Posts from — May 2006
The site was raided by Swedish law enforcement and its server farms confiscated. Three were arrested. It’s servers host only .torrent files, not actual copyrighted material. As a tracker site, ThePirateBay.org’s function is to index .torrent files and to direct BitTorrent traffic and maintain the swarm (uploads and downloads).The legality of indirectly linking to copyrighted material has apparently not yet been tested by Swedish courts.
Dale’s Comment: Another one down, infinite tracker sites to go!! But is it? The day after the raid, The Pirate Bay promised to be up and running again within days – in another country. I’ll keep you posted.
- As Promised, The Pirate Bay is Back! (June 5, 2006)
- BitTorrent Site PirateBay.org Raided – Servers Seized (May 31, 2006)
- The Pirate Bay: Here to Stay? (Wired Feature) (March 13, 2006)
The Chinese government has passed a new regulation to ban the uploading and downloading of Internet material without the copyright holder’s permission. The production, import and supply of devices that are capable of evading or breaching technical measures of copyright protection and technical services are prohibited under the regulation. The new regulation provides for a fine up to 100,000 yuan (12,500 U.S. dollars) and confiscation of computer equipment for those who breach copyright.
- Germans Face Two Years in Prison for Downloading Latest Film (March 24, 2006)
German authorities searched over 130 premises of alleged eDonkey pirates in Cologne and Bergheim on Tuesday. Police have charged thousands of eDonkey users alleging they were sharing up to 8,000 copyrighted works. The individuals face large fines of up to $19K and even jail time.
- eDonkey Settles for $30M and Shuts Down after Adverse Ruling (September 12, 2006)
- Spanish Police Target BitTorrent & eDonkey Sites (April 8, 2006)
- Music Industry Releases New Waive of Lawsuits (April 4, 2006)
- Hollywood Hails eDonkey P2P Shutdown (February 22, 2006)
Categories: BigMedia v NewTech
Hollywood studios and TV networks are asking a U.S. District Court in New York to stop a network-based video recording service that Cablevision Systems Corp. planned to start offering next month alleging the service violates their copyrights. Cablevision’s network DVR allows users to record and pause TV, just like normal DVRs, but instead of storing shows on a local machine, they’re stored on Cablevision’s servers and streamed over the network.
Text of Complaint
Torrentspy has filed a lawsuit against the MPAA, accusing the group of conspiracy, unlawful business practices, misappropriation of trade secrets, violations of the California Invasion of Privacy Act, and more. Valencie Media, the operators of TorrentSpy allege that the MPAA hired a former business associate to hack into its systems to access its confidential information.
- Torrentspy Sues the MPAA for Conspiracy and Invasion of Privacy (May 25, 2006)
- Torrentspy Fights Back Against MPAA in Motion to Dismiss (March 28, 2006)
Streamcast claims in a lawsuit filed Monday in the U.S. Central District Court in Los Angeles that Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis, the duo who developed the technology behind the company’s Kazaa and Skype, of breaking an agreement to give StreamCast the first right to purchase their FastTrack peer-to-peer protocol. StreamCast is seeking more than $4 billion in damages.
Note: Streamcast has become quite litiguous of late. In April Streamcast turned about-face and chose to battle the RIAA and the MPAA despite earlier statements to the contrary. See earlier related stories posted on April 10, 2006.
The leading German newspaper Der Spiegel claims to have information on an unofficial agreement struck between the movie studios, Sony, Microsoft and others which will see HDCP, and the Image Constraint Token (ICT), being consigned to the scrap heap for at least four years. This move would mean that all movie content produced until 2010 at the earliest, and possibly as far as 2012, will not carry the ICT – a security feature which restricts/down-rez’s high-definition playback only to equipment with HDMI ports and HDCP encryption.
Dale’s Comment: This is a remarkable development if true. I have been participating in online forums for years where this has been a major subject of contention for early HDTV adopters. With the constant delays of HD-DVD and Blu-ray and the many competing HD standards appearing on the horizon, this may spell the demise of HD down-rezzing and the ICT. Recently, Professor Ed Felton suggested that HDCP is Eminently Crackable. All this said, since main-stream press has not yet picked this up, I question its veracity. But, its fun speculation in the meantime.
Update: October 15 2006: Save for one or two titles, the first couple hundred Blu-Ray and HD-DVD releases have been released without HDCP/ICT activated.
- HDCP is Eminently Crackable Says Professor Ed Felton (April 17, 2006)
- Windows Vista Proofed against Video Piracy (August 31, 2005)
Text of Settlement Agreement
A U.S. federal judge approved the proposed December 28 settlement between Sony and consumers who filed a class action lawsuit over copy-protection root-kit software installed on music CDs. Consumers who bought the CDs will receive replacement discs without the anti-piracy technologies and will let them choose one of two incentive packages that provide cash or free music downloads. Sony will also provide consumers with a patch to remove the rootkit software from their computers.
