Tag: bpi

British ISPs block more torrent sites

A high court order has spurred top ISPs to block three of the largest BitTorrent sites.

BT, Virgin Media, O2 and Be There have all stopped customers from accessing KickassTorrents, H33T and Fenopy after it was claimed in the courts they were facilitating copyright infringement.

The sites were allegedly raking in cash – with revenues estimated for KickassTorrents at around $12,525,469 and $22,383,918, according to an expert quoted in the verdict.

TorrentFreak reports that the High Court ordered six ISPs including BT, Sky, Virgin Media, O2, EE and TalkTalk to block subscriber access to the three torrent sites after the BPI stuck its oar in and moaned that they damaged legal music sales. This is despite evidence from the European Commission that pirates are actually avid content fiends who also pay for their films, TV shows, and music.

No date had been set for the block and TorrentFreak pointed out its own investigations had found these sites were now being blocked.

The order is similar to the one which resulted in a nationwide block of The Pirate Bay last year. At the time the Open Rights Group said the block was “an extreme response,” and claimed the BPI and the courts needed to “slow down and be very careful about this approach”.

This advice was clearly not taken to heart.

The content industry would be wise to understand the Streisand Effect: that an active effort to censor something online will actually increase its popularity. Indeed, when the Pirate Bay was first blocked it quickly became one of the most accessed websites in the UK.

For some low-level pirates, the move will be effective advertising for KAT.ph, H33T, and Fenopy as useful alternatives to Googling for “Iron Man torrent”. Blocking these websites usually has a Hydra effect on their proxies: when one is blocked, more spring up in its place. Even without proxies, it only takes minimal Googling for a user to figure out how to get around the blocks.

So, actually, the BPI might well be shooting itself in the foot on this one. By blocking these websites it is trying to turn the clock back on file sharing – impossible – and tarring itself as an anti-progressive force, much like the rest of the content industry.

UK Pirate Party forced to give up Pirate Bay proxy

UK political group, the Pirate Party, has been forced to give up its legal defence against the BPI because it lacks the readies.

The Pirate Party had been providing people with a link that bypassed ISP blocks to the Pirate Bay. Needless to say, Big Content was furious, particular as the Pirate Bay remained extremely popular.

It appears that the BPI sent legal threats to the Pirate Party to shut it down. Initially the Party was happy to take on all comers and then it realised how much fighting the BPI would cost.

In a statement, the Party insists it will continue to fight for digital rights despite being threatened with legal action by the UK’s music industry body over linking to the Pirate Bay.

Frances Nash, IP Lawyer at Manchester solicitors, Ralli, commented on behalf of the Pirate Party that despite attempts by elected members to resolve the situation, the law at present is clear and makes any decision to continue hosting the proxy untenable.

He said that this was not the outcome the party wanted, however, any challenge to this proposed action would make it financially impossible for the party to deal with other topics it actively campaigns for on a daily basis.

Nash said that the Pirate Party strongly believes that site blocking is both disproportionate and ineffective and will continue to lobby for digital rights.

In other words, there is nothing it can do, so it will try and fight the move politically rather than waste cash. 

Content industry threatens Pirate Party over Pirate Bay proxy

Music industry group the BPI is furious with the British Pirate Party for running its Pirate Bay proxy.

According to TorrentFreak, the BPI is planning to sue the UK Pirate Party into a coma after it refused to take its Pirate Bay proxy offline.

The BPI asked the Pirates to shut down the website, but quickly turned to threats whenit didn’t get its way.

Pirate Party leader Loz Kaye said the party will stand behind its principles, or rather its lawyers, and that could mean an expensive legal battle.

After the High Court ordered several UK ISPs to block subscriber access to The Pirate Bay earlier this year, millions of users started using the UK Pirate Party’s proxy service. In fact it is one of the most popular sites in the UK.

The problem is that any legal action could turn into a financial disaster for the political party. However, it says that it will do everything in its power to keep the proxy online. The Party points out that it is by no means clear that allowing access to The Pirate Bay is against the law.

The party is becoming increasingly concerned about how the BPI has been given too much power to decide on which websites should be blocked. Until last week the Pirates had not been contacted by anyone to take its proxy down.

Copyright holders have taken the proxy site of the Dutch Pirate Party offline. The court forbade the Pirates from hosting or even linking to Pirate Bay proxies. The Dutch Pirate Party announced that it would appeal the verdict, but is saving up its pennies so that it can hold an appeal.

