Until last spring, everyone wanted to see the new European Copyright Directive pass; then German MEP Axel Voss took over as rapporteur and revived the most extreme, controversial versions of two proposals that had been sidelined long before as the Directive had progressed towards completion.
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Karyn Temple Claggett is the new Associate Register of Copyright and Director of Policy & International Affairs for the Copyright Office. Her previous gig was litigating for the RIAA, shutting down technologies like Grokster, which had widespread, non-infringing uses (the standard in the law since the Betamax Supreme Court decision in 1982).
Last night the news came out that the US Copyright Office had now named Karyn Temple Claggett as the Associate Register of Copyright and Director of Policy & International Affairs. While Temple Claggett has actually been at the Copyright Office for a little while as Senior Counsel for Policy and International Affairs, not too long ago she was a hotshot litigator for... the RIAA. In fact, an old bio of hers, from when she was at the RIAA (as VP, Litigation and Legal Affairs), notes that she was instrumental in their ever-present legal campaign against pretty much any innovative technology that comes along:
While at the RIAA, Ms. Temple-Claggett has worked on some of the most high-profile copyright cases brought by copyright owners in recent years, including the Supreme Court Grokster litigation, as well as litigation against LimeWire, XM Satellite Radio and Usenet.com
Former RIAA VP Named 2nd In Command Of Copyright Office[Mike Masnick/Techdirt] Read the rest
The UK Pirate Party abandoned its fight against the BPI -- Britain's answer to the RIAA -- over its proxy for reaching The Pirate Bay, which is blocked by court order in the UK. The Party's executive had been personally threatened with legal action by the BPI and couldn't afford to risk home and family fighting this fight. But other Pirate Parties took up the slack: new, unblocked Pirate Bay proxies have been established by Pirate Party Luxembourg and Pirate Party Argentina:
“Due to pressure from lobbyists, politicians all over Europe are incited to expand the censorship infrastructure to prevent freedom of expression, the right to information and the free exchange of culture. With our proxy, we help to circumvent the Internet censorship of European countries,” Luxembourg Pirate Party President Sven Clement says.
The Argentinian Pirate Party is sending a similar message, and invites those who can’t access The Pirate Bay due to blockades to use their proxy.
“We wish the UK Pirate Party best of luck in their continued fight for free access to culture and knowledge. We have put up our own Pirate Bay proxy which is accessible from anywhere in the world, including the UK and other places where it has been censored.”
Pirate Bay Censorship Backfires as New Proxies Bloom
See also: UK record industry spokesman wants you to know why his employers are going after Pirate Party execs personally Read the rest
A 30-page document containing the master anti-piracy strategy for IFPI (the umbrella group for all the record labels' national associations, like the RIAA and BPI) has leaked. The document, written by IFPI chief anti-piracy officer Mo Ali, has gotten into the hands of TorrentFreak. TorrentFreak's Enigmax summarizes the document in some detail:
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Dealing with Internet service providers
In common with cyberlockers, IFPI have a set of rules they’d like to impose on Internet service providers. According to the industry group, ISPs should not provide Internet access to infringing sites, services or even unidentified customers. Furthermore, ISPs are required to “Implement a system of graduated response for infringing P2P users including warnings to an effective deterrent sanction.”
ISPs are also required by IFPI to block access to infringing sites and services “located outside the local jurisdiction.” The chart below shows where blocking orders have been obtained (prior to April 2012) and how they are carried out.
Surprisingly, despite reports mounting to the contrary, IFPI seems to think that site blocking is an almost perfect solution to counter infringement.
“The effectiveness of such a ‘block’ will depend on the determination of the ISP subscriber
and the content/website provider to maintain access to each other and to use circumvention techniques to bypass blocking techniques,” they write.
“There is evidence to suggest that there is limited (between 3% and 5%) adoption of these circumvention techniques although subscribers with more technical knowledge could look to circumvent ISP controls using virtual private networks (VPN) or anonymous proxies.”
Japan prepares to imprison children for listening to music the wrong way. "illegal downloaders could be hit by penalties of up to two years in prison, or files that extended up to 2 million yen (£16,000). Unauthorised uploaders on the other hand, can expect to be hit with five times the punishment: up to ten years imprisonment." Read the rest
IFPI, the international recording industry lobby, has gone on the offensive to save ACTA, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, an unprecedented international copyright agreement negotiated in secret (so secret that even Congress and the European Parliament weren't allowed to see it). In recent weeks, popular protests against ACTA have grown, and many nations are pulling back from ACTA.
IFPI doesn't like this. In fact, it says that popular demonstrations calling for substantive treaty negotiations to take place in the open "silence the democratic process."
