Tag Archives: Digital Economy Act

FACT Threatens Users of ‘Pirate’ Kodi Add-Ons

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/fact-threatens-users-of-pirate-kodi-add-ons-170628/

In the UK there’s a war going on against streaming pirates. At least, that’s what the local anti-piracy body FACT would like the public to know.

The popular media streaming platform Kodi is at the center of the controversy. While Kodi is perfectly legal, many people use it in conjunction with third party add-ons that offer pirated content.

FACT hopes to curb this trend. The group has already taken action against sellers of Kodi devices pre-loaded with these add-ons and they’re keeping a keen eye on developers of illicit add-ons too.

However, according to FACT, the ‘crackdown’ doesn’t stop there. Users of pirate add-ons are also at risk, they claim.

“And then we’ll also be looking at, at some point, the end user. The reason for end users to come into this is that they are committing criminal offences,” FACT’s chief executive Kieron Sharp told the Independent.

While people who stream pirated content are generally hard to track, since they don’t broadcast their IP-address to the public, FACT says that customer data could be obtained directly from sellers of fully-loaded Kodi boxes.

“When we’re working with the police against a company that’s selling IPTV boxes or illicit streaming devices on a large scale, they have records of who they’ve sold them to,” Sharp noted.

While the current legal efforts are focused on the supply side, including these sellers, the end users may also be targeted in the future.

“We have a number of cases coming before the courts in terms of those people who have been providing, selling and distributing illicit streaming devices. It’s something for the very near future, when we’ll consider whether we go any further than that, in terms of customers.”

The comments above make it clear that FACT wants users of these pirate devices to feel vulnerable and exposed. But threatening talk is much easier than action.

It will be very hard to get someone convicted, simply because they bought a device that can access both legal and illegal content. A receipt doesn’t prove intent, and even if it did, it’s pretty much impossible to prove that a person streamed specific pirated content.

But let’s say FACT was able to prove that someone bought a fully-loaded Kodi box and streamed content without permission. How would that result in a conviction? Contrary to claims in the mainstream press, watching a pirated stream isn’t an offense covered by the new Digital Economy Act.

In theory, there could be other ways, but given the complexity of the situation, one would think that FACT would be better off spending its efforts elsewhere.

If FACT was indeed interested in going after individuals then they could easily target people who use torrents. These people broadcast their IP-addresses to the public, which makes them easy to identify. In addition, you can see what they are uploading, and they would also be liable under the Digital Economy Act.

However, after FACT’s decades-long association with the MPAA ended, its main partner in the demonization of Kodi-enabled devices is now the Premier League, who are far more concerned about piracy of live broadcasts (streaming) than content made available after the fact via torrents.

So, given the challenges of having a meaningful criminal prosecution of an end-user as suggested, that leaves us with the probability of FACT sowing fear, uncertainty, and doubt. In other words, scaring the public to deter them from buying or using a fully-loaded Kodi box.

This would also fit in with FACT’s recent claims that some pirate devices are a fire hazard. While it’s kind of FACT to be concerned about the well-being of pirates, as an anti-piracy organization their warnings also serve as a deterrent.

This strategy could pay off to a degree but there’s also some risk involved. Every day new “Kodi” related articles appear in the UK tabloid press, many of them with comments from FACT. Some of these may scare prospective users, but the same headlines also make these boxes known to a much wider public.

In fact, in what is quite a serious backfire, some recent pieces published by the popular Trinity Mirror group (which include FACT comments) actually provide a nice list of pirate addons that are still operational following recent crackdowns.

So are we just sowing fear now or educating a whole new audience?

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

NO, Kodi Users Are Not Risking Ten Years in Prison

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/no-kodi-users-are-not-risking-ten-years-in-prison-170507/

Piracy has always been a reasonably popular topic in the UK and there can barely be a person alive today who hasn’t either engaged in or been exposed to the phenomenon in some way. Just lately, however, things have really entered the mainstream.

The massive public interest is down to the set-top box craze, which is largely fueled by legal Kodi software augmented with infringing addons that provide free access to premium movies, TV channels and live sports.

While this a topic one might expect technology sites to report on, just recently UK tabloids have flooded the market with largely sensational stories about Kodi and piracy in general, which often recycle the same story time and again with SHOCKING click-bait headlines YOU JUST WON’T BELIEVE.

We’ve had to put up with misleading headlines and stories for months, so a while ago we made an effort to discuss the issues with tabloid reporters. Needless to say, we didn’t get very far. Most ignored our emails, but even those who responded weren’t prepared to do much.

One told us that his publication had decided that articles featuring Kodi were good for traffic while another promised to escalate our comments further up the chain of command. Within days additional articles with similar problems were being published regardless and this week things really boiled over.

10 Years for Kodi users? Hardly

The above report published in the Daily Express is typical of many doing the rounds at the moment. Taking Kodi as the popular search term, it shoe-horns the topic into areas of copyright law that do not apply to it, and ones certainly not covered by the Digital Economy Act cited in the headline.

