Control Freaks

 2011: April-June



30th June   

Update: The Tip of a Shared Iceberg...

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Melon Farming Fresh

 

US film studios in court attempt to force BT to block sharing websites
Link Here

newzbin2 logoLast year Hollywood's Motion Picture Association (MPA) went to court seeking an injunction against UK ISP BT in order to force them to block Newzbin2, a Usenet indexer.

This week the MPA and BT were back in the High Court, with the former saying that Newzbin2 costs them millions of pounds every year due to illegal movie downloads, and the latter trying to fight what they say is an attempt at censorship.

BT say that that this attempted blocking of Newzbin2 is just the tip of the iceberg and that once achieved, rightsholders would want up to 400 more sites blocked on the same grounds.

But the world will have to wait for a decision. Mr Justice Arnold said the court will make a formal judgment soon after July 12th, pending the outcome of another case examining responsibility for the sale of counterfeit products on eBay.

 

27th June   

Update: A Consultation Shared...

  Video Universe - Buy New Release DVDs, TV on DVD, Music Videos and Much More

US Mainstream DVDs

Video Universe
 

Irish Government proposes law to enable internet disconnection for piracy
Link Here

IrelandFollowing last year's failed High Court bid to force an ISP to adopt a 3 strikes-style regime to deal with pirates, the Big Four record labels are set to get their way through a change in the law. If adopted, proposals published by the Irish government would allow copyright holders to hold ISPs liable for infringements and take out injunctions against them.

The High Court said that laws to cut off file-sharers were not enforceable in Ireland.

It is not surprising that the legislative response laid down in our country in the Copyright and Related Rights Act 2000, at a time when this problem was not perceived to be as threatening to the creative and retail economy as it has become in 2010, has made no proper provision for the blocking, diverting or interrupting of internet communications intent on breaching copyright, the judge said in his judgment.

By not having this legislative mechanism in place, Justice Charleton said that Ireland is not in compliance with its obligations under European law. The only thing the courts can force an Internet host to carry out, he said, is the removal of infringing material.

Now, through its Consultation on Amendment to Copyright and Related Rights Act, 2000, the Irish government is taking steps to change legislation to close this apparent loophole.

It must be emphasised that this proposed amendment is not about the introduction of a statutory regulatory regime in relation to copyright infringement such as the French 'Hadopi' system or the 'Three strikes' regime set out in the Digital Economy Act in the United Kingdom, notes the proposal.

Nevertheless, while they do not implement a statutory regime, adoption of the proposals could yield a similar result.

The proposals are open for public consultation with a closing date of July 1st, just over a week away.

 

26th June   

Tube Fare...

CD Universe - Buy Music CDs, TV on DVD, DVDs, Video Games for XBox, PlayStation 2 and Much More

Private Media Group take legal action against tube sites
Link Here

private media group logoPrivate Media Group last week asked a federal judge to go along with a $11.3 million default judgment against two of the largest porn tube sites, EmpFlix.com and TnAFlix.com.

Private, which claims the tube sites' operator, YoungTek Solutions Ltd., is illegally streaming 75 of its videos, also is seeking to have EmpFlix.com and TnAFlix.com's domain names awarded to the adult entertainment company.

The amount at stake is large, but the defendant is a commercial venture that operates one of the busiest online commercial properties in the world, Private said in a motion for default judgment. Only a large award will serve to deter these arrogant defendants from future illegal action.

 

20th June   

Adverts Ripped Up...

Microsoft removes CD Ripping capability from UK adverts after action by the advert censor
Link Here

microsoft rip cdThe UK advertising censor, the ASA has tackled Microsoft over CD ripping adverts.

Microsoft has been banned from promoting a potentially illegal feature in its Windows Media Player, CD ripping.

In March, the ASA took to task 3GA Ltd for its Brennan JB7, a CD player with a hard disk that stores up to 5,000 CDs . The ASA said the advertisement incited consumers to break the law , as format shifting breaks copyright laws in the UK - despite it being common practice.

A PC Pro reader noticed Microsoft was advertising the very same feature in its Windows Media Player software, and dutifully reported the ad to the watchdog to prevent anyone else from being incited into a life of crime.

In a letter seen by PC Pro, the ASA assured the complainant that Microsoft had agreed to change its ad and make clear that unauthorised use or duplication of copyrighted material is a violation of copyright law in the UK .

