Microsoft has confirmed that users of its instant messaging app will not be able to send each other links to popular torrent site The Pirate Bay.
We block instant messages if they contain malicious or spam URLs based on intelligence algorithms, third-party sources, and/or user complaints. Pirate Bay URLs were flagged by one or more of these and were consequently blocked, Redmond
told The Register in an emailed statement.
Microsoft declined to give any more details for their censorship choice.
The European Parliament's international trade committee has rejected a proposal by David Martin, an MEP who is drafting the Parliament's position on ACTA. Martin wanted to ask the European Court of Justice for its opinion on the controversial
anti-piracy treaty, but the committee decided that wasn't needed and will now vote in June on whether to approve ACTA. Opponents of the treaty see the development as a victory.
In a February announcement, EU trade chief Karel De Gucht said that following discussion with fellow Commissioners, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) would be referred to the European Court of Justice (ECJ).
The treaty, which is aimed at harmonizing global copyright enforcement globally, has largely been formulated behind closed doors and its critics fear it will only lead to censorship and surveillance of Internet users.
The plan was to ask the ECJ to look at ACTA and decide if it conflicts with the EU's fundamental rights and freedoms, including freedom of expression and right to privacy.
ACTA will now be pushed through committees in the European Parliament during April and May and then to a final full Parliament vote at its June plenary session.
If ACTA dies in European Parliament, then it's a permakill, and the monopoly lobbies will have to start fighting uphill, said Pirate Party founder Rick Falkvinge in a comment. If ACTA passes, the same monopolists get tons of new powers
to use, and close the door for the foreseeable future behind the legislators for a very necessary reform of the copyright and patent monopolies.
After its existence was first discovered by the public in 2008 after documents were uploaded to Wikileaks, ACTA's opponents now have just 10 weeks to pull out the stops.
The record industry in July will start sending ISPs offending IP addresses for graduated responses in piracy cases.
Cary Sherman, CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America, said most of the participating ISPs are on track to begin implementing the program by July 1. The ISPs that have joined up with the RIAA are Comcast, Time Warner, Verizon,
AT&T, Cablevision and Comcast.
The program requires that ISPs send out one or two educational notices to those customers who are accused of downloading copyrighted content illegally. If the customer doesn't put a halt to the practice, the ISP is then asked to send out
confirmation notices asking that they confirm they have received notice.
Legal expert Doug Lichtman, a UCLA law professor spoke to an adult industry seminar about these copyright alerts. Calling them warm 'nastygrams,' Lichtman told the adult industry that they should adopt the system, and that file
sharers could be persuaded to be come paying consumers.
An Indian court has ordered all of the country's ISPs to block 104 web sites that it claims offer illegal music downloads.
The Indian court's ruling came in the week that MPAA chairman and CEO Chris Dodd told the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry conference, We encourage the Indian film industry to reject as we have, the false argument that
you cannot be pro-technology and pro-copyright at the same time.
The ISPs must block the web sites using both DNS and IP address blocking with deep packet inspection to reinforce the ban. Indian ISPs will implement the block by doing much more than just poisoning DNS servers, including IP address blocks and
deep packet inspection (DPI). While DPI cannot see within SSH tunnels it can detect whether traffic is being tunnelled and can in theory drop it indiscriminately.
The Irish government has now signed a SOPA-like law that will force ISPs to act as copyright cops and censor and block access to websites that the entertainment industry doesn't like. This happened despite widespread protests in Ireland against
The Irish Minister for Research and 'Innovation', Sean Sherlock, is claiming that the final version of the bill is much more limited than earlier proposals, and that it took guidance from recent EU Court of Justice rulings that say ISPs shouldn't
have to be proactive about blocking. That still means that copyright holders can petition to force ISPs to block all access to various websites. No doubt the major record labels and studios will be doing just that very soon.
Sherlock, apparently realizing just how bad this looks to the citizenry, is trying to balance this announcement out by also saying that he's launching the next stage of the process to review copyright in Ireland, with the goal of supposedly removing barriers to innovation.
A pub landlady has won her court fight with the English Premier League over using a Greek TV decoder to screen games.
Karen Murphy has paid nearly £ 8,000 in fines and costs for using the cheaper decoder in her Portsmouth pub to bypass controls over match screening.
But she took her case to the European Court of Justice (ECJ). It found partly in her favour, and now the High Court in London has also found in her favour.
