The Dutch Usenet community (FTD) allows its nearly half a million members to discuss and report the location of material they find on Usenet, without explicitly linking to copyrighted content. The operators of the site see no harm in what they
do, but according to Dutch anti-piracy organization BREIN, online communities should not be entitled to allow these kinds of discussions on their websites.
Talking about copyrighted content on Usenet is illegal they argue, and BREIN wants FTD to be shut down for allowing this. The newsgroup community, however, is not prepared to tolerate BREIN's accusations and has decided to take action. Earlier
this year FTD took BREIN to court, demanding that it should retract its numerous statements that FTD operates illegally.
In a letter to the court in this ongoing case, FTD's lawyer Arnoud Engelfriet stated yesterday that BREIN is going too far with its statements. Downloading copyrighted files and music for personal use is perfectly legal in The Netherlands, so he
sees no reason why merely talking about it should be illegal.
Undeterred, BREIN maintained their stance and declared FTD a criminal operation. In a counter-claim against FTD, the anti-piracy outfit has demanded $70,000 a day in penalties if the Usenet chatter continues.
The verdict in this case is expected to be announced sometime next year.
In a ruling very similar to one handed down in Spain just last month, a French court has decreed that makers of Nintendo DS flash carts are not breaking the law.
French company Divineo was one of the defendants brought to court by Nintendo for making flash carts for the DS, which allow non-authorized games and media to be played on Nintendo's handheld game system. The court ruled that the carts are legal
and extend the usefulness of the DS, states MaxConsole.net.
The court also apparently took umbrage with Nintendo for illegally protecting its system and locking out users and developers, though it should be noted that the MaxConsole site, according to various sources, is owned by Max Louran, the
same individual that heads Divineo.
Google is now personalizing results even when users have not logged into its web-dominating search site.
Personalization is a euphemism for a Google-controlled practice that involves tweaking your search results according to your past web history. Mountain View was already doing this with users who had signed in to a Google account so they could use
non-search services like Gmail and Google Calendar. But now it's targeting results for all users - whether they're logged in or not.
Google has always hoarded the search history of everyone visiting the site - whether they were logged in or not. But this is the first time Google has massaged results for users who haven't signed in. This is just one of the many reasons Google
The company's new cookie-based personalization is based on 9 months of stored data. And it's completely separate from account-based personalization.
Google does let you turn off personalization off. But it's on by default - and we all know that most people will leave it on.
Some of the biggest names on the web have written to Peter Mandelson to express grave concerns about elements of the Digital Economy Bill.
Facebook, Google, Yahoo and eBay object to a clause that they say could give government unprecedented and sweeping powers to amend copyright laws.
We urge you to remove Clause 17 from the bill, the letter read.
However, the government has said it believes the clause will future-proof online copyright laws .n The law must keep pace with technology, so that the Government can act if new ways of seriously infringing copyright develop in the
future, a spokesperson for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
The consortium believe that if Clause 17, as it is known, is approved it will give any future Secretary of State the ability to amend copyright laws as they see fit. This power could be used, for example, to introduce additional
technical measures or increase monitoring of user data even where no illegal practice has taken place, the letter read. This would discourage innovation and impose unnecessary costs representatives of the firms wrote.
Others have suggested that the clause could be used to tweak laws so that search engines could not publish summaries of news stories in their results. The consortium of companies say the clause is so broad ranging that it could risk legitimate
consumer use of current technology as well as future developments .
While there is less will to penalize file-sharers in Spain, the same cannot be said about the sites that facilitate their downloading. New legislation is being mulled could allow them to be disconnected, without the need for a court order.
The new Sustainable Economy Law, sponsored by President José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, includes draft amendments to legislation to protect intellectual property against piracy on the Internet .
It is proposed that new grounds for disconnection will be added to safeguard intellectual property rights . This will hand competent bodies the authority to require Internet service providers to supply information on customers who
are deemed to be breaching copyright.
El Pais reports that there will not be an emphasis on disconnecting individual Internet users, but instead the focus will be on sites providing links to copyright works, of which there are several hundred in Spain.
