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Electronic Frontier Foundation

Judge Wipes Out Safe Harbor Provision In DMCA, Makes Cox Accomplice of Piracy ( 162

SysKoll writes: The DMCA is well-known for giving exorbitant powers to copyright holders, such as taking down a page or a whole web site without a court order. Media companies buy services from vendors like Rightscorp, a shake-down outfit that issues thousands of robot-generated take-down notices and issues threats against ISPs and sites ignoring them. Cox, like a lot of ISPs, is inundated with abusive take-down notices, in particular from Rightscorp. Now, BMG Rights Management and Round Hill Music are suing Cox for refusing to shut off the Internet access of subscribers that Rightscorp accused of downloading music via BitTorrent. Cox argues that as an ISP, they benefit from the Safe Harbor provision that shields access providers from subscribers' misbehavior. Not so, says U.S. District Judge Liam O'Grady. The judge sided with the media companies ahead of trial, saying Cox should have terminated the repeat offenders accused by Rightscorp. Cox's response is quite entertaining for a legal document (PDF): its description of Rightscorp includes the terms "shady," "shake-down," and "pay no attention to the facts." O'Grady also derided the Electronic Frontier Foundation's attempt to file an amicus brief supporting Cox, calling them hysterical crybabies.
The Internet

New Anti-Piracy Law In Australia Already Being Abused ( 73

Gumbercules!! writes: A small Australian ISP has received a demand that it block access to an overseas website or face legal action in the Federal Court, in a case in which a building company is demanding the ISP block access to an overseas site with a similar name. This case is being seen as a test case, potentially opening the way for companies and aggregated customers to use the new anti-piracy laws to block access to companies or their competition. The ISP in question has obviously been selected because they're very small and have limited financial capacity to fight a legal case.

ISP To Court: BitTorrent Usage Doesn't Equal Piracy ( 175

An anonymous reader writes: The music industry has long argued that evidence of BitTorrent is evidence of piracy, and ISPs have generally gone along with them. But now, ISP Cox Communications is pushing back against that claim. They have been sued by publishers for failing to halt service for users alleged to have pirated music. Not only has Cox argued that the piracy evidence is invalid, they're also contesting the idea that BitTorrent is only used for piracy (PDF). "Instead of generalizing BitTorrent traffic as copyright infringement, the music companies should offer direct proof that Cox subscribers pirated their work. Any other allegations are inappropriate and misleading according to Cox." The company says, "the Court should preclude Plaintiffs from relying on mere innuendo that BitTorrent inherently allows individuals to infringe Plaintiffs' copyrights."

BBC Begins Blocking VPN Access To iPlayer ( 174

nickweller points out Ars Technica's report (based on news initially on Torrent Freak) that The BBC has begun to block VPN users from its iPlayer video streaming service. From the article: Naturally, VPN providers are already working on a fix for the block, with IPVanish already claiming it has found a way around it. Earlier this year, a GlobalWebIndex report claimed that up to 60 million people outside the UK had been accessing iPlayer. The BBC disputes this figure however, saying: "These figures simply aren’t plausible. All our evidence shows the vast majority of BBC iPlayer usage is in the UK. BBC iPlayer and the content on it is paid for by UK licence fee payers in the UK and we take appropriate steps to protect access to this content."
The Courts

All Malibu Media Subpoenas In Eastern District NY Put On Hold 67

NewYorkCountryLawyer sends an update on the progress of Malibu Media, the company that filed subpoenas and copyright lawsuits over alleged BitTorrent piracy of pornography films: A federal Magistrate Judge in Central Islip, New York, has just placed all Malibu Media subpoenas in Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island, and Staten Island on hold indefinitely, due to "serious questions" raised by a motion to quash (PDF) filed in one of them. Judge Steven Locke's 4-page Order and Decision (PDF) cited the defendant's arguments that "(i) the common approach for identifying allegedly infringing BitTorrent users, and thus the Doe Defendant, is inconclusive; (ii) copyright actions, especially those involving the adult film industry, are susceptible to abusive litigation practices; and (iii) Malibu Media in particular has engaged in abusive litigation practices" as being among the reasons for his issuance of the stay.

British Movie Theater Staff To Wear Night-Vision Goggles To Combat Movie Piracy 279

Ewan Palmer writes: Movie theater across the UK will be required to don military-style night vision goggles in order to help crack down on movie piracy ahead of the release of potential box office smashes such as Spectre and Hunger Games. The initiative is part new measures to combat piracy as in recent years, pirates have found new and inventive ways to illegally record movies while using a smartphone to film through a popcorn box. Kieron Sharp, director general of the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT), said: "The bigger the film and the more anticipated it is, the higher-risk it is. We have staff on extra alert for that. James Bond is a big risk and we will be working with cinema operators and the distributors making sure we will keep that as tight as possible. We really don't want to see that recorded. They [cinema staff] are on alert to really drill down on who is in the auditorium and who might possibly be recording. They still do the sweeps around the auditoriums with the night vision glasses regardless of the film. But sometimes extra security is put in place for things like Bond."

