The saga of porno-copyright-trolls Prenda Law (previously) just keeps getting more tawdry. Prenda is a mysterious extortionate lawsuit-threat-factory that claimed to represent pornographers when it sent thousands (and thousands!) of legal threats to people, telling them they'd get embroiled in ugly litigation that would forever tie their names to embarrassing pornography titles unless they paid hush money.
Their con has unraveled in a series of legal losses. Now, one of their victims has had an expert witness file an affidavit in First Time Videos vs. Paul Oppold, a case in Florida. The expert fields an astonishing accusation: Prenda Law's principle, John Steele, is the person who uploaded the infringing pornography in the first place, listing it on BitTorrent index sites with information inviting people to download it -- people whom he then sent legal threats to for downloading those selfsame movies.
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Among other things, sharkmp4 seemed to be able to post these works on The Pirate Bay before the works were even mentioned anywhere else, and in at least one case, "sharkmp4" put a video up on The Pirate Bay three days before Prenda shell company Ingenuity 13 had even filed for the copyright. On top of that, the "forensics" company that Prenda uses -- which is supposedly run by Paul Hansmeier's brother Peter, but which had its domain registered and controlled by (you guessed it) John Steele -- apparently identified "infringements" almost immediately after the videos were placed on The Pirate Bay -- meaning they were likely looking for such infringement in conjunction with the upload.
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.
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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.
Peter "brokep" Sunde -- who co-founded The Pirate Bay and founded Flattr, a system for allowing fans to directly pay the artists they love -- is standing for the European Parliament in Finland on behalf of the Finnish Pirate Party. Sunde was raised in Sweden, but has Finnish roots, and is able to run there. His platform sounds like an admirable and sensible one, and my personal experience of him is that he's a good, thoughtful and honorable person. If I were in Finland, he'd have my vote:
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“Non-commercial file sharing should of course become legal and protected, and must re-think copyright all together. Copyright is not the thing that makes ARTISTS money, it’s only for their brokers and distributors,” Sunde says.
“I’d rather see us sponsor culture by pushing more money to music education, and facilities for your people to create music. It would be much more sane for cultural advancement then extending copyrights.”
If elected Sunde hopes to be aggressive rather than defensive. This means not just responding to treats to Internet freedom, such as ACTA, but ensuring that this type of legislation doesn’t even make it onto the political agenda in the first place.
“I think there’s a huge possibility for us to impact the EU and I would like to be part of it,” Sunde says.
The Pirates are delighted to have the Pirate Bay founder on board. Harri Kivistö, chairman of the the Finnish Pirate Party, says that Sunde’s candidacy will raise the visibility of the party during the upcoming election.
You may have heard that the private Finnish copyright enforcement agency CIAPC (the same creeps who confiscated a 9 year old girl's Winnie the Pooh laptop because she downloaded a song from an artist whose CD, t-shirt and concert tickets she went on to buy) have ripped off the sourcecode for The Pirate Bay in order to launch a website opposed to The Pirate Bay. In response, The Pirate Bay has reported CIAPC to the economics crimes unit of the Finnish police.
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The “parody” defense doesn’t apply under Finnish law, TPB argues, citing a recent case in Finland.
“In a similar case, the prosecution and the Helsinki Court of Appeals have found that a parody site can violate the moral rights of the original author. Changing the logo or making slight edits to the text are not enough to remove this liability,” they informed the police...
“While The Pirate Bay may have a positive view on copying, it will not stand by and watch copyright enforcing organizations disrespect copyright,” Pirate Bay’s Winston says in a comment.
“CIAPC is like an ugly high school bully without friends. It’s time to take a stand. Cyber bullying is a serious matter to us all,” Winston continues.
Should The Pirate Bay be awarded damages they won’t keep that money for themselves. Instead, the money will go to the 9-year old girl who was “harassed” last year.
But, even if they “lose” it wouldn’t be a big deal, as that’s a win for the right to parody.
TorrentFreak used the ScanEye BitTorrent monitoring service to check what was being downloaded by IP addresses associated with the FBI. There's a lot:
As can be seen above there is a particular interest in movies and TV-show downloads at the FBI’s largest division.
Some of the titles are relevant to the intelligence community such as “Homeland”, “The Girl Who played With Fire”, “The Good Wife” and “Dexter”. Other titles, including the Aussie soap opera Home and Away, are more general entertainment.
