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19th December   

Update: Phorming a Starting Line...

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BT look set to start using Phorm in 2009
Link Here  full story: Behavioural Advertising...Serving adverts according to internet snooping

BT logo Phorm expects to launch its targeted ad service in the first half of next year after a successful trial with BT.

Phorm is behind technology that analyses web users' behaviour in a bid to serve up more relevant advertising. The company has been criticised because of fears that its technology will allow internet companies to spy on users.

However, it has taken great pains to explain that privacy is one of its major concerns and that because of the way its targeting works, no identifying information is retained on web users.

Phorm said that the BT trial, which began on 30 September, achieved its primary objective of testing all the elements necessary for a larger deployment, including the serving of small volumes of targeted advertising. BT has said it expects to move towards deployment of the Phorm platform.

Phorm chief executive Kent Ertugrul said: We have met with most of the main players in the advertising sector and they welcome the potential commercial value of the service. We have not set a date for a full launch, as this depends on several factors such as the ISPs, but we are looking at a launch in the near term. This is a first half of 2009 initiative.

 

17th December   

Essentially Bullying...

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Bare Escentuals claims domain name Bare-Essentials
Link Here

A large cosmetic product company has filed a trademark infringement suit against an online sex toy company that sells from India.

Bare Escentuals Beauty Inc., which sells cosmetics at Sephora stores and the QVC television network, claims Bare-essentials.biz violates its trademark at U.S. District Court in Virginia, and is in violation of anti-cybersquatting laws.

Bare Escentuals also is asking that the court transfer its domain name to the cosmetic company. Bare-essentials.biz domain owners, who were not identified in the suit, registered the domain three months ago with a business address in Kolkatta, India.

Plaintiff is informed and believes, and therefore alleges, that registrant willfully and intentionally registered and used a domain name with a natural and obvious misspelling of the word ‘escentual' as ‘essential' to trick plaintiffs' customers into visiting registrant's website, which purports to sell lingerie and personal care products.

 

14th December   

Update: Insufficient Evidence...

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Which? magazine files complaint against bullying Davenport Lyons
Link Here  full story: Sharing Bullies...Lawyers intimidate sharers innocent or not

Which? magazine Consumer magazine Which? has complained to the solicitors' watchdog about a London law firm that sent bullying letters to hundreds of innocent consumers.

Davenport Lyons has been hunting for internet users who it believes have illegally shared copies of video games and gay pornography. The alleged file-sharers received letters from the law firm demanding payment of £500 compensation for copyright infringement.

However, letters sent out rely on IP addresses and with so many unsecured wireless networks and file sharing sites which spoof IP addresses, serious questions are being asked about the validity of evidence put forward by Davenport Lyons, evidence already discredited by at least two other European countries.

The case was featured on BBC's Watchdog programme this week, and both Watchdog and The Real Hustle have highlighted the relative ease with which many home networks can be breached. Many of those wrongly accused by Davenport Lyons say that their claims of innocence are ignored completely and simply followed with continued demands for money.

Michael Coyle, solicitor advocate with Lawdit who is currently representing hundreds of UK citizens who have received threatening letters, says that using IP addresses alone to pinpoint file sharers is a nonsense and that Davenport Lyons are using heavy-handed tactics.

Which? has written to the Solicitors Regulatory Authority complaining about what it describes as bullying and excessive , pointing out that during a recession, more and more companies will be looking to make money from individuals and that the SRA should take decisive action. Which? has invited anyone wrongly accused by Davenport Lyons to contact whichcomputingnews@which.co.uk.

A number 10 petition has also been created.

Steve Lawson, editor for Hellmail the postal industry news site said: Its a disgrace that an apparently respected firm of solicitors is relying on such poor evidence and sending out letters to frighten the wits out of people that in many cases have done nothing wrong at all, and then for those people to discover that they are not even being listened to.

 

10th December   

Keel Hauled...

Danish high court continues the ISP block on PirateBay
Link Here

Pirate Bay logo The Danish Eastern High Court ruled last week that it is up to Internet service providers to ensure that their customers do not use the Swedish torrent-tracking site The Pirate Bay to download illegal content.

This ruling upholds a previous court order in the case between the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) and the Danish ISP Tele2.

Since February this year, Tele2's customers have not been able to access the Pirate Bay because an injunction forces Tele2 to block access at the DNS level.

Last week's ruling upholds this decision and will probably cause the IFPI to insist that all Danish ISPs block access to the site.

 

3rd December   

Update: A Strike at Democracy...

Sarkozy strikes down 3 strikes protection suggested by European Parliament
Link Here  full story: International 3 Strikes Laws...File sharers threatened with loss of internet access

Sarkozy voodoo doll An amendment designed to protect Internet users from the anti-piracy lobby has been rejected by President Sarkozy of the European Council.

The rejection goes against the will of the European Parliament, where 88% of the members already voted in favor of the amendment, which was originally destined to protect file-sharers from Internet disconnection under the ‘3 strikes' framework. This was much needed, as in recent years, anti-piracy lobby groups have called for tougher monitoring of Internet users and are actively working to erode their rights further.

The amendment, drafted by Guy Bono and other members of the European Parliament, was supposed to put a halt to the march of the anti-piracy lobby. However, despite the fact that is was adopted by an overwhelming majority, with 573 parliament members voting in favor with just 74 rejections, the European Council went against this democratic vote.

In September, Bono stated in a response to the vote: You do not play with individual freedoms like that, going on to say that the French government should review its three-strikes law. Sarkozy had other plans though, and in his position of President of the European Council, he convinced his friends to reject the proposal.

 

2nd December   

Legal Nasties...

Nasty letters inaccurately targeted at alleged porn downloaders demand unreasonable damages
Link Here  full story: Sharing Bullies...Lawyers intimidate sharers innocent or not

Army Fuckers DVD Innocent people are getting letters from lawyers claiming they should pay for films they've never seen.

A Hertfordshire couple in their 60s were horrified to receive a letter last week from lawyers at Davenport Lyons accusing them of downloading a hardcore gay porn movie. It demanded they pay £503 for copyright infringement or face a high court action. The 20-page pre-settlement letter from Davenport Lyons, acting on behalf of German pornogaphers, insisted they pay £503 to their clients for the 115 minute film Army Fuckers which features Gestapo officers and Czech farmers.

The bewildered couple contacted Guardian Money. We were offended by the title of the film. We don't do porn - straight or gay - and we can't do downloads. We have to ask our son even to do an iTunes purchase.

But this Hertfordshire couple are not alone. A large number of people have received this letter, provoking a massive outcry on web forums such as slyck.com and torrentfreak which estimate 25,000 of these letters have been sent out. If all the recipients paid up, it would net £12.5m - more than almost any porn film has made.

Media expert Michael Coyle at Southampton-based solicitors Lawdit, is fighting on behalf of individuals who have received the letter from Davenport Lyons. Owners of films, music and computer games obviously have to protect their rights and prevent illegal copying, otherwise everyone would get all sorts of content for free.

"But many of these letters have been sent to people who have no idea what a download is. We've had straight pensioners complain, and a mother who had the shock of having to question her 14-year-old son about gay porn because he was the only apparent user of the internet connection that was registered to her.


Coyle says Davenport Lyons represent DigiProtect, a German company with rights to both pornographic films. He questions the amount demanded and methods used to identify computers alleged to have downloaded material. He believes the sum demanded is out of all proportion to the alleged injury. In one case, Davenport Lyons wanted £500 for a £20 game. The alleged file-sharing would have cost only about £50 - the rest is legal costs.

Coyle offers a £50 service for those who refuse to cave in to the demands as he believes some of the firm's successes are due to consumers paying up because they cannot afford the legal costs of defending themselves. They have won court cases including a high-profile £16,000 on a games download. But these have not been defended. My advice is to deny file sharing to any such request.

 

29th November   

Updated: Sad Consumers...

Orange customers blocked from the Pirate Bay
Link Here

Orange logo According to many customers of the ISP Orange, it has been impossible to access the site for the last five days, unless they route their traffic through a proxy.

Orange is a very large ISP, serving more than 10 million customers across the UK, France, Spain, Switzerland and several other countries.

Last Friday, reports started coming in from UK Orange Broadband users, all of them complaining that they can no longer access The Pirate Bay. Initially it seemed that the difficulties could be related to technical issues but as the days have passed, the situation hasn't changed. Worryingly, the situation is mirrored by Orange customers in France who are also complaining the ‘bay is off-limits.

Update: Green Light

29th November 2008. See article from torrentfreak.com

An Orange spokesperson responded officially:

We can confirm that we have not actively stopped customers accessing the web sites reportedly affected. However, following investigation by our network partners, a small section of our Internet traffic was rerouted by one of them which has now restored access to the sites concerned.

As has always been the case, it is Orange UK's policy to not block customer access to websites, other than to those containing images of child abuse as identified by the IWF.

 

23rd November   

Rusty Toyota...

Toyota attempt at bullying backfires
Link Here

rusty Toyota Toyota, one of the biggest car companies in the world aspires to also being known as one of the biggest bullies of the world.

Desktopnexus, a site that provides desktop backgrounds, has been contacted by Toyota. In perhaps one of the most wildly arrogant demands in DMCA history, Toyota's lawyers are demanding the withdrawal of all wallpapers that feature a Toyota, Scion, or Lexus.

The site's owner, Harry Maugans contacted Toyota to clarify. He was told that all images featuring Toyota vehicles should be removed, even images with copyright belonging to others.

Yet, Toyota has also been cagey. These demands have not been sent in the form of a DMCA notice. While sending such a notice would require the takedown, it also requires that the person sending the notice legally certify that they are legal representatives for the copyright holders at issue. Making a false statement is punishable under penalty of perjury, which is not taken lightly in US courts.

Based on blog from desktopnexus.com

After long discussions and feeling I was getting no where with [Toyota lawyer] Mr. Biggs, I finally decided to email a few blogs who might be interested in this DMCA butchering story.

After this started spreading around, I followed the story and started reading all the comments that came flooding in. I was amazed by how this backfired on Toyota, and how much negativity was being thrown around.

As I said earlier, viral events can be a PR nightmare for a company… especially one like Toyota who invests to much into preserving their brand name.

Based on article from torrentfreak.com

Sometimes a company can be pressured into accepting mistakes, and this is the case here. With a large amount of negative publicity. Toyota contacted TorrentFreak and DesktopNexus, expressing their apologies for the incident.

From: Scott DeYager, Toyota Motor Sales, USA

The recent request Toyota made to have certain photos of Toyota vehicles removed from the public wallpaper site, DesktopNexus, was the result of an internal miscommunication.

To protect the legal rights and agreements we have with the photographers we hire, we ask that the photographs not be used for direct consumer advertising, sales brochures and the like.

If people wish to post their own photos of one of their own vehicles, that's their right. In fact, we're pleased that people would want to show their Toyota vehicles to the world. So have at it. Consider the wallpapers on DesktopNexus to be fair game for personal use.

Please let your readers know that we offer a sincere apology to the DesktopNexus site and its users for any inconvenience or disruption this miscommunication may have caused.

 

22nd November   

Update: BT Customers Uninphormed...

BT delete discussions of Phorm from their support forum
Link Here  full story: Behavioural Advertising...Serving adverts according to internet snooping

BT logo BT has banned all future discussion of Phorm and its WebWise targeted advertising product on its customer forums, and deleted all past threads about the controversy dating back to February.

Subscribers to BT's broadband packages had used the BT Beta forums to criticise its relationship with Phorm and raise concerns about the technical implications of ISPs wiretapping their customers.

However, BT decided it had had enough and deleted the threads. A first thread on WebWise extended to almost 200 pages, before being closed in late September when BT's third trial of the system began. It was still available to read however and a new thread was started by BT Beta moderators, which continued until yesterday. All record of either has now been removed.

 

22nd November   

Search and Destroy...

Nasty Wii update
Link Here

Wii console Nintendo have released another Wii update, version 3.4, installing which gives the software permission to check for and automatically remove any unauthorized modifications to save files. That means that any users of the homebrew channel will see their tweaked game save files - for titles such as Twilight Princess - deleted.

According to initial reports, it looks as though the 3.4 update itself changes very little apart from the ToS tweak and introducing this new search-and-destroy tool.

The advice to anybody using a modified Wii is to hold off on updating the console until the homebrew community has had a chance to circumnavigate the new “protection”.

 

15th November   

Isolated Instances...

Microsoft reject modded consoles from Xbox Live service
Link Here

Xbox Xbox Live's Major Nelson has revealed that Microsoft has recently banned number of Xbox 360 consoles modified to play pirated games.

In his blog, Major Nelson explained that any modification to an Xbox 360 was a violation of the terms of service and that action needed to be taken against software piracy in order to protect the games industry.

 

8th November   

Safe Haven...

Italian court finds that ISPs are not required to block PirateBay
Link Here

Italy flag An Italian appeals court has overturned a preliminary ruling by an investigating magistrate that ordered ISPs to block access to the controversial Bittorrent site The Pirate Bay.

The Appeal Court upheld the finding that The Pirate Bay breached copyright, but held that creating a specific obligation on innocent third parties (ISPs) was not justified.

 

5th November   

Yahboo Karoo...

UK ISP bans open WiFi
Link Here

Karoo logo Open wireless networks have served as a successful defense strategy for several alleged filesharers, as it is often impossible for content owners to prove that the person they accuse, has actually distributed the files they claim they did. Unfortunately, for the customers of the UK ISP Karoo, running open WiFi might also get them disconnected - even if it's unintentional.

Not all ISPs are happy with customers who have open WiFi, however, and some even threaten to disconnect those who do. In the September 2008 terms and conditions of UK ISP Karoo, we read:

We shall be entitled to terminate the Service immediately if We discover that you have permitted (whether knowingly or not) a third party (or third parties) to access the Service using a wireless connection over Your Communications Line.

Should an ISP be entitled to demand this? Karoo leaves its customers no choice, and simply forbids them to leave their network unsecured, despite the fact that this will be practically impossible for them to enforce. Not only that, people who have no idea about router security are now wide open to summary disconnection by this ISP.

Some would argue that having an open wireless network is the right thing to do. Earlier this year, security expert Bruce Schneier wrote an extensive essay on why it's a good thing. Some of his key arguments were that it is basic kindness, and that the risk of running into abusers is extremely low. Also, when someone abuses the open WiFi to do something illegal, it is easy to defend yourself.

 

2nd November   

Update: 2nd Strike for Injustice...

French 3 strikes law marches on
Link Here  full story: International 3 Strikes Laws...File sharers threatened with loss of internet access

France flag The French Senate has overwhelmingly voted in favour of disconnecting Internet pirates, despite European Parliament's direct opposition to the punishment.

Under France's proposed three-strikes or graduated response law, Internet users accused of stealing content online for the first time would receive a cautioning email. A second time results in a warning letter delivered by post, and a third claim requires the user's ISP to cut access for a year.

Many ISPs have been fighting such proposals because it thrusts responsibility of policing online copyrights on their shoulders.

The legislation passed on a vote of 297 to 15, but still needs approval by the National Assembly before it becomes law.

French legislators also rejected an amendment authored by senator Bruno Retailleu that would replace the bill's Internet kill-switch punishment with a monetary fine.

 

2nd November   

Perhaps they Should Make Games Worth Keeping...

Pre-Owned games sales said to be defrauding games industry
Link Here

Frontier founder and creator of Elite , David Braben, has said that he thinks HMV's move into selling pre-owned games is "shocking", and that the increasing emphasis on the pre-owned market is a serious threat to the games industry.

Speaking to Eurogamer.net, Braben said: The shops are not giving us a way of distinguishing between pre-owned and new. So the shops are essentially defrauding the industry.

Braben acknowledges that the prevalence of pre-owned games is one factor pushing his company towards digital distribution: We've got a lot of retailers eating our lunch and refusing to sell full-priced games.

On HMV's move into selling pre-owned titles - the first non-specialist retailer to do so - Braben said: That is shocking, and I think the games industry has to do something about it soon: There are a lot of studies that suggest it's anywhere between 8 and 12 or 15 times a pre-owned game goes round. If you think that the industry's getting a tiny percentage of those 12 or 15 sales - typically from the sale of a GBP 40 game, the industry only gets GBP 20 anyway, in round figures. That is lost to the system.

He's not a proponent of DRM - personally, I detest DRM, he said - but understands that publishers are being forced into a corner. Look at EA. They have been crucified for the admittedly draconian DRM on Spore , but they're in a very difficult position. They need to do something.

Instead, he argues that the games industry should move to a similar model to that used by the film industry for DVD and video sales. They brought out rental copies, and copies not for resale or rental. That distinction is really important in the video market, and all of the chains honour it because they know it's more than their life's worth not to, he said.

My argument is that for every game there are two versions. One is personal, not for resale and it's made abundantly clear you can't sell it. And it's made available for something like GBP 25. And a resale and rental copy, which in film is actually about GBP 80.

Braben also thinks that the pre-owned market, along with piracy, is pushing developers and publishers towards exclusively online gaming strategies.

 

2nd November   

Update: Low Level DRM Contamination...

Fallout 3 claims limited use of SecuROM DRM
Link Here  full story: Fungal Infection...Spore video game crippled with intrusive DRM

Fallout 3 game There has been some talk around the Net this week that the PC version of Fallout 3 is sporting SecuROM, the same intrusive copy protection scheme that caused so much controversy for Spore last month.

But a post on publisher Bethesda's blog claims that Fallout 3 only uses SecuROM to verify the disc:

For Fallout 3's copy protection on PC, we use the same security model as we did for Oblivion - a simple disc check. We only use SecuRom's disc check functionality for copy protection. We do NOT limit the number of installs. We do NOT use online authentication or any other SecuROM functionality except for a disc check when you install the game and when you launch the game. We do not install any other programs and we don't have anything that runs in the background while you're playing the game.