The general feeling among the Pirate Party members is that Big Content is using its legal muscle to get them to fold. If it manages this, it will be the first time that corporate interests have killed off a UK political party.

A BPI spokesperson said: “There is no issue with Pirate Party themselves, or Pirate Party expressing their views on any other section of their website.”

BPI pushes ISPs for more web censorship

Further plans from the BPI to force ISPs to block a range of file sharing sites have been branded “frustrating” and “extreme” by the Pirate Party UK and the Open Rights Group.

The comments from the Pirate Party UK and Open Rights Group (ORG) come after the recording industry organisation put proposals in place to force the likes of BT, Virgin and TalkTalk to block torrent sites Kickass Torrents, H33t and Fenopy.

The motion follows a successful win by the BPI, which along with nine recording labels including EMI, Polydor, Sony, Virgin and Warner successfully forced ISPs to block The Pirate Bay earlier this year.

Although the ISPs have so far refused to comply with the new orders, rights groups have said they will have to if a court order sides with the music industry organisation, which is pushing for a decision by Christmas.  

The courts need to slow down and be careful about their approach, Jim Killock, executive director of ORG, told TechEye.

“Web blocking is an extreme response,” Killock said. “The orders are often indefinite and open ended, and will be blocking legitimate uses.

“The BPI and the courts need to slow down and be very careful about this approach,” he said. “The BPI seem to be trying to speed things up and that is not good. It will lead to carelessness and unneeded harms.”

Killock warned that censorship is a dangerous game to play, looking at the wider picture. “As an approach, censorship is a bad idea,” Killock said. “It leads to more censorship, and is unlikely to solve the problem it seeks to address”.

The Pirate Party UK published a statement on its website denouncing the moves. Leader Loz Kaye said, commenting to TechEye, that watching an industry continuously shaped by the content industry’s jackboot is frustrating.

“It’s hugely frustrating that our digital and cultural policy continues to be hi-jacked by narrow focused lobbyists like the BPI,” Kaye said. “We should be supporting digital business, not burdening it with demands to carry out censorship.”

“We should be dealing with the devastating effects of the slashing cuts to the Arts Council, rather than trying to shore up commercial interests,” Kaye said, adding that it’s difficult to see where the campaign of censorship will end.

“The government promised not to carry out the site blocking provisions of the Digital Economy Act, but that pledge looks worthless now,” he said. “Until the Coalition acts, I’ll continue to believe they are happy to allow site blocking. The industry lobby has never been able to set out a clear, positive, achievable goal for restrictions. That is why they never seem satisfied.

“Everything we have seen up to now suggests they will be calling for ever more draconian interference threatening the digital economy, our personal freedoms and privacy,” Kaye said.

Pirate Party hits out on Scottish sentencing of filesharing woman

The Pirate Party has hit out at the sentence of a Scottish woman found guilty of sharing illegally music files, calling it a “disproportionate.”

Anne Muir, 58, from Ayrshire, was today given three years probation and has become the first person in Scotland to be convicted of sharing illegally downloaded music.

While the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) and right holders has cracked open the champers, the Pirate Party isn’t impressed. Loz Kaye Leader of Pirate Party UK said today that the group was “hugely dismayed” at the disproportionate sentence.

“The evidence should have been properly tested in court. It seems now there is a pattern of rights holders targeting vulnerable people to score quick wins for publicity,” he added.

Anne Muir was given her sentence at the Ayr Sherriff Court. She had been caught with more than 30,000 files worth an estimated £54,792 in the mainstream market back in June 2008 following a joint investigation with the BPI and the police. This usually means the BPI moaned to the coppers who looked into it.

In between sips of champers a BPI spokesman told us: “Having identified that an unknown individual was illegally distributing tens of thousands of music files via a P2P hub, information was passed to the Scottish authorities and they decided to prosecute.

“Today the Court has recognised that illegal filesharing on a massive scale is a serious matter and has imposed a sentence aimed at preventing such behaviour in future.  We would like to thank the Strathclyde Police and the Procurator Fiscal Service in Ayr for their diligent work on this investigation”.

Inspector Knacker of the Ayr Yard  found 7439 digital music files and 24243 karaoke files on computer equipment moved from her home. They also allegedly found that Ms Muir was part of “a network” where users could share and download music, although it is not clear if that just meant BitTorrent.

One of the problems in the case was that the laws did not get a chance to be tested. Muir pleaded guilty to charges thrust upon her and included distributing “articles” which she had reason to believe were copyrighted without a licence.  