In a statement, Spain's Minister for Culture, Ángeles González-Sinde, said that sites offering links to copyright works could be taken offline without a judicial order, an announcement which has met with firm opposition from
The Netherlands-based file-sharing website Mininova has removed all torrents that enabled users to download copyright-protected material.
The move follows a ruling in a Netherlands district court three months ago ordering the firm to remove links to illegal content. The court said that Mininova's notice and take down policy was insufficient to keep it operating within the law.
Although Mininova has not totally shut down operation, it has now removed all torrents that would enable users to download copyright-protected material, opting instead to only host a limited featured content service, which offers legal
Tim Kuik - director of Dutch anti-piracy group Brien, said: We applaud the fact that Mininova now uses the BitTorrent technology for legal business. We are not against the technology but only against the use of that technology for illegal
In a blog post, Mininova staff said the court ruling leaves no other option than to take our platform offline, except for the content distribution service . But they added that they were still considering an appeal against the court order.
A man who sold computer chips that enabled pirated video games to be played on consoles was rightly convicted of copyright offences, the Court of Appeal has ruled.
Christopher Paul Gilham sold the devices, called mod chips because they modify a console, to people who were able to use them to play unlicensed copies of video games.
The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act (CDPA) makes it an offence to sell or distribute any device, product or component which is primarily designed, produce, or adapted for the purpose of enabling or facilitating the circumvention of
effective technological measures .
Gilham sold mod chips via a website and the Court of Appeal had to decide whether or not those devices made it possible for others to commit a copyright infringement. That would only be true if their playing of pirated games copied a
substantial part of the work.
Lord Justice Stanley Burton said: It follows that the appellant was rightly convicted of the offences charged under the CDPA. The importance of protecting copyright and related rights in multimedia products such as computer games, and if
devices such as modchips could be sold with impunity, the UK would not be conferring the protection of those rights required by the Directive.
The UK government will press ahead with plans to restrict internet access for illegal filesharers, it was confirmed in the Queen's Speech.
As expected, a Digital Economy Bill will aim to compel ISPs to penalise those persistently observed infringing copyright via peer-to-peer networks.
If the overall level of illegal filesharing, as assessed by Ofcom, does not fall by 70 per cent by April 2011 in response to a system of repeated warning letters, provisions in the Bill will be triggered that enforce technical measures .
The most persistent infringers will have their access suspended.
The UK government has offered up its Digital Economy Bill, which includes massive changes to copyright law, including the power of the government to effectively change the law at will with little to no oversight. Basically, it would let the
Business Secretary, Lord Mandelson, change copyright law through secondary legislation, which requires no Parliamentary approval. As people are noting, Mandelson has had to resign from elected positions twice in the past in disgrace, and is now
in an unelected position. And he's the guy who gets to change copyright law at will? That does not seem right. On top of that, the bill doesn't even specify three strikes for users. Instead, it requires ISPs to notify users with warnings
-- and to notify copyright holders that they did notify users -- and if file sharing is not reduced by 70% in a year (with no indication of how this is measured), then the government will tell ISPs to start kicking people off the internet.
Furthermore, Minister for Digital Britain Stephen Timms, who introduced the new bill, claimed that 99% of ISPs are broadly supportive of the bill. That's funny because BT and TalkTalk -- two of the largest ISPs in the UK -- have loudly
complained about the plans (with TalkTalk threatening to sue, and BT saying that this solution is not the way forward ) and the ISP Association, which represents ISPs in the UK has loudly slammed the bill as unworkable and backwards
While many have been quick to criticise and deride the lack of specific information and targets in the recently announced Digital Economy Bill, it seems that the UK's games publishing community is amongst the first to wholeheartedly applaud the
government's latest moves.
While there are still doubts about whether the bill will survive a change in government, ELSPA (the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association) has voiced its approval of the Digital Economy Bill, as outlined in this week's Queen's
Speech, which it clearly sees to be a step in the right direction for gaming in the UK.
We are delighted with the commitment made today by the UK Government to tackle the widespread problem of online copyright infringement and intellectual property theft, through more effective legal action and consumer education, said Mike
Rawlinson, Director General of ELSPA.