- Sony Settles Rootkit Lawsuit with 40+ U.S. States for $5.75M (and Climbing) (December 27, 2006)
- Sony Rootkit Settlement Faces Opposition in Canada (September 19, 2006)
- Sony Rootkit DRM Settlement Passes Final Legal Hurdle (May 23, 2006)
- Sony Settles Class Action Law Suits over Rootkit DRM (December 29, 2005)
- Texas Saddles Another Claim on Sony (December 23, 2005)
- My Morning Jacket Burns New CDs for Fans Replacing Sony's CDs with Rootkits (December 15, 2005)
- Texas Sues Sony BMG for 'spyware' on CDs (November 21, 2005)
- Sony folds Tent, Recalls CDs (November 16, 2005)
- Fallout from Sony CD Flap Getting Worse (November 15, 2005)
- Sony Bows to Pressure and Abandons DRM Rootkit Technology (November 11, 2005)
- Sony Faces Class Action Law Suit over Rootkit DRM (November 10, 2005)
- Sony Caught using Rootkit DRM (November 3, 2005)
Evidently TiVo and Echostar could not agree on a post-judgment settlement. TiVo is now seeking a court order shutting down Echostar’s competing DVR. TiVo is seeking an order that would disable the DVR functionality in all but 192,702 of EchoStar’s DVRs already placed with customers. TiVo also seeks a recall of Echostar DVR products already with distributors and retailers and to stop the production of infringing products. A hearing on the matter is set on June 26/27. Echostar promises to challenge the jury trial verdict.
Text of Music Industry Complaint
The RIAA, in a law suit filed this week in federal court in New York, seeks a $150,000 in damages for every song that may have been copied by XM listeners, claiming that devices such as XM’s new Pioneer Inno and the Samsung Helix violate copyrights. Despite the fact that recording from the radio has always been considered fair use in the U.S., and the fact that music cannot be extracted from XM’s recording devices, the music industry believes that the quality of satellite radio makes it a “free iTunes” of sorts. Michael Petricone, vice president of government affairs at the Consumer Electronics Association, said that the RIAA is trying to block an activity that “has always been considered legal” and expressly recognized by Congress as “protected from lawsuit.” The music industry fails to mention in its complaint that home recording of music is permitted under the Audio Home Recording Act (1992). That legislation allows consumers to digitally record music from CDs and broadcast transmissions for personal use, but prevents making digital copies from copies. “Sirius radio is not named in the suit because it had previously negotiated a deal with the RIAA for devices like the Inno and the Helix.
- Music Labels Sue XM Over its Inno/Helix Recording Capabilities (May 17, 2006)
- Proposed “Perform Act” to Restrict Satellite & Web Streaming Recording (April 26, 2006)
- RIAA Negotiates DRM with XM and Other Digital Radio Operators (January 16, 2006)
- Sirius S50 has been (siriusly) crippled by the RIAA (December 2, 2005)
- Australian Copyright Reform: Copying CDs to iPods, Legal – Breaking DRM or Archiving Recorded TV, Illegal (December 6, 2006)
- Australian Copyright Reform to Add New Time/Format Shifting Exceptions (May 15, 2006)
- Australian Parliamentary TPM Report Accepts User Concerns (March 1, 2006)
The BPI, the body that represents British record companies, believes copyright on CDs and records should be changed to allow consumers to copy music if it is for personal use. Currently, it is technically illegal for anyone to copy a CD onto their computer for the purposes of downloading music onto their own portable music player.
Dale’s Comment: While this is a long-over-due recommendation, it amounts to nothing more than a token tilt towards consumer fair use/fair dealing rights. As music distribution models switch from CDs to electronic distribution of music protected by DRM and TPMs, the consumer will shortly be right back in the same place – having no legal way to copy their purchased music into alternative formats. U.K. laws implementing the WIPO Copyright Treaty will make it illegal to defeat the DRM/TPMs (that all future music will be wrapped in) thus effectively taking-away with one law what U.K. consumers might finally achieve of any such change to the U.K. Copyright Act is made.
The EFF and Canadian Internet Policy & Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC) have launched a new grassroots organization called Online Rights Canada to promote the public’s interest in technology and information policy. They believe that Canadians should have a voice in copyright law, access to information, freedom from censorship and other issues that face Canadians in the digital world.
Dale’s Comment: It appears this group has been around since December 2005, but I’ve just got wind of it today.
Under the proposed judgment, which still must be approved by the court, the operators of once-popular Bearshare, Free Peers, has entered into a $30 million settlement with the RIAA to settle copyright violation charges against and down. BearShare’s assets, including the domain name and list of BearShare users, were sold to iMesh.
