An influential conservative group released a copyright reform memo that was so smart it had to immediately disavow it. — »http://www.scribd.com/doc/113633834/Republican-Study-Committee-Intellectual-Property-Brief
Also: House Republicans: Copyright Law Destroys Markets; It’s Time For Real Reform — http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20121116/16481921080/house-republicans-copyright-law-destroys-markets-its-time-real-reform.shtml
If you’re used to Congress not understanding copyright, prepare to be surprised. It’s clear, thorough and detailed about just how problematic copyright has become and why it needs to change. To give you a sense of where the document heads, note the final line:Current copyright law does not merely distort some markets — rather it destroys entire markets.
And: That Was Fast: Hollywood Already Browbeat The Republicans Into Retracting Report On Copyright Reform — http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20121117/16492521084/hollywood-lobbyists-have-busy-saturday-convince-gop-to-retract-copyright-reform-brief.shtml
US Judge Gary Brown: An IP-Address Doesn’t Identify a Person (or BitTorrent Pirate)
“A landmark ruling in one of the many mass-BitTorrent lawsuits in the US has delivered a severe blow to a thus far lucrative business. Among other things, New York Judge Gary Brown explains in great detail why an IP-address is not sufficient evidence to identify copyright infringers. According to the Judge this lack of specific evidence means that many alleged BitTorrent pirates have been wrongfully accused by copyright holders.
Mass-BitTorrent lawsuits have been dragging on for more than two years in the US, involving more than a quarter million alleged downloaders.
The copyright holders who start these cases generally provide nothing more than an IP-address as evidence. They then ask the courts to grant a subpoena, allowing them to ask Internet providers for the personal details of the alleged offenders.
The problem, however, is that the person listed as the account holder is often not the person who downloaded the infringing material. Or put differently; an IP-address is not a person.”~Read More: TorrentFreak
#SOPA RIAA: Someone Else Is Pirating Through Our IP-Addresses Via @TorrentFreak
“A few days ago we reported that no less than 6 IP-addresses registered to the RIAA had been busted for downloading copyrighted material. Quite a shocker to everyone – including the music industry group apparently – as they are now using a defense previously attempted by many alleged file-sharers. It wasn’t members of RIAA staff who downloaded these files, the RIAA insists, it was a mysterious third party vendor who unknowingly smeared the group’s good name.
Over the past week we’ve had fun looking up what governments, Fortune 500 companies, and even the most dedicated anti-piracy groups download on BitTorrent. All we had to do is put their IP-addresses into the search form on YouHaveDownloaded and hit after hit appeared.
To our surprise, we found out that even IP-addresses registered to the RIAA were showing unauthorized downloads of movies, TV-shows and software.
This curiosity was quickly picked up by other news outlets to whom the RIAA gave a rather interesting explanation. Apparently these file-sharing transactions weren’t carried out by RIAA staffers, but by a third party who’s using the RIAA IP-addresses to share and distribute files online.
“Those partial IP addresses are similar to block addresses assigned to RIAA. However, those addresses are used by a third party vendor to serve up our public Web site,” a spokesperson told CNET, adding, “As I said earlier, they are not used by RIAA staff to access the Internet.”
Secondly, while we are prepared to believe that RIAA staff didn’t download these files, we are left wondering what mysterious third party did. Also, is it even allowed by the official registry to register a range of IP-addresses to your private organization, and then allow others to use these IPs?
Also, just as a bit of friendly advice, it’s generally not a good idea to let others use your organization’s addresses to browse the internet. This time it’s “just” copyrighted material up for debate, but who knows what else they may be sharing online.
Considering the RIAA’s past of suing tens of thousands of file-sharers for copyright infringement, the excuse is perhaps even more embarrassing than taking full responsibility. When some of the 20,000 plus people who were sued by the RIAA over the years used the “someone else did it” excuse this was shrugged off by the music group’s lawyers. Can these people have their money back now? We doubt it.
Elsewhere, Henrik Chulu from the Free Culture blog discovered that someone at the infamous Johan Schlüter law firm downloaded the Danish movie ‘Dirch’. But Maria Fredenslund from anti-piracy group RettighedsAliancen had their excuse ready.
“We’re working for right holders, who obviously have given us permission to collect their material online as part of an investigative work,” she told Comon.dk in response.
#SOPA RIAA and ʎʇıɹnɔǝs puɐןǝɯoɥ Caught Downloading Torrents Via @TorrentFreak
“If there’s one organization known for its crusade against online piracy, it’s the RIAA. Nevertheless, even in the RIAA’s headquarters several people use BitTorrent to download pirated music, movies, TV-shows and software. And they are in good company. The Department of ʎʇıɹnɔǝs puɐןǝɯoɥ – known for seizing pirate domain names – also harbors hundreds of BitTorrent pirates.
