Tag: sopa

SOPA is back from the dead

zombieAmericans who believed that they managed to kill off the SOPA anti-piracy bill with a little thing called democracy might be disappointed to know that the legal system is about to bring it in anyway.

The US Appeals Court for the Federal Circuit will hear oral arguments in ClearCorrect Operating against the International Trade Commission. It could give a federal agency the power to force ISPs to block websites which would by rights give Big Content the power to shut down any website it likes.

It was one of the provisions of the SOPA bill and apparently the Motion Picture Association of America never gave up on it.

SOPA as originally introduced included a provision allowing the Department of Justice to obtain court orders requiring ISPs to block their customers from accessing foreign websites deemed to be pirate sites.

A leaked MPAA memo suggests Big Content would seek to obtain the same sorts of orders against ISPs, simply using the International Trade Commission rather than the DOJ.”

The ClearCorrect case is about a 3D printing model file for invisible braces. ClearCorrect had a subsidiary in Pakistan create 3D models of braces, which it then sent from Pakistan to the US over the internet. ClearCorrect then 3D printed the braces in its Texas offices, a move that might infringe Invisalign patents.

Align Technologies, the parent company of Invisalign, went to the International Trade Commission (ITC), a federal agency that deals with imports that allegedly infringe intellectual property rights, such as shipments of fake Louis Vuitton shoes or knock off pharmaceuticals.

Since no physical goods came over the US border and a digital file was transported over the internet. Last year, the ITC determined that it had the legal authority, under a tariff law from 1930, to stop the transmission of infringing digital files.

This means that Big Content can include digital files in any complaints and order any pirate site banned from the US.

If ClearCorrect loses at the Federal Circuit, intellectual property owners, given its speed and powerful remedies, and those with cases involving digital downloads will head to the ITC for their takedown notices.

The leaked MPAA memo from 2014 advises, “[S]eeking a site-blocking order in the ITC would appear to offer a number of advantages over federal court litigation, at least at first blush.”

Because the ITC is an agency, not a federal court, it has different procedural rules that could greatly benefit rights-holders.

The Federal Circuit will hear oral arguments in ClearCorrect on August 11.

Big Content puppet wants bits of SOPA back

US Republican senator Lamar Smith is doing his best to get one of the worst aspects of the much rejected SOPA law back on the statute books.

Smith is so concerned that his chums in the entertainment business were spending too much money running around the world threatening foreign governments to bring in tough new copyright laws, that he wanted US taxpayers fund the work. After all Hollywood was broke and the US government had pots of cash it did not know what to do with.

His plan is to pay for civil servants to rush around the world with a brief case of MPAA and RIAA leaflets and threaten countries that do not comply with “repercussions.”

While the MPAA and RIAA might be ignored by small governments, the fact that these would be employees of the US government which is quite famous for invading other countries with high tech weapons, and nukes if things go wrong, is more likely to get attention.

According to Tech Dirt  the diplomatic corp would call these “IP attaches” and they would have diplomatic status.

What is strange is that Smith is a Republican, who apparently is worried about smaller government and taxation, both of which are affected by this daft idea. After all a sane politican would think that if Big Content wanted to lobby countries it should pay for it and do it itself.

Fortunately for humanity this idea was rejected by a lot of politicans, including Smith’s fellow Republicans, who saw the writing on the wall for SOPA.

But that has not stopped Smith getting all wiggy with it and trying to bring the idea back, only bigger and better than before.

He has come up with the Intellectual Property Attache Act. This bill is being fast tracked in the hope that no one will notice it and not inconvience Smith with any anti-SOPA protest.

The new law creates those tax payer funded “diplomats” but attaches them to the US Patent and Trademark Office, and sets them up as their own agency. What could go wrong?

MPAA hatches plan to revive SOPA

Big Content has not learnt any lessons after its attempt to get its tame politicians to vote in the SOPA law failed.

Christopher Dodd, the former Connecticut senator, said that he was having words with his friends about trying to rush some SOPA-style legislation on the books.

Ars Technica reports that he was not going to go into any detail because the pesky great unwashed would rise up and stop it.

Asked if the fact that the White House told him to go forth and multiply had created tensions with Hollywood, Dodd said he was not talking about last winter.