There was no formal investigation, as Microsoft agreed to change the advert immediately - and as that's the only punishment available to the watchdog, there was no point in pursuing the case further.

Microsoft continues to support CD Ripping in its Windows Media Player but notes:

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of copyrighted material may be a violation of copyright law in the United States and/or other countries/regions (for example, it is a violation in the UK). Copyrighted material includes, but is not limited to, software, documentation, graphics, lyrics, photographs, clipart, animations, movie and video clips, as well as sound and music (including when MP3 encoded). Violation of international copyright laws may subject you to significant civil and/or criminal penalties.

 

4th June   

Update: Cut off from Free Speech...

The UN criticises three strikes legislations as disproportionate to the offence
Link Here

UN logoThe Special Rapporteur to the United Nations Human Rights Council has denounced three strikes laws that would cut off Internet users as a penalty for copyright infringement. The advice comes in a Report to the UN General Assembly on the Protection and Promotion of Freedom of Opinion and Expression.

While blocking and filtering measures deny users access to specific content on the Internet, States have also taken measures to cut off access to the Internet entirely. The Special Rapporteur considers cutting off users from Internet access, regardless of the justification provided, including on the grounds of violating intellectual property rights law, to be disproportionate and thus a violation of article 19, paragraph 3, of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The Special Rapporteur calls upon all States to ensure that Internet access is maintained at all times, including during times of political unrest. In particular, the Special Rapporteur urges States to repeal or amend existing intellectual copyright laws which permit users to be disconnected from Internet access, and to refrain from adopting such laws.

The Special Rapporteur also acknowledged the importance of protecting Internet intermediaries from liability in order to protect human rights. Internet intermediaries should only act to limit the rights of their customers following a legitimate court order.

 

2nd June   

Copycat Legislation...

Norway proposes action against file sharing
Link Here

Norway flagNorway is the latest country to propose amendments to its copyright law to make it easier for content owners to tackle online piracy, though the Norwegian government has shied away from any sort of three-strikes system, instead making it legally easier for rights owners to identify individual file-sharers, and to get injunctions to order ISPs to block copyright infringing websites.

The former will relax data protection rules which, in Norway, currently limit who can monitor the activities of individuals on the internet. They will also simplify the process by which rights owners can force ISPs to reveal the name and contacts of suspected file-sharers based on the IP address they are using.

The big debate in most countries is whether government regulators should have the power to order such website blocking, or whether injunctions should only be available via the courts system, albeit via some sort of fast-track judicial process. And the Norwegian government's proposals put forward both these options. Those who fear any web blocking could lead to excessive censorship generally oppose both options, though will oppose the former much more vehemently.

Norway's government is now asking for those affected by any change to copyright law to comment on the proposals.

 

18th May   

Digital Opportunity...

Ian Hargreaves reports on Intellectual Property
Link Here

digital opportunity A review of the UK's copyright laws offers reforms but not the radical overhaul demanded by some. It was requested by the prime minister following concerns that they were outdated for the internet age.

The review, led by Professor Ian Hargreaves, recommends legalising the practice of copying music and films. It also seeks to relax the rules around so-called transformative works - parodies or other reworkings of existing content.

And it calls for the setting up of a new agency to mediate between those wanting to license music, film and other digital content and rights owners.

One of the key changes will be the recommendation to legalise format shifting for personal use - the copying of CDs or DVDs onto digital music players or computers. Although no individual has been prosecuted for ripping music, having an outdated legal framework has stifled some innovations, the report said.

Format shifting has been implemented in all European countries apart from the UK, the Republic of Ireland and Malta, said Susan Hall, media specialist at law firm Cobbetts LLP.

Another big idea in the report is the creation of a Digital Copyright Exchange. It will be responsible for so-called orphaned works, content that does not have an identifiable author. The report recommends a "senior figure" be appointed to oversee its design by the end of next year.

Owners can voluntarily add their IP to the exchange and will be encouraged to do so by stronger enforcement actions available only for material in the exchange. However it is felt that restrictions such as standard licensing terms will not be attractive to film and music producers.

 

18th May   

The Nintendo Brick...

