A Swedish court has thrown out a request for a retrial by the four men behind The Pirate Bay website.
The four were found guilty of promoting copyright infringement in April and face jail sentences and hefty claims for damages.
The Pirate Bay's lawyers called for a retrial when it emerged that one of the judges in the case belonged to several copyright protection groups.
The Svea Court of Appeal said Judge Tomas Norstrom should have declared that he was a member of the Swedish Association for the Protection of Industrial Property and the Swedish Copyright Association before the case went to trial: The fact that
he failed to shed light on this does not however mean that there was any wrongdoing during the proceedings that would require a retrial. This was not a case of bias.
No appeal is allowed against the judgement.
In response to the ruling Peter Sunde said The Pirate Bay would now file charges against Sweden for violating the human rights of the defendants.
The world's biggest recording companies were celebrating after securing a $1.92m (£1.15m) verdict against a Minnesota woman who
was found to have downloaded and shared tracks over the internet.
The only thing I can say is good luck trying to get it, because you can't get blood out of a turnip, remarked Jammie Thomas-Rasset, a single mother of four, after hearing the judge's verdict at the end of a four-day trial in Minneapolis.
Her lawyers said she may either appeal or seek to negotiate a settlement with the Recording Industry Association of America which brought the case on behalf of the companies.
Of the roughly 30,000 lawsuits brought by the RIAA against alleged music file-sharers, or pirates, in the United States, only the one against Ms Thomas-Rasset came to trial. The vast majority of people targeted by the association agreed to settle
for about $3,500 each.
Ms Thomas-Rasset was found to have offered as many as 1,700 songs to other users on the Kazaa file-sharing site in February 2005 before it became a legal music subscription service.
For simplicity's sake, however, the lawsuit targeted her sharing of just 24 songs. The jury at the trial concluded that Ms Thomas-Rasset should pay $80,000 per stolen song. The four recording companies named as plaintiffs were EMI Group PLC, Sony
Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group and Universal Music Group.
A cyber-security company called MediaSentry was employed by the RIAA to track down and identify music pirates on the internet. Among those it found out was Ms Thomas-Rasset. They found that on Kazaa, Ms Thomas-Rasset identified herself as
"tereastarr", the same user name she employed on other sites including MySpace, the social networking site.
At trial she was represented by a lawyer for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a consumer rights group that has called the tactics of the music giants unfair. The disproportionate size of the verdict raises constitutional questions, Fred
von Lohmann told reporters afterwards.
Japan has toughened up its copyright law, making it illegal for users to download material that has not been uploaded with the
permission of rights holders.
The Recording Industry Association of Japan (RIAJ) lobbied for the amendment to existing legislation, which was passed by the country's parliament.
The changes, which go into effect on Jan. 1, 2010, do not prescribe specific fines or jail time for violations. Also, those accused must be proven to have known the files downloaded were uploaded illegally.
Alongside the Digital Britain's headline announcement of a £6 tax per year for each landline, there was some more sinister messages concerning digital piracy. It appears as though the mafia are starting to get their own way a bit more with
ISPs set to be mandated by Ofcom to provided a substandard service to alleged pirates (shouldn't be too hard for Tiscali to provide such a service!).
So that's the Government forcing individual households to lose a service they pay for due to allegations supported by evidence that almost certainly wouldn't stand up in a court of law. 1984, anyone?
Utter hypocrisy from Labour again. When BT and Phorm broke UK and EU legislation the Government were nowhere to be seen (and even colluded with Phorm in rewriting guidance on the matter), but a few people share some Britney songs and the
Government feel compelled to step in and legislate. And we wont even go down the whole "benefit cheats steal money from the taxpayer and we are going to be taught and slap them in jail" quotes from MPs who committed fraud on their
The rights holders believe that every pirated song is a lost sale. It isn't and been proved as such. Research has shown, the people who pirate the most, also spend the most on music. Techies will move to getting their pirated material across
obfuscated or untraced networks.
Carter: Rights holders report file sharers, send letters and throttle Internet access. How do you like that?