Sharebeast, the Largest US-based Filesharing Service, Has Its Domain Seized 122

An anonymous reader writes: The RIAA says that the FBI has seized the domain of file-sharing service ShareBeast, shutting down what it said was responsible for the leaks of thousands of songs. The site now only displays a notice saying the FBI acted "pursuant to a seizure warrant related to suspect criminal copyright infringement." In a statement, RIAA CEO Cary Sherman called the seizure "a huge win for the music community and legitimate music services. ShareBeast operated with flagrant disregard for the rights of artists and labels while undermining the legal marketplace."

PayPal, Visa, MasterCard Prepare To Block Payments To Pirate Sites In France 82

An anonymous reader writes: The French government is deciding whether to allow PayPal, Visa, MasterCard, and other payments processors the right to refrain from executing transactions to pirate sites if copyright holders (MPAA, RIAA, PSR for Music) file a complaint. All pirate sites will be added to a blacklist, controlled by copyright holders, and not by a French court. A similar unofficial agreement between copyright holders and payment processors is actively being enforced in countries like the U.S. and the U.K.

Four Year Sentence For Running Piracy Streaming Site 235

An anonymous reader writes: A 29-year-old man from Northern Ireland has been sentenced to two years in jail and another two "on license" for running a website from his bedroom that streamed pirated content. (Being on license is similar to a strict parole in the U.S.) Police say the man made over £280,000 from ads on the site . Law enforcement was put on the case by an anti-piracy group in the UK. Between 2008 and 2013, users of the site streamed approximately 12 million movies, which prosecutors say caused £12 million in damages. The judge in the case said time in jail was necessary "to show that behavior of this nature does not go unpunished."

US Government's Pirate Movie Bootlegger Gets 24 Months Probation 83

Solandri writes: Ricardo Taylor, a former supervisor at the U.S. Department of Labor, ran a bootleg DVD operation for seven years, copying DVDs and selling them to other employees via the Department's internal email system. You know — exactly the sort of thing our draconian copyright fines were meant to prevent. He made more than $19,000 from these pirated movie sales in 2013 alone. His punishment? 24 months probation. Apparently, using the Internet to share Copyrighted materials at no personal profit is a more serious crime than selling copyrighted works for profit on physical media. More details on this local NBC site with auto-playing video.

More Popcorn Time Users Sued 147

An anonymous reader writes: The torrent-based video streaming software Popcorn Time has been in the news lately as multiple entities have initiated legal action over its use. Now, 16 Oregon-based Comcast subscribers have been targeted for their torrenting of the movie Survivor. The attorney who filed the lawsuit (PDF) says his client, Survivor Productions Inc., doesn't plan to seek any more than the minimum $750 fine, and that their goal is to "deter infringement." The lawsuit against these Popcorn Time users was accompanied by 12 other lawsuits targeting individuals who acquired copies of the movie using more typical torrenting practices.

A Breakdown of the Windows 10 Privacy Policy 318

WheezyJoe writes: The Verge has a piece on Windows 10 privacy that presents actual passages from the EULA and privacy policy that suggest what the OS is capturing and sending back to Microsoft. The piece takes a Microsoft-friendly point of view, arguing that all Microsoft is doing is either helpful or already being done either by Google or older releases of Windows, and also touches on how to shut things off (which is also explained here). But the quoted passages from the EULA and the privacy policy are interesting to review, particularly if you look out for legal weasel words that are open to Microsoft's interpretation, such as "various types (of data)", diagnostic data "vital" to the operation of Windows (cannot be turned off), sharing personal data "as necessary" and "to protect the rights or property of Microsoft". And while their explanations following the quotes may attempt an overly friendly spin, the article may be right about one thing: "In all, only a handful of these new features, and the privacy concerns they bring, are actually in fact new... Most people have just been either unaware or just did not care of their existence in past operating systems and software." Even pirates are having privacy concerns and blocking Windows 10 users.

Underground Piracy Sites Want To Block Windows 10 Users 394

An anonymous reader writes: Some smaller pirate sites have become concerned about Windows 10 system phoning home too many hints regarding that the users are accessing their site. Therefore, the pirate administrators have started blocking Windows 10 users from accessing the BitTorrent trackers that the sites host. The first ones to hit the alarm button were iTS, which have posted a statement and started redirecting Windows 10 users to a YouTube video called Windows 10 is a Tool to Spy on Everything You Do. Additionally, according to TorrentFreak, two other similar dark web torrent trackers are also considering following suit. "As we all know, Microsoft recently released Windows 10. You as a member should know, that we as a site are thinking about banning the OS from FSC," said one of the FSC staff. Likewise, in a message to their users, a BB admin said something similar: "We have also found [Windows 10] will be gathering information on users' P2P use to be shared with anti piracy group."

