A multitude of online publications have just been handed DMCA takedown notices for seemingly innocuous posts, triggering speculation that Microsoft is trying to censor negative comments prior to Windows
8's official launch
A German law firm that has been pursuing net pirates says it is going to begin naming some of those accused.
On 1 September, Urmann plans to publish the names of individuals whose computers have been identified as having downloaded pornography. It
said reports that it was going to target police officers and vicars were not correct. Initially it said it would name individuals who had downloaded a lot of content.
Under German law, solicitors are allowed to publish the names of those accused
by their clients.
Michael Forrester, a solicitor from Kuits law firm in Manchester, said:
The legal system in Germany is very different to ours, being a civil law system. However, publishing details of alleged
infringers could be dangerous and under English law would raise potential issues of defamation and breach of privacy depending on the exact wording used.
In the UK, many people have strongly protested that they have not downloaded
anything. However, they are sometimes tempted to pay to avoid the accusations being made publicly available when a court claim is issued. Therefore, publishing lists of alleged infringers may remove a big incentive for people to pay before a claim is
issued because the allegations against them have already been made public.
The US Department of Justice has seized the domain names of three websites offering pirated Android apps.
With help from French and Dutch police, the FBI took over applanet.net, appbucket.net and snappzmarket.com. In their place visitors to the
sites now see the familiar FBI seizure banner.
The domain seizures are the first of their kind against rogue mobile app marketplaces.
Leading up to the actions FBI agents downloaded thousands of popular Android apps from the websites
without charge. FBI Special Agent Brian Lamkin who led the operation described this type of online piracy as a growing problem that can't be ignored.
The massive wave of DMCA takedowns sent by rightsholders to Google in recent months is growing at an astonishing rate. During the past month the number of takedown requests received by the search giant doubled to almost 1.5 million URLs per week. To put
that into perspective, exactly one year ago weekly URL takedowns numbered just 131,577 per week, an increase of 1,137%.
During the week starting August 13, Google received takedown requests for 1,496,220 URLs, up 35% on the record set just two
weeks earlier and a huge 1,137% increase over the 131,577 URL takedowns requested August 8 2011.
Google says that during the last four weeks it was asked by 1,825 copyright owners and 1,406 anti-piracy reporting organizations to remove 5,733,402
URLs across 32,545 domains, truly huge numbers which on recent trends look likely to increase.
Google has announced that it will lower the search engine rankings of websites that receive a high number of DMCA takedown requests, independent of whether the linked content is lawful or not.
The algorithm change is the result of extensive
lobbying efforts by Hollywood and the major music labels, and could severely degrade the rankings of websites such as The Pirate Bay, FilesTube, and even YouTube.
Google's Amit Singhal writes in a blog post:
Starting next week, we will begin taking into account a new signal in our rankings: the number of valid copyright removal notices we receive for any given site. Sites with high numbers of removal notices may appear lower in our results.
The move may also encourage media companies to issue even more takedown notices.
The major torrent site, Demonoid, after having been the target of a massive Denial of Service attack, the site has now been busted by Ukrainian authorities.
A source in the country's Interior Ministry says that the action was scheduled to coincide
with Deputy Prime Minister Valery Khoroshkovsky's trip to the United States.
ColoCall is the largest datacenter in Ukraine and a place that has been Demonoid's home in recent years. But in the middle of last week, in the wake of the DDoS attack,
government investigators arrived at ColoCall to shut Demonoid down.
A ColoCall source said : we were forced to terminate the agreement with the site [Demonoid].
The general opinion is that Demonoid did not actually contravene
Ukranian law, especially since it blocked all Ukranian IP addresses to avoid upsetting the locals. The site still attracted the attention of the authorities though, and that, according to a source in the country's government, is all down to the United
States getting involved.
Ukraine had promised the United States that it would improve its attitude and efforts towards enforcing copyright and no doubt its Western partner will be very pleased indeed that Demonoid's head has been presented on a
The French government is counting the costs of taking over copyright enforcement from the private sector..
Hadopi, the body charged with hunting down copyright infringers under France's three-strikes law, has sent a million warning e-mails and
99,000 registered letters. This has only resulted in a scant 134 cases being examined for prosecution, and so far, zero cases have led to disconnection.
At a reported cost of 12 million Euros covering 60 employees, the whole exercise has been
described as unwieldy, uneconomic and ultimately ineffective and a failure by the French culture minister Aure'lie Filippetti. It would appear that the agency is now standing on the trap-door in the minister's office, waiting for someone to pull
Filippetti told Le Nouvel Observateur that Hadopi had also failed to foster legal content to replace illegal downloads.
The French government has now launched a consultation to re-examine Internet piracy.
A US Court of Appeals has ruled that a site that embeds copyrighted videos from another site is not committing copyright infringement.
Flava Works, Inc. v. Gunter ended with a ruling in favor of the defendant, Marques Gunter, the sole proprietor
of myVidster.com. The case began in 2010 when the adult video production company, Flava Works, sued video bookmarking website myVidster,for copyright infringement.
