Video game producer EA has closed the chapter on a turbulent feud with its target market by announcing that the next instalment of The Sims will relinquish DRM.
In a public statement posted on the official Sims 3 website, studio head Rod Humble described DRM as overly invasive . He said that the Sims 3 would include disc-based copy-protection – a simple serial code – and the game would not need any
The DRM debacle surrounding EA's last major PC title, Spore , had in many cases overshadowed the merits of the game itself.
Humble's announcement of the standard disc-based copy-protection may effectively bury the hatchet between publisher and its anti-DRM audience: We feel like this is a good, time-proven solution that makes it easy for you to play the game without DRM
methods that feel overly invasive or leave you concerned about authorization server access in the distant future.
Edge Online reports that EA is now offering a software tool which can be used by PC gamers to remove authorization limits on Spore . This will allow computer games to be re-installed or moved to other PCs without limitation.
Download EA's De-authorization Management Tool (DMT)
I got an email from BERR last week about a discussion paper (pre-consultation) on what role a Digital Rights Agency would have. This is in response to the P2P file sharing consultation from the summer 2008 and the Digital Britain report that is being
prepared. A few points of interest:
One of the proposals in the document (page 6) is that the DRA would have the following roles (in addition to others):
A gateway in to the legal remedies being set out in P2P legislation, and to an informed discussion on other potential ways to deal with persistent infringement, such as road-testing technical measures
Development of codes of practice around enforcement measures to prevent and reduce online copyright infringement. These would need to be strong enough to be likely to make a real impact on the problem, and could include, for example, such approaches as
protocol blocking or bandwidth
In addition the idea is that the DRA would be industry led (page 16) and work closely with Ofcom. It may also have the right to consider appeals (page 16) to people who think they have been wrongly identified as filesharers.
The New Zealand government has scrapped a three strikes law for Internet copyright violators.
The controversial Section 92a of New Zealand's Copyright Amendment Act would have disconnected users after a third violation downloading or uploading music, film or other digital material illegally.
The law was scheduled to take effect last month, then was postponed until late March due to massive Kiwi protests, including staged blackouts by Internet users.
The government now plans to rewrite the law from scratch, according to Yahoo/AFP: Section 92a is not going to come into force as originally written. We have now asked the minister of commerce to start work on a replacement section, Prime Minister
John Key told the press: There is a need for legislation in this area. Some progress was made between copyright holders and the ISPs but not enough to agree a code of conduct. While the government remains intent on tackling this problem, the
legislation itself needs to be re-examined and reworked to address concerns held by stakeholders and the government.
The White House just declared an intellectual property treaty a state secret and denied Freedom of Information Act requests asking that it reveal the details of an international treaty that could have huge effects on how information is disseminated
The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) was already being negotiated behind close doors under the Bush Administration, under the direction of the Office of the US Trade Representative. Those concerned that all but 10 of the 800-plus page document
were labeled classified and clearance was only given entertainment industry lobbyists took Obama's words about a more transparent government to heart and filed the FOIA request.
The denial of the request cited an order stating that material can be considered classified if damage to the national security and the original classification authority is able to identify or describe the damage.
So how is it exactly that the details of an intellectual property treaty are considered related to national security? Earlier this month we reported on an MPAA-backed study linking DVD piracy to organized crime and, bet you can guess, terrorism. The
study calls for governments around the world to toughen up intellectual property laws, equating piracy with counterfeiting (they're not the same thing), and that government agencies work closely with the entertainment industry to police Internet traffic.
In effect, the study calls for a Patriot Act on behalf of the entertainment industry. It calls for a joint effort to monitor the Internet to find those who may be counterfeiting intellectual property and justifies it by suggesting there is a link between
young Susie downloading a movie at home and human traffickers who help fund Islamic terrorists.
Wikileaks has provided links to ACTA documents made available in Japan, the EU, Switzerland, Canada, Australia, Korea, Mexico, and New Zealand, and explains one clause that acts as a killer of peer-to-peer networking by criminalizing the nonprofit
facilitation of unauthorized information exchange on the Internet. This clause would also negatively affect transparency and primary source journalism sites such as Wikileaks.
