You might not be familiar with paragraph 101 of German copyright law, but if the latest happenings turn into a trend, expect to hear more and more about it. Paragraph 101 grants content owners the legal right to seek a court order to force ISPs to divulge personal information based on IP addresses, and so far, at least one record label has allegedly done just that.
According to German news outlet Gulli, a Rapidshare user found his home raided by local law enforcement after it was discovered he had uploaded a copy of Metallica's new album "Death Magnetic" to his account. The illegal upload occurred a day before the album's worldwide release, prompting the band's record label to request the user's IP address from Rapidshare, which it willingly gave up, and then had Deutsche Telekom divulge who was behind the IP.
Given the success and ease with which personally identifiable information was obtained, some are voicing concerns that record labels might next target BitTorrent and other P2P networks armed with paragraph 101.
Google had to go down on its knees, reach out for its checkbook and write a $125 million check to settle its legal disputes with authors and publishers, who had been opposing its Google Book Search service. The settlement has yet to receive court approval and that will not happen until October 7, 2009 – the date for the final hearing. But Google can be rest assured that there is going to be no dearth of hurdles during the intervening period.
Hot on the heels of the Pirate Bay trial, which just recently ended (not without considerable controversy), another trial is just now getting started. This one, however, involves RealNetworks and its RealDVD ripping program, a $30 piece of software that has drawn the ire of the Movie Picture Association of America (MPAA).
At the heart of the issue is RealDVD's ability to make digital copies of DVDs to a user's hard drive while still retaining the DVD-copy protection. The process even adds a further layer of DRM to the files it rips, so as far as RealNetworks is concerned, the program doesn't run afoulof the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
Naturally, the MPAA vehemently disagrees, even going so far as to say the software should be called StealDVD instead of RealDVD. Even more troubling for the MPAA is the RealNetworks' plan to develop DVD-saving software for manufacturers of DVD players. Facet, as it's being called, would allow Toshiba, Sony, and other companies to sell players capable of copying DVDs and save them internally. A prototype capable of storing about 70 movies has already been made, and it's expected that similar devices would sell for around $300 or less.
"The movie industry wants people to buy DVDs an so do we," said Bill Way, VP and general counsel of RealNetworks. "They have a real problem with piracy, and we are not that problem. I don't think our product will make the problem one iota bigger. I think it gives people an opportunity to make digital copies of their movies in a legal way."
Right or wrong, it will now be up to the courts to decide.
The well publicized Pirate Bay trial ended last week with the torrent tracking site's four founders being found guilty of copyright offenses and sentenced to one year in prison each, along with $3.6 million in fines. Coming as no surprise to anyone, a retrial is being sought, but what is surprising is that the judge who was in charge of the case -- Thomas Norström -- is reportedly a member of the same copyright protection organizations as some of the main entertainment industry representatives.
"I will point that out in my apeal, then the Court of Appeal (Hovrätten) will decide if the district court decision should be set aside and the case revisted," said Peter Althin, the lawyer who represents Pirate Bay spokesperson Peter Sunde.
Norström isn't denying the reports that he's involved in copyright organizations, but says this did not sway his decision one way or the other in the trial. He added, "My view has been that these activities do not constitute a conflict of interest."
Did the Pirate Bay defendants receive a fair trial? Hit the jump and post your thoughts.
We're not sure if this is just an excuse to dress up as pirates and wave the Jolly Roger in a public setting (and admit it, you've wanted to do this since the first time you rode Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean ride as a child), but a band of Swedish 'pirates' marched in protest of the Stockholm district court scalawags who issued a guilty verdict in the Pirate Bay trial. Pirate Bay's founders -- Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, Peter Sunde, Fredrik Neij and Carl Lundstrom -- were each sentenced to walk the plank one year in jail and ordered to be pay 30 million kronor ($3.6 million) in damages to several major media companies following the ruling on Friday.
Hundreds of protesters took to the streets led by Sweden's Pirate Party, a political organization which supports free file sharing for noncommercial use, many of which could be seen wearing bandannas and other pirate-attire. The party said it's membership shot up 20 percent to about 20,000 after the verdict was announced.
"The establishment and the politicians have delcared war against our whole generation," said Rickard Falkvinge, party Chairman and founder.
While unconfirmed, we hear that several court officials, fearful the protest might turn physical, made a clean getaway after someone distracted the crowd by shouting out, "Look behind you, a three-headed monkey!"
There's no love lost between Nvidia and Intel, the two of which took years to come to an agreement to allow SLI technology on Intel chipsets and who now are feuding over whether or not Nvidia has the right to sell motherboard chipsets for next generation Nehalem CPUs. If you somehow missed all the recent verbal mayham, see here, here, and here.
Neither company has offered much restraint when it comes to taking shots at the other, and while Nvidia president and CEO Jen-Hsun Huang has been particularly candid, Nvidia is now looking to make its statement in court. The GPU maker on Thursday filed a countersuit in the Court of Chancery in the State of Delaware against Intel alleging breach of contract.
"Nvidia did not initiate this legal dispute," Huang said. "But we must defend ourselves and the right we negotiated for when we provided Intel access to our valuable patents. Intel's actions are intended to to block us from making use of the very license rights that they agreed to provide."
