IP rights enforcement laws criticised by rights holders but supported by ISPs, European Commission says: “EU laws on the enforcement of intellectual property (IP) rights should set out internet service providers’ (ISPs) responsibilities for combating online piracy, copyright holders have told the European Commission.“
(Via OUT-LAW News.)
US copyright holders and internet providers agree voluntary website blocking agreement: “Internet service providers (ISPs) in the US will introduce measures to combat online copyright infringement under a new voluntary system agreed with copyright owners.“
(Via OUT-LAW News.)
Review into viability of website blocking rules to be announced soon, Government says: “A report into a whether website blocking measures are viable is to be published shortly, the Culture Minister has said.“
(Via OUT-LAW News.)
Late last week the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the controversial ‘Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act,’ or ‘PROTECT IP Act as it’s known, giving the Department of Justice and copyright holders greatly expanded powers in the battle against online infringement.‘Today the Judiciary Committee took an important step in protecting online intellectual property rights,’ said Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) afterwards. ‘The Internet is not a lawless free-for-all where anything goes. The Constitution protects both property and speech, both online and off.’First proposed earlier this month, the PROTECT IP Act would give the Attorney General the power to force US based third-parties, including ISPs, payment processors, online advertising network providers, and search engines to either block access to an infringing site or cease doing business with it.Copyright holders would be able to target payment processors and online advertising network providers.‘Increased online theft of intellectual property has become a rampant problem,’ added Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). ‘The impact of copyright piracy and sale of counterfeit goods imposes a huge cost on the American economy – lost jobs, lost sales, and lost income. This bill will help to protect against harmful counterfeit and pirated products that cause damage to both the economy and the health and safety of the consumer.’Copyright holder groups like the MPAA and RIAA are obviously pleased with the news.‘It’s essential that we reign in online thieves and business models predicated on ripping off America’s songwriters, musicians and performers,’ said Mitch Bainwol, RIAA Chairman. ‘A review of the most frequently visited web sites – including those specializing in pre-release songs that are not yet even available in the legitimate marketplace — feature banner ads for some of America’s best known companies.The MPAA also welcomed passage of thge PROTECT IP Act.’The Judiciary Committee took an important step today to stop theft and save jobs,’ said Michael O’Leary, Executive Vice President, Government Affairs of the MPAA. ‘By helping shut down rogue websites that profit from stolen films, television shows, and other counterfeit goods, this legislation will protect wages and benefits for the millions of middle class workers who bring America’s creativity to life.’Critics, however abound.The Electronic Frontier Foundation has reminded people of the fact that it could have serious domain name system (DNS) implications.It writes:
When COICA was introduced in the Senate last fall, EFF wrote about its dangerous implications for the Internet’s domain name system (DNS). These remain true for PIPA, despite the removal of a provision that would have required registrars and registries to block domain names pointing to sites ‘dedicated to infringing activities.’ Because blocking via registries and registrars underlies Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s ongoing practice of seizing domain names, taking this device out of PIPA is small gain. The bill will still require targeted DNS server operators like ISPs to prevent an identified domain name from resolving to the domain’s IP address, thereby preventing their users from accessing those sites. As a result, the warnings that we and others gave last year about serious security vulnerabilities and a fractured Internet are unchanged.
Public Knowledge said it was ‘disappointed’ with the news.‘We are disappointed that the Senate Judiciary Committee today approved legislation (S. 968) that will threaten the security and global functioning of the Internet, and opens the door to nuisance lawsuits while doing little if anything to curb the issues of international source of illegal downloads the bill seeks to address,’ said Sherwin Siy, the group’s deputy legal director. oThat’s the real problem. Internet users will still be able to bypass any proposed search engine filter or ISP-level site blocking, and foreign infringing sites will still be accessible.The PROTECT IP Act talks about ‘safeguards’ like allowing domain name operators or site owners to petition the court to have the orders vacated, but it still occurs after the fact and the damage done.”
Submitted on 11 March 2011
Paris, March 10th, 2011 — The French Constitutional Council has released its decision1 regarding the LOPPSI bill. Judges held that article 4 of the bill, which allows the executive branch to censor the Net under the pretext of fighting child pornography, is not contrary to the Constitution. In doing so, the constitutional court has failed to protect fundamental freedoms on the Internet, and in particular freedom of expression. Hopes lie now in European institutions, which are the only ones with the power to prohibit or at least supervise administrative website blocking and its inherent risks of abuse.