Pirates: OK we'll use USENET, VPN, Darknets and obfuscated protocols.
Your move Carter.
Three strikes is out in France. And probably dead, too. After being passed last month by French lawmakers, the graduated-response
HADOPI law has been ruled unconstitutional by the nation's Constitutional Council.
HADOPI, named for the high authority organization that would administer the law, would force Internet service providers to cut-off access for accused copyright infringers after the third warning was issued.
The Register reports the court said the law conflicted with France's 220-year-old 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen, articles 5, 9 and 11.
Freedom of expression and communication is all the more valuable that its exercise is a prerequisite for democracy and one of the guarantees of respect for other rights and freedoms and that attacks on the exercise of this freedom must be
necessary, appropriate and proportionate to the aim pursued, the council wrote.
So now, the law exists, but is toothless; entertainment rights organizations may still send out letters, as they have in the past to alleged copyright violators, but cannot threaten an ISP service cut-off and will have to pursue other legal means.
TorrentFreak notes that France's HADOPI also ran counter to the European Parliament, which found that that disconnection of accused infringers violates fundamental rights and freedoms of Internet users. The Constitutional Council did state that an
Internet connection may be severed if a court rules that the accused actually conducted illegal file-sharing.
But the battle for Internet control in France isn't over yet. The government is also seeking to pass LOPPSI, a bill designed to filter Web content.
Sweden's Pirate Party, which wants an internet file sharing free-for-all, is one of the surprise entrants to the European
Parliament after winning 7.4% of the vote.
The party, which also wants to beef up internet privacy, was founded in January 2006 and quickly attracted members angered by Swedish laws that criminalise file sharing and authorise the monitoring of e-mails. Its membership shot up after a court
in Stockholm sentenced four men in April to a year in jail for running one of the world's biggest file sharing sites, the Pirate Bay. Voters had their revenge last night by electing at least one of the Pirate Party as an MEP.
They have been very lucky because the Pirate Bay verdict came at the same time as the start of the election campaign, but I think the Pirate Party had the potential to grow anyway, said Ulf Bjereld, a political scientist at Gothenburg
University: The Pirate Party has taken advantage of a new cleavage in Swedish politics, about civil liberties, about who should have the right to decide over knowledge, and that's not a left-right cleavage. The traditional parties have
been sleeping, they have underestimated the political potential in these issues.
Google has banned subscribers to its Korean blogging platform, Textcube (www.textcube.org), from uploading songs onto their blogs, citing the country's new anti-file sharing provisions aimed at thwarting online piracy. This is the first time that the
U.S. giant has disabled its bloggers from posting music files on their personal Web pages.
As of Monday, Textcube users were blocked from uploading MP3, WMA, WAV and other types of music files on their blogs, while existing songs were blinded and are now accessible only to the logged-in owners of the blogs.
Music on Textcube blogs is now limited to the short samples sold by Soribada (www.soribada.com), a music downloading site, company officials said.
We will limit the uploading of music files to protect the copyright of songs and protect our users from possible damages from violating the law,' Google Korea (www.google.co.kr) claimed in a statement: We believe that these are appropriate
measures to protect digital copyright.
Predictably, the move is touching off fierce criticism from Internet users who are accusing Google of clipping their freedom to use copyrighted content.
Google decided to burn the house down just to catch a mosquito,' said a blogger called sid S. Jeong.
The government has been strengthening its clampdown on illegal copies on the Web. From July, the country will enforce a new anti-file sharing provision that allows regulators to shut down Web sites after a third warning over copyright infringement,
regardless of whether or not the copyright holders complained about it.
The music royalties collection body for the UK has sharply cut its prices for internet music tracks, paving the way for more online streaming services.
Under the new pricing plan from PRS for Music, which represents composers and lyricists, digital music sites will have to pay 0.085p for each track streamed, down from the previous rate of 0.22p.
PRS, which negotiates song and lyrics licence fees for the public performance of music, has agreements with radio stations, television broadcasters and online music channels in the UK. It said that the new plan would enable the digital market to grow.
