Tag Archives: fair use

WordPress Reports Surge in ‘Piracy’ Takedown Notices, Rejects 78%

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/wordpress-reports-surge-in-piracy-takedown-notices-rejects-78-170909/

Automattic, the company behind the popular WordPress.com blogging platform, receives thousands of takedown requests from rightsholders.

A few days ago the company published its latest transparency report, showing that it had processed 9,273 requests during the first half of 2017.

This is more than double the amount it received during the same period last year, which is a significant increase. Looking more closely at the numbers, we see that this jump is solely due to an increase in incomplete and abusive requests.

Of all the DMCA notices received, only 22% resulted in the takedown of allegedly infringing content. This translates to 2,040 legitimate requests, which is less than the 2,342 Automattic received during the same period last year.

This logically means that the number of abusive and incomplete DMCA notices has skyrocketed. And indeed, in its most recent report, 78% of all requests were rejected due to missing information or plain abuse. That’s much more than the year before when 42% were rejected.

Automattic’s transparency report (first half of 2017)

WordPress prides itself on carefully reviewing the content of each and every takedown notice, to protect its users. This means checking whether a takedown request is properly formatted but also reviewing the legitimacy of the claims.

“We also may decline to remove content if a notice is abusive. ‘Abusive’ notices may be formally complete, but are directed at fair use of content, material that isn’t copyrightable, or content the complaining party misrepresents ownership of a copyright,” Automattic notes.

During the first half of 2017, a total of 649 takedown requests were categorized as abuse. Some of the most blatant examples go into the “Hall of Shame,” such as a recent case where the Canadian city of Abbotsford tried to censor a parody of its logo, which replaced a pine tree with a turd.

While some abuse cases sound trivial they can have a real impact on website operators, as examples outside of WordPress show. Most recently the operator of Oro Jackson, a community dedicated to the anime series “One Piece,” was targeted with several dubious DMCA requests.

The takedown notices were sent by the German company Comeso and were forwarded through their hosting company Linode. The notices urged the operator to remove various forum threads because they included words of phrases such as “G’day” and “Reveries of the Moonlight,” not actual infringing content.

G’day

Fearing legal repercussions, the operator saw no other option than to censor these seemingly harmless discussions (starting a thread with “G’day”!!), until there’s a final decision on the counter-notice. They remain offline today.

It’s understandable that hosting companies have to be strict sometimes, as reviewing copyright claims is not their core business. However, incidents like these show how valuable the skeptical review process of Automattic is.

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

Perfect 10 Takes Giganews to Supreme Court, Says It’s Worse Than Megaupload

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/perfect-10-takes-giganews-supreme-court-says-worse-megaupload-170906/

Adult publisher Perfect 10 has developed a reputation for being a serial copyright litigant.

Over the years the company targeted a number of high-profile defendants, including Google, Amazon, Mastercard, and Visa. Around two dozen of Perfect 10’s lawsuits ended in cash settlements and defaults, in the publisher’s favor.

Perhaps buoyed by this success, the company went after Usenet provider Giganews but instead of a company willing to roll over, Perfect 10 found a highly defensive and indeed aggressive opponent. The initial copyright case filed by Perfect 10 alleged that Giganews effectively sold access to Perfect 10 content but things went badly for the publisher.

In November 2014, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California found that Giganews was not liable for the infringing activities of its users. Perfect 10 was ordered to pay Giganews $5.6m in attorney’s fees and costs. Perfect 10 lost again at the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

As a result of these failed actions, Giganews is owned millions by Perfect 10 but the publisher has thus far refused to pay up. That resulted in Giganews filing a $20m lawsuit, accusing Perfect 10 and President Dr. Norman Zada of fraud.

With all this litigation boiling around in the background and Perfect 10 already bankrupt as a result, one might think the story would be near to a conclusion. That doesn’t seem to be the case. In a fresh announcement, Perfect 10 says it has now appealed its case to the US Supreme Court.

“This is an extraordinarily important case, because for the first time, an appellate court has allowed defendants to copy and sell movies, songs, images, and other copyrighted works, without permission or payment to copyright holders,” says Zada.

“In this particular case, evidence was presented that defendants were copying and selling access to approximately 25,000 terabytes of unlicensed movies, songs, images, software, and magazines.”

Referencing an Amicus brief previously filed by the RIAA which described Giganews as “blatant copyright pirates,” Perfect 10 accuses the Ninth Circuit of allowing Giganews to copy and sell trillions of dollars of other people’s intellectual property “because their copying and selling was done in an automated fashion using a computer.”

Noting that “everything is done via computer” these days and with an undertone that the ruling encouraged others to infringe, Perfect 10 says there are now 88 companies similar to Giganews which rely on the automation defense to commit infringement – even involving content owned by people in the US Government.

“These exploiters of other people’s property are fearless. They are copying and selling access to pirated versions of pretty much every movie ever made, including films co-produced by treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin,” Nada says.

“You would think the justice department would do something to protect the viability of this nation’s movie and recording studios, as unfettered piracy harms jobs and tax revenues, but they have done nothing.”

But Zada doesn’t stop at blaming Usenet services, the California District Court, the Ninth Circuit, and the United States Department of Justice for his problems – Congress is to blame too.

“Copyright holders have nowhere to turn other than the Federal courts, whose judges are ridiculously overworked. For years, Congress has failed to provide the Federal courts with adequate funding. As a result, judges can make mistakes,” he adds.

For Zada, those mistakes are particularly notable, particularly since at least one other super high-profile company was shut down in the most aggressive manner possible for allegedly being involved in less piracy than Giganews.

Pointing to the now-infamous Megaupload case, Perfect 10 notes that the Department of Justice completely shut that operation down, filing charges of criminal copyright infringement against Kim Dotcom and seizing $175 million “for selling access to movies and songs which they did not own.”

“Perfect 10 provided evidence that [Giganews] offered more than 200 times as many full length movies as did megaupload.com. But our evidence fell on deaf ears,” Zada complains.

In contrast, Perfect 10 adds, a California District Court found that Giganews had done nothing wrong, allowed it to continue copying and selling access to Perfect 10’s content, and awarded the Usenet provider $5.63m in attorneys fees.

“Prior to this case, no court had ever awarded fees to an alleged infringer, unless they were found to either own the copyrights at issue, or established a fair use defense. Neither was the case here,” Zada adds.

While Perfect 10 has filed a petition with the Supreme Court, the odds of being granted a review are particularly small. Only time will tell how this case will end, but it seems unlikely that the adult publisher will enjoy a happy ending, one in which it doesn’t have to pay Giganews millions of dollars in attorney’s fees.

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

‘Pirate’ Site Uses DMCA to Remove Pirated Copy from Github

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-site-uses-dmca-to-remove-pirated-copy-from-github-170902/

Every day, copyright holders send out millions of takedown notices to various services, hoping to protect their works.

Pirate sites are usually at the receiving end of these requests but apparently, they can use it to their advantage as well.

A few days ago the operators of sports streaming site soccerstreams.net informed the developer platform GitHub that a copy of their code was being made available without permission.

