Efforts to censor the Internet are increasing in the Western world. In the US lawmakers are currently discussing legislation (SOPA/PIPA) that could take out The Pirate Bay, or disable access to it. In several other countries such as Italy, Finland and Belgium, courts have already ordered Internet Providers to block their users’ access to the site. Demonstrating the futility of these efforts, a small group of developers today releases a browser add-on called “The Pirate Bay Dancing.”
As both sides in the forthcoming Universal Music versus Grooveshark copyright infringement lawsuit prepare to do battle, a warning shot has been sounded across the bows of the currently anonymous individual whose comments set off the legal chain reaction. The alleged Grooveshark whistleblower could be unmasked following a request not from Universal, but from Grooveshark’s legal team.
For the past 24 hours the hugely popular MegaUpload file-hosting service has been rendered inaccessible across many countries around the world. With the United States government ‘Cyber Monday’ domain seizures fresh in everyone’s mind, fingerpointing has been directed at the U.S. authorities. The problems, however, seem to be rooted with the site’s domain registrar since they appear to have ‘seized’ MegaUpload’s DNS records following a dispute.
For the first time ever uTorrent users can now pay for their favorite BitTorrent client. BitTorrent Inc. just put a pre-order for the “Plus” version of uTorrent online for $24.95 a year. The official release is scheduled to come out before the holidays. The paid version of uTorrent will offer additional features to the free client, that will continue development as usual.
France’s Hadopi agency has announced the next phase in its ongoing battle against unauthorized Internet file-sharing. In common with its counterparts in the United States, work is now underway to strangle the finances of direct download, cyberlocker and video streaming sites. The agency hopes to report significant progress by early 2012.
Rick Falkvinge, founder of the first Pirate Party in Sweden, has earned a spot in Foreign Policy’s prestigious list of Top 100 Global Thinkers. Falkvinge is in good company, listed among many key figures in the Arab Spring and world leaders such as Barack Obama and Angela Merkel. Foreign Policy describes 2011 as the year where Falkvinge’s ideas about transparency, Internet privacy and copyright law are gaining in popularity.
The top 10 most downloaded movies on BitTorrent, ‘Cowboys and Aliens’ tops the chart this week, followed by ‘Conan the Barbarian’. ‘Killer Elite’ completes the top three.
It is said that those who don’t study history are doomed to repeat it. In the case of the copyright industry, they have learned that they can get new monopoly benefits and rent-seeker’s benefits every time there is a new technology, if they just complain loudly enough to the legislators.
DC attorney Mike Meier was initially well-known as a defense attorney for BitTorrent users, but in recent months he’s made an interesting career move. Perhaps recognizing that more money could be made with a slight shift in focus, Meier has joined the “other” side, suing hundreds of BitTorrent users on behalf of copyright holders.
The IFPI is stepping up its war on copyright infringement by suing the current administrators of The Pirate Bay, the Internet’s most famous torrent site. The lawsuit, filed in the Helsinki District Court, demands that the operators of TPB stop facilitating the unauthorized distribution of music and pay compensation to rightsholders. For good measure, IFPI is demanding that two more local ISPs block the site.
US authorities have initiated the largest round of domain name seizures yet as part of their continued crackdown on counterfeit and piracy-related websites. With just a few days to go until “Cyber Monday” more than 100 domain names have been taken over by the feds to protect the commercial interests of US companies. The seizures are disputable, as the SOPA bill which aims to specifically legitimize such actions is still pending in Congress.
Five of Australia’s largest ISPs have today put forward a detailed proposal to deal with the issue of illicit file-sharing. The paper proposes the implementation of a warning letter process, but unlike the 3 strikes-style regime in neighboring New Zealand, would not include an Internet disconnection sanction. Instead, rightsholders would head back to the legal system to punish persistent infringers.
Ubisoft is known for laying the blame for many problems on the unauthorized downloading of its games. Stanislas Mettra, creative director of the upcoming game ‘I Am Alive,’ confirms this once again by saying that the decision not to release a PC version is a direct result of widespread game piracy. However, those who look beyond the propaganda will see that there appears to be more to the story than that.
In the crucial 7-year legal battle between a music rights group and an Internet service provider, the European Court of Justice has now delivered an important ruling. Music rights group SABAM wanted ISP Scarlet to spy on its customers and block their communications to stop file-sharing, but the Court decided that would breach privacy and violate the fundamental rights of both the ISP and its subscribers.
