Uber popular file-hosting service RapidShare has won a court victory against Perfect 10, a California-based adult media company specializing in, um, NSFW content. In the lawsuit, Perfect 10 accused RapidShare of infringing the copyrights of a bunch of its images and requested an injunction, but the request was rejected by the U.S. District Court of California, which ruled that RapidShare can't be accused of copyright infringements.
"The view that RapidShare does not promote any infringements of copyright, unlike other file-hosts, appears to be gradually catching on," Christian Schmid, founder of RapidShare said. "It is a milestone for us that this is also happening in the US. We are happy that the court in California has not bought into the odd line of argument put forward by Perfect 10 and we look forward to increasingly emphasize the major difference between RapidShare and illegal share-hosts."
RapidShare has been on a legal roll as of late. Earlier this month, a German Court of Appeal overturned a verdict in a case against movie rental company Capelight Pictures, with the verdict stating that RapidShare isn't liable for copyright infringement acts committed by its users, TorrentFreak reports.
Popular (and always controversial) torrent sharing site The Pirate Bay has been booted offline again after movie studios were able to secure a preliminary injunction against the site's host, CB3ROB, TorrentFreak reports.
"The injunction, which was granted without an oral hearing, stated that CB3ROB and Managing Director Sven Olaf Kamphuis were now prohibited from connecting The Pirate Bay website and its servers to the Internet," TorrentFreak writes.
Citing a Pirate Bay insider, TorrentFreak says the site has no intention of waiting for a decision from the Cyberbunker team and have already started the backup process that will eventually bring the site back online. Since The Pirate Bay's servers are intact, all they would need to do is direct the IP-tunnel through another provider. Once that's finished, it could be a few hours before all ISPs see the change.
In April 2009, Congress put the Government of Accountability Office (GAO) in charge of reviewing and analyzing just how bad piracy and illegal counterfeiting affects the United States. So what did the GAO find out? Not a whole lot, apparently.
"Three widely cited U.S. government estimates of economic losses resulting from counterfeiting cannot be substantiated due to the absence of underlying studies," the GAO said in a 32-page report issue this week. "Each method [of measuring] has limitations, and most experts observed that it is difficult, if not impossible, to quantify the economy-wide impacts."
Hollywood can't be pleased with the report, which was undoubtedly hoping for the GAC to paint a gloom and doom picture. That didn't quite happen, and in some cases, the GAC noted that some data even suggests that piracy may benefit consumers.
For the most part, however, the GAC did find that piracy is a big problem and harmful all around. The challenge is in figuring out to what extent piracy and anti-piracy efforts are hurting the economy, and there's just not enough data for that.
"The GAO study confirms that piracy of all sorts is rampant," said a spokesman for the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA)." Getting a firm handle on the problem in terms of dollar estimates is complicated."
Rapidshare is one of the most popular file-hosting services in the world. It is not in an entirely enviable position, though, as the affection it commands among its patrons is offset by the contempt it receives from content owners affected by the abundance of unauthorized content on its servers. The courts have time and again made it clear Rapidshare has no choice but to proactively filter content. Having been pushed into a tight corner, the Germany-based file host has come up with a plan to pacify the entertainment industry.
“If a user finds out that several attempts to download an illegal copy of a DVD are in vain, and if his several attempts to ’steal’ this DVD have just brought him to an online-store, he may finally be frustrated and willing to purchase a licensed version of this movie,” Chang wrote in a letter to entertainment industry executives. “We are willing to invest substantially into this online store and I would be glad to not just talk about RapidShare as a threat for the entertainment industry, but also about RapidShare as an interesting option to sell your products.”
Rapidshare owes most of the several petabytes of data it hosts to its popularity as a safe haven for both uploaders and downloaders of unauthorized content. It is difficult to imagine its success without the free reign its users have enjoyed over the years, although it denies ever conniving at illegal file sharing. Ironically, Rapidshare has no recollection of its past business practices and even accuses competitors of “trying really hard to gain the favor of those users, who rely on cyberlockers to spread and distribute copyright protected content.”
What is wrong with the fight against piracy? Apparently, the term “piracy” is way too glamorous and not fit to convey the true perils associated with a criminal act of this kind. Agnete Haaland, the president of the International Actors' Federation, even went as far as claiming that the term “piracy” reminds people of Johnny Depp.
“We all want to be a bit like Johnny Depp. But we're talking about a criminal act. We're talking about making it impossible to make a living from what you do,” she said. Well, it must take a lot of temerity to make such a preposterous analogy at a press conference.
Her ability to draw parallels may be dismal but the gist of her argument is not all that absurd. In fact, it is a view that others share. There is a widely-held belief among content owners that the popular image of piracy is not as grim it should be. Although there have been calls for tougher laws before, Haaland's suggestion is a first.
