Dropbox is quickly turning into a Silicon Valley success story of epic proportions. In January 2010, the cloud-based file syncing and sharing service had attracted 4 million fans, an impressive number for a startup that, at the time, was less than three years old. And now? Dropbox today announced that more than 25 million people are using the service to save more than 200 million files every day.
Some in the music industry may have discovered that it's pointless to beat a dead horse, or in this case, a defunct file sharing service called LimeWire. Mark Gorton, founder of the once immensely popular peer-to-peer file sharing service, settled a copyright infringement suit brought on by more than 30 publishers, including those associated with EMI, Sony, and Vivendi.
Pirate Bay founder Gottfrid Svartholm hasn't been able to show up for his appeals court hearing and potential sentencing, depending on how things turn out. This isn't the first time he's gone missing. Svartholm was a no-show at the Court of Appeal in Stockholm on September 28, 2010, and was on another continent purportedly due to medical reasons. And where is he now?
A 26-year-old man from Sweden will only have to pay a court ordered fine of 2000 kronor ($311 in U.S. currency) for sharing 44 songs over the Internet, TorrentFreak.com reports. Compared to Jammie Thomas-Rasset, who in 2010 was ordered to pay $1.5 million in copyright infringement damages for illegally sharing 24 songs (that works out to $62,500 per song), the un-named Swedish man should pay his fine and thank his legal team.
According to TorrentFreak, Google has begun actively censoring file-sharing related terms in their instant and autocomplete services. The Big G had hinted recently that "piracy related" terms would be getting the boot, but we're rather surprised they followed through. From now on, terms like torrent, rapidshare, and utorrent will not show up in autocomplete or instant results. Users will have to actually press enter (the horror!).
This isn't just of concern because you have to completely type in 'Ubuntu torrent' to find your Linux-y goodness. It is also about the fact that Google has assembled a fairly wide variety of words that will trigger the instant search to shut off. It's just like if you were typing a forbidden pornographic term. Google pretends to have no idea what you are talking about until you press enter.
Legitimate companies like BItTorrent Inc and Vodo are also affected by this move. Jamie King, founder of Vodo said in a statement, "Google already showed it will censor for the highest bidder — China Inc. springs to mind. Now it’s doing it for MPAA & Co.” We can't say if this is going to really decrease traffic that much, or that it's going to satisfy the copyright holders. But it does leave a bad taste in many people's mouths. How do you feel about this?
U.S. District Court Judge Kimba Wood essentially issued a death sentence for LimeWire after finding the peer-to-peer software firm guilty of copyright violations and issuing an injunction against he company in October. The obituary will have to wait.
According to a report in the Hollywood Reporter, LimeWire's attorneys have been busy trying to get third-party licensees to fork over a bunch of documents, everything from contracts and royalty payments, to accounting books and internal company communications. One of the firms being targeted is Amazon, though the etailer is reluctant to cooperate.
"Amazon's contention that it need not produce revenue information and communications regarding its agreements with Plaintiffs because these documents are equally obtainable from Plaintiffs is wrong on the facts and the law," attorneys for LimeWire wrote in a statement. "The Subpoena requests documents that could not be within Plaintiffs' possession, e.g. purely internal Amazon communications regarding its licensing agreements with Plaintiffs placed on their copyrighted works."
LimeWire claims it has a right to these documents in order to defend against the RIAA's claim of $1 billion in damages. The argument here is that these documents and internal communications could help determine what took place while negotiating over licensing songs for sale, which "could illuminate Plaintiffs' views as to the true value of their works."
With a little help from their colleagues in The Netherlands, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) sent over two dozen BitTorrent and Usenet indexing sites packing, TorrenFreak.com reports.
Save for HD-UNiT3D, the names of the sites aren't known. According to Tim Kuik, Managing Director of anti-piracy outfit BREIN, listing the names "would amount to free PR for the sites that intend to continue their unlawful activities at another hosting provider." Just as well, because it's getting hard to keep track of all the file sharing sites the MPAA has managed to shut down, anyway.
"This year we have made over 600 of these sites inaccessible," Kuik said. "Some seek refuge in a foreign hosting provider. These 29 apparently thought that in America they could go undisturbed. That is incorrect. Through cooperation with our foreign colleagues we can make sites in other countries inaccessible."
The MPAA hasn't yet said anything on the matter, and according to TorrentFreak, that fact that it hasn't been notified by any of the affected site owners suggests that these are all small time outfits.
LimeWire’s future has been in doubt ever since a U.S. federal judge granted the music industry’s shut down request back in October, but today the company confirmed “December 31st 2010 will mark the day when LimeWire shuts its virtual doors for good”. "As a result of our current legal situation, we have no choice but to wind down LimeWire Store operations," a company spokesman said in a prepared statement for Reuters.
LimeWire has been around since 2000 when Mark Gorton swooped in to take the place of Napster, and has been at odds with the music industry ever since. LimeWire has had its day in court many times since then, but defeat after defeat has finally forced them to throw in the towel. At one point the company was making plans to launch a separate legal music service, but even this idea was ultimately scrapped.
I suppose this means the music industry will now turn its attention to Bit Torrent next. Good luck with that one!
Fredrik Neij, Peter Sunde, and Carl Lundstrom -- the three men responsible for The Pirate Bay -- were again found guilty of copyright violations, this time by the Svea Appeals Court, the Associated Press reports.
The appeals court did reduce their prison sentences from one year each down to 10 months, however the reduced sentences come at a cost. Instead of owing $4.5 million in damages, as assessed by the lower court, the appeals court raised the amount to $6.5 million.
The three men, along with Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, who didn't appear in the appeals court hearing because of an illness, have maintained that they're innocent because TBP doesn't host any copyrighted material.
It's not clear whether they will seek another appeal.
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?