Google has expanded its search blacklist to include many of the top file-sharing sites on the Internet, including The Pirate Bay. The changes were quietly processed and appear to be broader than previous additions. Google’s blacklist prevents the names of sites appearing in their Instant and Autocomplete search services, while the pages themselves remain indexed.
In a lawsuit filed last week, Universal Music made the devastating claim that bosses and other workers at Grooveshark personally uploaded many thousands of infringing tracks to the service. Through their General Counsel, Grooveshark has now bitten back, pouring scorn on the “blatantly false” basis of Universal’s claims and their alleged tactic of tipping off the press about the lawsuit before informing Grooveshark.
During the last year Netflix managed to outgrow BitTorrent in terms of the amount of US Internet traffic it generates. A promising finding for Hollywood as it shows that there’s an overwhelming interest for the legal movie streaming service. At TorrentFreak we wondered what might happen if all US BitTorrent users made the switch to Netflix, and the results of this exploration are quite intriguing.
According to a new report on Net Neutrality, users of mobile broadband services who hope that all of their Internet traffic will be prioritized equally will be disappointed. While much traffic is left unhindered, the report from the organization responsible for Sweden’s .SE national domain reveals that some operators systematically degrade BitTorrent transfers, and some block them altogether.
Anti-piracy group RettighedsAlliancen say they have been busy recently tracking down piracy ‘masterminds’. After busting who they claim is the leader of a huge movie piracy group, last week they had the police detain a less likely target – a 19-year-old law student who runs a file-sharing blog. RettighedsAlliancen say that guides on his site showed readers how to break the law, an act serious enough to involve the police.
European Commissioner for Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes delivered an inspiring speech at the Forum d’Avignon this weekend. The Commissioner noted that the current path of increased enforcement as put forward by the copyright monopoly is not the right one. Copyright should protect artists instead of corporations, and technology is not something to restrict but to make use of, she argued.
The top 10 most downloaded movies on BitTorrent, ‘Conan the Barbarian’ tops the chart this week, followed by ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’. ‘Cowboys and Aliens’ completes the top three.
In a few weeks Amelia Andersdotter will be the second Pirate Party member to take a seat at the European Parliament in Brussels. The 24-year-old Swede was voted in more than two years ago, but due to bureaucratic quibbles her official appointment was delayed. TorrentFreak catches up with the soon-to-be youngest MEP to hear about her plans and expectations.
In a quite astonishing lawsuit, Universal Music could be demanding hundreds of millions in damages from Grooveshark’s music streaming service. Claims in the lawsuit lay waste to Grooveshark’s insistence that they enjoy ‘safe harbor’ under the DMCA, stating categorically that bosses and other workers at the company, from the CEO down, personally uploaded many thousands of infringing tracks to the service.
UK users of the popular Fileserve file-hosting service are currently unable to download any files as the site is being blocked by the Internet Watch Foundation. Since early this week the blacklist, which aims to disable access to sexual child abuse content, has been preventing users from accessing their personal files and downloading those uploaded by others. Fileserve expects the issue to persist for at least a couple of days.
A long-running dispute over whether an ISP can be forced to hand over the details of one of its customers to an anti-piracy group is now with the EU after courts in Sweden couldn’t decide. Now the EU’s Advocate General has delivered his assessment which is being described as “a victory for freedom” by the Pirate Party’s MEP. But that, according to the Advocate General, all depends on ISPs’ intentions when they store information on their subscribers.
This week an operation led by a powerful anti-piracy group closed down a 6-year-old BitTorrent tracker. The site had already been targeted following the verdict in the original Pirate Bay trial, but had quickly announced their intentions to go 100% legal. This week, however, people said to be behind the site were arrested. Most surprisingly, one of them was the owner of the company supplying them bandwidth.
The European Parliament has adopted a resolution which criticizes domain name seizures of “infringing” websites by US authorities. According to the resolution these measures need to be countered as they endanger “the integrity of the global internet and freedom of communication.” With this stance the European Parliament joins an ever-growing list of opposition to the Stop Online Piracy Act .
The RIAA has informed the U.S. government about the piracy-promoting websites it would like to be dealt with in the near future. The list includes all major torrent sites, but also Russia’s Facebook and Classmates equivalent. The submission is particularly sensitive because the House Judiciary Committee today discussed the pending Stop Online Piracy Act, which would grant copyright holders the power to put these sites out of business.
Following legal action by the Hollywood studios, the UK’s High Court ordered the country’s leading ISP to block subscriber access to Usenet indexing site Newzbin2. As expected the group then used the decision to have a UK webhost shut down a similar site, NZBsRus. Although the site went offline for a few days, it’s now back, hardened and more determined than ever. But are comebacks like this likely to become a thing of the past if SOPA passes?
