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MPAA Violates Another Software License 297

Posted by Zonk
from the that's-a-little-cold dept.
Patrick Robib, a blogger who wrote his own blogging engine called Forest Blog recently noticed that none other than the MPAA was using his work, and had completely violated his linkware license by removing all links back to the Forest Blog site, not crediting him in any way. The MPAA blog was using the Forest Blog software, but had completely stripped off his name, and links back to his site. He only found about it accidentally when he happened to visit the MPAA site.
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MPAA Violates Another Software License

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  • by viking80 (697716) on Saturday February 17, 2007 @10:48PM (#18056684) Journal
    I am quite sure MPAA would fail in many similar regards if someone would take the effort to investigate.
    • by daknapp (156051) * on Sunday February 18, 2007 @02:44AM (#18057812)

      Wouldn't it be nice to send the friendly folks from the BSA to do a complete software audit of the MPAA?

      Maybe an auditing circle-jerk could be set up: the BSA investigates the MPAA, who investigates the RIAA, who invesigates the BSA, etc. ad nauseum, and they could just leave the rest of us alone.

      • by eskayp (597995) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @03:10AM (#18057954)
        "Maybe an auditing circle-jerk could be set up:..."

        Their circle is already a bunch of jerks.
        • by Mistlefoot (636417) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @03:54AM (#18058180)
          While I hope this is true - it would look good on the MPAA

          1) The screencaps show very little detail
          2) "Dan Glickman Forum" from the screencaps turn up nothing in Google.
          3) The line provided http://www.mpaa.org/blog_default.asp doesn't exist, isn't found in google OR the wayback machine and the home page back in September 06 looks very much like it does today - I don't find any obvious links to this.

          If the MPAA accuses me of stealing files they had better produce some evidence and I damn well expect (not that they desterve it) that evidence has to be provided on this.

          Of course my Google skills might not be up to snuff - but come on community, find the evidence while it still exists - if it did at all.
          • The third screenshot is of an article that was published by Glickman in "Variety":

            http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117931921.html?c ategoryid=9&cs=1 [variety.com]

            Now, it's possible that he was lazy and just dumped an article he was paid for straight into his BLOG, but it's equally likely the screenshot was faked using data that was already out there. :-/
            • by heroofhyr (777687) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @06:05AM (#18058598)
              I have a strange question: why is the article he supposedly took a screenshot from dated September 29th, 2006, but the calendar for the archive of posts is February 2007? I thought perhaps the calendar in this software might display the current month regardless of which post you're reading, but if you look at this link to the author of the programme's own site, here [hostforest.co.uk], you'll see that the calendar does indeed change with the post you're reading. Which means the article on the MPAA blog is supposedly from over 3 months ago but the calendar is showing this month. Either the screencap is faked, the web admin who set up the software doesn't know what the fuck he's doing, or the software needs work. There's also no mention of the blog ever being there in Google or the Internet Archive despite the former surely having a copy and the latter already having an index of tens of thousands of pages from the MPAA site, and not a single one of them matching a search for this blog. Maybe the guy just wants to do some viral marketing, maybe he supports the MPAA philosophically and wants a bunch of overhyped, gullible nerds to get upset so he can make them look foolish later. Or maybe it is legitimate and he just happens to have stumbled upon the site, the link just happens to be taken down, and all mention of it from the face of the Internet has disappeared forever. That seems really likely.
          • by Em Ellel (523581) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @07:53AM (#18058870)
            After doing some similar research, I came to the conclusion it is either a clever marketing ploy by blog author, or more likely some hidden prototype site their web development team was using and as it was never linked from main page, it was never found by any spiders (yet referrers to authors site showed up in his logs, which is exactly how he found out about it), Turns out the latter is the case [patrickrobin.co.uk]

            -Em
            • by Danse (1026) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @03:08PM (#18061158)

              After doing some similar research, I came to the conclusion it is either a clever marketing ploy by blog author, or more likely some hidden prototype site their web development team was using and as it was never linked from main page, it was never found by any spiders (yet referrers to authors site showed up in his logs, which is exactly how he found out about it), Turns out the latter is the case