Update: GTA IV on PC

3rd December 2008. See article from gamepolitics.com

Regarding GTA IV's SecuROM, an unnamed Rockstar spokesperson told IGN:

GTA IV PC uses SecuROM for protecting our EXE until street date has passed, to ensure the retail disk is in the computer drive... Product Activation is a one time only online authentication when installing the game. GTA IV has no install limits for the retail disc version... and that version can be installed on an unlimited number of PCs by the retail disk owner... All versions of the game will use SecuROM for Product Activation. Downloadable versions of the game will have additional code if the vendor requires it, such as Valve's Steam program.

 

31st October   

Atari Shites...

Media companies falsely accuse people of file sharing
Link Here

Atari logo Games firms are accusing innocent people of file-sharing as they crack down on pirates, a Which? Computing investigation has claimed.

The magazine was contacted by Gill and Ken Murdoch, from Scotland, who had been accused of sharing the game Race07 by makers Atari.

The couple told Which they had never played a computer game in their lives. The case was dropped, but Which estimates that hundreds of others are in a similar situation.

The illegal sharing of music, movies and games has become a huge headache for copyright owners. They are monitoring peer-to-peer sharing networks, such as Gnutella, BitTorrent, and eDonkey, that allow games, music and video to be shared.

The lawyers in the Atari case turned to anti-piracy firm Logistep, which finds those people illegally sharing files via their IP address - the unique numbers which identify a particular computer.

In the case of the Murdochs, a letter was sent giving them the chance to pay £500 compensation or face a court case. Gill Murdoch and her husband, aged 54 and 66 respectively, told Which: We do not have, and have never had, any computer game or sharing software. We did not even know what 'peer to peer' was until we received the letter.

According to Michael Coyle, an intellectual property solicitor with law firm Lawdit, more and more people are being wrongly identified as file-sharers. He is pursuing 70 cases of people who claim to be wrongly accused of piracy and has spoken to "hundreds" of others, he told the BBC.

Most commonly problems arise when a pirate steals someone else's network connection by "piggybacking" on their unsecured wireless network, he said. While prosecutors argue that users are legally required to secure their network, Coyle dismisses this: There is no section of the Copyright Act which makes you secure your network although it is commonsense to do so.

Some question whether an IP address on its own can be used as evidence. The IP address alone doesn't tell you anything. Piracy is only established beyond doubt if the hard-drive is examined," said Coyle.

Firms that facilitate file sharing, such as Pirate Bay, have been undermining efforts by anti-piracy investigators to track down file sharers. Pirate Bay makes no secret of the fact that it inserts the random IP addresses of users, some of who may not even know what file sharing is, to the list of people downloading files, leading investigators up a virtual garden path.

Update: Inaccurate IP

28th November 2008. See article from hellmail.co.uk

According to The Register, Atari have apparently dropped London-based solicitors Davenport Lyons, which had been representing Atari in a mass offensive on UK P2P file sharers.

Davenport Lyons seemed reliant on lists of IP addresses supplied by Swiss company Logistep, evidence that was at best flimsy, and at worst totally inaccurate, and gave rise to a spate of furious and innocent internet users seeking legal advice after receiving letters from Davenport Lyons saying pay up or face court action.

Perhaps Atari figured that the costs involved in securing names via ISP's for a case that had never actually been tried in a UK court was becoming a good deal more expensive than they had actually budgeted for. Davenport Lyons was also clocking up additional costs replying, template fashion, to hundreds of queries from outraged internet users who knew nothing of the game they'd been accused of sharing. One presumes that Atari were footing the bill on all of this.

 

28th October   

Red Faced Control Freaks...

Music industry mislead court over effectiveness of copyrighted file blocker
Link Here

Scarlet logo A Belgian ISP ordered by a court to stop all piracy on its network, only to discover that it was an impossible task, has seen that decision reversed. The court recognized that the anti-piracy solutions recommended by the music industry didn't work and left the ISP Scarlet in an impossible position.

In 2007 legal case involving Belgian ISP Scarlet and music copyright group SABAM, a court ruled that ISPs could be forced to stop people committing copyright infringement on P2P networks. The judge in the case took the advice offered by the music industry, who claimed it was possible for ISPs to stop illegal file-sharing using a system called Audible Magic . Scarlet was given 6 months to comply. It was to prove impossible.

A year later, Scarlet's lawyers were back in court. The court previously ordered that Scarlet has to pay compensation of 2,500 Euros for every day they failed to stop file-sharers sharing files, but the company's lawyers argued it was impossible to comply, since the anti-piracy system Audible Magic they were told to use by the court (on the advice of the music industry and SABAM), simply did not work.

Now, having heard a lawyer for SABAM admit that they had misled the court over the effectiveness of Audible Magic , the judge in the case has reversed the ruling. The final ruling in the case is due in October 2009 at the court of appeal in Brussels, so until then, the judge decided that Scarlet are no longer subject to the 2,500 Euros per day fine, which had already reached around 750,000 Euros.

In the light of recent developments, and because it is simply impossible for any ISP to filter transfers of copyrighted works on their network, Scarlet has a good chance to win their appeal next year.

 

24th October   

Update: DRM Infestation...

Amazon.com again found out deleting bad reviews
Link Here  full story: Fungal Infection...Spore video game crippled with intrusive DRM

Crysis Warhead game expansion Amazon.com customers are once again accusing the online retailer of removing video game reviews that criticize the use of SecuROM Digital Rights Management (DRM).

Electronic Arts expansion to the game Crysis , called Crysis Warhead , has recently been hammered in Amazon's customer review section in protest of its use of the maligned SecuROM copy protection. A vast majority of reviews (at publication, 78%) give the game a 1-star rating. A good many forgo an actual critique of the game itself in favor of simply deriding the DRM.

A similar (and more widely reported) negative reception was given to EA's Spore for the very same reason.

Soon after Spore accumulated a hefty sum of customer complaints, some cried foul when Amazon's UK store appeared to have yanked hundreds of customer reviews. They claimed the site was censoring negative reviews in order to help encourage sales.

At the time, an Amazon representative unconvincingly claimed that the site was encountering technical difficulties which are preventing some customer reviews from appearing on product detail pages.

But the situation seems a bit more suspicious when the exact same thing happened to Crysis Warhead .

Amazon has again restored the missing customer reviews. The game presently resides at a one-and-a-half-star average rating with 217 reviews. It's fortunate some vigilant customers are out there keeping the site honest.

 

23rd October   

Update: David and Goliath Retold on Satellite TV...

Media multinationals line up against publican subscribing to Greek Nova TV for football
Link Here  full story: No Free Trade for Satellite TV...Subscription to EU channels whilst in the UK

European Court UEFA and four major media companies could get involved in the European test case showdown on foreign satellite football – now likely to be heard around June or July next year.

The European football body has lodged an application with the European Court of Justice to intervene in the case against two suppliers of foreign satellite equipment, according to the solicitor acting for one of the suppliers.

Meanwhile Sky, Setanta, Canal+ and the Motion Picture Association are believed to be in the process of lodging an application with the court to also have their say in the case.

The case against suppliers QC Leisure and AV Station was referred to the European Court in July by the High Court in London.

Portsmouth licensee Karen Murphy, who is appealing a conviction for showing foreign satellite football using a Greek Nova card, will have her case heard at the same time.

At a House of Commons meeting hosted by John Grogan MP yesterday, Paul Dixon, of legal firm Molesworths, Bright, Clegg, who represents Murphy and AV Station, revealed the five other parties were applying to intervene in our proceedings so they can have their 30 minutes of fame, because it's not just about sports rights.

Kate Nicholls of the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers also addressed the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group meeting, looking at the legal and regulatory issues around screening sport in pubs. Nicholls  urged everyone to respond to a further consultation on the issue, which ends December 9.

 

21st October   

Offsite: Not For Resale Sale...

US Law analysis of selling 2nd hand CDs
Link Here

eBay logo The Universal Music Group (UMG) filed suit against a man named Troy Augusto in California Federal Court in May 2007. Augusto runs an eBay business named Roast Beast Music Collectables based around finding rare promotional albums in second-hand shops and selling them online for a profit. These CDs are distributed by music labels to radio stations, music industry executives, and other influential people as a marketing tool. UMG argued that marking the CDs with the label For Promotional Use Only means that UMG will own the CDs forever, and that selling them, or even throwing them away, is illegal.

Luckily for Augusto, UMG seems to have forgotten about the century-old First Sale Doctrine. In 1908, the Supreme Court handled a similar issue in Bobbs-Merril Co. v. Straus. Therein, Bobbs-Merril, a publisher, attempted to control the second-hand price of one of its books by inserting a restriction note.

Once again, the music industry overestimated the level of control they should be allowed to maintain over their copyrighted works. Just as when Sony invaded its consumers' privacy by embedding software in CDs and when the five largest music distribution companies illegally collaborated to fix the price of CDs, the music industry has again violated the law. The United States District Court for the Central District of California concluded, via summary judgment, that the purported EULA included by UMG did not create a “license,” nor does it allow UMG to retain any control over the promotional CD. UMG gave away these CDs, and those who receive them are free to dispose of them as they see fit. Therefore, the court found, as the legal owner of the CDs in question,

Augusto and Roast Beast Music broke no laws in selling these recordings, and may continue to do so.

...Read full article

 

15th October   

Chrome Tarnished...

Google prevents download of Chrome to sanctioned countries
Link Here

Google Chrome Google has blocked the download of its new web browser, Chrome, in Syria.

It seems like a strange move for a company that has focused so intently on the Middle Eastern and North African markets, with versions of Knol, Blogger, iGoogle, Docs, and, most recently, Chat in Arabic.

Remarkably, the block wasn't the work of the Syrian government  but that of Google itself. According to a Google spokesperson, in order for the company to abide by U.S. export controls and economic sanctions: we are unable to permit the download of Google Chrome in Cuba, Syria, North Korea, Iran, and Sudan.

It seems silly to block the download of free and widely available software like Chrome, but we can't blame companies for trying to comply with the law. However, information travels fluidly on the Net, so the law has a hard time keeping up. And that's troubling, because the U.S. can be seen as inhibiting access to information or possibly even stifling free speech in the very countries whose censorship and repression it condemns.

 

14th October   

An Image of Unfairness...

German copyright cases goes against Google Image Search
Link Here

Google Image Search logo Bloomberg reports that Google lost two court cases in Germany over the display of thumbnails in their image search results.

Google's preview of a picture by German photographer Michael Bernhard violates his copyrights, the Regional Court of Hamburg ruled, his lawyer Matthies van Eendenburg said in an interview today. Thomas Horn, who holds the copyrights on some comics that were displayed in Google search result.

“It doesn't matter that thumbnails are much smaller than original pictures and are displayed in a lower resolution,” the court said in its ruling for Bernhard. By using photos in thumbnails, no new work is created, that may have justified displaying them without permission.

In the US, fair use laws make it possible to offer such third-party services without specifically asking for permission. Adult magazine Perfect 10 once lost a case against Google in these regards, after an original decision was reversed. (In any case, Google's bots respect the “robots.txt” protocol, where webmaster can disallow the spidering of images.)

A Google rep said: The ruling of the Regional Court of Hamburg is bad for internet users and users of image search engines in Germany in general – just as it's bad for thousands of site owners who based their business on image searches.

Charges were also brought against other provides of image searches, such as AOL, T-Online, Yahoo. With this ruling, the court of Hamburg throws German internet users back into the digital stone age. And this is not just in regards to Google image search, but all of them. We are confident that the Regional Court will correct the ruling in the appeals procedure.

 

12th October   

Glasgow 2014 Games...

Pool, darts, watching TV and drinking
Link Here

Glasgow Games: Darts, Pool, TV & Drinking Slanj, which has shops in Glasgow and Edinburgh is one of the country's most talked-about designer outlets for their contemporary kilts and humorous T-shirts.

But their interpretation of the 2014 Commonwealth Games has not gone down well with the organisers.

The company set up to run the Glasgow Games are now threatening Slanj with legal action unless they withdraw a range of T-shirts that depict characters taking part in traditional Glaswegian sporting pursuits.

Four white boxes over the words Glasgow 2014, Commonwealth Games , contain figures playing pool and darts, watching TV and sinking a pint of beer.

Slanj owner Brian Halley said: We specialise in quirky T-shirts and this is just meant as a joke, our take on the real games that real Glaswegians indulge in. It was an attempt to join in the fun surrounding Glasgow getting the Games.

But a spokesman for Glasgow City Council, which is part of the partnership company running the event, said the Glasgow Commonwealth Games 2014 logo had been registered in the UK as a trademark, a design and a wordmark to prevent unauthorised material being sold: It therefore has legal protection in all these categories. In the instance of Slanj, if they are selling 2014 Games branded materials, then this will be followed up through the 2014 legal team. The organising company would not be against a little bit of humour or harmless fun, ...BUT... use of the brand means that it could not ignore this application. We would ask Slanj to remove the items from sale.

Halley said he was sorry if the T-shirts had caused offence. After the current batch had been sold, the design would be changed.

 

9th October   

R4 Art Thou Nintendo...

The R4, Nintendo DS, and DSi
Link Here

DS R4 The R4 is a tiny Chinese-made device – costing around £14 – that for more than seven million owners of Nintendo's hand-held console, the DS, has blown wide open its capabilities. Combined with a small memory card and plugged into the back of the DS, it enables the console to play MP3s and videos, as well as store copies of games you already own.

Crucially, however, it also enables the user to play pirated games from the internet which can be downloaded for free. Add to this that it's simple to use, and available through retailers such as Amazon, and you can see why the R4 and devices similar to it are bringing video game console piracy to the mainstream.

Nick Welsh has two young children who love their computer games and own a Nintendo DS. He heard about the device from another parent while on holiday. For Welsh, buying a R4 solved both a logistical and a financial problem. The trouble with kids is you pay £20 or £30 for a game, and they could only play it once, he says. Let's say I sit down and download 10 new games, the way it ends up is they'll only really play one or two or those, and the others get replaced. I wouldn't be able to afford that number of games.

Since all the games can be stored on one memory card, which stays in the device, it also offers convenience. You can have 70 or 80 games on a 2GB card, says Welsh, and they're all on the back of the machine. There's no fiddling around with cartridges – it's all there to hand.

Jodi Daugherty, Senior Director for Anti-Piracy at Nintendo, has been tackling pirates for 14 years and believes the fight against the R4 is one of the most challenging she has faced. What is different with these devices is how they're distributed and the impact they have with regards to the internet, she says.

As well as issuing warning letters to the websites on which the games are hosted, Nintendo is also targeting both the Chinese manufacturers and the distributors who sell the devices, and have conducted several raids on factories. Last July, Nintendo – along with some 50 game producers – launched a lawsuit in Japan against distributors of the R4 and similar devices.

Daugherty also says that Nintendo are working with online retail giants Amazon to curtail the global sales/distribution of game copying devices which violate our intellectual property rights.

Update: Banned in Japan

1st March 2009

Bowing to a request from Nintendo, the government of Japan has outlawed sales of the R4 flash card

Region Locking to be Introduced on DSi

As a frequent traveller I find that geographical functionality sucks. I wonder who the smart arse is at Google who thinks that Blogger menus should be shown in Thai language just because I happen to be browsing in Thailand.

Based on article from slashgear.com

Nintendo's new DSi console launch is disappointing in that DSi titles will be region-locked.

According to a Nintendo spokesperson, while normal DS titles will continue to be region-free (i.e. games you buy in Japan will work on European and US handhelds) apps and software for the DSi will be region-locked. That includes both downloads from the new DSi Store and any cartridges that are DSi-specific.

Nintendo's justification for this is that they plan custom internet-connected software and functionality that will be unique to the different regions. Presumably that will include geographically-specific language translations. Titles will also be assigned different age recommendations, depending on region.

 

1st October   

Sharing in a Mockery of Justice...

$222,000 fine for making 24 songs available for upload to be re-assessed
Link Here

Minnesota state seal A federal judge in Minnesota has ordered a new trial in a copyright infringement case involving a woman who was told by a jury to pay $222,000 to various record companies for illegally copying and distributing just 24 songs.

In doing so, US District Judge Michael Davis also rejected a key argument used by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in the Minnesota case and numerous others - namely, that the mere act of making music available for download in a shared computer folder constitutes illegal distribution.

Davis' ruling is being seen as a setback for the RIAA's controversial campaign against music piracy, especially since he is now the third federal judge to have flatly rejected the trade group's making available argument. What isn't clear, though, is the extent to which his ruling will actually benefit the defendant in this particular case.

 

28th September   

Update: Sharing the Swag...

Italian court unblocks Pirate Bay
Link Here  full story: Pirate Bay...Pirate Bay, Swedish file sharing site

Pirate Bay logo The Pirate Bay has successfully appealed the decision of an Italian judge who had ordered ISPs to block access to the popular BitTorrent tracker last month. The Court of Bergamo decided that this block was unlawful, and that Italian users should regain access to the site.

This August, out of nowhere, The Pirate Bay was “censored” in Italy following a decree from a public prosecutor. The block didn't prove to be particularly effective, as traffic from Italy only increased. Nevertheless, The Pirate Bay was determined to reverse the decision, and in that mission they have succeeded.

The Court of Bergamo has now lifted the block, and ISPs are again allowed to grant their users access to the most frequently used BitTorrent tracker on the Internet. More details on the decision, and the reason why the block was reversed, will be made public later.

Update: Pirated Legal Explanation

11th October 2008

The Court of Bergamo decided that this block was unlawful, and earlier this week they explained why. According to the court statement (Italian), no criminal court is allowed to issue an order to ISPs to block traffic to a foreign website, based on alleged copyright infringement. Italian law implements an European Directive, 2000/31 CE, which this means that this ruling should be valid in other European countries as well.