The court ruled that embedding a video that infringes on copyrighted material is
not a violation of copyright law. For example, if you found an episode of The Simpsons on YouTube and embedded it in your blog, you would not be violating any copyright laws. The uploader to YouTube carries the responsibility for obtaining the required
permissions. The user content host, YouTube could be held liable once informed by the copyright holder.
The court's decision also protects those who watch illegally uploaded copyrighted videos. Judge Richard Posner wrote:
...As long as the visitor makes no copy of the copyrighted video that he is watching, he is not violating the copyright owner's exclusive right ... His bypassing Flava's pay wall by viewing the uploaded copy is equivalent to
stealing a copyrighted book from a bookstore and reading it. That is a bad thing to do (in either case) but it is not copyright infringement.
The French Supreme Court has ruled that Google should censor the words torrent , rapidshare and megaupload from its Instant and Autocomplete search services.
Music industry group SNEP asked the court to stop the terms from
being suggested in Google's searches because, it claimed, Google was thereby facilitating piracy.
A lower court rejected the request from SNEP because it said that these links did not constitute infringement of copyright in and of themselves.
However, the Supreme Court has reversed the decision, saying that the relief sought by the group was likely to prevent or partially stop infringements.
The search firm actually already blocks piracy-related terms from Autocomplete, but on
its own terms. The web giant announced back in December 2010 on one of its blogs that it was taking steps to stop copyright infringement, including blocking search terms closely associated with piracy.
The impact of the commercialisation of the Games, with lucrative sponsorship and rights deals, means another British virtue - freedom of speech - is rather less free than normal for the duration of London 2012. A particularly disturbing example of this
is the BBC - which has said that due to rights restrictions various radio programmes, ranging from the prestigious Radio 4 Today news programme to the lighter Radio 2 Chris Evans' Breakfast Show and Radio 5 Live, whether live or on i-Player, may not be
available to audiences abroad for the duration of the Games.
While the BBC World Service has a proud history of broadcasting into authoritarian regimes, faced with its lucrative rights deal for UK broadcasting of the Games, the BBC is blocking its
own output from being available internationally. It has a helpfully succinct explanation:
The BBC's agreement with the International Olympic Committee means we are not allowed to broadcast anything online outside the
UK from the Olympic Park or Olympic venues. As a result this programme may need to be blanked for International listeners due to rights issues surrounding Olympic content in programmes.
Perhaps conscious of quite how ludicrous this
is, and damaging to the BBC's own image and values, by Sunday the BBC had apparently carried out some damage-limitation negotiations with the International Olympic Committee so at least the Today programme could be restored to international listeners:
After discussion, the IOC and the BBC have agreed that there is no need to block our international streams of Radio 4 programmes with a wide news agenda. Radio 5 Live (apart from the news programme Up All Night) and 5
Live Olympics Extra will remain available only in the UK.
The Cour de cassation, France's highest court of appeal, has overturned two court orders which required Google to remove copyright infringing items and to block users from uploading these items again in future.
The court ruled that such take-down, stay-down
orders contravene the e-Commerce Directive, which forbids EU Member States from imposing a general obligation on ISPs to monitor the content stored on or passing through their networks. The orders were also found to conflict with the French Law for
Trust in the Digital Economy (2004).
The New Zealand judge handling the extradition case of Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom has dramatically stepped down from the role.
Speaking at the NetHui conference last week, Judge David Harvey had voiced his feelings on the Trans Pacific
Partnership (TPP) agreement, describing the United States as the enemy .
It happened during the NetHui conference after the launch of Fair Deal , a campaign opposing amendments to New Zealand copyright law that could become part of
the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. In common with ACTA that went before it, TPP negotiations are being held in secret and being used by the U.S. entertainment industries to push for tougher copyright law.
One of issues surrounds the
circumvention of DVD region codes which currently allows New Zealanders to watch DVDs from other regions without committing an offense. TPP seeks to remove that freedom, and Judge Harvey made it clear he wasn't happy with that.
Under TPP and
the American Digital Millennium copyright provisions you will not be able to do that, that will be prohibited... if you do you will be a criminal -- that's what will happen, Judge Harvey said, adding:
I recently purchased a Cisco Linksys EA3500 dual-band wireless router. The device itself has worked just as I hoped.
But shortly after my purchase, Cisco pushed a firmware update to this router that limited owners' ability to
administer the devices ourselves.
When the firmware update rolled out, attempting to connect to the browser's internal administrative Web interface brings the user instead to a signup page for the Cisco Connect Cloud.
The service basically replicates all the features router administrators already have, but moves them from your home network to Cisco's cloud. The supposed benefit is that you can manage your router even when you're not at home.
In exchange for the convenience of Connect Cloud, you have to agree to some pretty onerous terms. In short, Cisco would really hate it if you use the Web to view porn or download copyrighted files without paying for them.
Answering Our Customers' Questions about
Cisco Connect Cloud
CISCO have responded about their reprehensible router hijack. The company has more or less admitted to a cock up. However the process by which users can get back to local control of their own routers sounds very complex.
After a major uproar over a new cloud service for its home routers, Cisco has changed its terms of service completely. The new terms no longer mention porn or a bunch of other things that Cisco originally forbade.
