The Swedish courts are doing everything it can to decimate The Pirate Bay -- at least in its current form -- from the Internet, and that includes ordering the torrent tracking site's ISP to disconnect TPB from the Internet. The penalty for failing to comply would have been 500,000 kroner, or $70,600, so the ISP did what was ordered saying it had no choice but to uphold the law.
Game, set, match for the Swedish courts then, right? Not so fast. Rather than jump ship and throw in the towel, The Pirate Bay just jumped servers instead. And true to TPB's form, it had a defiant message for Swedish authorites.
"Even though large parts of the Internets and many old and famous trackers have fallen or may fall into the grip of the lfpi and all the odious apparatus of MPAA rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end," TPB said in a statement.
In related news, Global Gaming Factor will vote this Thursday whether or not to proceed with plans to purchase the controversial site and proceed to turn it legit.
Jammie Thomas is running out of options. Found guilty in 2007 of copyright infringement and ordered to pay $220,000 for willfully making available 24 songs via peer-to-peer, she now owes a whopping $1.92 million following a retrial earlier this year. Surely the Department of Justice would step in and find the nearly $2 million fine unconstitutional, right?
Wrong. According to ArsTechnica, the huge of amount of damages (Thomas ended up owing $80,000 per song) were not intended just to apply to big corporations, but also to "deter the millions of users of new media from infringing copyrights." The only time the DOJ would have a problem with a fine is if it become "so severe and oppressive as to be wholly disproportional to the offense and obviously unreasonable," something for which a $1.92 million fine for sharing 24 songs doesn't qualify.
"We are pleased the Administration has filed a brief supporting our position," an RIAA spokesperson told ArsTechnica. "Its views are consistent with the views of every previous Administration that has weighed in on this issue."
RealNetworks continue to fight the good fight for consumers who wish to make legally backed up copies of their DVD collection, but the Seattle-based company has a tough road ahead of it.
The first bump in that road comes from U.S. District Court Judge Marilyn Hall Patel who on Tuesday ruled in favor of the movie studios and granted their request for a preliminary injunction preventing RealNetworks from selling its RealDVD software. The injunction also bars the licensing of RealDVD to set-top box makers.
"We are very pleased with the court's decision," Dan Glickman, chief executive of the MPAA, said in a statement. "This is a victory for the creators and producers of motion pictures and television shows and for the rule of law in our digital economy. Judge Patel's ruling affirms what we have known all along: RealNetworks took a license to build a DVD-player and instead made an illegal DVD-copier."
Not unexpected, the setback doesn't mean the fight is over. RealNetworks has a suit pending against the movie studios accusing them of antitrust practices.
We've been outspoken as anyone when it comes to draconian DRM measures, but we never thought we'd see the day when the RIAA declares DRM is dead. And now that it has, we're a little bit worried - could this be a sign of the apocalypse?
Consider that just two years ago, RIAA chairman and CEO Mitch Bainwol said "DRM serves all sorts of pro-consumer purposes." Consumers, of course, held a decidedly different opinion and the growing demand for DRM-free music has led to numerous music services and labels offering music without digital restrictions. Nevertheless, the RIAA predicted a comeback for DRM last year, but is now singing a different tune.
"DRM is dead, isn't it?," said Jonathan Lamy, chief spokesperson for the RIAA, when asked about the RIAA's view on DRM for an upcoming SCMagazine article.
Lamy's comment was in reference to the DRM-less iTunes store and other online services offering unrestricted music. And while the rest of us have known this for awhile, this is the first time that the RIAA has said on record that DRM is dead. Let's hope it stays that way.
It's been a roller-coaster of a legal ride for Jammie Thomas, who was found guilty of copyright infringement for sharing 24 songs through KaZaA, a P2P file sharing application. After the dust settled, Thomas was ordered to pay $1.92 million in damages, an amount levied against her in a retrial of the case and much higher than the original $220,000 verdict she received in the original case.
In a motion filed today with the Minnesota federal court, Thomas called the verdict "excessive, shocking, and monstrous." As such, Thomas wants the federal judge overseeing her lawsuit to either toss out the exorbitant damage award, reduce it, or issue her a retrial.
"For 24 songs, available for $1.29 on iTunes, the jury assessed statutory damages of $80,000 per song -- a ratio of 1:62,015," the motion states. "For 24 albums, available for no more than $15 at the store, the jury assessed statutory damages of $80,000 per album, a ratio of 1:5,333. For a single mother's noncommercial use of KaZaA, and upon neither finding nor evidence of actual injury to the plaintiffs, the judgment fines Jammie Thomas $1.92 million. Such a judgment is grossly excessive and, therefore, subject to remittitur as a matter of federal common law."
The record labels also filed a motion today, one which asks the judge to issue a permanent injunction against future copyright infringement. Because, you know, a $1.92 million fine apparently isn't enough of a deterrent.
Should Thomas be issued a retrial or have her fines reduced? Hit the jump and sound off.
