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UK Court: MPAA Not Entitled To Profits From Piracy 159

Posted by samzenpus
from the not-so-fast dept.
jfruh writes "The MPAA and other entertainment industry groups have been locked for years in a legal struggle against Newzbin2, a Usenet-indexing site. Since Newzbin2 profited from making it easier for users to find pirated movies online, the MPAA contends they can sue to take those profits on behalf of members who produced that content in the first place. But a British court has rejected that argument."
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UK Court: MPAA Not Entitled To Profits From Piracy

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  • Dear MPAA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ralph Spoilsport (673134) on Thursday February 07, 2013 @01:37AM (#42817513) Journal
    Fuck You. Parasitic Bastards.
    • by tibit (1762298)

      Not really -- I don't see how they are parasitic at all. They exist because the labels and the "industry" pays them to exist. They bully on behalf of the industry. They are paid service providers. Now the court has essentially said that the industry has to bully directly, and I agree. They have more face to lose than some organization whose public image nobody cares about. Grandma sued by MPAA is no biggie, but Grandma sued by SONY may blow up to a well-recognized name dragged through the mud by the media -

      • Not really -- I don't see how they are parasitic at all.

        ... The MPAA are not 'parasitic' in a technical sense but you don't take exception to the assertion that they are 'bastards' in a colloquial descriptive sense?

        IMHO 'bastards' is term well used in this context.

        'Abominable, hideous and abhorrent agents of cold, manipulative and greedy international corporations' would be more accurate and precise than 'parasitic' but a bit wordy. Given that 'bastards' is a figurative description, 'parasitic' isn't so wrong; matches the tone and meaning of the comment.

        Besid

        • by tibit (1762298)

          Duh that they are bastards, I never claimed otherwise :) Alas, to claim that they are parasitic -- it's not quite that, or at least not the way you make it seem. MPAA would vanish in an instant were it not provided steady funding by the industry. They are mostly lawyers. What do you think, that they do pro bono work? The lawyers are the parasites, and they are parasites on the industry, not on the consumer. They just happen to harass and bully the consumer, but whatever money they get from consumers is rela

  • by whoever57 (658626) on Thursday February 07, 2013 @01:46AM (#42817545) Journal

    and another company Motors for Movies, which owns the McLaren car Harris uses, Newey wrote.

    I assume that would be a McLaren F1, cost 0.5M pounds when new, now worth significantly more.

  • Er... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 07, 2013 @01:47AM (#42817549)

    Wouldn't collecting the profits from pirate copies translates into making those copies legit?

    • Re:Er... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 07, 2013 @05:13AM (#42818357)

      It'd also mean they'd be guilty of receiving the proceeds of crime, a criminal offense in itself.

      • Re:Er... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Tapewolf (1639955) on Thursday February 07, 2013 @08:21AM (#42819051)

        It'd also mean they'd be guilty of receiving the proceeds of crime, a criminal offense in itself.

        More to the point, I am sure that books, music and music are also traded on usenet. So they would actually be profiting from the 'theft' of other people's work, not merely the ones which they own.

        • by Tapewolf (1639955)

          Sigh... "books, music and software"...

    • by AtrN (87501)
      No.
  • by Bob9113 (14996) on Thursday February 07, 2013 @01:48AM (#42817559) Homepage

    Since Newzbin2 profited from making it easier for users to find pirated movies online, the MPAA contends they can sue to take those profits on behalf of members who produced that content in the first place.

    This is a bit like saying that asphalt manufacturers profit from making it easier for getaway drivers to whisk bank robbers away from the scene of the crime.

    • by Sperbels (1008585) on Thursday February 07, 2013 @01:59AM (#42817615)
      Well... don't they?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        No, asphalt manufacturers make it easier for police to respond and arrive at the scene. Ergo, asphalt manufacturers discourage crime.

        • No, they are playing both sides!

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          No, asphalt manufacturers make it easier for police to respond and arrive at the scene. Ergo, asphalt manufacturers discourage crime.

          And newzbin2 makes it easier for the MPAA to find out about pirated content. So they discourage piracy.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Not quite. Newz2bin pretty much just archived binaries that were posted to usenet. They may knowingly have done this, (hell that's the only incentive to use usenet at all after spam destroyed it from being useful for anything else.) But the piracy scene on usenet is mostly old-school. The actual distribution system for pirated material is more like
      Pirate (ripper) -> IRC -> Bittorrent -> Usenet

      • by cdrudge (68377)

        Not quite. Newz2bin pretty much just archived binaries that were posted to usenet.