The targeted repository was created by “mmstart007,” who allegedly copied it from Bitbucket without permission. The operator of the streaming site wasn’t happy with this and sent a DMCA takedown notice to GitHub asking to take the infringing code offline.

“It’s not an open source work its [a] private project we [are] using on our site and that was a private repo on bitbucket and that guy got unauthorized access to it,” Soccerstreams writes.

The operators stress that the repository “must be taken down as soon as possible,” adding the mandatory ‘good faith’ statement.

“I have a good faith belief that use of the copyrighted materials described above on the infringing web pages is not authorized by the copyright owner, or its agent, or the law. I have taken fair use into consideration,” the complaint reads.

GitHub responded swiftly to the request and pulled the repository offline. Those who try to access it today see the following notification instead.

The people running the Soccer Streams site, which is linked with a similarly named Reddit community, are certainly no strangers to takedown requests themselves. The website and the Reddit community was recently targeted by the Premier League recently for example, which accused it of providing links to copyrighted streams.

While soccerstreams.net regularly links to unauthorized streams and is seen as a pirate site by rightsholders, the site doesn’t believe that it’s doing anything wrong.

It has a dedicated DMCA page on its site stating that all streams are submitted by its users and that they cannot be held liable for any infringements.

While it’s a bit unusual for sites and tools with a “pirate” stigma to issue takedown requests, it’s not unique. Just a few weeks ago one of the popular Sickrage forks was removed from GitHub, following a complaint from another fork.

This episode caused a bit of a stir, but the owner of the targeted Sickrage repository eventually managed to get the project restored after a successful counter-notice.

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

YouTube Fair Use Case Ends in Victory For h3h3Productions

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/youtube-fair-use-case-ends-in-victory-for-h3h3productions-170824/

Hila and Ethan Klein are the duo behind h3h3productions, a YouTube channel dedicated to the comedy found in Internet culture.

With more than 4.6 million subscribers the channel is doing extremely well, but last year faced a fight for its very existence. In May 2016, the pair announced they were being sued by YouTuber Matt Hosseinzadeh, who also produces comedy content and publishes it on his MattHossZone channel.

The problem lay in a video produced by H3h3productions (published on a sister channel in February 2016) in which they poked fun at Hosseinzadeh, using clips of their rival’s videos for material. The Kleins said this was fair use but Hosseinzadeh viewed it as copyright infringement.

According to the Kleins, Hosseinzadeh initially approached them with settlement offers of a few thousand dollars and also gave them the opportunity to publicly apologize and promote his content. The Kleins refused to back down so at this point, Hosseinzadeh sued for copyright infringement and defamation.

Fighting a lawsuit is extremely expensive but the Kleins received overwhelming support online, particularly via a GoFundMe campaign that pulled in over $170,000.

With the legal battle well underway, both sides asked the court for a summary judgment in their favor in advance of a full trial. In a decision handed down yesterday by District Judge Katherine B. Forrest, the Kleins prevailed. In a 21-page ruling, the Judge wastes no time in getting straight to the point.

Describing the Klein’s video and the critique contained within as “quintessential criticism and comment” equivalent to the kind one might find in a film studies class, Judge Forrest goes on to examine the cornerstones of fair use, including the purpose of the work, the amount of copyrighted content used, and the effect of the use of the content on its potential market.

“Any review of the Klein video leaves no doubt that it constitutes critical commentary of the Hoss video; there is also no doubt that the Klein video is decidedly not a market substitute for the Hoss video,” Judge Forrest writes, noting that the former effectively transformed the latter into “fodder for caustic, moment-by-moment commentary and mockery.”

“For these and the other reasons set forth below, defendants’ use of clips from the Hoss video constitutes fair use as a matter of law,” the Judge concludes.

On the defamation front, Hosseinzadeh fared no better, with the Judge noting that truth is an absolute defense to a defamation claim.

“Further, it is clear that defendants’ comments regarding the lawsuit are either non-actionable opinions or substantially true as a matter of law. For these and the other reasons set forth below, plaintiff’s defamation claim fails. Defendants’ motion for summary judgment is therefore GRANTED, and plaintiff’s motion is DENIED.”

The news was quickly welcomed by Ethan Klein.

What happens next is largely up to Hosseinzadeh. He still has the opportunity to appeal the case but whether he will take that opportunity given the clarity of the ruling and the additional costs involved will remain to be seen.

In the meantime, the decision (via Techcrunch) provides food for thought and guidance for other YouTubers making reaction videos.

The ruling doesn’t give YouTubers blanket clearance to continue with impunity but does clarify how much content can be used, provided adequate commentary and criticism is present. They’re valuable guidelines in a notoriously difficult area of copyright law.

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

‘US Should Include Fair Use and Safe Harbors in NAFTA Negotiations’

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/us-should-include-fair-use-and-safe-harbors-in-nafta-negotiations-170806/

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the United States, Canada, and Mexico was negotiated more than 25 years ago.

Over the past quarter century trade has changed drastically, especially online, so the United States is now planning to modernize the international deal.

Various copyright industry groups recognized this as an opportunity to demand tougher copyright enforcement. The MPAA and RIAA previously presented their demands, proposing various new limitations, including restrictions to the existing safe harbor protections against copyright infringement claims.

While no concrete plans have been made public yet, the U.S Trade Representative (USTR) recently gave an overview of its NAFTA renegotiation objectives. The language leaves plenty of wiggle room, but it’s clear that strong copyright enforcement takes a central role.

“Provide strong protection and enforcement for new and emerging technologies and new methods of transmitting and distributing products embodying intellectual property, including in a manner that facilitates legitimate digital trade,” one of the key points reads.

It is no surprise that copyright enforcement plays a central role in a possible extension of NAFTA. However, according to the Re:Create Coalition, which includes members such as the the Consumer Technology Association, the American Library Association and EFF, future proposals should be more balanced.

This means that if copyright enforcement is included, the US Government should also make sure that fair use, safe harbor protections and other copyright limitations and exceptions are added as well.

“The United States government should promote balance in copyright law to unlock the fullest potential of innovation and creativity globally, and to help U.S. innovators, creators, and small businesses reach foreign audiences.” Re:Create Executive Director Josh Lamel tells TorrentFreak.

“If a re-negotiated NAFTA includes a chapter on copyright, which seems likely, it must have mandatory language on copyright limitations and exceptions, including fair use and protections from intermediary liability.”

The USTR stressed that the NAFTA agreement should cover copyright protections similar to those found in US law. If that is the case, the coalition urges the US Government to ‘export’ fair use and other copyright limitations as well, to keep the balance.

Strong enforcement without balance could lead to all sorts of abuse, according to the Re:Create coalition. Just recently, a Colombian student faced a hefty prison sentence for sharing a research paper on Scribd, something which would be less likely with a proper fair use defense.

“Trade agreements should reflect the realities of the world we live in today. If strong intellectual property protections and enforcement measures are included in a trade agreement, so should exceptions and limitations to copyright law,” Lamel says.

“You can’t have one without the other. Furthermore, the copyright system cannot function effectively without fair use, and neither can the U.S. economy. 16 percent of the U.S. economy depends on fair use, and 18 million U.S. workers across the country are employed in fair use industries.”