Under Italian law, this is possible only for child porn and for unauthorized gambling, but there is no such provision for copyright infringement, Pirate Bay's lawyers Giovanni Battista Gallus and Francesco Micozzi explained to TorrentFreak.

 

27th September   

Update: Punishment via Court not ISP...

The European Parliament votes against 3 strikes internet access ban
Link Here  full story: International 3 Strikes Laws...File sharers threatened with loss of internet access

EU flag The European Parliament has voted in favor of an amendment that will prevent member states from implementing three-stikes laws. Disconnecting alleged file-sharers based on evidence from anti-piracy lobby groups restricts the rights and freedoms of Internet users, according to the amendment.

The power of anti-piracy lobbyists has grown significantly across Europe this year. In the UK, six major ISPs are working together with the music industry to start mass warning file-sharers. France has gone even further, and proposed a law that will enable the entertainment industry to disconnect alleged pirates on their third warning.

Both the MPAA and RIAA have pushed other countries to adopt similar legislation as well, but it will be hard for them to succeed in Europe. In April, the European Parliament spoke out against these anti-piracy measures, by saying it would be conflicting with civil liberties and human rights and with the principles of proportionality, effectiveness and dissuasiveness. This statement was backed up by an official vote.

The amendment, drafted by Guy Bono and other members of the European Parliament, was adopted by an overwhelming majority. 573 parliament members voted in favor while only 74 rejected. Satisfied with this outcome, Bono stated in a response to the vote: You do not play with individual freedoms like that, and said that the French government should review its three-strikes law.

It is scary to see how lobby groups are awarded powers that should only belong to law-enforcement agencies. Evidence should never be collectedly by parties who gather it in their own interests, and it is a relief to see that the European Parliament agrees on this.

 

23rd September   

Update: Infestation Lets Up...

Electronic Arts apologise over DRM infestation of Spore
Link Here  full story: Fungal Infection...Spore video game crippled with intrusive DRM

Spore game Electronic Arts, stung by a siege of criticism from gamers who took issue with the copyright restrictions the company placed on its Spore game, this morning issued an apology and said it would loosen the electronic locks on the game.

We've received complaints from a lot of customers who we recognize and respect, said Frank Gibeau, president of EA's Games Label, the division responsible for Spore: We need to adapt our policy to accommodate our legitimate consumers.

The customer anger erupted largely on video game message boards and in user reviews on Amazon.com's Spore page. The game's ratings have been hammered by critics of the installation restriction, with nearly 2,500 of the 2,900 Amazon reviewers giving Spore only one star.

EA officials said the controversy caught them off guard.

The company said today that it would boost the limit to five computers. It also will allow players to transfer the game an unlimited number of times so long as each copy is installed on no more than five computers at the same time. EA also said it would sometimes let players go beyond that limit, depending on the circumstances.

 

23rd September   

Free to Share Links...

Providing links to shared files is legal in Spain
Link Here

Sharemula logo A Spanish court has ruled that a site providing links to P2P downloads is operating legally. The Provincial Court of Madrid ruled that Sharemula.com, a site offering eDonkey links to movies, music, software and games does not break the law. The court's decision is final and cannot be appealed.

Following a Federación Antipiratería (Anti-piracy Federation) investigation in 2006, 15 people were arrested in Spain in connection with the operation of Sharemula.com, an eDonkey (eD2k) indexing site. eD2k links are similar to URLs or .torrent files, in that they contain no copyright material themselves, but may point to such works.

Spain's Brigade of Technological Investigations claimed that the site was illegal and should be closed. Just under a year ago the case was heard, but sadly for the entertainment industry, the court ruled that the case against Sharemula should be dismissed. It said that neither the site nor administrators had operated illegally by offering links to copyright works, since they had not done so for profit or commercial gain.

However, the entertainment industry did not accept the ruling and appealed the decision. The Provincial Court of Madrid ruled in the appeal that the entertainment industry has no case against Sharemula, and since it has broken no laws, the case should be dismissed. This dismissal is final and cannot be appealed.

 

21st September   

Update: First Strike Against Music Industry...

Danish ISP's will not implement 3 strikes policy against file sharing
Link Here  full story: International 3 Strikes Laws...File sharers threatened with loss of internet access

Denmark flag Danish ISPs have rejected proposals from the music industry body, IFPI, for a 3-strikes and you're out policy to deal with illicit file-sharers. In a joint statement, the telecoms companies said that they would not be a part of detection and monitoring activities and that the solution to piracy should come from elsewhere.

Efforts to reach a voluntary agreement between the IFPI and ISPs in Denmark on the issue of unauthorized file-sharing have failed. The telecoms companies have completely rejected the demands of the music industry.

The IFPI wanted to be able to hunt down file-sharers, report them to their ISP and have them implement a so-called 3 strikes policy. They proposed that the first time someone got caught sharing copyrighted files, they would receive a warning from the ISP, the second time they would have their Internet connection slowed down. After a third warning, or strike, the user would be disconnected from his ISP and banished from the Internet.

ISPs in the UK recently reached an agreement with the IFPI to send out warnings to alleged file-sharers, but rejected any further sanctions against their customers such as speed capping or disconnection.

 

18th September   

Update: Sporn from Necessity...

Future Electronic Arts games will ease up on the DRM
Link Here  full story: Fungal Infection...Spore video game crippled with intrusive DRM

Spore game Electronic Arts is going to ease up slightly on its digital rights management (DRM).

The upcoming Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3  will still use SecuROM as used in Mass Effect and Spore. But 5 installs will be allowed rather than the previous 3.

Premier Executive Producer Chris Corry responded to Spore's backlash and wrote on EA's official support forums that Red Alert 3 would ease up on its copy protection. In addition to allowing two more installs, the game will only require a one time online authentication. The EA published Mass Effect for the PC previously required users to authenticate their game online every 10 days, this requirement was later removed.

A first for the Command & Conquer series is that Red Alert 3 will no longer require users to insert a disc to play. In addition, if owners need to install the game more than five times, EA Customer Service will be on hand to supply additional authorizations on a warranted case by case basis.

 

17th September   

Personal Space...

Media industry developing a more flexible DRM
Link Here

iPod Music and movie studios are attempting to develop a new type of DRM that would allow customers more flexibility in playing content on multiple devices.

The Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE) would establish a list of devices in your personal "domain", and minimizes or removes restrictions within that domain.

TechCrunch summarizes DECE and notes that many of the big corporations have decided to support it. The goal is to create for downloads the same kind of interoperability that's been true for physical products, such as CDs and DVDs.

Where it gets really interesting, though, is the group's stated intention to make digital files as flexible and permissive as CDs, at least within the confines of someone's personal domain.

Once you've acquired a file, you could play it on any of your devices -- if it couldn't be passed directly from one DECE-ready device to another, you'd be allowed to download additional copies. And when you're away from home, you could stream the file to any device with a DECE-compatible Web browser.

 

16th September   

Update: Charges Filed and Shared...

OiNK file sharing site admin charged with defrauding record industry
Link Here  full story: OiNK...Pre-release file sharing attracts the authorities

Oink logo Cleveland police have charged Alan Ellis, the former administrator of the defunct BitTorrent tracker site OiNK, with conspiracy to defraud the record industry.

Ellis will face magistrates at a committal hearing on 24 September, a police spokeswoman said. Five individuals who were arrested in June for uploading music torrents to OiNK will also appear to answer charges of criminal copyright infringement.

All the alleged offences could carry prison sentences.

The charges follow a lengthy investigation code-named Operation Ark Royal . Ellis was arrested in October 2007 in a raid on his Middlesbrough home. Coordinated raids by Dutch authorities seized the servers that hosted OiNK.

Police at the time alleged that running the BitTorrent tracker had been extremely lucrative, making hundreds of thousands of pounds.

OiNK was operated on an invitation-only basis, and accepted donations from members. It was prized by members for the high quality encoding of many of the files it tracked, and for its frequent pre-release uploads.

Update: Sentenced

28th January 2009. See article from torrentfreak.com

Four of the OiNK uploaders plead guilty at Teesside Crown Court last December, where they were all charged with copyright infringement offences. The four have now been sentenced.

Steven Diprose was sentenced to 180 hours community service, and has to pay £378 in Court costs. Michael Myers was ordered to pay a £500 fine. Mark Tugwell has to undertake 100 hours community service and has to pay £378 Court costs. The fourth uploader, James Garner was sentenced to 50 hours community service and also has to pay £378 Court costs.

For one other uploader and OiNK admin Allan Ellis the wait continues. Their cases have been adjourned and they will appear before court in March.

We were further told that, if the defendants had not had such good references and strong legal representation, the Judge would have seriously considered a custodial sentence. This ruling, the first of its kind in the UK, will most certainly be used as a precedent for future cases.

Update: Acquitted

17th January 2010. See article from technology.timesonline.co.uk

A man accused of running a sophisticated music piracy website used by more than 200,000 members was acquitted of conspiracy to defraud today.

Alan Ellis, 26, was accused of making hundreds of thousands of pounds from the Oink website, which he ran alone from his own bedroom.

But a jury at Teesside Crown Court unanimously cleared the software engineer of the charge. Mr Ellis, from Middlesbrough, smiled as the jury foreman returned the not guilty verdict.

During the trial, Mr Ellis had told the jury that he set up Oink in his home in an effort to brush up on his computing skills while a student at Teesside University. Related Links. When police raided his terraced house in October 2007, they found almost $300,000 in his accounts.

 

14th September   

Sporn of the Devil...

Spore DRM encourages sharing
Link Here  full story: Fungal Infection...Spore video game crippled with intrusive DRM

Spore game Spore was without doubt the most anticipated game of the year. The game itself has blown away the people who have played it, but the DRM encouraged thousands to get their copy illegally. Already Spore has been downloaded more than 500,000 times on BitTorrent, and this number is increasing rapidly.

Users aren't too happy with the absurd DRM restrictions that come with the game. EA decided that people who buy a legitimate copy of the game, are only allowed to install it three times.

The idea behind DRM is that it will stop people from pirating the game, but in reality, it often has the opposite effect. As Forbes points out, many commenters on various BitTorrent sites now legitimize downloading this game because the official copies include some heavy and intrusive DRM.

You have the power to make this the most pirated game ever, to give corporate bastards a virtual punch in the face, deathkitten writes in a comment on The Pirate Bay. He or she is spot on. Spore has been the most downloaded torrent on The Pirate Bay for over a week, which is unique for a game.

 

13th September   

Torrent of Abuse...

Swedish fracas about murdered child pictures via Pirate Bay
Link Here

Pirate Bay logo The Pirate Bay, the controversial BitTorrent tracking site in Sweden, has become ensnared in a grisly, high-profile scandal involving the online circulation of autopsy pictures of two murdered children.

The Swedish media are focusing on The Pirate Bay's refusal to remove the links to the torrents of photos uploaded to the internet by its users of photos of two dead children.

The photos are from a police case file concerning the murder of two toddlers. The father of the children has asked the operators of the site to remove the links, but they've declined to do so, based on the group's anti-censorship policies.

The Pirate Bay's co-founder Peter Sunde in a post on his personal blog asks why the Swedish media isn't focusing either on the individual who had uploaded the photo, or on the country's laws regarding the way the government classifies information and provides access to government documents. In this case, someone had accessed the police investigation file, uploaded a torrent file of the photo onto the internet, and linked to the torrent on The Pirate Bay. Under Swedish law, most documents generated by the government are made available to the public unless specifically deemed secret by the courts. In this case, the documents were not sealed by the court.

The operators of the site announced on their blog Friday that they would no longer speak with the media after an incident on a Swedish television station, which Sunde effectively characterized as an ambush.

Sunde had participated in a television interview with Sweden's TV4 Thursday night, as he recounts on his personal blog. He says that he was promised that the interview would focus on policy and the issues of censorship and what gets published on the internet.

But when he arrived at the studio, he was faced with the father of the children who was participating remotely, and asked what he had to say to him, he recounts in a long and angry blog post.

Pirate Bay has been described in Swedish media as 'publisher' of the photos, which is technically not correct, says Mikael Pawlo, an internet entrepreneur based in Stockholm who's been following the case. But Pirate Bay only provides aggregated tracking information on the torrents, which are in turn distributed peer-to-peer, without ever being relayed through Pirate Bay. But he adds: Pirate Bay is also in practice the main distributor of information on how to download the photos.

Sunde takes exception and writes on his blog that the media characterizes the operators of The Pirate Bay as terrorists, and as people totally without emotion, and as bloodthirsty devils. Shame on you Sweden. And shame on you in the media .

 

11th September   

Fungal Infestation...

New Spore game rated as 1 star after being crippled by DRM
Link Here  full story: Fungal Infection...Spore video game crippled with intrusive DRM

Spore game Frustrated Spore users are slamming Will Wright's new release with poor, 1-star reviews on Amazon.com.

Of 642 user reviews posted as I write this, 586 are of the 1-star variety, hardly what one would expect for such a hotly-anticipated game. The negative reviews invariably mention the digital rights management (DRM) system built into Spore. This one, posted by Amazon user dwemer22, is fairly typical.

I was EXTREMELY excited about this game... Then I got on Amazon and noticed that a large number of the forums devoted to Spore were complaining of something called "SecuROM." I did a little digging and discovered that SecuROM is a piece of [DRM] software that is installed along with the game to prevent you from installing the game more than three times, in an attempt to combat piracy.

I read further through the forums and the Wikipedia article and discovered that SecuROM does a number of other things too, including sending mysterious packets of data back to the company from your computer (identity theft, perhaps?), prevents you from using certain programs, such as DVD and CD burners, makes it impossible for you to modify your root drive and, worst of all, will NOT uninstall without the help of a third party application. So I cancelled my order...

The pirate version, now available without the nastiness, is therefore, ironically, a superior product.

 

9th September   

Copyright Attack...

YouTube take down videos critical of scientology
Link Here

Scientology is not a religion, it is a dangerous cult Over a period of twelve hours, American Rights Counsel LLC sent out over 4000 DMCA takedown notices to YouTube, all making copyright infringement claims against videos with content critical of the Church of Scientology. Clips included footage of Australian and German news reports about Scientology, A Message to Anonymous/Scientology, and footage from a Clearwater City Commission meeting. Many accounts were suspended by YouTube in response to multiple allegations of copyright infringement.

YouTube users responded with DMCA counter-notices. At this time, many of the suspended channels have been reinstated and many of the videos are back up. Whether or not American Rights Counsel, LLC represents the notoriously litigious Church of Scientology is unclear, but this would not be the first time that the Church of Scientology has used the DMCA to silence Scientology critics. The Church of Scientology DMCA complaints shut down the YouTube channel of critic Mark Bunker in June, 2008. Bunker's account, XenuTV, was also among the channels shut down in this latest flurry of takedown notices.

 

2nd September   

Update: Windows Genuine Disadvantage...

Good reasons not to turn on Automatic Updates
Link Here  full story: Genuine Windows Disadvantage...Genuine Windows Advantage users hassled

Windows Genuine Disadvantage logo In a bid to deter people from using copy versions of Windows XP, Microsoft is now updating its Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) tool to introduce a few uncomfortable niggles for users of pirated versions of Windows.

These include replacing the desktop wallpaper with a black screen every 60 minutes. As well as this, copies of Windows deemed to not be genuine will also have a translucent watermark above the system tray, which Microsoft calls a 'persistent desktop notification.'"

According to the blog, the scheme will be focusing on the productA edition that is most often stolen, which is apparently Windows XP Pro. Users of this OS, according to Microsoft, have the highest likelihood of having a non-genuine copy.

 

31st August   

Free Encoding...

Video sharing site is not in control of content just because it automatically encodes videos
Link Here

Veoh logo In a decision that will affect every video-sharing site on the Internet, a U.S. District Court judge ruled that just because a tube site encodes videos doesn't mean they control those videos.

The case involves the mainstream video-sharing site Veoh.com, which used to include an adults-only area. They got into legal trouble back in 2006 when the adult entertainment company IO Group, parent company of gay producer Titan Media, found some of their content on Veoh.

The IO Group sued, even though Veoh took down the videos when asked. The IO Group's case hinged on the claim that because the videos had gone through Veoh's encoding process, Veoh should therefore lose its right to protection under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Judge Howard Lloyd threw out the IO Group's case on the grounds that the encoding process, which transforms the videos into the easy-to-use Flash format during upload, happens independently of the Veoh staff.

Here, Veoh has simply established a system whereby software automatically processes user-submitted content and recasts it in a format that is readily accessible to its users . Veoh preselects the software parameters for the process from a range of default values set by the third party software. But Veoh does not itself actively participate or supervise the uploading of files. Nor does it preview or select the files before the upload is completed. Instead, video files are uploaded through an automated process which is initiated entirely at the volition of Veoh’s users.

The decision also includes language acknowledging the extreme difficulty in monitoring the vast amount of uploads that happen on sites like Veoh.

 

29th August   

Not So Flash Advertising...

Apple iPhone control freakery means reduced internet availability
Link Here

A television advert for the iPhone misled consumers, the Advertising Standards Authority has ruled.

Two complaints to the watchdog noted that the advert said all the parts of the internet are on the iPhone.

But the ASA said because the iPhone did not support Flash or Java - two programs that form part of many webpages - the claim was misleading.

The iPhone employs a web browser called Safari, which is built on freely available software. Many webpages, however, employ small software programs like Flash and Java to display graphics and animations.

Those programs are proprietary software, and Apple does not allow unapproved software to run on the iPhone. The result is that pages viewed with Safari are missing the parts of the webpage generated in Flash or Java.

The ASA said the advert gave a misleading impression of the internet capabilities of the iPhone. It must therefore not be aired again in its current form, it said.