- iMesh Raises BearShare from the Dead and Takes it ‘Legit’ (August 23, 2006)
- Bearshare Settles with RIAA for $30 M and Shuts Down (May 9, 2006)
- Music Industry Releases New Wave of Lawsuits (April 4, 2006)
Warner Bros. and BitTorrent announced a partnership that will make Warner movies and television shows available for rental or purchase using peer-to-peer technology. The move makes Warner the first major studio to embrace BitTorrent technology, which has long been associated with the illicit swapping of video content. More than 200 WB movies and TV shows will be available this summer. New content will be available the same day DVDs are made available in stores.
Note 1: BitTorrent and the MPAA had previously reached an agreement on November 23, 2005 whereby BitTorrent agreed to remove torrents for unlicensed movies from it's site. On that day BitTorrent (the company) became legitimate in the eyes of Hollywood.
Note 2: Of note, this distribution will use still another proprietary DRM system. See related article.
Related BitTorrent Posts:
- BitTorrent to Purchase µTorrent (December 8, 2006)
- BitTorrent Signs More Download Deals with Major Hollywood Movie & TV Studios (November 30, 2006)
- Techcrunch » BitTorrent Raises $25 Million (November 29, 2006)
- Warner Bros. and BitTorrent Partner to Download Movies (May 9 2006)
- BitTorrent and MPAA Reach Agreement (November 23, 2005)
- iMesh Raises BearShare from the Dead and Takes it 'Legit' (August 23, 2006)
- Kazaa Settles for $100+ and Goes 'Legit' (July 27, 2006)
- Warner Bros. and BitTorrent Partner to Download Movies (May 9, 2006)
In this interesting Engadget article, YouTube's fair use defenses are discussed in the context of an inevitable big media law suit alleging use of video clips infringes their copyrights. YouTube has been very conscientious about establishing copyright policies and removing infringing videos in their entirety, as required by the DMCA. For example YouTube quickly removed the Natalie Portman SNL video when NBC demanded this. But, the more interesting challenge will be when YouTube asserts that use of short video clips/snippets from big media sourced video (eg: a disputed penalty in a sporting event, the Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction, a snippet from a David Letterman interview or top 10 list, etc.) is fair use under copyright law for educational, parody, commentary and/or criticism purposes. Assuming YouTube's current million-dollar-a-month burn rate doesn't take them down first, every fiber of my body tells me they are in for a fair use fight with broadcasters, organized sports and/or the MPAA at some point down the line.
- Why Google & YouTube are Not Getting Sued Out of the Water (December 11, 2006)
- YouTube Faces Heightened Copyright Scrutiny Since Google Buyout Announcement (October 30, 2006)
- YouTube Sued by L.A. News Service (July 17, 2006)
- How YouTube Avoids the Internet Copyright Police (July 17, 2006)
- RIAA Sends Cease and Desist Letters to YouTube/Google Video Users (June 15, 2006)
- YouTube's Looming Fair Use Battle (May 5, 2006)
IPAC is taking aim at Senator Orrin Hatch who, among other things, has advocated jail time for song downloading, in the upcoming Senate races. They have launched the website FireHatch.com. IPAC is supporting Pete Ashdown, who signed IPac’s Statement of Principles. Pete founded the oldest ISP in Utah.
Text Constitutional Challenge
The constitutionality of the RIAA’s claim of $750 in damages per-song, where the publisher typically receives only 70 cents per-song, is being challenged in UMG v. Lindor. Available damages are 1071 times greater than the damages suffered.
- Judge Allows RIAA Defendant to Argue $750-per-song Damages are Unconscionable (November 15, 2006)
- Constitutionality of $750-Per-Song Damages Challenged in UMG v. Lindor (May 4, 2006)
Categories: New Business Models
The previous reports that Steve Jobs has won his long-running battle with the record industry over the pricing of songs in the iTunes Music Store are now confirmed. Record companies had argued for more flexible pricing, with newer songs going for a higher price, and catalog material selling for less.
- Apple iTunes Pricing Reportedly to Stay at 99 Cents (April 24, 2006)
- The New Music Download Battle (September 28, 2005)
Translated Text of Key Article 7 of Bill
After much fuss, Article 7 of France’s new Copyright Bill introduced by the lower house on February 21, may have been gutted by the Senate Commission on Cultural Affairs. Among other things, that article had required DRM makers to allow anyone to build interoperable technology.
- France’s Diluted iTunes Plan Becomes Law (August 4, 2006)
- France Rolls Over on DRM Rights Law – Fails to Mandate Interoperability as Hoped (June 23, 2006)
- French Pro-Consumer DRM Law Reportedly Gutted by Senate Committee (May 1, 2006)
- Geist’s CBC Interview: France Tunes Apple Out: Apple Bites Back (April 7, 2006)
- Denmark May Follow France to Challenge Apple DRM (March 26, 2006)
- Apple Responds to Proposed French Legislation (March 22, 2006)
- French National Assembly Passes Bill to open iTunes (March 21, 2006)
- French Finish Draft of Law to open iTunes (March 16, 2006)