Unreasonable DRM and terms and conditions for the Nintendo 3DS
Link Here

Nintendo Handheld Console Cosmos Black The Nintendo 3DS comes with Terms of Service (TOS) that should not be accepted. To enforce these TOS, Nintendo uses Digital Restrictions Management. This combination of legal and technological restrictions make the Nintendo 3DS dubious, devious, and defective.

One particularly nasty part of the TOS makes a threat that Nintendo will brick your device if you use your 3DS in a way that they do not approve. First, they state that Nintendo may update or change the Nintendo 3DS System or the Nintendo 3DS Service in whole or in part, without notice to you; and then later they state that after the 3DS has been updated...

[...] any existing or future unauthorized technical modification of the hardware or software of your Nintendo 3DS System, or the use of an unauthorized device in connection with your system, will render the system permanently unplayable.

defectivebydesign.org have mounted a campaign to highlight customer concerns by sending bricks to Reginald Fils-Aime President and COO Nintendo of America.

They encourage protestors to write:

Dear Reggie Fils-Aime,

The Terms of Service on the Nintendo 3DS are insulting and I will not accept them. The Digital Restrictions Management technology that you use to enforce these terms allows you to dictate how, when, and even IF, I am able to use the device in my own home.

The Nintendo 3DS is Defective by Design and your Terms of Service are dubious, devious, and defective for the following reasons.

Dubious: Nintendo tracks all of the activity on the device and all of the data created by a user. Further, the TOS grants Nintendo a license to all user content created on the 3DS, which includes comments, messages, images, photos, movies, information, and more. Note that the 3DS comes with a camera, so you are making a claim on photos or movies that I create!

Devious: Whenever the wifi is turned on, the 3DS will constantly try to connect to the Nintendo servers and upload all of the tracked data and information.

This is particulary devious when the users are children. And what is your solution to making sure children's personal information doesn't get tracked? You tell parents to make sure their children don't use the device in a way where personal information will be stored.

This means kids shouldn't use the camera; they shouldn't create nicknames; they shouldn't chat about themselves; they shouldn't browse the web; and they shouldn't do a host of other things the 3DS was explicitly made to do.

If children shouldn't use the device for what it is made for, then why are you marketing it toward children?

Defective: You say that at any time, Nintendo can update a device without notice. Further, you state that if you do not like how a person is using the device, then through this update of the system you will render the system permanently unplayable.

Put another way, if you do not like what I am doing with my 3DS, you will brick my device!

If you want to regain the trust and respect of myself and the rest of your potential customers, please respond

Yours Sincerely

 

17th May   

Comment: Facing the Music...

Scotland's first criminal conviction for file sharing
Link Here

Scottish Courts logoA nurse from Ayr has become Scotland's first criminally convicted file-sharer following investigations by the British Recorded Music Industry (BPI) and the International Federation for the Phonographics Industry (IFPI).

Anne Muir admitted to sharing £ 54,000 of copyrighted music files, in contravention of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. Intelligence gathered by BPI and IFPI revealed that Anne Muir was a prolific user of a particular file sharing network based in the UK, said Ayr's district prosecutor, Mirian Watson, who claimed that Muir's offence was tantamount to theft .

Yet Muir did not benefit financially from her file-sharing, says defence Lawyer Lorenzo Alonzi: This offence was not committed for any desire to make money. Mrs Muir was not in any way trying to distribute on a large scale, she had a very big quantity of these files because she was hoarding -- a symptom of a severe obsessive personality disorder that she suffers from.

Muir will be sentenced later this month.

Update: Comment

17th May 2011. Thanks to Angelus

letter writingThis article is doing the rounds, but some important points are being completely missed or downplayed by the media.

For one thing, they want to make it sound like it's open season for filesharers now, but the reality is very different. The fact that the accused entered a "guilty" plea should be telling us something - as far as I can recall, the only time a "not guilty" plea was entered in a similar case, the prosecution failed.

Also, why is nobody pointing out that the case was brought under the wrong section of the Act? Subsection 107(1) of the CDPA is aimed at counterfeiting of tangible objects, it's subsection 107(2A) which specifically targets things like filesharing - it also carries less severe penalties.

 

6th May   

Update: Censorship Workaround...