Cisco had earlier
apologized for the confusion and deleted a portion of a privacy statement that said Cisco would keep track of Connect Cloud customers' network traffic and Internet history, ExtremeTech reported.
But people were still pretty upset.
Last night, the company posted a blog that apologized again, and promised that Cisco was not watching its customers' Internet usage. It also made the cloud service easier to opt out of. Today the company modified its terms of service for the Connect
Cloud and removed all of the offending restrictions.
In a 478 to 39 vote, the European Parliament decided to reject ACTA once and for all.
Six months ago, it was all but certain that ACTA would pass unnoticed in silence. The forces fighting for citizens' rights tried to have it referred to the
European Court of Justice in order to test its legality and to buy some time. But then, something happened.
A monster by the name of SOPA appeared in the United States. Thousands of websites went dark on January 18 and millions of voices cried
out, leaving Congress shell-shocked over the fact that citizens can get that level of pissed off at corporate special interests. SOPA was killed.
In theory, ACTA could still come into force between the United States and a number of smaller states.
Ten states have been negotiating it, and six of those need to ratify it to have it come into force. In theory, this could become a treaty between the United States, Morocco, Mexico, New Zealand, Australia, and Switzerland. (But wait, the Mexican Senate
has already rejected ACTA. As has Australia and Switzerland in practice.
The European Commissioner responsible for the treaty, Karel de Gucht, has said that he will ignore any rejections and re-table it before the European Parliament until it
passes. That's not going to happen. Parliament takes its dignity very seriously and does not tolerate that kind of contempt.
In the wake of the rejection vote, EuroISPA, An organisation of ISPs at the European level, said:
EuroISPA and its
members welcome the European Parliament's decision to call for a more balanced approach in the protection of the fundamental rights at stake when the EU negotiates international treaties. The European Parliament found that the intended benefits of the
Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) were far outweighed by the potential threats to civil liberties and the legal uncertainties about the role of Internet Service Providers in enforcing intellectual property rights.
The European Union has been accused of trying to push through a controversial deal, which would force internet service providers to hand over the
personal details of anyone suspected of infringing copyright online, by the back door.
Leaked documents show that the most hotly contested sections of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), which was overwhelmingly rejected by the
European Parliament less than a week ago, also appear in a trade agreement between the EU and Canada called CETA, negotiations on which are in their final stages.
Experts say that the Agreement's supporters -- who include the European Commission -
are trying to get its most controversial provisions past European lawmakers in the knowledge that they would not be able to object to the full Agreement on grounds they have already acceded to in another.
Universal, EMI, Sony and Warner have secured a court order against a decision that had brought the music labels' 3 strike anti-filesharing mechanism to its knees. The four music giants will now reinstate the system at ISP Eircom and put renewed
effort into spreading the practice to other ISPs in Ireland.
Following a 2009 agreement between the labels of the Irish Recorded Music Association (IRMA) and Eircom, customers of the Irish ISP would find themselves warned should their file-sharing
activities be tracked by rightsholders.
The so-called graduated response process would complete after a customer had received three warnings -- at this point their Internet would be cut off. But by October 2010 things we starting to go
wrong. Due to a mix up, Eircom sent out around 300 warning letters to completely innocent subscribers.
The error meant that Ireland's Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) got involved in the process. The immediate outcome was bad for the labels. In
December the DPC ordered 3 strikes to be brought to a halt on privacy grounds.
This decision was later challenged by the Big Four labels of IRMA -- EMI Records, Sony Music, Universal and Warner -- who said that the DPC ruling
effectively disabled their lawful agreement with Eircom.
At the Commercial Court, Mr Justice Peter Charleton ordered the Data Protection Commissioner's decision to be quashed, a ruling which gives IRMA and Eircom the green light to continue
with warnings and disconnections.
The UK Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), said the government will seek to remove two crucial sections of the Digital Economy Act that would have allowed it to impose Web site blocking at the ISP level.
According to DCMS, the
department in charge of the Digital Economy Act (2010), the government will seek to repeal sections 17 and 18 of the law.
The two sections are arguably the most controversial elements of the act. Section 17 allows the government to seek a court
order against any location on the Internet deemed to facilitate or actively infringe copyright, while section 18 sets out the approvals process the government must go through to get such orders granted.
The decision to seek the repeal of
the two sections follows a report in May 2011 by Ofcom, the U.K.'s communications regulator, which concluded that the measures would not work in practice. We do not think that sections 17 and 18 of the Act would meet the requirements of the copyright
owners, the report said.
It said using the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 through the courts was a faster and more efficient way to get sites blocked. The government said a few months later that it would not bring forward the
The Australian parliamentary Treaties Committee is recommending that ratification Of ACTA be deferred - partly because of its near-collapse in Europe.
The committee states that ACTA should not be ratified until a range of conditions, including a
cost-benefit analysis, are met.
Committee chair Kelvin Thomson says, in the committee's media statement outlines concerns including: a lack of clarity in the text; insufficient protection for individuals; and ACTA's potential to shift the
balance in the interpretation of copyright law, intellectual property law and patent law . He also notes the unfavourable reception that ACTA has received internationally.