Movie Studio Sues Individual Popcorn Time Users For Infringement 144

An anonymous reader writes with another story about Popcorn Time, after yesterday's report that two Danes were arrested for sharing information about how to use it. From the article at BGR: Often described as 'Netflix for pirates,' Popcorn Time users are now being targeted for infringement. The makers of a film called The Cobbler recently initiated a lawsuit against 11 Popcorn Time users in Oregon for copying and distributing the aforementioned film without authorization. The Cobbler, in case you're unfamiliar, stars Adam Sandler and was released in early 2015 to tepid reviews. "Tepid" is putting it nicely.
United Kingdom

Legal Scholars Warn Against 10 Year Prison For Online Pirates 168

An anonymous reader writes: The UK Government wants to increase the maximum prison sentence for online copyright infringement from two years to ten. A number legal experts and activists are pushing back against the plan. One such group, The British and Irish Law, Education and Technology Association (BILETA) has concluded that changes to the current law are not needed. "legitimate means to tackle large-scale commercial scale online copyright infringement are already available and currently being used, and the suggested sentence of 10 years seems disproportionate," the group writes.

Australian Courts Make Life Hard For Dallas Buyers Club Copyright Owner 25

New submitter Harlequin80 writes: There has been a significant update in the landmark case between the Dallas Buyers Club (DBC) and iiNet, an ISP in Australia, where DBC has been trying to blaze new trails in obtaining downloaders' personal details. DBC had previously won the right to access subscribers' contact details, for the purposes of sending a letter, subject to the judge reviewing the form letter. El Reg is now reporting that the case Judge has reviewed the form letters proposed by DBC, and felt that they were too close to speculative invoicing. As a result, he has struck down two of their four claims and, because he feels they are not likely to operate in good faith, mandated a $600,000 bond from DBC if they want to send any letters at all. The price has been set so high so that DBC can't expect to make any money on the claims if they break the court's rules. While not an end to the matter it will make life very hard for DBC going forward.

Anti-Piracy Firm Sends Out Wave of Takedown Notices For Using the Word 'Pixels' 224

An anonymous reader writes: Columbia Pictures recently released a movie called Pixels to widespread ambivalence. As part of the movie industry's standard intellectual property defense strategy, it hired anti-piracy firm Entura International to try to police infringing downloads. The firm went at the task with vigor, hitting Vimeo with DMCA takedown notices for anything with the word "Pixels" in it. As you might expect, this disrupted a number of independent filmmakers and organizations who did nothing wrong, and in most cases picked a name for their video long before the new movie came out. Even worse, it's incumbent upon the owners of the targeted videos to prove that their content does not infringe upon Columbia's. Even if they get it restored, simply being targeted counts against them in Vimeo's eyes. And of course, Entura is unwilling to help.

BitTorrent To RIAA: You're 'Barking Up the Wrong Tree' 109

An anonymous reader writes: The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) sent a letter to BitTorrent last week asking the company to help stop copyright infringement of its members' content. Brad Buckles, RIAA's executive vice president of anti-piracy, asked BitTorrent CEO Eric Klinker to "live up to" comments made by former chief content officer Matt Mason. Two quotes by Mason stand out in particular: "We don't endorse piracy," and "If you're using BitTorrent for piracy, then you're doing it wrong." Both of these remain accurate, but the RIAA wants to see BitTorrent do more. VentureBeat contacted BitTorrent to get their stance on the letter, and the company said, "Our position is that they are barking up the wrong tree, as it seems they were with their approach to CBS last week. ... We do not host, promote, or facilitate copyright infringing content and the protocol, which is in the public domain, is a legal technology.".

USC Vs. UC San Diego In Fight Over Alzheimer's Research 120

New submitter BVBigelow writes: In Southern California, a legal skirmish between USC and UC San Diego is escalating into into a full-blown fracas, replete with restraining orders, loyalty oaths, and accusations of computer piracy, intimidation, and interference in federal grant awards. The two universities are fighting over control of an Alzheimer's program that coordinates about $100 million in research grants. The lawsuits began after USC recruited scientist Paul Aisen from UC San Diego, where he has been director of the Alzheimer's Disease Cooperative Study since 2007. The study has been based at UC San Diego since 1991, and and UCSD expected to retain control. But Aisen's team took root command of the computer system (including 24 years' worth of clinical trial data) and won't give it back.

Parts of SOPA Hiding Inside a Boring Case About Invisible Braces 174

derekmead writes: The most controversial parts of SOPA, an anti-piracy bill defeated in 2012 after a massive public outcry, may end up becoming de facto law after all, depending on the outcome in an obscure case that is working its way through the legal system without anyone noticing.

Next week, the U.S. Appeals Court for the Federal Circuit will hear oral arguments in ClearCorrect Operating, LLC v. International Trade Commission, a case that could give an obscure federal agency the power to force ISPs to block websites. In January, The Verge reported that this very legal strategy is already being considered by the Motion Picture Association of America, as evidenced by a leaked document from the WikiLeaks Sony dump.