In addition to fair use, Re:Create argues that DMCA-style safe harbor provisions are essential for Internet services to operate freely on the Internet. The RIAA wants to restrict safe harbor protection to limit copyright infringement and abuse, but the coalition believes that these proposals go too far.

If the RIAA had its way, many large Internet service providers wouldn’t be able to operate freely. This would result in a loss of American jobs, and innovation would be stifled, Re:Create notes.

“If you looked up excessive overreach in the dictionary, there would be a picture of the RIAA and MPAA submissions. Limiting safe harbors would be corporate cronyism at its worst,” Lamel tells TorrentFreak.

“The safe harbors are at the cornerstone of the Internet economy and consumer Internet experience. It would be an economic disaster. Recent economic analysis found that weakened safe harbors would result in the loss of 4.25 million American jobs and cost nearly half a trillion dollars over the next decade,” he adds.

While it’s still early days, it will be interesting to see what concrete proposals will come out of the negotiations and if fair use and other copyright protections are indeed going to be included. Re-Create promises to keep a close eye on the developments, and they’re certainly not alone.

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

EFF: Bassel Khartabil, In Memoriam

Post Syndicated from ris original https://lwn.net/Articles/729644/rss

The Electronic Frontier Foundation reports
that Bassel Khartabil, Syrian open source developer, blogger,
entrepreneur, hackerspace founder, and free culture advocate, was executed
by the Syrian authorities. “Bassel was a central figure in the
global free culture movement, connecting it and promoting it to Syria’s
emerging tech community as it existed before the country was ransacked by
civil war. He co-founded Aiki Lab, Syria’s first hackerspace, in Damascus
in 2010. He was a contributor to Mozilla’s Firefox browser and the Syrian
lead for Creative Commons. His influence went beyond Syria, however: he was
a key attendee at the Middle East’s bloggers’ conferences, and played a
vital role in the negotiations in Doha in 2010 that led to a common
language for discussing fair use and copyright across the Arab-speaking
world.
” (Thanks to Paul Wise)

Cloudflare Fails to Limit Scope of Piracy Lawsuit

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/cloudflare-fails-to-limit-scope-of-piracy-lawsuit-170610/

cloudflareAs one of the leading CDN and DDoS protection services, Cloudflare is used by millions of websites across the globe.

This includes thousands of “pirate” sites, including the likes of The Pirate Bay and ExtraTorrent, which rely on the U.S.-based company to keep server loads down.

Many rightsholders have complained about CloudFlare’s involvement with these sites and last year adult entertainment publisher ALS Scan took things up a notch by dragging the company to court.

ALS Scan accused the CDN service of various counts of copyright and trademark infringement and listed 15 customers that used the Cloudflare’s servers to distribute infringing material.

Through an early motion, Cloudflare managed to have several counts dismissed, but the accusation of contributory copyright infringement remained.

Hoping to further limit the scope of the lawsuit, Cloudflare asked the California federal court to grant a summary motion that would exclude 14 of the 15 listed ‘pirate’ sites from the lawsuit, as the original sites are not hosted on U.S. servers.

The image hosting sites in question include imgchili.com, slimpics.com, bestofsexpics.com, greenpics.com, imgspot.org and imgsen.se, among others.

Cloudflare argued that in order to be contributing to copyright infringement, the ‘pirate’ sites have to be direct infringers, which isn’t the case if are they are hosted abroad as that would fall outside the scope of U.S. courts.

However, according to the Court, which ordered on the motion for partial summary judgment a few days ago, this argument doesn’t hold.

“Here, it is undisputed that cache copies of Cloudflare clients’ files are stored on Cloudflare’s data servers; it is also undisputed that some of those data servers are located in the United States,” the order (pdf) reads.

These cached files are the result of the pirate sites’ decisions to sign up and pay for Cloudflare’s services. This ties direct infringements to U.S. servers.

“Thus, to the extent cache copies of Plaintiff’s images have been stored on Cloudflare’s U.S. servers, the creation of those copies would be an act of direct infringement by a given host website within the United States,” the court adds.

The Court further clarified that unlike Cloudflare claimed, under U.S. law the company can be held liable for caching content of copyright infringing websites.

In addition, Cloudflare’s argument that “infrastructure-level caching” is a type of fair use was denied as well.

Based on a detailed analysis of all the arguments provided, the Court concludes that the motion for summary judgment is denied for 13 of the 14 contended sites. This means than Cloudflare has to defend itself against the associated copyright infringement claims in an eventual trial.

The lawsuit is a crucial matter for Cloudflare, and not only because of the potential damages it faces in this case. If Cloudflare loses, other rightsholders are likely to make similar demands, forcing the company to actively police potential pirate sites.

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

Huge Coalition Protests EU Mandatory Piracy Filter Proposals

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/huge-coalition-protests-eu-mandatory-piracy-filter-proposals-170530/

Last September, EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker announced plans to modernize copyright law in Europe.

The proposals (pdf) are part of the Digital Single Market reforms, which have been under development for the past several years.

The proposals cover a broad range of copyright-related issues, but one stands out as being particularly controversial. Article 13 requires certain online service providers to become deeply involved in the detection and policing of allegedly infringing copyright works, uploaded to their platforms by users.

Although its effects will likely be more broad, the proposal is targeted at the so-called “value gap” (1,2,3), i.e the notion that platforms like YouTube are able to avoid paying expensive licensing fees (for music in particular) by exploiting the safe harbor protections of the DMCA and similar legislation.

To close this loophole using Article 13, services that provide access to “large amounts” of user-uploaded content would be required to cooperate with rightsholders to prevent infringing works being communicated to the public.

This means that platforms like YouTube would be forced to take measures to ensure that their deals with content providers to distribute official content are protected by aggressive anti-piracy mechanisms.

The legislation would see platforms forced to deploy content-recognition, filtering and blocking mechanisms, to ensure that only non-infringing content is uploaded in the first place, thus limiting the chances that unauthorized copyrighted content will be made available to end users.

Supporters argue that the resulting decrease in availability of infringing content will effectively close the “value gap” but critics see the measures as disproportionate, likely to result in censorship (no provision for fair use), and a restriction of fundamental freedoms. Indeed, there are already warnings that such a system would severely “restrict the way Europeans create, share, and communicate online.”

The proposals have predictably received widespread support from entertainment industry companies across the EU and the United States, but there are now clear signs that the battle lines are being drawn.

On one side are the major recording labels, movie studios, and other producers. On the other, companies and platforms that will suddenly become more liable for infringing content, accompanied by citizens and scholars who feel that freedoms will be restricted.

The latest sign of the scale of opposition to Article 13 manifests itself in an open letter to the European Parliament. Under the Copyright for Creativity (C4C) banner and signed by the EFF, Creative Commons, Wikimedia, Mozilla, EDRi, Open Rights Group plus sixty other organizations, the letter warns that the proposals will cause more problems than they solve.

“The European Commission’s proposal on copyright in the Digital Single Market failed to meet the expectations of European citizens and businesses. Instead of supporting Europeans in the digital economy, it is backward looking,” the groups say.