Just under a year ago, screenwriter P.J. McIlvaine felt the wrath of one of the world’s most powerful movie studios. After allegedly making available dozens of movie scripts online, 20th Century Fox sued the part-time flower seller for a staggering $12 million. But now after months of hardship. P.J. expresses relief as her ordeal is finally confirmed over.
A coalition of artists has joined eccentric billionaire and FilmOn founder Alki David in a new class action lawsuit against CNET and CBS Interactive. The complaint filed at a federal court in Los Angeles claims that through websites like Download.com, these companies have willingly profited from popularizing online copyright infringements. The artists want the CBS chiefs to be held accountable for “soliciting such widespread theft.”
German music rights group GEMA is known for its strict copyright regime, but sometimes they take things too far. The group recently claimed money from the organizers of a dance event where only Creative Commons music was played. The organizers informed GEMA beforehand about their royalty free status, but the group suspects foul play and demands cash.
After court action in Denmark ended with the country’s major Internet service providers blocking The Pirate Bay, copyright holders now have a new target in their sights. An anti-piracy group say they have sent an urgent letter to a court demanding that Grooveshark should be subjected to an ISP DNS blockade, an action which would take the site offline in Denmark.
The top 10 most downloaded movies on BitTorrent, ‘Conan the Barbarian’ tops the chart this week, followed by ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’. ‘Our Idiot Brother’ completes the top three.
Through new legislation the copyright industry is trying to gain unprecedented control over the Internet. Very worrying plans that need to be stopped, but there is also something to learn from. Perhaps we should be grateful that the copyright industry, in their distorted sense of entitlement to the world, are pointing out crucial weaknesses that need to be fixed.
Copyright law strikes a balance between private rights and public interests. Not everyone likes the balance the law sets. Copyright owners complain that it does not adequately protect them from infringement of their works. Critics contend that copyright law tilts too far in favor of the interests of copyright owners and does not safeguard the rights of consumers.
While observers criticize Western companies for their ‘aggressive’ anti-piracy campaigns, elements of the creative industries in South Africa are taking things to a whole new level. With their “Shoot the Pirate” campaign, music and TV industry players have taken to the streets with threats to “fight violence with violence.” Hacks into Sony computers to obtain content and warnings of a blood bath only add to the bizarre mix.
Two of the largest Internet providers in the Netherlands clashed in court with the local anti-piracy outfit BREIN today. The ISPs argued that blocking The Pirate Bay would be useless, even dangerous, as it could take down the entire network. In addition they feel that this type of censorship violates basic human rights such as freedom of expression. BREIN disputed these concerns and said that the ISPs want to keep The Pirate Bay online because they profit from the site.
Following the seizure of several domains belonging to major sports streaming sites earlier this year, the feds arrested the operator of Channelsurfing.net. The 32-year-old Texan Bryan McCarthy was taken into custody on suspicion of criminal copyright infringement. After several months McCarthy has now been indicted on several copyright related charges. Awaiting his trial, the psychologically-troubled operator pleads not guilty on all counts.
The Italian police division tasked with handling cybercrime cases has announced it has shut down several file-sharing websites. The sites, which were connected by ownership, offered links to torrents and files hosted on cyberlocker services and indexed more than 31,000 illicit items including movies, music, TV show, games and software.
A Sweden-based alcohol entrepreneur has successfully obtained the trademark “The Pirate Bay”. Colin Scragg, who made complaints to police over share dealings at his former company earlier this year, had faced opposition at the Patents and Trademarks Office, but now the decision has swung in his favor.
Belgian music royalty collecting agency Sabam has once again stepped up to enforce their strict copyright regime. Today the group announced that it will bill Internet providers for allowing subscribers to play and download copyrighted songs. Sabam claims it is entitled to this compensation based on existing copyright law, and is demanding 3.4 percent of the monthly fee paid by subscribers.
Hollywood movie studio Warner Bros. has admitted to a federal court that it removed files from the file-hosting site Hotfile without owning the copyrights. Some of the false takedowns were the result of failing filtering software but Warner also admitted that one of its employees deleted Open Source software that could speed up downloads.
The former administrator of a pair of BitTorrent sites has been warned that tomorrow his furniture will be seized in order to pay off a debt he owes to music rights group SACEM. The Frenchman, known online as Blackistef, says he has little else to offer other than his coffee table, a shelf and a carpet to cover the 19,300 euros he owes following two court defeats.
