CyberLaw Blog

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Archive for September 25th, 2008

European Parliament Says No to Three-Strikes Law

Thursday, September 25th, 2008

Post from: TorrentFreak

European Parliament Says No to Three-Strikes Law: “

The European Parliament has voted in favor of an amendment that will prevent member states from implementing three-stikes laws. Disconnecting alleged file-sharers based on evidence from anti-piracy lobby groups restricts the rights and freedoms of Internet users, according to the amendment.

The power of anti-piracy lobbyists has grown significantly across Europe this year. In the UK, six major ISPs are working together with the music industry to start mass warning file-sharers. France has gone even further, and proposed a law that will enable the entertainment industry to disconnect alleged pirates on their third warning.

Both the MPAA and RIAA have pushed other countries to adopt similar legislation as well, but it will be hard for them to succeed in Europe. In April, the European Parliament spoke out against these anti-piracy measures, by saying it would be ‘conflicting with civil liberties and human rights and with the principles of proportionality, effectiveness and dissuasiveness’. Yesterday, this statement was backed up by an official vote.

The amendment, drafted by Guy Bono and other members of the European Parliament, was adopted by an overwhelming majority. 573 parliament members voted in favor while only 74 rejected. Satisfied with this outcome, Bono stated in a response to the vote: ‘You do not play with individual freedoms like that,’ and said that the French government should review its three-strikes law.’

The vote was welcomed in other member states as well. Swedish EU parliamentarian Christofer Fjellner said in a comment: ‘What’s important about this decision is that now it’s clear that you can’t force [internet service] providers to ban people from the Internet without a legal process.’

It is scary to see how lobby groups are awarded powers that should only belong to law-enforcement agencies. Evidence should never be collectedly by parties who gather it in their own interests, and it is a relief to see that the European Parliament agrees on this.

Pirate Bay Wins Court Case, Italian Block Lifted

Thursday, September 25th, 2008

Post from: TorrentFreak

Pirate Bay Wins Court Case, Italian Block Lifted: “

The Pirate Bay has successfully appealed the decision of an Italian judge who had ordered ISPs to block access to the popular BitTorrent tracker last month. The Court of Bergamo decided that this block was unlawful, and that Italian users should regain access to the site.

pirate bayThis August, out of nowhere, The Pirate Bay was ‘censored’ in Italy following a decree from a public prosecutor. The block didn’t prove to be particularly effective, as traffic from Italy only increased. Nevertheless, The Pirate Bay was determined to reverse the decision, and in that mission they have succeeded.

The Court of Bergamo has now lifted the block, and ISPs are again allowed to grant their users access to the most frequently used BitTorrent tracker on the Internet. More details on the decision, and the reason why the block was reversed, will be made public later.

In a previous interview, Pirate Bay’s lawyers Giovanni Battista Gallus and Francesco Micozzi described the order as ‘‘original’ or ‘creative’ at best,’ and said it should not have been ordered in the first place because of the lack of jurisdiction. In addition, they argued that The Pirate Bay is not breaking any laws since it’s not distributing copyright infringing material.

The court’s decision might set an important precedent for BitTorrent sites in Italy, especially for Colombo-BT, the largest Italian torrent site, which was shut down by the same prosecutor responsible for the Pirate Bay block. The action against Colombo-BT was orchestrated by the anti-piracy outlet IFPI, which also hijacked all Italian Pirate Bay visitors following the block.

Visitors who were blocked from The Pirate Bay were redirected to an IFPI server, instead of a server operated by the Italian government. This is again an example of how lobby groups such as the IFPI, MPAA and RIAA are treated as government institutions. Since many Pirate Bay visitors claimed their privacy was violated, the Italian Pirate Party and Altroconsumo filed a complaint with the ombudsman earlier this week.

Engadget: Judge declares mistrial in RIAA filesharing case, sets aside $222,000 verdict

Thursday, September 25th, 2008

Judge declares mistrial in RIAA filesharing case, sets aside $222,000 verdict: “

Filed under:

We always thought that the RIAA’s first-ever filesharing trial victory against Jammie Thomas was a little suspect since the labels weren’t required to prove that Thomas even had Kazaa installed on her machine or was the person using the account in question, and it looks like the court agrees — it’s just declared a mistrial and set aside the $222,000 judgment on the grounds that simply making copyrighted works available for download does not constitute copyright infringement. That’s a huge decision — the ‘making available’ theory is the basis for most of the RIAA’s legal arguments — and it means that the RIAA will now have to prove the unauthorized transfer of each song it wants to collect damages on at the new trial. We’ll see what effect this has in the broader sense — we’ve got a feeling we’re in for a slew of appellate decisions on both sides of the ‘making available’ debate — but for now it looks like the good guys are finally starting to score some points.

[Via ZDNet, thanks JagsLive]

Read – Wired article
Read – Decision [PDF]

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(Via Engadget.)

Phil Elmore: Technological thoughtcrime

Thursday, September 25th, 2008

Technological thoughtcrime: “Technological thoughtcrime

Posted: September 25, 2008: Phil Elmore © 2008

According to an article published last week in, the video-sharing site YouTube (owned by the politically left-leaning search engine giant Google) has decided to ‘ban for the UK only’ any video ’showing weapons with the aim of intimidation.’ Citing ‘widespread unease about the increase in knife crime in the country,’ YouTube claims that the ban is not retroactive. It remains to be seen how such a ban will affect the countless videos on YouTube of shooters firing guns at ranges, or knife owners reviewing their latest purchases. Product review videos, in particular, are quite popular on YouTube, and one wonders just how sensitive YouTube’s UK censors will be in deciding what ‘intimidates’ them.