        Newzbin2, like all the other nzb sites, doesn't archive binaries. It indexes. IIRC, it didn't even automate crawling like Newznab does (although I could be wrong).

        It is to Usenet what The Pirate Bay is to Bittorrent or Yahoo was in it's early years to the web...a directory allowing people to search for what they wanted and pointing to the resource where they could get to it.

    • This is a specious and disingenuous argument. As a long-time user of Newzbin2 I was really sad to see it go. However, I would compare them to someone who publishes and charges for an online version of the "map to stars homes" in Hollywood, except it's a "map to unlocked houses".

      They aren't precisely condoning theft, but they are knowingly making it easier for thieves to plan jobs, even if their goal is to simply let people know where they can find a welcoming place to crash.

      They are listing all the unlocke

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 07, 2013 @02:00AM (#42817617)

    ..with the view to giving those profits *to* those members?

  • My point exactly! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by macraig (621737) <(mark.a.craig) (at) (gmail.com)> on Thursday February 07, 2013 @02:07AM (#42817643)

    I've been comparing so-called piracy to historic real estate squatting, rather than comparing it to stealing or thievery as has become the propaganda of Big Content. When a court compares it to real estate trespass, it's recognizing the same disingenuous manipulation of Big Content's propaganda.

    • Re:My point exactly! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by julesh (229690) on Thursday February 07, 2013 @02:43AM (#42817785)

      I've been comparing so-called piracy to historic real estate squatting, rather than comparing it to stealing or thievery as has become the propaganda of Big Content. When a court compares it to real estate trespass, it's recognizing the same disingenuous manipulation of Big Content's propaganda.

      Exactly. Now we just need a law saying that if we infringe on copyright for 10 years without the owner doing anything to intervene, the copyright becomes ours... not only does it make the comparison to tresspassing/squatting even more accurate and obvious, it's also a useful solution to the orphan works problem.

      • by abigsmurf (919188) on Thursday February 07, 2013 @07:42AM (#42818923)
        That'll actually make things worse. It'll mean that every company has no choice but to to pursue infringers or risk losing the copyright. An indie studio who can't afford to sue people (especially when the awards would be small or not paid)? They're fucked.
  • by arbiter1 (1204146) on Thursday February 07, 2013 @02:14AM (#42817677)
    Since you don't know what profits were from piracy and what was actually legit use of the service can't be determined.
    • by Adriax (746043)

      They were going to err on the side of caution and only take 2x what was reported take in for the entire company.
      A very conservative estimate I know, but they can't be completely sure of just how much that obviously irrevocably sinfully evil company full of thieves and pirates hid from their earnings report. Why one professional expert's very conservative estimate put the amount of piracy on the site equal to 10 billion USD a month, so they obviously made atleast that much and used terrorist money laundering

  • Hopefully... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 07, 2013 @02:34AM (#42817749)

    The world is finally getting sick and tired of hearing stupid shit from the MPAA/RIAA media mafia.

    I know i sure am...

    On another silly note. I deserve profits for life because i worked on construction of all MPAA buildings. I'll be waiting for my royalty check you deadbeat fucks.
    Sounds pretty stupid. But hey. That's what you're arguing on some non physical property. So pay me now. Or forever shut the fuck up.

    I also paid taxes that built the roads that the mpaa uses every day. I'll need a kickback on that too. For life.

    I also had children. Future mpaa customers. You need to pay me for providing those. If it wasn't for me you'd have less customers in the future.
    An exponential number of future customers all because of me... Pay up now.

    What? That's all stupid as fuck? Go fuck myself? Well now you know how the world feels about you mpaa assholes....

    • The copyright system is completely broken, and it doesn't work anymore. And I agree that the MPAA/RIAA's actions in recent years have been horrible and ridiculous.

      That said...

      The world is finally getting sick and tired of hearing stupid shit from the MPAA/RIAA media mafia.

      I'm finally getting sick and tired of hearing stupid BS analogies on Slashdot.

      I deserve profits for life because i worked on construction of all MPAA buildings. I'll be waiting for my royalty check you deadbeat fucks.

      Sounds pretty stupid. But hey. That's what you're arguing on some non physical property. So pay me now. Or forever shut the fuck up.

      Nope. Not at all. That's not what's being argued. There are plenty of circumstances where people invest time, money, effort, or resources into something and are guaranteed a return on future profits. Lots of building projects require investors, many of

      • " Your hypothetical construction worker just didn't have that negotiated into his contract or written into law somewhere. Instead, he negotiated to be paid upfront, rather than not getting a wage at all for his hard work and promised the mere possibility of future profits if the building actually made any money down the road."