 

28th August   

Barack's Mate is a Control Freak...

Joe Biden sponsored RIAA measures
Link Here

Joe Biden Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden has a track record of supporting the media industry over consumers

  • Biden this year proposed a $1 billion program to monitor P2P networks for “illegal activity” and a version made it through Judiciary.
  • Last year, Biden sponsored an RIAA bill designed to limit the recording and playback of individual songs from Satellite and Internet radio stations.
  • Biden "urged the Justice Department to prosecute individuals who allowed mass-copying intentionally through P2P."

 

23rd August   

Update: Sharing Legal Action...

Games developers target file sharers with legal action
Link Here  full story: File Sharing Games...UK games industry vs file sharers

HM Courts Service The computer games industry is launching legal action against people who illegally download games from the internet by writing to 25,000 people in Britain suspected of sharing files and asking them to pay ฃ300 immediately to avoid any further legal action.

Five game developers will initially target 500 people who refuse to pay up, according to the Times. The five companies are Atari, Topware Interactive, Reality Pump, Techland and Codemasters. They have appointed law firm Davenport Lyons to represent them.

The move follows a judge's ruling this week to force an unemployed mother-of-two living in Britain to pay ฃ16,000 to manufacturer Topware.

 

22nd August   

Update: Olympic Shared Values...

Pirate Bay cheekily renamed to Beijing Bay
Link Here  full story: Pirate Bay...Pirate Bay, Swedish file sharing site

Pirate Bay logo In an official letter to the Swedish Minister of Justice Beatrice Ask, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has asked for “assistance” from the Swedish government with preventing video clips from the Olympics in Beijing to be shared on The Pirate Bay. The Pirate Bay, however, does not plan to take anything down, and cheekily renamed their tracker to The Beijing Bay.

The IOC is getting used to censoring the Internet, and has asked the Swedish government to help remove Olympic torrents from The Pirate Bay - which they claimed have been downloaded more than 1 million times. The IOC also wants the government to assist in preventing clips from the Olympic closing ceremonies to be shared.

 

21st August   

Sharing Injustice...

So much for human rights and proportionate punishments
Link Here  full story: File Sharing Games...UK games industry vs file sharers

HM Courts Service A woman has been ordered to pay more than ฃ16,000 in a landmark ruling. Isabella Barwinska is the first offender to pay damages after being taken to court in the UK by computer game manufacturers seeking to protect their copyright.

The move comes after similar action has been taken by the music industry in a bid to stop illegal file sharing.

The decision was reached last month at the Patents County Court in London. On July 22 the court ordered that she must pay damages of ฃ6,086.56 and costs of ฃ10,000 to Topware Interactive which owns the computer game Dream Pinball 3D.

Former neighbours told how Barwinksa is an unemployed mother of two who has since moved to Canning Town, East London. It is understood that she did not file share for commercial profit or gain and was given 28 days to settle the judgement. She will face further legal action if she does not pay the legal bill by August 25.

In such cases those who file share are initially contacted and asked to pay a nominal amount - normally a few hundred pounds - to avoid civil proceedings after also agreeing to stop file sharing. Some 35% of people pay but others who ignore the threat of legal action or do not attempt to defend it can often find themselves in court and face ludicrously inproportionate penalties.

 

 

17th August   

Update: Fascists!...

Italian government bans Pirate Bay
Link Here  full story: Pirate Bay...Pirate Bay, Swedish file sharing site

Pirate Bay logo The Italian government has banned the daddy of illegal torrent sites, Pirate Bay.

However it seems as if the Italian government might have to face the file sharer's underworld, as they are not happy about this.

In a letter on the Pirate Bay website, the owners are venting their anger at the court of Italian Supremo Silvio Berlusconi; they have labeled him a fascist. They also go on to say that he is part of a corrupt dictatorship that is intent on quashing the Internet’s right to remain free of censorship.

At the end of the letter, the letter explains to wannabe Italian downloader’s how to get around this block. Pirate Bay is also asking fans of their site to complain to their ISP. They say that they should demand that the site be reinstated.

Update: Pirate Appeal

25th August 2008, based on article from torrentfreak.com

The Pirate Bay has decided to fight the decision of an Italian judge after it ordered ISPs to block access to the popular tracker. The blocks didn’t prove particularly effective as traffic from Italy only increased but nevertheless, The Pirate Bay is determined to reverse the decision.

The Pirate Bay have filed an appeal against the decree that forced Italian ISPs to block the BitTorrent tracker. Pirate Bay’s lawyers Giovanni Battista Gallus and Francesco Micozzi are convinced that they have a strong case. The decree can be defined as ‘original’ or ‘creative’ at best they told TorrentFreak.

A Tribunal of three judges will now look into the appeal, and a decision is expected in a few weeks. After that, the decision of the Tribunal can be further appealed by both parties before the Higher Court.

 

16th August   

A Copyright on Extreme Fines...

Consultation to increase online copyright infringement fine to ฃ50,000
Link Here

UK IPO logo To reflect the commercial damage that large scale copyright infringement causes, the UK-Intellectual Property Office is consulting on increasing the level of fine handed down by a Magistrates’ Court from ฃ5,000 to a maximum of ฃ50,000.

This consultation takes forward Gowers Review recommendation 36, which recommended matching penalties for online and physical copyright infringement by increasing sanctions for online infringements.

Scotland does not have Magistrates’ Courts; therefore the consultation considers introducing maximum levels of fines for Scottish summary courts that deal with equivalent cases in Scotland.

Send any responses to the consultation, by 31 October 2008 to gowers36consultation@ipo.gov.uk

Or fax or post to the following address;

Gowers 36 consultation
Copyright and Enforcement Directorate
Concept House
Cardiff Road
Newport
South Wales
NP10 8QQ

Fax: +44(0) 1633 814922

 

3rd August   

That's Asda's Price...

ASDA turns the screws on magazine publishers
Link Here

ASDA logo: That's Asda's Price Asda has come under fire from independent magazine publishers for proposed alterations to distribution arrangements that include the supermarket being given editorial space in the publications it stocks.

MediaGuardian.co.uk has seen an email memo from Asda's newspaper and magazines buyer sent to some magazine distribution companies that includes a series of demands for a new relationship with the supermarket giant.

Publishers supplying magazines to Asda branded the supermarket's demands "outrageous" and not "economically viable".

The proposals were due to be discussed at a meeting between representatives of Asda, magazine distributors and publishers. Asda's demands include a request for two pages of editorial or advertising space each month in titles of the company's choosing.

Another is that shop space given over to a distributor's titles will be subject to a "space contribution" of ฃ10,000 paid to the supermarket. Asda is asking for a space contribution for each new Asda store opened of ฃ2,500 per magazine title to be paid to the supermarket. The supermarket company is also demanding that any new title distributed in its stores will be subject to an "item set up" charge of ฃ2,464.

According to the email memo, the supermarket is also requesting that a turnover bonus to the value of 2% of its magazine suppliers' total business with Asda be paid quarterly to the supermarket and backdated to January 1 2008. In addition to these charges Asda is also seeking a "hurdle rate" for new titles carried in stores, so if sales of the magazines are 20% less than forecast the supermarket will be compensated with the difference.

Asking for a contribution for each line [magazine title] in a new store is just not economically viable, a senior magazine publishing source told MediaGuardian.co.uk. The source added that it was "absurd" of Asda to expect editorial teams to give control away to the retailer.

The most annoying thing is asking for editorial space in magazines. The implications of that are huge because Tesco and Sainsbury would want it too and then all of a sudden magazines are full of advertorials, they said.

 

31st July   

Update: Embarqing on Freakery...

US ISP conducts secret trials monitoring their customer's browsing
Link Here  full story: Behavioural Advertising...Serving adverts according to internet snooping

Embarq kogo The US ISP, Embarq, eavesdropped on the web surfing habits of 26,000 customers in Kansas without notifying them personally, as part of its test of new, controversial advertising technology that profiles users, the company has told federal lawmakers.

Embarq, an offshoot from Sprint, tested the service in Gardner, Kansas, saying it was their smallest facility. The secret test ended earlier this year, though no dates were given for when it started or stopped. The letter also disclosed that 15 people from the region opted out, even though the company didn't notify the affected subscribers that the technology was being tested -- it just added a paragraph to its privacy policy.

Telecom subcommittee head Reps. Edward Markey (D-Massachusetts), watchdog groups and law professors have questioned whether the technology violates federal privacy laws, including the wiretapping statute.

The company NebuAd pays ISPs to let it monitor user's web surfing and searching in order to classify their interests. Those profiles are then used to deliver targeted ads when the users visit NebuAd partner sites. Subscribers must choose to opt-out with each browser they use, though NebuAd won't explain how the opt-out works.

 

29th July   

DRM is Killing DRM...

The demise of Yahoo Music Store
Link Here

DRM is killing music Yahoo Music Store has sent a message to customers saying they will turn off their DRM servers after September. It joins MSN Music, Sony's Connect music store and other online music services in eventually cutting off customers who purchased DRM-wrapped tunes.

At least the music industry is starting to get the message that DRM doesn't really work, wrote one reader recently.

Vendors who insist on using DRM have just been shooting themselves in the foot, say readers. I used to occasionally buy a DRM tune from iTunes, but only because I knew I could copy it to CD if I wanted to, wrote another reader. I'd have never bought a song from iTunes without that capability. But still, it was infrequent. Since iTunes Plus arrived, with its DRM-free high-quality content, I've purchased whole albums from iTunes, something I'd never have done had they been DRM (and 128 bit encoding). If a song doesn't say iTunes Plus on it now, I'll continue looking for something else that does.

The real purpose of DRM is to lock the consumer into a company's product line, wrote another reader. It is meant to extinguish the consumer's property right to first sale and fair use.

 

28th July   

Update: Sharing Suggestions...

UK Government launches consultation on file sharing
Link Here  full story: Sharing in the UK...UK Government stick and carrot for file sharing

BERR logo The Government welcomes the industry agreement to address unlawful file-sharing of film and music online.

The agreement is signed by the six major Internet Service Providers (ISPs), the music and film rights-holders and Government.

This is a world-first solution aiming to provide consumers with content in the way they wish to use it, encouraging new uses of technology and protecting Britain's world leading creative industries.

The agreement is central to the Government's preferred industry-led approach, outlined in a consultation document released today on legislative options to address unlawful file sharing online.

The approach involves the signatories working together to:

  • Engage with and educate users about unlawful file sharing
  • Make material legally available online in a wide range of user-friendly formats
  • Create a self-regulatory environment, with the involvement of Ofcom, including informing consumers of the illegality of file sharing and pointing to alternative legal methods available.

The Consultation on legislative options to address illicit P2P file-sharing closes for responses on 30th October 2008.

Culture, Media and Sport Secretary Andy Burnham said:

It's a great thing that new technology lets young people today explore popular culture in a way my generation simply could not. But this freedom cannot extend to allowing people to think they can access content for free. We expect Britain to produce the best bands and films in the world. But that will only happen if we find new ways of rewarding our creative talent and investing in new names.

This is why today's announcement is so significant. It holds out the hope of a sustainable future for music and our other creative industries whilst ensuring that consumers continue to get the full benefits that new technology can offer.
The approach will pilot letters to be sent to the registered user of an internet account when their account has been identified as having been used to unlawfully share copyrighted material. The letters could point consumers to other sources of material available legally and in a variety of formats.

ISPs and rights holders will produce a Code of Practice together on how they will deal with alleged repeat infringers. Government will consult to give this Code legislative underpinning.

Ofcom will facilitate discussion between the parties and approve the final Code of Practice. Ofcom will also ensure that the self-regulatory mechanism is effective, proportionate and fair to consumers.

Alternative regulatory options to be considered in the consulation:

  • Option A1: Streamlining the existing process by requiring ISPs to provide personal data relating to a given IP address to rights holders on request without them needing to go to Court
     
  • Option A2: Requiring ISPs to take direct action against users who are identified (by the rights holder) as infringing copyright through P2P (this is essentially the same legal obligation as in the preferred option in section 8, but without any selfregulatory element)
     
  • Option A3: Allocating a third party body to consider evidence provided by rights holders and to direct ISPs to take action against individual users as required, or to take action directly against individual users
     
  • Option A4: Requiring that ISPs allow the installation of filtering equipment that will block infringing content (to reduce the level of copyright infringement taking place over the internet) or requiring ISPs themselves to install filtering equipment that will block infringing content

A response can be submitted by letter, fax or email to:
Michael Klym/Adrian Brazier
Communications & Content Industries
Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform
UG28-30
7
1 Victoria Street
London SW1H 0ET
Tel: 0207 215 4165/1295
Fax: 0207 215 5442
Email: mike.klym@berr.gsi.gov.uk/adrian.brazier@berr.gsi.gov.uk

 

27th July   

Update: Internet Service Policemen...

ISPs agree to police file sharing
Link Here  full story: Sharing in the UK...UK Government stick and carrot for file sharing

Virgin logo mock up Internet users could face an annual charge of up to £30 to download music, under plans to be unveiled that aim to tackle illegal file-sharing.

Ministers are backing proposals that would enable millions of broadband users to pay an annual levy which would allow them to copy as much – previously illegal – music from the internet as they wanted. The money raised would be channelled back to the rights-holders, with artists responsible for the most popular songs receiving a bigger slice of the cash.

John Hutton, the Business Secretary, and Andy Burnham, the Culture Secretary, will unveil a package of proposals, beginning with thousands of prolific downloaders receiving letters warning them they are breaking the law by copying music and sending it to friends. The Government sees that move as the last chance for internet service providers (ISPs) to get a grip on the growing problem of piracy.

In the longer term, Mr Burnham is supporting calls from sections of the music industry for a yearly levy of £20 to £30 to be imposed by ISPs on customers who want to share music.

They believe it would prevent criminalising large sections of the public, while helping to compensate the music industry for lost sales. If successful it could be extended to cover films and television programmes.

Peter Jenner, a veteran music industry figure who now manages the singer Billy Bragg, who has championed the plan for an annual charge, said last night that the idea was attracting growing support.

He said the cash raised by including the top-up in the fees paid to ISPs could match the current £1.2bn turnover of the British record industry: If you get enough people paying a small enough amount of money you can turn around the wheels of the music industry.

The Government will also announce consultation on other ways of combating internet piracy, with a view to final decisions later in the year after studying the impact of the warning letters. Legislation could be in place by next spring.

As well as an annual levy set by ISPs, the Government will also float the idea of a "three strikes and you're out" policy adopted in France under which people who illicitly download or share music are disconnected after ignoring two warnings.

Other alternatives include requiring ISPs to disclose the identities of regular downloaders, a move they warn would be costly and could breach data protection controls. They could also be ordered to install filters that would prevent downloading.

A memorandum of understanding has been signed by the BPI, which represents hundreds of record companies, and the six largest internet providers. It commits them to work together to achieve a "significant reduction" in illegal file-sharing.

The six ISPs that have signed up to the agreement are BT, Virgin Media, Orange, Tiscali, BSkyB and Carphone Warehouse.

Offsite: UK “MP3 Police” Evidence Unchallenged, Not For Public Consumption

See article from torrentfreak.com

In recent comments, a Carphone Warehouse spokesman further indicated that it is expected to take action against its customers based purely on the ‘evidence' provided by the BPI: What we have agreed to do is to write to our customers and advise them there's been an alleged infringement. We're very clear that we don't know if that's the case or not, we've just been told there has been and we want to advise them of that.

So in a nutshell, the BPI provide all the ‘evidence', and the ISPs have to blindly believe it and take action against their own customers. To think that a commercial organization like the BPI is allowed to provide its own unchallenged allegations in such a completely non-transparent manner is the real outrage in all of this. If the BPI is to be trusted with such power, it has to be held accountable. If it is to remain credible in its role as the “UK MP3 Police” its systems must be opened up to public scrutiny. Once they are proved to be accurate by a panel of independent experts, then all well and good, but the fact remains that the BPI only give a vague indication of how they operate and have no intentions of elaborating.

Matt Philips, Director of Communications at the BPI refused to tell TorrentFreak how they gather their evidence, so any right-minded individual with an interest in this issue might find themselves asking: What exactly are they afraid of?

...Read full article

 

24th July   

Offsite: DVR Blocking...

Hollywood seek to disable home recording for early release movies
Link Here

MPAA logo Top consumer electronics executives and trade reps are telling the Federal Communications Commission that they're worried about a rush request from Hollywood studios for a lift on the agency's ban on Selectable Output Control.

Concern was expressed that the powers sought by this Petition as filed would likely be used to the disadvantage of consumers, technology, and competition, Michael Petricone, Consumer Electronic Asssociation (CEA).

...Read full article

 

23rd July   

Update: Ms Murphy Goes to Europe...

Europe to decide on the legality of geographical restrictions to satellite subscriptions.
Link Here  full story: No Free Trade for Satellite TV...Subscription to EU channels whilst in the UK

Premier League logo Karen Murphy of the Red, White & Blue pub in Portsmouth, has appealed against her conviction for screening Premiership football via Greek channel Nova Supersport.

But Lord Justice Stanley Burnton and Mr Justice Barling decided to refer the case to the European court.

The case against foreign satellite suppliers AV Station and QC Leisure has also been referred to Europe.

The written judgement said: If the geographical restriction is held to be unlawful, it may be difficult to see why the subscription charge exacted by BSkyB for its service (to which the Appellant did not subscribe) should be treated as ‘applicable' to the Nova programme screened by the Appellant.

If it is not so applicable then the offence under s. 297(1) would not be established. This may need to be the subject of further argument depending on the outcome of the reference which we propose to make.


Section 297 (1) states that a programme has been received dishonestly with intent to avoid payment of any charge applicable.

