Following in the footsteps of the RIAA, which has aggressively targeted college campuses with legal threats and, in some cases, lawsuits as well, school is now in session for the MPAA too, TorrentFreak reports.
Up to this point it has been the burden of individual movie studios to send out infringement notices, but now the MPAA is stepping in and, according to TorrentFreak, "will notify all college and university presidents about this upcoming policy change, and at the same time the movie industry outfit will urge institutions to do whatever they can to stop illegal downloading on their campus networks."
Helping the MPAA to boldly go where it was reluctant to go before, this past July the U.S. made it a requirement for colleges and universities to actively stop illegal file sharing or risk losing federal funding. In the letter being sent out to university heads, the MPAA makes sure to remind them of this, while also making an emotional appeal.
"More than 2.4 million workers in all 50 states depend on the entertainment industry for their jobs," the letter states. "Online theft is a job-killer that also reduces the number of opportunities for graduates of your institution to make a living in the creative sectors."
It was just recently that the US Justice Department stepped in and shut down over 80 domains suspected in the distribution of counterfeit goods, or copyrighted content. Now the US intellectual property czar Victoria Espinel is saying we can "expect more of that". This announcement predictably won the praise of the entertainment industry, and will likely reignite debate on the COICA bill in congress that would expand federal authority to seize domains.
This effort is being framed as an effort to protect consumers and jobs, but we feel that more accurately describes the sites trafficking in counterfeit goods. Sites suspected of copyright infringement tend to be harder to pin down. For instance, one site taken down in the last round was only an indexer of existing torrent sites. It did not host any torrents, content, or run a tracker.
It's hard to see where the line is on the tubes these days. The administration is also talking up efforts to take down online pharmacies that are selling illegally copied drugs. We just find it odd that pirated content is being limped in here. How do you feel about these domain name seizures?
The AP is reporting today that Viacom has officially filed for appeal in the YouTube copyright infringement case. You may remember that as the long running case that finally came to an end a few months back. The verdict affirmed YouTube's protection under "safe harbor" provisions. This means YouTube cannot be held liable for copyrighted content that is uploaded by users, provided they make a good faith effort to remove it. Viacom is seeking over $1 billion in damages.
Viacom has retained well-known attorney Theodore Olson to continue the legal battle. Olson has called the last ruling "a very bad decision". Speaking about bad decisions, the original case seemed to turn against Viacom when it was revealed that Viacom employees were instructed to surreptitiously upload copyrighted content to YouTube in the early days. Some of those Viacom clips are alleged to be included in the lawsuit.
Viacom seems determined to spare no expense in its quest to fundamentally break the internet. Do you think they will succeed?
The US government today has seized 77 domains for various types of copyright infringement, TorrentFreak reports. Many of the site were selling blatant knock-offs of popular clothing lines. So no one operating those sites can really feign ignorance of the situation. One site on the list, however, is a little more confusing. Torrent-Finder was taken down in the action, having its content replaced with the same takedown notice as all the other sites.
It's fairly simple these days for enforcement agencies to call a torrent site infringing. It's been done many times. But in this case, Torrent-Finder does not host a tracker or any torrent files. It's only function is search. All the search results from existing torrent sites are displayed in an iframe. This may be a subtle distinction lost on those not familiar with the technology. But in practice this is a huge difference from sites like The Pirate Bay. it brings up some interesting questions. For example, is just linking to a torrent site considered infringing behavior?
“My domain has been seized without any previous complaint or notice from any court!” the owner of Torrent-Finder told TorrentFreak. His site has been resurrected on another domain, but it is unclear if it will stay up. This may just be a hint at the kind of actions we can expect if COICA is passed next year.
According to IDG, The European Parliament has approved the controversial ACTA copyright treaty. The EU Parliament voted 331-294, with 11 abstaining to accept the current language. There were concerns that the treaty would run afoul of EU data privacy laws. This action will allow the European Commission to accept the deal at a meeting in Sydney next week.
The treaty was negotiated in a series of closed-door meetings over the last few years. That situation is the likely cause for such a large no vote in the Parliament. The secrecy was allegedly imposed by the US negotiators because of the onerous requirements for three-strikes laws. Three-strikes laws would require users accused of copyright infringement three times to be barred from the Internet. The original draft of the legislation when it was leaked said countries would be required to institute these laws. The current language only encourages it.
Many groups are opposed to the treaty, which seems to be on the path to international acceptance. They cite China's lack of participation as an impediment to the treaty actually reducing counterfeiting. The likely target it seems, is copyright infringement. The US State Department made the text public on November 15. How does ACTA sit with you?
The Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act, or COICA, was recently passed through committee, and is set to move on to the full Senate. The bill would make it easier for the Justice Department to take domestic websites suspected of copyright infringement offline. It would also empower them to force ISPs to redirect traffic away from foreign infringing sites. But PC World is reporting that Senator Ron Wyden (D) from Oregon has promised to block the measure.
Wyden believes the bill is overreaching and could affect innovation on the internet. He does have the option to block it for now, which likely means the bill is dead in this session of Congress. The bill would have to be reintroduced next year. Opponents and supporters of the bill are both staunch in their positions. Supporters say drastic steps are necessary to combat rampant copyright infringement online. But the detractors believe these tools would be wielded clumsily, and would have the effect of censorship.
The bill was a bipartisan effort, but with the new atmosphere in Washington, it is unclear if the two sides will be able to bring the bill back next session. Do you think COICA is a good idea?
Now that you are up to speed, let us get back to Google’s response, which is not contrary to what someone of reasonable mental soundness would expect from a company being sued for patent infringement. The internet giant, which had earlier dismissed the suit as “baseless,” has denied pretty much all allegations – of course, except for the harmless ones like the fact that it is a corporation – while citing 20 defenses.
“Google does not infringe any valid and enforceable claim of the Patents-in-Suit, either directly or indirectly, and does not infringe any valid copyright rights of Oracle, either directly or indirectly,” Google wrote in its response.
"Any use in the Android Platform of any protected elements of the works that are the subject of the Asserted Copyrights was made by third parties without the knowledge of Google, and Google is not liable for such use."
The case will go to trial next October if the two parties fail to reach a settlement in the intervening period.
It appears all that good natured DDoS-ing allegedly perpetrated by 4chan forum members has attracted the attention of the FBI. In the last few months, the group known as Anonymous has engaged in attacks on sites for the RIAA, Gene Simmons, the BPI, and other anti-piracy groups. The case may have been kicked into high gear when Anonymous attacked the US Copyright Office site last week.
A DDoS attack is a dead simple proposition. A particular web site is hit with huge amounts of traffic at a predetermined time. This almost always makes the site unreachable by overwhelming the servers. Participating in a DDoS attack could result in felony changes and large fines. In fact, a 23 year old from Ohio was just sentenced to 30 months in prison for (among other things) launching DDoS attacks.
Anonymous has always contended they are fighting for the free flow of information. The group considers the heavy-handed copyright laws to be a form of censorship. Those on the other side of the fence say they are simply trying to rationalize stealing content over p2p networks. Should members of Anonymous be prosecuted?
As a little background, KISS front man Gene Simmons has been making some waves lately with some statements regarding people that infringe his copyrights. It's the sort of fire and brimstone rhetoric we're used to hearing from RIAA executives, but with harsher language. "…Every freshly-scrubbed little kid's face should have been sued off the face of the earth. They should have taken their houses and cars and nipped it right there in the beginning," Simmons has said. Well, now it looks like many of the videos on the KISS site have been removed because of a copyright complaint from S'More Entertainment.
S'More Entertainment does seem to be a real company that holds the rights to music videos and movies. Still, there's no guarantee this isn't an elaborate scheme from Anonymous, which has previously launched DDoS attacks against Simmons. On the KISS site, which simply embeds YouTube clips, visitors are granted with a notice of removal due to a copyright claim. Some are even indicating that the account they are linked to has been terminated. What many of you are feeling right now, the Germans call schadenfreude.
The root of the problem here seems to be that KISS is embedding content from many accounts on YouTube. Turns out they don't own all that video, and people are starting to take notice. So YouTube has safe harbor here, but what about KISS?
If you're a user of iOS devices like the iPhone or iPad, you might want to snap up VLC for your chosen device before it's gone forever. Rémi Denis-Courmont, one of the principal developers of VLC, explained that VideoLAN (the foundation that supports VLC) is not pleased with how the app is distributed. They have filed a notice of copyright infringement with Apple that may force the removal of the app.
As it turns out, VLC for iOS is developed by a 3rd party developer called Applidium. Apple's iTunes terms allow VLC to only be installed on 5 devices. This is a form of DRM, and as you may know, VLC is open source and distributed under the GPL. That means Apple's DRM scheme is unacceptable to the VideoLAN foundation.
Apple has, in the past, simply removed apps that fall into a similar category. It's spectacularly unlikely that they'd modify their terms for this one app, even if it is so high profile. Denis-Courmont contends that open source software would not be where it is today if not for licenses like GPL, and perhaps users should be looking for apps on more open platforms.