Hardware Store That Doesn't Play Any Music Has To Fight Off Collection Society Demanding A License Fee

from the that's-called-extortion dept

We've written plenty of stories about different businesses being shaken down by various music collections societies, and the one we often hear the craziest stories about is PPL in the UK. Recently, it demanded a hardware store pay for a license. Of course, there was just one problem: the store's owner doesn't play any music in the store, saying that after the store is closed up for the night, he'll turn on the radio to hear the news while he cleans up, but that he doesn't think music is appropriate for the store. Still PPL demanded £199. After he refused to pay, PPL apparently claimed that he owed them money and passed it on to a debt collection agency, who started hounding the poor guy.

The owner, David Sleath, was finally forced to hire lawyers to try to stop the madness -- and PPL's response was to lower their demand to "just" £100, for music he did not play. Eventually, after Sleath was able to get press coverage, PPL "called him up with a grovelling apology and a promise to withdraw all invoices." Still, he's been stuck with legal fees, and is now trying to get PPL to pay them. It seems more and more like this is just a government sanctioned form of extortion, doesn't it?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    icon
    Thomas (profile), Oct 27th, 2011 @ 3:09pm

    Next thing you know..

    they will want a license to play music in your own home.

     

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  •  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Oct 27th, 2011 @ 3:09pm

    Court...

    He should be able to sue for harassment, court costs and lawyers fees...

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 27th, 2011 @ 3:14pm

    And I thought extortion was illegal in the UK...

     

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    •  
      icon
      Planespotter (profile), Oct 27th, 2011 @ 3:18pm

      Re:

      but..but... will somebody please think about U2's Lear Jet that needs a new tyre!

       

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    •  
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      A Dan (profile), Oct 27th, 2011 @ 3:48pm

      Re:

      The UK government actually does it to a large scale against people who decide they will not watch (and therefore don't pay a fee for) the BBC.

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/aboutthebbc/licencefee/

       

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        Rikuo (profile), Oct 27th, 2011 @ 4:00pm

        Re: Re:

        Same situation here in Ireland. I've got two screens, a standard computer monitor and a 40 inch HD TV, both connected to my computer, yet according to the law, I still have to pay a TV licence, to help pay for RTE. Which I don't watch at all, seeing as how I don't have so much as a free-to-air aerial connected to the TV.

         

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          Chargone (profile), Oct 28th, 2011 @ 1:01am

          Re: Re: Re:

          huh. in NZ the government funded programing is payed for out of regular taxes, and the government 'owned' channels (maybe 1/3rd or so of the free-to-air ones?) pretty much use advertising to pay for themselves the same as the others. only difference is that they're contractually obligated to run election stuff and the like and the government is the one collecting the profits. (end result: we actually get reasonably balanced media covarge most of hte time... not so much when national's in power, sadly, as then you get the 'don't upset those controling our funding too much' affecting one major news channel and blatant pro-rich-people-getting-more-money-is-the-only-thing-that-matters-so-therefore-everyone-but-national -sucks propaganda on the other...)

           

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          •  
            identicon
            Ilfar, Oct 28th, 2011 @ 1:00pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            We used to have a broadcast fee, but that was back in the land of Sleepy Kiwi (I miss you, little guy!)

             

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        •  
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          Charles K. (profile), Oct 28th, 2011 @ 6:46am

          Re: Re: Re:

          It's not the connection to an aerial, it's the circuits that act as the receiver that causes you to pay. That's why the monitor is exempt but the TV isn't.

          It's all a pile of shite, but just wait till they classify your PC as a "receiving device", that's when things will get really interesting.

          Heh heh, all this brings me back to the time in college when we beat the TV licence inspector by simply cutting the plug off the TV. We couldn't prove it worked so he couldn't make us pay. Ah, memories.

           

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        Richard (profile), Oct 28th, 2011 @ 5:32am

        Re: Re:

        I'm in the UK and I do support the licence fee - it produces advert free - free television (and radio and web) which is much less aligned to government than it would be if paid for by general taxes. Also I reckon pretty much everyone benefits from the BBC so the relatively modest fee is good value.

        On top of that the BBC has been exemplary in making its back catalogue available freely (and DRM free). It has only been hampered in this by the fact that most of its TV output contains material that others still own copyright on.

        Where this is not the case (eg non-music radio and some classical music recorded by BBC orchestras) pretty much everything is available DRM free forever.

        It has gone far enough in this to get the record labels to complain so I reckon they do as good a job as is practically possible.

         

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          DogBreath, Oct 29th, 2011 @ 10:48am

          Re: Re: Re:

          It has gone far enough in this to get the record labels to complain so I reckon they do as good a job as is practically possible.


          From the link you provided:
          Ralph Couzens, managing director of the Chandos label said: "We have to pay premium prices to record big orchestras and pay full union rates and we have to pass those costs on to the consumer. If the BBC is going to offer recordings for free, that is going to be a major problem."