The Pirate Bay team has announced that the world's largest BitTorrent tracker is shutting down for good. Although the site will remain operational for now, millions of BitTorrent users will lose the use of its tracker and will instead have to
rely on DHT and alternative trackers to continue downloading.
In the fall of 2003, a group of friends from Sweden decided to launch a BitTorrent tracker named The Pirate Bay . It soon became one of the largest BitTorrent trackers on the Internet, coordinating the downloads of more than 25 million
peers at its height.
Now that the decentralized system for finding peers is so well developed, TPB has decided that there is no need to run a tracker anymore, so it will remain down! It's the end of an era, but the era is no longer up2date. We have put a server in
a museum already, and now the tracking can be put there as well, the Pirate Bay crew write on their blog.
The German Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe recently upheld provision 53 of that country's copyright law against a legal challenge by the record industry who oppose the provision for allowing digital copying of CDs for private use.
The court dismissed the claim on technical grounds because the provision was part of the copyright law of 2003, and a claim has to be filed within one year of it taking effect.
The record industry had been trying to argue that it could challenge the provision based on the fact that the country's copyright law was later revised again in 2008, resetting the clock for a potential challenge.
What's sad is that the music industry would even try to fight the ability of music fans to make backup copies of purchased CDs. It's emblematic of its long history of doing all it can to enrage its customers in the pursuit of maximizing profits.
But, it's worth mentioning the music industry's not alone. The MPAA has also argued that making even one copy of a DVD is illegal.
Norwegian ISP Telenor and other ISPs shouldn't be forced to decide which sites or services should be blocked, that only authorities can make that determination.
A Norwegian District Court ruled in favor of ISP Telenor recently in its battle with International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), the Norwegian videogram association (Norsk Videogramforening) and the Norwegian Film Distributors
Association over demands that it prevent customers from accessing Swedish BitTorrent tracker site The Pirate Bay.
The Court ruled that Telenor is not illegally contributing to any copyright violations by The Pirate Bay and that there is subsequently no legal basis for forcing it to block the site.
Telenor and other Internet providers, including private companies, may have to do an evaluation on whether an Internet page or service shall be blocked or not, reads the ruling. This is an evaluation normally assigned to the
authorities, and in the court's view, today's situation makes it unnatural to assign such responsibility to private companies.
Telenor believes that the best way of ensuring sustainable revenues for copyright holders is to develop business models and services that make websites like The Pirate Bay less attractive.
Europe is set to get a major facelift of its telecommunications regulation after negotiators reached an agreement to pass a raft of new laws, addressing an array of topics from net neutrality to online piracy.
The negotiators, representing the European Parliament, the European Commission and the Council of Ministers compromised on aspects of the Telecoms Reform Package, which will now become part of national legislation in every EU country, with a
deadline of May 2011.
The Telecoms Reform Package had dragged on for six months because of the debate over a provision relative to the three strikes laws targeting Internet users suspected of unlawful file-sharing of copyrighted material. Under the newly minted
compromise, any decision to sever Internet access to clamp down on digital copying of music and movies must be subject to a legal review.
The promotion of legal offers, including across borders, should become a priority for policy-makers, said Viviane Reding, the EU Telecoms Commissioner: Three-strikes -laws, which could cut off Internet access without a prior fair and
impartial procedure or without effective and timely judicial review, will certainly not become part of European law.
With the piracy sanctions issue resolved, the European Parliament and Council of Ministers are expected this month to adopt the telecommunications package, which among other provisions will create a new EU telecommunications regulator, the Body
of European Regulators for Electronic Communications.
A vote is on the reforms is due by the end of the year.
The Stockholm District Court has taken action against two founder members of The Pirate Bay. Gottfrid Svartholm and Fredrik Neij are now banned from operating the site and will have to pay fines of $71,000 each if they continue.
This, despite the fact that they nor the site remain in Sweden.
