests, 99.8% targeted Google search, 28% of all requests are “questionable”, Google likely removes more than it should

    28% of Piracy Takedown Requests Are “Questionable”
    By Ernesto on March 31, 2016

    A new study published by researchers from Columbia University’s American Assembly and Berkeley reveals that more than 28% of the takedown requests received by Google are “questionable.” Nearly five percent of the takedown notices that were reviewed did not target the supposed infringing content, while another 24 percent raised other concerns, including fair use.

  43. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Copyright Watchdog Wants to Lock Browsers for Online Pirates

    Rightscorp, a US-based anti-piracy organization, wants ISPs to lock the browsers of repeated copyright infringers, in order to force them to pay their fines.

    Rightscropt, Inc. is a famous copyright enforcement company located in Los Angeles. The company’s sole purpose is to find “alleged” copyright violators and then contact the ISPs or the actual person, informing him of a fine via email or regular mail.

    If all fails, for certain repeated copyright offenders, the company can sue or reach out of court settlements, all on behalf of its customers (the real copyright holder).

    According to TorrentFreak, a site specialized on the torrenting and piracy-related news niche, Rightscorp has been having financial difficulties, reporting losses for two years in a row.

    Rightscorp Plans to Hijack Pirates’ Browsers Until a Fine is Paid

    Anti-piracy outfit Rightscorp says that it’s working on a new method to extract cash settlements from suspected Internet pirates. The company says new technology will lock users’ browsers and prevent Internet access until they pay a fine. To encourage ISPs to play along, Rightscorp says the system could help to limit their copyright liability.

    Internet service providers in the United States aren’t generally fans of copyright trolls like Rightscorp. They prey on valuable customers who often incorrectly conclude that their provider has been spying on them.

    In its filing this week Rightscorp blamed falling revenues on a reluctance by ISPs to pass on these automated fines. Nevertheless, the company isn’t giving up on improved cooperation with service providers since it has a plan that could streamline its business and more or less force users to pay up.

  44. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Linking to Pirated Content Is Not Copyright Infringement, Says EU Court Adviser

    Linking to pirated content that is already available to the public can not be seen as copyright infringement under the European Copyright Directive. This is the advice Advocate General Melchior Wathelet has sent to the EU Court of Justice, in what may turn out to be a landmark case.

    In recent years the Court was called upon to rule on several cases related to hyperlinking, in an effort to established whether links to other websites can be seen as copyright infringement.

    Previously, it ruled that links to copyrighted works are not infringing if the copyright holder published them in public, and the same is true for embedding copyrighted videos.

    But what if a link points to content that is not authorized by the copyright holder?

    Playboy publisher Sanoma successfully requested the removal of the photos at the hosting service, but in response GeenStijl continued to link to other public sources where they were still available.

    The Dutch Court asked the EU Court of Justice to rule whether these links can be seen as a ‘communication to the public’ under Article 3(1) of the Copyright Directive of the Copyright Directive, and whether they facilitate copyright infringement.

    In his advice today the Advocate General acknowledges that the hyperlinks facilitate the discovery of the copyrighted works, and make them more easily available. However, this isn’t copyright infringement.

    “…hyperlinks which lead, even directly, to protected works are not ‘making them available’ to the public when they are already freely accessible on another website, and only serve to facilitate their discovery,” the EU Court of Justice’s writes, commenting on the advice.

    The advice is a setup for a landmark ruling. However, the Court stresses that the advice only applies to this particular case.

    Technically, most torrent sites including The Pirate Bay, mostly link to material that’s already available elsewhere. However, in these cases the general purpose of the site may also be taken into account.

  45. Tomi Engdahl says:

    US ISPs Refuse To Disconnect Persistent Pirates

    The U.S. broadband association USTelecom, a trade association representing many ISPs, is taking a stand against abusive takedown notices and a recent push to terminate the accounts of repeat infringers. They argue that ISPs are not required to pass on takedown notices and stress that their subscribers shouldn’t lose Internet access based solely on copyright holder complaints.

    U.S. ISPs Refuse to Disconnect Persistent Pirates
    By Ernesto on April 11, 2016

    The U.S. broadband association USTelecom, a trade association representing many ISPs, is taking a stand against abusive takedown notices and a recent push to terminate the accounts of repeat infringers. They argue that ISPs are not required to pass on takedown notices and stress that their subscribers shouldn’t lose Internet access based solely on copyright holder complaints.

