Control Freaks

 2010: Oct-Dec



6th December   

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Google announce new measures to promote authorised content and take down the not
Link Here

Google logo As the web has grown, we have seen a growing number of issues relating to infringing content. We respond expeditiously to requests to remove such content from our services, and have been improving our procedures over time. But as the web grows, and the number of requests grows with it, we are working to develop new ways to better address the underlying problem.

That's why today we're announcing four changes that we'll be implementing over the next several months:

  • We'll act on reliable copyright takedown requests within 24 hours. We will build tools to improve the submission process to make it easier for rightsholders to submit DMCA takedown requests for Google products (starting with Blogger and web Search). And for copyright owners who use the tools responsibly, we'll reduce our average response time to 24 hours or less. At the same time, we'll improve our counter-notice tools for those who believe their content was wrongly removed and enable public searching of takedown requests.
     
  • We will prevent terms that are closely associated with piracy from appearing in Autocomplete. While it's hard to know for sure when search terms are being used to find infringing content, we'll do our best to prevent Autocomplete from displaying the terms most frequently used for that purpose.
     
  • We will improve our AdSense anti-piracy review. We have always prohibited the use of our AdSense program on web pages that provide infringing materials. Building on our existing DMCA takedown procedures, we will be working with rightsholders to identify, and, when appropriate, expel violators from the AdSense program.
     
  • We will experiment to make authorised preview content more readily accessible in search results. Not surprisingly, we're big fans of making authorised content more accessible on the Internet. Most users want to access legitimate content and are interested in sites that make that content available to them (even if only on a preview basis). We'll be looking at ways to make this content easier to index and find.

 

3rd December   

Offsite: Parallel Domains...

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Too much ICANN control freakery may lead to parallel DNS systems on the internet
Link Here  full story: Pirate Bay...Pirate Bay, Swedish file sharing site

ICANN logo Perhaps it was only a matter of time and the idea that a single comprehensive DNS could not last forever, or maybe this new idea is itself doomed to failure.

But however it shakes out in the end, the recent proposal by Pirate Bay co-founder Peter Sunde to create a new peer-to-peer domain name system to compete with ICANN's system is intriguing for some, and terrifying for others.

...Read the full article

 

30th November   

Update: Claiming Dominion...

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US customs seize domain names of 86 websites accused of copyright infringement
Link Here  full story: Online Infringement Act...Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act

homeland security logo The Homeland Security Department's customs enforcement division has gone on a Web site shutdown spree.

To date, 82 domains have been seized after being accused of selling counterfeit goods, with products sold ranging from music, DVD box sets and software to clothing and sporting goods.

Others linked to copyright-infringing file-sharing materials, at least one site was a Google-like search engine, causing alarm among web freedom advocates who worry the move steps over the line into censorship.

All the shut sites are now displaying a Homeland Security warning that copyright infringers can face up to five years in prison.

According to a report at TorrentFreak, the search engine that was shut down -- Torrent-Finder.com -- neither hosted copyrighted material nor directly linked to places where it could be found. Instead, the site opened new windows to sites that did link to file-sharing materials.

Homeland Security's ability to shut down sites without a court order evidently comes from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, a Clinton-era law that allows Web sites to be closed on the basis of a copyright complaint. Critics have long assailed the DMCA for being too broad, as complainants don't need to prove copyright infringement before a site can be taken down.

Earlier this week, Homeland Security shut down a popular hip-hop music site, RapGodfathers.com, which had nearly 150,000 members. The site claims it is compliant with copyright laws, as it doesn't host copyrighted materials. However, its users posted links to file-hosting services such as Rapidshare and Megaupload, where copyrighted material may have been shared.

These domains are now the property of Homeland Security, writes Gareth Halfacree at Thinq.co.uk, And there's no indication that their original owners will ever be able to get them back.

 

 

29th November   

Sharing Magazines...

Music industry takes aim at magazine articles on the subject of file sharing
Link Here

PC Magazine It seems that the RIAA and other music industry organizations have become bored with only harassing people who may or may not have illegally shared songs online. Now they have begun branching out and harassing the writers and publications who dare cover stories about file-sharing options.