In August the bandwidth supplier to The Pirate Bay was ordered by a court to disconnect the world's largest BitTorrent tracker from the Internet. Within hours the site had relocated to a new host, which immediately received similar threats. After
periods of downtime, the Pirate Bay eventually regained stability in recent days. Although these attempts failed, the authorities weren't about to give up in their quest to shut down the site.
Ex-Pirate Bay spokesman Peter Sunde, who appears to be excluded from the decision, is notably annoyed, noting that neither the founders nor the site are located in Sweden. He argues that the Swedish court has no jurisdiction in this case: Frederick and Godfrid live outside Sweden, even outside the EU. The Pirate Bay is outside the EU,
he told SR earlier today: How then can the Stockholm District Court, Sweden, get to decide that people abroad must not work on a site in another country?
Another issue that complicates the ruling is that it is pretty much impossible to check whether or not Fredrik and Gottfrid are complying to the demands. Thus far the Pirate Bay website is still up and running and the two founders are not
essential to keep it that way.
Peter Mandelson, the business secretary, warned internet users that the days of consequence-free illegal filesharing are over as he unveiled the government's plan for cracking down on online piracy.
He confirmed that the internet connections of persistent offenders could be blocked - but only as a last resort - from the summer of 2011. He added that a legislate and enforce strategy was the only way to protect the intellectual property
rights of content producers.
The strategy, which will be officially set out in the government's digital economy bill in late November, will involve a staged process of warning notifications with internet suspension as a last resort. The legislation is expected to come into
force in April next year.
The effectiveness of the warning letters to persistent illegal filesharers will be monitored for the first 12 months. If illegal filesharing has not dropped by 70% by April 2011, then cutting off people's internet connections could be introduced
three months later, from the summer of that year.
If we reach the point of suspension for an individual, they will be informed in advance, having previously received two notifications - and will have the opportunity to appeal, Mandelson added. The British government's view is that
taking people's work without due payment is wrong and that, as an economy based on creativity, we cannot sit back and do nothing as this happens.
There would be a proper route of appeal for those that do have their internet accounts suspended, Mandelson said. He added that he did not want to see internet service providers unfairly burdened by the new system. ISPs and
rights-holders will share the costs, on the basis of a flat fee that will allow both sides to budget and plan, he said.
The staged roll-out of the strategy will see Ofcom assess the effectiveness of the warning notification system on cutting illegal filesharing, backed by the threat of legal action by rights holders and content companies, in about April 2011.
Cutting off illegal filesharers' internet access was originally ruled out in Lord Carter's Digital Britain report released in June. However, in August Mandelson's department for business innovation and skills launched a consultation document that
proposed considering taking a tougher stance, including suspending internet connections.
TalkTalk, the UK's second largest ISP, owner of the Tiscali and AOL brands and operator of the Dont Disconnnect Us website, went much further.
The approach is based on the principle of 'guilty until proven innocent' and substitutes proper judicial process for a kangaroo court. What is being proposed is wrong in principle and it won't work in practice. We know this approach will lead
to wrongful accusations, said Andrew Heaney, TalkTalk's Executive Director of Strategy and Regulation.
According to a report this morning, TalkTalk is now threatening to launch legal action if Mandelson makes good on his threats and implements any disconnection scheme without due process.
Comment: File sharing is bad. Your proposals are WORSE
From Shaun who wrote to his MP, John Healey
I ask you again: Who voted for this seemingly nasty (obviously completely technically illiterate) piece of work to decide this issue on our behalf?
No ordinary UK citizen (none NL member) did, that's for sure.
You know we are supposed to have a (semblance at least, of) democracy in this country, not should have to accept some unelected stooge deciding what IS going to happen via dictat, without any reasonable discussion.
Roll on the next election next year (not long now Mr. Healey) when he will be REMOVED from power for sure along with the NL repressive machine in general, who are the WORST most AUTHORITARIAN government I have ever known in
my life. I used to think Mrs. Thatcher was bad, but it seems to me that she was a kind and gentle soul compared to you lot.
Now, file sharing is bad. Your proposals are WORSE however. As a software writer for 25 YEARS I have been a victim of that, and piracy many times. Every software program I have ever worked on has been shared on the net, or
(in the older days) on some bulletin board or other. As said LEGAL remedies exist already for piracy.
