by Mike Masnick
Wed, Dec 26th 2012 3:44am
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Jul 13th 2012 6:36pm
from the seems-possible dept
Earlier this year, the RIAA said that the program would finally kick off in July. There were some rumors of delays, and then a bunch of sites (including us) got confused about the actual start date. There have been multiple reports now saying that it will actually roll out later in the fall.
Of course, this has a lot of people wondering just what the delay is about. There might be a clue in a piece over at The Daily Dot, where they say that the director of the Center for Copyright Information (CCI), Jill Lesser, has hinted strongly that the ISPs disagree with some RIAA/MPAA demands:
Jill Lesser, Executive Director of the Center for Copyright Information, told the Daily Dot that the repeated delays were because the coalition wanted an independent review from the American Arbitration Association.Of course, there's one big thing that happened between when the agreement was made and now: the huge public reaction to SOPA. After that, the EFF rightly called for scrapping the backroom deal and starting a new negotiation that actually involved the public. That recommendation was ignored by Hollywood, of course, but the news of some internal fighting hopefully means that the ISPs are asserting themselves a bit more strongly against excessive RIAA/MPAA demands. Of course, once again, this is why it would be nicer if this debate were in public, rather than hidden behind closed doors.
She hinted that disagreement between the ISPs or the lobbying groups might have held up the process. Responding to a question about the delay, she wrote “members are all very involved in internal planning and review of the alert system, which has been and will continue to be a collaborative process.”
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Jul 6th 2012 3:55pm
from the if-you-keep-doing-what's-not-effective... dept
“I think that the increase is a result of all the media attention for the lawsuit and the blockade. Perhaps people who until then had never downloaded thought ‘I hear so much about downloading music and movies, let me try it!’.”
by Glyn Moody
Fri, Jun 29th 2012 1:17pm
from the put-it-out-of-its-misery dept
As Techdirt reported in 2010, the passage of the Digital Economy Act was one of the most disgraceful travesties of the UK parliamentary process in recent times; it was badly drafted, hardly revised and then pushed through with almost no debate in the dying moments of the previous government. Since then, two UK ISPs -- BT and TalkTalk -- have challenged the Act in the courts, but lost earlier this year.
This has cleared the way for the UK communications regulator Ofcom to spell out how the 3-strikes system would work by publishing
a draft code for consultation that would require large internet service providers (ISPs) to inform customers of allegations that their internet connection has been used to infringe copyright.
Here's the summary:
The code will initially cover ISPs with more than 400,000 broadband-enabled fixed lines -- currently BT, Everything Everywhere, O2, Sky, TalkTalk Group and Virgin Media. Together these providers account for more than 93% of the retail broadband market in the UK.
A crucial aspect of this approach is how those allegedly infringing on copyright can appeal:
The draft code requires ISPs to send letters to customers, at least a month apart, informing them when their account is connected to reports of suspected online copyright infringement.
If a customer receives three letters or more within a 12-month period, anonymous information may be provided on request to copyright owners showing them which infringement reports are linked to that customer’s account. The copyright owner may then seek a court order requiring the ISP to reveal the identity of the customer, with a view to taking legal action for infringement under the Copyright Designs and Patent Act 1988.
Customers would have the right to challenge any allegation of infringement through an independent appeals body. Ofcom will appoint this body and require it to establish transparent, accessible appeal procedures. Copyright owners will need Ofcom approval of their procedures for gathering evidence of infringement before they can be used under the scheme.
That last point, that the evidence-gathering system employed by copyright owners must be approved by Ofcom, is one welcome change to the first draft of the code, which was put out for comments in May 2010. Indeed, Ofcom has announced that it plans to sponsor the development of a publicly-available standard to help promote "good practice in evidence gathering". This should ensure that at least the IP addresses of alleged infringers are obtained in a reasonably rigorous way.
However, an IP address on its own doesn't identify the person responsible for the alleged infringement -- the use of an open wifi network is an obvious reason why not. This touches on one of only four grounds allowed for appeal (in the original draft, other reasons were permitted, but Ofcom has now narrowed this down "following a direction from the [UK] Government"):
the act constituting the apparent infringement to which a copyright infringement report relates was not done by the subscriber and the subscriber took reasonable steps to prevent other persons infringing copyright by means of the internet access service;
The big question, of course, is what constitutes "reasonable steps": would, for example, WEP-encrypted wifi be enough, even though WEP is now easy to break? Ofcom passes the buck on this one:
we believe it is for the appeals body, not Ofcom, to assess the evidence presented by subscribers and to determine the basis on which it will assess the reasonableness of any steps that the subscriber may have taken to secure its internet access service.