After a recent article was posted covering alternatives to Limewire, after the P2P service was shut down by the RIAA, PC Magazine received a letter signed by the RIAA and 16 other music industry organizations admonishing them for promoting piracy. The letter also referred to a second article which reported the resurrection of Limewire in the form of Limewire: Pirate Edition.

Apparently, the groups didn't fact-check their accusations well enough before sending their correspondence off to PC Magazine's editors since the second article was actually published by rival publication PC World.

We write to express our deep disappointment with your decision to publish Chloe Albanesius' October 27 article, 'LimeWire is Dead: What are the Alternatives?' as well as Sarah Jacobsson Purewal's November 9, 2010 article 'LimeWire is Quietly Resurrected: It's Baaack!', the letter states. Both articles are nothing more than a roadmap for continued music piracy. The disclaimer in the first, 'PC Magazine does not condone the download of copyrighted or illegal material,' rings hollow to say the least.

 

28th November   

Update: Copying America...

European Parliament accepts ACTA trade agreement
Link Here  full story: ACTA Trade Restrictions...Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement

European Parliament logo The European Parliament has welcomed a controversial international intellectual property treaty as a step in the right direction but has reiterated calls for clarity on the impact of the law on existing EU rights.

The Parliament rejected the chance to adopt a much more critical stance of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), a treaty being negotiated between countries including the US, Mexico, Japan, Korea and others.

It voted against a resolution that said that it deplored the fact that the treaty was negotiated by just a handful of selected countries and that questioned its very legal basis.

Instead the Parliament voted to adopt a resolution that said that it welcomed changes that were made to satisfy its previous demands and that it would help EU countries to export with less fear of meeting infringing activity abroad.

 

21st November   

Update: Dangerously Extendable Powers...

US bill to allow authorities wide powers to close down websites looks delayed for the moment
Link Here  full story: Online Infringement Act...Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act

US Senate 19 members of the Senate Judiciary unanimously voted to move forward with the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA) this week, despite a letter sent to them by a large number of law professors explaining the unconstitutionality of COICA, and earlier protests by 96 Internet engineers, and Tim Berners-Lee, the father of the Web.

However t doesn't appear it will pass through the full Senate, at least for now.

COICA targets piracy, but it is very broad in its definition of what that means. Copyright infringement could include not just hosting torrents, downloads or streams of copyrighted materials, but also providing a link or aggregated links to other sites or Internet resources for obtaining access to such copies.

In other words, as defined, it could be interpreted that a news site that linked to The Pirate Bay or other BitTorrent site would be in violation. COICA would empower the attorney general to be able to get court orders to blacklist sites out of the DNS (Domain Name Service) system, meaning you wouldn't be able to type in their name and reach them, on the Web. Naturally, organizations such as the MPAA and RIAA love the idea.

Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) has announced that he was going to take the necessary steps to stop [COICA] from passing the United States Senate. He added: It seems to me that online copyright infringement is a legitimate problem, but it seems to me that COICA as written is the wrong medicine. Deploying this statute to combat online copyright infringement seems almost like using a bunker-busting cluster bomb when what you really need is a precision-guided missile. The collateral damage of this statute could be American innovation, American jobs, and a secure Internet.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) said: Blacklisting entire sites out of the domain name system is a reckless scheme that will undermine global Internet infrastructure and censor legitimate online speech.

As noted, the bill passed out of the committee unanamously, which translates to having full bipartisan support. That's pretty unusual in these contentious political times, and points to the support of major industry organizations such as the previously mentioned RIAA and MPAA. While probably dead for this session due to Ron Wyden's opposition, it might show up again in the next.

 

13th November   

Update: ShareShare TalkTalk JudgeJudge...

Digital Economy Act to be reviewed by the High Court
Link Here  full story: Digital Economy Act...Clause 11 grants government control of the internet

TalkTalk logo TalkTalk and BT have been granted judicial review of the Digital Economy Act by the High Court.

A judge will now scrutinise whether the act is legal and justifiable, and could make wide-ranging recommendations.

BT and TalkTalk argued that the legislation had been rushed through parliament before the election.