          Sounds like the orchestral recording business is going to have to stop being such freetards about others making their own orchestral recordings of music that is in the public domain and offering it for free, and get a new business model (their current one is: suckling at the teats of the people forever) because the tide is going out.

           

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 27th, 2011 @ 3:31pm

    Actually, this particular instance doesn't sound government sanctioned at all.

     

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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 27th, 2011 @ 3:32pm

    OMG, I found a story that makes copyright look bad! Quick, write it up and post it!

    God, you look so desperate, Mike. Don't you have anything interesting to say?

     

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    •  
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      Rikuo (profile), Oct 27th, 2011 @ 3:39pm

      Re:

      Quick, gotta insult a guy who writes about how a group is claiming money through extortion.

      Memo to all sane people here on Techdirt: the new pirate word of the week is pendulum, I kept seeing it over and over on the e-parasite articles.

       

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      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Oct 27th, 2011 @ 3:42pm

        Re: Re:

        Me too. Odd isn't it? If you didn't know better, you'd swear it was one person posting as multiple people. Or multiple people posting from the same play book. Very odd.

         

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        •  
          identicon
          abc gum, Oct 27th, 2011 @ 6:28pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Hey, if you attach a very wide paint brush to a pendulum you could cover a lot of area with a broad brush.

           

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    •  
      identicon
      Grey Ferret, Oct 27th, 2011 @ 3:42pm

      Re:

      And here you read the article and found it interesting enough to take the time to write a comment. Sounds like Mike does indeed have something interesting to say.

      Oh, and that's not Mike that looks desperate, that's a mirror.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Oct 27th, 2011 @ 5:33pm

        Re: Re:

        Actually, I actually couldn't get all the way through the first paragraph. Yawn. Funny how Pirate Mike weeds through all the things going on in copyright to only focus on the negative. Yeah, Pirate Mike is anti-piracy.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        •  
          icon
          Atkray (profile), Oct 27th, 2011 @ 9:48pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          You forgot to call him a slime and to curse at him.

           

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        •  
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          Rikuo (profile), Oct 28th, 2011 @ 12:42am

          Re: Re: Re:

          And you're a complete moron. This article has nothing to do with copyright. Just read the title: He didn't play music at all. None whatsoever. Yet, he was still being shaken down for money.

           

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        •  
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          PaulT (profile), Oct 28th, 2011 @ 1:02am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "I actually couldn't get all the way through the first paragraph"

          That's a shame, because then you'd have gotten to the part where the collections agency were finally forced to admit that the guy had never done anything to require a licence, yet he was still lumbered with legal fees for the false shakedown.

          But, that's typical for you. Don't let facts get in the way so you can just call names and accuse people of "piracy". I can imagine you in prohibition-era Chicago, defending Al Capone and attacking Eliott Ness as "pro-alcohol", since he dared to try to point out Capone's criminal actions...

           

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        •  
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          btr1701 (profile), Oct 28th, 2011 @ 12:57pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          > Actually, I actually couldn't get all the
          > way through the first paragraph

          You shouldn't publicly advertise your limitations like that. It's unbecoming.

           

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        •  
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          Angry Puppy (profile), Oct 29th, 2011 @ 8:28pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          You are why democracy is failing.

           

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Oct 27th, 2011 @ 3:46pm

      Re:

      "God, you look so desperate, Mike. Don't you have anything interesting to say?"

      It was interesting enough to others, who don't have a hang up in regards to insulting Mike. You know what's funny though? You saying "don't you have anything interesting to say", because the irony is lost on you. You yourself DO NOT have anything interesting to say.

      Watch, I'm going to pretend to be you for a moment.

      "OMG! A lame story! That tries to make copyright/studios/labels look bad! Let me post it real fast! Teehee!

      Man, Pirate Mike, anything to draw people in. Quite pathetic. Boring FUD like usual."

      Dismissal of article? Check. Personal attack? Check. Mentioned Mike? Check.

      Wow. I could be one of the "troll-type" ACs. No effort or experience (or intelligence) required.

       

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      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Oct 27th, 2011 @ 5:38pm

        Re: Re:

        My point is that Pirate Mike always focuses on the negatives of copyright law. There's no balance on Techdirt. It's all copyright FUD. There's no acknowledgement of the good that comes with copyright law. Pirate Mike's main goal in life is talk shit about copyright law. Post after post after post talking about the bad. It's so obvious that Pirate Mike hates copyright law and isn't anti-piracy. It's HILARIOUS that he keeps denying it. Post after post after post just keeps proving what a lie that is.