Mozilla refuse US government request to ban Firefox add-on
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in USA...Domain name seizures and SOPA

mafiaafire redirector logo Mozilla officials have refused a US government request to ban a Firefox add-on that helps people to access sites that use internet domain names seized earlier this year.

The Firefox add-on, available on Mozilla.org, made it easy for users to access sites that used some of the confiscated addresses. It did this by redirecting them to substitute domain names that were out of the reach of US courts, such as those with a .de top level domain.

You simply type Demoniod.com into your browser as usual, the add-on's authors wrote in an FAQ explaining how it works. The browser sends the address to the add-on, the add-on checks if Demoniod.com is on the list of sites to be redirected and immediately redirects you to the mirror site.

US officials alleged MafiaaFire circumvented their seizure order and asked Mozilla to remove it. The open-source group, in not so many words, said no. Our approach is to comply with valid court orders, warrants, and legal mandates, but in this case there was no such court order, Harvey Anderson of Mozilla explained.

A vocal chorus of lawmakers and policy wonks have decried the domain seizures, arguing that the ex parte actions are a serious power grab that threaten the stability of the internet. If the US government can confiscate addresses it doesn't agree with, what's to stop China or any other country from doing the same thing?

 

18th April   

Update: Third Strike...

New Zealand passes 3 strikes legislation against file sharing
Link Here

New Zealand flagNew Zealand's Parliament has voted into law new sanctions against those who share files over the Internet.

The new three strikes piracy law, which passed 111-11, allows copyright owners to send evidence of alleged infringements to ISPs, who will then send up to three infringement notices to account holders.

If the warnings are ignored, the copyright owner can take a claim to New Zealand's Copyright Tribunal, where the panel can set judgments up to US$11,733 against each account holder.

Another provision in the law allows copyright holders to eventually apply through a court to have alleged repeat offenders' connections suspended for six months, with or without a conviction or proof.

The bill, the National Government's compromise solution to the controversial Section 92A illegal file sharing legislation in 2009is called the Government's Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Bill.

The legislation was supported by all New Zealand political parties except the Greens and independent members of Parliament Chris Carter and Hone Harawira.

Reaction against the law has been waged by various groups, including one called Opposing The Copyright (Infringing File Sharing)

Opponents argued the law means Internet surfers could be disconnected without sufficient proof of charges and that it might unfairly punish businesses or families when the downloading was done without their knowledge by an employee or family member or by someone hacking into their connection.

 

17th April   

Sharing a New Approach...

Netherlands to make downloading copyrighted files a criminal offence to enable the blocking of facilitating websites
Link Here

NetherlandsTraditionally, The Netherlands has been one of the most lenient countries when it comes to the sharing of copyrighted material on the Internet, but this will change if the Government gets to implement their new plans. Under new legislation downloading of copyrighted movies and music will become outlawed.

Currently only the uploading part of file-sharing is punishable by law, But State Secretary of Security and Justice Fred Teeven announced that the Government wants to modernize current copyright law. One of the most drastic changes put forward in the new plans is that in addition to uploading, downloading of all copyrighted material will also be outlawed.

In addition to a complete ban on the sharing of copyrighted material, the new copyright plans will also get rid of the copy-levy on blank CDs and DVDs. This levy, ranging from $0.20 to $0.87 per piece, was put in place to compensate rights holders for the films and music that were copied for personal use.

The State Secretary notes that the changes related to file-sharing will not mean that the Government will actively prosecute individual downloaders, but stresses that they are needed to get pirate websites blocked by Internet service providers. At the moment this is impossible.

Although applicable to all citizens, the new law is specifically aimed at the blocking of illegal websites. There will be no three-strikes rules as proposed in other countries, and the Government will not chase individual file-sharers.

Aside from toughening the law, the new plans also include protections for the privacy of file-sharers. One of the key points is that the rights holders can only claim the personal details of an alleged infringer if that person shared copyrighted material on a massive scale. This would prevent the pay-up-or-else settlement schemes that are currently ongoing in the United States.

 

15th April   

Update: Fire and Ice...

Firefox add-on redirects requests from domains seized by the US to their new locations
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in USA...Domain name seizures and SOPA

mafiaafire redirector logo The seizure of file-sharing related domain names by the US Government hasn't been as effective as the entertainment industries had hoped since many of them simply continued their operations under new domains. To make these type of domain transitions go more smoothly, an anonymous group has coded a simple Firefox add-on that automatically redirects users to these new homes.