He just hoped the president would use his “good relationships” with both Hollywood and the technology industry to bang a few heads together.

However, he did rule out one particular myth – which claimed that the Megaupload raid was to show how powerful the movie industry was after the anti-SOPA blackout. Dodd said that it was just a coincidence. The FBI had been planning the raid for 19 January because Dotcom was planning to hold a birthday party on that day, and so a number of key Megauplaod figures would be there.

Public Knowledge President Gigi Sohn said that it was amazing that a mere two months after 14 million people voiced their opposition to SOPA and PIPA, that the head of the Motion Picture Association of America said the flawed law could be reworked in the back rooms of Washington.

The chances of anything that looks like SOPA passing Congress in the near future, fingers crossed, seems slim. SOPA has become a term to mean pushing legislation that sparks a major Internet backlash. Dodd’s chums who are still in Congress apparently do not want to be SOPA’d.

One possible canditate to keep the movie industry happy is the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA). Dubbed the new SOPA, it is actually a cyber security bill which encourages the sharing of data between the government and private industry.  It does have a limited anti-piracy component but it worries people more because of the ability of an alliance of private and public organisations to snoop on people.

US ISPs become Big Content's police

After being routed by the great unwashed asserting their democratic rights to oppose the Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect IP Act, it seems that Big Content in the US did not rest on its laurels.

The RIAA announced that it has given the country’s biggest ISPs a Chinese burn until they agreed to become copyright cops and disconnect anyone Big Content suspects of being a pirate.

During a panel discussion before the Association of American Publishers’ annual meeting, Cary Sherman, CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America, told CNET  most of the US ISPs are signed up to begin implementing the program by 12 July.

Sherman said that it had taken a year of planning to turn ISPs into Big Content police as each ISP has to develop their infrastructure for automating the system.

Each of them had to build a database so they can keep track of repeat infringers, so they know that this is the first notice or the third notice. Every ISP has to do it differently depending on the architecture of its particular network.

The programme is called a “graduated response” and requires that ISPs send out one or two educational notices to those customers who are accused of downloading copyrighted content illegally. Basically it is three strikes and you are in hot water.

The ISPs can choose from a list of punishments, or what the RIAA calls “mitigation measures,” which include throttling down the customer’s connection speed to suspending web access until the subscriber promises never to pirate any content ever again. So far, no ISP has agreed to permanently terminate service.

It does seem strange that after the SOPA act failed to get legal backing, a voluntary agreement between Big Content and the ISPs manages to do the same thing. The problem is the pirate is still being identified by IP addresses, by Big Content snoops. 

Ireland brings in SOPA style law

Despite an 80,000 person petition and complaints that it was bringing in censorship, the Irish government has brought in a law similar to SOPA.

According to the Journal, Junior minister Seán Sherlock has confirmed that the controversial statutory instrument that reinforces online copyright laws in Ireland has been signed into law.

It will make it possible for copyright holders to seek court injunctions against ISPs or social networks whose systems are hosting copyright-infringing material.

Sherlock, who is ironically the Minister for Research and Innovation, said that the High Court now has “significant guidance” from the European Court of Justice regarding the implementation of the measure.

The move is more a result of bullying from Big Content which sued the Irish government for not having blocking laws. This move will give it some blocking laws to play with.

Sherlock claims that it will be up to the court to ensure that any remedy will uphold the freedom of internet service providers, or ISPs, to conduct their business. Sherlock claimed that an ISP cannot be ordered to carry out monitoring of information.

However, he did say that he was launching a new stage of the Copyright Review Committee which is “aimed at removing barriers to innovation”.

He said it is important to develop Ireland’s laws in this area in such a way as to provide the greatest possible encouragement for innovation in the creative and digital industries. 

Big Content says "learn from France"

Big Content is celebrating after a study into France’s draconian anti-piracy laws shows that the laws appear to be working.

Although the agency that monitors for copyright violations, HADOPI, sent its first cases to the courts last week, studies show that the appeal of piracy has waned in France since the law was passed

According to AP, digital sales, which were slow to start in France, are growing and music industry revenue is starting to stabilise.