Instead of using Sky, on which it costs £ 700 a month to see Premier League matches, she used the Greek TV station Nova, which has the rights to screen the games in Greece, and which cost her
£ 800 a year.
The High Court in London on Friday ruled that Karen Murphy's appeal over using the decoder to bypass controls over match screening must be allowed.
The ECJ said last autumn that national laws that prohibit the import, sale or use of foreign decoder cards were contrary to the freedom to provide services.
The European judges also said the Premier League could not claim copyright over Premier League matches as they could not be considered to be an author's own intellectual creation and, therefore, to be works for the purposes of EU
However the Premier League and co are allowed to claim copyright control over titles, logos and promotional videos etc shown around the football action. Presumably if the Greek service relays the Premier League programme then it could effectively
be banned from commercial use in pubs in just the same way as Sky's home subscriber sports channels are banned.
On the positive side it does mean that there can be no legal issue with private householders subscribing to foreign channels as there are no commercial compexities.
The European Union's highest court has been asked to rule on the legality of a controversial anti-piracy agreement.
The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (Acta) has been criticised by rights campaigners who argue it could stifle free expression on the internet.
EU trade head Karel De Gucht said the court will be asked to clarify whether the treaty complied with the EU's fundamental rights and freedoms .
The European Commission said it decided today to ask the European Court of Justice for a legal opinion to clarify that the Acta agreement and its implementation must be fully compatible with freedom of expression and freedom of the internet
Several key countries, including Germany and Denmark, have backed away from the treaty amid protests in several European cities. Acta is set to be debated by the European Parliament in June.
In a statement, Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the European Commission and EU Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, has outlined a robust position on internet freedom.
In it, she states for me, blocking the Internet is never an option and goes onto argue the current situation can and must not be changed by the ACTA agreement .
Reding concludes by saying I therefore welcome the intention of several members of the European Parliament to ask the European Court of Justice for a legal opinion to clarify that the ACTA agreement cannot limit freedom of expression and
freedom of the Internet.
Update: EU Parliament also asks for European Court guidance
he European Parliament has followed the Commission in referring the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) to the European Court, for a view on its compatibility with EU law.
The decision to refer this question to the European Court is a manoeuvre designed to limit the impact of ACTA whatever the answer: if the Court decides ACTA does require European law to change, the Parliament is more likely to veto the treaty; if
it rules that no changes are necessary, that will weaken the hand of those that seek later to invoke ACTA as justification for creating new enforcement powers.
The Supreme Court of Canada ruled last week that ISPs are not subject to the country's Broadcasting Act, which was passed in 1991. The court confirmed a 2010 ruling by The Federal Court of Appeal, which was tasked with answering the following
Do retail Internet service providers ('ISPs') carry on, in whole or in part, 'broadcasting undertakings' subject to the Broadcasting Act when, in their role as ISPs, they provide access through the Internet to 'broadcasting' requested by
The question was important because the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission ( CRTC ) had concluded in 1999 that the term broadcasting as it is used in the Broadcasting Act included programs transmitted to
end-users over the Internet.
Originally the CRTC exempted broadcasting services via the Internet from the requirements of the Broadcasting Act. In 2008. However after public hearings, the CRTC revisited this exemption. The CRTC referred the matter to the Federal
Appeals Court, whose ruling saying ISPs were not subject to the law was then challenged.
It turns out the companies who lined up on either side of this issue are the same ones facing off over laws like SOPA and Protect IP. It was groups representing actors, producers, directors and writers that appealed to the Supreme Court. Such
groups would like to see the current control that the massive multinational media companies now enjoy over TV related platforms be extended to the internet.
European disquiet about the terms of the ACTA anti-piracy treaty is gaining momentum. The Netherlands and Bulgaria are the latest to question the treaty.
A majority of the Dutch Parliament is said to be against the ratification of ACTA. They only intend to change this position if there's irrefutable evidence that it doesn't violate basic human rights.
Right now this is certainly not the case, as professors Douwe Korff and Ian Brown examined ACTA's compatibility with human rights and concluded:
Overall, ACTA tilts the balance of IPR protection manifestly unfairly towards one group of beneficiaries of the right to property, IP right holders, and unfairly against others.