              Yeah, well they had it set up on a public-facing web server, accessible by anyone. You don't test software on a public server. Given that the MPAA is not exactly known for being a forgiving bunch, I don't think their excuses amount to much. If they had some public goodwill, I could see giving them a pass on it, but they seem to feel so strongly about copyright infringement that it just wouldn't seem right to let them off on this. I'm sure they would agree, right? If copyright infringement is so terrible, surely they should be facing a really hefty fine here, right? Maybe some jail time? If they're going to insist on strict enforcement, then they had better get their own affairs and people under some seriously tight control too.
              • by rtb61 (674572) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @09:41PM (#18063506) Homepage
                That idea reminds me of the commercials on DVDs saying that piracy supports organised crime. Well based upon the actual historical track record and organised crimes well known willingness and even desire to invest in the RIAA and the MPA members media, after all, "sex, drugs and rock and roll" or "the casting couch" or the media industries well known addiction to cocaine etc, the opposite is far more likely to be true.

                So the actual reality is closer to this idea, that if you really want to hurt organised crime, you a far more morally compelled to pirate media and distribute it for free and as a result, cut off a substantial portion of their income.

                As a bonus, just think of all the 'artists' (well at least in their own minds) you will be saving from a life of drunken, drugged up depravity ;-) (instead they will look forward to long healthy life as food service professionals and as a double plus, we get to avoid the endlessly monotonous exposure to their aberrant behaviour).

          • by Patrick Robin (1065580) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @09:45AM (#18059196)
            I'm the creator of Forets Blog and, obviously, the author of this article so its only right that I respond to your queries.

            1) The screenshots show as much detail as possible, I can/could only view the output of my system and not the source.
            2/3) I came across the blog through my website referals when they accessed the RSS feed from my site. The site was live and online but I'm unsure whether it was ever linked to or if it was spidered by google, but it was on a live web server that was accessable by any member of the public. It has been removed from their web server since the article was written after some dialogue between myself and the MPAA.

            I have been in communication with Paul Egge and Richard Kroon (Director of Application Development) at the MPAA and have copies of all of the emails that were sent.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Robber Baron (112304)
              You're going to hear this a lot, and I wish to add my voice to the growing chorus:

              Sue the motherfuckers! Get a lawyer and sue the shit out of them! Give them a taste of their own medicine. They NEED to be on the receiving end of their own bullshit.
              Their guilt is manifest by the fact that they've removed the work in question from their website. If it wasn't a problem, they wouldn't have felt the need to do so.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Hognoxious (631665)

        ad nauseum
        Did you read that in a museam?
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by chawly (750383)
      I'm sure you're wrong - they are such nice fellahs, I'm sure they'd never, ever do any such thing. Unless of course they thought they were above the law, being the MPAA and all
  • by rwven (663186) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @02:48AM (#18057836)
    Apparently they're hiding now. I get a "Page cannot be found" on the MPAA blog...
    • by frup (998325)
      I really do hope they get in trouble for this. If not legal ramifications, at least a loss of credibility... and not just amongst slashdotters ;)
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by h2g2bob (948006)
      How reliable is the source? No pages link to the blog [google.co.uk], and the blog isn't listed on Google [google.co.uk].

      I smell something, and for one it isn't MAFIAA. Free advertising for ForrestBlog anyone!?
      • Its sorta legit.... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Em Ellel (523581) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @08:00AM (#18058890)
        The article needs update [patrickrobin.co.uk]

        short of it is:

        MPAA Response:

        The material has been removed from our Web server.

                * No Web links were ever provided to the blog.
                * The blog was never assigned a domain name.
                * The blog was never advertised to the public in any way.
                * The material on the server was a proof of concept awaiting approval to move into production.
                * The blog was only ever used for testing purposes.
                * Should we have decided to make the move to production, then we would have paid the 25 Pounds that would have authorized us to run a version of the blog without the logos and links.


        • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @08:39AM (#18058996) Journal

          Should we have decided to make the move to production, then we would have paid the 25 Pounds that would have authorized us to run a version of the blog without the logos and links.
          So, presumably, that means it's fine for me to download films created by MPAA members as long as I say I'll buy the DVD if I like them?
          • by Em Ellel (523581) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @12:11PM (#18059998)

            Should we have decided to make the move to production, then we would have paid the 25 Pounds that would have authorized us to run a version of the blog without the logos and links.
            So, presumably, that means it's fine for me to download films created by MPAA members as long as I say I'll buy the DVD if I like them?
            First of all, bad choice of words on the title, I actually meant the claim against MPAA is sorta legit. But I'll bite and give you my thoughts on this. A better analogy would be "its ok to download films to watch a first few minutes and then say if I want to watch it, I would buy the dvd."