But certainly NO ONE should be disconnected from ANYTHING without CONVICTION in a COURT OF LAW after DUE PROCESS, and certainly not on the orders of people like the odious unelected Mandelson who seems to be trying to
somehow SHORT CIRCUIT our legal rights and protections to due process.
THIS MR. HEALEY IS WHAT IS UNACCEPTABLE ABOUT ALL THIS. It is a human rights violation for sure.
If disconnection is to be used as a tool to reduce piracy, it should be declared as an option for legal punishment in statute and imposed ONLY AFTER a court of law has PROPERLY decided that is the most appropriate sanction
in a particular case. Remember INNOCENT people in the family or workplace might well suffer too because of such impositions.
NOT TO MENTION that it is TOO EASY to hijack someone's WI-FI network even if it is protected, especially if one is using WEP keys, which can take just a few minutes to hack! There is LOADS of software and info online about
how this is done. Unfortunately WEP keys are in use in many locations (as in fact they are in our house) because some older wireless networking equipment simply doesn't support more advanced encryption. Some routers, such as the one issued by
SKY, have the default WPA2 keys and SSID values PRINTED ON A LABEL UNDERNEATH the router. So anyone in the house legally such as a tradesman, or neighbour can simply write the key down after looking at the underside of the device, and the whole
network is then theirs to command and use as they see fit.
But it seems these technical FACTS are a bit too complex an issue for the technically simple minded Mr Mandelson, who then would want to ignore such inconveniences, including those of DUE PROCESS. Not to mention that ISPs
often get it wrong, about the ownership of IP addresses at particular times when people are using dynamic ones, which can change several times a day in some cases. Not to mention some corporate business networks which funnel tens, hundreds, or
perhaps occasionally even thousands local IPs to one single public facing static IP, via DHCP services on routers. (These are 192.168.x.x type IP addresses, and only the PUBLIC IP is visible to the outside and appears to be one single computer to
it.) Sad that it may seem, the internet DID NOT evolve to suit the purposes of the likes of Mr. Mandelson, or media companies. It was created for academia, and the US military, inconvenient as this might be. His approach to this is completely
DISGRACEFUL Mr Healey.
I think you people are on a suicide mission to lose the next election.
Good idea I think.
Please read my email carefully Mr. Healey. After 25 years in the software business I know what I am talking about. Unlike the unelected Mr Mandelson.
The European Parliament has given the green light for member states to cut persistent file-sharers off from the net.
It has dropped an amendment to its Telcoms Package which would have made it hard for countries to cut off pirates without court authority.
It follows pressure from countries keen to adopt tough anti-piracy laws. The French government has just approved plans which could see pirates removed from the net for up to a year.
An amendment to the European Parliament's forthcoming telecoms legislation was designed to protect citizens against being automatically cut off from the net.
Amendment 138 read: Any such measures liable to restrict those fundamental rights or freedoms may only be taken in exceptional circumstances...and shall be subject to adequate procedural safeguards in conformity with the European Convention
for the Protection of Human Rights.. including effective judicial protection and due process.
Dropping it effectively means that individual countries would be able to ask internet service providers to remove users deemed to be persistent pirates without needing a prior court order.
France's top constitutional court has approved a revised plan to penalize those accused multiple times of infringing intellectual property.
Dan Glickman, chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, applauded the French court's decision. Today's decision is an enormous victory for creators everywhere, Glickman said. It is our hope that ISPs will fully
honor their promise to cooperate and that the French government will take the necessary measures to dedicate resources to handle the enormous task ahead.
Under the law, a new agency will be created that will issue termination notices to Internet service providers, and they will in turn cut off access to customers accused of piracy. But first, in cases where the agency wants to terminate service,
it must first go through some kind of judicial review.
One of the ways the law was revised to gain acceptance by the French court is to require a judge to review each case before anyone's Internet access is shut down.
Culture secretary Ben Bradshaw has revealed that controversial measures to tackle illegal file-sharing will be watered down following fierce opposition.
