by Mike Masnick
Wed, May 30th 2012 12:32am
by Mike Masnick
Tue, May 15th 2012 1:55pm
from the conflicts-of-interest dept
However, we should have remembered that we've seen this kind of thing in the past in the Netherlands. A couple years ago, a court blocked the usenet community site FTD. FTD did not host any infringing content. It did not offer torrents of any infringing content. It was simply a community offering that some people used to post information on where you could find infringement. And for that, it was blocked. And yet... some people noticed at the time that the judge in that case taught "anti-piracy" classes, where the person running the events was the lawyer representing the entertainment industry in that same case.
Guess what? Turns out the judge in this case was that exact same judge, leading Pirate Party founder Rick Falkvinge to accuse him of beiing "not only corrupt, but textbook corrupt." Don't they have conflict of interest rules in the Netherlands?
by Mike Masnick
Mon, May 14th 2012 8:15am
from the say-what-now? dept
The UK ruling and indeed other recent ones in Austria, Belgium, Denmark and Finland as well as this one are positive developments that support not only the creative community but also consumers.It's not entirely clear why they say "the UK ruling," since the post only refers to a ruling from The Netherlands, but it's a strange world when someone is claiming that censoring a website that consumers find useful is "good for consumers." So how do they defend such a ridiculous claim? Well, by getting the story backwards yet again:
The number of sites that offer legitimate creative content continues to increase dramatically. But to fully enable this growing sector to thrive and provide consumers with content when they want it, where they want it and how they want it, it is imperative that the content not be siphoned off and distributed illegally by those seeking to profit from the work and creativity of others.Hogwash. First of all, if the industry had its way, it would never have to innovate online at all, preferring greatly to live off of the old system of DVDs with crippling DRM. The only reason they were pushed to start innovating online was because of competition from the likes of The Pirate Bay, which finally caused them to agree to license platforms like Netflix, which has shown that it's actually quite easy to compete with The Pirate Bay if the MPAA and its studios would stop demanding ridiculous restrictions on content (and insanely high prices). Offer a good service at a good price, and The Pirate Bay simply can't compete.
The claim that for such services to thrive the content can't be "siphoned off and distributed illegally" is again totally bogus. Netflix competes quite nicely in the US with The Pirate Bay, and if the studios allowed more Netflixes to exist (rather than locking down every competitor with stupid rules like only having 24 hours to watch a movie) there would be plenty of innovation. Furthermore, even if they block The Pirate Bay, it doesn't stop the fact that the content still is and will be available. Claiming that legitimate sites can't compete if there is unauthorized content available means that legitimate sites can't compete at all. Yet we see them compete successfully with unauthorized content all the time.
So why does the MPAA lie?
As always, it's about control. They don't like being pressured by such innovation. They don't like having to adapt and to change. So they attack any new form of innovation and brand it as piracy -- just as they did with the VCR. Of course, amusingly, it's now that same home movie revenue which they fear losing. Yet if the MPAA had had its way 30 years ago, there would be no home movie market from which to lose revenue. Because, just a few short decades ago, the MPAA insisted that such a market would kill Hollywood.
Oh, and as for this point:
The court verdict found that The Pirate Bay is predominantly devoted to illegal activities with more than 90% of all content infringing on copyright.You know what else had more than 90% infringement in the early days? The VCR. But thankfully courts recognized that it also had substantial non-infringing uses -- as does The Pirate Bay. It's not difficult to see how the industry could have embraced sites like The Pirate Bay to their own advantage, but failing that and having them censored... and then insisting that somehow benefits the public? Sorry, the public isn't going to buy that kind of crap.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, May 11th 2012 3:02pm
the pirate bay
from the whac-whac-whac-a-mole dept
The Court specifically ruled that the Party’s reverse proxy has to remain offline. It was further ordered that Pirate Bay domains and IP-addresses have to be filtered from the Pirate Party’s generic proxy. In addition the Pirate Party can’t link to other websites that allow the public to bypass the blockade. These orders are only valid when paired with an encouragement to circumvent.Basically, telling people how to get around a block, even if it's linking to a general proxy (not a specific one) is now barred in the Netherlands. The fact that the court now is telling proxies how they can work is a huge overreach. That seems like a pretty blatant restriction on free speech. The thing is, do the folks at BREIN actually think this charade is effective? All it seems to be doing is enraging tons of people in the Netherlands, and doing absolutely nothing to stop them from going to The Pirate Bay.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, May 10th 2012 12:36pm
from the but-of-course dept
"We know that we are sort of dancing naked through a minefield and there are much bigger institutions driving tanks through," Mr Shuttleworth says.Of course, this is the exact opposite of what the patent system is supposed to do -- but pretty much everyone who's actually innovating these days seems to recognize the same thing. What amazes me is that we haven't seen more of what Mark hints at towards the very end: countries providing explicit safe havens around patents. We have examples of this in the past -- perhaps most famously, the Netherlands and Switzerland in the latter half of the 19th century. The Netherlands dumped patents entirely, while the Swiss limited what was patentable massively (to the point that very little was considered patentable at all). And both countries saw economic growth as a result -- where industry and innovation flocked to both countries because they weren't being held back by patent disputes.