This means a crucial aspect of the Digital Economy Act -- on what grounds people can appeal against allegations of copyright infringement -- is still unclear. And remember that this current code is only about sending out warning letters: we still don't know what might happen after that. Ofcom merely says that any "technical measures" -- like throttling speeds or disconnection -- would require further legislation before they could be considered.
Although far from complete, the current code already imposes an unnecessary burden on ISPs that are merely providing the digital plumbing. Worse, it starts from the assumption that those accused of infringement are guilty, and must prove their innocence in an appeals process – but how on earth do you prove a negative: that you didn't download a file?
What makes this even more deplorable is that the copyright industries still haven't provided any credible, independent evidence that unauthorized file sharing is damaging them. In fact, as Techdirt has shown in its report The Sky is Rising, they are all flourishing. This means that fundamental rights are being harmed, and costs incurred, without justification and probably for no ultimate benefit, since determined downloaders will simply switch to using VPNs or other means. The longer the great Digital Economy Act farce drags on, the more absurd it becomes from every viewpoint.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Jun 29th 2012 5:19am
3 Strikes Plan Re-established In Ireland After Court Decides To Ignore Data Protection Commission Ruling
from the protect-what-data? dept
The labels fought back... and have now won. A court has rejected the findings of the Data Protection Commission (DPC) and argued, amazingly, that there are simply no privacy concerns at all with having ISPs track what you do online. Well, that's not quite how the court put it. Instead, it said that there's no privacy questions involved in "the detection and punishment of individuals who engage in unlawful Internet file-sharing." Er... considering the whole issue that kicked this off was false accusations against those who did not engage in such things, it seems the judge is pretty confused. Furthermore, the judge seems to think that there's a way to spy on users, but only track their infringing efforts. The problem -- and the main privacy concern -- is not so much in the tracking of infringing activity, but all of the legitimate activity that gets tracked as well.
Perhaps Justice Peter Charleton should open up his own log files to the public so that we can see if he's infringing. There is, according to his version of things, no privacy violations there, because we all promise only to make sure he's not breaking copyright law.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Jun 27th 2012 6:31am
from the just-what-we-need dept
by Glyn Moody
Mon, Jun 25th 2012 10:06am
from the hang-'em-high dept
There's a fairly constant pattern in the world of copyright enforcement. The media companies claim that piracy is "destroying" their industries, although they never offer any independent evidence to back this up. They "demand" that governments "do something" -- by which they mean introduce harsher penalties for unauthorized downloads. Because of the hypnotic effect that musicians and artists seem to have on politicians, governments happily oblige, even though there is no evidence that such laws will help artists. After the laws come in to force, online sharing may dip for a while, but soon returns to previous levels, so the media companies start whining again, and demand yet tougher penalties.
Of course, if any of those participants in this never-ending cycle stood back and looked at what was happening, they would see that the very fact the copyright companies keep coming back for more and harsher copyright laws offers clear proof the current approach just isn't working. Instead, they seem to believe that even though it has failed to work every time in the past, if the penalties could just be made sufficiently cruel and painful, suddenly everything would be OK.
Unfortunately, it looks like it's Japan's turn to undertake this exercise in futility:
Japan’s legislature has approved a bill revising the nation’s Copyright Law to add criminal penalties for downloading copyrighted material or backing up content from a DVD. The penalties will come into effect in October.
An earlier article by the same author, Daniel Feit, on Wired, spelt out some of the insanely restrictive rules that will soon apply:
The Upper House of the Japanese Diet approved the bill by a vote of 221-12, less than a week after the measure cleared the lower house with almost no opposition. Violators risk up to two years in prison or fines up to two million yen (about $25,000).
it would be illegal in Japan to make any copies of any movies or games, illegal to upload the data, illegal to download the data, illegal to sell copies of the data and well as illegal to sell a device that enables playback of the copied data. All of these actions would carry stiff penalties.
The new law's effects might be even more ridiculous:
Japanese attorney Toshimitsu Dan told IT Media that even watching a YouTube video could be grounds for arrest "if the viewer is aware that downloading [such material] is illegal."
Since people will inevitably carry on doing all these things, Japan's legislation will simply crimininalize an entire generation. That means that some of them will probably end up in prison for completely trivial infractions; it will also lead millions more people to question their respect for laws that are so at odds with what they regard as normal and fair.
Perhaps dimly aware that tough sanctions won't work – or maybe just greedy – some music groups want Japanese ISPs to install a system that they claim can spot unauthorized uploads even before they reach the Internet. As TorrentFreak explains:
Once a match is found, rightholders want ISPs to automatically block the allegedly infringing content. But according to one report, there may even be requests to send out warning letters to uploaders. If implemented this would amount to the most invasive "3 strikes" style regime anywhere in the world.
