Steven Boyett writes, "Universal now has direct access to flag Soundcloud accounts for removal when it believes an uploaded file infringes copyright, with no intervention by Soundcloud. Universal doesn't even inform Soundcloud part of the upload was believed to be infringing; they simply have carte blanche removal authority."
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Rightscorp, a company that went public last year, has an idea: they'll issue millions of legal threats to alleged music file-sharers, threaten them with millions in fines, and demand nuisance sums ($20/track) too small to warrant consulting with an attorney -- and they'll arm-twist ISPs into disconnecting users who don't pay up. Rightscorp has a secret system for identifying "repeat offenders" who use Bittorrent, and they believe that this gives them to right to force ISPs to terminate whole families' Internet access on the basis of their magically perfect, unknowable evidence of wrongdoing. They call this "holding the moral high ground." More than 72,000 Americans have had "settlements" extorted from them to date, though Rightscorp still runs millions in the red.
Rightscorp's rhetoric is that the sums it demands are "deterrents" to prevent wrongdoing, and that it wouldn't really want to sue people into penury. But it is a publicly listed company with a fiduciary duty to extract as much money as it can from the marketplace. It's a good bet that its prospectus and quarterly investor filings announce that the company will hold its "fines" down to the smallest amount that provides the deterrent effect -- instead of, say, "all the market can bear."
The legal theory under which Rightscorp is operating is pretty dubious: a belief that ISPs have a duty to terminate the Internet connections of "repeat offenders" based on a clause in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998. This theory has been sparsely litigated, but the one major case in which it has been tested went against Rightscorp's business-model. But as Joe Mullin points out in his Ars Technica profile of the company, they may be able to get past this hurdle just by suborning the increasingly corrupt, noncompetitive, inbred and rent-seeking ISP industry by giving them a piece of the action.
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In Graduated Response Policy and the Behavior of Digital Pirates: Evidence from the French Three-Strike (Hadopi) Law a team of business-school researchers from the University of Delaware and Université de Rennes I examine the impact of the French "three-strikes" rule on the behavior of downloaders. Under the three-strikes law, called "Hadopi," people accused of downloading would be sent a series of threatening letters, and culminating with disconnection from the Internet for a period of a year for everyone in the household. Hadopi is the entertainment industry's model for global legislation, and versions of it have been passed in the UK and New Zealand, and it has also been proposed for inclusion in the global Trans-Pacific Partnership treaty.
The researchers carefully surveyed French Internet users to discover what effect, if any, the Hadopi law had had on their behavior -- specifically, whether they were encouraged to download more from legitimate sites and pay more for music as a result of the threat of Hadopi. Their conclusion: [Hadopi] has not deterred individuals from engaging in digital piracy and that it did not reduce the intensity of illegal activity of those who did engage in piracy.
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Copyright and Creation, a policy brief from a collection of respected scholars at the rock-ribbed London School of Economics, argues that the evidence shows that piracy isn't causing any grave harm to the entertainment industry, and that anti-piracy measures like the three-strikes provision in Britain's Digital Economy Act don't work. They call on lawmakers to take an evidence-led approach to Internet and copyright law, and to consider the interests of the public and not just big entertainment companies looking for legal backstops to their profit-maximisation strategies.
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AT&T has started sending letters to some of its customers, threatening to disconnect them because they've been accused (without trial or a chance to rebut the evidence) of copyright infringement. AT&T is doing this voluntarily. There is no law or regulation requiring them to do this. It's part of the controversial Copyright Alert System, whose overseeing body had its company status revoked last May.
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UK Prime Minister David Cameron has appointed Mike Weatherley, an entertainment executive-turned-MP, to be his "intellectual property advisor." His remit will be "enforcement issues" on "the challenges that face the film and music industries." The previous Labour government passed the controversial Digital Economy Act without Parliamentary debate on its last day, and that bill allows future governments to establish a disconnection system whereby people accused of copyright infringement will lose their Internet access without proof or trial, along with everyone who lives with them. Weatherley's former colleagues from the entertainment industry have been lobbying to put this into place through a voluntary scheme, despite compelling evidence that shows that these systems don't reduce piracy.