The cut may entice YouTube and popular internet radio service Pandora back to the UK market.
YouTube blocked thousands of music videos by the biggest names in rock and pop for British users after failing to reach agreement with the PRS.
YouTube said in a statement: We welcome any efforts to make licensing costs more realistic, but as we're still in discussions with the PRS to agree licence terms for YouTube we're unable to comment further.
Over the last year Phorm has been the subject of a smear campaign orchestrated by a small but dedicated band of online "privacy pirates" who appear very determined to harm our company. Their energetic blogging and
letter-writing campaigns, targeted at journalists, MPs, EU officials and regulators, distort the truth and misrepresent Phorm's technology. We have decided to expose the smears and set out the true story, so that you can judge the facts for yourself.
The European Parliament has cast its final vote in favor of an amendment that will prevent member states from implementing three-strikes laws. Disconnecting alleged file-sharers based on evidence from anti-piracy lobby groups restricts the rights and
freedoms of Internet users, according to the amendment.
In a vote, 407 Members of Parliament voted in favor of the amendment while only 57 were opposed. The amendment of the Telecoms package is now likely to be signed into law.
This is a step in the right direction, and it clearly goes against Sweden’s IPRED and France’s HADOPI laws. Let’s hope this will at least prevent other member states of the EU following the lead of these two countries.
In 1918, the Supreme Court created a hot news quasi-property right that still exists in some places today, and the Associated Press has been threatening to take on the blogosphere with it. Ars digs into the hot news historical archive to
explain why the idea has always been controversial.
What do bloggers and a 1918 newspaper syndicate have in common? According to the Associated Press, both are wretched hives of scum and villainy—parasites, if you will, sucking a healthy living from the AP's expensive newsgathering operations.
And the AP means to do something about it, reviving a legal doctrine it helped to create back during World War I: the concept of hot news. Here's what you need to know about facts and the quasi-property rights that news organizations can exert
over them... sometimes.
France's anti-file sharing legislation is back on the table in France as debates began again Wednesday in the nation's parliament.
The provisions of the latest submission would create a state-run agency to first warn users by e-mail if found guilty of engaging in Web copyright violations, followed by a certified postal letter if violations continue and then, suspension of Internet
service. The previous bill would've made users continue to pay for service, but has now been removed from the law's language.
Opponents argue the new Internet Piracy Bill is intrusive, violates citizen privacy, would be difficult to put in place, is easy to get around by savvy Web users and sharing sites, and also would generate no new revenue for the artists, producers or
telcom companies saddled with overseeing Internet suspensions. There are also concerns regarding those accused of piracy who may well be innocent, hackers using their service, yet still find their Internet service cut off.
Taiwan has just approved new legislation which effectively bans the use of P2P technology to facilitate the distribution of copyrighted works online. The legislation also requires ISPs to start a ‘3 strikes’ regime for file-sharers.
Taiwan passed revisions to its copyright laws which hit file-sharing pretty hard. The amendment makes it a crime to use P2P technology to facilitate the distribution of copyrighted works online, which sounds like pretty bad news for Taiwanese torrent
sites who previously operated in a legal gray area.
For ISPs, the legislation provides a double-edged sword. The plus side is that in future ISPs will be exempt from taking responsibility for the copyright infringing actions of their customers, under a DMCA-style ’safe harbor’ provision, coupled with a
‘takedown’ system for alleged infringing content.
The downside is ISPs will have to introduce a ‘3 strikes’ regime for subscribers accused of infringement by copyright holders. After the third ’strike’, the ISP can take a range of measures against the user including throttling or disconnection.
It's possible to use Apple's iPods and iPhone with third-party software, and BluWiki's users wanted to make sure the world could find out how.
Apple, however, was not fond of the situation and threatened BluWiki with legal action if the information was not removed.
Now, BluWiki's operators are suing Apple in hopes of protecting the free speech of their users and getting a declaratory judgment that posting information does not violate the DMCA.