RealNetworks tried to fight the good fight against the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), but in the end, someone had to lose, and that someone is RealNetworks.
A U.S. District Judge has issued a permanent injunction barring RealNetworks from selling RealDVD, the company's controversial DVD copying software. In addition, the two sides reached a settlement offer that will also have RealNetworks forking over $4.5 million to the movie studios to pay for legal fees.
"We are gratified by the successful conclusion of this important matter," said Daniel Mandil, the MPAA's general counsel. "Judge Patel's rulings and this settlement affirm waht we have said from the very start of this litigation: it is illegal to bypass the copyright protections built into DVDs designed to protect movies against theft."
Pursuing the case further likely would have cost the company in excess of $10 million, no doubt a deciding factor in conceding defeat and agreeing to the settlement, no matter how much we might not like it.
"We are pleased to put this litigation behind us," said Bob Kimball, president and acting CEO for Real. "This is another step toward fulfilling our commitment to simplify our company and focus on our core businesses. Until this dispute, Real had always enjoyed a productive working relationship with Hollywood. With this litigation resolved, I hope that in the future we can find mutually beneficial ways to use Real technology to bring Hollywood's great work to consumers."
Hit the jump and post your reaction to the conclusion of this case.
The software world has gotten this point pretty well by now. Sure, you can wrap additional elements of a larger business plan around an open-source offering. But even at its core, the concept of open-source isn't really designed around capitalistic ideals. If anything, it's more communistic in its focus: everybody shares an equal stake in a project, and anybody is free to assert their individual ownership in a piece of work by advancing it toward a new direction as they see fit.
But these... these are just the tools of the revolution, as Marx might have said. When it comes to actual content itself--the very bits and bytes of progress that open-source tools help create--the current crop of major content creators and distributors are behaving like dictators in an open world. And it's costing both them and us rather greatly. Instead of reaping the success of a community-driven groundswell for their assets, these companies would rather lay down the hammer and stifle all innovation in an attempt to control their futures to a "T."
Two recent examples from Lawrence Lessig and the band OK Go really hit home the biggest elements that are wrong with our current system of open information distribution on the ‘net. If it's not the owner of the content acting like an idiot, it's the system we've allowed to propagate that virtually criminalizes content sharers without a second thought.
I’m going to say something I don’t get to say enough: Copyright can be great. It can provide a living wage, spread knowledge, and even sometimes enhance art. It gives us Open Source, viral art, and countless creative works that would have died in the desk job. Many of the worst uses of copyright are actually misuses, deceptions, and hustles. They often trade on how confusing copyright is, giving too much power to legally worded nonsense meant to squeeze money or restrict use that’s all bark and no legal standing.
There are so many bogus claims out there, high and low. Even the notice on the White House’s Flickr stream says pictures are posted “only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s).... The photograph may not be manipulated in any way....” It’s nice they tell you why they posted it, but they’re not telling you what you’re allowed to do with it. The license link on the same page explains that all intellectual work of the U.S. government is “not subject to copyright in the United States and there are no U.S. copyright restrictions on reproduction, derivative works, distribution, performance, or display of the work.” You’re allowed to put horns on Obama’s picture and march down the street with your derivative work claiming he turns into a lizard at night and eats janitorial staff. You’d only be violating the laws of common sense.
The FCC has formally issued their draft net neutrality rules, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is calling foul. The document contains language covering so-called “reasonable network management”. According to the EFF, this creates a loophole that would allow ISPs to block BitTorrent.
The net neutrality debate really took off when in 2007, Comcast began blocking BitTorrent connections. Eventually the FCC forced them to stop, but Comcast is still appealing the decision. This copyright loophole in the draft could be used by content producers to encourage ISPs to enforce copyright law. In fact, the EFF claims the exact behavior that got Comcast in hot water, and kicked off the debate could be perfectly acceptable under the proposed regulations.
It may not be feasible for the FCC to be intimately involved in every aspect of an ISP’s network management. What’s the solution? Can they just require protocol agnostic management?
Jammie Thomas-Rasset must have been relived by last week's court ruling that lowered the damages awarded against her to $54,000 from a staggering $1.92 million. The 32-year-old mother of four was found guilty of illegally sharing copyrighted music through a P2P network in 2007. Relieved she might be, but a sense of triumph still evades her. Her attorneys had made it clear last week that they will not be satisfied until the fine itself is scrapped.
They appear to be in no mood to abandon or ease their stand after rejecting RIAA's offer to settle the lawsuit for $25,000 on Wednesday, the very same day as it was made. Recording Industry Association of America RIAA's out-of-court settlement offer required that Thomas-Rasset request the court to remove last week's decision from the record. The recording industry had also warned Thomas-Rasset that they would contest last week's ruling, if their settlement terms were rejected.