Golden Eye, a company associated with pornographic film-maker Ben Dover has revealed plans to extend its remit to chase suspected file sharers with demands for large sums of money.
The move follows a Court of Appeal ruling which overturned a
previous block on Golden Eye offering its services to other rights holders. Golden Eye keeps about 75% of all payments.
Spokesman Julian Becker said he now planned to travel to the US to offer to enforce US firms' copyrights in the UK.
I look forward to travelling to adult conferences in Los Angeles and Vegas in early January to offer Golden Eye's services to other producers.
The court ruling brings to an end a legal dispute between
Golden Eye and the Open Rights Group (ORG).
Becker said he now intended to contact alleged infringers - identified by internet addresses linked to file-sharing activities - in the New Year. Recipients will be told they are suspected of accessing
one or several adult films via peer-to-peer networks and will be invited to negotiate a lump sum payment. Golden Eye had originally indicated it wanted to demand a £ 700 penalty, however this was blocked on the grounds
that the sum was excessive .
The Open Rights Group expressed concern at the appeal's verdict:
Such a decision effectively means that someone who themselves has no interest in a claim can acquire personal
details to obtain large sums of money.
In this case Golden Eye are not a firm of solicitors, and thus are not regulated in the same way solicitors are.
In recent weeks the Netherlands has been discussing how to tackle file sharing. A download ban was put on the political agenda, but the House of Representatives has struck down this plan. Downloading remains legal, and in exchange rightsholders
will be compensated through a private copying tax on various media storage devices.
A majority of the house accepted a motion that would take the plan off the table, and further ensured that the right to make copies for personal use should not be
However, the entertainment industry isn't being left out in the cold. Presently, copyright holders in the Netherlands are compensated through a piracy tax on blank media such as CDR media and writable DVDs. In October it was
decided that this piracy tax will be extended to a variety of other media storage devices such as tablets, smartphones, USB-drives, PCs and Laptops. The money that's collected, up to 5 euro per device, will be distributed to copyright holders.
Changes to create greater freedom to use copyright works such as computer games, paintings, photographs, films, books, and music, while protecting the interests of authors and right owners, have been announced by Business Secretary
Vince Cable. These form part of the Government's response to creating a modern, robust and flexible copyright framework.
New measures include provisions to allow copying of works for individuals' own personal use,
parody and for the purposes of quotation. They allow people to use copyright works for a variety of valuable purposes without permission from the copyright owners. They will also bring up to date existing exceptions for education, research and the
preservation of materials.
The Government has consulted extensively on these proposals, through the process of the Hargreaves Review, a formal consultation and numerous discussions with stakeholders and industry representatives. It has considered
all responses very carefully, which have helped develop and refine the proposals including the balance between exceptions and licensing, before finalising these measures.
Business Secretary, Vince Cable said:
"Making the intellectual property framework fit for the 21st century is not only common sense but good business sense. Bringing the law into line with ordinary people's reasonable expectations will boost respect for copyright,
on which our creative industries rely.
"We feel we have struck the right balance between improving the way consumers benefit from copyright works they have legitimately paid for, boosting business opportunities and protecting the rights of
In his review of intellectual property and growth, Professor Hargreaves made the case for the UK making greater use of these exceptions, which are allowed under EU law. In response to a
consultation earlier this year, the Government will make changes to:
Private copying - to permit people to copy digital content they have bought onto any medium or device that they own, but strictly for their own personal use such as transferring their music collection or eBooks to their tablet,
phone or to a private cloud;
Education - to simplify copyright licensing for the education sector and make it easier for teachers to use copyright materials on interactive whiteboards and similar technology in classrooms and provide access to copyright
works over secure networks to support the growing demand for distance learning handouts for students;
Quotation and news reporting - to create a more general permission for quotation of copyright works for any purpose, as long as the use of a particular quotation is "fair dealing" and its source is acknowledged;
Parody, caricature and pastiche - to allow limited copying on a fair dealing basis which would allow genuine parody, but prohibit copying disguised as parody;
Research and private study - to allow sound recordings, films and broadcasts to be copied for non-commercial research and private study purposes without permission from the copyright holder. This includes both user copying and
Data analytics for non-commercial research - to allow non-commercial researchers to use computers to study published research results and other data without copyright law interfering;
Access for people with disabilities - to allow people with disabilities the right to obtain copyright works in accessible formats where a suitable one is not already on the market;
Archiving and preservation - to allow museums, galleries, libraries and archives to preserve any type of copyright work that is in their permanent collection which cannot readily be replaced; and
Public administration - to widen existing exceptions to enable more public bodies to share proactively third party information online, which would reflect the existing position in relation to the use of paper copies.
