Tag Archives: Staydown

Swiss Copyright Law Proposals: Good News for Pirates, Bad For Pirate Sites

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/swiss-copyright-law-proposals-good-news-for-pirates-bad-for-pirate-sites-171124/

While Switzerland sits geographically in the heart of Europe, the country is not part of the European Union, meaning that its copyright laws are often out of touch with those of the countries encircling it.

For years this has meant heavy criticism from the United States, whose trade representative has put Switzerland on the Watch List, citing weaknesses in the country’s ability to curb online copyright infringement.

“The decision to place Switzerland on the Watch List this year is premised on U.S. concerns regarding specific difficulties in Switzerland’s system of online copyright protection and enforcement,” the USTR wrote in 2016.

Things didn’t improve in 2017. Referencing the so-called Logistep Decision, which found that collecting infringers’ IP addresses is unlawful, the USTR said that Switzerland had effectively deprived copyright holders of the means to enforce their rights online.

All of this criticism hasn’t fallen on deaf ears. For the past several years, Switzerland has been deeply involved in consultations that aim to shape future copyright law. Negotiations have been prolonged, however, with the Federal Council aiming to improve the situation for creators without impairing the position of consumers.

A new draft compromise tabled Wednesday is somewhat of a mixed bag, one that is unlikely to please the United States overall but could prove reasonably acceptable to the public.

First of all, people will still be able to ‘pirate’ as much copyrighted material as they like, as long as that content is consumed privately and does not include videogames or software, which are excluded. Any supposed losses accrued by the entertainment industries will be compensated via a compulsory tax of 13 Swiss francs ($13), levied on media playback devices including phones and tablets.

This freedom only applies to downloading and streaming, meaning that any uploading (distribution) is explicitly ruled out. So, while grabbing some streaming content via a ‘pirate’ Kodi addon is just fine, using BitTorrent to achieve the same is ruled out.

Indeed, rightsholders will be able to capture IP addresses of suspected infringers in order to file a criminal complaint with authorities. That being said, there will no system of warning notices targeting file-sharers.

But while the authorization of unlicensed downloads will only frustrate an already irritated United States, the other half of the deal is likely to be welcomed.

Under the recommendations, Internet services will not only be required to remove infringing content from their platforms, they’ll also be compelled to prevent that same content from reappearing. Failure to comply will result in prosecution. It’s a standard that copyright holders everywhere are keen for governments to adopt.

Additionally, the spotlight will fall on datacenters and webhosts that have a reputation for being popular with pirate sites. It’s envisioned that such providers will be prevented from offering services to known pirate sites, with the government clearly stating that services with piracy at the heart of their business models will be ripe for action.

But where there’s a plus for copyright holders, the Swiss have another minus. Previously it was proposed that in serious cases authorities should be able to order the ISP blocking of “obviously illegal content or sources.” That proposal has now been dropped, meaning no site-blocking will be allowed.

Other changes in the draft envision an extension of the copyright term from 50 to 70 years and improved protection for photographic works. The proposals also feature increased freedoms for researchers and libraries, who will be able to use copyrighted works without obtaining permission from rightsholders.

Overall the proposals are a pretty mixed bag but as Minister of Justice Simonetta Sommaruga said Wednesday, if no one is prepared to compromise, no one will get anything.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN discounts, offers and coupons

BPI Breaks Record After Sending 310 Million Google Takedowns

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/bpi-breaks-record-after-sending-310-million-google-takedowns-170619/

A little over a year ago during March 2016, music industry group BPI reached an important milestone. After years of sending takedown notices to Google, the group burst through the 200 million URL barrier.

The fact that it took BPI several years to reach its 200 million milestone made the surpassing of the quarter billion milestone a few months later even more remarkable. In October 2016, the group sent its 250 millionth takedown to Google, a figure that nearly doubled when accounting for notices sent to Microsoft’s Bing.

But despite the volumes, the battle hadn’t been won, let alone the war. The BPI’s takedown machine continued to run at a remarkable rate, churning out millions more notices per week.