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After years of controversy, millions spent, and nothing to show for it, the French government has backtracked on HADOPI
, the "three strikes" law that made it possible for entertainment companies to demand the termination of Internet accounts implicated in illegal downloading accusations. People whose routers are said to have been used for piracy may still face fines -- even if they can prove they didn't personally download anything illegally -- but no one will lose their Internet connection over piracy accusations in France: "the panel concluded that the three strikes mechanism had failed to benefit authorized services as promised."
The Center for Copyright Information -- a company established by the RIAA, MPAA and various ISPs -- to oversee the American six-strikes copyright enforcement status has had its company status revoked and faces fines and other penalties. It appears that they forgot to file their government paperwork and pay their fees; they promise that they'll be back online once it's sorted out.
The revocation means that CCI’s articles of organization are void, most likely because the company forgot to file the proper paperwork or pay its fees.
“If entity’s status is revoked then articles of incorporation / organization shall be void and all powers conferred upon such entity are declared inoperative, and, in the case of a foreign entity, the certificate of foreign registration shall be revoked and all powers conferred hereunder shall be inoperative,” the DCRA explains.
Unfortunately for the CCI, the DCRA doesn’t have a strike based system and the company is now facing civil penalties and fines.
It appears that company status was revoked last year which means that other businesses now have the option to take over the name. That would be quite an embarrassment, to say the least, and also presents an opportunity to scammers.
“When a Washington DC corporation is revoked by the DCRA, its name is reserved and protected until December 31st of the year the corporation is revoked. After December 31st, other business entities may use the corporations name,” the DCRA explains on its website.
“Six Strikes” Anti-Piracy Outfit Loses Company Status, Faces Penalties
(Thanks, That Anonymous Coward)
A post on Slashdot by Dangerous_Minds links to a parade of horrors with the new "Copyright Alert System" -- the voluntary six-strikes-and-you're-out copyright enforcement system that America's major ISPs have chosen to enact on behalf of the MPAA and the RIAA. It's trivial to hijack, clobbers small business owners who let people use their Internet access.
Most immediately, it also requires its victims to complete an online copyright re-education camp designed by the major record labels and studios, and as EFF's Corynne McSherry points out, this is a total clusterpoop, a way of ramming inaccurate copyright information into the nation's eyeballs. Unsurprisingly, the gross errors in the mandatory copyright reeducation materials would all improve the profitability of the entertainment industry if they were taken to heart by the public.
"Whenever you create something like a poem, a story or a song, you own it – and no one else can use it without your permission."
Not so: thanks to the fair use doctrine, others can in fact use the works you create in a variety of ways. That’s how we help ensure copyright fosters, rather than hinders, new creativity and innovation.
Equally worrisome: the CCI site directs users to the Copyright Alliance to learn more about the history of copyright. The Copyright Alliance is hardly a neutral “resource”—it was a leader in the battle to pass SOPA and remains a staunch advocate of copyright maximalism.
Finally, CCI is promising to partner with iKeepSafe to develop a copyright curriculum for California public schools. It will be called: "Be a Creator: the Value of Copyright." Based on what we’ve seen so far, that curriculum will do little to help kids understand the copyright balance. Instead, it is going to teach kids that creative works are “stuff” that can be owned and that that you must always check before using that “stuff.”
Even better: the same people who've developed these "educational" materials are cued up to become part of the curriculum in California public schools. Better they should use EFF's much more balanced material.
The Copyright Propaganda Machine Gets a New Agent: Your ISP | Electronic Frontier Foundation
America's largest ISPs took the chickenshit step of agreeing to voluntarily police copyright on behalf of the movie studios and record labels, with a "six strikes" system that involves a series of ever-more-dire warnings and punishments for unsubstantiated copyright complaints from Big Content. Here's a preview of the final stage of the punishment regime at Verizon:
“Redirect your browser to a special web page where you will be given several options. You can: Agree to an immediate temporary (2 or 3 day) reduction in the speed of your Internet access service to 256kbps (a little faster than typical dial-up speed); Agree to the same temporary (2 or 3 day) speed reduction but delay it for a period of 14 days; or Ask for a review of the validity of your alerts by the American Arbitration Association.”