BluWiki, like most wiki platforms, is open to the public for the sole purposes of sharing information. In November of 2008, Apple's team of lawyers sent OdioWorks a letter demanding that the pages (referred to as the "iTunesDB Pages") be
removed from BluWiki lest the company be faced with further legal action. Apple accused OdioWorks of disseminating information to circumvent Apple's DRM and enabling copyright infringement by hosting the pages on iTunesDB, which Apple believed was in
violation of the anti-circumvention provisions of the DMCA.
OdioWorks complied with the request at that time, but says that it takes the First Amendment rights of its users very seriously. Companies like Apple should not be able to censor online discussions by making baseless legal threats against services
like BluWiki that host the discussion, OdioWorks owner Sam Odio said in a statement.
Wikis and other community sites are home to many vibrant discussions among hobbyists and tinkerers, added EFF Senior Staff Attorney Fred von Lohmann: It's legal to engage in reverse engineering in order to create a competing product, it's legal
to talk about reverse engineering, and it's legal for a public wiki to host those discussions.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) have now filed suit against Apple to defend the First Amendment rights of an operator of a noncommercial, public Internet "wiki" site known as BluWiki.
EFF and the San Francisco law firm of Keker & Van Nest represent OdioWorks LLC, which runs the BluWiki website. Like many "wiki" platforms, such as Wikipedia, it is open to the public for collaborative authoring and editing on any topic.
The site is entirely noncommercial, operated by OdioWorks as a public service.
Late last year, after BluWiki users began a discussion about making some Apple iPods and iPhones interoperate with software other than Apple's own iTunes, Apple lawyers demanded removal of the content. In a letter to OdioWorks, the attorneys alleged that
the discussions constituted copyright infringement and a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's (DMCA's) prohibition on circumventing copy protection measures. Fearing legal action by Apple, OdioWorks took down the discussions from the
OdioWorks filed the lawsuit in order to vindicate its right to restore those discussions. Filed in federal court in San Francisco, the suit seeks a declaratory judgment that the discussions do not violate any of the DMCA's anti-circumvention provisions,
and do not infringe any copyrights owned by Apple.
I take the free speech rights of BluWiki users seriously, said Sam Odio, owner of OdioWorks. Companies like Apple should not be able to censor online discussions by making baseless legal threats against services like BluWiki that host the
Apple has officially backed off from legal threats made against OdioWorks, the operator of a wiki that hosted pages discussing how users might use an iPod with non-Apple media software.
Apple has now decided that the iTunesDB pages ain't no thang anymore—but not because of people's First Amendment rights. Apple has stopped utilizing the code in question, rendering the code obsolete for the purposes at issue in this action. Publishing
that code is no longer of any harm or benefit to anyone, read an Apple's letter. Given this change of circumstances, Apple no longer has, nor it will have in the future, any objection to the publication of the iTunes DB Pages.
Apple decided to call off the dogs only because the code is now obsolete; what will happen when users inevitably start talking about Apple's new code and trying to get the Palm Pre to work with iTunes again?
Several UK mobile broadband providers have started to block access to The Pirate Bay as part of a new voluntary code of practice. The reason for the block is not related to copyright infringement, but most likely due to the fact that there are ‘adult’
torrents hosted on the site.
BT Mobile Broadband users are disallowed access to the largest BitTorrent tracker on the Internet, instead they get a “content blocked” message.
The code of practice identifies several types of content that could be harmful to children, and encourages ISPs to filter these type of sites. Among the filtered content are gambling sites, pornographic material and hacking tutorials. BitTorrent or other
file-sharing related sites are not blocked according to the code. It is not clear why The Pirate bay ended up on the block list, but the most plausible reason seems to be their diverse adult torrent collection.
The code doesn’t allow any sexually explicit material, legal or not, and The Pirate Bay does offer ‘links’ to such content, although it doesn’t carry any itself - sound familiar?
Customers who want to lift the block to one of the sites may do so by contacting customer service.
The French National Assembly has rejected a law that threatened to suspend the Internet access of those caught downloading copyright works without permission.