In this statement, IFPI is using the term "democratic process" in a highly technical, specialized manner, citing a little-understood definition: "a process undertaken by corporate lobbyists and unelected bureaucrats without public oversight or transparency."
Another specialized vocab use that's interesting is the word "silencing," which, again, is used in the rare technical sense of "marching in the streets in thousands-strong throngs asking lawmakers to oversee and publicly debate international agreements."
Over the past two weeks, we have seen coordinated attacks on democratic institutions such as the European Parliament and national governments over ACTA. The signatories to this letter and their members stand against such attempts to silence the democratic process. Instead, we call for a calm and reasoned assessment of the facts rather than the misinformation circulating.
IFPI & Other Lobbyists Tell Parliament That ACTA Protests Silence The Democratic Process Read the rest
Canada's majority Tory government is poised to reintroduce its disastrous DRM-friendly copyright law, formerly Bill C-32, without any further public consultation. This law repeats the major error made in the US 1998 DMCA, namely granting special status to "software locks" (AKA DRM), making it illegal to remove a lock, even if you're doing so for a lawful purpose. Minister James Moore (who seems to have retreated from his plan to "fight [opponents of the bill] on Twitter" after one too many Canadians told him what they thought of his legislation) has decided to throw in his lot with the anti-property crowd who say that you should not have the right to use your devices in lawful ways if a copyright holder or DRM vendor objects. As Wikileaks has demonstrated that this law has come about thanks to direct pressure from American corporations and government, and I suppose that means that anyone in Moore's seat will now have to blindly follow the American government off the cliff it fell over 13 years ago.
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Mr. Moore told The Canadian Press in an interview that the Conservative government will re-introduce its copyright bill this fall, in exactly the same form as legislation that died with the last Parliament.
The measures will go back to a legislative committee for study, and Mr. Moore said groups who testified before MPs won't be asked back to comment again.
“We've taken a couple runs at it before in minority Parliaments, but we think that we have a very good formula with the old Bill C-32 and when we come forward with our legislative agenda this fall we want to pick up where we left off, which is to continue the study of the legislation,” Mr.
Last year, the UK government held consultation into its proposed Digital Economy Act, an extremist copyright proposal created by the unelected Business Secretary Peter Mandelson. The process that followed was as dirty as any I'd ever seen (for example, the then-head of the BPI wrote an amendment proposing a national censorship regime that a LibDem Lord then introduced on his behalf. But it turns out that there was much more sleaze below the surface.
Documents released in response Freedom of Information requests show that Mandelson had already made up his mind from the start about the Act's most controversial section: the rules that said that users would have their Internet connections terminated if enough unsubstantiated infringement claims were made against their households. The "compromise" that the Act made was to suspend this measure initially, and bring it into force if the other measures in the Act failed to substantially reduce infringement. Critics called it the sham it was, saying that a 70 percent reduction in file-sharing was a delusional target, and the FOI documents show that the Act's supporters agreed -- they only intended the compromise as a means of smuggling in France-style disconnections.
Which is to say that the whole business was a sham: the Business Secretary and his pals in the record industry had stitched the whole thing up from the start, and the thousands upon thousands of Britons who wrote in never had a hope of changing things. That's why the Act was crammed through Parliament without debate in the "wash-up," hours before Labour dissolved the government. Read the rest
Douglas C Merrill, who left his job as Google's CIO to be EMI's Chief Operating Officer of New Music and President of Digital Business has given a speech in which he claims that EMI's own research confirmed that P2P music downloaders were the label's best customers. Merrill, who was one of many tech executives to be recruited by EMI in recent years (one friend of mine left after a few months, visibly shaken, claiming that it was impossible to get the business to see reason), was keynoting the CA Expo in Sydney when he said that LimeWire users were the biggest iTunes customers, and that the record industry's strategy of suing downloaders "is like trying to sell soap by throwing dirt on your customers."
“For example, there’s a set of data that shows that file sharing is actually good for artists. Not bad for artists. So maybe we shouldn’t be stopping it all the time. I don’t know,” Merrill said.
“Obviously, there is piracy that is quite destructive but again I think the data shows that in some cases file sharing might be okay. What we need to do is understand when is it good, when it is not good…Suing fans doesn’t feel like a winning strategy,” he concluded.
Former Google CIO: LimeWire Pirates Were iTunes’ Best Customers
(Image: Dowload this song., a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from freeflyer09's photostream) Read the rest
Following a UN report condemning laws that require ISPs to disconnect households accused of copyright infringement, the Australian record industry lobby has declared that it does not support the practice anymore.
Speaking with SMH, MIPI general manager Sabiene Heindl, today said that while MIPI supports "mitigation measures" for dealing with persistent illegal file-sharers, "such measures would not include termination of Internet accounts."