These changes could contribute at least £500m to the UK economy over 10 years, and perhaps much more from reduced costs, increased competition and by making copyright works more valuable.
In addition the Government will
introduce a new, non-statutory system for clarifying areas where there is confusion or misunderstanding on the scope and application of copyright law. Copyright notices will issued by the Intellectual Property Office. These notices are intended to
clarify, but not make new law.
On December 4, journalists received a press release from Victoria's Secret about its new campaign for the holidays. It announced that PINK, the underwear line marketed towards high school and college students, was going to set aside slogans like Sure Thing
and Unwrap Me on its underwear for ones supporting female empowerment and a culture of consent, aiming with phrases like Ask First and Respect to normalize and make sexy the idea that sex should always start with explicit
consent. The website for the new PINK Loves CONSENT campaign, pinklovesconsent.com, went up and soon had over 50,000 visitors. Support for the campaign rocketed through social networks.
But, as a number of people guessed, the campaign wasn't by
Victoria's Secret at all. Early the next morning, feminist group FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture claimed responsibility for the campaign, thrilled with the viral discussion about rape culture and consent it had sparked.
Victoria's Secret then sent a
letter to FORCE's hosting provider demanding that it take down pinklovesconsent.com and a related site. The letter claimed the now-obvious and well-publicized parody infringed multiple Victoria's Secret trademarks and copyrights. That evening, in the
midst of a social media campaign to promote sex-positive values during the Victoria's Secret fashion show, Twitter suspended the campaign's Twitter handle, @LoveConsent, with no explanation. Facebook left the PINK Loves CONSENT page up but appeared to
remove it from search results.
The site was only down briefly as FORCE moved to a different hosting provider and the Twitter account was back up by December 7, but the outage had disrupted the campaign as it was targeted at a fashion show held
during the outage.
These takedowns highlight, once again, the weakest link problem that plagues Internet speech. Individuals and organizations rely on service providers to help them communicate with the world (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc.). A
copyright complaint to an intermediary generally triggers a virtually automatic takedown, because the intermediary has a strong interest in complying with the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) and preserving its safe harbor from copyright liability.
A trademark complaint directed to one of those providers can also mean a fast and easy takedown given that those service providers usually don't have the resources and/or the inclination to investigate trademark infringement claims. Moreover, because
there is no counter-notice procedure, the targets of an improper trademark takedown have no easy way to get their content back up.
Fortunately, PINK Loves CONSENT appears to have recovered. Both the website and the Twitter account are back up and
promoting new stunts, with one small change: the site's Important Copyright Notice now links to the Wikipedia entry on fair use.
European news organizations with generally declining readerships are asking governments in France, Germany and Italy to step in and charge Google for using their content in its search results, something the Web giant has always done for free.
Google says the strategy is shortsighted and self-destructive, and the search engine warns it will stop indexing European news sites if forced to pay. But publishers advocating a
Google tax aimed at benefiting their industry point to the example of Brazil, where their counterparts abandoned the search engine and say repercussions have been minimal.
The dispute underscores a fundamental question facing media agencies
around the world: Who should benefit from links to online content that is costly to produce and yet generates a fraction of the ad revenue that once allowed newspapers to flourish?
This week, implicit threats hovered over a meeting between current
French President Francois Hollande and Eric Schmidt, Google's executive chairman. Hollande demanded Google reach a deal with publishers over the copyright dispute and also address the French taxes it escapes by basing its European headquarters in
Ireland. Google essentially reiterated a point it made in a recent letter to French publishers: Paris' latest attempt to impose itself would force readers to Anglo-Saxon sites based in countries with more favorable copyright laws, such as Britain
A row over a web article posted five years ago has led to 1.5 million educational blogs going offline.
The Edublogs site went dark for about an hour after its hosting company, ServerBeach, pulled the plug. The hosting firm was responding to a
copyright claim from publisher Pearson, which claimed one blog had been illegally sharing information it owned.
The offending article was first published in November 2007 and made available a copy of a questionnaire, known as the Beck Hopelessness
Scale, to a group of students. The copyright for the questionnaire is owned by Pearson, which asked ServerBeach to remove the content in late September.
Edublogs investigated and marked the blog entry as blocked, but unfortunately the disputed
article was also maintained in a cache. After a repeat request from Pearson, ServerBeach shut down the entire site. In comments given to tech news site Ars Technica, ServerBeach defended its actions saying it had had to shut Edublogs because, as a
hosting firm, it had no way to exert control over individual blogs.
US film producer Harvey Weinstein has criticised Apple and Google for making content available under the guise of free internet. Video-sharing sites like YouTube, he said, were doing a massive
disservice to the film industry.