“We need European lawmakers to oppose the most damaging aspects of the proposal, but also to embrace a more ambitious agenda for positive reform.”

In addition to opposing Article 11 (the proposed Press Publishers’ Right), the groups ask the EU Parliament not to impose private censorship on EU citizens via Article 13.

“The provision on the so-called ‘value gap’ is designed to provoke such legal uncertainty that online services will have no other option than to monitor, filter and block EU citizens’ communications if they want to have any chance of staying in business,” the groups write.

“The Commission’s proposal misrepresents some European Court rulings and seeks to impose contradictory obligations on Member States. This is simply bad regulation.”

Calling for the wholesale removal of Article 13 from the copyright negotiations, the groups argue that the reforms should be handled in the appropriate contexts.

“We strenuously oppose such ill thought through experimentation with intermediary liability, which will hinder innovation and competition and will reduce the opportunities available to all European businesses and citizens,” they add.

C4C concludes by calling on lawmakers to oppose Article 13 while seeking avenues for positive reform.

The full letter can be found here (pdf)

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City of Abbotsford Enters WordPress’ DMCA “Hall of Shame”

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/city-of-abbotsford-enters-wordpress-dmca-hall-of-shame-170506/

As one of the leading blog platforms, WordPress.com receives thousands of DMCA takedown requests every year, but nearly half of these are rejected.

Parent company Automattic is known to inspect all notices carefully, and has a track record of defending its users against DMCA abuse. In addition, it occasionally highlights the worst offenders in its own “Hall of Shame.”

This week the company added a new entry for the first time in several months. The dubious honor goes to the City of Abbotsford, Canada, which tried to clean up its ‘image’ with a recent DMCA notice.

The “infringement” Abbotsford reported concerns an article written by a homeless blogger, who highlighted that city officials deliberately spread chicken manure on a camp for homeless people.

To illustrate this unfortunate event with a fitting image, the blogger posted a parody logo of the city, replacing the pine tree with a turd.

Abbotsford’s parody logo

Pretty innocent, one would think, but apparently the city of Abbotsford thought otherwise. Through a marketing company, Abbotsford city council sent a DMCA notice to Automattic, asking it to remove the offending image.

However, since there is a clear fair use case here, the company behind the WordPress blogging platform was not impressed.

“Pardon the pun. It was glaringly obvious that the addition of the hilariously large feces was for the purposes of parody, and tied directly to the criticisms laid out in the post,” Automattic writes.

“As a result, it seems hard to believe that the city council took fair use considerations into account before firing off their ill-advised notice, and trying to wipe up this mess,” the company adds.

Instead of taking the image offline, Automattic referred the takedown notice to the blogger in question. He decided to keep it online as well, adding a massive “parody” watermark just to avoid any further confusion.

PARODY

So, instead of wiping the “crappy” logo from the Internet, the marketing firm actually managed to magnify the issue, entering WordPress’ DMCA Hall of Shame. Since the original article is nearly four years old, they would have been better off ignoring it, but some people have to learn that the hard way.

In its closing comments, Automattic stresses that their use of the ‘shitty’ logo also falls under fair use protection, urging the City counsel to refrain from sending them any additional takedown requests.

“Our use of the Abbotsford city logo in this post is also for the purposes of commentary or criticism, and therefore falls under fair use protections. If anybody on the council happens to be reading, please don’t send us another DMCA takedown.”

At TorrentFreak we would like to repeat Automattic’s argument, also adding a fair use exception for the purpose of news reporting.

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

Reddit Rejects 81% Of All ‘Piracy’ Takedown Notices

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/reddit-rejects-81-of-all-piracy-takedown-notices-170416/

With millions of pageviews per day, Reddit is without doubt one of the most visited sites on the Internet.

The community-oriented platform has “subreddits” dedicated to pretty much every topic you can think of, including several dedicated to online piracy and related issues.

While the vast majority remain within the boundaries of the law, on occasion users post copyright-infringing material. This means that, like any user-generated site of its size, Reddit also has to process a steady stream of takedown requests from rightsholders.

To give the public insight into the process and volume, Reddit regularly publishes a transparency report. In the most recent report, published a few days ago, the company outlines the number of DMCA takedown notices received and how many of these were “valid.”

“For a request to be valid, it must comply with the statutory requirements outlined in the DMCA,” Reddit explains.

“Each DMCA takedown notice is reviewed carefully and, in circumstances where content is actually hosted on our servers, we assess whether the existence of the content on Reddit can fall under an exception, such as ‘fair use’ of the copyrighted material.”

If the company believes that the reported content might be covered by an exemption under copyright law, they contact the copyright holder asking for additional information. If the claim turns out to be legitimate, it is then removed.

Unlike some other sites and services, Reddit doesn’t blindly remove a posting that links to copyrighted content hosted on an external site. The company previously stated that “links do not generally infringe copyright.”

This is definitely a different approach than other companies, including Google, take, and it’s likely to be reflected in the numbers as well.

So how much content was removed in 2016?

According to the transparency report, Reddit received 3,294 copyright removal requests over the entire year. Not really an impressive number compared to a service like Google, but substantial nonetheless.

The rejection rate is without a doubt impressive. The company says that it was required to remove content from the site in 610 instances, which is 19 percent. That means that of all DMCA requests, 81 percent was rejected.

That’s quite a significant percentage. At Google, for example, more than 90 percent of all reported content is removed.

While the number of takedown requests Reddit receives pales in comparison to other Internet services, it’s good to see that the company carefully reviews all notices to prevent unwarranted censorship. It will be interesting to see how the volume of requests and the removal rate changes over time.

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

Portugal Passes Bill to Restrict Use of DRM, Grant Circumvention Right

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/portugal-passes-bill-to-restrict-use-of-drm-grant-circumvention-right-170410/

Digital Rights Management (DRM) is viewed by copyright holders as an essential mechanisim to prevent the public from copying and distributing copyrighted content.

While to some extent it can achieve those aims, DRM is often viewed as preventing those who actually buy content from carrying out tasks such as format shifting or making backups. Those who obtain content from illegal sources aren’t affected by DRM, critics argue.

Like any other anti-piracy measure, DRM’s task is to prevent copying and many countries have laws in place which prevent citizens from circumventing it. This can be problematic, particularly when DRM stands in the way of a citizen’s right to copy, in fair use instances for example. This has been in the case in Portugal since 2004.

As a result, the DRM-PT movement in Portugal has been campaigning for a change in the law which would restrict the use of DRM and grant citizens a circumvention right when certain conditions are met. When parliament approved a draft bill last week, the country moved closer to that goal.

The bill, which received general approval last December, tackles the main issues head-on by granting copying permission in some circumstances and by flat-out banning the use of DRM when the public should have right of access to a copyrighted work.

In a boost to educators, citizens will be given the right to circumvent DRM for teaching and scientific research purposes. There will also be an exception for private copying.

The draft also outlaws the use of DRM on copyright works that have fallen into the public domain, works which support cultural heritage, and works that were created by public entities or funded with public money.