It equally disproportionately interferes with a range of other fundamental rights, and provides or allows for the determination of such rights in procedures that fail to allow for the taking into account of the different, competing interests,
but rather, stack all the weight at one end.
This makes the entire Agreement, in our opinion, incompatible with fundamental European human rights instruments and -standards.
Meanwhile in Bulgaria, more than 10,000 people took the streets in Sofia last Saturday to protest the treaty, Economy Minister Traicho Traikov then announced that the country will not ratify ACTA before other EU countries have made up their
The recently elected president of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, has criticized the current ACTA treaty, saying it provides little protection for the rights of individual users.
I don't find it good in its current form, Schultz said in an interview with Germany's ARD television station on Sunday. The current treaty swings too heavily in favor of copyright holders, he said, and an individual's internet freedoms is only very inadequately anchored in this agreement.
Schultz's own party, the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, has come out against ACTA, and the German government announced on Friday that it was going to hold off on ratifying ACTA until after the European Parliament has voted on
the issue. That vote is scheduled in June, after the European Parliament's trade committee has scrutinized it.
Thousands of people have taken part in co-ordinated protests across Europe in opposition to a controversial anti-piracy agreement.
Significant marches were held in Germany, Poland and the Netherlands against the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (Acta).
Around 200 protesters gathered in central London outside the offices of several major rights holders.
Saturday's London demonstration was supported by the Open Rights Group, a vocal opponent to the treaty. The group's executive director, Jim Killock, argued that Germany's stance shows Acta negotiations were carried out in secret by EU bureaucrats
. Three member states in Europe are now looking like they don't want to sign, he told the BBC: That shows that politicians are only really starting to look at this now. All of a sudden, the whole thing is breaking down.
Speaking at the London protest Loz Kaye said: What we've seen is a whole wave of people coming out on the streets right across Europe, he told the BBC. Some people have been called extreme, but equally, Amnesty International,
Medecins Sans Frontieres have spoken out. Even The Economist, which is hardly radical, has described the treaty as potentially draconian.
More demonstrations were held in other UK cities, including Edinburgh and Glasgow. .
Amnesty International has urged EU governments not to join the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), branding it a Pandora's box of potential human rights violations.
Starting this Saturday, 11 February, a range of civil society groups and individual citizens have planned protests in many European cities to voice opposition to ACTA before the European Parliament decides whether to formally ratify the pact
later this year.
Amnesty International believes the pact's content, process, and institutional structure impact in a number of ways on human rights -- especially the rights to due process, privacy, freedom of information, freedom of expression, and access to
The EU should reject ACTA in its current form -- implementing the agreement could open a Pandora's box of potential human rights violations by doing away with due process and front-loading the requirement to enforce its provisions, said
Widney Brown, Senior Director of International Law and Policy at Amnesty International: While Amnesty believes that creators should be compensated for their work, the protection of intellectual property should never come at the expense of
basic human rights.
Amnesty International is concerned about ACTA's broad coverage, vague language, and tendency to value private law enforcement over judicial review. Rather than allowing the courts to resolve how infractions of the ACTA should be treated, the pact
obliges states to encourage third parties to enforce its provisions.
This would incentivize Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to impose repressive measures to avoid infringements, such as blocking, deleting, or even suspending services without recourse to judicial review.
Companies may be threatened with criminal sanctions if they derive indirect economic benefit from infringements or if they are deemed to have aided and abetted one or more acts of infringement. This is likely to have a chilling
effect on free speech and access to information.
As these private companies would also be incentivized to implement intrusive surveillance technologies in order to avoid being liable for the actions of their users, this would also lead to gross violations of user privacy.
Access to generic medicines and other essential products could also be affected, as the ACTA would give customs officials the authority to seize products with labels suspected of being confusingly similar to trademark brands. Giving generic
medicines similar labels helps to communicate medical equivalence and supports public health policy goals.
Amnesty International is also gravely concerned about the ACTA's vague and meaningless safeguards. Instead of using well-defined and accepted terminology, the text refers to concepts such as fundamental principles and even invents a
concept of fair process , which currently has no definition in international law.
Only a small number of states including EU members, Japan, Australia and the USA, have negotiated the Agreement since 2007. The negotiation process has lacked transparency and democratic credibility, as it has taken place outside of recognized
institutions, such as the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the World Trade Organization (WTO).