ACTA, says Wikileaks, would require the cooperation of ISPs and bans anti-circumvention measures, which could, in application, affect online anonymity and multi-region CD/DVD players.
BT must be stopped from deploying technology that uses people's personal internet communications to make money from advertisers, the government was told this week.
Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer, Liberal Democrat home affairs spokeswoman, asked in the Lords for the government to delay the rollout of interception-based online advertising until its legality had been established under the Regulation of
Investigatory Powers Act 2000.
She told Computer Weekly that Ofcom, the Information Commissioner, the Home Office and the Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) were all passing the buck. Phorm could normalise a level of snooping not even attempted by the Home
Office's stalled Interception Modernisation Programme.
Google has unleashed a new behavioral ad targeting scheme on its AdSense advertising network - though it has carefully avoided the term behavioral ad targeting. Google prefers interest-based advertising.
We think we can make online advertising even more relevant and useful by using additional information about the websites people visit, Google VP Susan Wojcicki wrote in a blog post: Today, we are launching 'interest-based' advertising as a beta
test on our partner sites and on YouTube. These ads will associate categories of interest - say sports, gardening, cars, pets - with your browser, based on the types of sites you visit and the pages you view. We may then use those interest categories to
show you more relevant text and display ads.
To answer questions over user choice and privacy, Google is offering something called an Ad Preferences Manager, where you view and edit the ad categories Google has placed you in based on your past behavior. If you like, you can tell Google to serve you
ads in additional categories.
You can also opt-out of the program. But this is a cookie-based opt-out, which means you'll have to opt-out on every machine and every browser you use. It also means that if you're someone who regularly clears your cookies for privacy reasons, you'll opt
yourself back in.
Google does offer a browser plug-in that maintains your opt-out even when cookies are cleared, but it's only available for Firefox and IE.
To Google's credit, its privacy controls go beyond what you'll find on similar ad-targeting systems recently introduced by Yahoo!, AOL, and others. But the end result is that most people will be targeted without realizing they've been targeted.
The Center for Democracy and Technology has called on Google and others to create an industry-wide database that would allow anyone to instantly opt-out of all behavioral ad targeting.
A French anti-piracy bill that would punish Internet users who illegally download music, films or video games by cutting off their web access, faces a tough parliamentary battle this week.
Record and film industry executives back President Nicolas Sarkozy's government over the bill, saying the crackdown will help protect the creative industries whose sales have been slashed by online piracy.
Under a three-strikes system, illegal downloaders would be sent two warnings, by e-mail then registered letter, after which they would lose their Internet connection for up to a year if they are caught again.
The bill would create a new state agency to track and punish suspected file sharers, acting on tip-offs from music and film companies and with the help of ISPs.
The bill faces a stormy battle when it goes before the lower-house National Assembly from Wednesday, with Socialist lawmakers denouncing the new surveillance measures as an assault on public and individual liberties.
Suspected offenders, the Socialists complain, would be cut off before having a fair chance to challenge the accusations. Opponents warn the bill could unfairly punish businesses or families if the downloading is done by an employee or a child. Others
have attacked the suggestion that universities, libraries or cafes with Wi-Fi Internet points could block access to downloading websites, saying it amounts to censorship.
Consumer group UFC-Que Choisir has dubbed the bill a monstrosity , while dozens of French websites have launched a black-out operation in protest.
France's culture ministry expects the new High authority for copyright protection and dissemination of works on the Internet (Hadopi) to send out up to 10,000 warnings a day. Ultimately, it expects up to 1,000 people a day could face access bans.
YouTube is blocking all premium music videos to UK users after failing to reach a new licensing agreement with the Performing Right Society (PRS).
Patrick Walker, YouTube's director of video partnerships, told BBC News that the move was regrettable.
Steve Porter, head of the PRS, said he was outraged... shocked and disappointed by YouTube's decision. The PRS has asked YouTube to reconsider its decision as a matter of urgency.