The LOPSSI law compiled many repressive measures on vastly unrelated subjects. The Constitutional Council found itself caught by this strategy. While it did strike down some of the most shocking provisions, it left untouched those that seemed less harmful or were proposed in the name of noble goals, in spite of having a highly detrimental impact on civil liberties, such as the ones related to the Internet.
LOPPSI’s article 4 gives the executive branch the power to suppress the flow of information on the Internet. In a highly hypocritical move, the government claims to be fighting child pornography, a goal for which filtering is both ineffective and vastly overkill, especially given the risk of collateral censorship of perfectly legal websites2. There is a high risk of seeing such a scheme used for other goals.
‘This decision about article 4 is a great disappointment. It is obvious that Internet censorship will not help solve the child pornography problem in any way, as experiments in other countries have shown 3. After HADOPI’s Internet access suspension measures, calls to ban WikiLeaks hosting and recent talks against Net Neutrality, France is siding ever more with the group of countries hostile to a free Internet by adopting administrative filtering of the Internet.’, says Jérémie Zimmermann, co-founder and spokesperson for La Quadrature du Net.
‘It is unfortunate that the Constitutional Council did not build on its own HADOPI jurisprudence by giving the judiciary branch exclusive authority to control restrictions to online free speech. The solution may lie in European institutions: the EU Parliament is currently trying to supervise blocking measures adopted at the national level, which could impede their implementation in France4. Moreover, administrative Net filtering seems contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights5, and one can expect an appeal before European judges.’, concludes Félix Tréguer, policy and legal analyst for the advocacy group.
01 February 2011
Review will assess whether website-blocking powers could work.
Communications watchdog Ofcom will review sections of the Digital Economy Act to see if they are workable following public comments submitted in the Your Freedom exercise.
Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has asked Ofcom to assess whether the Act’s reserve powers to enable courts to block websites dedicated to copyright infringement could work.
The site-blocking measures need secondary legislation before they can be introduced and the review will inform the Government’s decision on the next steps to take.
Mr Hunt said: ‘The Digital Economy Act seeks to protect our creative economy from online copyright infringement, which industry estimates costs them £400 million a year. I have no problem with the principle of blocking access to websites used exclusively for facilitating illegal downloading of content. But it is not clear whether the site blocking provisions in the Act could work in practice so I have asked Ofcom to address this question. Before we consider introducing site-blocking we need to know whether these measures are possible.’
The review will look at areas such as whether it is possible for internet service providers (ISPs) to block access to the sites, how robust such a block could be and whether specific parts of a website can be blocked effectively.
The Your Freedom website was launched by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg last July asking the public to suggest unnecessary laws and regulations that they believed should be removed. The website closed in September and since then, ministers and officials have been reviewing the comments and suggestions.
Mr Clegg said: ‘When we launched Your Freedom, I promised that the ideas submitted would be given proper consideration. Although reform of the Digital Economy Act did not form part of the Coalition Agreement, we have listened to the views expressed. The Government will look at whether we have the right tools for the job in addressing the problem of online copyright infringement.’
Ofcom to review aspects of Digital Economy Act
1 February 2011
Following the recent Your Freedom exercise, certain sections of the Digital Economy Act will be reviewed by Ofcom to see if they are workable, the Government has announced.
Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has asked Ofcom to assess whether the Act’s reserve powers to enable courts to block websites dedicated to copyright infringement could work.
Mr Hunt said:
“The Government is committed to creating the right conditions for businesses to grow. That includes providing them with the right tools to protect the products of their hard-work and investment.
“The Digital Economy Act seeks to protect our creative economy from online copyright infringement, which industry estimates costs them £400m a year.
“I have no problem with the principle of blocking access to websites used exclusively for facilitating illegal downloading of content. But it is not clear whether the site blocking provisions in the Act could work in practice so I have asked Ofcom to address this question.
“Before we consider introducing site-blocking we need to know whether these measures are possible.”
The Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, said:
“When we launched Your Freedom, I promised that the ideas submitted would be given proper consideration. Although reform of the Digital Economy Act did not form part of the Coalition Agreement, we have listened to the views expressed. The Government will look at whether we have the right tools for the job in addressing the problem of online copyright infringement.
“Ofcom will start this process by reviewing the site blocking provisions to see if they are workable. We will await the conclusions of this work before we take a decision about the way forward.”
Ofcom is currently preparing to implement the Digital Economy Act’s mass notification system. This aims to tackle the most prolific form of online copyright infringement by writing to those identified as sharing music, films and other content unlawfully through file-sharing networks.
The site-blocking measures need secondary legislation before they can be introduced, and the review will inform the Government’s decision about how to proceed. They are aimed at tackling other forms of online copyright infringement, such as unlawfully streaming live television programmes or other content from sites outside the UK.