The public was kept out of the process, and civil society, despite its demands, has not yet had access to all documents relating to the ACTA negotiations. US industry was kept up to speed with the negotiations, on condition that the industry
partners signed a non-disclosure agreement.
The resulting standards are tremendously skewed towards protecting commercial interests over human rights.
Germany has halted signing a controversial anti-piracy accord, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (Acta), after the justice ministry voiced concerns.
A foreign ministry spokesperson told AFP that the delay was to give us time to carry out further discussions .
Latvia put off ratification on Friday. Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia have already delayed the process.
The Associated Press reports Germany's that Justice ministry believes the legislation is unnecessary in Germany and that the European Parliament should vote on Acta before the country considers it for ratification.
Anti-Acta websites currently list more than 50 protests scheduled to take place across Germany on Saturday.
The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) treaty, signed by most European countries last week, has generated considerable protest. This has sparked at least one signatory to have a deeper think about what they actually signed up for.
The Slovenian ambassador to Japan, Helena Drnovsek Zorko, has issued an unprecedented public apology for signing the treaty, saying she was only obeying orders and was now supporting the public protests against the treaty. She sdmitted:
I signed ACTA out of civic carelessness, because I did not pay enough attention, she said, in a most undiplomatic display of honesty. Quite simply, I did not clearly connect the agreement I had been instructed to sign with the agreement that,
according to my own civic conviction, limits and withholds the freedom of engagement on the largest and most significant network in human history, and thus limits particularly the future of our children.
The Polish government has announced it is to suspend the ratification of the ACTA treaty, in light of public concern. Polish prime minister Donald Tusk said:.
The issue of signing of the ACTA accord did not involve sufficient consultation with everyone who is part of the process. The ACTA ratification process will be frozen as long as we haven't overcome all the doubts. This will probably require a
review of Polish law. We can't rule out that, at the end of the day, this accord will not be approved.
French European Parliament member Kader Arif, who resigned in protest the day the treaty was signed, urged his fellow parliamentarians to reject ACTA.
I see a great risk concerning checks at borders, and the agreement foresees criminal sanctions against people using counterfeited products as a commercial activity, he told The Guardian. This is relevant for the trade of fake shoes or bags, but
what about data downloaded from the internet? If a customs officer considers that you may set up a commercial activity just by having one movie or one song on your computer, which is true in theory, you could face criminal sanctions.
I don't want people to have their laptops or MP3 players searched at borders, Arif said. There needs to be a clearer distinction between normal citizens and counterfeiters which trade fake products as a commercial activity.
[And if you doubt what Arif is saying you only have to look to Britain for an example of EXACTLY what Arif fears. The British Parliament deliberately targeted its anti porn laws at commercial suppliers rather than
customers. Yet the British authorities corrupted the law and deemed that giving a dodgy video to your mate was in fact commercial supply. They argued that commercial 'gain' could be as minimal as just the satisfaction of doing your mate a good
The Open Rights Group are supporting a demonstration against ACTA, which will take place in central London on Saturday, on 11th February. It has been planned to coincide with demonstrations across Europe, when a chorus of thousands of
discontented voices will speak as one against over-reaching Internet laws.
The aim will be to tell as many people as possible what's going on by distributing leaflets and asking those who are worried to contact their MEPs.
People will be meeting at UK Music's offices, 27 Berners St, Paddington, central London at 2pm. The Open Rights Group will help supply what can only be described as brilliant leaflets and fabulous t-shirts. Then the idea is to split up into small
teams and head off to spread the word.
In early June, about three weeks before Beyonce's latest album came out, one of her songs, a collaboration with the rapper Andre 3000, made its way to the open seas of the Internet. Twitter recently published a batch of data that sheds light
on the leak and provides insight into how Twitter censors information on the Internet.
It began when a website called RapUp published a link to the song, Party . Someone tweeted the link and lots of people retweeted it. From the perspective of Beyonce's record label, Columbia, this was not cool. So Columbia turned to
a London-based contractor called Web Sheriff, which sent a takedown request to Twitter. It contained a list of over 100 of those copyright-infringing tweets and retweets. Twitter wrote back quickly: We have removed the reported materials from
Twitter has removed thousands of tweets from its site over the years, and last month, it published the more than 4,000 takedown requests that have floated into its inbox since 2009.
The European Parliament rapporteur for ACTA, Kader Arif, resigned just hours after the EU signed the controversial intellectual property treaty.