The move is being welcomed by ANSOL and the Free Teaching Association, which thanked the politicians who supported the bill, noting that their work will “ensure that citizens can finally exercise their fundamental rights in respect of DRM-protected works.”

The bill (pdf, Portuguese) must now be approved by the president before being passed into law.

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‘Piracy Filters Are Expensive and Far From Perfect’

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/piracy-filters-are-expensive-and-far-from-perfect-170329/

Signed into law nearly twenty years ago, the DMCA is one of the best known pieces of Internet related legislation.

The law introduced a safe harbor for Internet services, meaning that they can’t be held liable for their pirating users as long as they properly process takedown notices and deal with repeat infringers.

In recent years, however, various parties have complained about shortcomings and abuse of the system. On the one hand, rightsholders believe that the law doesn’t do enough to protect creators, while the opposing side warns of increased censorship and abuse.

To address these concerns, the U.S. Copyright Office hosted a public consultation asking stakeholders to submit comments as well as research. One of the organizations participating is Engine, a non-profit organization representing the interests of the startup and tech communities.

Previously, several copyright industry representatives suggested that piracy filters are an efficient and effective way to deal with piracy. This would save rightsholders a lot of work, and in part shift the ‘policing’ burden to Internet services. However, not everyone in the tech community agrees.

Balancing the scale, Engine teamed up with Professor Nick Feamster of Princeton University to show that automated filters are far from perfect. In their research report titled “The limits of Filtering,” they list a wide variety of drawbacks.

“Before considering dangerous mandatory content filtering rules, policymakers should understand the inherent limitations of filtering technologies,” they write in their report.

“Reversing two decades of sensible copyright policy to require OSPs to deploy tools that are costly, easily circumvented, and limited in scope would deeply harm startups, users, and content creators alike.”

The researchers point out that filtering has a limited scope. File-formats continuously change or can be masked, for example, and even in the ideal case where a site only hosts straightforward audio files, it’s not perfect either.

The report cites a recent case study which found that the music fingerprinting system Echoprint misidentifies between 1 and 2 percent of all files. This might not sound like a lot, but when a site hosts millions of files, it adds up quickly.

With these numbers, tens of thousands of files would be taken down in error, which is far from ideal.

“Given the reported error rates, one could thus expect the state of the art fingerprinting algorithm to misidentify about one or two in every 100 pieces of audio content,” the researchers write.

“Accordingly, a 1–2 percent false positive rate for an automated filtering procedure is problematic for the same reasons, as such a technique would result in filtering legitimate content at rates that would frequently obstruct speech.”

That’s in an ideal situation. The reality is more complicated. An automated filtering tool can’t effectively decide fair use cases, for example. And for some types of content there are no good filtering options available to begin with.

On a broader scale, Engine’s research also predicts an overall negative impact on Internet services. The costs involved could prove to be problematic for smaller startups, for example. Medium-sized file-sharing services would have to pay between $10,000 and $25,000 in licensing fees alone.

A filtering requirement will also create uncertainty among startups. Are they required to filter, to what degree, and is their fingerprinting technology sufficient?

Finally, there’s an elephant in the room. Even if filtering magically works 100%, there will always be plenty of rogue pirate sites in foreign jurisdictions that still offer infringing content.

Speaking with TorrentFreak, Engine’s Executive Director Evan Engstrom, who co-authored the report, hopes that lawmakers will seriously consider the concerns. Not just the US Copyright Office, but also the European Commission (EC) which has concrete plans to make piracy filters mandatory.

“All filtering technologies are limited in significant ways: they are only able to process a relatively narrow range of content files and all can be circumvented through encryption or basic file manipulation. And contrary to the EC’s belief, fingerprinting technologies can be quite expensive, particularly for startups,” Engstrom says.

“We hope this paper provides policymakers considering such mandatory filtering proposals with the technical and economic evidence necessary to fully understand their implications.”

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Are You Sure You Want That DMCA Takedown to Be Permanent?

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/are-you-sure-you-want-that-dmca-takedown-to-be-permanent-170326/

With millions of pieces of infringing content hitting the Internet every day, copyright holders certainly have their work cut out when it comes to eradicating piracy.

At the moment this is largely achieved via DMCA and similar notices that require online platforms to remove content, direct links to content, or related search engine results. However, content has a habit of reappearing after deletion so it’s perfectly possible that the same piece could be subjected to multiple complaints on the same platform.

To solve this problem, rightsholders (the music industry in particular) are pushing for a so-called takedown/staydown regime. They argue that once a piece of content has been flagged as infringing, then it should be entered into some kind of database, to ensure that it is blocked from ever being uploaded again.

This kind of system, should one ever be introduced, would require platforms to monitor every user-uploaded file to ensure that their fingerprints don’t already exist in filtering databases. If they did, the uploads would be rejected, regardless of whether the material would otherwise be allowed under Fair Use exceptions, critics say.

While such a regime is far away on the horizon, some anti-piracy outfits like to pretend that it’s already in place today. After issuing a takedown notice, some have a tendency to imply that there’s a need for a platform to act proactively. That happened this week in a notice to Github, but things didn’t go to plan.

Piracy Solution is an anti-piracy company that claims to offer “relentless” 24/7 monitoring for which there is “no alternative.” This week the outfit wrote to Github on behalf of its client Frontend Masters, a company offering training in various web design skills.

“I am the authorized agent for Frontendmasters.com and MJG International, LLC. It has come to our knowledge that https://github.com is linking, external linking or distributing our content illegally,” Piracy Solution’s agent confidently wrote.

Demanding that Github removes one of its repositories, Piracy Solution went on to suggest that Github is required to proactively filter the same content from its platform in future, to ensure it is never made available again.

“We are requesting that your website not put up or link this copyrighted content in the future. It must not continue to go back up on your site. Please remove it as soon as possible and cease allowing our copyrighted content to be released or linked on your site,” the notice reads.

Continuing, Piracy Solutions declared that the content to be taken down is infringing, not authorized by Frontend Masters, and that its takedown notice is accurate. Sadly, none of these claims were true.

The repository affected by Piracy Solution’s takedown-and-staydown demands is titled ‘Frontend Masters – Advanced SVG Animation Course’ and there is a very good reason for that.

It is operated by Sarah Drasner, who lists her contact email and personal address just in case anyone needs to contact her. If anyone from Piracy Solutions had done so, they would’ve learned that she is the author of SVG Animations from O’Reilly and has given a Frontend Masters workshop on Advanced SVG Animations.

To confirm beyond any doubt, Frontend Masters themselves list Drasner on their very own website while charging access to her SVG Animations course.

After having her repository disabled by Github for copyright infringement, Drasner probably had a few choice words with Frontend Masters. That appears to have prompted Piracy Solutions to completely change their minds about having the content taken down on a permanent basis.

“Thank you for the prompt action in removing this content,” the company told Github.

“However our client Frontend Master was unaware that one of their authors was using github.com and has requested that we issue a retraction of [the takedown notice]. Please let us know if you require anything other than this email for the retraction of the DMCA notice.”