Questions of proportionality and compliance with European commercial law and the Human Rights Act are subject to an ongoing judicial review and will not form part of Ofcom’s review.
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Notes to Editors
1. The terms of reference for the Ofcom assessment are:
* Is it possible for access to the site to be blocked by internet service providers?
* How robust would such a block be – in other words would it have the intended effect, and how easy would it be to circumvent for most site operators?
* What measures might be adopted by internet service providers to prevent such circumvention?
* How granular can blocking be – i.e. can specific parts of the site be blocked, how precise can this be, and how effective?
* How effective are sections 17 and 18 of the Act in providing for an appropriate method of generating lists of sites to be blocked?
* If possible, identify either a potential range of costs for ISP blocking solutions or the main drivers of those costs.
2. A judicial review of sections 3 to 18 of the Digital Economy Act has been brought by BT and Talk Talk and will be heard on 22-24th March 2011 on the ground that the Act was not notified under the Technical Standards Directive, and failed to properly comply with other European legislation relating to eCommerce, data protection and privacy, and is disproportionate.
3. The Your Freedom website gave the public the chance to identify the laws and regulations they wanted amended or removed. Thousands of ideas, comments and votes were submitted and the feedback has been used to inform government policy. Your Freedom is now closed.
Press Enquiries: 020 7211 2210
Out of hours telephone pager no: 07699 751153
Public Enquiries: 020 7211 6000
12,895 New Porn BitTorrent Lawsuits Filed Since December 23: “On December 16, 2010, things didn’t appear to be heading in a favorable direction for the likes of the USCG (US Copyright Group) or the bevy of other lawyers involved with P2P litigation. That’s because on that day, a judge in West Virginia ruled that instead of lumping thousands of defendants together in one lawsuit, the cases must be filed separately. This follows closely with other developments in these types of cases, which started when Judge Rosemary Collyer, who presides in the Far Cry case, ruled that only those defendants in her court’s jurisdiction could be sued.”
By Rhett Pardon
Friday, Dec 17, 2010 Text size:
MARTINSBURG, Va. — A federal judge has quashed thousands of subpoenas that were requested in seven porn BitTorrent suits, ruling that the cases improperly join mass defendants together.
U.S. District Judge John Preston Bailey, in each of the orders, threw out all of the defendants with the exception of one John Doe for each claim. As a result, 5,462 unnamed defendants have been pared from suits filed by Combat Zone, Elegant Angel, Third World Media and West Coast Productions.
Bailey, in his ruling, said that the cases reeked of misjoinder, finding that it is an ‘ undeniable fact that each defendant will also likely have a different defense.’
In each of the cases, Bailey said that he would sever all Doe defendants except the first Doe of each suit. He also said that because so many ISPs were identified with each suit, ‘[allegations making] the propriety of joinder even more tenuous.’
Bailey also said that if plaintiffs’ counsel want to proceed they can do so by filing fees for each of the amended complaints, which would be assigned separate civil action numbers, but only if the defendants are located in West Virginia, where the cases were filed.
In the seven cases, Time Warner Cable moved to quash subpoenas seeking the identities of accused filed sharers.
Kenneth Ford of the Adult Copyright Co., which filed the suits, did not immediately respond to XBIZ for comment.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which filed amicus briefs in the cases, lauded the judge’s ruling, calling it a ‘big victory in the fight against copyright trolls.’
The EFF said that the studios in the seven suits were ‘abusing the law in an attempt to pressure settlements.’
‘In these cases — as in many others across the country — the owners of the adult movies filed mass lawsuits based on single counts of copyright infringement stemming from the downloading of a pornographic film, and improperly lumped hundreds of defendants together regardless of where the IP addresses indicate the defendants live,’ the EFF said in a statement.
‘The motivation behind these cases appears to be to leverage the risk of embarrassment associated with pornography to coerce settlement payments despite serious problems with the underlying claims.’
The West Virginia order comes on the heels of a ruling by a judge in the District of Columbia earlier this month that dismissed hundreds of individuals from across the country named in the U.S. Copyright Group’s campaign due to lack of personal jurisdiction in Washington, D.C.
Record Labels Blame Google For Piracy, Hint At Censorship: “The British Phonographic Industry (BPI), the UK’s main recording industry trade body, came out with guns blazing against Google today. BPI says that search engines like Google are as popular as P2P applications as a source for illegal downloads. The music industry is pressing Google and others to censor their search results in favor of ‘legal’ music services.
