Law and technology can interact in funny ways. Take the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which allows for those hosting material on the Internet to avoid liability for copyright infringement if they comply with requests to take down copyrighted material quickly. It motivates companies hosting material, like YouTube or Flickr, to streamline the process. Increasingly, rights holders are automating their side too, potentially leaving two scripts talking to each other to determine the destiny of media. But plenty of requests that come through aren’t valid, or are aimed at legal content. Chillingeffects.org maintains a database of requests, sensible and not, including one from 2012 where HBO attempted to take down access to its own site.
Take down requests against pirated content continues to grow exponentially.
Hollywood has been playing whack-a-mole with pirates for as long as we can remember, but the war continues to rage on with numbers that simply defy explanation. According to Google’s transparency report, 51,395,353 links to infringing websites were removed from the indexer this year, and it is continuing to grow at an exponential rate. Last week alone Google received a mind boggling 3,502,345 take down requests. This represents a 15x increase over what they received in January.
Back in 2010, the Library of Congress issued a rulemaking statement that exempted jailbreaking, rooting, and otherwise unlocking mobile devices from DMCA anti-circumvention laws. For all intents and purposes, this made these activities completely legal, and stopped Apple from making all those threats against the jailbreak community. In 2012, that exemption is set to expire unless it is renewed, and the EFF wants to make sure that it is.
Just as tens of thousands of sites were getting ready to plunge themselves into darkness to (successfully) protest the proposed SOPA and PIPA anti-piracy legislations, music streaming service Grooveshark went dark in Germany on Wednesday. It too was protesting against something. But that’s where the similarities end. The company, a bête noire of music labels, has decided to shut down its German operations due to the “unreasonably high” licensing costs being demanded by music performance rights outfit GEMA , which claims to represent “64,000 members (composers, lyricists, and music publishers), as well as over two million copyright holders all over the world.”
Grooveshark’s employees illegally upload hundreds of thousands of copyrighted songs to the service to boost its usefulness. Universal Music produced emails from Grooveshark’s CEO in which he basically admitted that they were growing a tremendous user base “without paying a dime to any of the labels” – which doesn’t prove employees upload songs, but could throw a big dent in Grooveshark’s DMCA Safe Harbor claims. Oh yeah, as if that wasn’t bad enough, the emails apparently pissed off Sony and Warner, too, and now they’re likely gearing up to sue Grooveshark, too.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is urging the U.S. Copyright Office to renew and expand exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) that were granted last year in response to EFF's requests to protect certain modding rights. Specifically, EFF played a critical role in making it legal to "jailbreak" smartphones, and the organization wants the DMCA to grant the same freedom for electronic tablets and videogame consoles.
Grooveshark is no stranger to lawsuits having been sued countless times. But the latest lawsuit, even though it's from a familiar foe, seems to be a bit different. Universal Media group on Friday filed a fresh lawsuit against the online music streaming service, accusing it of running a massive music uploading effort internally. Hit the jump for more.
Industry trade groups like the RIAA and the MPAA have been beating on Congressional doors for years now in a fruitless attempt to restrict Internet access for rampant file-sharers. Thanks to a tangled web of possible political and legal ramifications, the government's been hesitant to drop the banhammer on everyday pirates. Sick of the foot-dragging, the content associations just went Dirty Harry. No, they didn't take the law into their own hands – they bypassed it completely by forging a deal with the largest ISPs, who will now take a "graduated response" against file-sharers at the copyright owners' command.
Imagine you got a letter that said you had to take down your blog or Facebook page, or spend thousands lawyering up. That sensation running down your spine? It has a name in the legal world. It’s called a chilling effect. A legal threat doesn’t have to go to court to be effective. Most would-be defendants don’t want the hassle and expense of going to court, and so capitulate to threats, even invalid ones.