Tag Archives: fair use

MPAA Warns Australia Not to ‘Mess’ With Fair Use and Geo-Blocking

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/mpaa-warns-australia-not-mess-with-fair-use-and-geo-blocking-171107/

Last year, the Australian Government’s Productivity Commission published a Draft Report on Intellectual Property Arrangements, recommending various amendments to local copyright law.

The Commission suggested allowing the use of VPNs and similar technologies to enable consumers to bypass restrictive geo-blocking. It also tabled proposals to introduce fair use exceptions and to expand safe harbors for online services.

Two months ago the Government responded to these proposals. It promised to expand the safe harbor protections and announced a consultation on fair use, describing the current fair dealing exceptions as restrictive. The Government also noted that circumvention of geo-blocks may be warranted, in some cases.

While the copyright reform plans have been welcomed with wide support from the public and companies such as Google and Wikipedia, there’s also plenty of opposition. From Hollywood, for example, which fears that the changes will set back Australia’s progress to combat piracy.

A few days ago, the MPAA submitted its 2018 list of foreign trade barriers to the U.S. Government. The document in question highlights key copyright challenges in the most crucial markets, Australia included. According to the movie industry group, the tabled proposals are problematic.

“If the Commission’s recommendations were adopted, they could result in legislative changes that undermine the current balance of protection in Australia. These changes could create significant market uncertainty and effectively weaken Australia’s infrastructure for intellectual property protection,” the MPAA writes.

“Of concern is a proposal to introduce a vague and undefined ‘fair use’ exception unmoored from decades of precedent in the United States. Another proposal would expand Australia’s safe harbor regime in piecemeal fashion,” the group adds.

The fair use opposition is noteworthy since the Australian proposal is largely modeled after US law. The MPAA’s comment suggests, however, that this can’t be easily applied to another country, as that would lack the legal finetuning that’s been established in dozens of court cases.

That the MPAA isn’t happy with the expansion of safe harbor protections for online service providers is no surprise. In recent years, copyright holders have often complained that these protections hinder progress on the anti-piracy front, as companies such as Google and Facebook have no incentive to proactively police copyright infringement.

Moving on, the movie industry group highlights that circumvention of geo-blocking for copyrighted content and other protection measures are also controversial topics for Hollywood.

“Still another would allow circumvention of geo-blocking and other technological protection measures. Australia has one of the most vibrant creative economies in the world and its current legal regime has helped the country become the site of major production investments.

“Local policymakers should take care to ensure that Australia’s vibrant market is not inadvertently impaired and that any proposed relaxation of copyright and related rights protection does not violate Australia’s international obligations,” the MPAA adds.

Finally, while it was not included in the commission’s recommendations, the MPAA stresses once again that Australia’s anti-camcording laws are not up to par.

Although several camming pirates have been caught in recent years, the punishments don’t meet Hollywood’s standards. For example, in 2012 a man connected to a notorious release group was convicted for illicitly recording 14 audio captures, for which he received an AUS$2,000 fine.

“Australia should adopt anticamcording legislation. While illegal copying is a violation of the Copyright Act, more meaningful deterrent penalties are required,” the MPAA writes. “Such low penalties fail to reflect the devastating impact that this crime has on the film industry.”

The last suggestion has been in the MPAA’s recommendations for several years already, but the group is persistent.

In closing, the MPAA asks the US Government to keep these and other issues in focus during future trade negotiations and policy discussions with Australia and other countries, while thanking it for the critical assistance Hollywood has received over the years.

MPAA’s full submission, which includes many of the recommendations that were made in previous years, is available here (pdf).

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

CBS Sues Man for Posting Image of a 59-Year TV-Show on Social Media

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/cbs-sues-man-for-posting-image-of-a-59-year-tv-show-on-social-media-171030/

Just a few days ago we posted an article about the dozens of cases independent photographers file against mainstream media outlets.

