by Mike Masnick
Mon, May 6th 2013 12:27pm
by Glyn Moody
Fri, Apr 19th 2013 12:21pm
Leading Italian Film Producer Calls For $16 Billion Lawsuit Against Italian State For Alleged Inaction Against Piracy
from the good-luck-with-that dept
Last year we wrote about EMI suing the Irish government for having the temerity not to pass a SOPA-Like censorship law. That truly extraordinary sense of entitlement seemed to be a one-off, but The Hollywood Reporter now brings us another (via @LifeinSicily):
Italian producer Aurelio De Laurentiis has proposed a €12.5 billion ($16 billion) class action lawsuit against the Italian state for lost revenue he says movie producers have sustained because the state has done too little to combat piracy.
The justification for that rather significant sum is the following:
"The problem of piracy is very important, and I say we should ask for €12.5 billion in order to obtain at least €2.5 billion [$3.2 billion], the amount we lose each year because of piracy," De Laurentiis said.
There was no explanation of where that €2.5 billion figure came from. According to estimates quoted in Techdirt's "The Sky is Rising 2", gross box office sales for the Italian film industry were €700 million in 2011, so it seems highly unlikely that it is "losing" €2.5 billion each year. It may be significant that De Laurentiis is part of a dynasty of famous Italian film producers who can be justifiably proud of helping to create some of the greatest masterpieces of 20th-century Italian cinema. Perhaps he is still hankering for those good old days when people flocked to see the latest productions from his father and uncle.
But that was then, this is now: the Internet is having a massively disruptive effect on the film industry, just as it is on many others. That doesn't give film producers any entitlement to handouts from the Italian state for sales they claim they might have made. And notice, too, that De Laurentiis is calling for compensation for allegedly lost sales, not lost profits, which might have been minimal.
It's sad that so many in the copyright world apply their creativity to thinking up reasons why they should be protected by governments from the massive changes underway throughout the world, rather than applying that creativity to coming up with new ways of making money. They could do worse than listen to Riccardo Tozzi, president of Italy's audiovisual association, who was the co-host with De Laurentiis of the film industry symposium where the latter made his call for legal action:
Tozzi suggested a different tact: making it easier for people to legally download films, for a fee. "We should balance the threat of illegal downloads with a legal supply of films," he said. "It can be too difficult to download films legally, so there's no good alternative" to piracy.
Sounds easier than suing the Italian government....
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Apr 3rd 2013 5:52am
from the but-of-course dept
As TorrentFreak notes, the list of information demanded via subpoena has been culled down to the following:
- DMCA notices and if applicable six strike notices sent to the applicable subscribers.
- Defendants’ bandwidth usage.
- Information about the (reliability of the) correlation of the IP-Address to the subscriber for purposes of use at trial.
- Content viewed by Defendants to the extent the content is the same show or movie that Plaintiff learned from third-party BitTorrent scanning companies that Defendants also used BitTorrent to download and distribute.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Mar 28th 2013 9:59am
from the you-don't-have-to-sue dept
Either way, in the end, Sony decided not to pursue any sort of legal response. While it still uses some slightly menacing language about how this doesn't mean they've settled, Sony admits that any "prolonged controversy" over this wouldn't be beneficial for the mobile game development community.
According to ET News and This Is Game, Sony told the Korean media that it did not want to "hamper" the mobile gaming industry in Korea.That's a fairly enlightened view, actually. It's one that we've suggested in the past, though. Even as it may be frustrating and annoying to have someone copy you, going legal in response often is not the best strategic response. We've urged companies to recognize that fact, and kudos to Sony for holding back on releasing the legal hounds upon realizing the cost-benefit analysis meant it wouldn't be helpful (and would possibly be harmful to the wider community).
A Sony spokesperson is quoted by This Is Game as saying, "We were concerned that any prolonged controversy such as this is not beneficial for both the local and the international mobile game development community. Internally, we decided not to pursue any legal action as long as no additional problems arise. Some may think it's because we've settled with Netmarble already, but we are simply choosing not to pursue legal action in a broader view/sense. This does not mean we have settled with Netmarble."
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Mar 22nd 2013 7:39pm
Twitter Sued For $50 Million In France For Protecting Identity Of Hateful Twitter Users (Even Though It Deleted The Tweets)
from the i-may-not-like-what-you-say,-but-i'll-fight-for-your-right-to-say-it dept
Last October, the UEJF sued Twitter after the hashtag "#unBonJuif" (French for "#aGoodJew") became the third most popular trending topic on Twitter in France. With so many tweets indexed under that hashtag, many users took the opportunity to post Holocaust jokes, racially charged statements (e.g. "#aGoodJew is a dead jew"), photos of dustpans filled with dust, and even calls to kill more Jews.Even though it's a strong defender of free speech, Twitter agreed to remove the tweets in question as offensive. As someone who is Jewish and who is quite offended by anti-semitism, I still think this was the wrong move. Censoring ignorant speech does nothing to fix things. Ignorant speech should be countered with non-ignorant speech. That said, Twitter made its decision and removed the tweets.
