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2009: Oct-Dec

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12th December   

Legal Debate...

Dutch media association want to ban Usenet discussions about copyrighted material
Link Here

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.


9th December   

Flash Carts...

Devices to work around Nintendo DS control freakery declared legal in France
Link Here

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

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.


8th December   

Update: Searching for Privacy...

Google extends advert personalisation
Link Here
Full story: Behavioural Advertising...Serving adverts according to internet snooping

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 likes cookies.

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.


5th December   

Update: Meddlesome Mandelson...

Internet industry not impressed by blank cheque style copyright laws
Link Here
Full story: International 3 Strikes Laws...File sharers threatened with loss of internet access

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 .


5th December   

Update: A Culture of Sharing...

Spain to target facilitators of copyright infringement
Link Here
Full story: International 3 Strikes Laws...File sharers threatened with loss of internet access

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 activists.


4th December   

BBC Scam...

BBC prohibit high definition output from their DVDs
Link Here

This is the message we received when we played the new Raiders Of The Lost Ark and Temple Of Doom DVD.

All BBC and some film companies seem to limit the output of their DVD's.

If high definition output appears from and old DVD player, made say 2 or 3 years ago, then this resolution is prohibited.

The BBC and some film companies like Paramount, will not let you see the high output.

In other words if you want to watch HD you must pay for the companies exorbitantly priced HD disc's even if you have a high output DVD disc already,


23rd November   

Update: The Digital Economy...

UK Government publish consultation responses re Ofcom's role
Link Here
Full story: International 3 Strikes Laws...File sharers threatened with loss of internet access

The UK Government initiated a consultation about issues raised in the  Digital Britain Report:

Consultation on the proposed new duties for Ofcom; to promote efficient investment in infrastructure and to provide a full assessment of UK communications infrastructure every two years [pdf]

The consultation started on 13-08-09 and closed on 25-09-09

The Consultation Responses have now been published:

Collection of responses relating to the BIS consultation on the proposed new duties for Ofcom; to promote efficient investment in infrastructure and to provide a full assessment of UK communications infrastructure every two years [zip]

The Government have also published their response to the comments:

Government response to the consultation on the proposed new duties for Ofcom; to promote efficient investment in infrastructure, to provide a full assessment of UK communications infrastructure every two years


22nd November   

Unmodded Decision...

Mod chip prosecution stands as appeal fails
Link Here

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.


21st November   

Update: The Digital Economy Bill...

UK Government to make up copyright law as they go along
Link Here
Full story: International 3 Strikes Laws...File sharers threatened with loss of internet access

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.

Based on article from

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 looking.

Based on article from

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.


20th November   

Update: Tracked Back to Port...

Pirate Bay BitTorrent tracker closes
Link Here

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.


14th November   

Xban for Xbox...

Microsoft hits Xbox customers not following control freak rules
Link Here

Microsoft has once again taken out its ban stick, this time in an effort to prevent modified Xbox 360s from accessing Xbox Live.

A story on estimates the total number of banned accounts at around 600,000. Total Xbox Live accounts number over 20 million.

Modded console owners will still be able to use their 360s offline.


12th November   

Fair Use...

German court retains provision for private copy of own CD
Link Here

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.


11th November   

Update: ISPs Aren't Net Police...

Norwegian ISPs win court case against blocking access to Pirate Bay
Link Here

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.


7th November   

Update: Euro 3 Strikes...

File sharers internet loss in the EU must be subject to legal review
Link Here
Full story: International 3 Strikes Laws...File sharers threatened with loss of internet access

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.


1st November   

Update: Beyond Territorial Limits...

Swedish court continues to threaten Pirate Bay even though it has sailed offshore
Link Here

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.


21st October   

Update: Shared Views...

68% of surveyed Brits feel that file sharers have a right to a fair trial
Link Here
Full story: International 3 Strikes Laws...File sharers threatened with loss of internet access

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.


3rd October   

Update: Americans Reject Tailored Advertising...

University research finds that Phorm is out of favour in the US
Link Here
Full story: Behavioural Advertising...Serving adverts according to internet snooping

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.


1st October   

Update: Anti Conroy's Censorship Regime...

Attempts to establish the Pirate Party in Australia
Link Here

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.

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