Tag: copyright

Romans declare piracy sites legal

After years of backing the sinking of pirate content websites, the Roman Court of Appeal has overturned a 600,000 euro ruling against four unlicensed sites that offered streaming movies to the public.

For those who came in late, the ruling is unexpected.  Italian courts have passed down many decisions against unlicensed sites which have seen hundreds blocked by ISPs.

But now the Court of Appeal has defined a pirate site in a way which makes it difficult for shedloads of them to be shut down on the basis of a stiff letter coming from Big Content..

In 2015 when the operator of four sites that linked to pirated movies was found guilty of copyright infringement by a local court and ordered to pay more almost 600,000 in fines and costs. As a result, filmakers.biz, filmaker.me, filmakerz.org, and cineteka.org all shutdown.

However, an appeal was filed and heard by the Rome Court of Appeal in February. The site’s lawyer Fulvio Sarzana said that the Court ruled that the links do not qualify as distributing files protected by copyright law.

This means that sites can list links and not be prosecuted.

“The Judge has recognized as lawful the portals’ activities, and this is despite the presence of advertising banners,” Sarzana says.

It is no longer enough to simply show that the ‘pirate’ site generates income. The prosecution must show that profit activity is connected to an individual.

If it fails, the sharing aspect could be considered as merely avoiding an expense rather than a for-profit activity designed to generate “significant gain”.

The judge ruled that file sharing is an  expensive saving move and a not a for-profit business and in such cases you cannot apply the penal provisions of copyright law and the resulting administrative sanctions.


Copyright troll wants to hack your browser

Wikia_HP_-_Mountain_TrollCopyright troll Rightscorp wants to hijack the browsers of those it wants to extort money from to force them to pay up rather than go through all that inconvenience of going to court.

Rightscorp tracks the IP addresses of individuals who torrent certain titles. It then sends threatening letters to those users via their ISPs, threatening a giant lawsuit, and then offering a low settlement. But now that the company’s financials are down the loo it has a new cunning plan. It wants to lock users’ browsers until they pay a settlement fine.

The idea was spotted in a filing earlier this week:

“In the Scalable Copyright system, subscribers receive each [settlement] notice directly in their browser. Single notices can be read and bypassed similar to the way a software license agreement works [but] once the internet account receives a certain number of notices over a certain time period, the screen cannot be bypassed until the settlement payment is received.”

The hijacking would have to be done by ISPs, and would be technologically reasonably simple to implement—just redirect every webpage to Rightscorp’s notice instead, although it would be pretty simple to bypass using a VPN instead.

Of course it is going to hack off a lot of ISP customers. These are the people who give the ISP money, while Rightscorp doesn’t.  ISPs in that sort of situation are more likely to go to court to defend their customers from copyright shakedowns.  It does not seem likely that they are going to voluntarily back a hugely invasive and unpopular method of getting the movie theatres more dosh.


Sony tried to kill copyright professor’s YouTube lecture

Liberty-Net-His-Masters-VoiceCopyright cops at Sony Music bit off more than they could chew when they attempted to take down a Harvard professor’s YouTube lecture about fair use.

Harvard Law professor William Fisher put up his lecture to illustrate exactly how the law on fair use works and he included snippets of well-known covers.

However Sony did not like that and when its automated bots detect and reported that their rights were being infringed Fisher’s lecture was taken down.

Google recognises the problems and recently offered to pay the legal bills of several people who argued that their removed videos are protected by ‘fair use’ legislation. But its Content-ID system still flags a lot of legal content.

Fisher’s videos had the title: “The Subject Matter of Copyright: Music.” None of the tracks, which include covers by Joe Cocker, Santana and Stevie Ray Vaughan, are played in full. Instead, Fisher highlights small segments ranging from 15 to roughly 40 seconds.

Fisher could take Sony to the cleaners, after all he has the huge weight of the Harvard Law department to help out. Sony must have realised this because his videos have been re-instated.

However the question remains how much content is being taken down without “fair use” being properly defended.

Big Content verboten to outsource piracy enforcement

Liberty-Net-His-Masters-VoiceThe highest court in Germany has decided that ISPs might have to act as Big Content’s censors and block websites offering illegal music downloads, but only as a last resort.

The Federal Supreme Court said was that the copyright holders showed have to show they made reasonable attempts to thwart such piracy by other means and that might be a little difficult.

The court felt that Big Content was trying to outsource its enforcement to the ISPs and said that it was not doing enough itself to stop pirates.

The federal Supreme Court dismissed two cases brought by music rights society GEMA against Deutsche Telekom and music companies Universal Music, Sony and Warner Music Group against Telefonica’s O2 Deutschland.