            The actual point of the software is to be used by large number of people to read/respond to postings - this was not done in this case, just an internal mock up of a site (which of course should not have been posted on a public website, but still).

            And despite my dislike of all things with AA in the title (sorry AAA, aardvarks) and given our collective thirst for revenge against THIS *AA, it does not seem to be THAT outlandish to use the software in this way, and even the author of said software agreed.

            -Em
        • So, when they sue me for music sharing I can use the following?:

          1. No html links were ever pointed to my music
          2. My music was never assigned a domain name
          3. The music was never advertised to the public in any way (only privately)
          4. The music in the file sharing program was a proof of concept and never moved into production
          5. The music in the file sharing program was only used for testing purposes
          6. Should I have decided to make the move to production, then I would have paid the appropiate royalty fees
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Em Ellel (523581)

            So, when they sue me for music sharing I can use the following?:

            Well, if they sue you for music sharing, I'd be surprised, they are MPAA, not RIAA. But since you don't seem to understand the difference between blog software and music, let me RIAA'lize your excuses

            1. No html links were ever pointed to my music

            The music in question was never placed in location it could be played back from.

            2. My music was never assigned a domain name

            The music was never burned to an audio cd or placed on portable music player.

            3. The music was never advertised to the public in any way (only privately)

            If you used any P2P app, this is probably a barefaced lie as most any P2P automatically advertise you sharing this file (thus P2P name) Although you ca

        • It was found, how? (Score:3, Interesting)

          by wytcld (179112)
          If as the MPAA says there were never any Web links to the blog, then how did the author of the software stumble upon it? No Web links equals no search engine listings equals effective invisibility to the outside world.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Em Ellel (523581)

            If as the MPAA says there were never any Web links to the blog, then how did the author of the software stumble upon it? No Web links equals no search engine listings equals effective invisibility to the outside world.
            The MPAA claim on this point is pretty easily verifiable via Google and Wayback machine. The way the author found out is via referrer logs on his own server, I guess the software had some hardcoded links. This is explained in the article BTW.

            -Em

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by B.D.Mills (18626)

          The material has been removed from our Web server.

          The MPAA are doing their best to destroy the evidence before they get served with court papers.

          * No Web links were ever provided to the blog.

          The blog was publically accessible.

          * The blog was never assigned a domain name.

          This is irrelevant to the MPAA's crime of copyright infringement. None of the allegedly pirated movies have domain names, either.

          * The blog was never advertised to the public in any way.

          Criminals don't advertise their activities because law e

  • Not the first time (Score:5, Informative)

    by Ydna (32354) * <<ten.regews> <ta> <werdna>> on Sunday February 18, 2007 @02:53AM (#18057862) Homepage
    This is not the first time the MPAA has been caught pirating the copyrighted works of others. They got caught making and distributing copies of This Film Is Not Yet Rated [imdb.com] without permission (and after they claimed they did not make any copies).
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by iminplaya (723125)
      This crowd has been violating other peoples' "IP" since they moved out west. This little fact seems to go right over a certain moderator's [slashdot.org] head. It should be no surprise that the law doesn't apply to everybody.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 18, 2007 @03:57AM (#18058188)
      I don't know why your post is modded as "informative," because you haven't provided any information about the incident to which you are referring. Maybe if I post that the MPAA were caught red-handed drowning kittens and leaving the toilet seat up I can be modded "informative" too?
      • by great throwdini (118430) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @04:24AM (#18058298)

        I don't know why your post is modded as "informative," because you haven't provided any information about the incident to which you are referring.

        Should you happen to rent or buy This Film Is Not Yet Rated [netflix.com] the "incident" discussed in-thread is detailed during the audio commentary (by the film's director and producer) and again within a deleted scene (the phone call from an MPAA lawyer that informed the director of unauthorized copying was filmed, though the MPAA's half of the conversation was not directly recorded).

        In a nutshell, the director had submitted the film to the MPAA for ratings review and was told that no one other than the raters would view the tape provided. He was also told that no copies would be made of the supplied materials. It came to pass that members of the MPAA admitted to not only screening the film for several non-raters but also to making at least one complete (and unauthorized) copy of the supplied tape.