Anyone who searches for music, TV-shows or movies on the Internet will notice that BitTorrent sites and other file-sharing services are usually listed among the top results.
As we have argued before, Google is probably the number one reason why millions of people are using BitTorrent sites today. This trend hasn’t gone unnoticed to the music industry either, and today The British Phonographic Industry (BPI) went as far as blaming Google and other search engines for being a main source for online piracy.
‘Search engines are as popular as P2P applications as a source of illegal downloads,’ BPI stated in a report today. ‘It’s not hard to see why. Key in the name of any popular artist, add search terms like ‘mp3′ or ‘download’ – both neutral terms – and typically the large majority of results that appear are blatant links to illegal downloads.’
As an example of this alleged facilitating behavior by Google, the BPI performed a few test searches. They found that the majority of the top Google search results for popular singles pointed to ‘illicit’ sources.
‘In a single week in November, BPI test searches were made on Google for the UK’s top 20 singles or albums, followed by ‘mp3′. On average 17 of the first 20 Google results for singles and 14 of 20 search results for albums were links to known illegal sites.’
The search results are just one part of the search engine problem though. In addition, the BPI points out that services such as auto suggest and Google’s instant service may drive people towards ‘rogue’ or ‘illegal’ sites.
‘The predictive search tools offered by some search engines go further by actively directing users towards free illegal downloads by auto-completing artist searches with additional phrases like ‘torrent’, or providing specific references to unlicensed sources like Mediafire or mp3raid.’
Although the BPI is right in their analysis, they also know that the search results are merely the result of a set of algorithms. Piracy related searches float to the top and are suggested because that’s what people tend to search for. Google has no active role in it.
This is what the BPI hopes to change. They suggest that search engines should actively censor their search results, and move links to ‘authorized’ music stores higher up. According to the music industry this would be a very effective tool to decrease piracy.
‘The music industry continues to press search engines to help consumers stay on the right side of the law and has suggested concrete solutions such as prioritising music search results in favour of legal online services such as those highlighted by the Music Matters campaign,’ the BPI writes.
In part, these lobbying efforts have already been successful. Two weeks ago Google announced several upcoming changes that would benefit copyright holders. Among other things the search mogul said that it would censor ‘piracy’ related words for appearing as auto-complete suggestions.
For Google this is a slippery slope to be on, and the next step could very well be the sort of commercial censorship the music industry is suggesting. And if the music industry is successful, other industries will soon follow. The question is, however, if that will solve the piracy issues or just hide them.
Article from: TorrentFreak.
Film Industry Calls on Broadband ISP BT Retail UK to Block Newsgroup Website − ISPreview UK: “Film Industry Calls on Broadband ISP BT Retail UK to Block Newsgroup Website
By: MarkJ – 16 December, 2010 (12:47 PM) – Score: 199 – Fixed Line Broadband, Piracy
pirate flagThe Motion Picture Association of America (MPA, MPAA) has filed an injunction against BT Retail which, using Section 97A of the UK Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, requires the broadband ISP to block access to a Newsgroup (Usenet) indexing website called Newzbin2.
The original Newzbin website was shut down earlier this year after the MPA accused it of helping to provide and host access to ‘illegal’ (unlawful) copyright files. However Newzbin2 promptly reappeared shortly after, using both the same domain name and website content.
An MPA Spokesperson told TorrentFreak:
‘The law which the Court referred to is Section 97A of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, which provides for possible injunctions against internet intermediaries. Article 8.3 of the European Union’s Copyright Directive, of which S97A is the UK implementation, has been used successfully in Denmark to block rogue sites hosting illegal material, with further cases pending in Germany, Holland and Belgium.
In launching this case, the MPA is aiming to secure an order that will enable BT to block Internet access to the site, thus preventing the site from using the Internet to make money through infringement.’
BT, which is believed to have refused the MPA’s initial request to block Newzbin2, has confirmed the situation but chosen not to comment on the matter itself. As it stands the MPA may have a good case, supported by an earlier High Court win against the original website for copyright infringement.
Section’s 97A is also the UK version of Europe’s own Copyright Directive (8.3), which is similar to Denmark’s law where identical demands have recently been won. On the surface this might seem unfair as the website claimed to merely be indexing newsgroups, although the court case did expose some dubious activity.
It’s certainly a new move by Rights Holders, which have traditionally tried and often failed to target individual P2P file sharers. However it’s unlikely to be very effective. ISPs do not host internet content, they are ‘mere conduits’, and blocking access is little more than a placebo. It’s incredibly easy to avoid such skin-deep restrictions.”