The giant, criminal rootkit distributor and the dying, sleazy extortion racket want a judge to say that ISPs should disconnect people from the Internet on their say-so. Read the rest
The Copyright Alert System -- a "voluntary" system of disconnection threats sent to alleged file-sharers, created by entertainment companies and the large US ISPs -- has just celebrated its first birthday, having spent $2 million in order to send out 625,000 threats to people it believed to be infringers. How's that working out for them?
No one knows. The Center for Copyright Information -- which made a lot of noise about its war on piracy when it was ramping up -- has been totally silent for the past twelve months, not issuing a single press release (nor have its participating entities said anything about it in that time).
I guess there are two possibilities: one is that this was an amazing success, but they're too modest to boast.
The other one is that, like every other variant on this, as practiced in New Zealand, the UK, and France, it is an expensive boondoggle that wasted millions, alienated hundreds of thousands, and did nothing to break the copyright logjam that has been sowing chaos on the Internet since the 1990s.
This program was the brainchild of US copyright czar Victoria Espinel and the entertainment bigs, and was a predictable disaster from the outset. No doubt there will be some grossly flawed study in the near future to demonstrate that they've finally managed to invent perpetual motion square the circle make Pi equal 3.1 threaten Internet users into doing their bidding. Read the rest
The Writers Guild of America submitted an exemplary set of comments to the U.S. Government's Internet Policy Task Force green paper on the future of American copyright. The WGA calls for balance in copyright law, and stresses that censorship, surveillance and chilling of critical speech have no place in copyright policy. It's amazing to see artists' groups taking a stand for free expression when it comes to copyright -- far too often, arts groups are staunch free speech defenders except when it comes to unproven accusations of copyright infringement, which they hold to be sufficient grounds for arbitrary censorship.
But artists who think the issue through know that communications policies like copyright can't do their job if they compromise free expression. Artists have a wide variety of business-models and commercial opportunities, but if you're making art in a way that requires total surveillance and arbitrary censorship, you're doing art wrong.
Torrentfreak summarizes the best of the WGA submission. It's an important read: it shows that the entertainment industry's regulatory agenda doesn't serve the creators they employ (and exploit). Read the rest
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. Read the rest
You'll remember last month's news that Fox had sent fraudulent takedown notices regarding my novel Homeland. This is hardly an isolated incident: the studios routinely exhibit depraved indifference to the inaccuracies in their automated censorship threats to search engines and webhosts.
This is especially troubling when the studios' notices catch media made specifically to criticize them and their legal strategies. When that happens, they haven't caught a few dolphins in the tuna net -- they've caught some rival activists in the net, activists who're trying to get them to take more care with their dragnet techniques.
A case in point: TPB:AFK a brilliantly made documentary about the MPAA-directed attacks on The Pirate Bay's servers in Sweden, funded through a highly successful Kickstarter. The documentary is Creative Commons licensed and can be freely distributed across the Internet, but Viacom, Paramount, Fox and Lionsgate have been sending takedown notices to services all over the Internet -- notices in which they aver, on penalty of perjury, that they have a good faith basis for asserting that they represent the people who made "TPB:AFK."
Which they don't.
Read the rest
Over the past weeks several movie studios have been trying to suppress the availability of TPB-AFK by asking Google to remove links to the documentary from its search engine. The links are carefully hidden in standard DMCA takedown notices for popular movies and TV-shows.
The silent attacks come from multiple Hollywood sources including Viacom, Paramount, Fox and Lionsgate and are being sent out by multiple anti-piracy outfits.
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) Read the rest
Redditor Federal Reservations has made a handy post enumerating all the regressive, authoritarian, corporatist policies enacted by the Obama administration in its one-and-a-bit terms. You know, for someone the right wing press likes to call a socialist, Obama sure makes Richard Nixon look like Che Guevara. And what's more, this is only a partial list, and excludes the parade of copyright horrors and bad Internet policy emanating from the White House, via Joe Biden's push for Six Strikes, the US Trade Rep's push for secret Internet censorship and surveillance treaties like TPP and ACTA and TAFTA; the DoJ's push to criminalize every Internet user by expanding the CFAA, and much, much more.