While the Github repository is now in full working order, it’s not difficult to see how a takedown-and-staydown regime could prove problematic when scaled up to potentially hundreds of millions of notices. If companies are able to take down even their own content and request that it never appears again, those set on abuse will be able to cause even greater problems.

That being said, it is crystal clear that copyright holders are tired of the endless game of whac-a-mole and are desperate to reduce their takedown workloads. Whether that can be realistically achieved through the suggested regime will remain to be seen, but for now and aside from the status quo, there are no other serious options on the table.

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Google Gets More WordPress.com Takedown Requests Than WordPress Itself

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/google-gets-more-wordpress-com-takedown-requests-than-wordpress-170319/

Automattic, the company behind the popular WordPress.com blogging platform, receives thousands of takedown requests from rightsholders.

A few days ago the company published its latest transparency report, showing that they processed 5,006 requests during the second half of last year.

While this is a significant amount, it pales in comparison to many other user-generated services. Google, for example, receives the same number in less than four minutes.

What’s also different is the high rejection rate WordPress has. More than 40% of all DMCA takedown notices are rejected due to inaccuracies or abuse, more than many other service providers.

Overall, however, both the number of takedown requests and the removal rate are relatively stable. As can be seen below, Automattic generally removes content for just over half of the notices it receives; the rest are rejected.

When we took a closer look at the takedown numbers, comparing them to Google’s data, something else stood out. It appears that Google receives more takedown requests for WordPress.com than Automattic, the company that operates the blogging platform.

Over the past 12 months, copyright holders asked Google to remove over 13,100 WordPress.com URLs, while Automattic received less than 10,000 last year. In other words, copyright holders are more keen to remove the search engine results than the actual content, which is not very logical.

TorrentFreak contacted Steve from Automattic, who says that the numbers suggest that rightsholders prefer to go through Google because this is the easier path.

“Those numbers aren’t entirely surprising for a few reasons. When looking to limit access to material online, complainants will naturally look for the path of least resistance,” Steve says.

“Since we manually scrutinize every single DMCA takedown notice that we receive for formal validity and fair use considerations, removal is not guaranteed, and we reject about 40% of all notices for being deficient in some way,” he adds.

The Google takedown process is highly automated which makes it relatively easy for copyright holders to target a high volume of URLs, including those of Wordpess.com.

“Removing sites from top search engines is often much easier due to the automatic nature of the review process… something that is made even easier still by the various trusted partnership programs, and use of bulk electronic takedown notices,” Steve notes.

Still, it’s a strange situation. If a copyright holder is really concerned about infringing content on WordPress.com, it should be at least worth a shot to ask the company to remove it.

But no, of the top ten reporting organizations that asked Google to remove WordPress URLs, none appears in Automattic’s most recent top ten.

Finally, it appears that the thousands of notices that are sent to the search engine are pretty much useless anyway. It may be easier than reaching out to Automattic, but not very effective since Google appears to have whitelisted the blogging platform.

Of the 13,100 takedown requests Google processed over the past 12 months, only 0.3% were ultimately removed.

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Canada Rejects Flawed and One-Sided “Piracy” Claims From US Govt.

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/canada-rejects-flawed-and-one-sided-piracy-claims-from-us-govt-170310/

Every year the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) releases an updated version of its Special 301 Report, calling out other nations for failing to live up to U.S. IP enforcement standards.

In recent years Canada has been placed on this “watch list” many times, for a variety of reasons. The country fails to properly deter piracy, is one of the prime complaints circulated by the U.S. Government.

Even after Canada revamped its copyright law, including a mandatory piracy notice scheme and extending the copyright term to 70 years after publication, the allegations didn’t go away in 2016.

Now, a year later new hearings are underway to discuss the 2017 version of the report. Fearing repercussions, several countries have joined stakeholders to defend their positions. However, Canada was notably absent.

While the Canadian Government hasn’t made a lot of fuss in the media, a confidential memo, obtained by University of Ottawa professor Michael Geist, shows that they have little faith in the USTR report.

“Canada does not recognize the validity of the Special 301 and considers the process and the Report to be flawed,” the Government memo reads.

“The Report fails to employ a clear methodology and the findings tend to rely on industry allegations rather than empirical evidence and objective analysis.”

The document in question was prepared for Minister Mélanie Joly last year after the 2016 report was published. It points out, in no uncertain terms, that Canada doesn’t recognize the validity of the 301 process and includes several talking points for the media.

Excerpt from the note

This year, rightsholders have once again labeled Canada a “piracy haven” so it wouldn’t be a big surprise if it’s listed again. Based on the Canadian Government’s lack of response, it is likely that the Northern neighbor still has little faith in the report.

TorrentFreak spoke with law professor Micheal Geist, who has been very critical of the USTR’s 301-process in the past. He believes that Canada is doing the right thing and characterizes the yearly 301 report as biased.

“I think the Canadian government is exactly right in its assessment of the Special 301 report process. It is little more than a lobbying document and the content largely reflects biased submissions from lobby groups,” Geist tells TorrentFreak.

In a recent article the professor explains that, contrary to claims from entertainment industry groups, Canada now has some of the toughest anti-piracy laws in the world. But, these rightsholder groups want more.

Some of the requests, such as those put forward by the industry group IIPA, even go beyond what the United States itself is doing, or far beyond internationally agreed standards.

“[T]he submissions frequently engage in a double standard with the IIPA lobbying against fair use in other countries even though the U.S. has had fair use for decades,” Geist says.

“It also often calls on countries to implement rules that go far beyond their international obligations such as the demands that countries adopt a DMCA-style approach for the WIPO Internet treaties even though those treaties are far more flexible in their requirements.”

This critique of the USTR’s annual report is not new as its alleged biased nature has been discussed by various experts in the past. However, as a country, Canada’s rejection will have an impact, and Professor Geist hopes that other nations will follow suit.

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Anti-Piracy Measures Shouldn’t Stifle Free Speech, EFF Says

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/anti-piracy-measures-shouldnt-stifle-free-speech-eff-says-170224/

Still undecided about the future of the DMCA law, the U.S. Government’s Copyright Office extended its public consultation to evaluate the effectiveness of the Safe Harbor provisions.

The study aims to signal problems with the current takedown procedures and addresses ISPs’ repeat infringer policies, copyright takedown abuses, and the ever-increasing volume of DMCA notices.

Together with various rightsholders and Internet services, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) also submitted its recommendations this week. The digital rights group believes that the current law works as it should, and warns against a copyright enforcement expansion.

The Internet provides a crucial role in facilitating freedom of expression, something that shouldn’t be limited by far-reaching anti-piracy measures, the organization argues.

“Internet intermediaries provide the backbone for Internet users’ expression and are key to the public’s ability to exercise these rights,” EFF writes in its submission.

“Accordingly, the public has a strong interest in ensuring that the Internet remains a viable and accessible platform for free expression and innovation, and in ensuring that online platforms don’t unduly remove, filter, or block speech from the Internet.”

One of the areas of interest for the Copyright Office is how to deal with repeat infringers. The DMCA law requires Internet providers to have a repeat infringer policy in place, but stakeholders have different views on what these should look like.