        Wikipedia covers this same ground [wikipedia.org] though that summary is about as lacking as mine in terms of substantive references.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 18, 2007 @02:55AM (#18057878)
    At least *I* make sure that "grep GPL /dev/dvd" gets a match before I copy a DVD.
    • by SirSlud (67381) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @03:06AM (#18057930) Homepage
      Thats not the issue really. The issue is that strict copyright law is basically unenforcable. This isn't 10 rich guys and 30 lawers going, "Muwhahaha", this is some web team figuring that they're no different from the thousands of other coders like us that break the occasional license unbeknownst to our bosses.

      If anything, this is like the futility to pointing out that MPAA or RIAA heads' family members pirate content. At the end of the day, what are people against the copyright lobby fighting for? Some say downright incorrect prosecution, which obviously happens, but underneath it all, its the result of a lack leniancy and less strict laws. The only reason that breaking a "Linkware" license is news is because of it highlites that copyright laws are, in the end, only selectively enforced, not because of some organizational hypocricy. The hypocricy basically is unintentional, and to me, thats really what the problem is. Its not some blatent flogging, its just the old adage of the impractibility of ensuring that those around you practise what you preach. Getting onto that soapbox and being adamant about how you live your life is in no way an argument against an organzation that is hypocritical for the very reason that it is not one single person but a large organization of people. Its like some company saying that j-walking in all cases, always, everytime, hurts their bottom line; it'd take you less than 10 minutes if you had full access to everyone at a company to spot apparent hypocricy, but that wouldn't be the time to point out, "Hey, *I* don't j-walk." Its not revelent, because at some point, the eagerness of enforcement is more relevant than the actual law.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 18, 2007 @03:28AM (#18058036)

        The issue is that strict copyright law is basically unenforcable. This isn't 10 rich guys and 30 lawers going, "Muwhahaha", this is some web team figuring that they're no different from the thousands of other coders like us that break the occasional license unbeknownst to our bosses.
        It's not that strict copyright law is unenforceable, it's the fact that the culture overwhelmingly looks at copyright as a minor violation.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by SirSlud (67381)
          Chicken, meet egg.

          I was ready to flame but have ultimately decided that its the same thing. Culture sees it as a minor violation because the current legal definition of copyright is unenforcable. Its a minor problem precisely because going after every violater leads to two conclusions: its rights granted by current copyright law are too strong, and most people know somebody that should be locked up for violating it.

          Its pretty much the same thing. My original post was more about saying that if, as an individ
        • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @04:49AM (#18058376)
          It's not that strict copyright law is unenforceable, it's the fact that the culture overwhelmingly looks at copyright as a minor violation.

          In the age of digital copies, strict copyright law is unenforceable.

          Regular theft leaves evidence behind - the stolen item is gone - you know you have been robbed. Stealing a copy of something leaves behind no evidence. If you do not know it has been stolen, you can not even begin to start looking for the thief.

          Someone is likely to pipe in that there is evidence of theft - the stolen item/copy itself. Before that someone starts piping, ask yourself just how many crimes are investigated because the cops found a guy with stolen items versus how many are investigated because something went missing? I am going to SWAG and say at least 1:10,000 maybe even 1:100,000, which is about as good an example of unenforceable as you are going to get. Of course those 1 out of 10 thousand cases have about a 100% success rate, but that's only because the crimes are already solved by the time they are discovered.
          • by kevinbr (689680) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @06:10AM (#18058616)
            "....Stealing a copy of something leaves behind no evidence...."

            Over and over.....copying is not stealing. It is copying. There is a difference. The powers that be LOVE when people call copying stealing. If I steal an object - you no longer have the object. If I copy an object, you still have the object. Copyright is a givernment granted monopoly so what I am doing in copying is ignoring your monopoly. What I actually do with that copy then defne the damage that potentially could occur to your income from that copy.

            I grew up copying my friends albums on tapes. We all bought stuff, but no one bleated then about stealing. We called it sharing.

            How many people out there are buying NOYTHING and only aquiring music via copying. Very few I would imagine.
            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510)

              "....Stealing a copy of something leaves behind no evidence...."
              If I copy an object, you still have the object.