"It's basically impossible to ship any kind of working software without potentially trampling on some patent somewhere in the world, and it's completely impossible to do anything to prevent that.
"The patents system is being used to slow down a lot of healthy competition and that's a real problem. I think that the countries that have essentially figured that out and put hard limits on what you can patent will in fact do better."
It does seem that perhaps some folks in the Netherlands remember this. There's an ongoing effort called the Appsterdam Foundation (in Amsterdam, of course), where part of the goal is to help protect app makers from crazy patent lawsuits. But I'm waiting for even more recognition from countries that this is a real growth opportunity. Assuming that countries have the nerves to withstand having the US taunt them each year with placement on the Special 301 list, there's a real opportunity for a developed nation to have innovation show up in droves by massively limiting patents.
by Glyn Moody
Wed, Feb 29th 2012 12:09am
from the didn't-know-you-could-do-that dept
A couple of weeks ago, Techdirt wrote about a surprising initiative by the Netherlands to introduce new flexibilities into its copyright law. Given that leadership from the Dutch government, it's probably no surprise that a few days later, the Dutch Parliament also showed itself in the political vanguard by voting not to ratify ACTA for the time being.
The full text of the Dutch minister's speech is now available, and it's well worth reading for its clear analysis of the problem facing European copyright, and its suggested solution:
The big question, however, is whether copyright law currently provides enough opportunities to allow an effective response to these technological changes and other developments in the future. In my view, this is particularly relevant in the case of the closed list of exceptions to copyright in the European Information Society Directive. These exceptions are designed to allow new products and services to be developed through creative or transformative use of copyrighted work. They also allow copyright to be restricted in the case of work used for educational purposes, in academic research or in news reporting, as well as work used for libraries and archives.
As the minister mentioned in his talk, those exceptions are explored in some depth in a report by Professors Hugenholtz and Senftleben, entitled 'Fair Use in Europe. In Search of Flexibilities.' The conclusion gives an idea of just how much scope there is within existing European law to introduce a wide range of copyright exceptions:
As our analysis has demonstrated, the EU copyright acquis [body of law] leaves considerably more room for
flexibilities than its closed list of permitted limitations and exceptions prima facie suggests. In the first place, the enumerated provisions are in many cases categorically worded prototypes rather than precisely circumscribed exceptions, thus leaving the Member States broad margins of implementation, as is confirmed by actual legislative practice in various Member States. In the second place, the EU acquis leaves ample unregulated space with regard to the right of adaptation that has so far remained largely unharmonized.
The ability to add all kinds of flexibilities to copyright law without breaching the Information Society Directive is clearly a real boon for EU governments who want to update their legislation for the digital age. But there is another notable advantage to taking this approach, as the authors note:
A Member State desiring to take full advantage of all policy space available under the Information Society Directive, and thus maximize flexibilities available at the EU level, might achieve this by literal transposition of the Directive’s entire catalogue of exception prototypes into national law. In combination with the [Information Society Directive's] three-step test, this would effectively lead to a semi-open norm almost as flexible as the fair use rule of the United States. For less ambitious Member States seeking to enhance flexibility while keeping its existing structure of limitations and exceptions largely intact, we recommend exploring the policy space left by distinct exception prototypes.
Member States aspiring to introduce flexible copyright norms are advised to take advantage of the policy space that presently exists in EU law, and not wait until initiatives to introduce flexibilities at the EU level materialize -- a process that could easily take ten years. In this way, national models can be developed and tested in practice that may serve as a basis for more flexible future law making at EU level.