The significance of this act lies in just what is being legislated. Guns and knives are, of course, very tightly restricted in the United Kingdom, and there are regulations covering print advertisements and publications involving these items. Now, however, an Internet site that does not sell these items and whose purpose is not primarily to showcase them specifically is being censored by its owners to prevent users simply from seeing knives and guns being fired, wielded, or discussed.

The censorship of YouTube in the UK is thus tantamount to the voluntary establishment of thoughtcrime. George Orwell predicted a heavily surveilled, thoroughly controlled, brutally policed England in his prescient novel, ‘1984.’ The government of the UK is working very hard to turn Orwell’s vision into reality. It’s not possible, at least not today, actually to police the content of your thoughts themselves. The next best thing, then, is to prevent you from seeing or reading material that includes the thoughts your government doesn’t want you thinking. That is the purpose of a ban on gun- and knife-oriented video content, where the goal is to combat the UK’s skyrocketing violent-crime rates. Bans on guns and knives, as well as a legal climate that effectively forbids self-defense, have not stemmed the tide – but gleeful UK bureaucrats have now witnessed their nanny-state crusade take a giant leap. In capitulating to the climate of fear and oppression the UK government has helped create, YouTube has attempted to prevent certain very specific thoughts among YouTube viewers in the UK. What could be more true to the spirit of Orwell’s ‘Big Brother’?

(Column continues at”

Reuters: Turkish Net closures spark doubt over freedoms

Thursday, September 25th, 2008 Turkish Net closures spark doubt over freedoms: “Turkish Net closures spark doubt over freedoms


September 24, 2008 at 5:26 PM EDT

ISTANBUL — A Turkish court decision to ban the website of a renowned British atheist academic has stirred fresh doubts about the European Union candidate’s commitment to freedom of speech.

Approximately 850 Internet websites, including Youtube, have been blocked this year in Turkey, the number swollen by recent laws making it possible to block sites without a court order.

‘When you look at Internet regulation Turkey looks to be in the same league as Tunisia or North Korea, and that doesn’t bode well for EU requirements,’ said Cengiz Aktar, professor at Istanbul’s Bahcesehir University.

‘The Internet is one of the most instrumental means of spreading information, it is an unprecedented instrument, and forbidding the internet is forbidding freedom of speech,’ he said.

The website of Oxford professor and evolutionist Richard Dawkins was banned in Turkey earlier this month after the Muslim country’s leading creationist advocate, Adnan Oktar, said he had found slanders of himself there.

The website currently carries in its masthead a picture of the Turkish flag and the heading ‘Banned in Turkey.’

‘Heroes’ Causes BitTorrent Boom

Thursday, September 25th, 2008

Post from: TorrentFreak

‘Heroes’ Causes BitTorrent Boom: “

Two fresh episodes of the US hit series ‘Heroes’ were released Monday night. In the day that followed each episode was downloaded well over a million times by BitTorrent users all over the world, making it the busiest day ever on many torrent sites.

heroesAn example of the BitTorrent traffic boost was reported yesterday, as Mininova got 10 million downloads in a single day. A record breaking figure, in part thanks to the debut of ‘Heroes’ and several other shows.

It’s Heroes that breaks all the records though. Our statistics show that, across all BitTorrent sites, the two episodes from Heroes’ season opening were downloaded well over a million times each – in just one day. The vast majority of the downloads come from outside the US (92%), where shows usually air weeks or even months later.

The show was downloaded the most in the UK (15%), where the official season opening is scheduled for October 1st. Canada, France and Australia complete the top 5. Although most TV-broadcasters won’t be happy to read these figures, one could argue that BitTorrent has actually helped TV-shows to build a stronger, broader, and more involved fanbase.

Jesse Alexander, the executive producer of ‘Heroes’ told TorrentFreak that he thinks this is indeed the case. ‘People watching shows such as Lost and Heroes on BitTorrent is the present world reality. TV networks have to recognize this, give their viewers more ways to interact with the shows, and find ways to generate revenue from every member of the global audience,’ he said.

Let’s hope Alexander will be heard in Hollywood. Below is the TV-show download chart of the past week, Heroes is not included in the list, but it will surely appear in next week’s chart.

Top Downloads September 14 – September 21

Ranking (last week) TV-show
1 (1) Prison Break
2 (new) House
3 (2) Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
4 (new) Smallville
5 (6) Fringe
6 (8) Stargate Atlantis
7 (3) Entourage
8 (4) Weeds
9 (5) Gossip Girl
10 (new) Supernatural

What Does The Internet Have To Do With The Finnish School Shooting?

Thursday, September 25th, 2008

(Via Techdirt.)

What Does The Internet Have To Do With The Finnish School Shooting?: “The story of the Finnish school shooting that left 11 people (including the shooter) dead is certainly a tragedy, and you can understand why people immediately respond to such things by looking for something to blame, or some law or process that needs to be changed — but at some point you have to admit that it’s going to be impossible to totally prevent such actions. Yet, for some reason, people always want to place some sort of ‘blame’ for these sorts of things on the internet. Witness comments from Finnish Prime Minister, Matti Vanhanen, where he talks about various changes to look at, such as with gun laws, but also says:

‘The internet and YouTube forums… are not another planet. This is part of our world and we adults have the responsibility to check what is happening, and create borders and safety there.’

But, the thing is, those channels are being monitored, and they were watched in this case. In fact, as nearly every press report on the shooting mentions, police visited the shooter a day before the shooting, due to a YouTube video he posted where he was heard pointing a gun at the camera and saying ‘you will die next.’ So it’s difficult to see how the internet is even remotely worth calling out here. The internet was used to alert authorities, it’s just that there wasn’t any evidence of a crime or intention to commit a crime at that point. So why bring it up at all?