He told the House of Commons culture, media and sport committee that rights holders will have to obtain a court order before punishing persistent offenders by reducing or cutting off their internet connections.
Earlier this year, business secretary Lord Mandelson said that internet service providers would be forced to hand over information on customers who used illegal sites heavily to music companies and film studios so that they could take action.
Giving evidence to MPs, Bradshaw also said that those targeted would also have the right to appeal against the decision. Those concessions will be seen as an attempt to assuage the concerns of those who believe the proposed remedy is
The results of a new poll reveal the extent of opposition to Peter Mandelson's proposals for tough sanctions against alleged file-sharers. The survey, commissioned by the Open Rights Group, shows that not only is the public in favor of due
process, but a third would be much less likely to vote for political parties supporting these proposals.
Driven largely by the big-label international music business, proposals for disconnecting alleged file-sharers are now common in many countries. Having achieved some kind of momentum in France, the lobbying shifted focus to the UK, with Mandelson
advocating harsh punishment for persistent infringers, or more accurately, those that are persistently accused.
Opposition to such plans are widespread, but until recently, public opinion hadn't been tested in a measurable way. Today we have a much clearer idea, as results from a YouGov poll commissioned by the Open Rights Group have been released.
A significant 68% of those surveyed felt that individuals accused of illicit file-sharing should have the right to a fair trial before their accounts were disconnected or otherwise interfered with as punishment. Just 16% of respondents said they
would be happy for Internet users to have their accounts automatically suspended once their ISP had received a number of accusations.
While 44% said the proposals would not influence their vote, just under a third of respondents (31%) said they would be much less likely to vote for a political party that endorsed disconnection from the Internet without a trial. Just 7%
said they were more likely to support a party bringing in such sanctions.
Jim Killock, executive director at the Open Rights Group, feels that the government is out of step. Our conclusion must be that this is a politically unwise move, that will be unpopular and a vote loser for its architects, he said, noting
that such measures will fail to meet their objectives. [They] won't make a single penny for artists, or help online music businesses get off the ground, he added.
Americans do not want to be given tailored advertising based on monitoring of their online behaviour, according to what its authors call the first independent, academically rigorous survey of consumers' views.
Research conducted by the University of Pennsylvania and the Berkeley Centre for Law and Technology has found that 66% of adult US citizens do not want advertising to be tailored to what advertisers think are their interests.
Publishers keen to increase advertising revenue and advertisers have claimed that tracking that does not identify users by name is acceptable to most people, because of the benefits that accrue from being shown more relevant ads. To marketers,
it is self-evident that consumers want customized commercial messages, the academics' report says. The survey's data appear to refute that argument.
Contrary to what many marketers claim, most adult Americans (66%) do not want marketers to tailor advertisements to their interests, said the study. We conducted this survey to determine which view Americans hold. In high%ages, they
stand on the side of privacy advocates. That is the case even among young adults whom advertisers often portray as caring little about information privacy, it said. Our survey did find that younger American adults are less likely to say no
to tailored advertising than are older ones.
This survey's findings support the proposition that consumers should have a substantive right to reject behavioural targeting and its underlying practices, said the report.
The Pirate Party has opened up a branch in Australia and plans to contest the next federal election.
The party, which will campaign on a platform of anti-internet censorship and the decriminalisation of non-commercial file sharing, has already signed up 550 members, enough for it to register as a party with the Australian Electoral Commission.
It plans to hold internal elections for leadership positions - president, general secretary, treasurer and their deputies - on October 7.
But party spokesman Brendan Molloy was quick to point out that free file sharing was only one aspect of the overall mission, which was to bolster our nation's Democratic conventions . We've here to actively change the landscape of
Australian politics forever, by advocating freer copyright and protection of our civil liberties, especially against [Communications Minister Stephen] Conroy's censorship regime, which is not welcome in Australia.
We also have a strong stance for the reform of the patent system to be much fairer, especially in regards to pharmaceuticals and software.
The party has branches in 35 countries and they all co-operate via a collective called Pirate Party International.
The Australian branch is headed by a University of Sydney law student, Rodney Sarkowsky.