As a result, yet another new milestone was reached this month when the BPI smashed through the 300 million URL barrier. Then, days later, a further 10 million were added, with the latter couple of million added during the time it took to put this piece together.

BPI takedown notices, as reported by Google

While demanding that Google places greater emphasis on its de-ranking of ‘pirate’ sites, the BPI has called again and again for a “notice and stay down” regime, to ensure that content taken down by the search engine doesn’t simply reappear under a new URL. It’s a position BPI maintains today.

“The battle would be a whole lot easier if intermediaries played fair,” a BPI spokesperson informs TF.

“They need to take more proactive responsibility to reduce infringing content that appears on their platform, and, where we expressly notify infringing content to them, to ensure that they do not only take it down, but also keep it down.”

The long-standing suggestion is that the volume of takedown notices sent would reduce if a “take down, stay down” regime was implemented. The BPI says it’s difficult to present a precise figure but infringing content has a tendency to reappear, both in search engines and on hosting sites.

“Google rejects repeat notices for the same URL. But illegal content reappears as it is re-indexed by Google. As to the sites that actually host the content, the vast majority of notices sent to them could be avoided if they implemented take-down & stay-down,” BPI says.

The fact that the BPI has added 60 million more takedowns since the quarter billion milestone a few months ago is quite remarkable, particularly since there appears to be little slowdown from month to month. However, the numbers have grown so huge that 310 billion now feels a lot like 250 million, with just a few added on top for good measure.

That an extra 60 million takedowns can almost be dismissed as a handful is an indication of just how massive the issue is online. While pirates always welcome an abundance of links to juicy content, it’s no surprise that groups like the BPI are seeking more comprehensive and sustainable solutions.

Previously, it was hoped that the Digital Economy Bill would provide some relief, hopefully via government intervention and the imposition of a search engine Code of Practice. In the event, however, all pressure on search engines was removed from the legislation after a separate voluntary agreement was reached.

All parties agreed that the voluntary code should come into effect two weeks ago on June 1 so it seems likely that some effects should be noticeable in the near future. But the BPI says it’s still early days and there’s more work to be done.

“BPI has been working productively with search engines since the voluntary code was agreed to understand how search engines approach the problem, but also what changes can and have been made and how results can be improved,” the group explains.

“The first stage is to benchmark where we are and to assess the impact of the changes search engines have made so far. This will hopefully be completed soon, then we will have better information of the current picture and from that we hope to work together to continue to improve search for rights owners and consumers.”

With more takedown notices in the pipeline not yet publicly reported by Google, the BPI informs TF that it has now notified the search giant of 315 million links to illegal content.

“That’s an astonishing number. More than 1 in 10 of the entire world’s notices to Google come from BPI. This year alone, one in every three notices sent to Google from BPI is for independent record label repertoire,” BPI concludes.

While it’s clear that groups like BPI have developed systems to cope with the huge numbers of takedown notices required in today’s environment, it’s clear that few rightsholders are happy with the status quo. With that in mind, the fight will continue, until search engines are forced into compromise. Considering the implications, that could only appear on a very distant horizon.

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

Clever ‘Piracy’ App Keeps Celebrity Embarrassments Off YouTube

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/clever-piracy-app-keeps-celebrity-embarrassments-off-youtube-170401/

While regular members of the public are free to grab a McDonalds in old sportswear or visit a store without full makeup, the mere suggestion of such sloppy behavior has the potential to make an A-List celebrity sweat like a PwC accountant at the Oscars.

Indeed, for people like Kanye West or Kim Kardashian, getting mistaken in public for a drunken bum could have catastrophic financial consequences. If annoying members of the public record and then upload such footage to the Internet, sponsors could back away, horrified at how regular they look without Photoshop.

But for those needing to maintain a perfect public image at all times, both in public and on YouTube, all is not lost. A new app being trialed in the US aims to stop interfering ‘citizen journalists’ in their tracks, rendering embarrassing celebrity footage all but useless.

Under development for iOS and Android, the app is made up of two modules. The first is a tool that downloads the most popular pop track of the week (currently Ed Sheeran’s ‘Shape of You’) from one of many pirate sites.