This action has been taken without any consultation with PRS for Music and in the middle of negotiations between the two parties. The body, which represents music publishers, added: Google has told us they are taking this step because they wish to pay
significantly less than at present to the writers of the music on which their service relies, despite the massive increase in YouTube viewing. This action has been taken without any consultation with PRS for Music and in the middle of negotiations
between the two parties.
Walker told BBC News the PRS was seeking a rise in fees many, many factors higher than the previous agreement: We feel we are so far apart that we have to remove content while we continue to negotiate with the PRS. We are making the message
public because it will be noticeable to users on the site.
An online campaign to protest against moves to block access to certain websites by Irish ISPs gets under way today.
Blackout Ireland is encouraging Irish internet users to contact their service providers and Minister for Communications Eamon Ryan to voice their opposition to the planned restrictions which are being spearheaded by the Irish Recorded Music Association
Internet users are also being asked to black out their profile pictures on social networking sites such as Twitter, Bebo, Facebook and MySpace for a week to show support for the campaign.
Irma, which represents EMI, Sony, Warners and Universal, has begun contacting ISPs asking them to sign up to an agreement similar to the one made with Eircom as part of an out of court settlement in a recent copyright infringement case. Under the
agreement, record companies will give Eircom the IP addresses of those they say are illegally uploading or downloading copyrighted works. Eircom has agreed to warn users to cease copyright infringement, and will ultimately disconnect subscribers who
ignore the warnings under a three strikes and you're out policy.
Eircom also agreed not to oppose moves by the industry group to block access to websites such as The Pirate Bay, which is the subject of court action in Sweden. The Swedish website provides links to music, films and other content that can be downloaded
by third parties. Irma is trying to get other ISPs to agree to similar measures.
Blackout Ireland says it is a group of Irish internet users concerned by the prospect of Ireland having a censored internet. We do not think private companies should be allowed dictate what websites the Irish people are allowed to visit, its
The campaign is inspired by a similar one in New Zealand.
News articles based on a survey indicating public opposition to Phorm's web snooping and advertising system have been withdrawn after the firm made legal threats to their publishers.
The independent consumer watchdog Which? sent a press release to newspapers earlier this week entitled Internet users say: Don't sell my surfing habits. It detailed survey findings that UK internet users are opposed to plans by BT, TalkTalk
and Virgin Media to monitor and profile their browsing in collaboration with Phorm.
The findings contradicted market research repeatedly cited, but not published, by Phorm that the majority of people want the more relevant web experience it claims its Webwise -branded technology will provide.
The Which? survey was covered by the Press Association, Channel 4 News, The Telegraph, and The Daily Mail. The press release, however, was swiftly followed by a retraction of the press release.
The Press Association, Channel 4 News and Telegraph stories have all been removed whilst the Daily Mail has edited its story to online to remove all references to the negative survey findings.
A Phorm spokesman said that the survey had been based on inaccurate information and that the press release itself contained inaccuracies. It repeatedly stated the Webwise system collects and sells on data which is misleading. We also wouldn't allow
the creation of advertising channels on sensitive subjects such as for medical products.
The Irish ISP Eircom has caved in to the pressure of the music industry, and without any argument will block all file-sharing related websites - starting with The Pirate Bay.
Last month, Eircom announced that at the behest of the music industry it will disconnect customers who are allegedly sharing copyrighted material. Initially the ISP planned to stand up for its customers in court. However, it didn't have the courage of
its convictions and the case was aborted. Capitulating to the music industry's demands, Eircom agreed to start disconnecting those accused of illicit file-sharing.
But that wasn't enough. Now the industry wants more and is ordering Eircom to block access to any sites it wants blocked. And it doesn't end there.
Smelling blood, the music industry is ratcheting up the pressure and they are now demanding that all ISPs censor the Internet by blocking access to all file-sharing related websites.
And the worrying news is it's already a partially done deal. The Irish Recorded Music Association (IRMA) has already convinced Eircom to comply, and is warning the other Internet providers in Ireland that they should follow suit, or face legal action.
Late last year, Wikileaks obtained a copy of one of the copyright infringement letters sent by the infamous law firm Davenport Lyons. The law firm, at the time, had been sending tens of thousands of these letters which threatened to take the recipients
to court if they don't pay just over £500.