For years, Congressman Rick Boucher of Virginia wandered the desolate wilderness reserved for lawmakers who speak sensibly about copyright and the Internet. Well, given that criteria, the desolate wilderness was reserved for Rick Boucher. He’s been in Congress since 1983 and self-identifies as a techno-geek. Boucher is a different kind of politician—ours—loyal to a technology community few other representatives know exists. He has worked to legalize crypto export, expand rural broadband, support net neutrality, and has pushed back on copyright maximalism.
Boucher went so far as to say, “The recent extension of the copyright term by the Congress was wholly unjustified,” in a Slashdot interview in 2001. That’s right—Slashdot interview. Even Cory Doctorow described him as “the closest thing to a copyfighter in Congress.” (Boucher did vote for telecom immunity, confirming that no one is perfect.)
For the second time, a jury on Thursday found Jammie Thomas liable for willful copyright infringement, this time ordering her to pay fines totaling an eye-popping $1.92 million to the RIAA. The surprise decision breaks down to $80,000 for each of the 24 songs Thomas was found guilty of illegally sharing. According to ArsTechnica, Thomas let out a gasp as the fine was read.
"Good luck trying to get it from me," Thomas said when speaking about the verdict. "It's like squeezing blood from a turnip."
For those who haven't been following, Thomas in 2007 was initially accused of illegally sharing 1,700 songs, but the RIAA dropped that number down to 24. In October of the same year, a jury found her guilty and imposed a $222,000 verdict against her. The decision was later thrown out when U.S. District Judge Michael Davis said he erred when giving his jury instructions that simply making songs available amounted to copyright infringement.
The RIAA, big winners in the retrial, told reporters that they have always been, and still are, willing to settle the case. Thomas' lawyer acknowledged the settlement offer, but said he plans to file numerous motions if Thomas chooses to continue the fight.
Underscoring just how out of touch the Motion Picture Association of America is with its consumer base, the MPAA has spoken out regarding a buyer's (lack of) rights in making a single backup copy of a DVD. The comment came in response to a question raised bu U.S. District Judge Marilyn Patel, who during the RealDVD case, asked the MPAA if whether or not it believes it's legal for consumers to make backup copies of legally purchased DVDs for personal use.
"Not for the purposes under the DMCA," said Bart Williams, an attorney for the MPAA. "One copy is a violation of the DMCA."
And technically, he's right, at least in terms of circumventing copyright mechanisms to make said copy. But what's startling about the comment is that the MPAA has traditionally hid behind the threat of mass software piracy and the resulting lost sales in supporting the DMCA, but apparently you're no better than pirates for profit if you make a single backup copy of a DVD you already paid for.
"We believe the buyer has that right to play a DVD as many times as they want," Don Scott, one of RealDVD's attorneys, told Patel. "We think he also has the right to make a copy, this fair use copy."
The general consensus among consumers is that DRM sucks, and the often draconian measures used to prevent copyright infringement do very little, if anything, to prevent software piracy. The argument is that DRM only shackles the honest consumer, while pirates figure ways around the copyright schemes regardless. But could DRM also be giving otherwise law-abiding citizens cause to cross the legal line?
That's exactly what DRM is doing, according to the first empirical study of its kind in the UK. In a new paper titled, "Technological accommodation of conflicts between freedom of expression and DRM: the first empirical assessment." Cambridge law professor Patricia Akester says she spent the last several years interviewing lecturers, end users, government officials, rights holders, and DRM developers to see what affect DRM was actually having.
In one example, Akester cited a situation in which a blind person who bought a legal electronic copy of the Bible from Amazon could not utilize text-to-speech. Amazon's policy is not to refund eBooks once they've been downloaded, and the publisher proved little help. Seemingly out of options, Lynn Holdsworth, the individual in question, ended up tracking down an illegal copy without the text-to-speech limitation. Not exactly what one envisions as the typical pirate.
You can read Akester's lengthy paper here, or view the shorter version here.
Brian Toder, former defense lawyer for Jammie Thomas, dropped a bombshell earlier this week when he asked to be removed from the case. He did so saying he was owed nearly $130,000 "that will never be recovered, coupled with the likelihood that a similar, additional amount will be incurred if ordered to continue representation of defendant."
Stepping in to take Toder's place is a trio of former Harvard University classmates who feel confident they can take on, and defeat, the RIAA.
"We are going a for a jury verdict of zero," said Kiwi Camara, one the three Texas lawyers who replaced Brian Toder on Wednesday. "We are going to convince a jury that the RIAA should not bring these cases."
Doing so will be anything but easy. With a retrial scheduled to begin in just three weeks on June 15, the trio said they will not seek a delay, and instead plan to attack the RIAA's litigation strategy, Wired reports.
"We think the jury is going to reject this strategy," Camara said. "The RIAA strategy here is not to try any of these cases."
Brian Toder wished Thomas well in her ongoing fight.