Pascal Negre, the president of Universal Music France, said that French people were starting to understand that Big Content expecutives, er artists, should get paid for their work.

Everyone has a friend who has received an email which warns them they could be cut off. This creates a buzz. There is an educational effect, he claimed.

HADOPI, had sent 822,000 warnings by email to suspected offenders as of the end of December. Those were followed up by 68,000 second warnings, issued through registered mail. Of those, 165 cases have gone on to the third stage, under which the courts are authorised to impose fines of $1840, and to suspend internet connections for a month.

Eric Walter, the secretary-general of HADOPI, claimed that the relatively low number of third-stage offenders showed that the system had succeeded.

HADOPI was given a budget of 11 million euro and employs 70 people, and claims it has seen  a sharp decline in file-sharing in France.

Separate research by Wellesley College in Massachusetts and Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh suggests that HADOPI gave a boost to the Apple iTunes music store.

The study pointed out that while there was no proof that HADOPI was responsible,  the case for a link was shown by the fact that sales of musical genres that suffer from high levels of piracy, like hip-hop, rose much more than sales of low-piracy genres, like christian and classical music.

HADOPI apparently gave Apple more than 13.8 million euro a year worth of iTunes music sales in France.

The law was bought in by President, Nicolas Sarkozy, who is finding that post-Sopa supporting such rules is creating opposition.

His rivals are saying that the law infringes on civil liberties and they are finding that they are getting a lot of support. The thinking appears to be, well the US stood up to Big Content why did we hand over our legal system to them?


Germany seeks to appease its public with ACTA retreat

Germany is carefully pulling back from the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) which has been worrying free web advocates all over the world. 

Touted as a bill designed to stamp out counterfit goods imports, ACTA has worrying implications for online liberty. Germany was expected to sign the bill but in the wake of increasing flak from the public, the country’s government doesn’t want to appear quite so enthusiastic.

Germany’s home office hasn’t outright decided against the bill, but will instead delay its decision until the EU makes up its mind in June. ZDNet UK’s Berlin correspondent, David Meyer, reports that signing ACTA has turned into a “complicated discussion”, adding that the “German foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle, of the FDP has decided to withdraw the formal signing of ACTA”. Nevertheless, this does not mean Germany has changed its mind and a decision will be made at a later date.

In Eastern Europe, public scrutiny has put pressure on governments to delay ratification. Understanding the political suicide of openly supporting ACTA has seen politicians claim they are for an open web and wouldn’t sign away the rights of their citizens. 

ACTA is particularly worrying because it’s a global treaty, discussed and penned by governments behind closed doors with very little transparency. 

Meanwhile, in the UK, business secretary Mark Prisk announced in the house of commons that discussing web blocking measures would be happening “imminently” and was welcoming proposals. Since, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport has denied Prisk’s announcement in the Commons, saying that measures to block the web are unneccessary – because ISPs already can. 

Increasingly, the world is waking up to how much it is under the thumb of Big Content and Hollywood. The increasing calls for web censorship mirror the bully-boy actions of the United States in forcing an extradition of British citizen Richard O’Dwyer through to its shores, for the heinous crime of linking to copyrighted content. Sweden, too, has been heavily leant on by the USA to harshly deal with the founders of torrent website, The Pirate Bay. 

Further protests against ACTA have been organised for this Saturday, all over Europe. Fight for the Future has compiled a handy map of every one of them. Here in London, the protest will begin at 2pm, outside the British Music House.

Whether or not easing away from supporting ACTA will prove a populist smokescreen remains to be seen, but burying bad news is not so easy when the entirety of the web is angry and has its eyes wide open.


RIAA opposes more reasonable anti-piracy bill

A new anti-piracy bill that is going through Congress has not got the backing of the Recording Industry Association of America.

Dubbed the OPEN Act, the RIAA says that it will do nothing to stop online infringement and “may even make the problem worse.”

According to Ars Technica, Big Content is apparently leaning on its sock puppets to kill the bill until it includes a few more draconian punishments and draws up the US Constitution to give it total control.

The RIAA thinks that the bill does not establish a workable framework, standards, or remedies. It is not supported by those it purports to protect.

OPEN is sponsored by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and tries to shift enforcement against rogue sites to the International Trade Commission.