The law firm is now actively trying to censor the letter itself claiming that the letter is protected under British copyright law.
The legal threat letters themselves contain a file hash value, and IP address and a time stamp that is being used as evidence – flimsy evidence according to many people who have observed the legal side of file-sharing. The reason it is seen as flimsy is
that many files may have the same hash value. Second of all, there is no evidence provided that verified that the file name matched what the actual work was. For all we know, it could have been a 5 minute porn clip rather than a music video. Thirdly,
there's no evidence to suggest that an IP address is linked to an individual. The computer could be used by someone other than the owner of the connection. There could be a wifi connection that other users, including unauthorized ones, could be using
that IP address. Finally, a time stamp doesn't contribute much into proving that a copyrighted work has been uploaded.
One might argue that the reason that Davenport Lyons don't want the letters published in the first place is because they don't want their letters subject to public or any real legal scrutiny. It's much easier to attack a single individual singled out
rather than attacking a single individual with the public sphere watching. It's little wonder why the copyright industry has been seen as a bully throughout the years really. If they truly feel they are in the right, why the need to hide their activities
in the first place?
The Associated Press can proceed with a copyright infringement lawsuit against an online news aggregation service after a federal judge ruled a century-old US Supreme Court ruling applies to the internet.
In a ruling, US District Judge Kevin Castel shot down arguments that the so-called hot news doctrine did not apply. The US Supreme Court established the principle in 1918 in another case brought by the AP. While facts generally can't be
copyrighted, companies can sue for misappropriation when their time-sensitive hot news is copied by others, the doctrine holds.
This week's ruling came in a case the AP filed last year against AHN, or All Headline News. In it, the AP claims that AHN copies AP stories and then posts them to its own website as part of a service it sells to customers. AHN employees remove
information that identifies AP as the source, the suit contends.
The AP's case is important because it could help define the rules of engagement for 21st Century news reporting, where journalists and bloggers increasingly borrow, recycle, and quote large sections of articles published by competitors, often with little
or no attribution.
The most high-profile anti-piracy case in recent years begins on Monday when four men behind the world's largest filesharing website will stand trial in Sweden.
The team behind The Pirate Bay, which has more than 22 million active users worldwide, are due to appear in Stockholm district court, accused of assisting copyright infringement.
The website does not host any material but acts as a search engine for more than a million torrents , small files that act as pointers allowing people to download copies of music tracks, movies and television shows.
Media and music companies, led by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), have argued that Pirate Bay promotes copyright infringement, and has made millions of pounds in profits since launching in 2003. They are claiming more
than $100m in damages.
Pirate Bay has said its activities are legal under Swedish law because it does not host the material, acting only as a search engine. It has also denied making large profits, saying any money raised through advertising and donations goes into the
maintenance of the site.
The defendants include three of the website's co-founders Fredik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg and Peter Sunde Kolmisoppi, but prosecutors also charged one of the site's donors, Swedish dotcom millionaire Carl Lundström.
If found guilty, the men could face up to two years in prison and a fine of £100,000 - as well as any damages the court may award.
On only the second day of the most high-profile case yet in the music and film industries' campaign against illegal file-sharing, the chief prosecutor in the Pirate Bay trial at a court in Sweden has dropped half of the charges against the four
The charges dropped are those which relate specifically to assisting copyright infringement, with the case now confined to adjudicating on the question of whether those on trial were responsible for assisting making available copyrighted
material. Everything related to reproduction will be removed from the claim, confirmed Prosecutor Håkan Roswall.
The shutdown of Napster forced the development of decentralized networking. When targeting centralized networks no longer bore fruit, the entertainment industry tried flooding networks with corrupt files. When the file-sharing community responded with
verified files, lawsuits became the norm. When lawsuits failed to make a dent in the P2P population, the next great vision of copyright enforcement came forth: 3 strikes and you're outta here!