Verizon’s “Six Strikes” Anti-Piracy Measures Unveiled
France is on the verge of killing its ill-starred HADOPI system, whereby people who are accused of multiple acts of copyright infringement are disconnected from the Internet, along with everyone in their homes. After two years, HADOPI has spent a fortune and has nothing to show for it. HADOPI was enacted thanks to enormous pressure from American entertainment companies and the US Trade Representative, and was the first of the "three strikes" rules to make it into law (New Zealand and the UK also both capitulated to Pax America shortly after).
But the new president Hollande is determined to continue to have France play the role of crash-test dummy for America's failed copyright policy. As a condition of dismantling HADOPI, his government has proposed enacting the worst provisions of SOPA, the US copyright proposal that America roundly rejected last year. Under SOPA.fr, the French government will make intermediaries (payment processors, search engines, web hosts) liable for infringement, with broad surveillance and censorship powers.
French Hadopi Scheme Gutted; Other Bad Ideas To Be Introduced Instead
The American Six-Strikes regime -- through which ISPs voluntarily agree to punish their customers if the entertainment industry accuses them of piracy -- has been delayed, again, to "early 2013." The Center for Copyright Information (CCI) -- which will act on the entertainment industry's behalf -- blames Hurricane Sandy for the delay.
TorrentFreak has learned that the main problem is to get all actors, including the ISPs and the American Arbitration Association, lined up to move at once. This proved to be much more difficult than anticipated.
Three of the five U.S. ISPs participating in the copyright alerts plan have revealed what mitigation measures they will take after the fourth warning.
AT&T will block users’ access to some of the most frequently websites on the Internet, until they complete a copyright course. Verizon will slow down the connection speeds of repeated pirates, and Time Warner Cable will temporarily interrupt people’s ability to browse the Internet.
It’s expected that the two remaining providers, Cablevison and Comcast, will take similar measures. None of the ISPs will permanently disconnect repeat infringers as part of the plan.
I love that AT&T will force its customers to complete copyright reeducation camps designed by the entertainment industry, and will withhold Facebook and YouTube until they pass the course and demonstrate their proficiency in parroting back Big Content's party line.
I wonder if Facebook will sue them for tortious interference.
Six Strikes Anti-Piracy Plan Delayed Till 2013
(Thanks to everyone who sent this in!)
Joly from the Internet Society writes,
As Boing Boing readers will know, the Copyright Alert System, the result of a deal between big content and big ISPs, is a graduated response program - popularly known as the six strikes - that escalates from nastygrams, to copyright school, to Internet throttling. Just like SOPA/PIPA, enforcement targets will be arbitralily selected by the content owners, but unlike SOPA/PIPA there will be no appeal via the courts - only to an arbitration firm hired by the program. There is no question that the plan will have a chilling effect on the Open WiFi movement and thus impede speech. In other countries such plans, arguably ineffective, have only been implemented after a lengthy public process - but in the USA, none.
With the plan due to kick in on November 28, on Thursday November 15 2012 the Internet Society will present 'INET New York: An Open Forum on The Copyright Alert System' at the New York Law School, with speakers representing the MPAA, RIAA, Verizon, and Time Warner, plus advocates of the public interest. The forum is open to the public, free, and will also be webcast live. This is the only opportunity for Internet users to speak up. If you are in NYC show up and let your voice be heard, if elsewhere there is an online backchannel.
INET New York: An Open Forum on the Copyright Alert System – Nov 15 @ New York Law School #6strikes #copyright #inetny
The first of eight prosecutions brought under New Zealand's three-strikes copyright law (passed as a rider to the emergency legislation freeing up money to provide relief for the Christchurch earthquake) has fallen apart.
The RIANZ (Record Industry Association of NZ) withdrew its case against a student in shared accommodation without saying why.
However, as Torrentfreak reports, NZ activists at Tech Liberty point out that the notices sent to the student, and the damages claimed, were all badly bungled and unlikely to withstand legal scrutiny.
The recording group asked for just over NZ $370 (US $303) to cover the costs of the notices and copyright tribunal hearing, plus NZ $1,250 (US $1,024) as a deterrent. However, eyebrows were certainly raised when it came to their claim for the music involved in the case.