Read the rest
Obama extends Patriot Act without reform - 
Signs NDAA 2011 (and 2012, and 2013) - 
Appeals the Federal Court decision that “indefinite detention” is unconstitutional - 
Double-taps a 16-year-old American-born US citizen living in Yemen, weeks after the boy's father was killed. Administration's rationale? He "should have [had] a far more responsible father" - 
Continues to approve drone strikes that kill thousands of innocent civilians including women and children in Pakistan, Yemen, and other countries that do not want the US intervening; meanwhile, according to the Brookings Institute's Daniel Byman, we are killing 10 civilians for every one mid- to high- level Al Qaeda/Taliban operative. This is particularly disturbing, since now any military-aged male in a strike zone is now officially considered an enemy combatant - 
Protects Bush’s war crimes as State Secrets -   
The US-Korean Free Trade Agreement came with a raft of draconian enforcement rules that Korea -- then known as a world leader in network use and literacy -- would have to adopt. Korea has since become a living lab of the impact of letting US entertainment giants design your Internet policy -- and the example that industry lobbyists point to when they discuss their goals.
One of the laws that Korea adopted early was the infamous "three strikes" rule, where repeated, unsubstantiated accusations of copyright infringement leads to whole families being punished through restriction of, or disconnection from their Internet connections. Now the Korean National Human Rights Commission has examined the fallout from the country's three strikes rules, and called for its repeal due to high costs to wider Korean society.
Here's the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Danny O'Brien with more:
Read the rest
The entertainment industry has repeatedly pointed to South Korea as a model for a controlled Internet that should be adopted everywhere else. In the wake of South Korea's implementation, graduated response laws have been passed in France and the United Kingdom, and ISPs in the United States have voluntarily accepted a similar scheme.
But back in Korea, the entertainment industry's experiment in Internet enforcement has been a failure. Instead of tackling a few "heavy uploaders" involved in large scale infringement, the law has spiraled out of control. It has now distributed nearly half a million takedown notices, and led to the closing down of 408 Korean Internet users' web accounts, most of which were online storage services.
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.
Read the rest
"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.
The first "Six Strikes" notifications were sent out this week by Verizon and Comcast, and Ars Technica's Cyrus Farivar got a copy. Read the rest
You may have heard Jill Lesser, Executive Director of the Center for Copyright Information, explain that America's six-strikes copyright punishment system would not harm open WiFi. Adi Kamdar explains why Ms Lesser's totally mistaken:
Termination may not be part of the CAS, but that's not the point—the program still uses "protecting copyright" as an excuse to seriously hinder a user's online experience. For example, CAS involves not just "education" but also "Mitigation Measures," such as slowing down Internet speeds to 256 kbps for days—rendering your connection all but unusable in today's era of videochats and Netflix.
Lesser doesn't think that's a problem. As she told the radio show On The Media: "The reduction of speed, which one or more of the ISPs will be using as a mitigation measure, is first of all only 48 hours, which is far from termination."
But that's 48 hours of lower productivity and limited communication across the globe, based on nothing more than a mere allegation of copyright infringement.
Don't Be Fooled: "Six Strikes" Will Undoubtedly Harm Open Wireless
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As America's phone and cable companies roll out their "six strikes" plans (which they voluntarily adopted in cooperation with the big film companies), it's becoming clear that operating a public Internet hotspot is going to be nearly impossible. Anyone operating a hotspot will quickly find that it can no longer access popular sites like YouTube and Facebook, because random users have attracted unsubstantiated copyright complaints from the entertainment industry. Verizon (and possibly others) have made it clear that this will apply to businesses as well as individuals, meaning that firms will have to spy on all the traffic of all their users, all the time, and heavily censor their use of the Internet in order to prevent them from attracting these complaints.
It's not much of a stretch to see why the carriers would like this: every time you use a hotspot instead of using your phone or device's metered data-plan, they lose revenue.
Read the rest
Also, as the strikes get higher, there are two things to be aware of: ISPs are then more likely to hand over info to the copyright holders, meaning that it could still lead to copyright holders directly suing. That is, the "mitigation" factors are not, in any way, the sum total of the possible consequences for those accused. On top of that, we still fully expect that at least some copyright holders are planning to insist that ISPs who are aware of subscribers with multiple "strikes" are required under law to terminate their accounts. At least the RIAA has indicated that this is its interpretation of the DMCA's clause that requires service providers to have a "termination policy" for "repeat infringers."
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
[Torrentfreak] Read the rest
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!) Read the rest
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
(Thanks, Joly! Read the rest