The hope there seems to be that forward-thinking countries like the Netherlands might be able to set an example for Europe's future copyright legislation, and move it towards greater flexibility. A good place to start in that respect would be for the European Parliament to emulate the Dutch politicians and to ditch ACTA, one of whose pernicious effects is to limit the freedom of signatories to modify their own national copyright laws.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Feb 21st 2012 1:59pm
Dutch Economics Minister Says ACTA Is Designed To Shut Down Child Porn Sites... Even Though That's Not True
from the outright-lies dept
Because the Google translation was weird, I asked a native Dutch speaker to confirm the original translation, and, though he provided a bit more context, he confirmed the basic statement. Apparently Verhagen brings up child porn not once, not twice, but three times in the course of the interview. Sometimes it's just to provide an analogy, about how blocking internet sites is okay if it's child porn, so there's no problem if it's also done under ACTA, but that's a totally separate issue because child porn and infringement are extremely different situations. But on the third mention, as the article suggests, Verhagen does, in fact, link ACTA to child porn:
"Regarding internet users that download - this treaty doesn't cover that at all. It's about, for instance, the possibility to shut down a child pornography site (not the person who goes there, but the person who puts it online). Or when there's big-scale commercial abuse in such a way that the labor of the creator is taken away from him"I recognize that he's saying the purpose of ACTA is to go after sites not users, but that really is besides the point. People are concerned about the wrongful censorship of sites, and ACTA itself has nothing to do with child porn. Using that and claiming that's what ACTA is about is simply fear mongering. Of course, it's become all too typical these days to wrap other forms of legislation in "child porn" claims. This comic from over a decade ago remains all too true, as we're seeing with politicians around the glob using child porn to press for draconian legal changes.
by Glyn Moody
Mon, Feb 13th 2012 3:39pm
from the didn't-see-that-coming dept
Well, here's a turn-up for the books. At a time when the European Commission is insisting that the copyright ratchet should be tightened up a few notches by bringing in ACTA, with its perilously vague terms that potentially criminalize even low-level acts of online sharing, here's the Dutch government planning to go in the opposite direction:
The Dutch government wants to change copyright law so new media users can continue to do "creative remixes" of protected content. [It] will no longer wait for the European Commission to find a compromise.
The Dutch government made that clear at a conference it had organized, entitled "Towards Flexible Copyright," where one of the speakers was Bernt Hugenholtz of the Dutch state committee on copyright law. On the subject of YouTube, he said:
"Many of the videos we find there are creative remixes of material protected under copyright. They're mostly for laughs or political commentary, or they're simply absurd. If we applied the law today strictly, we would not be allowed to do these things."
Also speaking at the conference, Netherland's Deputy Justice Minister Fred Teeven said he was exploring "a more flexible system of copyright exceptions that would also work in a European context." One solution would be to replace the limited set of European exceptions to copyright, which are laid down by law and allow no flexibility, with a system more akin to US fair use, which gives courts a certain leeway to determine what exactly is permissible.
Of course, that's an eminently sensible thing to do, not least because it wouldn't require a radical overhaul of European copyright, just some tinkering at the edges. Despite that, the idea is likely to meet stiff resistance -- and not just from the industry dinosaurs that reflexively resist any change that might reverse the copyright ratchet by even a few degrees.
At a time when the European Commission is hell-bent on getting ACTA ratified by the European Parliament, it won't take kindly to national governments going their own way on exceptions. That's particularly the case since the Commission is also drafting a new directive specifically designed to harmonize EU copyright law.
The Dutch government will be well aware of all those countervailing pressures, which makes this unexpected move all the more bold. Let's hope it inspires other EU countries to lend their weight to this much-needed initiative to make European copyright laws fit for the digital age.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Feb 1st 2012 5:33am
from the good-for-them dept
“KPN sees the blocking of websites as a drastic measure for which a court order is required,” KPN said in a statement, adding that innovation is needed to curb piracy.It's good to see that these ISPs are standing up for the right to an open internet. Of course, I do wonder how such block orders work under Netherlands' (first of its kind) net neutrality law.
“KPN doesn’t believe a blockade is the right solution. What is needed are robust, attractive business models that are easy to use and offer a fair deal to both producers and consumers of content.”
T-Mobile also said that it will only respond to court orders, while it emphasized the value of an open Internet.
“T-Mobile strongly supports an open Internet and is fundamentally against shutting off access to websites. Dutch law is very clear when it comes to blocking access to the Internet. T-Mobile will only respond to a court ruling, not to demands from a private party such as BREIN.”
In the meantime, the two ISPs who were subject to the court order have begun the blockade, with Ziggo pointing users to an information page... in which they tell users that it's easy to get around the blockade.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Jan 11th 2012 3:44pm
from the fat-lot-of-good-that-will-do dept
"The basic principle of the Internet is that ISPs pass on traffic to their customers unfiltered, they are merely a gateway," says Niels Huijbregts, spokesman for XS4ALL. "The Pirate Bay website is not hosted on a Ziggo server, so Ziggo can't be held responsible for restricting access to the website. BREIN is targeting the wrong people."Unfortunately, it appears the Dutch courts have no time for common sense, as they've rejected this argument (in Dutch) and given ISPs 10 days to figure out how to block sites or face huge fines (10,000 euros per day, and potentially a total of 250,000 euros).
Of course, we've seen this game before. Multiple times. Some technologically clueless court orders a block... and within a very short period of time (sometimes before the blocking even begins) services start springing up to get around the block. This leads to some free advertising for the site, but no apparent decrease in infringement.