In a translated statement, Arif denounced the process leading up to the ACTA signings as a masquerade .
I denounce in the strongest possible manner the entire process which has led to the signature of this agreement: failure to address civil society, lack of transparency since the beginning of the negotiations, successive reports of the signature
of the text without any explanation, sweeping aside of the views of the European Parliament expressed in several different resolutions.
Arif said that he had come under pressure to rush through the ratification process so as to keep ACTA out of the public eye.
As rapporteur on this matter, I was contronted by unprecedented manoeuvres by the right of the Parliament to impose an accelerated timetable with a goal of passing the agreement quickly before public opinion could be alerted.
The rapporteur closed his statement by expressing the hope that his resignation would lead to greater public awareness of the treaty.
This agreement could have major consequences on the lives of our citizens, and yet it seems that everything is being done to ensure that the European Parliament will have no voice in this chapter. Thus, today, in handing back the report that I
have been in charge of, I hope to send a strong signal to alert public opinion to this unacceptable situation. I will not participate in this masquerade.
We wrote last year, many times, about the discussions being hosted by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport between rights holders and various intermediaries - which to normal people means companies like Internet Service
Providers and search engines. One of the most recent roundtables saw the group of rights holders present search engines with a paper on how they should help tackle copyright infringement.
After two Freedom of Information requests, we have received the
proposals [pdf] . Here's the summary of what the rights holders were asking for:
Assign lower rankings to sites that repeatedly make available unlicensed content in breach of copyright.
Prioritise websites that obtain certification as a licensed site under a recognised scheme
Stop indexing websites that are subject to court orders while establishing suitable procedures to de-index substantially infringing sites
Continue to improve the operation of the notice and takedown system and ensure that search engines do not encourage consumers towards illegal sites via suggested searches; related searches and suggested sites
Ensure that they do not support illegal sites by advertising them or placing advertising on them, or profit from infringement by selling key words associated with piracy or selling mobile applications which facilitate infringement.
The minutes from the meeting suggest that the search engines were not impressed, and promised to write their own proposals to be discussed at a future meeting.
Google was dragged over the coals by a British parliamentary committee, as the technology company's approach to removing illegal content from its search results again came under scrutiny.
Several members of the joint committee on privacy and injunctions, chaired by John Whittingdale MP, repeatedly attacked Google's representatives as they set out how the search engine seeks to balance legal challenges with freedom of expression.
Ben Bradshaw, Nadim Zahawi, and Lord Mawhinney, all criticised Google for what they saw as its failure to help victims of invasion of privacy, by removing all links to content which a judge has ruled to be illegal in the UK.
The European Union and 22 Member States have officially signed the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). The UK was among the signatories who gathered in Japan to sign the controversial intellectual property treaty.
The signatories commit to a raft of controversial intellectual property enforcement measures, including rules outlawing DRM circumvention, introducing criminal enforcement of intellectual property rights, and passages which have been interpreted
as turning ISPs into an unofficial copyright police force .
The treaty still requires ratification by the European Parliament. The final vote is scheduled for June.
Thousands of demonstrators have taken to the streets of Polish cities, some of them hurling stones at police, in protest at an international copyright treaty criticized as a clampdown on freedom of speech on the internet.
In the city of Kielce around 700 people protested. Some of them threw bottles and stones at police, damaged cars and partially blocked traffic.
In the largest demonstration, in Cracow, 15,000 people took to the streets in a largely peaceful protest. Demonstrators chanted Down with censorship while some had a piece of tape inscribed with ACTA glued over their lips.
ACTA is the acronym for the international Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, which Poland was to sign in Tokyo on Thursday.
Filesonic, one of the Internet's leading cyberlocker services, has taken some drastic measures following the Megaupload shutdown and arrests last week. In addition to discontinuing its affiliates rewards program, the site has disabled all sharing
functionality, leaving users only with access to their own files. Many hundreds of thousands (probably millions) of links all around the web have now been rendered useless, at least temporarily.
This combination of news all adds up to a pretty big deal. Filesonic isn't just some also-ran in the world of cyberlockers. The site is among the top 10 file-sharing sites on the Internet, with a quarter billion page views a month.
Like Megaupload, Filesonic appears to based in Hong Kong and it's clear that the authorities there already worked with the US government to shut down Kim Dotcom's operations and seize his assets there.
