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 2014: Oct-Dec

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Update: Responding to Censorship with Censorship...

Is Sony's crackdown a bigger threat to western free speech than North Korea?


Link Here 27th December 2014
Full story: The Interview...Sony hacked possibly by North Korea and threats curtail film release

 

 

Sharing Legal Arguments...

MPAA pursues existing law to attempt to block the likes of The Pirate Bay in the US


Link Here 16th December 2014

The MPAA is in discussions with the major US movie studios over ways to introduce site blocking to the United States. TorrentFreak has learned that the studios will try to achieve website blockades using principles available under existing law. Avoiding another SOPA-style backlash is high on the agenda.

Mechanisms to force ISPs to shut down subscriber access to infringing sites are becoming widespread in Europe but have not yet gained traction in the United States.

TorrentFreak has learned that during 2013 the MPAA and its major studio partners began to seriously consider their options for re-introducing the site blocking agenda to the United States. Throughout 2014 momentum has been building but with no real option to introduce new legislation, the MPAA has been looking at leveraging existing law to further its aims. We can reveal that the MPAA has been examining four key areas.

...See the full article

 

 

They'll soon be searching for the nose they cut off...

Most companies in the world clamour to get as a ranking as possible in Google Search and pay big money for the privilege, except in Spain where they want Google shut out


Link Here 13th December 2014

 

 

Gobblecocks...

The recent changes to copyright law have enabled porn parodies to hit the UK


Link Here 11th December 2014
The Channel 4 fly-on-the-wall show Gogglebox now has its own adult parody, but Channel 4 are not so happy about it at.

The TVX parody, Gobblecocks , is set in the same format as Gogglebox, with characters who are similar to those featured on the hit show, they watch adult movies together whilst sharing their reactions, and more with the audience. Characters include a posh pair called Beth and Don who are meant to represent Dom and Steph in the hit Channel 4 version.

The Sun newspaper quotes a source at the network as saying on the matter:

Channel 4 are not happy to have Television X making a show so similar to Gogglebox. In the past, they would've sent a strong legal letter warning, but the law that came in in October effectively protects them from prosecution, so their hands are tied.

According to the laws currently in place, people are free to make minor uses of other people's copyright material for the purposes of parody, caricature or pastiche, without first asking for permission .

 

 

 

Update: Court Judgement Shared...

Pirate bay to be blocked in France


Link Here 10th December 2014
Full story: Pirate Bay...Pirate Bay, Swedish file sharing site
France has become the latest country to the block world's number one file-sharing site, The Pirate Bay, in an effort to defend copyright-protected content.

The ruling of the Grand Instance Court of Paris ordered the country's leading internet providers, including Orange, Bouygues Telecom, Free and SFR, to ensure all measures are put into place to prevent access (to the site) from French territory . In addition to the main site address, the court banned around 20 mirror websites and 50 proxy servers that allow users to download content from the Swedish site.

Now internet service providers have 15 days to prevent access to the file-sharing site, which some 28.7% of people in France visited at least once a month last year, according to anti-piracy group Alpa.

The court ruling follows legal action by the anti-piracy group La Societe Civile des Producteurs Phonographiques (SCPP), which represents some 2,000 music labels that brought the request before the court this year.

 

 

Update: Double Blocked...

High doubles the list of piracy websites that have to be blocked by major ISPs


Link Here 29th November 2014
Full story: Internet Blocking File Sharing in UK...High court dictates website block
The High Court has ordered the biggest batch yet of piracy websites to be blocked.

The latest rulings cover 53 services in total and apply to the country's six leading ISPs. It brings the tally of blocked sites providing access to copyright-infringing content to 93 since the first blocking began in 2012. The blocked sites include: BitSoup, IP Torrents, Isohunt, Sumotorrent, Torrentdb, Torrentfunk, Torrentz, Warez BB, Rapid Moviez.

Twenty-one of the sites were a result of a court order prompted by the BPI, a music industry group.

The ISPs affected are Sky, BT, Everything Everywhere, TalkTalk, O2 and Virgin.

BT will only block access to websites engaged in online copyright infringement when ordered by a court to do so, said the UK's biggest broadband provider, reflecting a stance shared by the other firms.

Ernesto Van Der Sar, editor of the Torrentfreak news site said:

It deters a few people who can't access their usual sites, but most people will try to find ones that are not yet blocked or use VPNs [virtual private networks] or proxy sites to get the same content.

It's making it harder - some people will decide it's just too much trouble and give up - but the overwhelming majority will still find ways to download material illegally.

 

 

Update: Forever Blocked...