It said on Thursday the plaintiffs did not make enough effort to halt the copyright violations in the first place but said Internet service providers could in principle be held responsible for blocking music illegally available on the Internet, even if the content remained available elsewhere.

GEMA, which acts to protect the rights of the owners of musical works, had demanded that Deutsche Telekom, Germany’s largest telecoms company, block the website “3dl.am” because it offered access to copyright-protected music.

In a separate case, the music companies wanted O2 Deutschland to block access to “goldesel.to,” part of the eDonkey network, a peer-to-peer file-sharing network for music.

The court said in its ruling: “The company that offers Internet access will only be held responsible for blocking the site when the copyright holder has first made reasonable efforts to take action against those who have themselves infringed their rights, like the website operators, or those who have enabled the infringement, like the Web hosting providers.”

The music industry says it loses billions of dollars every year from the illegal downloading of songs, depriving it of the revenue it needs to pay songwriters, artists, talent scouts, and people who come to install large swimming pools.

Big Content is not having a good time in Germany. A German court ruled in July that YouTube was only responsible for blocking copyright-infringing videos when they had been brought to its attention, and could not be expected to scan everything on the site.

Carmakers use copyright to hide emission cheating software

b299405f6eafe0ac98ce9d9405a17663 (1)Carmakers are using the US copyright laws to cheat US emission laws, claiming that allowing independent researchers to look under the car bonnets breaks the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation [EFF] claims that researchers could have uncovered Volkswagen emissions cheat sooner if the carmaker had not hidden behind the DMCA.

Writing in its bog the EFF said that carmakers argue that it’s unlawful for independent researchers to look at the code that controls vehicles without the manufacturer’s permission.

Apparently they use the DMCA to prevent competition in the markets for add-on technologies and repair tools. But it also makes it harder for watchdogs to find safety or security issues, such as faulty code that can lead to unintended acceleration or vulnerabilities that let an attacker take over your car.

As a test the EFF asked the Librarian of Congress to grant an exemption to the DMCA to make it crystal clear that independent research on vehicle software doesn’t violate copyright law. This was opposed by the manufacturers who claimed that individuals would use the to violate emissions laws. Ironically the Environmental Protection Agency supported the manufacturers because it was worried that individual users would doctor their cars to cheat car tests.

What the EFF, and we guess the EPA did not know at the time Volkswagen had already programmed its entire fleet of vehicles to conceal how much pollution they generated using that code.

This code was shielded from watchdogs’ investigation by the anti-circumvention provision of the DMCA.

“When you entrust your health, safety, or privacy to a device, the law shouldn’t punish you for trying to understand how that device works and whether it is trustworthy. We hope the Copyright Office and the Librarian of Congress agree when they rule on our exemptions next month,”  the EFF said.


Supremes steam windows in favour of patent troll

 supremesCopyright trolls in the US are celebrating after one of their number bought down the mighty briefs of Cisco.

The US Supreme Court ruled against Cisco over a patent infringement claim the tech giant is fighting against Commil.

The court threw out a ruling by the US  Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in favour of Cisco which is more than certainly going to lead to a new trial.

The case concerns a patent held by Commil for a patent to improve the implementation of a wireless network where multiple access points are needed. Commil sued Cisco for patent infringement and induced patent infringement based on the network equipment maker’s use of similar technology.

In April 2011, a jury awarded Commil almost $63.8 million in damages. A judge subsequently added $10.3 million in interest.

But in June 2013, the appeals court ordered a retrial, concluding in part that Cisco should be allowed to mount the “good faith” defence.

Washington-based intellectual property lawyer William Jackson said the ruling means “the patent owner must merely prove that the other party knew of the patent and intended to induce infringement – not that the party had any particular belief about validity.”

Seth Waxman, one of Cisco’s lawyers, said the ruling “simply eliminates one of many defences available to Cisco, which looks forward to retrial of the case.”

The US government had warned that companies accused of inducing patent infringement were likely to raise the “good faith” defence in most cases, if not all of them.

The Supremes agreed saying that if Cisco prevailed on its theory, there would be “negative consequences” in other cases.

Justice Antonin Scalia wrote a dissenting opinion saying that the ruling would benefit so-called patent trolls, companies that hold patents only for the purpose of suing firms seeking to develop new products.

European Commission ends geo-blocking

EU and country flags - Wikimedia CommonsThe European Commission adopted a new Digital Single Market Strategy which aims to improve consumer access to digital services and goods. Among other things, Europe vows to end geo-blocking and lift other unwarranted copyright restrictions.

It will enable video distributions like NetFlix, BBC iPlayer, and Amazon Instant Video to roll out across the bloc.

These geo-blocking practices have been a thorn in the side of the European Commission, who now plan to abolish these restrictions altogether.

Among other things the Commission plans “to end unjustified geo-blocking,” which it describes as “a discriminatory practice used for commercial reasons.”