        You're missing the big difference here, which is that the law by default gives the artists a lifetime entitlement of royalties, whereas the construction worker doesn't have that defaul

    • by tehcyder (746570)

      On another silly note. I deserve profits for life because i worked on construction of all MPAA buildings. I'll be waiting for my royalty check you deadbeat fucks. Sounds pretty stupid. But hey. That's what you're arguing on some non physical property. So pay me now. Or forever shut the fuck up.

      Counter-analogy. I am an architect who designs a new type of office block. In my contract, it says that instead of being a one-off fee up front, for each block built, I get 5% of the gross sales proceeds.

      What happens if someone acquires a copy of my blueprints and builds an exact copy of my office block?

      My answer would be that I should be able to sue them for the 5% of gross I didn't get. But people here would presumably say it's just tough luck, because that person only copied the building. However,

      • by Shagg (99693)

        What happens if someone acquires a copy of my blueprints and builds an exact copy of my office block?

        Nothing.

        My answer would be that I should be able to sue them for the 5% of gross I didn't get.

        Why? This "someone" is not bound by your contract. That's between you and whoever you originally provided the blueprints to.

  • by XiaoMing (1574363) on Thursday February 07, 2013 @02:52AM (#42817821)

    From TFA:

    [High court judge] Newey ruled that a copyright infringer cannot be compared to a thief who steals a bag of coins, as submitted by the studios' lawyer. "A copyright infringer is more akin to a trespasser" than to a coin thief, Newey said.

    Originally, I thought the judge lost his marbles. Of course it's more akin to stealing something rather than just trespass, they are part of stealing/redistributing a product!

    But then I realized how the media conglomerates played the whole DRM thing as effectively leasing you (and only you) the rights to listen to the music you purchased (and only in the media format they presented it!). That sure sounds a bit like charging an admission's fee to experience some wonderful scenery to me (a scenery experience that you obviously can't share with anyone else!). In that respect, it really does seem like NZB(2) did was criminally trespass over this entity of music or what-have-you that we are allowed to take part in (but not take a part of).

    Seems like the MPAA screwed their own pooch on this one. I hope this sets a precedence (even if Bri'ish) and people can start owning their music again.

    • by mrbester (200927)

      Unlike US, trespass in UK applies *only* to physical locations. Criminal trespass is applied to places like infrastructure (railways, electricity substations, etc.) and restricted areas like Downing St, royal residences and military bases.

      You cannot trespass on digital media.

      • by _Shad0w_ (127912)

        It can apply to private property as well: trespass at any premise licensed for the storage of explosives automatically becomes criminal trespass as well. I've yet to work out if that includes the homes of people who hold explosives certificates (which I used to), because that could be amusing.

        I suspect you get in to a whole new arena of fun when it's a List X site.

      • Unlike US, trespass in UK applies *only* to physical locations.

        Also, trespass only applies if you fail to leave the location after being asked to. If no one asks you to leave, you're not trespassing.

      • by Sockatume (732728)

        He's using it as an analogy, in that trespass and copyright infringement are both torts with no damage, harm or deprivation of property.

      • You cannot trespass on digital media.

        That's where the phrase "intellectual property" came from, though. Patents and copyrights are supposed to define a boundary that allows you to prevent others from trespassing on your piece of "land".

        It isn't a perfect analogy, of course, but it's better than most people around treat it.

    • by Jafafa Hots (580169) on Thursday February 07, 2013 @03:19AM (#42817907) Homepage Journal

      The US Supreme Court ruled that copyright infringement IS NOT THEFT.
      It's more like breach of contract, in a sense.

      Or as the Supreme Court essentially put it - copyright violation is exactly like copyright violation.

    • Of course it's more akin to stealing something rather than just trespass,

      It's nothing like stealing something. It's like walking into an art gallery which is open to the public and making a perfect replica of an exhibit for yourself. (If there were DRM, it would be a locked gallery instead of an open one.)

      Before there was one piece, and now there are two. The gallery is still in possession of its exhibit, so this is nothing like stealing an exhibit from them. It's more akin to creating new exhibits.

      • by CodeHxr (2471822)

        Before there was one piece, and now there are two. The gallery is still in possession of its exhibit, so this is nothing like stealing an exhibit from them. It's more akin to creating new exhibits.

        Using this analogy, the question then becomes "Is the original gallery entitled to the profits of the copy being displayed in a competing gallery?".

        My opinion is that they are not. If it were illegal to make a copy of the exhibit, then the profits of displaying said illegal copy become criminal proceeds, which the original gallery should not be entitled to. If it's a legal copy, then it's not even an issue to begin with. Either way, the only just course of action that the original gallery should have

    • Originally, I thought the judge lost his marbles. Of course it's more akin to stealing something rather than just trespass, they are part of stealing/redistributing a product!

