The Megaupload case has become an embarrassment for the US Government, but because of their close ties to the MPAA, RIAA and the entertainment industry as a whole they are not able to bow out gracefully at this point. It also seems that Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom is not going to let them bow out. Instead he has launched a website that is dedicated to “the war for the Internet”. This term is one that has been used in the past to refer to laws like SOPA, PIPA, ACTA, TPP, CISPA and many, many more. It is a very interesting battle that is only in its infancy right now and unless things change quickly will only get worse.
While downloading any sort of files via BitTorrent you are sure to leave a trace, and the whole BitTorrent system is under constant surveillance. uTorrent has decided to improve their users privacy by randomizing peer-id's, but the users IP is still public and relatively easy to find. If you can’t or don’t secure your privacy via VPN (Virtual Private Network) you will leave a trail that can cause some legal consequences; that is if you download illegal material. As mentioned above, there are two ways of tracking users, via IP addresses or via peer-id's and so far the peer-id has been a constant for BitTorrent and uTorrent users.
If you ever needed evidence of how badly laws like PIPA and SOPA (and of course ACTA) could and would be abused you have to look no further than some of the laws that are already in place. We have shown you how the lawyers for the entertainment industry have (and continue to do so) violated due process and circumvented even court orders to get what they want. Now we have Spain’s Sinde Law as a direct show of how eager the content “owners” are to pull down sites or simply make complaints.
When I was a kid I got my first cassette recorder (for those of you that do not know what this is a cassette was… well you can Google it). With this I was able to record music played on the radio onto blank cassettes so I was able to listen to what I wanted without all of the other songs I did not. What I did not know at the time was that the price I paid for those cassettes (and the actual recorder) also included a small royalty fee from the recording industry to cover some of the potential losses that they might incur from someone doing exactly what I did.
Joel Tenenbaum, the guys who was hit with a $675,000 bill for sharing 30 songs though the Kazaa network has had a major setback (again). After being found guilty of infringement back in 2009 the courts ruled that he owed the RIAA (Recording Industry Artists of America) cartel $22,500 per track which amounted to 675,000 in damages. We have talked about the interesting math that the MPAA and RIAA use (which is starting to trickle over into other areas), but still could not find out how they arrived at this figure for their original request for “statutory damages”.
There are times when I read about something on the Internet and I have to stop and wonder if the site reporting on the item has gotten something wrong. As an example I recently read about a new act called SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act). According to the article on TorrentFreak.com this new act will allow corporations the ability to shut down websites by submitting a complaint to the sites host. Now I thought that this sounded unlikely so I looked into the act and found out that it is even more disturbing that what TorrentFreak posted.
It turns out that the bill is a revision of one what was first presented in the Senate call the “Protect IP Act”. This revision was supposed to correct issues with that first bill and instead has only succeeded in extending them and making them more vague. For example in the bill it uses the verbiage that includes any site or “portion of” a site that is "dedicated to theft of U.S. property," this is a very broad category that has no clear definition. For example if someone posts a YouTube video with copyrighted music in the background, is that theft? What about a cover of a song where the music and lyrics were legally purchased? These two “violations” could get the offending website cut off from payment provides (PayPal), advertisers (advertisers Google Adsense etc.), and get the site completely shut down.
To make matters worse the shutdown order would not go to the site owner, but directly to the Payment providers, advertisers, and ISPs for the host of the site (or if the owners host it themselves their ISP). The The ISPs, advertisers and payment providers must comply to the complaint or they face fines. The site owner does not get notification from the complaint, they just get shut down. To add insult to injury the site owner has limited rights to appeal the complaint before or after they have the rug pulled out from under them.
This new legislation is an abomination and nothing more than an attempt to grant corporations (not just the media) license to shut down any site that offends them. To give you an example of what can happen if this bill is allowed to go through, let’s say that a site writes up an article criticizing a company for a product and uses images of the packaging or quotes from their website in the review. Under this new act that company who holds copyright over the logo’s and the wording on the website could send a complaint to the site’s host, advertisers and payment providers and get them locked out. This type of heavy handed control over the internet is simply terrifying.
To combat this most of the consumer advocacy groups have challenged the bill and congress men and women from both sides of the fence have spoken out about this. There is also an American Censorship Day planned. The Fight For the Future Organization is asking web sites to post a snipet of code to their websites on November 16th the code will pop-up with a fake seizure notice that will explain the new bill and how each user can act to contact their congress person to try and get this bill stopped now.
We will be participating in this and urge all of you to help out with this as this act is about more than copyrighted content. It is about control of the content on the internet.
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There is something interesting happening in the US; ok several something’s actually and we are not sure if they are good or bad at this point. The first is that there appear to be more judges actually looking into the claims that the copyright lobby are trying to claim when they go after individuals and even corporations for copyright infringement. We have watched as precedent has been set in the form of very unusual verdicts such as one handed down recently that states Web Sites are not responsible for links posted by their members which might violate copyright. This nice ruling means that the MPAA and RIAA must prove that the links were placed on a site by the owner or that they encouraged the posting of these links. Of course we have seen that the MPAA, RIAA and other copyright holders rarely stand on ceremony and will claim a site is encouraging piracy right out of the gate (we don’t need no stinking proof). So while the ruling was rather monumental it did not stop the unsubstantiated take down requests and certainly is not going to help Megaupload or any other site in reality.
A Chinese court ruled that the Cupertino company, mostly known for their original ideas and patents on everything (sarcasm), was responsible for the sale of unauthorized digital copies of an encyclopedia published by Encyclopedia of China Publishing House. Even though the publisher asked for RMB 530,000 ($84,200), the final judgment that came on Thursday by Beijing's Second Intermediate People's Court was that Apple needs to pay a bit lower sum, RMB 520,000 ($82,600).
Although we have covered some of the MegaUpload case we have not really followed all of the ins and outs in the troubled and lopsided case. On the one hand almost everyone can agree that people should pay for their content, but in most cases the opinions about what has been done to the cloud storage service are against what the US DoJ has done. On the word of the MPAA and RIAA (yes it was only their accusations) the FBI and others began a costly investigation into MegaUpload and in the end came up with an indictment against a non-US based company (where the US has no jurisdiction) and seven members of its management team (most of which have never entered the US).
After Gottfrid Svartholm, Pirate Bay founder was sentenced to one year in jail he went missing. Now Cambodian police have arrested him on Thursday. It is still not clear if he was arrested because of his involvement in The Pirate Bay as it was stated by his lawyer Ola Salomonsson “As far as I understand it is because he is on an international wanted list”. He was arrested in Phnom Penh, the Cambodian capital, his hometown for the last few years. Sources said that he was arrested in apartment above the cafe on the riverfront, a place named Cadilla Bar, where he apparently often stayed.