The events of the last week have turned the cyberlocker world upside down and there is quite literally panic among users and site operators.
The Megaupload takedown appears to be a game-changer.
Fileserve, another leading player, also ended its affiliate program this weekend. Additionally, this morning TorrentFreak received news that Fileserve has now joined Filesonic in banning all 3rd party downloads.
VideoBB and VideoZer have both reportedly closed their rewards program and according to reports have also been mass deleting accounts and huge numbers of files.
Other sites closing their affiliate programs and/or deleting accounts/files include FileJungle, UploadStation and FilePost.
Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has announced that the encyclopedia will go dark this Wednesday in protest of the Stop Online Piracy Act, aka SOPA.
Wales tweeted that the English-language version of Wikipedia would go down at midnight this Wednesday, Eastern standard time (5am in the UK), and come back up in 24 hours.
The heat is rising in the SOPA debate. Over the weekend, for example, three top Obama-administration officials issued a statement that said, in part, While we believe that online piracy by foreign websites is a serious problem that requires a
serious legislative response, we will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet.
Presumably at least partially in response to the White House's statement -- and a possible Obama veto -- SOPA author Smith has dropped the DNS-blocking provision of the controvertial bill -- an action also taken by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT),
sponsor of the Senate's equivalent, the PROTECT IP* Act.
This links to a protest page with comment and a petition:
Millions of Americans oppose SOPA and PIPA because these bills would censor the Internet and slow economic growth in the U.S.
Two bills before Congress, known as the Protect IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House, would censor the Web and impose harmful regulations on American business. Millions of Internet users and
entrepreneurs already oppose SOPA and PIPA.
The Senate will begin voting on January 24th. Please let them know how you feel. Sign this petition urging Congress to vote NO on PIPA and SOPA before it is too late.
Founder Jimmy Wales said:
More than 162 million people saw our message asking if you could imagine a world without free knowledge, it said.
You said no. You shut down Congress's switchboards. You melted their servers. From all around the world your messages dominated social media and the news. Millions of people have spoken in defense of a free and open Internet.
Along with Facebook, Google and other major technology corporations, Wikipedia says the laws would place onerous obligations on websites to vet content uploaded by users, and threaten free expression online.
In a dramatic display of the power of online protest, a congressional vote on the anti-piracy bills Pipa and Sopa have been shelved after some of the internet's main players demanded a legislative rethink.
Just two days after chunks of the internet went dark in opposition to proposals that critics claim will hamper the flow of online information, Senate majority leader Harry Reid announced the postponement of a planned ballot on Pipa, also known as
the Protect IP Act.
Lamar Smith, the Republican chairman of the House Judiciary committee, followed suit, saying his panel would delay action on similar legislation called the Stop Online Piracy Act, or Sopa, until there is wider agreement on the legislation.
The decision to postpone the votes was made in light of recent events , Reid said -- taken to be a reference to Wednesday's day of action in which Wikipedia led the way with a 24-hour blackout.
During the CNN primary debate in South Carolina on Thursday, the four remaining Republican candidates vying for the White House nod came out against the Sopa. GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney said the law was far too intrusive and could hamper
job creation and would harm the economy. His main rival, former House speaker Newt Gingrich, said existing laws were sufficient to allow an aggrieved copyright holder to sue, while libertarian Ron Paul said the bill threatened freedom.
The U.S. Justice Department has charged seven individuals connected to the file-sharing site Megaupload.com, accusing them of a massive worldwide online piracy scheme that costed more than $500 million in damages and generated more
than $175 million in profits, according to a Justice Department release. Megaupload's CEO is the rapper and DJ Swizz Beatz.
The business is allegedly led by Kim Dotcom of Hong Kong and New Zealand. Dotcom was arrested in New Zealand along with associates.
The main site, Megaupload.com which has been shut down, is accused of infringing on copyright by distributing movies, television shows, books and software even before their release dates. The companies Megaupload Limited and Vestor Limited are
accused of having a business model expressly designed to promote uploading of the most popular copyrighted works for many millions of users to download. The site provided financial incentives for uploading popular content, the indictment
The interest in this case is likely to be high as it is conveniently timed to match interest in the recent SOPA protest.
The Megaupload case continues, with Kyle Goodwin from the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) asking the court to return the files, that were legal, back to Goodwin.