Heindl's statement represents quite a turnaround for the recording industry. MIPI has dozens of member labels on board - including the all-important EMI, Universal, Warner and Sony - and although delivered in Australia, it would be difficult to see how the Big Four could pursue different anti-piracy strategies in major markets elsewhere.
Recording Industry Steps Back From Piracy Disconnections
(Image: hadopi_logo, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from 30468198@N08's photostream) Read the rest
Maria Martin-Prat, who took a leave from her job at the European Commission to work as Deputy General Counsel and Director of Legal Policy and Regulatory Affairs for the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI -- thee international version of the RIAA, CRIA and BPI, though they're all basically the same companies), has returned to the EC to run its copyright unit. While Martin-Prat was enjoying her holiday as a lobbyist for the industry she now regulates, she took a number of extremist copyright positions, including lobbying against the private copying exemption (part of European Fair Dealing), and arguing that it should be illegal to break the DRM on the media you buy, even if you don't violate copyright in doing so.
Christian Engström, Pirate MEP, writes, "Welcome to the European Union, where the big business lobby organizations are calling most of the shots at the Commission, and where citizens are just seen as a nuisance to be ignored. I guess the only real news is that they don't even bother to try to hide it any more."
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Two MEPs are openly questioning Martin-Prat's appointment. Liberal Dutch MEP Marietje Schaake and Swedish Pirate Party MEP Christian Engström have written to the European Commission, asking, "Does the Commission not see any problems in recruiting top civil servants from special interest organisations, especially when being put in charge of dossiers directly related to their former employers? If not, why not?
"Does the Commission feel that such an appointment would help to build confidence with the European Parliament and the general public that the Commission can be trusted to handle copyright-related issues in a fair and balanced manner?"
Here's a fascinating look at how two opposing groups with an interest in inflating piracy numbers drove each other crazy and screwed up a nice-seeming band in the process.
Cameron Tilbury, the manager of a Canadian band called One Soul Thrust, did a Google search for BitTorrent downloads of the band's debut album. He got a link to a site that claimed that 100,000 people were actively downloading the album.
What he didn't know is that the site, LimeTorrents, will show you a fake results page that has 100,000 people downloading any file you enter into its search box -- even imaginary files like "fake123.torrent."
So Tilbury kind of freaked out. After all, the band only had 176 Twitter followers and one YouTube video with 79 views -- if they'd gone piracy-platinum without earning a penny, well, that was pretty weird and disturbing (and heartening, as the lead singer noted that the band was "flattered that people could love our music that much"). The story got picked up by the Canadian Recording Industry Association's astroturf site, "Balanced Copyright for Canada" (despite its name, CRIA represents the interests of the four major international labels, who are the only voting members -- most Canadian labels staged a walkout some years ago from the organisation).
CRIA and "Balanced Copyright" ran with the story, touting it as proof that piracy was destroying the careers of fledgling indie bands who were struggling to launch their careers. TorrentFreak, who broke the story (and who were rubbished by the band's manager) are sympathetic to the band's disappointment at "losing" 100,000 fans, and is calling on its readers to follow the band on Twitter and check out its video and debut album. Read the rest
Creative Destruction and Copyright Protection, a paper by the London School of Economics' Bart Cammaerts and Bingchun Meng, is an eye-opening look at the economics of file-sharing and music. The authors argue that an overall decline in consumer entertainment spending is to blame for the music industry's downturn, supporting their assertion with (for example), research showing that entertainment spending declined by 40 percent in households that didn't own computers (who probably weren't downloading!) over the period of overall decline for the industry.
Their conclusion is that copyright enforcement won't bring back consumer spending on music -- but it will strangle new business models built on file-sharing, robbing the next generation of musicians without paying the current generation. The authors propose several business models, including allowing ISPs to buy unlimited, technology-neutral licenses on behalf of their users.
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The authors of the study acknowledge that these alternative models are not going to impress SONY and EMI. "Compared to the value of the mainstream music market, dominated by the 'big four', these are relatively marginal activities," they observe.
But they may become less marginal very soon. With world mobile data traffic set to explode by a factor of 26 by 2015, and with most people in the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa, and South/Southeast Asia expected to link to the mobile 'Net before they get electricity, file sharing could be poised for a second great leap forward, whether Big Content approves of it or not.
These millions of new Netizens are not going to have the money to buy digital music files.
Canadian Liberal MP Dan McTeague, who was recently linked to the Canadian Recording Industry Association, has been the most outspoken MP in favor of tough penalties for copyright infringement. Yet it now appears that McTeague may have himself infringed dozens of copyrights on his own website.
Since the introduction of Bill C-32, McTeague has posted dozens of full-text articles from mainstream media organizations on his website, at times without attribution. In addition to the articles, McTeague has also reposted many photographs associated with the articles.