According to the EFF, however, terminating people’s Internet access is much more than a slap on the wrist, as it can severely impede people’s ability to function in today’s society.

“Conduit ISPs serve as the bridge between their subscribers and the entire Internet. Terminating a subscriber’s Internet access account imposes a far more significant penalty that merely cutting off access to a single Internet service.”

Nowadays, terminating an Internet account often means that the entire household will be affected. The EFF warns that as a result, many people will lose access to important information and tools, which are needed for school, jobs, and even government services.

“Indeed, as former President Obama stated, Internet access today is ‘not a luxury, it’s a necessity’,” the EFF adds.

Another question posted by the Copyright Office deals with the necessity for anti-piracy filters. Yesterday, the RIAA and other music groups spoke out in favor of automated filters but the EFF fiercely opposes the idea.

One of the problems the group signals is that filtering will require Internet services to monitor their users’ activity, causing privacy concerns. In addition these filters will also be imprecise, targeting content that’s considered fair use, for example.

Finally, automated filters will require Internet services to police the Internet, which can be quite costly and stifle free speech at the same time.

“…by shifting the burden and cost of enforcement away from copyright holders and onto service providers, these proposals would stifle competition for Internet services, exacerbate current problems with the notice and takedown system, and increase the risk that valuable, lawful speech will be silenced,” the EFF writes.

The same free speech argument also applies to site-blocking initiatives. According to the EFF, such blocking efforts also restrict access to legitimate material. At the same time, the measures are far from effective.

“Site-blocking often has broader impacts on lawful online speech than intended. When entire domains are blocked, every other page hosted by those domains are subject to the block, regardless of whether they contain infringing content.

“Site-blocking is also largely ineffective at stemming online copyright infringement. Many sites are able to relaunch at new URLs, and users are often able to circumvent blocks using VPNs and the Tor browser,” the group adds.

In summary, the EFF concludes that overall the current law works pretty well and the group warns the Copyright Office not to give in to the broad “filter-everything” push from major copyright industry groups.

The EFF’s full submission to the U.S. Copyright office is available here (pdf).

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Google: With No Fair Use, It’s More Difficult to Innovate

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/google-with-no-fair-use-its-more-difficult-to-innovate-170223/

With Fair Use Week now in full swing, people around the world are celebrating the freedom to use copyrighted content in certain contexts without fear of prosecution, thereby enabling creativity and inspiring innovation.

The legal freedom offered by fair use is a cornerstone of criticism, research, teaching and news reporting, one that enables the activities of thousands of good causes and enriches the minds of millions. However, not all countries fully embrace the concept.

Perhaps surprisingly, Australia is currently behind the times on this front, a point not lost on Google’s Senior Copyright Counsel, William Patry.

Speaking with The Australian (paywall), Patry describes local copyright law as both arcane and not fit for purpose, while acting as a hindrance to innovation and productivity.

“We think Australians are just as innovative as Americans, but the laws are different. And those laws dictate that commercially we act in a different way,” Patry told the publication.

“Our search function, which is the basis of the entire company, is authorized in the US by fair use. You don’t have anything like that here.”

Australia currently employs a more restrictive “fair dealing” approach, but it’s certainly possible that fair use could be introduced in the near future.

Last year, Australia’s Productivity Commission released a draft report covering various aspects of the country’s intellectual property system. One of its key recommendations was to adopt fair use legislation.

“The Australian Government should amend the Copyright Act 1968 to replace the current fair dealing exceptions with a broad exception for fair use,” the Commission wrote in its report.

“The new exception should contain a clause outlining that the objective of the exception is to ensure Australia’s copyright system targets only those circumstances where infringement would undermine the ordinary exploitation of a work at the time of the infringement.”

Unfortunately, the concept of fair use is not universally welcomed. Local anti-piracy and royalty organizations are opposing its introduction, claiming that it will undermine their ability to make money.

Interestingly, broadcaster Foxtel says that the deployment of fair use would introduce “significant and unnecessary uncertainty into Australian law.” This is the exact opposite of Google’s position.

The search giant says that Australia’s current exceptions fail to offer legal certainty and that a US-style fair use system would be much more predictable.

“If you are a company like Google who wants to store information in the cloud, or internet searches or text and data mining, we can do that safely in the US. We can’t do it here,” Patry concludes.

In its final inquiry paper, Australia’s Productivity Commission renewed its calls for the introduction of fair use, noting that in the US, where fair use is long established, “creative industries thrive.”

Whether fair use will ever hit Aussie shores remains to be seen, but yet again there is a division between how technology companies and entertainment groups would like copyright law to develop. It’s a battle that’s set to continue well into the future.

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Is Megaupload’s ‘Crime’ a Common Cloud Hosting Practice?

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/is-megauploads-crime-a-common-cloud-hosting-practice-170218/

Last week we reported that Google Drive uses hash filtering to prevent users from sharing alleged copyright infringing content, while leaving the actual files on its servers.

This practice is similar to what its competitor Dropbox does, and probably many other cloud hosting providers as well.

However, it also reminded us of a more controversial hosting service, Megaupload. When the US Department of Justice announced its allegations against the company five years ago, a similar issue was at the center.

One of the main arguments in the indictment is that Megaupload would only disable a URL when it received a takedown notice, not the underlying file. As a result of the deduplication technology it employed, this meant that the file could still be accessed under different URLs.

“…the Conspiracy has, at best, only deleted the particular URL of which the copyright holder complained, and purposefully left the actual infringing copy of the copyrighted work on the Mega Conspiracy-controlled server and any other access links completely intact,” the indictment reads.

The RIAA and MPAA later highlighted the similar takedown related issues in their civil complaints, with the latter stating:

“And although Megaupload had implemented a technology called ‘MDS hash’ filtering to identify and block uploads of various types of illicit content, Megaupload chose not to deploy that technology to identify and block infringing uploads of copyrighted works that had already been subject to takedown notices by plaintiffs and other copyright holders.”

Admittingly, the Megaupload cases are much broader than this single issue, but it does raise questions.

The apparent ‘failure’ to block infringing content from being uploaded by other users isn’t illegal by definition. In fact, neither Google Drive nor Dropbox does this today. So how is the Megaupload situation different?

The main difference appears to be that Megaupload only removed the links that were reported as infringing, while Dropbox and Drive also prevent others from publicly sharing links to the same file. All three services keep or kept the original files on their servers though.

There are good arguments for keeping the files, as others may have the legal right to store them. If someone downloads an MP3, he or she can’t share it in public without permission. However, making a private backup on Dropbox would be acceptable in many countries.

Since Dropbox and Drive don’t face criminal indictments, the question should therefore be whether Megaupload was legally required to delete all public links to the underlying file, even those that were not directly reported.

This is something legal experts have their doubts over, including Professor Lawrence Lessig.

“It is possible for one uploader to have a right to fair use of a copy of a file, e.g., a purchaser uploading a backup or an educational organization offering critical commentary, while other uploaders might have no such fair use right,” he explained earlier in an expert report.