To add insult to injury, ISPs are expected to pay for allowing the music industry to spy on their users 24 hours a day. Since that cost will inevitably be passed on, that means that customers will be forced to pay for the pleasure of undermining their own privacy, having their ability to upload legitimate material curtailed, and receiving unwarranted threatening letters. Sounds like the Japanese recording industry has been watching Terry Gilliam's "Brazil" too much.
This latest call for total surveillance on top of probably the harshest laws passed yet against unauthorized downloads raises an important question: when the current measures fail -- as they surely will -- what will the copyright industries demand next in a further forlorn attempt to deter file sharing? Life imprisonment? Amputation of the mousing fingers?
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Jun 15th 2012 3:41pm
central european media enterprises
TV Network Uses Questionable Copyright Claim To Take Down Report Criticizing Its Reporting On Copyright
from the full-circle dept
You can see why this might draw some criticism. Another journalist, Ivan Stamenov, did a rebuttal video, which he posted on YouTube, entitled "BTV and torrents: Shock Dose of Ignorance." BTV's response was to issue a takedown, claiming copyright. He does admit that there is a piece of the video that shows the BTV logo, but he insists that's about the only thing that might be infringing (and that would actually be trademark, not copyright). Either way, it seems pretty clear that this takedown has little to do with the copyrights (though it may have plenty to do with the fight over the concept of copyright), and was very much focused on trying to silence a critic.
The show went on to press the one-download-one-lost-sale mantra, suggested that a “3 strikes” regime should be considered to deal with infringement, and criticized local ISPs for providing high-speed connections used for pirating.
BTV also claimed to have contacted the operators of Zamunda so that their side of the story could be heard, but a source close to the site told TorrentFreak that after initially making contact and getting Zamunda’s attention (just 3 days before the show was aired), the show failed to respond to further contact from the site.
The end result, critics say, was an ‘investigative’ report biased towards rightsholders at a time when bTV is not only promoting its just-launched Voyo PPV service, but simultaneously running an anti-torrent site campaign of its own.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Jun 15th 2012 1:05pm
from the copyright-trolls-gone-too-far dept
Plaintiffs should not be allowed to profit from unfair litigation tactics whereby they use the offices of the Court as an inexpensive means to gain Doe defendants’ personal information and coerce “settlements” from them. It is evident in these cases – and the multitude of cases filed by plaintiffs and other pornographers represented by their counsel – that plaintiffs have no interest in actually litigating their claims against the Doe defendants, but simply seek to use the Court and its subpoena powers to obtain sufficient information to shake down the Doe defendants. The Federal Rules require the Court to deny discovery “to protect a party or person from annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or expense.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(c)(1). This case requires such relief.Now, of course, NBC Universal hasn't gone all the way to the level of pure trolling and forcing settlements out of people, but I've yet to see a single situation where the lawyers at NBC Universal were willing to support anything that might make it more difficult for them to go after people for infringement. Perhaps now that they're under the Comcast umbrella NBC Universal will have to tone down its aggressiveness on these issues?
by Glyn Moody
Thu, Jun 14th 2012 8:54pm
from the eat-your-heart-out,-china dept
As expected, the UK government has published its Draft Communications Bill (pdf) -- better known as the "snooper's charter," since it requires ISPs to record key information about every email sent and Web site visited by UK citizens, and mobile phone companies to log all their calls (landline information is already recorded).
Since this was only released a few hours ago, people are still trawling through it to find out what delights it holds, but an eagle-eyed David Meyer has already spotted something rather extraordinary: the UK government seems to be proposing to log not just every IP packet, but every physical packet -- and letter, and postcard -- too.
That's thanks to Section 25 of the Draft, which states:
Part 1 [the main requirements to log communications data] applies to public postal operators and public postal services as it applies to telecommunications operators and telecommunications services.
And if you were wondering what "communications data" means when applied to letters and postcards, it includes:
postal data comprised in or attached to a communication (whether by the sender or otherwise) for the purposes of a postal service by means of which it is being or may be transmitted
Letters, telephone calls, email and the Web -- this is a level of total surveillance that countries like China, North Korea or Iran can only dream of. What remains unclear is how the UK government will try to gather this incredible flood of information, and whether it can access it in real time. Here's what the site Privacy International thinks will happen:
The government today published a draft version of a bill that, if signed into law in its current form, would force Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and mobile phone network providers in Britain to install 'black boxes' in order to collect and store information on everyone's internet and phone activity, and give the police the ability to self-authorise access to this information.
That article points out that two important questions on the Internet side of things remain unanswered:
However, the Home Office failed to explain whether or not companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter will be brought under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA), and how they intend to deal with HTTPS encryption.
When an official was pressed on that last point, he gave a rather disturbing reply:
At this morning's Home Office briefing, Director of the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism Charles Farr was asked about how the black box technology would handle HTTPS encryption. His only response was: "It will."
This is going to get very interesting.