Russia extends anti-piracy law and takes the opportunity to impose further controls on other website operators


Link Here 28th November 2014
Full story: Internet Censorship in Russia...Russia restoring repressive state control of media

Starting next May, Russian websites guilty of more than one copyright violation will be permanently blocked. The move comes as part of a new anti-piracy bill signed into law by President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, ramping up what many critics see as an already draconian set of copyright protection rules. Once a website is blocked by a court decision, it cannot be unblocked, according to the bill.

The bill extends a previous measure that was limited to video production, but amendments approved by Putin this week expand it to include all kinds of copyrighted content such as books, music and software. The only exception made is for photographs.

The amendments also oblige website owners to disclose their real names, postal addresses and e-mail addresses on the site.

An online petition against the amendments gathered more than 100,000 signatures in August, mandating a governmental review, but has so far been ignored by the relevant officials.

 

 

Copying Europe...

Music industry launches legal move to create a tax on blank media in compensation for legal private copying


Link Here 27th November 2014
Several music industry organizations in the UK have launched an application for a judicial review after the government passed legislation allowing citizens to copy their own music for personal use. The group says that in order for the system to be fair, the public must pay a new tax.

The music industry is voicing its collective displeasure at the government's decision and announcing plans to have consumers pay a new copy tax to rightsholders.

The Musicians' Union (MU), The British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA) and UK Music (of which the BPI is a member) say they have launched an application for a judicial review into the government's decision to introduce a so-called private copying exception without including a kickback to rightsholders.

What the industry groups want is a tax to be applied to blank media including blank CDs, hard drives, memory sticks and other devices capable of recording. This money would then be funneled back to the music industry for distribution among rightsholders, a mechanism already operating in other European countries.

The judicial review will see the High Court examine the introduction of the levy-less copying exception to ascertain whether the government acted legally. The music groups' aim is to have the legislation amended in the industry's favor.

 

 

Offsite Article: The war on Facebook...


Link Here 27th November 2014
MPs rebuke Facebook for failure to act on online activities of Lee Rigby's murderer

See article from independent.co.uk

 

 

Home Sharing...

Google refuses the MPAA's take down request for the like of the Pirate Bay's home page


Link Here 25th November 2014
The MPAA recently asked Google to remove the homepages of dozens of sites that offer links to pirated content. Google, however, refused to take down most of the URLs, likely because the takedown notices are seen as too broad.

So far the MPAA has asked Google to remove only 19,288 links from search results. The most recent request is one worth highlighting though, as it shows a clear difference of opinion between Hollywood and Google.

Last week the MPAA sent a DMCA request listing 81 allegedly infringing pages, mostly torrent and streaming sites. Unlike most other copyright holders, the MPAA doesn't list the URLs where the pirated movies are linked from, but the site's homepages instead. This is a deliberate strategy, one that previously worked against KickassTorrents .

However, this time around Google was less receptive. Google took no action for 60 of the 81 submitted URLs. It's unclear why Google refused to take action, but it seems likely that the company views the MPAA's request as too broad. While the sites' homepages may indirectly link to pirated movies, for most this required more than one click from the homepage.

 

 

Searching for help...

The porn industry asks Google Search to promote legal sources over pirate content


Link Here 11th November 2014

Porn stars and studios have called on Google to help publicise legal ways to buy adult content in an effort to combat piracy.

Prominent industry figures said they deserved the same measures as those recently introduced to publicise legitimate music and film sites. Google recently struck a deal with the music industry in the UK to show links to legal ways to buy music more prominently than before.

A number of influential figures in the porn industry have told the BBC they want the same kind of deal. Australian porn star Angela White said:

Google is perpetuating the misconception that the adult industry is not a legitimate industry. The adult industry is run like any other professional industry; we pay taxes, create jobs and contribute to the economy.

Google told the BBC it did not want to comment on the concerns.

Comment: Censored whilst claiming to be uncensored

See  article from  torrentfreak.com

TorrentFreak comments that the situation with porn simply does not correlate to the music and mainstream movie industry in a way that Google's latest measure would make sense for porn:

Firstly, Google has begun placing ads at the top of search results when people search for TV shows such as Game of Thrones. Friendly links therein direct users to legal sources. That is not going to happen with porn -- Google forbids it. In fact, AdWords doesn't even allow promotions for dating or international bride services. Good luck with Gangbangs of New York and Saturday Night Beaver.

Secondly, the porn industry is virtually impossible to navigate. While the MPAA and IFPI might have the luxury of speaking for the major studios and 90%+ of the recorded music sector, no such coordination exists in the porn industry. Reaching consensus on what precisely should be done could prove impossible.