Goodwin lost his files when Megaupload was seized in January, since then they've been to court, both for a hearing and a mediation, but nothing has changed according to the EFF.
On May 24, EFF filed a brief asking the court to order Goodwin's rightfully owned data returned. But the problem is, is that's not just Goodwin's files, it's the thousands upon thousands of other Megaupload users who had data on their servers,
where they thought it was safe.
EFF has asked the court to implement a procedure to make all of those customers whole again by giving them access to what is legally theirs.
Goodwin used Megaupload to house business files, with others losing person data and information.
Update: MPAA: Megaupload Users Can Have Their Files Back, But...
Almost half a year has passed since Megaupload's servers were raided by the U.S. Government, and still there is no agreement on how former users can retrieve their files. Previously the authorities and MPAA have objected against such a mass
retrieval, but in a filing at the court today the movie industry changed its tone. The MPAA states that users can have their files back as long as access to copyrighted files is blocked.
In the wake of the January shutdown of Megaupload, many of the site's legitimate users complained that their personal files had been lost.
Among these users are many people in the U.S. military who used the site to share pictures and videos with family. Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom previously informed TorrentFreak that least 15,634 soldiers had accounts at Megaupload, between them
sharing hundreds of thousands of files.
But as of January those files were rendered inaccessible and attempts by the parties involved to come to a solution have failed miserably.
Last month one of Megaupload's users, represented by the EFF, filed a motion asking the court to facilitate such a user data retrieval. Today, the MPAA filed a response to this motion in which they appear to be more open to the request.
materials, MPAA's lawyers write.
But along with this sympathy comes a caveat. The movie studios don't want users to have access to copyright-infringing files.
If the Court is willing to consider allowing access for users such as Mr. Goodwin to allow retrieval of files, it is essential that the mechanism include a procedure that ensures that any materials the users access and copy or download are not
files that have been illegally uploaded to their accounts.
Update: US authorities refuse to give back property they have stolen...
Innocent bystanders who lost mountains of data, personal files, documents, and more when the popular but illegitimately operated cloud-based site MegaUpload was taken down, may end up being just plain out of luck, at least for a while. The US
Deparment of Justice wants to block former user Kyle Goodwin from accessing his high school football videos which he uploaded to the site.
But what happens to those who didn't do anything wrong? Lawyers for the US Attorney say the answer is nothing. In the same way that if you left a video game at a friend's house on the night that police raided your friend's house with a warrant,
the government does not have a duty to make sure you get your stuff back in before the case is resolved.
The White House just released a statement commenting on the pending SOPA and PIPA anti-piracy bills in congress. While the Obama Administration sides with the opposition by saying that free-speech should be protected, censorship is evil, and that
DNS-blocking is a no go, the statement doesn't mean that the bills are off the table.
Responding to two petitions signed by over 50,000 people each, the Obama administration recited much of the criticism voiced by SOPA/PIPA opponents. The Administration wrote:
Any effort to combat online piracy must guard against the risk of online censorship of lawful activity and must not inhibit innovation by our dynamic businesses large and small. Across the globe, the openness of the Internet is increasingly
central to innovation in business, government, and society and it must be protected.
To minimize this risk, new legislation must be narrowly targeted only at sites beyond the reach of current U.S. law, cover activity clearly prohibited under existing U.S. laws, and be effectively tailored, with strong due process and focused on
The only strong position the Obama Administration takes is against DNS blocking. Here, the White House sides with many of the tech experts, and against the MPAA, by concluding that tampering with DNS poses a threat to the Internet.
In fact many of the lawmakers previously in favor of DNS-blocking have suddenly started to back pedal. They probably got a heads up and changed their tone before the White House statement was released. SOPA author Lamar Smith said DNS blocking
would be removed from the bill until further notice.
A British student can be extradited to the United States to face charges of copyright infringement over a website he ran offering links to pirated films online, a court has ruled.
Richard O'Dwyer, whose site TV Shack made more than £ 150,000 in advertising revenues, according to US prosecutors, is thought to be the first person extradited to America on such charges. If convicted in New
York, he faces jail.
Speaking after the hearing at City of Westminster Magistrates' Court, the 23-year-old said he felt like a guinea pig for the US justice system. His lawyer argued that his site hosted no illegal content, but merely directed users to where
it was held online, and said that his client would appeal the ruling.