Turns out, that wasn't enough. The UEJF demanded the identities of everyone who tweeted such anti-semitic remarks. Twitter refused, but lost in court. Afterwards, it still refused to pass along the info, and so the UEJF has now filed a second lawsuit, seeking $50 million.
“Twitter is playing the indifference card and does not respect the ruling,” Hayoun told AFP. “They have resolved to protect the anonymity of the authors of these tweets and have made themselves accomplices to racists and anti-Semites.”Either that or they're pushing back against a lynchmob mentality, and protecting at least some precepts of free speech and an expectation of privacy. What's incredible, frankly, is that while Europe is known to have less respect for free speech principles than the US, it tends to have greater respect for privacy rights. Apparently not in this case, however.
Twitter has put out a statement suggesting that the UEJF is much more interested in using this for publicity purposes than anything else:
"We've been in continual discussions with UEJF," a Twitter spokesperson told CNET. "As yesterday's new filing shows, they are sadly more interested in grandstanding than taking the proper international legal path for this data. We are filing our appeal today, and would have filed it sooner if not for UEJF's intentional delay in processing the court's decision."Even more ridiculous is that it appears that it's not just Twitter being sued, but Twitter CEO Dick Costolo. If this all sounds vaguely familiar, that may be because a decade ago, Yahoo faced a similar ridiculous situation, in which both the company and its CEO were charged as war criminals (no joke!) because Yahoo's non-France websites sold some Nazi memorabilia (they blocked it on Yahoo's French sites). At some point, people bringing these kinds of lawsuits have to realize how counterproductive they are. I'm extremely sympathetic to their offense at the ignorant tweets, but their legal actions take away all of that sympathy.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Mar 21st 2013 11:09am
from the not-likely-to-go-over-well dept
There was also an attempt at summary judgment that failed, when Brown failed to show that she had served "iTunes." Of course, even if that happens, Apple has plenty of reasonable defenses, as a third party service provider, for why it's not liable.
All that said, there is something about the video that feels exploitative. The Autotune the News guys made sure that Antoine Dodson got something out of his unexpected fame, and you can see why it might have made good general sense to have cut Brown in on any proceeds, even if the Bob Rivers show was not legally required to do so.
by Tim Cushing
Fri, Mar 8th 2013 5:32pm
from the knocking-the-wall-down,-one-head-on-collision-at-a-time dept
Bev Stayart, tireless bringer of lawsuits against various search engines for their supposed besmirchment of her good name by placing it next to words like "Levitra," "Cialis," and various porn-related ads, has batted a solid .000 thus far in her legal career.
In 2009, she sued Yahoo! for violating the trademark on her name (no. really.) with its search results, which often produced listings for porn sites and malware. (She, or her legal counsel/husband, also found time to threaten Techdirt with a lawsuit if it didn't remove certain comments on the original post. Techdirt didn't and the lawsuit failed to materialize.) This suit was dismissed later that year, with the court denying her request to refile.
So, Stayart tried a different tack, suing Yahoo! for violating her "privacy rights." This suit was also tossed. In between filing suits against Yahoo! and having them tossed, Stayart filed another "pissed-off-at-search-engines" suit against Google, this time because her name seemed inextricably linked with Levitra in Google's suggestion box. This suit was dismissed as well, as she again failed to prove that her name was a marketable term eligible for trademark protection. All the while, the obvious solution has continued to elude her --- stop suing and mentioning porn, malware and Levitra in your lawsuits and your name might stop being connected with those terms by search engine algorithms.
The latest court decision keeps her hitless string intact, again finding in favor of Google. Stayart's latest angle was to claim Google "misappropriated" her name because (mostly thanks to her legal efforts), "bev stayart levitra" remains a top search suggestion.
On Wednesday, however, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals tossed her yet another loss in her lawsuit against Google, upholding a decision made by a district court in 2011. In the appellate case, Stayart argued that her rights under Wisconsin's right to privacy laws had been violated under §995.50(2)(b).Many have tried but very few have proven (even in friendlier courts) that search engine algorithms just "have it in" for some people, linking them with ED drugs, porn, malware, Russian gang activity, etc. These many "victims" all share the same self-destructive tendency to file and refile lawsuits, with each filing further cementing the link between their names and the terms they'd rather not have connected with them.
"The use, for advertising purposes or for purposes of trade, of the name, portrait or picture of any living person, without having first obtained the written consent of the person or, if the person is a minor, of his or her parent or guardian" constitutes an invasion of privacy, the law states.