Then comes the issue of demoting sites. The pirate enemy cited most often by the adult industry are so-called tube sites but that raises even more complex issues, not least since some of the biggest companies in porn own several of the largest tube sites.

Throw in the fact that many tube sites carry both licensed and unlicensed content and any demotion could hit legitimate creators' distribution strategies of using thousands of adult movie clips to drive traffic to external sites.

But whatever the complexities are, they are all completely moot. When approached by the BBC on the topic, Google declined to comment -- period. The search engine wouldn't be drawn on any aspect of the discussion, a sign that in this case the porn industry isn't going to get what it wants.

 

 

Offsite Article: Illuminating Article on Copyright Law...


Link Here 11th November 2014
Private pictures of the Eifel Tower taken at night are protected by copyright

See article from torrentfreak.com

 

 

Legislating at the behest of media giants...

Spanish Copyright Amendments Will Shakedown News Sites and Censor the Web


Link Here 9th November 2014

We've reported before on how news publishers in Germany and Ireland have demanded that Google pay royalties for the reproduction of news snippets and image thumbnails next to search results in its Google News product. In France and Belgium publishers took this claim to the courts resulting in an eventual settlement from Google, whilst in Germany, lawmakers unwisely caved in and passed legislation in 2013 to grant the special copyright-like rights in news snippets that the publishers had demanded.

Illustrating how pointless this was, Google subsequently called the bluff of the German publishers, replacing their news snippets with simple hyperlinked headings rather than paying the royalties the publishers demanded, while the befuddled publishers watched their traffic stats drop away. In a humiliating backdown reported this week, the publishers have since gone back cap in hand to Google begging it to reindex their content, snippets and all.

Last week, Spain passed a similar amendment to its own copyright law, but with a nasty twist--not only are news aggregators prohibited from including news snippets without payment, but this right to payment is made inalienable. This means that aggregators are prohibited from negotiating with the publishers to waive the payment, as has occurred elsewhere in Europe. This would also seemingly frustrate the intent of any news publisher who released their work under a Creative Commons or other open license for royalty-free use.

The same new Spanish law makes other adverse and short-sighted changes to copyright law, bowing to the lobbying pressure of large content owners.

Worst of these other measures is the criminalization of hosting a website that merely links to infringing content, exposing them to crippling fines of up to ?600,000. Liability is triggered as soon as the owner has been notified by email of the alleged infringement and fails to respond by self-censoring the allegedly infringing content. Even non-profit websites are exposed to liability, if they run advertisements to defray site expenses. This provision runs against a recent judgment of the European Court of Justice ruling that hyperlinks are not a reproduction of the copyright works they link to .

The law also newly targets businesses advertising on such websites, as well as those providing it with payment services, and authorizes the Spanish domain authority to cancel any ".es" domains under which they are hosted. (It is a shame that the Spanish legislators apparently think so little of Google News, because otherwise they might have read news snippets about a pair of ill-fated 2011 bills titled SOPA and PIPA that included similar Internet censorship provisions.)

In combination, these provisions will seriously chill speech online, casting a potential cloud of liability over website operators and the intermediaries who serve them. Rather than reducing the dissemination of copyright-infringing content, its only likely effect will be to drive Spanish websites offshore to a less hostile legal environment.

Unfortunately, it's likely too late now to do much about this ill-considered law--it is already scheduled to take effect in January 2015. This is particularly poorly timed, since the European Commission is in the midst of composing a new Directive to modernize European copyright law, which is likely to be passed in that same year. Whilst the new Directive may (we can only hope) include liberalized copyright limitations and exceptions, Spain's amendments to its copyright law go in precisely the opposite direction.

There is no doubt that technological change has hit newspaper publishers as well as other copyright owners. But a backward-looking law that penalizes innovators and threatens free speech on the Internet is not the solution.

 

 

Offsite Article: Dear Rupert Murdoch: Want to Compete with Netflix? Ditch DRM!...


Link Here 2nd November 2014
At a technology conference, Rupert Murdoch, chair of 21st Century Fox, argued that major media companies should develop their own video streaming service that could compete with Netflix and Amazon.

See article from eff.org

 

 

Linked Judgements...

European Court of Justice decides that embedding pre-existing video without permission is not liable to claims of copyright infringement


Link Here 29th October 2014
The Court of Justice of the European Union has handed down a landmark verdict. The Court ruled that embedding copyrighted videos is not copyright infringement, even if the source video was uploaded without permission.

The case in question was referred to EU's Court of Justice by a German court. It deals with a dispute between the water filtering company BestWater International and two men who work as independent commercial agents for a competitor. Bestwater accused the men of embedding one of their promotional videos, which was available on YouTube without the company's permission. The video was embedded on the personal website of the two through a frame, as is usual with YouTube videos.