Murphy's lawyer Paul Dixon, of Molesworth Bright and Clegg, claimed it was a powerful judgement. The FA Premier League should immediately abandon its campaign of criminal prosecutions against honest, decent and hardworking publicans who purchase and use legitimate European satellite television decoder cards in their pubs.

However, a Premier League spokesman said the prosecutions would continue: The use of foreign satellite equipment has not been legitimised. Lord Justice Pumfrey's December judgment remains valid as does the use of section 297. It remains the case that Mrs Murphy has been found guilty of a criminal offence.

When the European Court has reached a decision the matter will then have to return to the High Court here for a decision after which it will be open to either side to mount appeals. The process could take up to two years.

 

18th July   

Privacy Down the YouTube...

Last minute compromise to strip personal ID from date handed to Viacom
Link Here

Google logo Two weeks ago, federal judge Louis L. Stanton ordered Google to share over 12TB of YouTube viewing records with Viacom, including account names and IP addresses. But now, the two companies have agreed that all personally identifiable info should be scrubbed from the records before they change hands.

In the past, Google has publicly questioned whether IP addresses are personal. And Judge Stanton used these comments against Google as part of his maniacal data offensive. But the Googlers now want you to know that they fully realize how important it is to keep your IP addresses private. It's a convenient change of heart.

We are pleased to report that Viacom, MTV and other litigants have backed off their original demand for all users' viewing histories and we will not be providing that information, reads a post from YouTube.

Along with several other media-happy operations, the TV and movie giant Viacom s suing YouTube for $1bn, claiming the video-sharing site encourages people to violate its copyrights. The company demanded access to YouTube's 12TB "logging database" in an effort to show just how many web surfers are pirating its stuff.

 

17th July   

Update: Fake Auctions...

eBay are judged not primarily responsible for protecting copyrights
Link Here  full story: Fake Auctions at eBay...eBay contend users are responsible for their sales

ebay logo eBay has won a four-year legal battle with Tiffany over the jeweller's complaint that the online website amounted to a "rat's nest" auction of counterfeit watches, bracelets and necklaces.

A judge in New York ruled yesterday that eBay could not be held responsible for policing the contents of its site, and that it was Tiffany's role to draw fake designer jewellery to the auctioneer's attention.

The verdict is a relief to eBay which lost a similar case in Paris two weeks ago when a French court ordered it to pay €38.6m (£30m) in damages to the luxury goods manufacturer LVMH for allowing the sale of fake bags, perfumes and designer clothes.

In a written ruling, US district judge Richard Sullivan said: Tiffany must ultimately bear the burden of protecting its trademark. But he said he was not unsympathetic to Tiffany's complaint, and hinted that US law might need a fresh look: Policymakers may yet decide that the law as it stands is inadequate to protect rights owners in light of the increasing scope of internet commerce and the concomitant rise in potential trademark infringement.

The dispute between eBay and the 170-year-old jewellery boutique dates from June 2004 when Tiffany lost patience with the quantity of silver merchandise available on the internet which claimed to bear its brand.

eBay did not deny that counterfeit items sometimes appeared on its site, but argued it removed them swiftly whenever they were flagged up.

Update: Appeal

14th August 2008

Jewelry giant Tiffany & Co. is appealing a recent federal court decision that cleared eBay from responsibility for counterfeit items which appear on the online auction site.

Update: Fake L'Oreal products

17th May 2009

eBay has won an important legal case when a French court ruled that it was not liable for the sale of fake L'Oreal products through its website.

The Paris-based cosmetics company claimed not enough was being done to crackdown on couterfeit goods sold on eBay.

Ebay had already lost similar cases in France brought by Hermes and Louis Vuitton.

But today's ruling found that the internet giant had complied with its obligations and acted 'in good faith' to tackle the problem of fake goods.

Update: Fake L'Oreal products on UK eBay

26th May 2009. See article from google.com

A British court has ruled that eBay is not liable for bogus beauty products sold on its Web site, dealing a blow to cosmetics company L'Oreal's campaign against the online auction giant.

L'Oreal SA has taken eBay Inc. to court across Europe, suing in Britain, Germany, France, Belgium and Spain over the sale of fake fragrances and cosmetics on the site.

L'Oreal claims there is an increasing volume of counterfeit goods being sold on eBay. The online auctioneer said negotiations between the companies on the issue broke down because L'Oreal was being unreasonable.

Justice Richard David Arnold ruled in London's High Court that eBay Europe was not liable for trademark infringements committed by its users.

 

14th July   

Update: Pirates Lead the Way...

Protesting against Sweden's state snoops
Link Here  full story: Internet Snooping in Sweden...Sweden enacts law to monitor all communications

Pirate Bay logo In June the Swedish parliament passed a controversial surveillance law that gives authorities a mandate to read all email and listen in on all phone calls without warrant or court order. In response to the law, The Pirate Party organized rallies, bloggers and journalists turned into activists, and even Google decided to relocate their servers.

The aftermath of the vote on wiretapping legislation has been turbulent, to say the least. Bloggers have not wasted a minute in their criticism, mainstream media eventually caught up and the newspapers are now running stories and editorials every day. Various viral campaigns have flourished along with grassroots activism and The Pirate Party has hauled full sails to catch the wind that will blow them straight into European Parliament during the elections of 2009.

That's not all. Google and former public telecoms company Telia moved their servers out of Sweden. Belgium says it will sue Sweden since Belgian citizens may be wiretapped without any apparent reason. Anne Ramberg, secretary-general of the Swedish Bar Association, has called for challenges to the law in Swedish and European courts and similar demands have been heard from several other interest groups, like the Journalist's Union.

See full article from Slashdot

Russia flag The Swedish government has kept curiously quiet about the new law's objectives but sources close to the intelligence community say that Russia is the prime target. 80% of Russia's contacts with large parts of the world travel through cables in Sweden. That is the core of the issue, said one source.

 

10th July   

Sharing 3 Strike Nastiness with Europe...

France proposes its 3 strikes law for EU Telecoms Package
Link Here

EU flag France has suggested an amendment to the pan-European Telecoms Package, which would bar broadband access to anyone who persists in illegally downloading music or films.

Last month, the government of Nicolas Sarkozy insisted on a similar three-strikes-and-you're-out scheme for France. Under a cross-industry agreement, ISPs would have to cut off access for up to a year for third-time offenders. Sarkozy believes there is no reason that the internet should be a lawless zone .

The French legislation, which still needs to be examined by the Senate and eventually by the National Assembly, is facing fierce criticism. The French ISP association says it is against the law.

Now Sarkozy, who took over the European presidency this week, is trying to stretch the measure across Europe through amendments to the Telecoms Package, a review of European telecoms law currently in the European Parliament.

The Industry Committee and Internal Market Committees will vote on the telecom package on Monday. The plenary discussion and vote for the whole package will take place in September.

 

9th July   

Shared and Converged...

Ofcom ready to join battle against file sharers
Link Here

Ofcom logo Ofcom boss Ed Richards says the telecoms censor is ready to play a constructive role in the ongoing debate over online music piracy.

To date, Ofcom has not made a lot of public noise about the piracy issue, Richards said in a speech to telecoms bosses. But that should not be mistaken for a lack of interest or concern. Our formal focus may be limited. But this sort of piracy is something that affects network operators, ISPs, content creators and consumers - and as the converged regulator we have of course

Not surprisingly, Ofcom comes down on the side of the industry, claiming file sharing is clogging up networks. The issue is critical. An operator investing in next-generation networks will not want it clogged up with illegal peer-to-peer content if that means no-one will pay to ensure a return on the investment, as we have seen in some Asia Pacific markets, Richards said: And content providers, self evidently, do not want illegal traffic undermining their investment in IPR.

As the converged communications regulator, if we can play a constructive role in helping to find a common solution in the best interests of companies and consumers we would be very happy to do so.

 

8th July   

Sharing Threats...

Virgin Broadband threaten their customers with disconnection
Link Here

Virgin Bollox Virgin Media has said that a threat sent out to 800 of its customers that they could be disconnected from the internet because of alleged copyright infringement was a mistake.

The envelope containing a letter warning subscribers that their account was being used for illegal file-sharing was printed with the words Important. If you don't read this, your broadband could be disconnected.

A Virgin Media spokeswoman told OUT-LAW that the message was a mistake: We are not accusing our customers of doing anything, we are alerting them to the fact that illegal file sharing has been tracked to their account. This could have been someone else in the house or an unsecured wireless network. This is an education campaign .

The company has shared information with music rights holders' group the BPI in order to identify accounts which may have been used for copyright-infringing file sharing. The spokeswoman said, though, that no names or addresses were passed to the BPI and that it had been responsible for the envelope, a mistake that it was "rectifying immediately".

 

7th July   

Viacom Demand to Share Google's Files...

Viacom to examine YouTube logs for copyright transgressions
Link Here

YouTube logo Google is being forced to hand over the personal information of every person who has ever watched a video on the YouTube website as part of a billion-dollar court case in the US.

A judge in New York has ordered that Google, which owns YouTube, must pass on the details of more than 100 million people to Viacom, the US broadcasting company which owns channels including MTV and Nickelodeon.

The data will include unique internet addresses, email accounts and the history of every video watched on the website, giving Viacom's experts the ability to conduct a detailed examination of the viewing habits of millions of people around the world.

The decision is the latest twist in a long court battle between the two companies over claims that Google encourages copyright infringement on the video sharing website. Judge Louis Stanton, who is presiding over the $1bn lawsuit, said the data handover was required in order to allow Viacom to build its case.

While information on who has watched YouTube's countless videos of sneezing pandas and laughing babies may seem trivial, civil liberties campaigners fear the ruling could set a precedent for the level of privacy afforded to people using the internet, and that internet companies could now be sued in order to get hold of sensitive personal data.

In a statement yesterday, Google said it would lobby for the data it provides to be scrubbed clean of personal information: We are disappointed the court granted Viacom's overreaching demand for viewing history. We will ask Viacom to respect users' privacy and allow us to anonymise the logs before producing them under the court's order .

 

2nd July   

Regionally Encoded Handbags...

Maker of overpriced handbags wins case against eBay
Link Here  full story: Fake Auctions at eBay...eBay contend users are responsible for their sales

ebay logo Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, a maker of high-end goods and fashion and luxury products, successfully challenged eBay for a second time in the French court, arguing that 90% of the Louis Vuitton bags and Dior perfumes sold on eBay are fakes.

The court ruled that eBay was not doing enough to stamp out counterfeit sales. The decision, while costly, is unlikely to have a drastic effect on the way eBay conducts business because it has already made changes to police its site for counterfeit goods.

EBay said it would appeal the French court's order that it pay 38.6 million euros.

EBay said in a brief statement issued after the decision that the case went beyond counterfeiting to include manufacturers proscribing the territories in which its products could be sold.

When counterfeits appear on our site we take them down swiftly, and today's ruling is not about our fight against counterfeiting, eBay said. It's about an attempt by LVMH to protect uncompetitive commercial practices at the expense of consumer choice and the livelihood of law-abiding sellers that eBay empowers every day. We will fight this ruling on their behalf.

In January 2007, after being sued again in Paris by Moët Hennessy over Louis Vuitton handbags, eBay changed course on counterfeiting. Under the rules introduced then, eBay sellers in a certain number of critical categories, like luxury goods and clothing, were limited on the number of items they could sell and could not hold the shorter one-day auctions, a favorite of swindlers who hope to take their money and disappear. EBay also introduced geographical restrictions, preventing sellers in China and Hong Kong, for example, from listing those items at all.

EBay also began delaying some listings from being published to the site to give its employees time to review the items. That tactic has ended up aggravating many honest sellers, who complain the delay cuts into their profits. EBay now says it has over 2,000 people worldwide to tackle counterfeiting and that 95% of fraudulent listings are removed before the auction ends. The company also said that last year it suspended about 50,000 sellers and blocked 40,000 previously suspended sellers from returning to the service.

 

30th June   

Update: Win Takes Bar Owners United into Europe...

The case to use foreign viewing cards moved to European Court
Link Here  full story: No Free Trade for Satellite TV...Subscription to EU channels whilst in the UK

Premier League logo Pubs and bars fighting Sky's monopoly on Premiere League football coverage will get to air their complaints on a European stage.

A group of bar owners is fighting for the right to use overseas viewing cards to show Premiere League football games, which cost far less than Sky's commercial subscriptions.

Bar owners claim Sky's commercial subs are too costly, and claim Sky is operating a monopoly.

Sky and the FA Premiere League have prosecuted several bar owners recently, usually for using DigitAlb cards which cost less than one-tenth of a commercial subscription. The FA has also acted against importers of foreign satellite equipment and cards.

It's not illegal to use an overseas card for private viewing, but in a commercial premises it usually goes against the original terms an conditions of the subscription.

Chris Forrester, of Rapid TV News, said: The defendants in the case have argued that, under European single market rules, the FAPL is not entitled to stop the decoder cards being imported to the UK.

In the London High Court of Justice, Mr Justice Kitchin agreed to the defendants' request to have the case referred to the European Court of Justice. The judge told the Court that he tended to agree with the points of law argued by the defendants. A win for the pubs and bars would inevitably lead to a significant loss of income for BSkyB."

 

29th June   

Update: BT Snitches...

BT Broadband starts sending threatening letters to file sharers
Link Here  full story: Virgin Broadband Snoops...Virgin Broadband to spys for the music industry

New brand Virgin Bollox BT, the UK's largest broadband provider, has begun threatening subscribers with disconnection from the internet if it is told they are sharing copyright music over peer-to-peer networks, The Register has learned.

The firm recently sent an email to one of its four million retail broadband customers, who asked not to be named, alleging that she had illegally participated in a network sharing of Biology , a song by Girls Aloud.

The email reproduces evidence collected by the BPI. It purports to show she used the open source filesharing program Ares in May this year to infringe sound recording copyright. Ares can be used as a client for both Gnutella and BitTorrent networks.

It's unclear whether BT has agreed to formally implement the record industry's preferred "three strikes" procedure that would see those accused of infringing music copyright warned twice and suspended or disconnected from the internet.

A spokesman said BT broadband customers who are infringing copyright over peer-to-peer networks can expect a similar threat if the BPI provides evidence against them.
Accusations and evidence

The BPI evidence BT shared with its customer consists of the Ares user agent, a timestamp, a file name and an IP number. BT's letter, from a member of its "Customer Security Team" states: "I have received a complaint regarding one of our customers offering copyrighted material over the internet. On investigation, I have found that your account was used to make this offer."

Collecting this kind of evidence does not require ISPs to monitor their customers' internet connection. BPI investigators are simply able to collect lists of IP numbers participating in copyright-infringing peer-to-peer networks and trace which operator they belong to. Assuming the ISP has agreed to do so, it can then identify the individual account holder without sharing personal information with the BPI.

Committed downloaders are able to take technical counter-measures to dodge detection, but the record industry is hoping to win back the mass market - it knows the hardcore are lost for good.

The BT letter goes on to threaten that if the customer continues to fileshare illegally, her broadband account will be shut down: "Sorry, but we're obliged to point out that further similar problems may have to lead to the termination of your account, as such activity contravenes BT's Acceptable Use Policy." It recommends that she ensure her Wi-Fi connection is secure, remove all filesharing software from her computer, and pass the warning on to the rest of her household.

 

29th June   

Locating New Ideas for Control Freakery...

Work underway to pinpoint the location of internet users
Link Here

You have visited Playboy.com
in contravention of
Acacia Avenue community standards.
Guilty! Police dispatched.
Pack for 3 years hard labour!

Ray Bellis at Nominet offers a clear description of work underway that could lead to ISPs running location services, which would provide an accurate geographic location of the current user of an IP address at a given moment.

He suggests regulation to require ISPs to provide such a service is necessary so that when VoIP telephony users call the emergency operator for a blue-light service, the operator will know the caller’s location without asking, just as currently happens on the PSTN.

Alex Bligh raises some relevant technical objections. However this proposal also raises some interesting policy questions:

  • If ISPs ran a location service, to what other uses might it be put? Could this become a new revenue stream? Might the ability to obtain accurate location information about a user be employed to enable segmentation of the Internet, in the same way other markets are geographically segmented? For example, should non-Americans be allowed to access NBC’s online coverage of the Olympics, when European broadcasters have paid for exclusive coverage in their jurisdiction?
  • In this context, what control should a user be given about their location? Should they be able to make their ISP lie about their location? Should they be able to force their ISP to refuse to disclose their location, or should the ISP be able to obtain a notional consent from the user through the Terms of Service? If so, should location services be opt-in or opt-out for the user?

However in the first instance the questions are likely to relate to protecting users seeking blue-light services. It’s entirely possible the wider ramifications will only be considered when it’s too late to do much about it.

 

27th June   

Nintendo Shites...

Wii firmware upgrade disables region workround device
Link Here

Freeloader Nintendo's latest Wii firmware download has outraged buyers of Datel's Freeloader device after it was revealed that it renders the add-on useless.

Datel's Freeloader device, which sells for around £10, allows Wii users to play games from any region on any machine.

After Nintendo launched its latest 3.3 firmware update last week, news soon emerged that the download stops the add-on from working.

A disgruntled gamer told DS: I have spent good money buying imported games to play on my Wii and this firmware update has now stopped me from playing any of them. I am furious with Nintendo for forcing me to stop playing games I have spent a lot of money on. Surely this is not the way they should be treating loyal followers of the Wii.

 

26th June   

Update: Shared Concerns...

ISPs meet music rights representatives
Link Here  full story: Sharing in the UK...UK Government stick and carrot for file sharing

Virgin logo mock up British ISPs and music rights holders are now engaged in serious negotiations, according to numerous executive sources in London. The talks are being motivated by pressure from legislators, who have threatened to enact their own measures to resolve massive piracy issues if the industries cannot devise their own solutions.

The British government just put a gun to our head, one top-level executive bluntly told Digital Music News.