But the Court disagreed.
"Stayart has not articulated a set of facts that can plausibly lead to relief under Wisconsin's misappropriation laws," the court wrote (PDF).
In fact, the court cited her own previous case against Yahoo!, in which that court found that there had to be a "substantial rather than an incidental connection between the use and the defendant's commercial purpose."
But this lesson remains lost on Stayart. It looks like she's ready to step up to the plate again, in hopes of finally getting on base.
Stayart called Ars back, and said that she vehemently disagrees with the decision, and is considering appealing the case to the United States Supreme Court, as well as other suits. However, she noted that her counsel (also, her husband) will make those decisions.She adds that she feels the decision was "economically-based" and favored the "one percent." I'm really not sure exactly WHY she feels this way, but I'm sure the future will be full of opportunities for her to explain herself. And when the legal paper starts flying again, Stayart will find herself relentlessly pursued across various search engines by her old nemeses, Levitra and Cialis.
by Glyn Moody
Tue, Mar 5th 2013 3:51am
from the that's-justice? dept
Lots of news regarding file-sharing has come out of Sweden over the years, but as TorrentFreak points out, until now, there's never been a prosecution for alleged unauthorized sharing using BitTorrent. The current case is unusual in a number of other respects:
The claim is that on June 8, 2011 a man from Gothenburg shared Beyonce's album '4' in advance of its June 24 commercial release date. The case was made even more interesting following the revelation that the 47-year-old is a music industry worker.
Because the album in question was a pre-release version, the Swedish prosecutor says he believes a heavy punishment could be handed down. As if that weren't enough, the label concerned -- Sony Music Entertainment -- has said that it intends to seek damages in a civil case:
In a submission to the Gothenburg District Court, Sony said that its business has been negatively affected by the leak on a number of fronts. The label says it has suffered damage to its marketing strategy, sales revenues and has also incurred additional costs. Sony adds that its relationship with Beyonce has been damaged and the artist's reputation hurt.
But as various studies have suggested, rather than hurting Sony, it's just as likely that this leak helped make the official launch even more successful than it would have been. Similarly, it's hard to see how Beyonce's reputation was hurt by such a leak, since the more passionate the fan, the more pleased they would be by obtaining early access.
For all of the above Sony say they will claim 1.5 million kronor from the man, which is roughly $233,000.
Anyway, the figure of $233,000 seems plucked out of the air, as is so often the case in this evidence-free area. Or perhaps it was inspired by the most famous damages imposed for unauthorized sharing of music, those against Jammie Thomas, who was fined $222,000 in her first trial (which then went up to $1,920,000 in the second trial, and to $1,500,000 in the third trial.) The fact that her sorry saga is still dragging on is an indication that even if Sony wins the current action, there are likely to be appeals against such a disproportionate and blatantly punitive figure.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Feb 19th 2013 4:02pm
from the what's-the-point dept
That wasn't Greenspan's only long shot legal dispute. He also sued author Ben Mezrich, Mezrich's publisher Random House, and Columbia Pictures, claiming that they all more or less rewrote his own book. Mezrich's book, Accidental Billionaires, became the hit movie The Social Network, and Greenspan claims they both infringe on his own book, which he had trouble publishing, about the origins of Facebook. Greenspan is representing himself (pro se) and hasn't had much luck. The case was easily dismissed by both the district court and the appeals court. The district court reminded Greenspan that you can't copyright facts. I tend to think that Greenspan's legal escapades concerning these things are simply tilting at windmills. There's no case here and he should really move on.
That said, there is a really fascinating tangent to all of this. After the appeals court once again rejected Greenspan's arguments, he went through the process of filing to ask the Supreme Court to hear the case (the chances of this actually happening are very, very, very slim). However, his blog post about his reasons for filing and the insane process that the Supreme Court makes you go through is absolutely worth reading. Basically, he notes that every step of the way there are bizarre, convoluted and ridiculous rules that seem to serve no purpose other than to try to make it frustrating as hell for a normal everyday person to actually appeal to the Supreme Court without hiring an expensive lawyer and/or some really expensive services. Here's just a snippet of a much longer piece, which I highly recommend, despite my feeling that his lawsuits are a complete waste of time.
He goes on to note that the Supreme Court even specifies the weight of the paper, but not the type (which makes a difference in understanding the weight), leading to confusion. Oh yeah, also the filings are encouraged by the Court to be bound together with a specific stitch: saddle stitch. The whole thing is a crazy story -- and while I think this legal filing itself is a waste of time, I really appreciate his sharing the details of some of the insanity it takes to actually file.
The first thing to know is that the finished booklet must be 6 and 1/8th inches wide and 9 and 1/4 inches high.