France was the first country to drive this policy forward. While the 3 strikes policy has yet to become law in France, New Zealand was the first to sign it into law. The domino effect extended to Italy, which has indicated a willingness to follow the
Ireland's largest ISP Eircom was forced into a similar agreement, when it finally relented to the IFPI. It appears the ISP was attempting to put up a legal fight, but settled 8 days into litigation. It was the first time an ISP was sued for copyright
infringement and forced to adopt the policy.
In Germany, the tide appears to be turning decidedly against the entertainment industry. As reported by P2P Blog.com and the German blog Spreeblick, German ISPs are breathing a sigh of relief after an statement from Secretary of Justice Brigitte Zypries
sided with their cause.
I don't think that (Three Strikes) is a fitting model for Germany or even Europe. Preventing someone from accessing the Internet seems like a completely unreasonable punishment to me. It would be highly problematic due to both constitutional and
political aspects. I'm sure that once the first disconnects are going to happen in France, we will be hearing the outcry all the way to Berlin.
In a few weeks time, members of the European Parliament will vote on the Medina report, which proposes a wide range of anti-piracy measures and regulations. The report specifically mentions The Pirate Bay , and it approves actions by national
courts against the popular BitTorrent tracker.
The proposals in the report, drafted by the Spanish socialist Manuel Medina Ortega, show many similarities to the wish lists of the RIAA, IFPI and MPAA. The report calls for more responsibility and liability for ISPs, while copyright infringing content
has to be filtered from the Internet.
Even though the European Parliament has voted against so called three-strikes proposals twice before, this is also suggested as a viable measure against piracy. It's proposed that ISPs should disconnect subscribers who share copyrighted content,
based on information provided by the entertainment industry.
In addition, national courts are encouraged to take action against BitTorrent sites such as The Pirate Bay . Apparently, the report deems BitTorrent sites to be illegal - which is a bold statement without any legal backup. Last year, Italy imposed
a nation wide block on The Pirate Bay, but this was reversed in court due to a lack of jurisdiction; this might change if the new proposals are adopted.
In a draft of the report we read The activities of websites that are part of the peer-to-peer phenomenon and which allow downloading of protected works or services without the necessary authorisation are illegal, and no exception can be applied to
them. So the activity of internet users who send files to their peers must be regarded as an illegal act of communication to the public without the possibility of exceptions being applied.
Of course, we encourage all of our European readers to write to their representatives in the European Parliament, as this is clearly not the right path to take.
The Premier League will this summer face a potentially devastating challenge in the European courts, after lawyers said there was a strong possibility that the little-noticed case would undermine the principle that UK landlords must pay Sky or
Setanta for the right to show live football in their pubs.
Legal experts said that the case, the latest round of a long-running battle with publicans over showing overseas broadcasts, could overturn the basis on which the Premier League sells its TV rights.
Last year, the high court passed a test case involving several UK publicans to the European Court of Justice for advice. It is due to reach a decision by the summer.
European law prevents pirated decoder cards being used to access broadcasts illegally. But the publicans will argue that their decoders were legitimately bought in Greece and imported by a distributor. Under free-trade laws, they will argue that they
should be allowed to import decoders and cards from other member states. Lawyers at Denton Wilde Sapte said the challenge was significant.
The firm's senior associate Alex Haffner said: The strong possibility of the ECJ and the UK high court finding in favour of the publicans is a direct challenge to the right to license media rights on a territory-by-territory basis and to the
willingness of pay-TV operators to pay handsomely for exclusive rights within their markets.
The Premier League is expected to argue that if the ECJ finds in favour of the publicans it would destabilise the market and disadvantage consumers. It is expected to argue that the devices are obtained using false names, and point to links with
organised crime. If it were to lose the case, then not only would pubs be able to avoid paying an average of ฃ9,000 a season to showSky and Setanta matches, with a knock-on effect on the amount broadcasters were prepared to pay.
But in the meantime it's the enforcers that are adopting the intimidatory language of organised crime.
Anti-money laundering laws will be used to pursue foreign satellite suppliers that let pubs show football, under new plans. That’s according to a new chief at the agency that probes the screenings in pubs. Retired policeman David Eyles also
revealed that prosecutions are currently being brought against up to 30 licensees for screening games via foreign satellites.