On January 18, the online community at reddit will go dark for 12 hours in opposition of the Stop Online Piracy Act now being considered in the House and its companion PROTECT IP Act in the Senate. Both bills would give copyright holders
tremendous power to have websites blocked, to get their advertising cut off, and to shut down their credit card or PayPal payments.
reddit's community has been organizing all manner of objections to the two bills, including a targeted (and successful) boycott of GoDaddy, which supported the legislation. This time, site admins decided to get involved in order to get the word
out to all of reddit's users.
Instead of the normal glorious, user-curated chaos of reddit, we will be displaying a simple message about how the PIPA/SOPA legislation would shut down sites like reddit, link to resources to learn more, and suggest ways to take action..
We're not taking this action lightly. We wouldn't do this if we didn't believe this legislation and the forces behind it were a serious threat to reddit and the Internet as we know it.
A UK newspaper caused a stir when it reported that Apple had threatened legal action against a Chinese company that plans to sell an accurate replica of Steve Jobs. The Daily Telegraph said Apple claims to own rights to Jobs' likeness.
But there is a huge problem here, Apple's legal claim is largely bogus. While people can indeed own rights to their likeness, those rights usually apply only to living people. Unlike other forms of intellectual property like patents or
copyrights, image rights do not survive beyond the grave in most places.
Under American law, so-called personality rights exist only at the state level---there is no federal law. And only about a dozen states recognize image rights after death. But in New York and most other places, there is no protection at
What this means is that Apple's warning about the doll is an empty threat in most places. Apple's lack of control over the doll is in many ways a welcome reality check. Remember that Steve Jobs was not just a design genius but also a control
freak who used layer after layer of intellectual property to create legal force fields around his products. While this boosted Apple, it also shut out many other innovators and helped give rise to the destructive litigation that now mars so much
of the technology sector.
In only its second cabinet meeting after taking power Dec. 22, Spain's brand new right-leaning government has enacted a law intended to deal a severe blow to digital piracy by allowing the courts to close or block websites accused of profiting
from the illegal downloading of copyrighted content.
Spain is reportedly responsible for 20% of the global illegal downloads of the top 10 films from 2010.
The so-called Sinde Law---named after outgoing Culture Minister A'ngeles Gonzalez-Sinde---was actually passed by the Spanish Parliament in February, but former Prime Minister Jose' Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's Socialist government didn't enact the
regulations so it was never implemented.
The new center-right government wasted no time in enacting the law, however, passing after having been in office for less than a week.
The law, which, according to news reports, gives websites ten days to close down their sites after a government committee identifies reports of violations and gains backing from a judge on a case by case basis, went into effect immediately
upon its approval by the new government.
According to more than 100 leaked diplomatic cables, the reason that Spain passed such a strict anti-piracy law was because the United States government made strong threats against the country. The cables were part of a recent WikiLeaks release.
Many have long suspected that the United States government has been interfering in other countries' copyright legislation, and these new cables certainly prove critics' points.
The leaked cables showed that the US had a hand in drafting the new Spanish copyright legislation and influenced decisions of the outgoing and incoming government. According to the new leaked documents, the U.S. voiced its anger at outgoing
Spanish President Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero last month when they realized that his government was unlikely to pass the US-drafted Sinde law before leaving office.
The Stop Online Piracy Act, better known as SOPA, is bad news. Bringing piracy to heel is a noble goal but imposing sweeping, arbitrary laws that can force websites offline with almost no judicial oversight isn't the way to go about it. The
average guy on the internet may not care much one way or the other [probably because he's not even aware of what's going on] but some backlash is beginning to be felt: Go Daddy dropped its support for SOPA a couple of weeks ago following calls
for a boycott of its services and now Sony, Nintendo and Electronic Arts have all followed suit - sort of.
Sony Electronics, Nintendo and Elecronic Arts, which had previously thrown their weight behind the proposed legislation, are now all notably absent from the most recent list of SOPA supporters. Sony/ATV Music Publishing, Sony Music Entertainment
and Sony Music Nashville remain on the list, which is unfortunate, but of greater concern is the continued presence of the Entertainment Software Association, the industry association which counts among its members Sony, Nintendo and EA. The
support is still there, in other words, less direct and better camouflaged but still very much a part of the process pushing for the implementation of SOPA.