As reported this week, the Digital Economy Act raises penalties for online copyright infringement offenses from two to ten years, but only in specific circumstances. Users streaming content to their homes via Kodi is absolutely not one of them.

To fall foul of the new law a user would need to communicate a copyrighted work to the public. In piracy terms that means ‘uploading’ and people streaming content via Kodi do nothing of the sort. The Digital Economy Act offers no remedy to deal with users streaming content – period – but let’s not allow the facts to get in the way of a click-inducing headline.

The Mirror has it wrong too

The Mirror article weaves in comments from Kieron Sharp from the Federation Against Copyright Theft. He notes that the new legislation should be targeted at people making a business out of infringement, which will hopefully be the case.

However, the article incorrectly extrapolates Sharp’s comments to mean that the law also applies to people streaming content via Kodi. Only making things more confusing, it then states that people “who casually stream a couple of movies every once in a while are extremely unlikely to be prosecuted to such extremes.”

Again, the Digital Economy Act has nothing to do with people streaming movies via Kodi but if we go along with the charade and agree that people who casually stream movies aren’t going to be prosecuted, why claim “10 year jail sentences for Kodi users” in the headline?

The bottom line is that there is nothing in the article itself that supports the article’s headline claim that Kodi users could go to jail for ten years. In itself, this is problematic from a reporting standpoint.

Published by IPSO, the Editors’ Code of Practice clearly states that “the Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information or images, including headlines not supported by the text.”

But singling out the Daily Express and The Mirror on this would be unfair. Dozens of other publications jumped on the same bandwagon, parroting the same misinformation, often with similar click-bait headlines.

For people dealing with these issues every day, the ins-and-outs of piracy alongside developing copyright law can be easier to grasp, so it’s perhaps a little unfair to expect general reporters to understand every detail of what can be extremely complex issues. Mistakes get made by everyone, that’s human nature.

But really, is there any excuse for headlines like this one published by the Sunday Express this morning?

According to the piece, readers of TorrentFreak are also at risk of spending ten years in prison. You couldn’t make this damaging nonsense up. Actually, apparently you can.

In addition to a lack of research, the problem here is the prevalence of click-bait headlines driving traffic and the inability of the underlying articles to live up to the hype. If we can moderate the headlines and report within them, the rest should simply fall into place. Ditch the NEEDLESS capital letters and stick to the facts.

Society in 2017 needs those more than ever.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

10 Years in Jail For Internet Pirates Now Reality in the UK

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/10-years-in-jail-for-internet-pirates-now-reality-in-the-uk-170501/

In 2015, the UK Government announced a controversial plan to increase the maximum prison sentence for online copyright infringement from two to ten years.

The proposal followed a suggestion put forward in a study commissioned by the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO). The study concluded that criminal sanctions for online copyright infringement available under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (CDPA 1988) should be harmonized with ‘offline’ penalties, such as those available for counterfeiting.

“By toughening penalties for commercial-scale online offending we are offering greater protections to businesses and sending a clear message to deter criminals,” then Intellectual Property Minister Baroness Neville-Rolfe said at the time.

In July 2016, the government published a new draft of its Digital Economy Bill which duly proposed an extension of the current prison term of two years to a maximum of ten.

Throughout the entire process of passing the legislation, the government has insisted that ‘regular’ members of the public would not be subjected to harsh punishments. However, that is not how the legislation reads.

As detailed in our earlier article, anyone who makes infringing content available to the public while merely putting a copyright holder at risk of loss, is now committing a criminal offense.

There are a number of variables, but this is the relevant part distilled down for the average file-sharer who downloads as well as uploads, using BitTorrent, for example.

A person…who infringes copyright in a work by communicating the work to the public commits an offense if [the person] knows or has reason to believe that [they are] infringing copyright in the work, and…knows or has reason to believe that communicating the work to the public will cause loss to the owner of the copyright, or will expose the owner of the copyright to a risk of loss.

Earlier this year, the Open Rights Group launched a campaign to try and make the government see sense. ORG did not dispute that there need to be penalties for online infringement but asked the government make amendments to target large-scale infringers while protecting the public.

“Our proposal is to set a threshold of ‘commercial scale loss’, and revising ‘risk of loss’ to ‘serious risk of commercial scale loss’. These are flexible rather than ‘specific’,” ORG said.

But the group’s appeals fell on deaf ears. No one in the law-making process was prepared to make this minor change to the Digital Economy Bill, even though legislation already exists for punishing even the smallest of copyright infringements through the civil courts.

As a result, the bill received royal assent last week which means that the country’s millions of small-time copyright infringers are now criminals in the eyes of the law.

Worst still, depending on the whims of copyright holders, any one could now be reported to the police for sharing even a single movie, an offense (as painted in our hypothetical piece in March) that could result in years in jail.

The government says that won’t be allowed. We’ll see.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.