Deputies in the National Assembly rejected a compromise text proposed by a joint commission of lawmakers from the Assembly and the Senate, just hours after the Senate had approved it.
In the mostly empty chamber of the National Assembly, 15 deputies voted in favor and 21 voted against, according to local news reports.
Conflicting versions of the law were voted by the French National Assembly last week and the French Senate last year, forcing the government to appoint a joint commission composed of members of the two houses of the French parliament to reconcile the
differences in a final text.
Now that the Assembly has rejected the compromise text, it must once again be debated, and perhaps amended, by both chambers of the French parliament.
All four defendants linked to the file sharing website PirateBay have been found guilty of assisting in making copyright content available.
Peter Sunde, Fredrik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm and Carl Lundström were each sentenced to 1 year in prison with a $905,000 fine.
The prosecution claimed that the four defendants were assisting in making copyright content available and demanded millions of dollars in damages. The four all pleaded not guilty.
The court has found that by using Pirate Bay’s services there has been file-sharing of music, films and computer games to the extent the prosecutor has stated in his case, said the district court: This file-sharing constitutes an unlawful
transfer to the public of copyrighted performances.
The court said that the four defendants worked as a team, were aware that copyrighted material was being shared using The Pirate Bay and that they made it easy and assisted the infringements. It categorized the infringements as severe . The judge
said that the users of The Pirate Bay committed the first offense by sharing files and the four assisted this.
It appears that the court chose to not take any of the technical details into account and only judged based on intent. They find it clear that the intention of the defendants is to facilitate sharing of copyrighted works and based their verdict on this.
While the court did not agree with the plaintiff’s exaggerated estimates of losses, it still set the damages at 30 million SEK ($3,620,000). The judge also stated that the usage of BitTorrent at The Pirate Bay is illegal.
The defense put it to the judge that he had folded under intense political pressure. The judge denied this stating that the court made its decision based on the case presented.
Peter Sunde explained that this decision does not mean the end of the line in this case. There will be an appeal which means we are still far away from the ultimate decision - possibly years away. Any appeal from either side must be submitted to Sweden’s
higher Court by 9th May 2009.
As for the fate of the site, Peter has already promised that The Pirate Bay will continue. The site itself was never on trial, only the four individuals listed above.
Mark Harding, director of intellectual property at KPMG, said the verdict was a big shot across the bows of file-sharing sites. He expects the case will spur prosecutors across the globe, especially in the UK if proposed copyright laws come into
force, to take a tougher stance against file-sharing websites. But warned that only a sea change in consumer’s attitude to downloading will put end to the practice.
Simon Levene, joint head of DLA Piper’s intellectual property division, warned that the ruling could also have implications for legitimate websites, including Google, Facebook and YouTube, which host or provide links to copyright material.
And as Phantom pointed out on the Melon Farmers forum, the decision may have opened up websites to be liable for general illegal content on linked sites. Not just for the narrow copyright infringement mentioned above.
Update: Swedish ISP continue to allow access to PirateBay
After the recent Pirate Bay lawsuit and sentence, there has been a lot of noise made about the questionable attitude of the website, regarding complying with their fines. It seems Swedish internet service providers aren't too keen either; according to
ZeroPaid, they're refusing to block the website because, the ruling applies to those charged and convicted, not to them.
The world's major economic powers are considering whether to involve ISPs in their fight against copyright infringement and how to stop pirated material crossing borders, according to documents released by the US Government.
Thirty-seven countries are negotiating a new worldwide trade deal that aims to reduce counterfeiting and copyright infringement, but details have until now been kept secret.
Called the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), the putative deal has been kept under wraps, but as part of US President Barack Obama's commitment to transparency in government, details of the negotiations have been published.
ACTA is considering what measures to implement to stop material from crossing borders. Fears had emerged that the countries involved were considering ordering border searches of computers and MP3 players to identify and possibly take action over pirated
material on personal players. The outline of ACTA activity discounts that, making it clear that it is concerned only with industrial-scale importing and exporting of counterfeit material.