The stepped-up pressure follows earlier threats by the British government, including a previously-imposed April, 2009 deadline for hammering a solution. But according to one source, legislators are upping their timetables, and intensifying the threat of an outside resolution.

The result is a motivated group of executives. A market solution is always going to be better because you have something to control, one executive explained: Once it's a government solution, you are just a child.

On the legislative side, insiders described a critical role by Andy Burnham, Culture Secretary and Labour Member of Parliament. Also playing an important role is Feargal Sharkey, a former pop star who is currently chief executive of British Music Rights (BMR), an organization that represents more than 50,000 composers and publishers.

Sharkey offered tentative optimism on the discussions at London Calling: At this moment, I am completely optimistic. Three months ago these guys wouldn't even get into the same room.

Participating ISPs include Tiscali, Carphone Warehouse, Virgin, and BT, according to another source.

 

25th June   

Update: Pirate Heroes Take on State Villains...

Pirate Bay to use encryption to defend from Swedish state snoops
Link Here  full story: Internet Snooping in Sweden...Sweden enacts law to monitor all communications

Pirate Bay logo The Pirate Bay plans to offer encryption services to people who use the BitTorrent tracker site in a direct attempt to combat a new controversial snoop law passed in Sweden last week.

Peter Sunde, who is one of the men behind the tracker site, said in a blog post: Many people have asked me what we’re planning to do – and the answer is ‘A lot!’. We’re going to help out in any way we can with fighting the law. This week we’re going to add SSL to The Pirate Bay. We’re also going to help out making a website about easy encryption – both for your hard drives and your net traffic.

Sunde said that The Pirate Bay also plans to lower the price for a system that runs VPN-tunnels and that it will be opened up for international use too.

He also called for ISPs to boycott Sweden. More stuff is planned - together with other people that work against the law we’ve talked about asking the international ISPs to block traffic to Sweden, Sunde said.

The Pirate Bay, which isn’t located in Sweden, hopes that wrapping SSL security around its site will add a layer of protection for anxious Swedes worried about having their internet activities snooped on.

Sweden’s parliament ushered in its contentious wiretapping law last Thursday after the proposal was amended earlier that day.

Under the new law, all communication across Swedish borders will be tapped, and information can also be traded with international security agencies, such as America's National Security Agency.

On Friday Sweden's Pirate Party, which strongly defends the BitTorrent site, said it will take Sweden to the European Court of Human Rights because the law is a clear breach of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

 

24th June   

Prosecution Modded...

Appeal court victory in mod chips case
Link Here

Mr Mod Chips logo An appeals court in the UK has ruled that mod chips do not violate copyright protections, according to a report on TeamXecuter.

The ruling ended the prosecution of Englishman Neil Higgs, who did business as MrModChips. Higgs was convicted last October, with police seizing some 3,700 chips from his residence. Justice Jacobs, presiding over the case, was apparently persuaded that any copyright infringement had already taken place before resellers like Higgs became involved.

Higgs' website is currently displaying the word "Victory", with a picture of Winston Churchill flashing the famous V-sign.

The verdict follows a similar case in Australia, which legalised mod chips in the country back in 2002, when Sony lost its legal battle to sue a seller. Judge Ronald Sackville declared that the mod chips did not violate Australian laws forbidding the circumventing of "technological protection measures", as they also prevented legal activity, such as playing back-up and imported games.

 

23rd June   

Unfair Use...

MPAA claim to be able to extort copyright damages without proof
Link Here

MPAA logo The Motion Picture Association of America, MPAA, said that intellectual-property holders should have the right to collect damages, perhaps as much as $150,000 per copyright violation, without having to prove infringement.

Mandating such proof could thus have the pernicious effect of depriving copyright owners of a practical remedy against massive copyright infringement in many instances, MPAA attorney Marie L. van Uitert wrote to the federal judge overseeing the Jammie Thomas trial.

It is often very difficult, and in some cases, impossible, to provide such direct proof when confronting modern forms of copyright infringement, whether over P2P networks or otherwise; understandably, copyright infringers typically do not keep records of infringement, van Uitert wrote on behalf of the movie studios, a position shared with the Recording Industry Association of America, which sued Thomas, the single mother of two.

A Duluth, Minnesota, jury in October dinged Thomas $222,000 for "making available" 24 songs on the Kazaa network in the nation's first and only RIAA case to go to trial. United States District Court Judge Michael Davis instructed the 12 panelists that they need only find Thomas had an open share folder, not that anyone from the public actually copied her files.

Judge Davis suggested last month that he might have erred in giving that "making available" jury instruction, and invited briefing from the community at large. A hearing is set for August, and the judge is mulling whether to order a mistrial.

 

20th June   

France Down and Out...

Three strikes and you're out of broadband access
Link Here

France flag Anyone who persists in illicit downloading of music or films will be barred from broadband access under a controversial new law in Framce

There is no reason that the internet should be a lawless zone, President Sarkozy told his Cabinet yesterday as it endorsed the three-strikes-and-you’re-out scheme that from next January will hit downloaders.

Under a cross-industry agreement, internet service providers (ISPs) must cut off access for up to a year for third-time offenders.

In a classical French approach the scheme will be enforced by a new £15 million a year state agency, to be called Hadopi (high authority for copyright protection and dissemination of works on the internet).

The law has strong backing from Sarkozy, who has taken a close interest in artists’ rights since marrying Carla Bruni, a nude model and folk singer.

However, it has run into opposition from a range of bodies including the state data protection agency, consumer and civil liberties groups and the European Parliament. Big web companies, including Google, and Dailymotion, the video-sharing firm, refused to sign up to the 40-member industry accord last November.

Mocking the scheme yesterday Libération newspaper gave warning that families could be stripped of their internet and broadband telephone and television if a neighbour’s teenager uses their wireless router to load his iPod.

Under the accord, the entertainment industry will also drop existing copyright protection on French material so that music or videos bought legally online can be played on any sort of device.

 

19th June   

Shared Kiss...

Rock band Kiss refuse to make new records until music sharing stops
Link Here

Kiss album The rock band Kiss have declared that the record industry is "dead".

Bassist Gene Simmonds explained that his band were refusing to record new material until illegal downloading ceases, calling the act of downloading "uncivilised".

The record industry is dead, the Daily Star reported the singer saying: It's six feet underground and unfortunately the fans have done this.

They've decided to download and file-share. There is no record industry around so we're going to wait until everybody settles down and becomes civilised. As soon as the record industry pops its head up we'll record new material.

Singer Paul Stanley went on to defend the band's policy of only playing old hits live: With any classic band that hits the road, the last thing you want to hear is their new songs.

 

18th June   

Update: Associated Pressure...

Press agency to meet with bloggers over fair use
Link Here

Associated press logo The Associated Press, following criticism from bloggers over an AP assertion of copyright, plans to meet this week with a bloggers' group to help form guidelines under which AP news stories could be quoted online.

Jim Kennedy, the AP's director of strategic planning, said that he planned to meet Thursday with Robert Cox, president of the Media Bloggers Association, as part of an effort to create standards for online use of AP stories by bloggers that would protect AP content without discouraging bloggers from legitimately quoting from it.

The meeting comes after AP sent a legal notice last week to Rogers Cadenhead, the author of a blog called the Drudge Retort, a news community site whose name is a parody of the prominent blog the Drudge Report.

The notice called for the blog to remove several postings that AP believed was an improper use of its stories. Other bloggers subsequently lambasted AP for going after a small blogger whom they thought appeared to be engaging in a legally permissible and widely practiced activity protected under "fair use" provisions of copyright law.

 

17th June   

Associated Pressgang...

Press agency harangue website over 'unfair use' of content
Link Here

Associated press logo The US news agency Associated Press has found itself at the centre of a furious debate over the fair use of material by bloggers after its lawyers issued a takedown notice to a small, independent news site that it claims had quoted too heavily from its news stories.

AP said six instances of copyright violation have taken place on Drudge Retort – a leftwing comment site set up as an alternative to the Drudge Report – including one post that pasted 18 words from a story on Hillary Clinton followed by a 32-word direct quote.

The news agency's vice-president and director of strategic planning, Jim Kennedy, appeared to acknowledge the upset over the weekend, telling the New York Times that AP didn't want to "cast a pall over the blogosphere by being heavy-handed".

AP is understood to have suspended its attempts to challenge bloggers until it can review its guidelines, but Kennedy said it has not withdrawn its legal notice to Drudge Retort.

Cutting and pasting a lot of content into a blog is not what we want to see, he told the New York Times: It is more consistent with the spirit of the internet to link to content so people can read the whole thing in context.

 

16th June   

Cracking the Whip...

Canada unveils law against DRM cracking
Link Here

Canada flag The Canadian government today unveiled a controversial proposal to update the country's copyright laws.

Bill C-61 seeks to fight piracy over the internet by giving companies even more power over where digital content can be moved.

While it reduces the maximum fines for criminals actually caught violating intellectual property laws — the bill makes it illegal for anyone to break the digital locks (DRM) that restrict how media (even legitimately purchased) can be used.

Canada's government sought to introduce similar copyright reforms in December, 2006, but back-pedalled quickly. Outraged opponents claimed the the government was simply copying the US Millennium Copyright Act and pandering to US lobbyists and record labels.

This time around, ministers delivering the bill stressed the "made-in-Canada" approach again and again in the announcement.

The bill proposes to reduce the liability for an individual from Canada's current maximum fine of $20,000 for each infringement to just $500 per case, even if it involves multiple offenses. (Assuming the offending files are for private use only.) That means, for example, an individual caught downloading 20 songs illegally would still be fined a maximum $500.

But if that person was caught having circumvented any DRM on those files, the current $20,000 maximum damages per infringement would once again apply.

In addition, any person caught making, selling or distributing technology designed to crack DRM protections are subject to criminal charges.

The bill states that it is not an infringement to record audio or video being broadcast for personal use, unless it was available solely over the internet or circumvents any DRM. Recording television shows that are flagged by broadcasters is also illegal.

According to Canada's The Globe and Mail, the legislation is unlikely to be passed by the minority Conservative party. Parliament is also set to break soon for summer, presumably leaving the bill to die.

 

15th June   

Cunning Stunts?...

Supporting the hype for Metallica's next album
Link Here

Cunning Stunts album Heavy metal band, Metallica, have been trying to shoot themselves in the foot.

The initial trouble started when the band's label invited a small group of journalists to listen to previews of the new album, only to demand that blog articles reviewing the tracks were taken down.

In a further twist the band have issued a climbdown blaming their management for the foolish decision to try and censor articles. In a statement published on Metallica's website they said:

While we occasionally enjoy reading the various comments, rumors, speculation, reviews, gossip and all the good that the internet brings, rarely do we feel the desire/need to respond to the “blogosphere” . . . hey, everyone is entitled to have their thoughts and opinions, right?

However, once we re-surfaced on Tuesday after a few weeks on tour in Europe, we were informed that someone at Q Prime (our managers) had made the error of asking a few publications to take down reviews of the rough mixes from the new record that were posted on their sites.

Our response was WHY?!!! Why take down mostly positive reviews of the new material and prevent people from getting psyched about the next record. . . that makes no sense to us!

 

14th June   

Update: More Virgin Bollox...

Virgin to spy on their customers for the music industry
Link Here  full story: Virgin Broadband Snoops...Virgin Broadband to spys for the music industry

New brand Virgin Bollox Virgin Media, the UK's largest cable-modem provider, has decided that it will spy on its users to protect the record industry.

It is sending out letters to thousands of customers warning them that infringement has been detected on their network connections (Virgin customers who leave their WiFi open will be collateral damage in this fight).

Virgin is under no obligation to do this. The law is clear that they bear no liability for downloading on their network, nor do they have any duty to spy on users or send out warnings. This is entirely off their own bat, and will come straight out of the company's bottom line. Of course, the British record industry is ecstatic and sees this as the first step in getting a law passed that will require every ISP to spy on every Internet user in the country and cut off infringers.

The campaign is a joint venture between Virgin Media and the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), which represents the major record labels. The BPI ultimately wants internet companies to implement a "three strikes and out" rule to warn and ultimately disconnect the estimated 6.5 million customers whose accounts are used for regular criminal activity.

 

12th June   

Disabling Video Recorders...

MPAA wants to ban new release HD films from being copied off TV
Link Here

MPAA logo At the request of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) have quietly launched a proceeding on whether to let video program distributors remotely block consumers from recording recently released movies on their DVRs.

The technology that does this is called Selectable Output Control (SOC), but the FCC restricts its use. The MPAA wants a waiver on that restriction in the case of high-definition movies broadcast prior to their release as DVDs.

The Petitioners' theatrical movies are too valuable in this early distribution window to risk their exposure to unauthorized copying, MPAA wrote to the FCC last month. Distribution over insecure outputs would facilitate the illegal copying and redistribution of this high value content, causing untold damage to the DVD and other 'downstream' markets. Less than a month after the request, the FCC has given MPAA a public comment period on the question that will last through July 7.

The MPAA promises that once said movies have reached the home video sale/rental stage, the blocking will stop.

The FCC wants comments and oppositions to MPAA's proposal by June 25 and replies to comments by July 7.

 

8th June   

Update: Facing the Pre-Release Music...

UK File sharers using OiNK arrested and bailed
Link Here  full story: OiNK...Pre-release file sharing attracts the authorities

Oink logo OiNK was a file sharing website specialising in pre-release music CDs

A series of recent reports on blog Torrent Freak indicates that six former OiNK users were arrested in late May by British authorities for sharing music via the website. They are currently out on bail.

The Cleveland Police confirmed the arrests to Torrent Freak; the six persons in question include five males and one female. In each case, suspects were taken in, interrogated by police, and required to provide fingerprints and DNA samples.

The arrests apparently took place as part of Operation Ark Royal, the ongoing investigation of a "massive piracy scam" (i.e. OiNK) undertaken by the Cleveland Police's Organized Crime Unit in conjunction with the RIAA-affiliated International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) and the British Phonographic Industry (BPI). These mark the first OiNK-related arrests since that of site founder Alan Ellis, whose legal team has reportedly offered free counsel to some of recent arrestees. (Torrent Freak reports that Ellis has yet to be charged with any crime.)

The six people arrested were all suspected of sharing albums prior to their release dates. Torrent Freak reports that at least two of the arrests are for the alleged uploading of a single album.

The BPI shared the following statement with The Register: The BPI and IFPI worked with the police in order to close down the OiNK tracker site last October. The illegal online distribution of music, particularly pre-release, is hugely damaging, and as OiNK was the biggest source for pre-releases at the time we moved to shut it down.

Concerns are myriad at this point, ranging from how authorities can prove their cases using the easily manipulated user data seized during the initial OiNK raid, to why the police are involved at all in what some have suggested is merely a matter that calls for civil action, to, of course, whether the arrests will continue-- and, if so, who will be next.

 

7th June   

Update: Anti-Citizen Trade Agreement...

The nastiness that is the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement
Link Here  full story: ACTA Trade Restrictions...Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement

Wikileaks logo Wikileaks has the full text of a memo concerning the dread Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, a draft treaty that does away with those pesky public trade-negotiations at the United Nations (with participation from citizens' groups and public interest groups) in favor of secret, closed-door meetings where entertainment industry giants get to give marching orders to governments in private.

It's some pretty crazy reading -- among other things, ACTA will outlaw P2P (even when used to share works that are legally available, like my books), and crack down on things like region-free DVD players. All of this is taking place out of the public eye, presumably with the intention of presenting it as a fait accompli just as the ink is drying on the treaty.

Honestly, it's becoming clearer and clearer that the entertainment industry is an existential threat to the idea of free speech, open tools, and an open communications network.

 

1st June   

Freedom of Criticism...

Gadget shop threaten legal action to gag negative comments
Link Here

MoneySavngExpert.com Online Gadget Shop, Redsave, has responded to a rash of complaints about its services and practices by insisting that at least two well-respected consumer feedback sites remove any posts relating to its business under threat of further legal action.

MoneySavingExpert.com, which has removed any posts relating to the company, said that Redsave had made: repeated threats of legal action because of the enormous amount of people who have posted comments warning people away from using this company .

Asked if he was caving in to a legal threat, Martin Lewis, the man behind MSE said that he had commissioned a leading financial investigative journalist to research all complaints, look into Redsave and see if the complaints are justified.

Hotukdeals is in a similar situation with redsave insisting that the site's ISP get involved in the fight. An administrator on the site posted the following a couple of days ago:

Redsave have complained to our ISP about comments made by our members and given a take-down notice.

We are taking legal advice and will be corresponding with Redsave's lawyers.

Pending the outcome of that correspondence and other inquiries, we have temporarily removed the content.

Once we have completed the compliance process, we will repost your comments, in whole or part, as permitted by our lawyers. We anticipate this will be within a fortnight.

We believe HotUKDeals members have a right to comment on their truthful experience with merchants and we are committed to defending that right vigorously even when faced with legal threats. We believe that if truthful but negative comments cannot be published for fear of legal action, the ability of consumers to inform themselves is fundamentally eroded.

We believe that both consumers and merchants have the right to fair and free speech and we will not be intimidated by legal threats which attempt to impinge on this right.

Many of the complaints from consumers seem to be relating to Redsave's 'Shopping Pass' which allows users to buy at heavily-discounted prices for a £19.99 monthly subscription.

Anyone who elects to buy a product at the Shopping Pass price automatically signs up for a free 30-day subscription to the service.

If the 'free' subscription isn't cancelled within that 30-day period, then the purchaser's payment card will be debited ad infinitum.

Consumers have complained that they have to go to "extreme lengths" to cancel the rolling fees with some desperate people allegedly resorting closing bank accounts in order to stop the charges.

We're not sure how this one will pan out but, if the men in grey suits do get their way, and people are prevented from expressing their opinion of a product or service, it will be a sad day for the internet's consumer power indeed.