              You've restated what I wrote almost verbatim, thank you for your contribution.
      • by Selanit (192811)
        It's actually really bizarre that they didn't pay even after the software's author emailed them to say "Hey, no fair, pay up." I mean, the MPAA represents an industry making billions of dollars a year ... and they couldn't be bothered to cough up a measly 25 quid? The British pound may be one of the strongest currencies in the world, but twenty five of them ain't gonna break the MPAA's bank. I guarantee, the cost of this public relations snafu is gonna be way more than that.
        • by SirSlud (67381)
          I guarantee, the cost of this public relations snafu is gonna be way more than that.

          I hate to burst your bubble, but email me in 6 months with the "I told you so" if you're right. This is the cost of doing business, and whatever flak they take from this will pale in comparison to financially ruining people who didn't even violate the law in the first place months ago. And those actions are taken under the "cost of doing business" reasoning to begin with. This is a really nit-picky kind of story if you're tr
      • Copyrights are unenforceable because most aren't obeying the law. If the speed limit is 55 and everyone goes 65 then the speed limit is unenforceable. People forget the copyright system largely worked up until home computers and the internet. It was the ease with which people could circumvent the law that changed things not the law itself.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by CryBaby (679336)

        This isn't 10 rich guys and 30 lawers going, "Muwhahaha", this is some web team figuring that they're no different from the thousands of other coders like us that break the occasional license unbeknownst to our bosses.

        Astounding -- you knowingly expose your employer to legal liability by violating software licenses *and* you're a programmer? Did the whole "Free Software" thing that comes up on Slashdot every once in a while just sail right over your head or what?

        You are in a much smaller minority than y

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Lumpy (12016)
        This isn't 10 rich guys and 30 lawers going, "Muwhahaha"

        You've never been to a Movie Studio board meeting have you.
  • by iminplaya (723125) <iminplaya.gmail@com> on Sunday February 18, 2007 @02:59AM (#18057904) Journal
    It looks like a replay of the times when Hollywood was flaunting the Edison patents. Anything new here?
  • by DimGeo (694000) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @03:10AM (#18057950) Homepage
    Who's the pirate now, MAFIAA?
  • by cdn-programmer (468978) <`terr' `at' `terralogic.net'> on Sunday February 18, 2007 @03:29AM (#18058046)
    In spite of the fact there is criminal legislation in place for copyright infringment, I expect the prosecutors will look the other way and declare it to be civil. This will just be another example of the double standard.

    As a civil issue ( the only other legal avenue ), you can only hope to obtain justice through the courts. It will cost $1000's to get a judgment, perhaps $100,000's. There is no justice. All we have is persecution it would seem with the powerful pretty much doing whatever they like with impunity.

    While its not fair, the question any prosecutor is going to ask is if spending the taxpayers money on this is a good idea. Of course, spending the taxpayers money prosecuting a person charged with a traffic incident is always considered a good idea because its cheap (usually) and meant to keep the sheep in line and paying the fines.

    Am I a cynic?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 18, 2007 @03:32AM (#18058054)
    Here, I suggest contact MPAA about the whole piracy issue and point them to the offending party; themselves.

    http://www.mpaa.org/ReportPiracy.asp [mpaa.org]
    Please feel free to let them know about their own transgressions.
    • It's always fun to flood the MPAA with information about vicious acts of piracy.

      I made sure to point out that not only did they infringe Forest Blog's copyright on every page view, they also stole advertising revenue from Forest Blog that would have been generated by the links that were removed from the MPAA's blog, causing at least as much financial harm as "stealing" copies of DVDs. I think the author probably has a reasonably strong civil claim to get that money back, which would hopefully pull in plen
  • by All_One_Mind (945389) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @03:37AM (#18058084) Homepage Journal
    From the next blog post [patrickrobin.co.uk] on the authors site:

    Well, I must say I'm surprised;to after getting no response to my previous emails to the MPAA about their use of Forest Blog at the tail end of last year I got a result within five hours this time, unless they were just replying to the original email?

    Anyway, thanks to Paul Egge and Richard Kroon the situation has now been resolved and they've removed Forest Blog from their web server.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by devilspgd (652955) *
      From the blog's update...

      Here's a section of the email I received from Richard who I think is the Director of Application Development ast the MPAA:

      The material has been removed from our Web server.