  46. Tomi Engdahl says:

    TTIP Leaks

    Greenpeace Netherlands has released secret TTIP negotiation documents. We have done so to provide much needed transparency and trigger an informed debate on the treaty.

    Whether you care about environmental issues, animal welfare, labour rights or internet privacy, you should be concerned about what is in these leaked documents. They underline the strong objections civil society and millions of people around the world have voiced: TTIP is about a huge transfer of power from people to big business.

  47. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Greenpeace leaks TTIP texts, reveals strained negotiations
    Dispute settlement, environmental regulation still sticking points

    The controversial EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) treaty text has been leaked to Greenpeace.

    The documents have been posted at, and in the main they’ve been picked over for their impact on environmental regulation.

    On that topic, European commentators are hitting the roof, because it’s clear that the US wants dramatic reductions in the EU’s environmental protections. For example, any new European environmental or public health standards would have to go through the treaty process.

  48. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Chrome, Firefox and Safari Block Pirate Bay as “Phishing” Site

    There’s a slight panic breaking out among Pirate Bay users, who are having a hard time accessing the site.

    Chrome, Firefox and Safari are actively blocking direct access to The Pirate Bay. According to the browsers, is a “deceptive site” or “web forgery,” that may steal user information. The TPB crew has been alerted to the issue, and hope it will be resolved soon.

  49. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Don’t feel guilty: This is your brain on piracy
    A new study shows why you don’t feel bad about torrenting the latest “Game of Thrones”.

    In addition to its number of venomous animals per capita, sunny beaches and an interminable fascination with cricket, Australia puts the world to shame when it comes to piracy. Despite a relatively small population, our fair island state leads the world in “Game of Thrones” piracy (three years running, no less).

    But it’s totally not our fault, says a new study conducted by Monash University. Or, at least, it explains why we don’t feel so guilty about doing it.

    “The findings from the two brain imaging experiments suggest that people are processing the intangible and tangible objects very differently within their brains,” Eres said.

    Eres went on to say that this could also explain why people feel far less guilt over things like online bullying or hacking, compared to their physical counterparts.

    The science behind piracy: Guilt portion of the brain fails to fire

  50. Tomi Engdahl says:

    How Copyright Law Is Being Misused To Remove Material From the Internet

    Revealed: How copyright law is being misused to remove material from the internet

    When Annabelle Narey posted a negative review of a building firm on Mumsnet, the last thing on her mind was copyright infringement

    Writing a bad review online has always run a small risk of opening yourself up to a defamation claim. But few would expect to be told that they had to delete their review or face a lawsuit over another part of the law: copyright infringement.

    Mumsnet received a warning from Google: a takedown request had been made under the American Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), alleging that copyrighted material was posted without a licence on the thread.

    As soon as the DMCA takedown request had been filed, Google de-listed the entire thread. All 126 posts are now not discoverable when a user searches Google for BuildTeam – or any other terms. The search company told Mumsnet it could make a counterclaim, if it was certain no infringement had taken place, but since the site couldn’t verify that its users weren’t actually posting copyrighted material, it would have opened it up to further legal pressure.

    In fact, no copyright infringement had occurred at all. Instead, something weirder had happened. At some point after Narey posted her comments on Mumsnet, someone had copied the entire text of one of her posts and pasted it, verbatim, to a spammy blog titled “Home Improvement Tips and Tricks”.

    Whoever sent the takedown request, Mumsnet was forced to make a choice: either leave the post up, and accept being delisted; fight the delisting and open themselves up to the same legal threats made against Google; or delete the post themselves, and ask the post to be relisted on the search engine.

    Mumsnet deleted the post, and asked Google to reinstate the thread

    Censorship by copyright

    The motivation of Ashraf can only be guessed at, but censorship using the DMCA is common online. The act allows web hosts a certain amount of immunity from claims of copyright infringement through what is known as the “safe harbour” rules: in essence, a host isn’t responsible for hosting infringing material provided they didn’t know about it when it went up, and took it down as soon as they were told about it.

    In practice, however, this means that web hosts (and the term is broadly interpreted, meaning sites like YouTube, Twitter and Google count) are forced to develop a hair-trigger over claims of copyright infringement, assuming guilt and asking the accused to prove their innocence.


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