      If you read the whole thing, I think he is right. Here is the complete argument: If someone set up a stall selling DVDs, whether legal or illegal, on someone else's land, that would be trespass. However, while the landowner coud remove the trespasser, the landowner would have no rights to the profits that the stall makes. And the copyright infringer trespasses on the copyright holder's rights, but by the same argument the copyright holder has no rights to the profits.

    • by cdrudge (68377)

      If it is now trespassing, does that mean all they have to do is post a "No Trespassing, Violators will be shot" sign on/in their movies? To go from suing alleged infringes to executing them is really upping the ante.

  • The MPAA once again sued on irrational claims and their claim got rejected, of course.

    We shouldn't talk about it or make articles about it on Slashdot. It should have been rejected silently. The more we talk about it, the more their claim becomes normal. The MPAA is taken more and more seriously, which is scary. It doesn't deserve all that publicity. Their plea should be ignored like the random pleas from mad people that happen all the time.

    • by admiral snackbar (2559943) on Thursday February 07, 2013 @06:21AM (#42818605)
      I disagree. I am very sure that whenever the MPAA wins a lawsuit (and unfortunately that happens too), they will publish the result in order to inform/intimidate the public as to the validity of their claims. If the times when the MPAA loses are not published, people might get the perception that the MPAA always wins. Which would be bad.
  • by oPless (63249) on Thursday February 07, 2013 @06:27AM (#42818621) Journal

    I refer the MPAA to the response given in the case of Arkell v. Pressdram.

    I'm quite happy that this Judge thinks it's also a perfectly reasonable statement too.

  • by dgharmon (2564621) on Thursday February 07, 2013 @06:36AM (#42818645) Homepage
    "After a long battle with the international arm of the MPAA, Usenet indexing site Newzbin2 has called it quits [torrentfreak.com]. The site had been operating under adverse conditions, not least almost total censorship by a court-ordered ISP blockade in the UK."

    "Add to this a climate of fear driving individuals providing vital services away from the site, plus legal action against PayPal aimed at Newzbin2's UK-based payment provider, and the site's operators have decided to shut down."
  • by Dunbal (464142) *
    Of course not. Those profits belong to the government.
  • by cardpuncher (713057) on Thursday February 07, 2013 @07:44AM (#42818933)

    All the court has decided, it appears, is that the copyright owners don't have a "proprietary" right to the proceeds of infringement. That's a specific form of legal shortcut to seizing assets. The issue of whether there is a valid claim is still proceeding, just not using that specific legal mechanism. No decision has been made on anyone's entitlement to anything, except the entitlement of a copyright owner to make a particular form of legal submission.

    • by BobTheLawyer (692026) on Thursday February 07, 2013 @09:15AM (#42819265)

      absolutely correct. The case was not about whether MPAA could sue Newzbin for damages - it is clear that under English law it can. But to do so, the MPAA would need to show its members suffered loss, and the MPAA could then only recover for their loss. The members' loss has no direct relationship with Newzbin's profits - it could be more than Newzbin's profits; it could be less than Newzbin's profits.

      In fact pretty hard to show what the MPAA members' loss is - and this case was about a crafty attempt by the MPAA to avoid that difficulty.

      The argument was that Newzbin's profits actually belonged to the MPAA members (in the same way that if you steal my bike, the bike still belongs to me, and if you steal my cash, I can have a proprietary right in your bank account of the same amount). Would be a great result for the MPAA, as they would then simply take the all profit and not need to show any loss. The slight problem was that there was no legal authority for such a claim, and so they lost

      Bob

      • by srmalloy (263556)

        In fact pretty hard to show what the MPAA members' loss is - and this case was about a crafty attempt by the MPAA to avoid that difficulty.

        Now if we could only get a court to rule that the MAFIAA (Music And Film Industry Association of America) has to prove that a person who downloaded a pirate copy of a work would have bought a copy of that work if the pirated copy were not available before that download could be considered a 'loss', and that the value of the loss was limited to the wholesale cost of the work (i.e., the price the record publisher sells a CD to retailers), then maybe the MAFIAA lawyers would have to go back to chasing ambulanc

  • C'mon folks, cough 'em up...with several nzb sites down where are the freshest indexing sites now? Couch Potato isn't going to run itself, you know.

    • I'm tempted to provide a list, but also conflicted, given the first rule of usenet. On an completely unrelated note, reddit sure seems to have subreddits for absolutely everything these days, don't they?

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