      * No Web links were ever provided to the blog.
      * The blog was never assigned a domain name.
      * The blog was never advertised to the public in any way.
      * The material on the server was a proof of concept

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        If you feel like reading the article...
        >> Way back in October last year whilst going through the website referals list for another of my sites I stumbled across

        He got it from his server logs.
        I'd guess someone working on it viewed it prior to removing all the link backs.
      • Read my post above.

        It's not in Google or the Wayback machine nor does google find the information post on screen caps - ie the title of the blog.

        This at least does make sense. It does not exonerate the RIAA. But it does seem to make sense.
        • by devilspgd (652955) *
          MPAA, not RIAA (Yes, I'm being pedantic)

          However, regardless, if a single person other then the individual who modified it managed to view it, a copyright violation occurred.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by scsirob (246572)
        If that is really their reponse, go ahead and substitute the word "Blog" with "Song", and throw it back at them. Maybe a very dim light will start to glow in their puny little minds.

        Simply the fact that they went through the trouble of removing all the links and pictures tells me that this was a blatant attempt to scr*w the author out of his 25 Pounds. No-one goes through the trouble of doing this *ON A PUBLIC PRODUCTION WEBSERVER* just for testing.
  • by drDugan (219551) * on Sunday February 18, 2007 @03:44AM (#18058120) Homepage
    I've concluded that the traditionalist forces and thinkers (read: MPAA, "follow the rules without question simply because they are the rules and everyone follows them") are evolved in such a way as to be unable to adapt once the traditions have been set. Such people simply need to die off more quickly now that the world is changing more quickly thus significantly reducing overall conflict. Rather horrifying, but an unavoidable conclusion.

  • Apply MPAA logic (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mattr (78516) <.mattr. .at. .telebody.com.> on Sunday February 18, 2007 @03:44AM (#18058124) Homepage Journal
    One respondent to TFA suggested using the MPAA's own logic against them in court. Another suggested suing them in small claims court which is apparently much easier.

    I submit that a software author is the same as a music CD author on an artistic level, perhaps more so since he does not have all the studio people to massage his work into something palatable.

    If this artist is left on his own, he could make some cash in small claims court, or at least his 150 pound license fee [hostforest.co.uk] if he is not the litigous sort perhaps.

    However I think this is also a very good opportunity for a big guns lawyers supplied perhaps by the EFF to find the paper where the MPAA writes down its killer legal strategies, and tear it up into tiny pieces, much as IBM is doing to SCO.

    Equate software to music. Equate running softare or viewing a webpage as a "performance" in the legal sense. Use MPAA rules. Since the license costs about $100, calculate based on a 300% markup over a $35 average MPAA cd price. The sum will be punitive damages for theft, plus the 300% of what the MPAA sues for a song, plus the price of a "performance" multiplied by the number of visits to any of the blog's pages, based on the evidence of the MPAA's server logs which is must produce in court. Although this sounds over the top, it is simply using the same non-common-sensical strategy the MPAA is using in court, and I think a judge and jury might just see justice in that, or at least a reason not to throw the case out.

    I think this ought to net a nice award for the author.

    When you think about it, SCO has lasted this long because it is like a pathogen that bends the organism that is the legal system to its intent, far beyond the realm of common sense: If they don't show the infringing code it is common sense that they ought not be able to argue beyond that. The MPAA also also exhibits pathogenic qualities; it sues its own customers for such outrageous sums that it is not only beyond common sense, you have to wonder if their worth is based more on legal games than actually what their members sell. Unless we take advantage of such amazing incidents as this one and use their own weapons against them, it will just continue. We now have a chance to stir up some talk about whether the MPAA is also over the top, and what to do about it.
    • by cpt kangarooski (3773) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @04:15AM (#18058260) Homepage
      Another suggested suing them in small claims court which is apparently much easier.

      It might be, if it were even possible. You can't sue anyone for copyright infringement in small claims court. There is exclusive federal jurisdiction for copyright suits, which means you'd have to go to federal district court.

      Equate software to music. Equate running softare or viewing a webpage as a "performance" in the legal sense.

      First, why? What possible advantage would that get you? Second, that is not likely to work. Merely running software could only infringe the reproduction and perhaps derivative rights, but there's an exception under 117 which may well be applicable here. Viewing a webpage is pretty much reproduction only. Having a globally-accessible webpage could be considered a performance or display (depending on precisely what it consisted of) but the present caselaw leans toward distribution instead. But it could be a moot point anyway; this author didn't write the web pages at issue, he wrote the program used to write the web pages. Portions of the page are based on his work, but probably not enough, given the whittling-away effects that a decent lawyer could achieve by using things like merger and scenes a faire, to matter much.