Last week we wrote about a new website that exposes what people behind an IP-address have downloaded using BitTorrent. The Russian-based founders of the site gathered this data from public BitTorrent trackers, much like anti-piracy outfits do when they track down copyright infringers.
In response to the article many readers commented that they indeed saw a few familiar downloads, and they are not alone.
YouHaveDownloaded currently lists information on more than 50 million users. Although this is only a fraction of all public BitTorrent downloads, it shows that in pretty much every major organization people are pirating content.
Earlier this week we already showed that there are BitTorrent pirates at Sony, Universal and Fox. A few days later it was revealed that torrents are being downloaded in the palace of French President Nicholas Sarkozy, and today we can add the RIAA and the Department of ʎʇıɹnɔǝs puɐןǝɯoɥ to the list.
After carefully checking all the IP-addresses of the RIAA we found 6 unique addresses from where copyrighted material was shared. Aside from recent music albums from Jay-Z and Kanye West – which may have been downloaded for research purposes – RIAA staff also pirated the first five seasons of Dexter, an episode of Law and Order SVU, and a pirated audio converter and MP3 tagger.
RIAA staff have a taste for crime dramas.
And of course some handy audio tools.
All in all, quite an astonishing revelation for an outfit that wants to disconnect copyright infringers from the Internet.
Another prominent organization that has been in the news for their tough actions against online piracy is the Department of ʎʇıɹnɔǝs puɐןǝɯoɥ. In recent months they have seized domain names of hundreds of sites accused of facilitating counterfeiting and piracy, including the torrent search engine Torrent-Finder.
By now it probably comes as no surprise that staff at the Department of ʎʇıɹnɔǝs puɐןǝɯoɥ are also using BitTorrent. In fact, we found more than 900 unique IP-addresses at the Government organization through which copyrighted files were downloaded.
Since ʎʇıɹnɔǝs puɐןǝɯoɥ employs more than 200,000 people the finding is hardly a surprise. However, this and the other revelations show that BitTorrent is being used everywhere, from government agencies to even the most outspoken anti-piracy outfits.
For now at least, since the RIAA has lobbied hard for a nationwide piracy monitoring system much like YouHaveDownloaded.
In a few months millions of online ‘pirates’ will be monitored as part of an agreement between the MPAA, RIAA and all major U.S. Internet providers. Alleged infringers will be notified about their misbehavior, and repeat offenders will eventually be punished.
But will the RIAA be punished too?”~TorrentFreak
Wikipedia Mulls Total Blackout to Oppose #SOPA Via @TorrentFreak
“Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales wants to blank out all pages of the online encyclopedia to oppose the pending SOPA anti-piracy bill in the US. Wales, who has asked the Wikipedia community for input on the idea, fears the bill could seriously hurt the Internet and thinks that blanking out Wikipedia will send a strong message to lawmakers.
Later this week, the Senate’s House Judiciary Committee will vote on the “Stop Online Piracy Act” (SOPA).
Supporters of the bill say it’s needed to safeguard the interests of rightsholders who claim their businesses are threatened by online piracy. Those opposing are worried that the unprecedented censorship tools it introduces will take out many websites on baseless or faulty claims of copyright infringement.
Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales belongs to the latter group, and behind the scenes he is mulling plans to blank out all Wikipedia pages in protest against the pending SOPA bill. On Saturday he posted a message on his user page asking the community for input on the idea.
Fight for your right to rip DVDs legally
“Since the passage of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) in 1998, the Copyright Office has held several triennial proceedings on bypassing digital locks. Gradually, the Office has loosened up; the last time around, it approved jailbreaking smartphones and granted a broad video exemption to educators and mashup-makers.
But a widespread exemption for cracking the CSS encryption on DVDs has always been a bridge too far. In the first proceedings, the Register of Copyright was convinced by movie industry arguments that users inconvenienced by the ability to stick a copy of a film on their iPhone had other ways to access the material (like VHS tapes). At later hearings, the movie industry argued (and actually demonstrated) how to make copies of movies by pointing a camcorder at a TV screen. Welcome to the technological society!
Another DMCA exemption process is now underway at the Copyright Office, and Public Knowledge has decided to make another run at the DVD issue. The basis of its argument? The prevalence of piracy. Since one can already get digital copies of just about every film off the Internet, there can be little harm in allowing citizens to back up their DVD collections or “space shift” them to computers and smartphones (just as they have long been able to do with compact discs).
“Ultimately, this exemption will have no impact on unauthorized reproductions of motion pictures,” the Public Knowledge filing (PDF) concludes. “The Register is in the enviable position of balancing a clear benefit to the public against no cognizable harm to rightsholders because the harm they fear already exists.”~Read More: arstechnica
Also worth a look (relevant): EFF: Why Apple (and Sony, Amazon, Microsoft etc.) Should Support Jailbreaking
@Techdirt Courts Can't Ignore Free Speech Concerns Just Because Someone Claims Copyright Infringement #Piracy #anonymous
“A couple months ago, we wrote about a troubling ruling by a magistrate judge in California, ordering the identification of an anonymous internet user, who had spoken out against a cult. As we’ve noted, many courts have recognized that anonymity is protected by the First Amendment. And, while not universally accepted, many courts have adopted the so-called Dendrite rule for determining when its appropriate to identify an anonymous speaker. This test is a good one, which requires the party seeking to identify an anonymous speaker to both give the speaker sufficient notification to protest being identified, but also to present significant evidence to prove that the speaker broke the law.