The second is a clever piece of coding that allows the track to be played extremely loudly through the phone’s own speaker, but with a novel twist.

Whenever Kim needs to go out without her hair done, all she needs to do is pop her phone in her pocket and activate the app. The software then transposes the pirate audio to surpass 15 kHz, beyond the normal range of human hearing but within reach of recording equipment utilized by the public.

It’s at this stage the app comes into its own. As soon as the potentially embarrassing footage is recorded and uploaded to YouTube, the site’s recently upgraded Content ID system swings into action.

Completely unfazed by the massive shift in pitch, YouTube’s filtering system spots the pirate song playing in the background and flags the video as a copyright infringement. Thanks to a less tolerant approach to infringers, it’s immediately taken off the site, keeping the celebrity’s image intact.

At the moment the app is being trialed by a few hand-picked public figures who are said to be particularly image-conscious. Their feedback has been largely positive, with a number asking for specific enhancements.

One nameless politician, who has been caught on camera a number of times saying inappropriate things about women, inquired whether the app could be upgraded to play a quickly medley of three or four songs instead of just one. This would ensure that people lose their YouTube account under the site’s tightened three-strike rule. Take that.

Looking towards the possibility of a future takedown/staydown regime, another tester suggested that rather than culling pirate tracks from the Internet, the app could play a unique sequence of notes previously copyrighted by the celebrity.

Once that ‘tune’ has been registered with YouTube’s Content ID, it would be trivial for the public figure to have the app rolling on his or her phone all the time. This would enable them to be excluded from YouTube on a permanent basis, perfect for the politician who likes to act with impunity.

A video of the app in action can be found here.

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.

Search Engines and Rightsholders Sign Landmark Anti-Piracy Deal

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/search-engines-and-rightsholders-sign-landmark-anti-piracy-deal-170220/

Following a Digital Economy Bill committee two weeks ago, we first learned that copyright holders and search engines were close to finalizing a voluntary anti-piracy code.

Following roundtable discussions chaired by the UK’s Intellectual Property Office, the parties worked hard to reach a deal that everyone could live with.

These kinds of discussions are not new. Similar talks have been ongoing for more than half a decade, but without success. However, this time the Government turned up the pressure to the maximum, threatening to force search engines into cooperation by law if consensus could not be reached.

This approach appears to have reached its goals, with the world’s first anti-piracy agreement between search engines and rightsholders being officially announced today. The deal is a partnership between Google, Microsoft’s Bing, and several organizations in the creative industry.

Under this new anti-piracy code, search engines will further optimize their algorithms and processes to demote pirated content in their search results. The aim is to make infringing content less visible and at a faster rate. At the same time, legal alternatives should be easier to find.

“This should start to trigger faster and more effective demotion – and delisting. That should also mean that legal content sources are better promoted and artists and creators better rewarded,” Eddy Leviten, Director General of the Alliance for Intellectual Property informs TorrentFreak.

The changes should take effect by June 1st and are targeted at the UK public. This means that search results may not be impacted to the same degree elsewhere.

The parties have also agreed to cooperate more closely and share data to optimize future anti-piracy strategies. This includes efforts to make sure that pirate search terms do not show up in autocomplete suggestions.

“Autocomplete is an area where it has been agreed we need to work – and it will need cooperation to look at what terms are delivering consumers to pirate content,” Leviten clarifies.

The news was made public by several creative industry players, but it’s expected the UK Government, which played an important role in facilitating the talks, will follow with an announcement later today.

The rightsholder groups are happy that an agreement was finally reached and hope that it will help to steer search engine users toward legal alternatives.

“Pirate websites are currently much too easy to find via search, so we appreciate the parties’ willingness to try to improve that situation,” says Stan McCoy, President & Managing Director of the Motion Picture Association EMEA.

While the agreement is a milestone, it’s also clearly a compromise. The measures announced today are not substantially new.

Google, for one, has been demoting pirate sites in search results for several years already and it previously banned various pirate terms from autocomplete. Under the anti-piracy code, these measures will be intensified.

More far-reaching demands from rightsholders, such as removing pirate sites from search results entirely or a takedown-staydown policy, are not part of the deal.