Nvidia's Drew Henry, general manger of MCP business, elaborated on the situation by saying Intel's actions could lead to customers eventually switching entirely to Intel-based product lineups. According to Henry, the dispute is making it hard to sell its products to motherboard and notebook makers while doubt remains over Nvidia's long-term roadmap.
We have been keeping our eyes on a disturbing new trend within the movie and music industry over how to deal with online copyright disputes, and the news continues to worry privacy advocates. The idea of booting people off the internet without any recourse sounded harsh when we first read about it, but when it was an ocean away in Australia it didn’t raise as many eyebrows. The approach defiantly received more mainstream attention however when the RIAA began proposing similar actions in the US, and now the world is watching to see what the French do with a new proposed law called “Création et Internet”.
If passed into law, the legislation would deal very harshly with any form of file sharing, be it video or audio. Alleged offenders will first receive an e-mailed warning, followed by a registered letter, and lastly with a 3-12 month suspension of internet service. The law will also prevent users from switching ISP’s to avoid punishment, and even public hotspots will contain filters. Additionally, home users will be required to lock down home networks, and will be legally responsible for its security.
In return the French will start receiving DVD’s in a more timely fashion, and music DRM will be drastically scaled back. John Kennedy, CEO of the Global Music Trade Group trumpeted this arrangement as a fair trade off, while Jérémie Zimmermann, co-founder of a France based open internet alliance was less than impressed. “This is emblematic of how a government legislates with the same ignorance and archaism as the entertainment industries that promote the 'graduated response.' They are, like this law, doomed to fail."
Experts on both sides feel this bill has a good chance of passing into law, and if that happens, it’s only a matter of time before it starts to spread again.
Japan-based electronics firm Hitachi Displays Ltd. has plead guilty to price fixing charges on the sale of LCD panels and has agreed to pay $31 million as part of its deal with the U.S. Justice Department.
"The case should send a strong message to multinational companies operating in the United States that when it comes to enforcing the U.S. antitrust laws we mean business," Acting Assistant Attorney General Scot Hammond said in a statement.
Hitachi, who admitted to fixing prices on screens sold to Dell for use in desktop monitors and notebook displays from 2001 to 2004, isn't the only display maker to be accused of price fixing. LG, Sharp, and Chungwha Picture Tubes all struck similar plea agreements last year, with LG having agreed to pay a $400 million fine for panels sold between 2001 and 2006. All tallied, the U.S. government will have garnered over $600 million in criminal fines from LCD price fixing.
People around the world have been monitoring the Pirate Bay trial with an acute fascination. Bit Torrent has defiantly emerged as the dominate peer-to-peer file sharing method, and its packet based infrastructure has made it very difficult for copyright holders to police. The Pirate Bay represents but one of many Torrent trackers on the net, however a guilty verdict could throw the entire Torrent community to the wolves and ultimately lead to the downfall of its current state. In addition to this, the founders face upwards of two years in prison, as well as a $140,000 USD fine each.
In the final day of the trial, founder Fredrik Neij and his lawyer Jonas Nilsson argued that the underlying technology behind The Pirate Bay is completely legal, and that founders had no intention of violating copyrights. Nilsson also argues that it the prosecution has not proven that the bulk of the material on The Pirate Bay is even copyrighted. “Every site in the world could link to copyright material” Nilsson argues, “this is not a Pirate Bay problem, this is a worldwide internet problem”. In fact, according to evidence presented by Peter Sunde of the Pirate Bay, 80 per cent of the indexed material is in fact non-copyrighted.
The entire Pirate Bay defense rests on the idea that contributors to the site (not the administrators) are responsible for the content, and thus they cannot be held accountable. Additionally, the lawyers argue that the prosecution has failed to show evidence of any proven link between material being downloaded via the internet, and lost sales. The court is now deliberating over the evidence, and a verdict is expected on April 17th.
Do you think the Pirate Bay will survive this one? And if not, what will happen to Bit Torrent?
What is it lately with AT&T and inflated WiFi charges? Last week the ISP handed a Chicago Bears fan a $28,000 internet bill after his laptop's wireless card picked up an errant signal while he watched a football game on his notebook, and now the company has billed an Oklahoma woman $5,077 for data charges on her DataConnect plan.
Oklahoma resident Billie Parks is suing both AT&T and RadioShack, alleging the two companies co-conspired to offer a netbook and data bundle intentionally designed to mislead customers into racking up thousands of dollars per month in service charges. Parks purchased her netbook from RadioShack in December of 2008 for just $100, a price which required a two-year commitment with AT&T's DataConnect plan. On the $60/month plan, customers can get online no matter where they're at.
However, Parks maintains that she was never told that Internet data usage over 5GB would result in "astronomical additional charges running into the thousands of dollars." According to Parks, the Customer Service Summary says only that additional charges apply, but makes no mention of what those charges are.
"We're reviewing the suit and don’t have a comment on it at this time," AT&T spokesperson Seth Bloom told ArsTechnica. "But I can tell you that we go to considerable lengths to inform customers of the limits involved in these plans. We display the plan usage limits and overage rates on our collateral, terms and conditions, and on att.com, And customers can check their usage using myWireless Account or by using the usage monitoring capability on the AT&T Communications Manager application."
Does Parks have a fighting chance with her lawsuit? Hit the jump and sound off.