Eyles, operations director at Media Protection Services (MPS), was the director of operations at the Metropolitan Police Clubs and Vice Unit until December. Eyles said the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 will be used to trace and seize assets from foreign
satellite suppliers, if licensee Karen Murphy loses her case at the European Court of Justice (ECJ). To use the 2002 Act, it must be shown that income from suppliers was generated by criminal activity. He said the process of prosecuting licensees is on-going,
with case papers being brought against around 30 hosts for using non-EU cards to screen games last football season.
MPS boss Ray Hoskin said there were plans to recruit others with similar background to Eyles.
After high-level discussions on the piracy situation in 2008, the Italian government has announced the signing of an agreement which will see it collaborate with the French on the issue. Of concern to those sharing files online, Minister of Culture
Sandro Bondi says Italy will follow the French model.
In 2003, Silvio Berlusconi’s government passed some of the most aggressive copyright laws in Europe, but ultimately the authorities didn’t give them the support demanded by the entertainment industries.
Then in January 2007, Rome’s top criminal court announced that downloading films, music or software from the Internet should not be considered a crime if done for no profit, backing the likes of the IFPI and MPAA into a corner with fewer options.
In October 2008 a technical roundtable got underway in Italy which promoted collaboration between the music, movie and ISPs. In basic terms, in part it was a discussion about the mechanics of implementing a 3 strikes response’ to deal with
piracy on P2P networks.
Swedish file-sharers have previously been protected from police action, since any offences they commit do not generally carry a prison sentence. Now, the government is considering new legislation which will give the police powers to go after regular
At the moment, the police can’t go after uploaders of copyright works, unless their activities could attract a jail sentence of two years or more.
Now, according to a Dagbladet report, Minister for Justice Beatrice Ask will receive a report from the police which will recommend that they should be able to investigate file-sharers whose actions would have previously only been punishable by a fine.
The proposed legislation, based on the controversial Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive (IPRED) will give the police (and private companies) more power to go after individual file-sharers. It would also enable the police to find out who
sent an email to who, along with details of telephone calls. The IPRED proposals, which have faced widespread opposition, aim to increase penalties and criminalize breaches of intellectual property law inside the EU.
Addressing fears that any legislation could be applied retroactively, i.e file-sharers could be pursued for previous breaches, Minister for Justice Beatrice Ask already asked for the deletion from the proposals of any such provisions.
TDC, Denmark’s largest ISP has decided to block access to The Pirate Bay. TDC took the step following an earlier decision made by a Danish judge who ordered another ISP, Tele2, to do the same. The case is currently under appeal, but TDC decided
to block the BitTorrent tracker as a precaution.
Last year the music industry lobby group IFPI started a case against Tele2, arguing that the ISP was aiding in copyright infringement because it allowed its users to access The Pirate Bay. They did so successfully, as the judge agreed that the ISP could
indeed be held accountable for the traffic its users generate.
IFPI welcomed this proclaimed landmark decision, and put other Internet providers on notice that it would go after them too, warning them to block The Pirate Bay - or else. These threats now appear to have borne fruit. As of today, the largest ISP in
Denmark (TDC) is blocking access to The Pirate Bay.
The Danish case is currently being appealed, and Pirate Bay co-founder Peter Sunde told TorrentFreak earlier: We’re confident that Tele2 will win in the Supreme Court, when they [the court] really dig into the technology and try to understand
the whole concept. It’s important for net neutrality and it’s also important for file sharers in Denmark to have this tried (and won).
Every year, RIAA’s global partner IFPI publishes a digital music report, which can be best described as a one sided view of the state of digital music consumption. For several years in a row the report has shown that the sales figures of digital
music have gone up, but still, the industry continues to blame piracy for a loss in overall revenue.
One of the key statistics that is hyped every year, is the piracy ratio of downloaded music. Just as last year, IFPI estimates that 95% of all downloads are illegal, without giving a proper source for this figure. Interestingly, those who take a closer
look at the full report, will see that only 10% of the claimed illegal downloads are seen as a loss in sales.