The infringements were alleged to have taken place on five tracks with the cost of each measured against their value in the iTunes store, a total of NZ $11.95 (US $9.79). This sounds reasonable enough, but RIANZ were actually claiming for $1075.50 (US $880.96).
“RIANZ decided, based on some self-serving research, that each track had probably been downloaded 90 times and therefore the cost should be multiplied by 90,” says Tech Liberty co-founder Thomas Beagle. “There is no basis in the Copyright Act or Tribunal regulations for this claim.”
I don't think we can count on this kind of cack-handedness in the future. The RIANZ will perfect its procedures soon enough, and we'll start seeing punitive fines and even disconnection based on mere accusation of living in a house where the router is implicated in an unproven allegation of copyright infringement.
Music Biz Dumps First Contested Copyright Case After Botched 3 Strikes Procedure
Hey, America, no need to feel left out! You're soon to join Britain, France and New Zealand in having a sneaky program to spy on your Internet connection and cut you off on the basis of unproven accusations of copyright infringement. The six-strikes rule
comes from the major carriers, the studios and labels, and will not directly disconnect you -- instead, the ISPs themselves will do it. This is what we call a distinction without a difference.
Hadopi was the jewel in the Sarkozy regime's crown of shitty copyright policy: a rule that said if you lived in the same house as someone who'd been accused of copyright infringement, you would lose your Internet access. Heavily lobbied for by the entertainment industry and hailed as a success thanks to dodgy, misleading studies, Hadopi is now on the outs. The agency that administers it has had its budget zeroed out. Next up: outright cancellation? EFF hopes so:
Citing extraordinary costs and scant results, a high-level French official has announced intentions to defund Hadopi1, the government agency charged with shutting off Internet access of individuals accused of repeat copyright infringement. Under the French three strikes law, Internet subscribers whose connection is repeatedly used to share copyrighted material may be disconnected from the Internet and may even have to continue paying for the service (the so-called "double pain"). The three strikes law in France runs contrary to principles of due process, innovation, and free expression—yet has unfortunately served as a template for similar legislation in countries like New Zealand, the UK, and South Korea under pressure from the entertainment industry. Defunding Hadopi may mean that France won't be focusing on enforcing its three strikes law anymore, but that's not enough. France needs to repeal the three strikes law altogether.
When copyright holders (working through professional organizations) file complaints about alleged infringement, Hadopi is authorized to contact Internet access providers and issue warnings to subscribers. After the third warning of copyright infringement is issued to a subscriber, Hadopi can recommend to a public prosecutor that the individual have her Internet connection terminated. Hadopi also maintains a blacklist of subscribers to block users from simply switching ISPs after being disconnected. Though hundreds of alleged infringers have been referred to court—Hadopi has sent 1 million warning emails, 99,000 "strike two" letters, and identified 314 people for referral to the courts for possible disconnection—no one has yet been disconnected since the law was enacted in 2009.2
In speaking about the decision to significantly reduce funding for Hadopi, French culture minister Aurelie Filippetti, stated: "€12 million per year and 60 officials; that's an expensive way to send 1 million emails." Filippetti also stated that "[T]he suspension of Internet access seems to be a disproportionate penalty given the intended goal."
Repealing French Three Strikes Law is the Next Step to Safeguarding Free Expression
Neelie Kroes is Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda, and recently gave a speech to the World Wide Web Conference 2012 in Lyon, France. It was a hell of a good thing, making the case for network neutrality and open standards, and stating unequivocally that it is not legitimate to punish people for what they do on the Internet by disconnecting them.
In the Arab Spring, many brave activists successfully used the open Internet to coordinate peaceful protests. In response, despotic governments sought to control or close down Internet access; and also used ICT tools as a tool of surveillance and repression.
We cannot allow democratic voices to be silenced in that way. And I am committed to ensuring "No Disconnect" in countries that struggle for democracy. We must help such activists get around arbitrary disruptions to their basic freedoms.
The benefits of openness are clear. And when it’s as simple as an oppressive government trying to turn off the Internet, it's clear that we need to do what we can to prevent that.
What does it mean to be open online?