UK copyright laws set for major re-vamp

The Hargreaves Review has made its debut, bringing with it calls to revamp current UK copyright laws which are out of step with the digital age.
 
Within the report, (PDF)  which was commissioned by the government last year, the most noticeable recommendations are to do with the way content is monitored on the internet.

There needs to be more of a consideration for consumers, says the report, rather than the current legislation which has given protection to copyright holders above all else. Author Professor Hargreaves stresses there must be a balance.

“Copying has become basic to numerous industrial processes, as well as to a burgeoning service economy based upon the internet,” the report says. “The UK cannot afford to let a legal framework designed around artists impede vigorous participation in these emerging business sectors.”

According to Kim Walker, partner in the IP team at law firm Pinsent Masons and contributor at Out-Law, the report has taken the clever decision to cast aside any overwhelming American influence in copyright law.

“Hargreaves’ decision not to recommend an American-style ‘fair-use’ defence to copying works is good for rights holders and entrepreneurs alike,” Walker said to TechEye. “Leaving law-making to litigation by asking judges, rather than legislation, decide whether copyright use constitutes ‘fair use’ or not was not going to assist anyone but the rich.” 

The recommendation is also notably supported by the Creative Coalition Campaign, which said the rejection of the fair use policy means investment in the UK’s creative industries could continue.

Also welcomed by Mr Walker was the recommendation that the UK set up a system to make it easier for copyright owners and potential resellers to negotiate rights. This so called
Digital Copyright Exchange would be a digital marketplace where licences in copyright content can be readily bought and sold.

“The recommendation for the world’s first Digital Copyright Exchange should impact positively on establishing who owns the copyright in a work, and therefore positively affect how works are shared and licensed,” Walker said.

“The aim to grant easier and quicker access to copyright for SMEs and include access to ‘orphan works’ should assist everyone to stay on the right side of the law,” he added.

However, Walker points out that it will be interesting to see how this operates in practice. And whether the holders would be persuaded, or even compelled, to move away from their own copyright management and licensing systems.

But Geoff Taylor, Chief Executive at the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), questions the “practicalities, scope and costs of the proposed digital copyright exchange.” Taylor says “the various exceptions proposed and the expanded role for the IPO will require careful scrutiny.”

Another positive, Walker at Pinsent Masons says, is changing copyright laws to enable format shifting.

Currently the law means it’s illegal to burn CDs to a hard drive, but by changing the laws the UK matches the rest of Europe, which generally recognises the “reality of music use across multiple devices.”

Although the BPI has been unpopular with its views on music copyright, its Chief Exec Geoff Taylor says it’s a good thing.

“We support the objective of making it legal for consumers to transfer the music they have purchased onto their own devices and will work with Government to ensure this is implemented in a way that respects the rights of music creators,” Taylor said.

Another hot topic in the report is the government’s IP policy decisions – which need to be more closely based on economic evidence, and pay more attention to the impact on non-rights holders and consumers.

The report hinted that previous actions by the music industry and others had inflated the cost of copyright breaches such as P2P file-sharing.

We reckoned the Internet Service Providers’ Association (ISPA) would hold an opinion. So we asked Secretary General Nicholas Lansman, who says the organisation agrees with the Review’s findings that IP framework had failed to keep pace with the digital age.

Lansman added that by making content licensing easier and more transparent it will help companies “innovate to give consumers what they are demanding.” 

“[The] ISPA further feels that the lack of robust evidence on online copyright infringement, as the review finds, should be front of mind for government when it looks to implement the copyright provisions of the Digital Economy Act,” he added.

Privacy advocates at Big Brother Watch had their piece, too, welcoming the decision by the
Intellectual Property Office (IPO) to place growth and innovation at the heart of its digital strategy.

However, Daniel Hamilton, director at the organisation, points out that the IPO has to be far clearer about exactly what it is Professor Hargreaves is proposing.  

“These are many questions that still need answering,” Hamilton says.

“Will the Digital Copyrights Exchange be a central database or just a clearinghouse?  How will online privacy be protected while digital copyrights infringement investigations take place?  What exact powers will the IPO gain?”  

Professor Hargreaves said the review is in the government’s hands now. It should base its opinions on “objective evidence” as “there is no doubt that the persuasive powers of celebrities and important UK creative companies have distorted policy outcomes”.

The government says it will review the recommendations and hopes to make a full response next month before the summer recess.