Unfortunately, thanks to the RIAA, there’s a “competing” ruling when it comes to copyright. Some users had tried to be kept anonymous in a file sharing case, and the court there rejected that attempt, but by using a much lower standard that almost guarantees anonymous speakers would be identified (known as the “Sony Music” standard, since Sony was the lead plaintiff in the case that set the standard). In this case, the plaintiffs pushed to use the much lower standard to identify the anonymous speakers, by claiming that part of the problem was copyright infringement in their blog posts. The magistrate judge agreed. However, thanks to a rapid attempt to get the court to reconsider (via both the anonymous plaintiff and Public Citizen, the ACLU and EFF), district court judge Lucy Koh reversed the ruling by the magistrate judge, and made it clear that even in copyright cases, we shouldn’t just throw out the right to be anonymous.
The ruling by Judge Koh is quite good, detailing the right to be anonymous and the First Amendment concerns that must be taken into account, even in copyright cases. The court seems to correctly recognize that the kind of “speech” here is different than just someone downloading a song. Most people would agree that there’s no First Amendment right to be anonymous for downloading. But when the “infringement” is done as part of an effort to speak out publicly about an issue, it seems much more reasonable to use the much higher bar to identify the speaker, and that’s exactly what the court said. For purely consumptive infringement, perhaps it’s reasonable to have a lower barrier to identification. But in cases of expression, the courts should be careful not to just toss out one’s right to be anonymous. The court recognized this, pointing out that there are real First Amendment concerns when the use is expressive:
Contrary to Plaintiff’s assertions, evidence of copyright infringement does not automatically remove the speech at issue from the scope of the First Amendment. While “the First Amendment does not shield copyright infringement,” Harper, 471 U.S. at 555-56, “copyright law contains built-in First Amendment accommodations.” Eldred v. Ashcroft, 537 U.S. 186, 219-20 (2003). Perhaps the most important is the doctrine of fair use, which allows the public to use copyrighted works “for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching … and scholarship.” …. In this case, the Court has acknowledged that “Skywalker appears to have published the [protected materials] … as part of a larger effort to debunk the notion that the Art of Living Foundation and Ravi Shankar possess some ‘secret higher knowledge.’” Id. Although the Court need not determine at this stage if Skywalker’s conduct is protected by fair use, the circumstances here create a substantial question as to whether the doctrine applies…. The Court therefore finds that even if Skywalker’s speech is not “political” or “religious,” as he has argued, it at least raises significant constitutional issues.
Judge Koh didn’t just stop there. She also went on to discuss the serious potential chilling effects of identifying anonymous speakers using claims of copyright infringement:
Conversely, Sony Music made no mention of the chilling effect of disclosure. Of course, this makes sense, given that the conduct at issue had little First Amendment value. However, because disclosure of Skywalker’s identity here could discourage other bloggers from engaging in lawful, critical speech, the Highfields/Perry analysis is more likely than Sony Music to focus the Court on striking the proper balance between competing interests.
It’s nice to see at least some judges recognizing that while infringement is not protected speech, there’s all sorts of legitimate speech that can be stopped by copyright law, and we shouldn’t just ignore the First Amendment when copyright and the First Amendment come into conflict.”~More from Techdirt
The Pirate Bay Trademark Handed To Alcohol Entrepreneur
“Scragg was pictured in the Swedish media holding bottles of rum adorned with the familiar Pirate Bay logo but an official objection to his acquisition put the process on hold…
A Sweden-based alcohol entrepreneur has successfully obtained the trademark “The Pirate Bay”. Colin Scragg, who made to complaints to police over share dealings at his former company earlier this year, had faced opposition at the Patents and Trademarks Office, but now the decision has swung in his favor.
Although the site’s activities have been continuously covered in the press, 2009 proved to be a particularly massive year for Pirate Bay-focused column inches.
April’s 2009 “guilty” verdict for the site’s founders was quickly followed in June by an announcement from internet café and gaming center company Global Gaming Factory X that it was in the process of acquiring The Pirate Bay for $7.8m.
But amid all the commotion and confusion, Swedish-based Englishman and alcoholic beverage entrepreneur Colin Scragg saw a golden opportunity – to own the very identity of “The Pirate Bay”.
“No one had protected the trademark,” Scragg told the press. All the publicity and the perfect match between the name “The Pirate Bay” and introducing a new rum to Sweden was too great a chance to miss, he added.”~More from TorrentFreak