 

31st May   

Viacom Threatening Internet Freedom...

Viacom sue Google over copyright issues
Link Here

YouTube logoGoogle has claimed that a billion dollar lawsuit filed against YouTube, the video-sharing website it owns, threatens internet freedom.

The claim follows legal action by Viacom, an US entertainment company, which is suing YouTube for breach of copyright.

Viacom claim that more than 150,000 unauthorised clips of its copyrighted material have been found on YouTube, and that YouTube and Google, its parent company, had done “little or nothing” to stop infringement.

Google'
s legal team said that Viacom'
s action threatens the way hundreds of millions of people legitimately exchange information across the internet, and that it had gone far beyond its legal obligations in assisting content owners to protect their works.

Viacom filed the initial lawsuit last year, and tabled an amended version last month. It said that YouTube had consistently allowed unauthorised clips of television shows such as South Park and SpongeBob SquarePants to be posted on the site and watched thousands of times.

It also stated that the Al Gore documentary, An Inconvenient Truth , had been illegally uploaded to YouTube, and received an “astounding” 1.5 billion views by site users.

Google is willing to see the matter resolved in the US Supreme Court, said David Eun, vice president of content partnerships. The search giant claims that making service providers liable for the actions of users would threaten the way hundreds of millions of people legitimately exchange information, news, entertainment and political and artistic expression.

Google also claims that it has abided by the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, which protects service providers from liability for copyright infringement as long as they act swiftly to remove that material once it has been reported. Viacom, however, argues that the entire business model for the YouTube site relies on copyrighted content, and that it is unable to keep sufficient track of the unauthorised clips uploaded to its pages.

Last year, Google introduced a content-checking system to try and prevent copyrighted clips being uploaded in the first place, by matching videos against a library of original content to identify copyright infringement.

 

30th May   

Sharing the Nastiness of ACTA...

Trade treaty to put IP rights above people's rights
Link Here  full story: ACTA Trade Restrictions...Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement

Wikileaks logoWikileaks has revealed a document proposing a treaty that will significantly limit the privacy and rights of Internet users, to the benefit of multimillion dollar companies.

The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, (ACTA), is basically an attempt to criminalize the Internet, thus allowing a virtual police state to occur by the selective prosecuting of crimes. In short, it'
s an international treaty, or hopes to be, that will greatly increase already draconian copyright measures, in a poor attempt to appease the copyright and patent industries.

The proposal is based on the assumption that ‘intellectual property rights'
 trump personal privacy, data protection, probable cause, and lots of other important principles in western democracies.

The measure which has received wider publicity is the so-called ‘Pirate Bay killer'
. At the end of page two, there is a list of things that should be included in a signing country's legal framework, and in the section about criminal sanctions it states significant willful infringements without motivation for financial gain to such an extent as to prejudicially affect the copyright holder (e.g., Internet piracy) . Think non-profit, personal use file-sharing.

Worst of all though, are the following two points speaking of establishment and imposition of deterrent-level penalties and ex-officio authority to take action against infringers . It is argued that the current level of penalties aren'
t harsh enough, so there should be room for harsher punishments. Combine this with the ability to prosecute without a rights holder complaint, which means that people could be liable for millions, or imprisoned for sharing.

Of course, the other area most affected by this would be whistle-blower sites like Wikileaks itself. The owner of any leaked document can claim copyright infringement on its publication, and have it pulled. In this, ACTA is a very effective censorship tool. For some reason, though, this aspect has not been widely reported, or even mentioned.

Update: Hate the G8

2nd June 2008

Draconian new copyright protection laws would give border guards the right to seize iPods and mobile phones on suspicion they contained illegal downloads. That'
s the very real threat of new legislation currently being worked out by the G8 nations, of which the UK is a part, according to Canadian reports.

These reports claim the Canadian government is secretly negotiating to join the US and the EU in an Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). Alongside the introduction of an international copyright law enforcement body, the deal would also see ordinary police given the right to search your digital devices for stolen files, and would also allow them to confiscate such devices. Front line security staff will be empowered to decide what content infringes on copyright laws.

Consumer privacy is also threatened by the act, which would force ISPs to hand over customer information on suspected file-sharers without a warrant.

 

20th May   

BBC Daleks...

BBC move to exterminate fans knitting behind the sofa
Link Here

Cuddly Dr Who alienA Dr Who fan blogging as Mazzmatazz has for some time been posting knitting patterns on the internet to show others how to recreate cuddly versions of the villainous Ood and Adipose aliens from the current BBC series.

The BBC, however, has taken exception to this since someone tried to sell one of her patterns on eBay. This, the broadcaster evidently felt, represented a clear and present danger to the £800m a year its commercial arm makes through its intellectual property and merchandising rights every year and it has unleashed its lawyers on her.

The readiness of giant corporations to confuse an excess of enthusiastic fandom with an insidious commercial threat is not heartening.

Update: Designed to Appease

See full article from the Times , 25th May 2008

A report in The Times and a very British public outcry persuaded the BBC to adopt the knitting patterns used to create the Doctor Who monsters – instead of threatening to force them out of existence.

The report generated a string of comments from Times readers, who questioned why the BBC was threatening one of its licence fee payers. Lawyers had previously said that there was little doubt that Mazzmatazz had broken the BBC'
s Doctor Who trademark by mentioning it on her website.

Only three days later, the BBC is exploring whether it can help to generate some money out of the designs, with a spokesman for the Corporation saying that it was never interested in stifling fan creativity in any way.

The woman behind the patterns for the fat, white Adipose and the squid-faced Ood characters has been invited to meet BBC executives with a view to creating a limited edition of exclusive promotional products for the public to buy.

On her website, Mazzmatazz, who has chosen not to reveal her real name, said that she just wanted to thank everyone who has sent me a message of support over the past few days and confirmed that she was currently discussing matters with the BBC.

 

16th May   

Update: Premier High Court Case...

Judgement reserved in foreign satellite subscription case
Link Here  full story: No Free Trade for Satellite TV...Subscription to EU channels whilst in the UK

Premier League logoThe Judge in the landmark High Court legal battle between the Premier League and foreign satellite suppliers QC Leisure and AV Station has retired to consider his verdict.

The Premier League is seeking a ban on importing, selling, hiring, advertising, installing and maintaining decoders.

The defendants deny breaking copyright law and claim that the attempt to stop them selling the decoder cards is in breach of the EC Treaty, which guarantees the right of free trade between member states.

It is not known when Mr Justice Kitchin will deliver his verdict.

 

28th April   

Evil Musical Industries...

EMI shites harangue online file storage
Link Here

MP3tunes' CEO Michael Robertson sent out an email to all users of the online music backup and place-shifting service MP3tunes.com , asking them to help publicize EMI's ridiculous and ignorant lawsuit against the company.

EMI believes that consumers aren't allowed to store their music files online, and that MP3tunes is violating copyright law by providing a backup service. (And we're not using a euphemism here—it really is a backup/place-shifting service and not a file sharing site in disguise.)

In March, a court told EMI it couldn't demand that MP3tunes turn over all the music stored by customers on its servers. Robertson writes on his corporate blog that the request is absurd:

Files are not MP3tunes' possessions any more than the contents of a safety deposit box are owned by the bank that houses them. The storage provided by MP3tunes is the user's own space. A Locker is empty when someone opens an account and that customer decides what files are placed into their Locker. All files are stored at the request of the user. People who choose to utilize remote storage should be guaranteed the same level of privacy they have for the files stored on their local hard disk.

As you may be aware, the major record label EMI has sued MP3tunes, claiming our service is illegal. You can read about the case here. Much is at stake — if you don't have the right to store your own music online then you won't have the right to store ebooks, videos and other digital products as well. The notion of ownership in the 21st century will evaporate. The idea of ownership is important to me and I want to make sure I have that right and my kids do too.

 

27th April   

Shooting the Messenger...

Irish record companies hold ISP responsible for file sharing
Link Here

EMI Ireland logo Eircom has rejected claims by four major record companies that it, as the largest broadband internet service provider in the State, must bear some liability for the illegal free downloading of music by computer users.

The companies have claimed Eircom's networks are being used 'on a grand scale' for illegal downloading.

Mr Justice Peter Kelly said today he expected to fix a July date for the hearing of the unique action brought by the record companies against Eircom. The action is the first here aimed at internet service providers, rather than individual illegal downloaders.

The case was initiated last March and Eircom has filed a defence rejecting the claims and contending that the record companies have established no cause of action against it.

The action has been brought by EMI Records (Ireland) Ltd, Sony BMG Music Entertainment (Ireland) Ltd, Universal Music (Ireland) Ltd and Warner Music (Ireland) Ltd against Eircom Ltd.

They are seeking orders - under the Copyright and Related Rights Acts 2000 - restraining Eircom from infringing copyright in the sound recordings owned by, or exclusively licensed to them, by making available (through Eircom's internet service facilities) copies of those recordings to the public without the companies' consent.

Willie Kavanagh, managing director of EMI Ireland and chairman of the Irish Recorded Music Association (IRMA), has said that, because of illegal downloading and other factors, the Irish music industry is experiencing 'a dramatic and accelerating decline' in income.

The record companies believed greater availability of broadband will lead to a further escalation in the volume of unlawful distribution of recordings, he added. While the record companies had taken various measures to discourage record piracy, including public
awareness campaigns and legal actions against individuals engaged in piracy, these had proven very costly and time consuming and were not enough to stop people using illegal services on a broad scale.

 

22nd April   

Virgin Bollox...

Virgin propose charging websites for faster customer access
Link Here  full story: Virgin Broadband Snoops...Virgin Broadband to spys for the music industry

New brand Virgin Bollox Virgin Media is in negotiations with content producers about introducing a system that would slow down customers' access to material from producers that did not pay Virgin a fee, its chief executive has said.

Neil Berkett said that Virgin Media is talking to producers about creating a fast-track access system which would enable their content to be prioritised on its network.

Such a system would relegate companies which did not pay its fees to slower connections, meaning that users' experience of those sites and services would be degraded.

Berkett's comments, in an interview with the Royal Television Society's magazine Television, will ignite a debate in the UK over net neutrality, a subject that has been the source of controversy in the US in recent years. Net neutrality is the name given to the current state of internet access which treats all packets of information equally.

In the US, telecoms companies have objected to the fact that online video and audio companies are making money from internet users over networks the telcos provide. They want to be able to offer faster access to their consumers to content firms, for a fee.

Berkett told Television that he believed the UK Government was open to the idea of fast and slow lane internet access: This net-neutrality thing is a load of bollocks.

Television magazine said that Berkett told it that the company is already negotiating with content producers and video games publishers about 'more effective' access to Virgin Media subscribers. He conceded that the plan would slow down the connections subscribers would have to material produced by firms which did not pay it.

 

19th April   

Pro Premium Premier Prices...

Putting commercial interests above free trade
Link Here

FA Premier League The Premier League has launched a High Court action yesterday to ban cheap live televised matches. The League is seeking damages and an order to stop companies supplying equipment which enables British viewers to receive the games via a foreign broadcaster rather than the more expensive domestic broadcaster BSkyB.

James Mellor QC, representing the Premier League, told Mr Justice Kitchin at the London court: It is a good old-fashioned rip off. He said QC Leisure and AV Station are supplying domestic decoding cards from Greece and North Africa which allow British viewers access to broadcasting services to which they are not entitled. In this country you can watch Premiership football courtesy of Sky. You pay your Sky subscription.

He said that if publicans want to show the matches to customers, they have to pay a more expensive commercial subscription. If a publican takes a domestic Sky card and uses it to display Premiership football in his pub, he is obtaining unauthorised access. It is a breach of contract and a criminal offence. There have been upwards of 180 prosecutions of publicans who have used domestic Sky cards for commercial purposes.

The companies claim that European law allows the free movement of goods throughout the community and if the cards are available on the market, then they can be sold anywhere within the EC.

Mellor said the case is not about free movement of goods but about illegal infringement of copyright. It is about dealers making a fat profit. All they do is get hold of a foreign card and apply a substantial mark up of up to 100 per cent. They are just acting as a postal service. How do they get hold of these cards? They get them through deception.

He said the defendants provide false names and addresses in Greece and North Africa to apply for the cards. The cards cannot be sold outside the particular country where they are issued and when the authorised suppliers find out about the deception, the contracts are terminated and the service is switched off, he said.

The case is expected to last up to two weeks.

 

18th April   

Sky High Freakery...

Sky makes 'anti-piracy' change to HD set top box
Link Here

Sky logo Component video outputs have been dropped from the newest version of Sky's high definition boxes in an apparent anti-piracy move.

Older Sky HD boxes have both HDMI and component outputs; however, of the two, only the HDMI connection supports HDCP - high bandwidth digital content protection - which is designed to make copying content in high definition move difficult.

HDMI is now a standard connection on high definition televisions but older equipment may only support component video. It is thought Sky left such connections on earlier models for this reason; in 2005, Sky told Digital Spy that all programming would be available over the component outputs.

Sky has amended the Sky HD user guide with an explanation stating that a minor adjustment has been made by removing the HD analogue component video connection.

It added: This change was made to help prevent the illegal copying of HD programmes and movies, and enable Sky to continue to bring you quality entertainment.

 

17th April   

Shared Community...

European parliament opposes loss of internet for fie sharers
Link Here  full story: International 3 Strikes Laws...File sharers threatened with loss of internet access

EU logo European politicians have voted down calls to throw suspected file-sharers off the net.

The idea to cut off persistent pirates formed part of a wide-ranging report on creative industries written for the European parliament.

But in a narrow vote MEPs backed an amendment to the report which said net bans conflicted with civil liberties and human rights.

It puts MEPS at odds with governments planning such action against file sharers.

The vote shows that MEPs want to strike a balance between the interests of rights holders and those of consumers, and that big measures like cutting off internet access shouldn't be used, said a spokeswoman for the European Parliament after the vote.

The amendment was added to the so-called Bono Report on the Cultural Industries. This was written by French MEP Guy Bono to inform forthcoming European parliament policy that would encourage growth in the region's creative industries. The amendment called on the EC and its member nations to avoid adopting measures conflicting with civil liberties and human rights and with the principles of proportionality, effectiveness and dissuasiveness, such as the interruption of internet access.

The vote has no legal force and leaves national governments free to implement their own anti-piracy plans. But, said the Open Rights Group, it does "signify resistance" among European law makers to the strict measures that nations such as France are implementing.

 

20th March   

Shared Freakery...

Japan joins countries considering ejecting file sharers from the internet
Link Here  full story: International 3 Strikes Laws...File sharers threatened with loss of internet access

Japan flag Japanese companies plan to cut off the Internet connection of anyone who illegally downloads files in one of the world's toughest measures against online piracy.

Faced with complaints from the music, movie and video-game industries, four associations representing Japan's Internet service providers have agreed to take drastic action, the Yomiuri Shimbun said.

The newspaper, quoting unnamed sources, said service providers would send e-mails to people who repeatedly made illegal copies and terminate their connections if they did not stop.

The Internet companies will set up a panel next month involving groups representing copyright holders to draft the new guidelines, the report said.

 

17th March   

Shooting the Messenger...

Record companies attack Eircom over filesharing
Link Here

Eircom The four major record companies have launched a lawsuit against Eircom, the largest ISP in Ireland, alleging that it is “making available” copyrighted music tracks through its network. The lawsuit aims to force Eircom to introduce network level blocking of peer-to-peer filesharing.

According to reports on The Irish Times, Eircoms lawyers have said that the company has no knowledge of specific instances of illegal activity infringing on the rights of the record company, and reasserted Eircom’s protection from being forced to monitor its network under the terms of the Electronic Commerce Directive.

Eircom has refused to institute network level content controls, citing the same Directive. As a “mere conduit”, Eircom cannot be held liable for content that it merely carries over its network. If continued to judgment, this case may set an important precedent: whereas the recent Belgian case of Sabam v Scarlet was widely criticised as being wrongly decided at first instance because it was brought against a smaller ISP with inadequate legal defense resources, Eircom is a fully-funded former monopoly national telecoms operator.

 

28th February   

Shared Concerns...

Petitioning that ISPs should not become net police
Link Here  full story: International 3 Strikes Laws...File sharers threatened with loss of internet access

Virgin: We know what you're up to! We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Support ISP's in not bowing to pressure from a desperate insustry into becoming defacto net police.

Recently there have been increasingly desperate attempts by the music industry to control how individuals consume media. Since these measures have in large parts failed (as a public relations disaster and an expensive, ultimately ineffective process), the industry is attempting to force ISP's to bear the blame for users actions and police information consumption.

There is no practical way to detect the difference between legal and illegal material – particularly if the content is encrypted therefore this will effectively ban the use of some methods of transferring data. ISP's should not be encouraged to invade a users privacy by analysing their data if they are not suspected of any crime, this sets an extremely dangerous precedent which very quickly leads to censorship of the internet.

The government should not legislate on behalf of the music industry but should support open internet policed if necessary by public authorities using the usual mantra of innocent until proven guilty, requiring evidence and a court order before a users privacy may be invaded in this way.

 

27th February   

Sharing a Change of Tone...

Government consults on file sharing legislation
Link Here  full story: International 3 Strikes Laws...File sharers threatened with loss of internet access

Virgin: We know what you're up to! UK ISPs must take concrete steps to curb illegal downloads or face legal sanctions, the government has said.

The proposal is aimed at tackling the estimated 6m UK broadband users who download files illegally every year.

The culture secretary said consultation would begin in spring and legislation could be implemented "by April 2009".

Representatives of the recording industry, who blame piracy for a slump in sales, welcomed the proposals.

ISPs are in a unique position to make a difference and in doing so to reverse a culture of creation-without-reward that has proved so damaging to the whole music community over the last few years, said John Kennedy, head of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI).