While EU law is clear on most piracy issues, the copyright directive says very little about embedding copyrighted works. The Court of Justice, however, now argues that embedding is not copyright infringement.

The Court argues that embedding a file or video is not a breach of creator's copyrights under European law, as long as it's not altered or communicated to a new public. In the current case, the video was already available on YouTube so embedding it is not seen as a new communication. T he Court's verdict reads:

The embedding in a website of a protected work which is publicly accessible on another website by means of a link using the framing technology ... does not by itself constitute communication to the public within the meaning of [the EU Copyright directive] to the extent that the relevant work is neither communicated to a new public nor by using a specific technical means different from that used for the original communication.

The Court based its verdict on an earlier decision in the Svensson case , where it found that hyperlinking to a previously published work is not copyright infringement. Together, both cases will have a major impact on future copyright cases in the EU. For Internet users it means that they are protected from liability if they embed copyrighted videos or images from other websites, for example.

 

 

Torrential Falls...

Google significantly demotes major torrent sites from searches


Link Here 24th October 2014
Google's previously announced anti-piracy measures have now kicked in and as a result popular pirate sites are noticing a massive drop in search traffic.

While Google already began changing the ranking of sites based on DMCA complaints in 2012, it announced more far-reaching demotion measures last week. According to Google the new alghorithm changes would visibly lower the search rankings of the most notorious pirate sites, and they were right.

TorrentFreak has spoken with various torrent site owners who confirm that traffic from Google has been severely impacted by the recent algorithm changes. Earlier this week all search traffic dropped in half, the Isohunt.to team told us.

To get an idea of how the search results have changed we monitored a few search phrases that were likely to be affected. The before and after comparisons, which are only three days apart, show that popular pirate sites have indeed disappeared.

A search for Breaking Bad torrent previously featured Kickass.to, Torrentz.eu and Isohunt.com on top, but these have all disappeared. Interestingly, in some cases their place has been taken by other less popular torrent sites.

The traffic data and search comparisons clearly show that Google's latest downranking changes can have a severe impact on popular pirate sites. Ironically, the changes will also drive a lot of traffic to smaller unauthorized sources for the time being, but these will also be demoted as their takedown notice count increases.

 

 

Trademarked Blocking Systems...

ISP website blocking extended to websites accused of trademark infringement


Link Here 18th October 2014
In a landmark ruling, the High Court has ordered several of the UK's leading ISPs to block websites dealing in counterfeit products. The decision follows legal action by Richemont, the owner of several luxury brands including Cartier and Montblanc.

Following successful action by the world's leading entertainment companies to have sites blocked at the ISP level on grounds of copyright infringement, it was perhaps inevitable that other companies with similar issues, such as trademark infringement would tread the same path.

Compagnie Financiere Richemont S.A. owns several well-known luxury brands including Cartier and Mont Blanc and for some time has tried to force sites selling counterfeit products to close down. Faced with poor results, in 2014 the company wrote to the UK's leading ISPs, Sky, TalkTalk, BT, Virgin Media, EE and Telefonica/O2, complaining that third party sites were infringing on Richemont trademarks.

Concerned that Richemont hadn't done enough to close the sites down on its own and that blocking could affect legitimate trade, the ISPs resisted and the matter found itself before the High Court.

The court decision means that the ISPs named in the legal action must now restrict access to websites selling physical counterfeits in the same way they already restrict file-sharing sites.

A Richemont spokesperson told TorrentFreak that the ruling represents a positive step in the fight to protect brands and customers from the sale of counterfeit goods online. T he company said:

We are pleased by this judgment and welcome the Court's recognition that there is a public interest in preventing trade mark infringement, particularly where counterfeit goods are involved. The Courts had already granted orders requiring ISPs to block sites for infringement of copyright in relation to pirated content. This decision is a logical extension of that principle to trade marks.

TorrentFreak reports that the decision is likely to be appealed.

 

 

Offsite Article: Open Case...


Link Here 15th October 2014
European Court to consider who is responsible for copyright infringement via open WiFi

See article from techdirt.com

 

 

Copyright Exceptions 2014...

Details of the exceptions to copyright that allow limited use of copyright works without the permission of the copyright owner.


Link Here 4th October 2014
 

New Laws start today...

The Copyright and Rights in Performances (Quotation and Parody) Regulations 2014..


Link Here 1st October 2014
 

New Laws start today...

Legal backup of our own copyrighted mp3s, CDs and DVDs


Link Here 1st October 2014

 

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