9 and 1/4 inches is a strange number when it comes to page length. Most of us know paper (so long as we're not in Europe or Asia) as being 8 and 1/2 inches wide by 11 inches high, commonly referred to as "Letter" size paper. If you take a standard sheet of Letter paper and fold it over, you get a booklet that is 5 and 1/2 inches by 8 and 1/2 inches. For the Supreme Court's purposes, that for whatever reason doesn't work. (Interestingly, the dimensions of the printed text block easily fit on a Letter sheet of paper, so Rule 33.1 could be said to be designed to mandate slightly bigger margins, and nothing more.)
Well—you might think (as I did)—maybe they sell 12 and 1/4 inch by 9 and 1/4 inch paper in stores (so that when you fold it over lengthwise you get a booklet that matches the Court's required dimensions).
They most certainly do not sell 12 and 1/4 inch by 9 and 1/4 inch paper in stores. It's one of the only things, in fact, that I've ever typed into Google and not found a single relevant result for. However we farm trees to make paper, we do not farm them to make paper of this size. It does not exist in the marketplace.
Yes, we don't want random crackpots continually inundating the Supreme Court, but it really seems like these archaic rules now serve little purpose other than to make things nearly impossible for anyone who doesn't do exactly this for a living to take part in the process. Basically, it's just like other sets of regulations whose sole purpose really seems to be to prop up a mini industry that has sprung up around them. In this day and age, it seems only reasonable that the rules should be modernized quite a bit.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Jan 11th 2013 5:44am
from the count-the-ways dept
But, in a moment of pure stupidity, some very short-sighted suits at CBS made a really silly decision. As you may or may not have heard, CES -- the massive consumer electronics show -- has been going on all this week in Las Vegas. I just got back from there myself. At the show, Dish announced another merging of some of its products, adding its Slingbox (who they bought years back) to the same basic setup. Slingbox, of course, is for "place shifting" what the DVR is for "time shifting." You hook it up to your TV and it lets you access what's playing on your TV via the internet (so, via your computer, phone or tablet). It's hardly surprising that this is where Dish was heading.
And... the early reviews and buzz were definitely strong. For example, CNET wrote a glowing review in which executive editor David Carnoy suggested it may be the best DVR out there these days. The CNET crew liked the thing so much that they nominated it for their "Best of CES" award.
Editors' note: The Dish Hopper with Sling was removed from consideration for the Best of CES 2013 awards due to active litigation involving our parent company CBS Corp. We will no longer be reviewing products manufactured by companies with which we are in litigation with respect to such product.This is monumentally stupid, for a variety of reasons. Let's see how many we can come up with.
- Hello Streisand Effect. There were approximately one gazillion articles this week about products coming out of CES, and the place was wall to wall with journalists -- probably half of whom were coming up with their own "best of" lists. Most people were completely saturated with CES stories and would barely glance at such a story. Except... now, tons of people are suddenly finding out about this awesome Dish DVR, the Hopper with Slingbox. In fact, they're hearing that the damn thing is so good that CBS is trying to block any news of it from getting out. Talking about increasing the awareness... I have no clue whatsoever what product CNET -- or any other publication -- awarded "best of CES" to. But I sure as hell am well aware of Dish's new DVR.
- Goodbye to the wall that separates the suits from the journalists at CBS/CNET. CBS execs have just confirmed that they don't want their journalists and reviewers to cover things based on the merits, but rather on what it means for their corporate masters.
- Hello slippery slope. Is it really that hard to see where this heads next? Is CNET still allowed to report on the lawsuit if CBS loses? If they can't talk about the products, what about the legal issues themselves?
- Goodbye journalists with credibility. Frankly, CNET has always had some of the strongest tech reporters in the business. For many years I've considered it one of the top tech news sites out there. I have tremendous respect for many of the reporters there. But, now I have to wonder how much the suits are interfering with their ability to report things accurately.
- Goodbye to principled journalists who want to work for CBS. If I'm a journalist at CNET right now, I'd be seriously considering quitting in protest. This move seriously harms the brand and reputation of the site, and this is the kind of thing that journalists should stand up against. Having the suits interfere with what they can write about is generally seen as a massive offense to journalists. I would bet this leads to some of the best, most principled CNET reporters jumping ship to elsewhere.
- Good luck to CNET hiring new journalists. Who wants to jump into that toxic situation?
Of course, they were probably thinking that Dish would likely use the reviews from CNET as evidence in the lawsuit, which very well may be true (and could still happen since the review did go out). But it's not hard to get around that, since the legal impact of a single review is near zilch. In the end, they didn't stifle the review, they made it more well known. They didn't do anything that helps them in their lawsuit. And they're left with an undoubtedly pissed off set of journalists who may now question how free they are to actually report the news.