These lawsuits accuse companies such as CBS, NBC, and Warner Bros of using copyrighted photos without the owners’ permission and have resulted in hundreds of settlements this year alone.

While the evidence in these cases is often strong, going up against such powerful companies is not without risk. They have the money and resources to fight back, by any means necessary. This is what New York photographer Jon Tannen has witnessed as well.

In February, Tannen sued CBS Interactive because it used one of his copyrighted photos on the website 247sports.com without being paid. While he hoped this would result in a decent settlement, CBS found a smoking gun and decided to fire back.

A few days ago the photographer was hit with a rather unusual lawsuit. In a four-page complaint, CBS Broadcasting accuses him of posting a copyright-infringing image of the classic TV-show Gunsmoke on social media.

Gunsmoke is one of the longest-running drama TV-shows in US history and aired on CBS from 1955 through 1975. In the complaint, the media giant brands Tannen a hypocrite for posting the infringing CBS screenshots online.

“This copyright infringement action arises out of Defendant’s unauthorized use of Plaintiff’s valuable intellectual property. Tannen hypocritically engaged in this act of infringement while simultaneously bringing suit against Plaintiff’s sister company, CBS Interactive Inc., claiming it had violated his own copyright.”

The complaint

The screenshot(s), which we were unable to locate at the time of writing, is taken from the “Dooley Surrenders” episode first aired in 1958. While many would classify a screenshot from a full episode as fair use, CBS is having none of it.

“Without any license or authorization from Plaintiff, Defendant has copied and published via social media platforms images copied from the ‘Dooley Surrenders’ episode of GUNSMOKE,” CBS writes, adding that the “infringement of Plaintiff’s copyright is willful within the meaning of the Copyright Act.”

CBS says that it’s been harmed by the infringing action but it can’t determine any actual damages. Instead, it requests statutory damages for willful copyright infringement which can reach $150,000 per work.

Of course, it’s unlikely that Tannen will have to pay that. CBS’s lawsuit is a clear retaliatory move through which the company hopes to lessen the potential damages for their own alleged infringement.

Posting a screenshot of a TV-episode is on a completely different level than using a full photo in a publication, of course. Still, CBS has shown that it’s willing to put up a fight, and with a powerful team of lawyers they are a tricky adversary.

—-

The full CBS complaint is available here (pdf). A copy of Tannen’s original suit against CBS Interactive can be found here (pdf).

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

MP3 Stream Rippers Are Not Illegal Sites, EFF Tells US Government

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/mp3-stream-rippers-are-not-illegal-sites-eff-tells-us-government-171021/

Free music is easy to find nowadays. Just head over to YouTube and you can find millions of tracks including many of the most recent releases.

While some artists happily share their work, the major record labels don’t want tracks to leak outside YouTube’s ecosystem. For this reason, they want YouTube to MP3 rippers shut down.

Earlier this month, the RIAA sent its overview of “notorious markets” to the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR), highlighting several of these sites and asking for help.

“The overall popularity of these sites and the staggering volume of traffic it attracts evidences the enormous damage being inflicted on the U.S. record industry,” the RIAA wrote, calling out Mp3juices.cc, Convert2mp3.net, Savefrom.net, Ytmp3.cc, Convertmp3.io, Flvto.biz, and 2conv.com as the most popular offenders.

This position is shared by many other music industry groups. They see stream ripping as the largest piracy threat online. After shutting down YouTube-MP3, they hope to topple other sites as well, ideally with the backing of the US Government.

However, not everyone shares the belief that stream ripping equals copyright infringement.

In a rebuttal, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) informs the USTR that the RIAA is trying to twist the law in its favor. Not all stream ripping sites are facilitating copyright infringement by definition, the EFF argues.

“RIAA’s discussion of ‘stream-ripping’ websites misstates copyright law. Websites that simply allow users to extract the audio track from a user-selected online video are not ‘illegal sites’ and are not liable for copyright infringement, unless they engage in additional conduct that meets the definition of infringement,” the EFF writes.