        And now that I've even intimated that some sort of positive actually exists with copyright law, watch the piranha pounce. This place is awesome fun. I feel like I'm at the zoo watching monkeys mate with penguins.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        •  
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Oct 27th, 2011 @ 5:52pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Perhaps then you could start your own blog to advance your point of view. Though, given your general lack of creativity, poor writing style, and complete absence of intelligent arguments, I suspect you would be its only reader.

           

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        •  
          identicon
          Uncle Pennybags, Oct 27th, 2011 @ 6:04pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          My point is that Pirate Mike always focuses on the negatives of monopolies. There's no balance on Techdirt. It's all monopoly FUD. There's no acknowledgement (sic) of the good that comes with monopolistic law. Pirate Mike's main goal in life is talk shit about monopolistic law. Post after post after post talking about the bad. It's so obvious that Pirate Mike hates monopolistic law and isn't anti-competition. It's HILARIOUS that he keeps denying it. Post after post after post just keeps proving what a lie that is.

          And now that I've even intimated that some sort of positive actually exists with monopolistic law, watch the piranha pounce. This place is awesome fun. I feel like I'm at the zoo watching monkeys mate with penguins.

           

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          •  
            icon
            pbarker (profile), Oct 27th, 2011 @ 6:26pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Holy cow, what kind of zoo do you have in your world?
            Monkeys mating with penguins? Really?

            Now for the Duh-du-joir - Anyone who starts an argument by saying "( insert topic here ) is all ( insert adjectives )" as in "It's [Techdirt] all monopoly FUD" has just lost.

            Nothing is "all" one thing.

             

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          •  
            identicon
            Anonymous Coward, Oct 27th, 2011 @ 6:29pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Ah, you flatter me.

             

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          •  
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            PaulT (profile), Oct 27th, 2011 @ 11:09pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            "And now that I've even intimated that some sort of positive actually exists with monopolistic law, watch the piranha pounce."

            So go on, explain to us the positive of agencies being able to extort money from people for activities they do not do, for using products they do not use. Explain the upside of legalised extortion on behalf of people who are not entitled to the money in any way.

            I'll wait. Bear in mind that this is far from the only example of this happening so the "isolated incident" or "rare occurrence" defences won't work.

             

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          •  
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            Richard (profile), Oct 28th, 2011 @ 5:45am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            While we're at it I'd like to complain about these judges who sit on the bench day after day and say how terrible murder, burglary, assault (etc etc) are. Why are they so one sided? Why can't we have a more balanced view of murder, burglary, assault (etc etc)?

             

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          •  
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            Richard (profile), Oct 28th, 2011 @ 5:46am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            My point is that Pirate Mike always focuses on the negatives of copyright law.


            There are no positives these days.

             

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          •  
            identicon
            Anonymous Coward, Oct 28th, 2011 @ 5:52am

            Well, here's your chance, then...

            ...to say just what you find positive about monopolistic law. Go ahead, we're waiting.

             

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        •  
          icon
          techflaws.org (profile), Oct 27th, 2011 @ 10:30pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          My point is that Pirate Mike always focuses on the negatives of copyright law.

          And who gives a damn about an ACs/shill's point?

           

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        •  
          identicon
          athe, Oct 27th, 2011 @ 11:18pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          And copyright law (and all its spawn) is just full of balance these days, isn't it? Hah!

           

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        •  
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Oct 28th, 2011 @ 4:22am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Maybe instead of just saying you intimated it exists, why don't you provide examples? You're the one who keeps disagreeing and offering no evidence. Mike has provided plenty, you have provided nothing. Any unbiased third party would have to declare Mike the winner on this one.

           

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        •  
          icon
          The Devil's Coachman (profile), Oct 29th, 2011 @ 3:52pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Did your mother have any children that actually lived? Didn't think so!

           

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    •  
      icon
      techflaws.org (profile), Oct 27th, 2011 @ 10:28pm

      Re:

      OMG, I found a story where Mike writes about copyright gone mad. Quick, write a troll post up and post it!

      God, you look so desperate, AC. Don't you have anything interesting to say?

       

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    •  
      icon
      PaulT (profile), Oct 27th, 2011 @ 11:05pm

      Re:

      "Don't you have anything interesting to say?"

      Maybe you could show him how it's done? God knows you've failed so far.

       

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  •  
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    Mike42 (profile), Oct 27th, 2011 @ 3:33pm

    Seriously, how could anyone look at these collection laws and NOT conclude they are shakedowns? I've never seen ANYONE try to justify these taxes on businesses. (Maybe I just don't read past the first 200 posts?)
    You paid for the recording of the music. Now you're paying for the right to play it?

     

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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Oct 27th, 2011 @ 5:31pm

    And for each time these out of hand tactics get coverage, how many times do people just pay up to make it stop? You have a rights group running unchecked, because it is assumed they are doing it all for the artists. Much like the DCMA there is no downside for them making bogus claims and forcing innocent people to fight them. They have no proof of their claims, but they are empowered to just demand and are assumed to be correct.