Contrary to the RIAA’s arguments in court, the BPI and IFPI don’t believe in the every pirated download is a lost sale myth. Matt Phillips, BPI’s Director of Communications wrote in an email to TorrentFreak: No, we don’t
think every illegal download is a lost sale (and never, ever, have, if my memory serves me correctly). The estimates for lost sales revenue is [sic] not calculated on this basis.
To come up with a ‘best guess’ of the real losses for the UK market, the music industry have commissioned Jupiter Research. For two years in a row, Jupiter estimated the losses are to be about equal to the revenue that comes from digital
sales. If we combine this with the only one in 20 downloads is paid for guesstimate, only one in 10 illegal downloads is seen as a loss in sales.
What is clear from the report is that pirates have shown the music industry what consumers really want. The music industry is slowly starting to recognize that they have to compete with piracy, by offering high quality products.
In the report IFPI writes: An important development in 2008 was the licensing of more online stores to sell downloads without digital rights management (DRM). In January 2009, Apple announced it had signed deals with leading record companies to offer
eight million DRM free tracks at flexible price points. The move is expected to significantly boost download sales.
UK Ministers intend to pass regulations on internet piracy requiring service providers to tell customers they suspect of illegally downloading films and music that they are breaking the law, says the draft report by Lord Carter.
It would also make them collect data on serious and repeated infringers of copyright law, which would then be made available to music companies or other rights-holders who can produce a court order for them to be handed over.
With the creation of a body called the Rights Agency to be paid for by a small levy from the internet service providers and rights-holding organisations, these measures would form the spine of a new code of conduct for the internet industry. The draft
report says the code would be overseen by Ofcom, the broadcasting regulator, according to people who have read it.
The guiding philosophy of the report is that the internet and music industries have failed to sort out the problems of illegal downloading between them, and the government sees this as its preferred solution. It says the two sides should share
responsibility and hope the new agency will encourage them to find common cause.
The need for government intervention was apparently underlined when the department for business said none of its own proposals for regulation had won widespread support.
None of the options highlighted in the consultation document won widespread support. Rather there was a marked polarisation of views between the rights holder community and consumers and the ISPs over what action should be taken.
There was a degree of consensus that any solution must involve the provision of new legal sources of attractive content and the need for education on the importance of copyright in the wider economy.
No ISP was in favour of any regulatory solution (including co-regulation). Almost all suggested the way to deal with P2P was through the provision of legal offers, education and the use of the existing legal system to enforce copyright holders rights.
Those rights holders that have participated in the MOU process are firmly behind the co-regulatory approach, seeing ISPs as needing to take some responsibility for copyright infringement on their networks. Others were also generally in favour, though
sometimes concerned to have been excluded from the process, and over the potential for a 2-tier system with small ISPs being relived of needing to adhere to the Codes of Practice. Some responses to the consultation were in favour of streamlining the
legal process to enable personal information to be passed directly from ISPs to rights holders. However, the Information Commissioner expressed concern about any move in that direction.
Consumers and Rights Groups
Serious concerns were raised over privacy and data protection. Significant concern focused on the reliability of the evidence of infringements. This issue was seen as a market failure and not a regulatory one. No support for the co-regulatory option;
again education, legal offers and the enforcement of existing rights were identified as the way forward.
Over 25% of responses were from individuals. There was no support for a co-regulatory regime with concern raised over privacy and data protection. There was widespread doubt over the ability to solve the issue via technology.
Respondents not involved in the MOU process voiced serious concern over the lack of transparency. Many felt unable to fully comment due to a lack of detail in the consultation proposals. Another common theme was the need for a proper impact assessment
and CBA before any decision to regulate. There was also some disagreement about the ability of technical approaches to tackle the problem effectively.
Response by HM Government
The Government will respond to this consultation as part of the interim Digital Britain report due to be released later this month.
Apple Inc has agreed to start selling digital songs from its iTunes store without copy protection software.
At present, most music downloaded from Apple's iTunes store can only be played through an iTunes PC program or iPod.
The new agreement with Sony BMG, Universal, and Warner Music will end digital rights management (DRM)software currently attached to iTunes music.