Internet service providers (ISPs) are unhappy with the part of the act that requires them to take action against suspected illegal file-sharers.

Depending on the judge's ruling, the government may be forced to change or even scrap the legislation.

Andrew Heaney, director of strategy and regulation at TalkTalk said he was very pleased that the High Court had recognised the concerns of ISPs: The act was rushed through parliament in the 'wash-up' with only 6% of MPs attending the brief debate and has very serious flaws.

The provisions to try and reduce illegal file-sharing are unfair, won't work and will potentially result in millions of innocent customers who have broken no law suffering and having their privacy invaded.

He called on the government to put the legislation on hold pending the enquiry.

A judge will conduct a full review in February, considering whether the parts of the act that deal with illegal file-sharing are in breach of the e-commerce directive, which rules that ISPs cannot be held liable for traffic on their networks. The act will also be measured against EU privacy and technical standards legislation.

Update: The ISP's Case

16th November 2010. Based on article from  bigbrotherwatch.org.uk

TalkTalk and BT claim that provisions of the Act governing online copyright infringement are incompatible with EU on the following four points:

  1. TalkTalK and BT should have been notified under the EU Technical Standards Directive (98/34/EC, as amended by 98/48 EC) in writing by the European Commission because the provisions listed in the DEA are burdensome. Under this directive, any technical regulations that require notification from a company to a third party must be submitted in writing to the European Commission. The UK has not notified the EC in the case of the DEA.
     
  2. The provisions are incompatible with the EU Electronic Commerce Directive (2000/31/EC) which sets out a legal certainty on communications and transparency on a variety of services including ISPs. The specific provisions of the DEA violate this directive.
     
  3. The provisions contradict the EU Privacy and Electronic Communications Directive which outlines data processing for ISPs among other groups.
     
  4. And finally, the provisions are disproportionate in that they infringe:

a. The free movement of services under the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union;
b. Article 3(4) of the E-Commerce Directive;
c. Article 15(1) of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Directive;
d. UK Human Rights Act 1998 and to Articles 8 and/or 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights relating to privacy and freedom of expression.

 

29th October   

Updated: Call of Censor Duty...

Germany cuts upcoming game, Call of Duty: Black Ops
Link Here

Call Duty Black Ops DVD Games developer Treyarch has revealed censorship details about the upcoming first-person shooter Call of Duty: Black Ops .

The German edition has been cut as follows:

Call of Duty Black Ops screenshot

  • A scene where an enemy is shot in slow motion with copious amounts of gore has been toned down for the German release.
  • A torture scene involving a prisoner has been completely eliminated from the German version.
  • The song Sympathy for the Devil by Mick Jagger has been removed.
  • No explosions that lead to limb loss.
  • Removal of what Germany deems anti-constitutional symbols .

Update: Steam Control Freakery

29th October 2010. Based on article from  computerandvideogames.com

German punters hoping to get hold of the PC version of the shooter won't be able to play PAL versions imported from other EU territories, meaning they'll have to make do with a cut, localised version, according to PC Games (via MCV).

According to the reports, the Steam network will only authorise fully localised German versions of Black Ops , meaning copies imported from other EU territories won't be playable.

 

29th October   

Limewire Squashed...

US court closes widely used file sharing service
Link Here

Limewire logo The Gnutella-based download client LimeWire has ceased all its operations after a U.S. federal judge granted a request from the RIAA.

Limewire was ordered to disable all functionalities in the current application to prevent users from sharing copyrighted material. The verdict is expected to have an unprecedented impact on the P2P file-sharing landscape.

A few months ago the RIAA asked a New York District Court to shut down the world's most installed file-sharing application, LimeWire.

The record labels argued that the Gnutella-based download client might have caused billions of dollars in lost revenue and that it's therefore one of the largest threats to the music industry's revenue. RIAA's request was granted by a federal judge.

 

15th October   

Update: Simply No Law...

Irish High Court will not require Irish ISPs to cut off internet access to file sharers
Link Here

Ireland Four of the world's largest record companies have failed in an attempt to get the three strikes rule enforced against illegal filesharers in Ireland.