If the ITC found a site was dedicated to infringement, the site would be cut off from American advertising and payment networks.

However, the RIAA is worried that this will take ages and indeed, the ITC might actually carry out an investigation rather than take its word as proof of infringement.

The process envisioned by OPEN would allow for “endless submissions by parties such as Google” to slow down the process.

We have already reported how the MPAA thinks that Google runs the internet so this might explain why the search engine got a mention.

The RIAA also warns that the need to hire an attorney to navigate the ITC’s arcane legal process will “put justice out of reach for small business American victims of IP theft.” We would be intrigued to know which small business would be interested in trying to take a pirate site to the cleaners. Under the current system we have not seen a family business try to take down a file sharer. So far the main prosecutors have been Big Content and while we understand it wants to have the state do its enforcement for it, that is not really what tax dollars are for.

The RIAA also says it’s “virtually impossible” to prove that a site infringed wilfully, as OPEN requires.

OPEN “needs to be scrapped,” the statement says. “Stakeholders and Congress need to start over with a fresh look at solving this problem.”

We guess it will not be happy until it can round up every internet user on suspicion of piracy and shove them into death camps, using US troops to invade countries which are havens for software and music piracy. 

MPAA admits it doesn't get the internet

Suits at the Motion Picture Association of America have had to admit that this internet thing is too fly for them and they have to negotiate with its owner Google or shut it down.

MPAA number two Michael O’Leary told the Hollywood Reporter that the internet’s owner Google has out-manned and out-gunned Hollywood.

He said that the MPAA has been undergoing a process of education about this new fangled internet so it can get a greater presence in the online environment.

O’Leary said that the current fights with everyone about putting content on the web were all about the insecurity that Hollywood has about the internet.

He said it was a fight on a platform it was not comfortable with, and he and his colleagues were going up against an “opponent that controls that platform”.

So, in other words, rather than trying to understand this new platform, and learn from the many entertainers who do get the internet, it pushed to regulate that which they fear.

O’Leary thinks that “the opponent” who controls the platform is apparently Google, which means, according to him, that the search engine not only controls the internet, but leads the defence of its product. It also explains why the MPAA is putting so much effort into shutting down the search engine.

This indicates that despite having read “Internet for Dummies”, O’Leary still has not worked out that no one controls the internet. He also failed to notice that Google came in late to the recent SOPA and PIPA protests.

It also explains why the MPAA wants to “negotiate” with Google because it thinks that it is talking to the internet’s doorkeeper.

However, even if it managed to make an arrangement with the search engine, there is no indication that the rest of the internet will follow, or will not adapt. 

SOPA is alive and well in Ireland

While the EU is saying that SOPA was a bad law that no one needed  it seems that Ireland did not get the memo.

According to legal experts in the Emerald Isle the government there is about to bring in a SOPA style law which is even vaguer and open-ended.

The law in Ireland will allow music companies to order internet service providers to block access to websites.

The Minister of State at the department of Enterprise, Jobs and Innovation, Sean Sherlock, claimed that the law is completely different to SOPA in America.

It is just addressing the High Court judgment handed down by Mr Justice Peter Charleton in relation to copyright law, Sherlock reckons.

However the Irish government’s new “statutory instrument” threatens to do some of the same things as Sopa. It allows ISPs to block websites suspected of having copyrighted material on them.

What is worrying is that Big Content could also ask a judge to order ISPs to block YouTube, Facebook and Twitter because the music industry insists that these sites contain their content. All they have to do is show a Judge their content on the site and the wigged one will order the ISP to pull the plug.

Google and Facebook are Dublin’s biggest employers, and it could be very embarrassing for the government if the sites are banned in Ireland.

Irish legal expert TJ McIntyre wrote in his bog that part of the Irish problem is that the instrument being drawn up is fairly woolly and it will take a test case before anyone knows what the result will be.

“Politically, this is a no-win scenario. Even with the government about to open the legal doors for the music and movie companies to start directing ISPs’ access policies, the content creation industry is frothing and fuming,” he said.

Ironically, by taking a leave-it-to-m’lud approach, the government is also now attracting the anger of an increasing sector of the technology and digital communities. It is unusual to alienate both sides of a legislative argument.