Flvto

While some people may use these sites to ‘pirate’ tracks there are also legitimate purposes, the digital rights group notes. Some creators specifically allow others to download and modify their work, for example, and in other cases ripping can be seen as fair use.

“There exists a vast and growing volume of online video that is licensed for free downloading and modification, or contains audio tracks that are not subject to copyright,” the EFF stresses.

“Moreover, many audio extractions qualify as non-infringing fair uses under copyright. Providing a service that is capable of extracting audio tracks for these lawful purposes is itself lawful, even if some users infringe.”

The fact that these sites generate revenue from advertising doesn’t make them illegal either. While there are some issues that could make a site liable, such as distributing infringing content to third parties, the EFF argues that many of the sites identified by the RIAA are not clearly involved in such activities.

Instead of solely relying on the characterizations of the RIAA, the US Government should judge these sites independently, in accordance with the law.

“USTR must apply U.S. law as it is, not as particular industry organizations wish it to be. Accordingly, it is inappropriate to describe ‘stream-ripping’ sites as engaging in or facilitating infringement. That logic would discourage U.S. firms from providing many forms of useful, lawful technology that processes or interacts with copyrighted work in digital form, to the detriment of U.S. trade,” the EFF concludes.

It is worth highlighting that most sites the RIAA mentioned specifically advertise themselves as YouTube converters. While this violates YouTube’s Terms of Service, something the streaming platform isn’t happy with, it doesn’t automatically classify them as infringing services.

Ideally, the RIAA and other music industry group would like YouTube to shut down these sites but if that doesn’t happen, more lawsuits may follow in the future. Then, the claims from both sides can be properly tested in court.

The full EFF response is available here (pdf). In addition to the stream ripping comments, the digital rights group also defends CDN providers such as Cloudflare, reverse proxies, and domain registrars from MPAA and RIAA piracy complaints.

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

Abandon Proactive Copyright Filters, Huge Coalition Tells EU Heavyweights

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/abandon-proactive-copyright-filters-huge-coalition-tells-eu-heavyweights-171017/

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.

One of the proposals is causing significant concern. Article 13 would require some online service providers to become ‘Internet police’, proactively detecting and filtering allegedly infringing copyright works, uploaded to their platforms by users.

Currently, users are generally able to share whatever they like but should a copyright holder take exception to their upload, mechanisms are available for that content to be taken down. It’s envisioned that proactive filtering, whereby user uploads are routinely scanned and compared to a database of existing protected content, will prevent content becoming available in the first place.

These proposals are of great concern to digital rights groups, who believe that such filters will not only undermine users’ rights but will also place unfair burdens on Internet platforms, many of which will struggle to fund such a program. Yesterday, in the latest wave of opposition to Article 13, a huge coalition of international rights groups came together to underline their concerns.

Headed up by Civil Liberties Union for Europe (Liberties) and European Digital Rights (EDRi), the coalition is formed of dozens of influential groups, including Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Human Rights Watch, Reporters without Borders, and Open Rights Group (ORG), to name just a few.

In an open letter to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani, President of the European Council Donald Tusk and a string of others, the groups warn that the proposals undermine the trust established between EU member states.

“Fundamental rights, justice and the rule of law are intrinsically linked and constitute
core values on which the EU is founded,” the letter begins.

“Any attempt to disregard these values undermines the mutual trust between member states required for the EU to function. Any such attempt would also undermine the commitments made by the European Union and national governments to their citizens.”

Those citizens, the letter warns, would have their basic rights undermined, should the new proposals be written into EU law.

“Article 13 of the proposal on Copyright in the Digital Single Market include obligations on internet companies that would be impossible to respect without the imposition of excessive restrictions on citizens’ fundamental rights,” it notes.