A spokesperson for the Internet Service Provider's Association (ISPA) said that creating appropriate legislation would be very difficult: Any scheme has got to be legal, workable and economically sustainable. He also said that ISPs were already pursuing self-regulation, which was the government's preferred route.

The government has no burning desire to legislate, Andy Burnham, culture secretary, told the Financial Times. However, he said that the proposals signalled a change of tone from the government.

Its intentions are outlined in a creative industries strategy paper called Creative Britain: New Talents for the New Economy.

Earlier this year it was reported that the government was considering a "three strikes" approach to tackling persistent offenders in the report. But Burnham denied this was the case and told the FT that the strategy had "never been in the paper".

 

24th February   

Liberated Tunes...

A couple of twists and your music is unlocked
Link Here

Double Twist logo The release of software from a firm run by a noted Norwegian hacker is likely to cause waves in the music and film download world.

Jon Lech Johansen became the "enfant terrible" of the DRM industry when he released software which cracked the encryption codes on DVDs. His firm, DoubleTwist, has now released software allowing users to share digital media files across devices.

It would allow songs bought on Apple's iTunes to be shared on other devices. At the moment, the only portable music player which can store content downloaded from the iTunes store is Apple's iPod.

Users can copy downloaded songs to a CD and then copy the disc back on to the computer so that the songs can then be moved to other portable devices - but the quality of the music is affected.

The new software from his San Francisco-based company DoubleTwist will allow users to share both user-generated and professionally created music, photos and video clips between computers, mobiles and game consoles.

Initially the system will allow file-sharing with Sony's PSP games console, Nokia's N-series mobile, Sony Ericsson's Walkman and Cybershot handsets and Microsoft's Windows Mobile smartphones.

The software converts media stored in one file format to those used by the other devices in a system that mimics the process of ripping a CD onto a computer. One hundred songs can be converted in about half an hour, with a slight degradation in sound quality, according to the firm.

The company is confident there will not be any legal challenges from Apple. The software is available as a free download from the company's website.

 

16th February   

Three Strikes and You're Broadbanded...

ISPs not impressed by the government proposal
Link Here  full story: International 3 Strikes Laws...File sharers threatened with loss of internet access

Big Brother UK net firms are resisting government suggestions that they should do more to monitor what customers do online.

The industry association for net providers said legal and technical barriers prohibit them from being anything other than a "mere conduit".

The declaration comes as the government floats the idea of persistent pirates being denied net access.

Net firms have been stung into defining their position by the emergence this week of a draft government consultation document that suggests ISPs should be drafted in to the fight against piracy.

It suggested that people who persistently download and share copyrighted material could have their net access removed.

A spokesman for the Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA) said the 2002 E-Commerce Regulations defined net firms as "mere conduits" and not responsible for the contents of the traffic flowing across their networks. He added that other laws on surveillance explicitly prohibited ISPs from inspecting the contents of data packets unless forced to do so by a warrant.

The spokesman said technical issues also made it hard for net firms to take action against specific types of traffic. For instance, he said, while some people use peer-to-peer networks to download copyrighted material many commercial services, such as Napster and the BBC's iPlayer, use file-sharing technology to distribute music and TV legally.

 

13th February   

Sharing Nasty Laws...

Three strikes and you're cut off from the internet
Link Here  full story: International 3 Strikes Laws...File sharers threatened with loss of internet access

Big Brother People who illegally download films and music will be cut off from the internet under new legislative proposals to be unveiled next week.

Internet service providers (ISPs) will be legally required to take action against users who access pirated material, The Times has learnt.

Users suspected of wrongly downloading films or music will receive a warning e-mail for the first offence, a suspension for the second infringement and the termination of their internet contract if caught a third time, under the most likely option to emerge from discussions about the new law.

Broadband companies who fail to enforce the three-strikes” regime would be prosecuted and suspected customers' details could be made available to the courts. The Government has yet to decide if information on offenders should be shared between ISPs.

Six million broadband users are estimated to download files illegally every year in this country in a practice that music and film companies claim is costing them billions of pounds in lost revenue annually.

Britain's four biggest internet providers – BT, Tiscali, Orange and Virgin Media – have been in talks with Hollywood's biggest studio and distribution companies for six months over a voluntary scheme.

Parallel negotiations between Britain's music industry and individual internet providers have been dragging on for two years.

Major sticking points include who will arbitrate disputed allegations, for example when customers claim to have been the victim of “wi-fi piggybacking”, in which users link up to a paid-for wireless network that is not their own. Another outstanding disagreement is how many enforcements the internet companies will be expected to initiate and how quickly warning e-mails would be sent.

International action in the US and France, which is implementing its own “three-strikes” regime, has increased the pressure on British internet companies and stiffened the Government's resolve.

The commitment forms part of a Green Paper on the creative industries entitled The World's Creative Hub to be launched by Andy Burnham, the Culture Secretary, and Gordon Brown next week.

 

13th February   

Update: Verizon Not Sharing Hollywood's Control Freakery...

Resisting pressure to block file sharing
Link Here

Verizon logo When Hollywood asked the two big phone companies to help with its fight against piracy, they responded in opposite ways. AT&T is talking about developing a system that would identify and block illicitly copied material being sent over its broadband network.

Verizon, however, opposes the concept. I spoke to Tom Tauke, Verizon's executive vice president for public affairs, on the subject. He said the company's view combines a concern for the privacy of its customers with self interest. It may be costly for it to get into the business of policing the traffic on its network. Indeed, phone companies have largely spent a century trying not to be liable for what people say over their lines: We generally are reluctant to get into the business of examining content that flows across our networks and taking some action as a result of that content, he said.

Tauke offered at least three objections to the concept:

  1. The slippery slope.

    Once you start going down the path of looking at the information going down the network, there are many that want you to play the role of policeman. Stop illegal gambling offshore. Stop pornography. Stop a whole array of other kinds of activities that some may think inappropriate.
     
  2. It opens up potential liability for failing to block copyrighted work.

    When you look back at the history of copyright legislation, there has been an effort by Hollywood to pin the liability for copyright violations on the network that transmits the material. It is no secret they think we have deeper pockets than others and we are easy-to-find targets.
     
  3. Privacy.

    Anything we do has to balance the need of copyright protection with the desire of customers for privacy.

 

27th January   

Offsite: Law and Orders...

We should be able to oppose the government's crackdown on filesharing but...
Link Here

Frank Fisher ....And even if some legislation was introduced to formalise these server blocks, can we trust parliament to examine it properly?

If we take the example of the provisions in the current criminal justice and immigration bill regarding "extreme pornography" - closely targeted at internet users - then it's doubtful we can rely on the Commons at all. The third reading debate was guillotined to just eight hours. "Extreme pornography" barely got a mention and the proposals to criminalise men who pay for sex, subject of so much debate here on Cif, did a little better. Just one MP was permitted to speak for 15 seconds. If you want a shocking snapshot of the appalling way we're governed today, take a look at the Hansard transcripts, if you don't have time for that then this opening comment from Tory Edward Garnier to his clearly embarrassed Labour opposite number, David Hanson, might give you an inkling of the mood: "May I begin by congratulating the minister on his ability to keep a straight face?"

By preventing debate the government was able to kick the bill to the House of Lords, where finally some sanity may prevail. Already half a dozen lords have spoken up to oppose the extreme pornography proposals, from one perspective or another - not that you would know it from the media. We even had, thanks to the Earl of Onslow, a suggestion that what people get up to in their own homes, or own dungeons, might not be the proper concern of government. Can it really be that the UK's last remaining defenders of individual freedom are the lords? Optimists even reckon that in Lords committee stages the bill might be stripped of its worse excesses.

Read the full article

 

18th January   

Copyright on Wacky Ideas...

US ISP plans to filter out copyrighted data packets
Link Here

AT&T logo AT&T have announced that it is seriously considering plans to examine all the traffic it carries for potential violations of U.S. intellectual property laws. The prospect of AT&T, already accused of spying on our telephone calls, now scanning every e-mail and download for outlawed content is way too totalitarian for my tastes. But the bizarre twist is that the proposal is such a bad idea that it would be not just a disservice to the public but probably a disaster for AT&T itself. If I were a shareholder, I'd want to know one thing: Has AT&T, after 122 years in business, simply lost its mind?

No one knows exactly what AT&T is proposing to build. But if the company means what it says, we're looking at the beginnings of a private police state. That may sound like hyperbole, but what else do you call a system designed to monitor millions of people's Internet consumption? That's not just Orwellian; that's Orwell.

The puzzle is how AT&T thinks that its proposal is anything other than corporate seppuku. First, should these proposals be adopted, my heart goes out to AT&T's customer relations staff. Exactly what counts as copyright infringement can be a tough question for a Supreme Court justice, let alone whatever program AT&T writes to detect copyright infringement. Inevitably, AT&T will block legitimate materials (say, home videos it mistakes for Hollywood) and let some piracy through. Its filters will also inescapably degrade network performance. The filter AT&T will really need will be the one that blocks the giant flood of complaints and termination-of-service notices coming its way.

But the most serious problems for AT&T may be legal. Since the beginnings of the phone system, carriers have always wanted to avoid liability for what happens on their lines, be it a bank robbery or someone's divorce. Hence the grand bargain of common carriage: The Bell company carried all conversations equally, and in exchange bore no liability for what people used the phone for. Fair deal.

AT&T's new strategy reverses that position and exposes it to so much potential liability that adopting it would arguably violate AT&T's fiduciary duty to its shareholders. Today, in its daily Internet operations, AT&T is shielded by a federal law that provides a powerful immunity to copyright infringement. The Bells know the law well: They wrote and pushed it through Congress in 1998, collectively spending six years and millions of dollars in lobbying fees to make sure there would be no liability for "Transitory Digital Network Communications"—content AT&T carries over the Internet. And that's why the recording industry sued Napster and Grokster, not AT&T or Verizon, when the great music wars began in the early 2000s.

Here's the kicker: To maintain that immunity, AT&T must transmit data "without selection of the material by the service provider" and "without modification of its content." Once AT&T gets in the business of picking and choosing what content travels over its network, while the law is not entirely clear, it runs a serious risk of losing its all-important immunity. An Internet provider voluntarily giving up copyright immunity is like an astronaut on the moon taking off his space suit. As the world's largest gatekeeper, AT&T would immediately become the world's largest target for copyright infringement lawsuits.

 

16th January   

Sharing Government Concerns...

UK Government stick and carrot for copyright protection
Link Here  full story: Sharing in the UK...UK Government stick and carrot for file sharing

Lord Triesman The government have turned up the heat on internet providers, warning that laws to force disconnection of illegal filesharers are already being drafted for a parliamentary debut in November.

Lord Triesman, the minister for intellectual property, said that if ISPs can't agree a voluntary scheme with the music and film industries by the end of summer, he will press Gordon Brown to introduce legislation in the next Queen's speech.

It's the first time Triesman has put a public timescale on the threat he made last autumn to bypass self-regulation.

Triesman emphasised that the government speaks with one voice on illegal filesharing. We're not prepared to see the kinds of damage that will be done to the creative economy, he said.

If a joint settlement to monitor and cut off persistent copyright infringers isn't signed voluntarily, legislation imposing rules would likely be rubber-stamped by MPs.

Triesman  also revealed that the UK government is working with the French on their anti-infringement legislation - measures which Nikolas Sarkozy promised in his presidential manifesto.

The proposed laws create an enforcement body that French ISPs will turn over filesharing data to. The "three strikes" system will see infringers disconnnected if they don't sign and stick to a promise not to share copyright material.

Triesman said: The French are plainly very serious about this, it's really interesting. We will actually do quite a lot of work alongside them - not neccessarily to reach exactly the same objective, but I think we've got a desire to share evidence and analyses. There's no point repeating each other's research.

 

15th January   

Copying A Good Idea...

UK government propose changes to copyright exceptions
Link Here  full story: Sharing in the UK...UK Government stick and carrot for file sharing

Lord Triesman Copying music from a CD to a home computer could be made legal under new proposals from the UK government.

Millions of people already "rip" discs to their computers and move the files to MP3 players, although the process is technically against copyright law.

Intellectual property minister Lord Triesman said the law should be changed so it "keeps up with the times".

Music industry bodies gave a cautious welcome to the proposals, which are up for public consultation until 8 April.

The changes would apply only to people copying music for personal use - meaning multiple copying and internet file-sharing would still be banned.

Owners would not be allowed to sell or give away their original discs once they had made a copy. To allow consumers to copy works and then pass on the original could result in a loss of sales, the proposals warn.

UK music industry body the BPI said it supported the move to clarify the law for consumers, but warned that any changes should not damage the rights of record companies.

The Association of Independent Music (Aim) said the proposals did not go far enough - pointing out that CDs could become obsolete in the next decade. It said that, once CDs are replaced, the law could be misused to "open the floodgates to unstoppable copying", adding that it would like to see copyright holders compensated when music was copied.

Lord Triesman said the proposed changes would explore where the boundaries lie between strong protection for right holders and appropriate levels of access for users.

 

8th January   

Monitoring the Control Freaks...

Paid for DRM movies deleted on a whim
Link Here

Bad Vista Hollywood isn’t thrilled about my new High Def monitor and they’ve decided to punish me by revoking my Watch Now privileges from Netflix. [Streaming film rentals]

When I tried to launch a streaming movie, I was greeted with an error message asking me to “reset” my DRM. Luckily, Netflix’s help page on the topic included a link to a DRM reset utility, but when I went to install the program, I stopped dead in my tracks when I saw this warning.

“this will potentially remove playback licenses from your computer, including those from companies other than Netflix or Microsoft”

I decided to call Netflix’s technical support and they confirmed my worst fears. In order to access the Watch Now service, I had to give Microsoft’s DRM sniffing program access to all of the files on my hard drive. If the software found any non-Netflix video files, it would revoke my rights to the content and invalidate the DRM. This means that I would lose all the movies that I’ve purchased eg from Amazon’s Unbox.

Netflix’s software allows them to look at the video card, cables and the monitor that you are using and when they checked mine out, it was apparently a little too high def to pass their DRM filters.

Because my computer allows me to send an unrestricted HDTV feed to my monitor, Hollywood has decided to revoke my ability to stream 480 resolution video files from Netflix. In order to fix my problem, Netflix recommended that I downgrade to a lower res VGA setup.

As part of their agreement with Hollywood, Netflix uses a program called COPP (Certified Output Protection Protocal). COPP is made by Microsoft and the protocol restricts how you are able to transfer digital files off of your PC.

The irony in all of this, is that the DRM that Hollywood is so much in love with, is really only harming their paying customers. When you do a DRM reset, it’s not your pirated files that get revoked, it’s the ones that you already paid for that are at risk. I’m not allowed to watch low res Netflix files, even though I have the capability to download high def torrents? How does this even make sense? It’s as if the studios want their digital strategies to fail.

 

6th January   

Googling for Privacy...

Sorry, your search did not match any Google concepts
Link Here

Google Reader logo There was plenty of hysteria this week about the fact that Google Reader (RSS/News reader) shares private data and has ruined Christmases...

The basic problem is that Google unilaterally changed the system so that links you thought you were sharing with your spouse or a few close friends were actually shared with anyone you'd ever chatted with via Gtalk, or possibly all your Gmail contacts.

Google has tried to defuse the resulting hostility. This culminated in a Boxing Day blog post that admits: We'd hoped that making it easier to share with the people you chat with often would be useful and interesting, but we underestimated the number of users who were using the Share button to send stories to a limited number of people.

It's an amazingly arrogant response. Google should have just reverted to the old system and provided an opt-in for people who preferred the new way to do things. That would have silenced the angry mob while giving it time to produce an acceptable system.

This highlights a problem that is almost always ignored by the people flogging online services: that you are making yourself completely dependent on them. They can change the service however they like, without asking you first. In reality, you probably don't even have copies of your own data, and can lose access to it at any time.

The larger problem for Google is that Google Reader has now highlighted its attitude to privacy. Privacy International rates Google the worst of the major Web properties, giving it a black rating for Comprehensive consumer surveillance & entrenched hostility to privacy.

 

1st January   

ISPs to Police File Sharing...

Government pirating French ideas
Link Here

Lime Wire logo Internet users who download copied films or television series could soon see their service suspended as huge political pressure grows on broadband service providers to stop illegal downloads.

The Government has given notice of its concern at the “huge cumulative effect” of illegal downloads and called on internet service providers (ISPs) to examine ways to reverse the trend.

MPs are also calling for the use of camcorders in cinemas to be made a criminal rather than a civil offence, as nine out of ten pirate films first appear in the market as a camcorded copy.

ISPs are to be brought to negotiations in the new year over plans by film companies to suspend the service of those who break the law.

Until now, broadband companies have been deeply reluctant to step in, arguing that it is impractical to monitor the activities of users and would infringe privacy.

ISPs are no more able to inspect and filter every single packet passing across their network than the Post Office is able to open every envelope, insists ISPA, the industry association. However, this argument has been undermined by developments in France, where an industry initiative backed by President Sarkozy could result in internet subscribers who download music, films and other content without paying for them being banned from having access to the web.

Denis Olivennes, the chairman of Fnac, the DVD retailer, who conducted a review for the French Government, called for a “three-strikes-and-you’re-out” policy for individuals found guilty of internet piracy. He argued that ISPs are culpable because they encourage subscribers to take advantage of the amount of free material on the web.

Some broadband companies have indicated that they are willing to enter negotiations. A spokesman for Virgin Media said: As a responsible ISP, Virgin Media would always openly negotiate with any interested party or governing body such as Ofcom.

A spokesman for BT said: Copyright infringement is a civil not a criminal offence and the infringed party should seek compensation. This is a matter for the rights holders and not for the ISPs.