ICE director John Morton confirmed last week that the seizures will continue in the coming years. But at the same time the authorities amp up their anti-piracy efforts, those in opposition are already coming up with ways to bypass them.

One of these initiatives is the MAFIAA Fire add-on for Firefox. The plugin, which will support the Chrome browser at a later stage too, maintains a list of all the domains that ICE (hence the fire) has seized and redirects their users to an alternative domain if the sites in question have set one up.

 

9th April   

Ripper!...

ASA ticks of CD player/hard disk combo adverts for suggesting that users could copy their CDs
Link Here

Brennan JB7160BUS JB7 160G Blue A national press ad, for a CD player with hard disk, included text that stated:

Good news for CD owners. The Brennan JB7 is a CD player with a hard disk that stores up to 5,000 CDs ... It saves space and clutter and delivers near immediate access to an entire music collection. JB7 owners rediscover then fall in love with their music again simply because the Brennan makes it so accessible. The Brennan also records from vinyl and cassette so you can enjoy your entire music collection but keep it out of the way in another room or retire it to the attic ... What's the point in owning hundreds of CDs worth thousands of pounds if you never listen to them? The problem with CDs is that it's quicker to make a cup of coffee than dip into a CD. Try timing how long it takes to pick a CD, load it in the CD player, play a snippet from a track or two, eject it and put it back where it came from. Then there is the problem of finding music. The print on a CD spine is tiny. What if the track is on a compilation CD? What if the CD is in the car? Then there is the clutter. You need to keep your CDs near the player or you won't play them. So you are forced to share your living space with hundreds of cheap plastic boxes. CDs are great but they are also inconvenient, inaccessible and a bit of a chore ... Key Points One button plays the entire collection at random ... Load CDs in about four minutes ... One touch record from vinyl, cassette or radio Loads and plays MP3 from USB ... Used by restaurants, hotels, pubs, dentists, schools Backup music to external USB for safe keeping ... .

A complainant challenged whether the ad incited consumers to break the law, because it was illegal to copy music without permission from the copyright owner.

3GA said the JB7 was one of a new generation of audio devices that offered the facility to load CDs onto an electronic memory to enjoy them better. They said they were not aware of any owners of the product being charged for, or convicted of, infringing copyright and therefore there was no evidence that the ad incited consumers to break the law. They said there would be no evidence of that unless there was a judgement against a JB7 owner. However, it was apparent from the number of such products available that that was unlikely to happen.

Assessment: Upheld

The ASA noted the product was a CD player as well as having a hard disk to store CDs and also record from vinyl and cassette. We also noted, however, it repeatedly made reference to the benefits of the product being able to copy music but did not make clear that it was illegal to do so without the permission of the copyright owner. We considered the overall impression of the ad was such that it encouraged consumers and businesses to copy CDs, vinyl and cassettes. In the absence of prominent explanation, we concluded that the ad misleadingly implied it was acceptable to copy CDs, vinyl and cassettes without the permission of the copyright owner. We also considered that the ad encouraged people to use the advertised product in this way and that, therefore, it incited consumers to break the law.

The ad breached CAP Code rules 1.10 (Legality) and 3.1 and 3.3 (Misleading advertising).

The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told 3GA to ensure future ads for such products prominently stated that it was unlawful to copy material without the permission of the copyright owner.

 

3rd April   

Update: Moving Forward for a Shot at the Goal of Free Trade...

Conviction quashed for showing pub football via a foreign satellite TV subscription
Link Here

Old BaileyIn March last year, Gregory Turner, of the Golden Cup pub in Burton-On-Trent, was ordered to pay £ 19,294 in costs after losing his initial appeal over a £ 500 fine for showing football using a foreign satellite TV subscription.

On 1st March this year, the High Court quashed both the original conviction and a subsequent decision by Stafford Crown Court confirming the conviction. Both courts were ordered to repay to Turner everything he had paid by way of fines and costs.

High Court judges ruled that Stafford Crown Court had not considered the impact of EU law on the case. The long-running Karen Murphy case is currently being considered by judges at the European Court of Justice.

Although, Turner had been using Arab Radio and Television (ART) Network to screen games, he argued that ART were also trading in Italy.