Soon the European Court of Justice will have to decide whether an Internet service provider can be forced by a music rights group to proactively filter all of its traffic – both inbound and outbound – for copyright infringements. As detailed in a new paper by intellectual property expert Cedric Manara, the notion is fraught with difficulties and the potential for collateral damage huge.
This summer raids and arrests in several European countries took out several prominent websites. Aside from the main target, movie streaming links portal Kino.to, the raids also affected several file-hosting sites including Duckload.com. Initially one person escaped the wrath of the police, but the authorities now report that after a five-month search they have arrested the fugitive, who they claim was also connected to two of the Kino.to replacements that sprung up recently.
As the war of words over PROTECT IP and SOPA ignites the Internet, the MPAA has issued a reminder that “opponents” of past copyright laws have been wrong before. But while some fears over 1998′s DMCA and 2005′s Grokster ruling didn’t come to pass, some things are absolutely guaranteed. If the entertainment industries don’t get their way – or even if they do – they’ll be back for more. Again and again.
Earlier this year convicted movie cammer Timothy Epifan filed a lawsuit against Somerset County police and the MPAA for arresting him with deadly force and breaking his leg. The case is still ongoing, but Epifan has struck a deal with the Hollywood group meaning that the MPAA has been dropped from the lawsuit.
The top 10 most downloaded movies on BitTorrent, ‘Killer Elite’ tops the chart this week, followed by ‘The Hangover Part II’. ‘Conan the Barbarian’ completes the top three.
News-Service.com, one of the leading Usenet providers with many prominent resellers, has terminated its services with immediate effect. The shutdown is the direct and unavoidable outcome of a two-year battle with Dutch anti-piracy outfit BREIN, which was eventually decided against the Usenet provider. News-Service announced that it will appeal the decision “out of principle” as it threatens the entire 30-year-old Usenet community.
Despite having booked and paid for their booth at Gamex, Sweden’s largest gaming exhibition, the Pirate Party have been excluded from the action this week. The party, who say they were nagged for 2 to 3 months to book for the event, were this week informed they were too controversial and no longer welcome.
Following the High Court ruling ordering UK ISP BT to block Usenet indexing site Newzbin2, it was only a matter of time before that momentum was capitalized upon by the movie and music industries. Today a coalition of companies led by the BPI demanded that BT also block The Pirate Bay, either voluntarily or by consenting to a court order.
When talking about piracy the entertainment industry and politicians often use the term “theft.” This is a huge problem according to the Swedish sociologist of law Stefan Larsson. In his thesis “Metaphors and Norms – Understanding Copyright Law in a Digital Society,” he explains that these metaphors are in part keeping the wide gap between people’s norms and the law intact.
After more than five years the long-running and controversial file-sharing case of Joel Tenenbaum against the RIAA continues with his legal team filing a petition for a rehearing en banc. Tenenbaum argues that the jury instruction which led to a staggering $675,000 fine was both erroneous and prejudicial.
UK Internet service provider BT didn’t need the flexibility of a full 14 days to begin their censorship of Usenet indexing site Newzbin2. According to an administrator at the site the court-ordered blockade has already begun, with subscribers to the ISP getting an “Error – site blocked” message when they try to access.
A Spanish judge came to an interesting conclusion in a case dealing with a seller of pirated copies. According to the judge the defendant doesn’t have to pay compensation to the rightsholders because it is not possible to determine to what extent piracy actually decreases sales. On the contrary, the judge suggests that piracy may even boost sales.
Downloading copyright material without the permission of rightsholders is often portrayed as a heinous crime and treated as such by many judges across the United States. But what is an appropriate punishment for this apparently increasingly wicked act? Multi-million dollar fines? Jail? For one sixteen year-old girl using file-sharing software KaZaA, it was a savage beating, delivered by the leather belt of her father, Judge William Adams. And it was all caught on camera.
An internal MPAA fact-sheet obtained by TorrentFreak shows that the movie industry is preparing a full-frontal attack on the business model of what they call “rogue cyberlockers”. The document summarizes how these file-hosting sites offer affiliates cash in return for signing up new premium members. According to the MPAA these practices facilitate mass-copyright infringement.
A guilty verdict has been handed down in Sweden’s largest-ever personal file-sharing trial. The 58-year-old female defendant avoided a jail sentence for sharing more than 45,000 songs online but now faces probation, a fine equivalent to 50 days pay, plus the costs of her defense. Pirate Party leader Anna Troberg described the verdict as “tragic”.
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