Warner Music, Universal Music Group, Sony BMG and EMI brought the case against UPC, one of Ireland's largest broadband providers, in order to establish a legal precedent that would force internet service providers to cut off illegal filesharers' internet connections.

But the Irish high court ruled that laws to identify and cut off internet users were not enforceable in Ireland.

In a judgment published today, Justice Peter Charleton said that laws were not in place to block the internet connections of those accused of sharing copyrighted content. However, he acknowledged that the creative industries are being blighted by internet piracy.

This not only undermines their [the creative industries] business but ruins the ability of a generation of creative people in Ireland, and elsewhere, to establish a viable living . It is destructive of an important native industry.

 

9th October   

Offsite: ACTA Revealed...

Secretive international copyright trade agreement revealed
Link Here  full story: ACTA Trade Restrictions...Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement

ars technica logo After 2 years of secrecy the countries behind ACTA finally released a consolidated draft of the agreement. Though billed as a trade agreement about counterfeiting, ACTA is much more than that: it's an intellectual property treaty in disguise.

ISP immunity/three strikes

Under ACTA, ISPs are protected from copyright lawsuits as long as they have no direct responsibility for infringement. If infringement merely happens over their networks, the infringers are responsible but the ISPs are not.

New to this draft is an option, clearly targeting European law, that would explicitly allow Internet disconnections. Countries will be allowed to force ISPs to terminate or prevent an infringement and they can pass laws governing the removal or disabling of access to information. So, basically, Internet disconnection and website blocking.

ISP immunity is conditioned on the existence of takedown process. In the US, this is the (in)famous DMCA takedown dance that starts with a letter from a rightsholder. Once received, an ISP or Web storage site (think YouTube) must take down the content listed in order to maintain its immunity, but may repost it if the uploader responds with a counter-notification asserting that no infringement has taken place.

Anti-circumvention/DRM

ACTA would ban the unauthorized circumvention of an effective technological measure. It also bans circumvention devices, even those with a limited commercially significant purpose. Countries can set limits to the ban, but only insofar as they do not impair the adequacy of legal protection of those measures. This is ambiguous, but allowing circumvention in cases where the final use is fair would appear to be outlawed.

iPod-scanning border guards?

Early ACTA commentators often complained that the agreement might give customs officials the right to rifle through your bags and search your iPod, confiscating it if they determined that it contained any infringing songs. Border guards might become copyright cops, turning out the bags of anyone who has visited China, say, to see if they might be bringing home any illicit copies of movies or software. The draft text contains a de minimis provision that allows countries to exclude from ACTA enforcement Small quantities of goods of a noncommercial nature contained in travelers' personal luggage.

The real copyright cops

ACTA contains ex officio language that allows customs officials and border agents to hold infringing shipments of goods without needing a rightsholder to complain first. Several options are still being considered in the draft, but all give the authorities the right to act upon their own initiative in releasing suspected goods at customs checkpoints.

Proportionate penalties

At least one enterprising ACTA country has managed to insert this interesting line into the section on enforcement procedures in the digital environment: Those measures, procedures, and remedies shall also be fair and proportionate.

...Read the full article

 

1st October   

Update: Dangerously Extendable Powers...

US bill to allow authorities wide powers to close down websites has been delayed
Link Here  full story: Online Infringement Act...Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act

US Senate The worrying IP infringement bill thankfully failed to sneak in ahead of the Senate adjournment for recess.

The change in plans should delight some of the bill's critics, at least, who expressed concern that the legislation was moving forward quickly.

The Senate Judiciary Committee now won't be considering the dangerously flawed Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA) bill until after the midterm elections, at least.

This is a real victory! The entertainment industry and their allies in Congress had hoped this bill would be quickly approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee with no debate before the Senators went home for the October recess.

The bill will be back soon enough though.

Under the proposed legislation, the Justice Department would file a civil action against accused pirate domain names. If the domain name resides in the U.S., the attorney general could then request that the court issue an order finding that the domain name in question is dedicated to infringing activities. The Justice Department would have the authority to serve the accused site's U.S.-based registrar with an order to shut down the site.