Tag: file sharing

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.


IsoHunt founder suggests new project on the cards

Bittorrent index IsoHunt has turned 10 years old, and its founder is still fighting off the content industry to keep the website going, according to a post on its forums.

Even noting the content industry’s relentless pursuit of websites that make sharing possible – legal or otherwise – Isohunt’s founder, Gary Fung, thinks that it is the web, not Big Media, that is winning, TorrentFreak reports.

Fung claimed that his website is not intrinsically linked to any subversive movement, but is instead in the ‘culture business’ – and that culture, made into files and shared online, should, in his ideal world, be shared as consumers please.

“I’ve fought Hollywood’s lawsuit for almost seven years now,” he wrote. “It’s so ancient it’s almost not even worth mentioning”. Fung went on to say that he’s tired of the squabbling and noted that the only way to move forward as an industry is “with the creators”.

He imagined a “reboot” of IsoHunt over the next ten years, where consumers are active participants in the creation of content, and said for now, the project will be called IsoHunt Spotlight, and could be a concoction made up of services such as Kickstarter, Netflix, Spotify, Gamefly, and Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, with global licensing “from day one”.

Although the content industry continues attempting to steamroll what it considers a threat to its profits, Fung said that recently, he had seen “solidarity against tyranny” in the SOPA protests, and the abandoning of ideas such as “1 download = 1 lost sale”. 

Survey rubbishes piracy myth

Big Content’s idea that pirates are its enemy took another drubbing after a survey revealed that file-sharers are the music and film industry’s best customers.

According to Ars Technica, the American Assembly from Columbia University commissioned a public opinion survey to find out how consumers were getting their media and what their attitudes were toward copyright enforcement.

As you might expect, all those surveyed hated the use of internet disconnection and rate-limiting as penalties for unauthorised file sharing.

What the survey confirmed was that peer-to-peer file sharing software users buy 30 percent more legitimate contact than those who do not.

More than 80 percent believe that it’s OK to share copyrighted content with family members, and six in 10 extend the same logic to friends. Only four to 15 percent think that it’s reasonable to upload copyrighted content for public consumption, post links to pirated content on Facebook, or sell unauthorised copies of copyrighted materials.

Younger people are happier at sharing than older people, with 76 percent of Americans under 30 saying it’s reasonable to share content with friends, while only 51 percent of those over 65 think so.

The figures show that while only 13 percent of American internet users use peer-to-peer file-sharing software overall, 20 percent of adults under 30 do so.

The survey was commissioned by Google, which might not like some of the findings. About 53 percent of Americans believe that search engines should “be required to block links to pirated music and videos online”. Only 42 percent disagreed.

What the survey mostly does is offer some support for the idea that file sharing promotes, rather than hinders, legitimate music purchases.

The average American on a peer-to-peer network has a music library of almost 2,000 songs. Of these, 760 were legitimately purchased. Those who say they are not P2P users have an average library size of 1300 songs. Of those, 582 were legit.

It also shows that music that is ripped from CDs or copied from friends and family makes up the rest.

A larger fraction of the music collections of non-P2P users come from legitimate sources.

The survey was also attempted in Germany, and the results were similar. The only difference was that more Germans believed it was OK for Big Content to enforce copyright.

More than 59 percent of Germans believe that unauthorised downloading of a song or movie should be punishable, while just 52 percent of Americans agree. But the Germans were much tougher on Big Content spying on them to prevent copyright theft. More than 71 percent opposed internet monitoring to prevent infringement, two points higher than Americans.

In other words, it is OK to chuck the book at P2P pirates just so long as you don’t spy on them to get a conviction. 

Supremes refuse to touch file-sharing case

The US Supreme Court has refused to touch a filesharing case where a student was fined $675,000 for illegally downloading and sharing 30 songs on the internet.

Joel Tenenbaum, 28, of Providence, Rhode Island, said he still hopes that a federal judge will reduce the amount.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Tenenbaum said he still could not understand how the US justice sytem would uphold a six-figure damages amount for downloading 30 songs on a file-sharing system that everybody used.

A jury in 2009 ordered Tenenbaum to pay $675,000, after the RIAA sued him on behalf of four record labels.

A federal judge called the penalty unconstitutionally excessive and reduced the award to $67,500. But the 1st US Circuit Court of Appeals later reinstated it.