By the end of this quarter, all 10 million songs will be DRM free according to Phil Shiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide product marketing: Over the last six years songs have been $0.99 [79p]. Music companies want more flexibility.
Starting today, 8 million songs will be DRM free and by the end of this quarter, all 10 million songs will be DRM free .
Apple has also revised its pricing structure, offering a two-tier system with songs available for $0.69 and The better quality iTunes Plus at $1.29 (will be 99p in the UK).
The move could potentially spell the end for DRM limited music, which was never popular with users or the record industry.
Next month, New Zealand is scheduled to implement Section 92 of the Copyright Amendment Act. The act provides Guilt Upon Accusation, which means that if a file-sharer is simply accused of copyright infringement, they are immediately guilty.
The punishment - summary Internet disconnection.
However draconian other country's 3 strikes policies are, they are nothing compared to the proposed Section 92 of the Copyright Amendment Act in New Zealand. Scheduled for introduction at the end of February 2009, the act assumes that any
individual simply accused of sharing copyright works on the Internet, is guilty. The punishment for guilty is summary disconnection from the Internet.
Understandably, this proposal hasn’t been well received by many outside of the entertainment industries. One group voicing dissent is the Creative Freedom Foundation. On January 2nd the group launched with the aim to unite artists who are
against the removal of New Zealander’s rights through proposed changes in Copyright law, done in the name of protecting creativity.
Foundation Co-Founder and Director, Bronwyn Holloway-Smith is strongly opposed to Section 92, which she says threatens Internet disconnections without evidence or even a trial. The result of this law could be that one rogue employee or even one virus
infected computer could bring down a whole organization’s internet and it’s highly likely that schools, businesses, hospitals, and phone services will be harmed by this.
Hollyway-Smith warns that as the government has shown support for the bill, unless there is a major public protest against it the proposals will roll over into law - just 54 days from now. To this end, the foundation has started a petition and
campaign against the Guilt Upon Accusation laws, called Not in my Name . The petition can be signed on the Creative Freedom Federation website.
Update: S92A Not to be Repealed
1st February 2009
The new National government finally made their intentions clear: they will stick with S92A, removing New Zealander's right to due process and court trial before being found guilty.
Communications and Information Technology Minister Stephen Joyce announced that the government would take no action to repeal the law.
It seems that NZ is the only one remaining willing to punish citizens before a trial and before any evidence has been held up to court scrutiny.
Ars Technica are reporting that FCC Chairman Kevin Martin has declined to accept the MPAA’s request to allow selectable output control flags in streaming content during his tenure.
This is an undeniable win for consumers, as potentially up to 20 million HDTVs could have suddenly stopped working for new on-demand movies had the FCC gone the other way.
Further, it poses little to no additional piracy threat to movie studios, since the proposed release timeline would have been months after those movies already became available on other publicly-accessible pirate outlets.
Selectable output control (SOC) is a technology that would restrict a consumer’s ability to use particular output plugs on their devices for certain types of content. For example, a movie studio could stop you from using your composite jacks to
view a legally purchased on-demand movie over cable.
In his press conference, Chairman Martin acknowledged the analysis, indicating that he … wasn’t ready to move forward with [SOC] in light of some of the concerns that were raised by the public interest groups.
It looks like Hollywood's bid to take over your home video system got a second wind this week. On Tuesday two top executives from Sony Television and Sony Pictures, accompanied by an influential lobbyist, met with the Federal Communications Commission to
talk up (PDF) "the advantages of expanded consumer choices in the marketplace" which would supposedly come with a waiver on the agency's ban on Selectable Output Control. That bright idea originates with the Motion Pictures Association of
Hollywood's bid to force a yet-to-be-agreed-upon number of households to buy new home theater gear is back in business.
The Motion Picture Association of America has once again asked the Federal Communications Commission for the right to selectively control output streams to the TV entertainment systems of consumers. The pro-consumer purpose (!) request is to
enable movie studios to offer millions of Americans in-home access to high-value, high definition video content, three MPAA biggies explained during a meeting they recently held with seven FCC Media Bureau staffers.