      Since the license costs about $100, calculate based on a 300% markup over a $35 average MPAA cd price. The sum will be punitive damages for theft, plus the 300% of what the MPAA sues for a song, plus the price of a "performance" multiplied by the number of visits to any of the blog's pages, based on the evidence of the MPAA's server logs which is must produce in court. Although this sounds over the top, it is simply using the same non-common-sensical strategy the MPAA is using in court, and I think a judge and jury might just see justice in that, or at least a reason not to throw the case out.

      No, it sounds utterly moronic.

      There are two ways to compute damages for copyright infringement suits. First, you can get actual damages and profits. This means you get money in the amount you were actually damaged (in this case a paltry sum, since the software was available so cheaply) and also in the amount of net profit realized by the defendant that is attributable to the infringment (Gross profits, and profits that are attributable to other sources don't qualify). Since this is MPAA's blog, there are likely to be no awardable profits. Maybe $1 as a token sum.

      The other way is statutory damages, which range from $750 to $30,000 per work infringed, and can go down to $200 or up to $150,000, depending on certain factors. But you have to have registered your work within a certain time limit in order to be eligible for this, and although I don't know either way, I'd be willing to bet that this work wasn't registered within the time limits. That means these damages would not be available.

      RIAA does bother to register their works, however, which is why they routinely ask for the maximum amount of statutory damages ($150,000 per work infringed) which can add up if you infringe on a lot of works.

      The crap you're talking about is just that; made up crap without a basis in reality. You don't get to arbitrarily name figures and multiply them by whatever. And there isn't even any such thing as punative damages in copyright, so that's out the window too. RIAA has a solid basis for what they do, even if you don't like it and don't understand it. You don't.

      I think this ought to net a nice award for the author.

      The reality is that this is probably not worth suing over; the author would probably lose money or at best break even. The best strategy is probably to write a nasty letter and then ignore it. A victory wouldn't be hard to get, but wouldn't be worthwhile either.
      • by Txiasaeia (581598)

        It might be, if it were even possible. You can't sue anyone for copyright infringement in small claims court.

        But according to the MPAA itself, downloading films is stealing [google.com]. If downloading films is "stealing," it stands to reason that downloading software is "stealing" too. Wonder how that would hold up in small claims court.

  • by mattr (78516) <.mattr. .at. .telebody.com.> on Sunday February 18, 2007 @03:58AM (#18058198) Homepage Journal
    P.S. Personally I think there is a major problem with the existence of an industry association like the MPAA and it being able to generate limitless lawsuits against customers on behalf of its members. I say Sony or Toshiba EMI ought to be required to do the suing, and see if they really have the stomach to do it and get caught out.

    As it is now, the MPAA appears to exist for the sake of making lawsuits; its profit is based on the success of the lawsuits, and it is presumably paid by its members the startup cash needed to hire all those lawyers, to generate enough income to eventually make the lawsuit engine self-sustaining. Sounds like Microsoft/Baystar and SCO doesn't it? Or a recent RAM patent company?

    When Sony embeds a rootkit they get clobbered with bad PR, and when EMI's copy protection sucks they get clobbered. Conversely, when EMI considers removing all copy protection they get even more, positive, PR. But when the MPAA sues soccer moms, the record companies seem to be wearing some kind of armor. All the bad PR sticks to their stalking horse, the MPAA. (Which like JASRAC in Japan has been the number one impediment to online distribution.)

    I say the MPAA is a menace to the public and serves no purpose other than to make frivolous lawsuits on the behalf of big record companies while insulating them from the media. It does not exist to protect authors at all, but rather seeks to cause enough mayhem to scare people from trying other distribution mechanisms, by grabbing "rights" that never previously existed for music before the digital age. This is remembered well by anyone who grew up with cassettes or 8 track tapes.