The 1st Circuit said a new judge assigned to the case could reduce the award again, but the record labels would then be entitled to a new trial.

Tenenbaum said he doesn’t have the money to pay the judgement because he has been a student for six years.

His argument is that the US Copyright Act is unconstitutional and that Congress did not intend the law to impose liability or damages when the copyright infringements amount to “consumer copying.”

During the trial, Tenenbaum admitted he downloaded music from Green Day, Nirvana, The Smashing Pumpkins and others.

His lawyer suggested the damages should be as little as 99 cents per song, about the same amount Tenenbaum would have to pay for a legal online song purchase.

However, Big Content argued that illegal downloading hurt the recording industry by reducing income and profits and since Tenenbaum was a “hardcore” copyright infringer he should help keep Big Content executives in swimming pools and the odd Rolex or two for Christmas.

The association said it offered to settle the case for $5,000. 

AMD's New Zealand card spec released

The spec of the AMD Radeon HD 7990, codenamed “New Zealand”, has surfaced. 

The reference design has been posted along with a GPU-Z screen cap of the graphics card’s spec over at TechPowerUp.

We are not quite sure what is particularly Kiwi about the Radeon HD 7990 other than the fact it has a blower-style cooler which blows air down on to the two seperate heatsinks. Anyone who has lived in New Zealand knows that the weather blows hot and cold and it is possible to have four seasons in one day.

In a challenge to geography students, the New Zealand card will sport 2x “Tahiti XT” GPUs clocked at 1 GHz.

The HD 7990 is also a bit big to be New Zealand – it has 4096 stream processors clocked at 1 GHz, and 6GB of GDDR5 memory (3GB per GPU) clocked at 1250 MHz.  New Zealand is about as close to Tahiti as London is to New York.

The card will be powered by two 8-pin PCIe power connectors and comes with one DL-DVI and four mini-DP output connectors. The AMD Radeon HD 7990 6GB will launch April 17th at US $849.

Of course if it really wanted to be a New Zealand card, one of the GPUs would handle the power for the entire card but would be vulnerable to shaking, while the other GPU would be a bit warmer and have a beehive structure which appears to control the whole board. In fact there should be large control structure to the North of the board which really runs it. There should also be more RAM than there are MHz cycles. 

BT, Talk Talk lose final Digital Economy Act appeal

BT and Talk Talk have been dealt a bitter blow with the government giving the final go-ahead with the Digital Economy Act. 

The court threw down the final gauntlet in a last ditch appeal by the internet service providers to stop the planned anti-privacy act going ahead. However, there was a small victory in the two year battle, with the pair winning a ruling saying that the government could not force ISPs to pay part of any case fees attached to the act.

Now the lines have been drawn, and the battle won, the government is free to set to work in sending out warning letters to British internet users that it believes are taking part in illegal filesharing.

In July 2010 the pair said they believed that the Act had been “rushed through”. They also claimed that smaller ISPs with less than 400,000 customers had the upper hand as they would not be included in the legislation. 

However, the Act, which has also now been found to be legal in accordance with EU law, has been questioned by rights groups.   

Peter Bradwell at the Open Rights Group said in a statement:  “There is one thing the court cannot tell us: that this is a good law. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport had no evidence when they wrote this Act, except for the numbers they were given by a couple of industry trade bodies. This is a policy made on hearsay and assumptions, not proper facts or analysis.

 “So significant problems remain. Publicly available wifi will be put at risk. Weak evidence could be used to penalise people accused of copyright infringement. And people will have to pay £20 for the privilege of defending themselves against these accusations.

 “The Government needs to correct these errors with a proper, evidence-based review of the law.”

It doesn’t look like BT or Talk Talk will take the ruling lying down, despite having to foot 93 percent of the legal costs. 

Talk Talk said in a statement that is was now “considering [its] options.”

It said it will continue fighting to defend its customers’ rights against the “ill-judged legislation.”

Kiwis ignore three strikes law

Kiwis have reacted to their government stripping them of their human rights, by bringing in a draconian three strikes law, by ignoring it.

ISPs in Godzone have reported that traffic levels are more or less the same as they were before the three strikes law was bought in. One network operator said that traffic was down ten percent because some people were a “little spooked by the law”. However other ISPs have not noticed much difference at all.