The big question is of course why these FBI IP-addresses are showing up in BitTorrent swarms.
The most likely explanation is that employees were downloading these videos for personal entertainment. This wouldn’t be much of a surprise really, as we’ve seen this before at congressional offices the Department of Justice, national parliaments, record labels and movie studios.
FBI Employees Download Pirated Movies and TV-Shows
[Ernesto/TorrentFreak] Read the rest
At long last TPB:AFK, the Kickstarter-funded
documentary about the persecution of The Pirate Bay is finished and online, and ready for you to download.
Just released: the trailer for the upcoming documentary "TPB:AFK" about the founders of the Pirate Bay.
The Computer Museum in Linköping, Sweden has a "50 Years of File-Sharing" exhibition on that includes a machine characterized as the first Pirate Bay server, though there's some nuance to that description:
A Pirate Bay insider informed TorrentFreak that the contents of the computer case in question were initially hosted in the blue box pictured here. In the same photo are also the three other servers that were operational at the time, a laptop, tower case and the red server box.
So, in just a few years, the hardware moved from an old blue box to a prominent place at the Computer Museum.
‘First’ Pirate Bay Server on Permanent Display in Computer Museum
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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
Last weekend, I posted about the UK record industry lobby's strategy of legally threatening executives of the UK Pirate Party over the party's Pirate Bay proxy. Now, Adam Liversage, BPI Director of Communications, wants you to know that his employers had no choice but to threaten the personal finances of Pirate Party officers:
The facts are that despite our efforts over a number of weeks to resolve the matter amicably, Pirate Party UK continued to make clear that they had no intention of removing the proxy to The Pirate Party.
The Pirate Party claims the opposite. I've never known the Pirate Party to knowingly utter a falsehood. I've never known the record industry to knowingly utter a truth, so you make up your own mind.
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Our solicitors then wrote to PPUK's National Executive seeking legal undertakings that they would remove the proxy. 'Pirate Party UK' as an entity cannot give undertakings - it has no form of legal personality and it isn't incorporated - so the proper legal course is to write to the members of PPUK's National Executive personally.
The subsequent allegation made by Loz Kaye that BPI has threatened him or other party officers with "bankruptcy" is completely untrue. We have not "individually sued the party's executives" as you assert - we have asked for undertakings to remove the proxy. At no time have we threatened "bankruptcy", so your subsequent narrative about "corporate bullying" and "terrorising people who organise against them" is, in our view, difficult to justify.
Ever since the UK record labels got a court to order our national ISPs to censor The Pirate Bay, the UK Pirate Party has been offering a proxy that allows Britons to connect to the site and all the material it offers, both infringing and non-infringing.
The record industry has finally struck back. Rather than seeking an injunction against the proxy, or suing the party, it has individually sued the party's executives, seeking to personally bankrupt them and their families. It's an underhanded, unethical, and unprecedented threat to democracy -- essentially a bid to use their financial and legal might to destroy a political party itself.
There's a fundraiser, and I've given more than I can afford to it -- £500 -- because this is plain, old fashioned, corporate bullying. I don't always agree with everything the Pirate Parties do, and I'm not a member of the UKPP, but I'm glad the Pirate Party exists, and I believe that hosting a proxy to the Pirate Bay was a political act, and that the record industry has gone after the personal lives of the executive in order to terrorise people who organise against them. They mustn't be allowed to do this.
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Instead of targeting just the Pirate Party, the BPI’s solicitors are now threatening legal action against six individual members. Aside from its leader Loz Kaye, the BPI also sent threats to four other members of the National Executive and the party’s head of IT.
“We had been anticipating legal action ever since I received an email from Geoff Taylor of the BPI.
Earlier this week, I wrote about how UK ISPs were blocking The Promo Bay, a site launched by The Pirate Bay to promote independent artists who didn't having their material shared. The ISPs had been ordered by a court to block The Pirate Bay, but seemed to have added The Promo Bay on orders from the record industry. Now the UK record industry body, the BPI, has graciously decided that it won't insist on blocking a site dedicated to promoting artists who have the audacity to make music without signing up for one of their awful record deals.
"Until very recently, the domain name 'promobay.org' linked directly to The Pirate Bay and it was therefore a domain name blocked by the ISPs under the court orders," wrote BPI chairman Geoff Taylor.