    I posted elsewhere in this thread that the MPAA's logic should be used against them to generate a huge award for the theft and performance of the Forest Blog software for a potentially huge number of page views. This model, in which a software author is granted the same rights as a music author, turns software downloading and web page views into something much more insidious than trite torrent sharing, in a legal sense. So I think now is a good time not only to make a legal case against the MPAA, but in fact to start aiming at them with big cannons like RICO and public opinion. Let the record labels do their own dirty work and pay for it individually when their customers get mad.
  • Update on his site (Score:5, Insightful)

    by creativeHavoc (1052138) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @04:06AM (#18058224) Homepage
    http://www.patrickrobin.co.uk/default.asp?Display= 5 [patrickrobin.co.uk] The MPAA claim that it was in use only privatly and they had no advertising. Good to know. If they ever come knocking, I will tell them I watched the movies and home and never sold them to anyone.
  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @04:11AM (#18058248) Homepage

    The material has been removed from our Web server. [patrickrobin.co.uk]
    • No Web links were ever provided to the blog.
    • The blog was never assigned a domain name.
    • The blog was never advertised to the public in any way.
    • The material on the server was a proof of concept awaiting approval to move into production.
    • The blog was only ever used for testing purposes.
    • Should we have decided to make the move to production, then we would have paid the 25 Pounds that would have authorized us to run a version of the blog without the logos and links.

    ORLY? Note the lack of anything resembling an apology. Also, I must remember that defence when I get a P2P Tax demand from them: "Oh, sure, I copied your memebers' work, but only for testing purposes, and now that I've been caught, I can totally assure you that I intended to buy licensed versions."

    • by Soko (17987)
      Save that. Legal precedent, for all to use. You'd make a good lawyer.

      Soko
      • by Barny (103770)
        Not to mention admission that they used the software, the guy has a very easy court case ahead of him now.

        God I would love this.

        [blockquote]
        I didn't post any links to my torrent tracker, nor did I intend its use for anyone but testing internal to my home, the fact that "thepiratebay.org/torrentspy.com/anyothertracker.w hatever" some outside sources managed to access it is purely accidental.
        [/blockquote]
  • by Ace905 (163071) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @04:38AM (#18058340) Homepage
    Just so everybody knows, this story does have a happy ending. The MPAA responded, finally, to his inquiries after a very long wait - by saying essentially that they were only using his software for 'testing' purposes and that the offending site was never made live, advertised on the internet etc.

    The Forest Blog Author retorted, in his update to this story, that he doubts they would have been so kind if he 'borrowed' some movies for 'testing' purposes but never distributed them to anybody. He makes a valid point.

    The entire trial over those dvd-codec software coders was based on them 'circumventing' a DVD's protection mechanism - it had nothing to do with them actually committing piracy, and were it not for the Digitial Millenium Copyright Act the MPAA would have had no case at all. Essentially they sued and won, establishing for the first time in history that you can purchase intellectual property but essentially not have ownership of the rights to even use it, however you see fit.

    Remember that all laws previous to the DMCA were to protect against piracy, (bootlegging, distribution, etc). But now the DMCA actually limits your freedom of use, even for personal use. And it's been proven. If they can do that, why can they abuse fair-use of software they essentially got just by agreeing to it's terms of use?

    I say he still send his case to the EFF and hope that they can use something in this as ammunition against the MPAA.

    ---
    DMCA Doesn't Protect Against This! [douginadress.com]
  • DMCA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dekkerdreyer (1007957) <dekkerdreyer@gma ... com minus distro> on Sunday February 18, 2007 @05:36AM (#18058502)
    Simply send a DMCA take down notice to their ISP requesting that the site be taken down because it is infringing.
  • and had completely violated his linkware license by removing all links back to the Forest Blog site, not crediting him in any way. The MPAA blog was using the Forest Blog software, but had completely stripped off his name, and links back to his site.


    Stupid blurp. If it doesn't have 100 words, no need to forcefully add them by adding reduntant content.
  • by QuietLagoon (813062) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @09:06AM (#18059062)
    Anyone who thinks the MPAA (and the RIAA) are really concerned about protection of the creative rights of the artists is fooling themselves.

    The MPAA and RIAA are concerned about nothing more than maximizing revenues for the organizations they represent. Period.

    The mention of the artists is only to make it appear as if the MPAA and RIAA have some sort of noble purpose. The MPAA and RIAA represent the media content industry executives, not the artists.

  • by real gumby (11516) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @05:22PM (#18062052)
    I don't agree with the folks who say he should have sued. He's just a nice guy.

    He should have filed a DMCA "Takedown" notice [wikipedia.org] and then sued.

    Sauce for the gander and all that....

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