President Jean-Claude Juncker wants every consumer getting the best deals and every business accessing the widest market – wherever they are in Europe.

A key element on the new strategy is a modern and more European copyright law. The Commission notes that the legislative proposals to achieve this will follow before the end of the year.

Under the revamped copyright law it should be easier for consumers to access and enjoy content online. This means that consumers will have the right to access content they purchased at home in other European countries.

One thing which is amusing is the comments from the Commission that “various industries” need to adapt to the new realities of the digital age. In other words the music and movie industry needs to take its trotter out of its own back-end.

Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society Günther Oettinger said that Europe had strengths to build on, but also homework to do.

“It has to make sure its industries adapt, and its citizens make full use of the potential of new digital services and goods. We have to prepare for a modern society and will table proposals balancing the interests of consumers and industry,” he adds.

Now we just have to cue the backlash from the movie and music dinosaurs as they try to protect their rights to their extra swimming pools.

US court roughs up copyright troll

Wikia_HP_-_Mountain_TrollCopyright troll Prenda had a rough day in an appeals hearing.

Copyright troll Prenda asked the 9th circuit Appeals court for a  hearing about sanctions, and it probably wished it hadn’t.

Daniel Voelker, representing Prenda, got a good kicking from three judges on the panel, while Morgan Pietz representing the so called copyright pirates, had a friendlier reception.

Prenda’s argument,  was that the entirety of a hearing where it was judged a “porno-trolling collective “ and the sanctions awarded at the end of it, were improper.

The three judges – 91yo Senior Judge Harry Pregerson, 62yo Judge Richard Tallman, and 49yo Jacqueline Nguyen  asked probing questions, and even making fun of Prenda.

When Voelker’s could not answer, Pregerson snorted something like “You know nothing John Snow” and said that Prenda needed to assert the 5th amendment because they were engaged in extortion, buy sending out thousands of extortion letters“.

Judge Pregerson’s  closing remark on it left no doubt what he was thinking, saying “That is just an ingenious, crooked, extortionate operation”.

Ngoyen, who is Obama’s next choice for a Supreme Court justice, told ) told oelker that he was “swimming upstream” while Tallman told him to stop ‘bobbing and weaving’ when asked questions.  He asked if certain documents (specifically the forged copyright assignment) were ‘left by the tooth fairy’.

For some reason Voelker did not mind that the court remanded the case back to Judge Wright, as a criminal matter under a special prosecutor, which could result in Prenda executives behind bars.

Apple faces Swiss challenge to iWatch

WatchFruity cargo cult Apple is not going to be allowed to launch its smartwatch in Switzerland anytime soon.

Apparently the problem is that in 1985 a bloke William Longe, patented the name Apple when it came to launching its watch in Switzerland.

This means that the US tech giant cannot use the image of an apple nor the word “apple” to launch its watch within Switzerland, the home of luxury watches.

According to a document from the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property, the patent is set to expire on December 5 of this year.

Apple’s watch is appearing on the market two years late and is already outclassed by its rivals.  A further delay in the home of the wrist watch is embarrassing to say the least.

The Apple Watch, the firm’s first new device since Tim Cook became CEO, will be available in stores in nine countries on April 24 and, since it has practically no killer app technology behind it, it appears to be part of Jobs’ Mob’s Apple pay payments system.

Swatch countered any change that will work by announcing a plan to put cheap programmable chips in watches that will let wearers make payments with a swipe of the wrist.

Music companies saddle CEO with $41 million piracy bill

The former chief executive of defunct online music storage firm MP3tunes was personally ordered to pay an estimated $41 million after being found liable for infringing copyrights owned by record companies and music publishers once part of EMI.

A lawyer for EMI, Luke Platzer, estimated after the verdict was read that it added up to roughly $41 million. The verdict included $7.5 million in punitive damages.

Robertson and the bankrupt company was found guilty by a jury on various copyright infringement claims.

A lawyer for Robertson said he planned to appeal, saying that many of the claims were not sustainable.

MP3tunes was founded in 2005 and was one of the first cloud based music services that allowed users to store music in online lockers. EMI claimed that the MP3tunes website and a related one called Sideload.com enabled piracy.

This particular case was considered a barometer for how courts might look at cloud-based music storage services in the future. It looks like the future is bleak.

In the trial, Robertson’s lawyers contended MP3tunes had shut out users who abused the locker system and that many of the songs had been made available online free by EMI as a promotion.

A federal judge’s ruling against MP3.com in 2000 led to a shutdown of the service and more than $160 million in estimated payouts by the company to the five major record labels and music publishers.

MP3.com was sold a year later to Vivendi Universal for about $372 million, with $120 million going to Robertson’s family trust, he testified at trial. The website is today owned by CBS.