The New Zealand ISP Orcon has said that international traffic into New Zealand has dropped by about 10 percent since last week. Speaking to the New Zealand Herald, Orcon’s chief executive Scott Bartlett said that peer-to-peer file sharing represents the second-largest source of traffic after video streaming. If that is the case then ten percent of the traffic falling is absolutely nothing.

This either means that people are not concerned about the three strikes law, or that file sharing in New Zealand was non-existent.

What makes the New Zealand law worthy of a third world despotism is that the burden of proof was on accused file-sharers to prove that they were not guilty. The law fines Kiwi internet users NZ$15,000 and could disconnect their internet. This represents one of the more draconian internet laws in the civilised world, meaning that the country which gave the world state pensions, votes for women, national healthcare and nuclear freezones is suddenly only forward in going backwards.

When a similar law was introduced in Sweden traffic levels fell by a third. It since recovered as file-sharers there continued to ignore the law.

So far NZ ISPs have not reported any complaints under the new “three strikes” system, but it is expected that Big Content will start filing complaints soon. The common belief is that there will need to be a few examples before Kiwis take the law seriously. However, knowing the way that such people are convicted, we have opened a book on how long it will take before some elderly grandma internet illiterate, baby, cat or dead person is convicted under the new law.

The New Zealand government showed how little it knew about the internet when it signed a UN statement condemning “three strikes” policies that deprive copyright infringers of internet access, calling such laws a violation of human rights. If it had known what it was doing, the National government should be submitting itself to the court of human rights in the Hague right now. 

Kiwis forget they abuse human rights

In a move of mental censorship and self-deception that Freud would have written reams on, New Zealand forgot its new status as a human rights abuser and signed a UN motion calling for nations to abandon the three strikes idea.

For those who came in late, the three strikes law is when a government gives up its citizens rights to be tried by a court when someone makes an allegation against them. Instead a movie studio or recording outfit makes an allegation, and the government cuts off the accuseds  internet.

The UN had been looking into this bizarre method of justice and an inquiry had decided that it was an abuse of human rights.

New Zealand is proud of its record on human rights. It was the first country in the world to give women the vote and bring in state pensions, but for some reason last month it signed into law something which was remarkably like a three strikes law.

We understand that being tarred as a human rights abuser does not sit very well with the “fair go” attitude of the Kiwis and it appears that collectively they have decided to banish the whole thing from their unconscious.

When the UN decided to approve a statement which was critical of the three strikes law, New Zealand signed it along with the US and Canada.

The United Kingdom and France, two nations that have enacted “three strikes” regimes, did not sign the statement. They know they are human rights abusers, but its ruling parties get on too well with movie stars and people in the music business to care.

New Zealanders are not used to being International pariahs so we guess it is better just to be hypocrites.

Of course the country is used to such double standards.  When Melissa Lee voted for the three strikes law. she did so knowing that she illegally shared some music the night before

New Zealand politicians have never been the brightest of bulbs, David Lange being unusual in that he was both bright and witty,  we have to wonder if the Kiwis know what they voted for.



Copyright holders clean up in Germany

German ISPs are handing over subscriber details to copyright holders at the rate of 300,000 a month, according to the country’s internet industry association ECO.

As a result, it says, while most of the world is seeing an increase in piracy, it’s dropped by a fifth in Germany since 2008. This is despite the fact that the number of legal downloads in the country has grown by 30 percent.

ECO‘s released the figures to challenge European Commission plans to adopt measures forcing ISPs to block file-sharing sites altogether.

“The increasing availability of digital content on the German market shows that one can combat internet piracy effectively without deep intervention in the basic rights of the population,” it says.

“Barrier methods such as those planned and advertised last week by the European Commission at the G8 Forum in Paris are unnecessary.”

German file-sharers receive letters from rights holders demanding anything up to $1,700 to avoid legal action – something which ECO believes is excessive.

“In most cases a warning letter would be enough,” says Oliver Süme, the organisation’s spokesman for copyright issues. “It does not always have to be a warning for several hundred euros.”

But, hey, it’s a nice little earner. Although the number of illegal downloads in Germany is declining, says Süme, the number of warning letters each year is increasing.