A major concern is that by placing new obligations on Internet service providers that allow users to upload content – think YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – they will be forced to err on the side of caution. Should there be any concern whatsoever that content might be infringing, fair use considerations and exceptions will be abandoned in favor of staying on the right side of the law.

“Article 13 appears to provoke such legal uncertainty that online services will have no other option than to monitor, filter and block EU citizens’ communications if they are to have any chance of staying in business,” the letter warns.

But while the potential problems for service providers and users are numerous, the groups warn that Article 13 could also be illegal since it contradicts case law of the Court of Justice.

According to the E-Commerce Directive, platforms are already required to remove infringing content, once they have been advised it exists. The new proposal, should it go ahead, would force the monitoring of uploads, something which goes against the ‘no general obligation to monitor‘ rules present in the Directive.

“The requirement to install a system for filtering electronic communications has twice been rejected by the Court of Justice, in the cases Scarlet Extended (C70/10) and Netlog/Sabam (C 360/10),” the rights groups warn.

“Therefore, a legislative provision that requires internet companies to install a filtering system would almost certainly be rejected by the Court of Justice because it would contravene the requirement that a fair balance be struck between the right to intellectual property on the one hand, and the freedom to conduct business and the right to freedom of expression, such as to receive or impart information, on the other.”

Specifically, the groups note that the proactive filtering of content would violate freedom of expression set out in Article 11 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights. That being the case, the groups expect national courts to disapply it and the rule to be annulled by the Court of Justice.

The latest protests against Article 13 come in the wake of large-scale objections earlier in the year, voicing similar concerns. However, despite the groups’ fears, they have powerful adversaries, each determined to stop the flood of copyrighted content currently being uploaded to the Internet.

Front and center in support of Article 13 is the music industry and its current hot-topic, the so-called Value Gap(1,2,3). The industry feels 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.

They believe that proactively filtering uploads would significantly help to diminish this problem, which may very well be the case. But at what cost to the general public and the platforms they rely upon? Citizens and scholars feel that freedoms will be affected and it’s likely the outcry will continue.

The ball is now with the EU, whose members will soon have to make what could be the most important decision in recent copyright history. The rights groups, who are urging for Article 13 to be deleted, are clear where they stand.

The full letter is available here (pdf)

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

20th Century Fox is Looking for Anti-Piracy Interns

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/20th-century-fox-is-looking-for-anti-piracy-interns-170930/

Piracy remains one of the key threats for most Hollywood movie studios.

Most companies have entire departments dedicated to spotting infringing content, understanding the changing landscape, and figuring out how to respond.

20th Century Fox, for example, has its own Content Protection group, headed by Ron Wheeler. The group keeps an eye on emerging piracy threats and is currently looking for fresh blood.

The company has listed two new internships. The first is for a Graduate JD Law Student, who will be tasked with analyzing fair use cases and finding new targets for lawsuits, among other things.

“Interns will participate in the monitoring of and enforcement against such piracy, including conducting detailed copyright infringement and fair use analyses; identifying and researching litigation targets, and searching the internet for infringing copies of Fox content.”

Fox notes that basic knowledge of the principles of Copyright Law is a plus, but apparently not required. Students who take this internship will learn how film and television piracy affects the media industry and consumers, preparing them for future work in this field.

“This is a great opportunity for students interested in pursuing practice in the fields of Intellectual Property, Entertainment, or Media Law,” the job application explains.

A second anti-piracy internship that was posted recently is a search and analytics position. This includes organizing online copyright infringement intelligence and compiling this in analytical piracy reports for Fox executives.

Undergraduate – Research & Analytics

The research job posting shows that Fox keeps an eye on a wide range of piracy avenues including search engines, forums, eBay and pirate sites.

“Anti-Piracy Internet Investigations and Analysis including, but not limited to, internet research, forum site investigation, eBay searches, video forensics analysis review, database entry, general internet searches for Fox video content, review and summarize pirate websites, piracy trend analysis, and more.”