"The newly reinvented Promobay.org website appears not to be engaged in copyright infringement and we therefore asked the relevant ISPs yesterday to no longer block it."
The BPI could not be reached for further comment on Wednesday, but the BBC understands that Promobay.org will be made available again within 24 hours.
Note how Geoff Taylor implies that when The Promo Bay was associated with The Pirate Bay that it was engaged in copyright infringement, but isn't any longer. Of course, this is utter rubbish -- the site was never engaged in copyright infringement. If the record industry asked to have it censored, the industry was either incredibly cavalier about censorship, or it cynically opted to screw over the artists who had the audacity to go it on their own. Read the rest
TorrentFreak reports that UK ISPs aren't just blocking The Pirate Bay, as a court order requires of them -- they're also blocking The Promo Bay, a website set up by the Pirate Bay to promote legal, independent media.
It turns out that the Promo Bay website is being blocked be several Internet providers, showing a similar message people get when they try to access the Pirate Bay site. TorrentFreak was able to confirm the blocks for BT, Virgin Media and BE, but it’s possible that more providers are also blocking the Promo Bay.
UK ISPs Block Pirate Bay’s Artist Promotions
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A nine-year-old Finnish girl's computer was confiscated by the police after she downloaded a track from the Pirate Bay. She was trying to preview the new album by Chisu (she later bought the album and went to the concert). The Finnish TTVK (Copyright Information and Anti-Piracy Centre) demanded 600 Euros in summary fines from her family, along with a gag order, and the family refused, so they sicced the police on them.
Events started when last year's october family's daughter tried to preview to Chisu's new album. According to child's father, searches took her to the Pirate bay. Next spring the father got a letter from TTVK demanding 600 euros. TTVK's letter also demanded a nondisclosure. Father didn't oblige, but instead, wrote a letter back to the attorney. Letter included photographs of the bought album, and the tickets to the concert, which her child attended.
According to a TorrentFreak report, the confiscated machine was a Winnie the Pooh laptop.
9-year old girl prosecuted for Piratism in Finland Read the rest
The Pirate Bay has moved its servers into a network of cloud-based hosting services around the world, making it less vulnerable to police raids. I wonder how well this will work, though: cloud providers are very vulnerable to police threats, since the cops can always threaten to take down all the cloud's customers in order to seize a target's processes and data. More from TorrentFreak's Ernesto:
“Running on VMs cuts down operation costs and complexity. For example, we never need anyone to do hands-on work like earlier this month when we were down for two days because someone had to fix a broken power distribution unit,” The Pirate Bay says.
The setup also makes it possible for the BitTorrent site to take their business elsewhere without too much hassle.
“If one cloud-provider cuts us off, goes offline or goes bankrupt, we can just buy new virtual servers from the next provider. Then we only have to upload the VM-images and reconfigure the load-balancer to get the site up and running again.”
Pirate Bay Moves to The Cloud, Becomes Raid-Proof
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Alymysto is a Finnish band that releases its music over BitTorrent, and counts on fans being able to access The Pirate Bay in order to find it. But The Pirate Bay is blocked by court order in Finland. So the band has published info showing its fans how to get around the block. "We don’t want the courts to mess with our Pirate Bay based promotion." Read the rest
The record labels that successfully sued The Pirate Bay for millions on the grounds that the network had infringed upon artists' copyrights have announced that it will not share any of the money it receives from the suit with those artists. Instead, the money will be used to bankroll more "enforcement" -- that is, salaries and fees for people who work for the industry association. From TorrentFreak:
According to former Pirate Bay spokesman Peter Sunde, one of the people convicted in the case, this shows who the real “thieves” are.
“Regarding the issue that they’ve already divvied up the loot, it’s always fun to see that they call it ‘recovered money’ (i.e. money they’ve lost) but that they’re not going to give the artists in question any of it,” Sunde told TorrentFreak.
“They say that people who download give money to thieves – but if someone actually ends up paying (in this case: three individuals) then it’s been paid for. So who’s the thief when they don’t give the money to the artists?”
According to Sunde the news doesn’t come as a surprise.
“As far as I know, no money ever won in a lawsuit by IFPI or the RIAA has even gone to any actual artist,” Sunde says. “It’s more likely the money will be spent on cocaine than the artists that they’re ‘defending’.”
Music Labels Won’t Share Pirate Bay Loot With Artists
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