Cross-border trade in counterfeit and pirated goods is a growing global problem that often involves organized criminal networks, said the note. It said that ACTA might include: a de minimis exception that could permit travellers to bring in
goods for personal use.
The document also outlines the debate of what the limits of civil and criminal enforcement would be; and how the national authorities would co-operate and share information.
Associated Press has announced an initiative to protect online versions of its news content from what it called misappropriation by a variety of online news outlets.
AP Chairman Dean Singleton said the news syndicate would pursue legal and legislative remedies against entities that it believes are unfairly borrowing its content.
At the heart of the AP's complaint are websites that provide editorial services to users by picking out and featuring the day's most important, interesting or sensational stories.
The Drudge Report, a news site with a conservative bent, is one of the Web's most successful aggregation sites; the Huffington Post provides a similar service for liberal-minded readers.
But it's Google News, the search giant's automated and constantly updating digital front page, whose relationship with the AP and its member newspapers is so complicated that distinguishing the harms from the benefits may be a matter of perspective.
From one viewpoint, Google News has been a boon to the imperilled newspaper industry, driving huge numbers of readers to the websites of the publications whose stories it features. Google also pays an undisclosed fee to the AP for the use of its
But just as a newspaper reader may casually glance at headlines without reading every story, readers of Google News may go to the site specifically to scan the news without clicking through to the originating site. Google News recently started running
AP will now try to create a system for tracking the use of its content online. But no matter the implementation, attempts to police content on the Internet are both costly and leak-prone, especially for news articles, in which the underlying facts are
not subject to copyright.
The French government have now passed a "three strikes" law against Internet violators who file-share and download or upload copyrighted material.
According to the bill, known as Hadopi -- as it proposes a High Authority for the Diffusion of Oeuvres and the Protection of Rights on the Internet -- a new government agency, Haute Autorité (High Authority), will be established to
monitor and investigate file-sharing complaints made by copyright holders.
If the agency rules that infringement occurred, it will send out a warning letter to the Internet service account holder, also suggesting they check if their connection -- especially via WiFi -- is secure as hijacked service will not be a defence. A
second letter will follow if there's another offence within a year. And if there's a third, the government body can order the Internet Service Provider to cut off access.
The new agency will also have wide berth with regard to who gets cut off and for how long. However, businesses will get a pass if the offender is an employee, a move that may not pass muster with the French constitution, just as the EU Parliament ruled
that approach violates established civil and privacy laws.
TechDirt notes that perhaps the oddest part of the law is the Hallyday Clause , named for senior citizen French rocker Johnny Hallyday, a tax-dodging expatriate in Switzerland since 2006. The portion of the bill that uses his name says that
downloading copyrighted material of those sheltered from taxes by living outside France or not properly paying taxes will bring a lesser punishment than downloading artists who fulfill tax obligations.
Internet traffic in Sweden fell by 33% as the country's new anti-piracy law came into effect, reports suggest.
According to figures released by the government statistics agency - Statistics Sweden - 8% of the entire population use peer-to-peer sharing. Popular BitTorrent sharing site, The Pirate Bay, is also based in Sweden.
The new law, which is based on the European Union's Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive (IPRED), allows copyright holders to obtain a court order forcing ISPs to provide the IP addresses identifying which computers have been sharing
Figures from Netnod, a Swedish firm that measures internet traffic in and out of the country, suggest traffic fell from an average of 120Gbps to 80Gbps on the day the new law came into effect.
Speaking to the BBC, Christian Engstrom, vice-chairman of the Swedish Pirate Party - said the drop in traffic was a direct result of the new law, but that it would only be a temporary fall: Today, there is a very drastic reduction in internet traffic.
But experience from other countries suggests that while file-sharing drops on the day a law is passed, it starts climbing again. One of the reasons is that it takes people a few weeks to figure out how to change their security settings so that they can
share files anonymously.
Engstrom acknowledged that the new legislation would scare a number off file-sharing, and that the odds of getting caught had increased, but said that the risks to illegal file-sharers were still quite low.