Those who complete the internship will have a thorough understanding of how widespread piracy issues are. It will provide insight into how this affects the movie industry and consumers alike, Fox explains.

While the average torrenter and streaming pirate might not be very eager to work for ‘the other side,’ these internships are ideal positions for students who have aspirations of working in the anti-piracy field. If any TorrentFreak readers plan to apply and get the job, we’ll be eager to hear what you’ve learned in a few months.

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

Football Coach Retweets, Gets Sued for Copyright Infringement

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/football-coach-retweets-gets-sued-for-copyright-infringement-170928/

When copyright infringement lawsuits hit the US courts, there’s often a serious case at hand. Whether that’s the sharing of a leaked movie online or indeed the mass infringement that allegedly took place on Megaupload, there’s usually something quite meaty to discuss.

A lawsuit filed this week in a Pennsylvania federal court certainly provides the later, but without managing to be much more than a fairly trivial matter in the first instance.

The case was filed by sports psychologist and author Dr. Keith Bell. It begins by describing Bell as an “internationally recognized performance consultant” who has worked with 500 teams, including the Olympic and national teams for the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Fiji, and the Cayman Islands.

Bell is further described as a successful speaker, athlete and coach; “A four-time
collegiate All-American swimmer, a holder of numerous world and national masters swim records, and has coached several collegiate, high school, and private swim teams to competitive success.”

At the heart of the lawsuit is a book that Bell published in 1982, entitled Winning Isn’t Normal.

“The book has enjoyed substantial acclaim, distribution and publicity. Dr. Bell is the sole author of this work, and continues to own all rights in the work,” the lawsuit (pdf) reads.

Bell claims that on or about November 6, 2015, King’s College head football coach Jeffery Knarr retweeted a tweet that was initially posted from @NSUBaseball32, a Twitter account operated by Northeastern State University’s RiverHawks baseball team. The retweet, as shown in the lawsuit, can be seen below.

The retweet that sparked the lawsuit

“The post was made without authorization from Dr. Bell and without attribution
to Dr. Bell,” the lawsuit reads.

“Neither Defendant King’s College nor Defendant Jeffery Knarr contacted Dr.
Bell to request permission to use Dr. Bell’s copyrighted work. As of November 14, 2015, the post had received 206 ‘Retweets’ and 189 ‘Likes.’ Due to the globally accessible nature of Twitter, the post was accessible by Internet users across the world.”

Bell says he sent a cease and desist letter to NSU in September 2016 and shortly thereafter NSU removed the post, which removed the retweets. However, this meant that Knarr’s retweet had been online for “at least” 10 months and 21 days.

To put the icing on the cake, Bell also holds the trademark to the phrase “Winning Isn’t Normal”, so he’s suing Knarr and his King’s College employer for trademark infringement too.

“The Defendants included Plaintiff’s trademark twice in the Twitter post. The first instance was as the title of the post, with the mark shown in letters which
were emphasized by being capitalized, bold, and underlined,” the lawsuit notes.

“The second instance was at the end of the post, with the mark shown in letters which were emphasized by being capitalized, bold, underlined, and followed by three
exclamation points.”

Describing what appears to be a casual retweet as “willful, intentional and purposeful” infringement carried out “in disregard of and with indifference to Plaintiff’s rights,” Bell demands damages and attorneys fees from Knarr and his employer.

“As a direct and proximate result of said infringement by Defendants, Plaintiff is
entitled to damages in an amount to be proven at trial,” the lawsuit concludes.

Since the page from the book retweeted by Knarr is a small portion of the overall work, there may be a fair use defense. Nevertheless, defending this kind of suit is never cheap, so it’s probably fair to say there will already be a considerable amount of regret among the defendants at ever having set eyes on Bell’s 35-year-old book.

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

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)

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

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.

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

‘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.”

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

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.

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

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.

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