In other words, while one person might not have the legal right to store a file, another person might. The same argument also applies to publishing such links. This is something we also see on YouTube, where rightsholders pull down videos which they themselves have openly published on the same site.

This week, Megaupload counsel Ira Rothken clarified that the service tried to strike a balance between the rights of copyright holders and its users. If one link is infringing, that doesn’t mean that all of the others on the service are as well.

“While Megaupload made efforts to curb abuse of its service, it recognized a competing obligation to its users who legitimately use[d] the service to store their own copies of copyrighted material,” Rothken tells TorrentFreak.

“For example, a music file that was purchased or covered by fair use and uploaded by a user for the purpose of ‘space shifting’ would look the same to Megaupload’s automated processes as a music file to which the user had no legal right.”

This was also brought up in the Dancing Baby” case recently, where it was held that copyright holders should consider fair use before requesting a takedown. This means that removing an underlying file may be too broad, as fair use isn’t considered for all URLs.

Megaupload saw it as an obligation to its users, who had a legal right to the files, to ensure that there’s a proper and legitimate basis to disable links or remove files.

“As a result, where a user was subject to a proper and specific take down notice for their unique link or URL, that user’s link to the file in question was taken down or broken.”

In sum, we can say that Megaupload operated slightly differently from Dropbox and Google Drive today. However, the difference is subtle. Not taking down the actual copyright infringing file from the servers is still common practice, for example.

When it comes to proactively preventing public sharing of links that are not reported yet, the service operated differently. Here Megaupload put the interests of its users first. Of course, the Megaupload case is much broader, but the above should illustrate that when it comes alleged hash filtering and file removal ‘crimes’, there is still an open debate.

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‘Star Trek’ Fan Film Settles Copyright Battle with Movie Studios

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/movie-studios-settle-copyright-battle-with-star-trek-fan-film-170123/

klingonLast year Paramount Pictures and CBS Studios launched a legal battle against the makers of a Star Trek inspired fan film, accusing them of copyright infringement.

The case, which revolved around the well-received short film Star Trek: Prelude to Axanar and the planned follow-up feature film Axanar, put the future of the crowdfunded project at risk.

In the original complaint, the rightsholders claimed ownership over various Star Trek related settings, characters, species, clothing, colors, shapes, words, short phrases and even the Klingon language.

In a pre-trial order earlier this month the court decided that the fan-film is not entitled to a fair use defense. In addition, it found that there is an objective substantial similarity between the fan-film and the original Star Trek works.

This meant that Axanar was about to head into trial with a significant disadvantage, but in the end it didn’t come to that. Instead, both parties agreed to a settlement while asking the court to dismissed the case.

“Paramount Pictures Corporation, CBS Studios Inc., Axanar Productions, Inc. and Alec Peters are pleased to announce that the litigation regarding Axanar’s film Prelude to Axanar and its proposed film Axanar has been resolved,” reads a joint statement, published by HWR.

With a settlement, the Axanar team avoids having to pay a high amount in damages if they had lost. However, it also means that the planned film for which it raised over a million dollars through crowdfunding, will look substantially different.

Although most of the settlement terms remain confidential, it is clear that the film’s length will be significantly shorter. Instead of a planned 100-minute feature, Axanar will be reduced to two fifteen minute segments.

“Terms of the settlement agreement include an agreement to allow Axanar Productions to continue showing Prelude to Axanar commercial-free on YouTube and to allow Axanar Productions to produce the Axanar feature film as two fifteen-minute segments that can be distributed on YouTube,” Axanar announced.

While the films are allowed to appear on YouTube, they can’t be monetized through ads. Also, several copyrighted elements will be removed from the original script to satisfy the movie studios. One of the hot irons was the use of Klingon language, but it’s unclear whether that is still permitted.

Many fans who backed the project financially are disappointed with the outcome, but in comments on social media the filmmakers are clear that they really had no other viable option.

commentsaxan

“And your solution is? Maybe you haven’t been following the multi-million $ lawsuit that we have been going through the past 13 months,” Axanar commented after someone suggested they had caved-in to the movie studios’ restrictive demands.

In response to the lawsuit, Paramount and CBS issued a set of fan film guidelines last summer, hoping to avoid similar legal battles in the future. While this comes too late for director Alec Peter and his crew, they are glad that their project can continue in an edited form.

“Axanar Productions was created by lifelong Star Trek fans to celebrate their love for Star Trek. Alec Peters and the Axanar team look forward to continuing to share the Axanar story and are happy to work within the Guidelines for Fan Films for future projects.”

“Live Long and Prosper,” the Axanar team concludes.

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‘Klingon Language’ Copyright Battle Ends, For Now

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/klingon-language-copyright-battle-ends-for-now-170113/

klingonLast year Paramount Pictures and CBS Studios filed a lawsuit against the makers of a Star Trek inspired fan film, accusing them of copyright infringement.

The case, which centers around the well-received short film Star Trek: Prelude to Axanar and the planned follow-up feature film Axanar, goes to trial later this month.

In the original complaint the rightsholders claimed ownership over various Star Trek related settings, characters, species, clothing, colors, shapes, words, short phrases and even the Klingon language.

In a pre-trial order earlier this month the court decided that the fan-film is not entitled to a fair use defense. In addition, it found that there is an objective substantial similarity between the fan-film and the original Star Trek works.

While no ruling was made on individual items such as the Klingon language, costumes, characters or species, as a whole the overall look and feel was found to be substantially similar.

This was disappointing for the makers of the fan film, but in a subsequent order this week there was also some good news. In particular for those who feared for the future of the Klingon language.

The court tentatively granted a motion (pdf) from the Axanar team to preclude evidence that is unoriginal, in the public domain or owned by third parties. This motion specifically included the Klingon language, which now can’t be brought up at trial.

The news is welcomed by the Language Creation Society (LCS), a non-profit that promotes the art and craft of language creation.

LCS openly protested Paramount’s copyright claim over the Klingon language in recent months. They also tried to get officially involved in the case by filing an amicus brief and reply, which both used fierce Klingon statements throughout.

The language is a tool for people to communicate and express ideas, something people should be allowed to do freely under U.S. law, LCS argued.

Klingon in court *7/8

klingon2

Paramount disagreed and the court decided that LCS was not allowed to file their motion because the issue was moot. Looking back, however, LCS believes that their efforts did make an impact.

“We used Klingon in our brief to show that Klingon is a living language that anyone should be able to use without Paramount’s permission,” LCS notes.

“It also serves a real purpose beyond this one case. IP law can be dry and technical. The use of Klingon — and humor — helped spread our point that languages are not copyrightable.”

The good news for Klingons and their fans is that, while Paramount still claims ownership, there are no additional roadblocks to use the language. And without an order stating that Paramount has exclusive rights over the language’s use, LCS and others will continue to spread it.

In fact, the legal battle actually helped it to grow and evolve. After several decades, the name Paramount now finally has a Klingon translation: pa’ra’mon.

“We have not sought, nor do we need, any permission from Paramount for our use of Klingon — not even when we have created a new Klingon name for Paramount itself: parapa’ra’mon,” LCS writes.

neversurrenderNever surrender! Success!”

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