    What needs to happen is there needs to be a mechanism outside of the society where those people targeted can tick off a form on why it is bogus. The outside people look at the evidence, and then make a ruling. For each bogus demand by the society they need to be fined $50,000.00. That is a number that should hurt and should make them actually review the situations before launching baseless accusations.
    Half should go to the target and half should go to the checker. Now we have someone with their own interest in being paid making sure all t's are crossed and all i's are dotted.
    If your found to be owing, then you get a $200 fine on top of what you owe for wasting time.

     

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    •  
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      nasch (profile), Oct 27th, 2011 @ 9:40pm

      Re:

      Half should go to the target and half should go to the checker.

      That would be a rather perverse incentive for the targets of claims to always protest, and the oversight authority to always find against the PRO. You want to align the incentives as much as possible with accuracy, not toward one outcome or the other.

       

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        That Anonymous Coward (profile), Oct 27th, 2011 @ 10:09pm

        Re: Re:

        So its wrong for me to suggest we just flip what they are doing already?

        As it stands now there is not a damn thing done to the societies when they get all excited and demand payments they are not actually owed. They get to make the claim, sell it off to debt collectors, and leave the target paying bills and fighting off creditors over a nonexistent debt. The odds are heavily in the favor of them doing this on a regular basis.

        It would never come to be, giving the common folk the same broad powers they hand to corporate cronies, but its fun to dream. There should be harsh penalties built into the law for people making false claims. The target in this case has been hounded and hounded and has a pile of legal bills because the society lied. And he is meant to spend more money in a vain attempt to win back what he is out already?

         

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          nasch (profile), Oct 28th, 2011 @ 6:48am

          Re: Re: Re:

          So its wrong for me to suggest we just flip what they are doing already?

          Yes. You don't correct an injustice by turning the same injustice on the opposite party.

          There should be harsh penalties built into the law for people making false claims.

          Agreed, but those penalty payments should not go to the people deciding who has broken the rules. That would be a bit like allowing police officers to keep half of the payments from traffic tickets they write. Where would their incentive lie?

           

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            That Anonymous Coward (profile), Oct 28th, 2011 @ 7:52am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            To-mato, Ta-mato...
            is it really injustice, or just re-balancing the scales :)
            And yes I see all of the possible abuse there, but the lawmakers can't see it when they grant it to the corporations.

            As to keeping payments from traffic tickets... have you missed the red light camera/photo speed trap stories on here?

             

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            •  
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              nasch (profile), Oct 28th, 2011 @ 9:55am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              As to keeping payments from traffic tickets... have you missed the red light camera/photo speed trap stories on here?

              So you agree that kind of thing is a bad idea and an abuse of power, right? :-)

               

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              •  
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                That Anonymous Coward (profile), Oct 28th, 2011 @ 10:09am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                I think the entire thing is silly, but if these are the laws they insist we have there needs to be punishment for abusing it. There needs to be a system for people to appeal that doesn't require them having to spend all kinds of moneys to fight the jackals off.

                Copyright Trolls, Patent Trolls, Society Trolls...
                all of them threaten you with large sums and big legal bills and it is often just easier to settle. Not because you are guilty, but because a long protracted battle will bankrupt you.

                Maybe revise my original idea and have a $50k fine awarded on top of all the legal fees to someone targeted wrongly. If you know your right, and the lawyer knows he is getting paid you will be able to find a vigorous defense.

                 

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                •  
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                  nasch (profile), Oct 28th, 2011 @ 10:37am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  I guess it's difficult to get punitive damages in addition to legal fees currently? Anyway, that sure sounds reasonable to me. Maybe it would get corps to think twice (or just once, even) before making threats.

                   

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  •  
    identicon
    abc gum, Oct 27th, 2011 @ 6:33pm

    Looks like these PPL should be locked up in the clink.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Local Lad, Oct 28th, 2011 @ 6:02am

    It's entirely reasonable to highlight misuse and abuse of copyright and patent law and ownership. In this case PPL misused their ownership of copyright and got caught in the act. PPL have acknowledged the fact and apologised to the owner of the store.

    Nice work highlighting that story Mike.

     

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    •  
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      The Devil's Coachman (profile), Oct 29th, 2011 @ 3:55pm

      Re:

      You probably made the AC soil his panties! And that on top of the other three loads he was sporting previously. You're pretty heartless, for sure.

       

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  •  
    identicon
    Janet, Nov 4th, 2011 @ 5:02am

    Shakedown

    Get ready for a lot more of this. Recently-signed ACTA and the copyright laws created to support ACTA have resulted in a regime -- across Europe, North America and Asia -- that supports and encourages this sort of government-facilitated corporate intimidation.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    asds, Jan 22nd, 2012 @ 8:40am

    best sport books

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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