The more likely scenario is that this is a case of repeated copyright infringement under which there would be the possibility of hundreds of thousands of dollars in potential statutory damages. Targeted Canadian mainstream media organizations include the Globe and Mail, Postmedia, Toronto Star, Ottawa Citizen, Canadian Press, CTV, QMI (Sun News), Hill Times, and many local news organizations.
Liberal MP Dan McTeague: Repeat Copyright Infringer? Read the rest
Michael Geist sez,
As the debate over Canada's copyright reform legislation, Bill C-32,continues to rage before a legislative committee, one of the most frequently heard claims is that tough reforms are needed to counter Canada's reputation as a "piracy haven". The presence of several well-known BitTorrent sites, most notably B.C.-based isoHunt, is cited as evidence for Canada's supposedly lax laws that the industry says leaves it powerless.
When the bill was first introduced last June, the Canadian Recording Industry Association stated that "stronger rules are also needed to rein in Canadian-based peer-to-peer websites, which, according to IFPI,have become 'a major source of the world's piracy problem'."
Politicians have taken note of the concerns. Industry Minister Tony Clement said the new bill will target "wealth destroyers" and Liberal MP Dan McTeague has lamented that "the very existence of an isoHunt in Canada is problematic and is very much the result of what appears to be a legislative holiday for companies and other BitTorrent sites."
While the notion of a "legislative holiday" appears to be the impetus for some of the provisions on Bill C-32, what is left unsaid - and thus far unreported - is that 26 of the world's largest recording companies launched a multi-million dollar lawsuit against isoHunt using existing Canadian copyright law just three weeks before the introduction of the bill.
Weak Canadian Copyright Laws? Recording Industry Files Massive Lawsuit Against isoHunt
Boing Boing: 7 new MPAA lawsuits: Isohunt, Torrentspy -- and ...
Boing Boing: Torrent site-owner running circles around MPAA lawyers Read the rest
The Obama administration has just appointed a notorious entertainment industry lawyer to serve as the Solicitor General of the USA. Donald Verrilli Jr. is the industry lawyer who masterminded the case against Grokster, successfully arguing that online service providers should be held liable for the actions of their users and that online libraries containing millions of noninfringing works should be shut down if they also contain infringing works.
Subsequently, he led Viacom vs. YouTube suit, in which he sought to extend the Grokster principle, holding YouTube liable for not reviewing the 29 hours' worth of video they receive every minute to ensure they don't infringe copyright.
Viacom also sought to ban YouTube's privacy features (which allow you to specify that certain videos can only be seen by friends and family) because the ability to restrict viewership of a video made it harder for them to detect infringement.
If confirmed by the Senate, Verilli, now the White House deputy counsel, would assume the powerful position left vacant by Elena Kagan, who was elevated to the Supreme Court. Obama said he was "confident" that Verrilli, one of five former RIAA attorneys appointed to the administration, would "serve ably."
The solicitor general is charged with defending the government before the Supreme Court, and files friend-of-the court briefs in cases in which the government believes there is a significant legal issue. The office also determines which cases it would bring to the Supreme Court for review.
Obama nominates former RIAA lawyer for Solicitor General spot
Obama adds yet another RIAA attorney to Justice Department roster ... Read the rest
Michael Geist sez,
Canadian Recording Industry Association President Graham Henderson had some noteworthy comments on copyright reform in an article just published by Grammy.com. While unsurprisingly supportive of Bill C-32 [ed: Canada's new copyright bill], Henderson expressed specific concern about changes to the statutory damages provision. After the government faced criticism for its $500 cap on downloading damages in Bill C-61, it shifted its approach by rightly distinguishing between commercial and non-commercial infringement. The bill now proposes to establish a maximum statutory damages penalty of $5,000 for infringement that the court considers to be non-commercial. While $5,000 is still very significant potential liability for non-commercial infringement, it apparently is viewed as licence to steal by CRIA. Henderson tells Grammy.com:
"Once this bill is passed, you could go online and steal every movie that's ever made, every book, and every song, put them on your hard drive, admit liability, and write a $5,000 check. That would be the full extent of it -- and it would be the first rights holder who would get all the money. Nobody else would get a cent. It's close to saying that for people who want to steal stuff, there's a compulsory license of $5,000.
Henderson's organization represents the US labels that have sued over 30,000 Americans for file-sharing; none of the "damages" they've recovered from Internet users have been passed on to musicians.
CRIA President: C-32's Statutory Damages Reform a Licence to Steal
Minister responsible for Canada's DMCA loses nerve, won't defend ...
Annotating the Canadian DMCA "Radical Extremist" speech
Canadian musician-turned-MP challenges minister on new copyright ... Read the rest