Geoff Taylor, Chief Executive of UK music group BPI, recognizes that the new partnership isn’t going to stop piracy entirely but hopes that it will help to improve the current situation.

“There is much work still to do to achieve this. The Code will not be a silver bullet fix, but it will mean that illegal sites are demoted more quickly from search results and that fans searching for music are more likely to find a fair site.

“We look forward to working with Google, Microsoft and our partners across the creative industries to build a safer, better online environment for creators and fans.”

TorrentFreak also reached out to Google to hear their vision on the landmark agreement, but at the time of publication, the company hadn’t replied.

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

MPAA: Dealing With Kodi is the $64,000 Question

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/mpaa-dealing-with-kodi-is-the-64000-question-170216/

Since around 2003, torrent sites have plagued the MPAA. Hydra-like in their ability to withstand all kinds of attacks, from legal onslaughts to domain blocking, torrent platforms are still going strong today.

However, what BitTorrent lacks in its standard form is a living-room friendly interface. Regular torrent clients are functional at best, uninviting at worst, and lack the colorful Netflix-style interface demanded by today’s sophisticated media consumer.

At least to some extent, the advent of Popcorn Time solved that particular problem for pirates, but the software still performs better in the desktop environment, despite its ability to run on portable devices. Kodi, on the other hand, is a different beast altogether.

This entirely legal piece of media-playing software is equally at home running on a PC, tablet, mobile phone, or crucially, an Android-powered set-top box or stick. As a result and thanks to its colorful interface, Kodi is now a central entertainment component of millions of homes.

Kodi has always had an enthusiastic following, but its ability to run third-party addons has turned this media player into a piracy goliath. Users are understandably delighted by its ability to bring all kinds of video media directly into their homes, at zero cost. Those that make the media are less enthusiastic.

Legal battles over the misuse of the platform are ongoing, mainly in the UK and the Netherlands, where test cases have the ability to clarify the legal position, at least for sellers of so-called “fully loaded” devices.

Interestingly, up until now, the MPAA has stayed almost completely quiet, despite a dramatic rise in the use of Kodi for illicit streaming. Yesterday, however, the silence was broken.

In an interview with Variety during the Berlin Film Festival, MPAA chief Chris Dodd described the Kodi-with-addons situation as “new-generation piracy”.

“The $64,000 question is what can be done about such illegal use of the Kodi platform,” Dodd said.

While $64,000 is a tempting offer, responding to that particular question with a working solution will take much more than that. Indeed, one might argue that dealing with it in any meaningful way will be almost impossible.

First of all, Kodi is open source and has been since its inception in 2002. As a result, trying to target the software itself would be like stuffing toothpaste back in a tube. It’s out there, it isn’t coming back, and pissing off countless developers is extremely ill-advised.

Secondly, the people behind Kodi have done absolutely nothing wrong. Their software is entirely legal and if their public statements are to be believed, they’re as sick of piracy as the entertainment companies are.

The third problem is how Kodi itself works. While to the uninitiated it looks like one platform, a fully-modded ‘pirate’ Kodi setup can contain many third-party addons, each capable of aggregating content from dozens or even hundreds of sites. Not even the mighty MPAA can shut them all down, and even if it could, more would reappear later. It’s the ultimate game of whac-a-mole.

To give an example, Chris Dodd mentioned that the movie “Bridge of Spies” had 160 sources on a Kodi setup and to anyone familiar with how these things work, that is not an unusual position for the most popular content. For hosts based in the US and Europe, a takedown/staydown regime might help a little, but there is plenty of opposition (1,2,3) and a long time to go before anything like that could be put in place.

That being said, indirectly the problem is already being addressed. Due to the way content is pulled from the web, tackling Kodi piracy is in many ways the same as tackling any infringing web-based content. As a result, many regimes already in place (site-blocking, DMCA notices, etc) are already part of the solution, at least if the studios’ claims on effectiveness are to be believed.

On the consumer front, things are even more complex and indeed bleak. Despite a flood of mainstream UK news sites falsely claiming the opposite in recent weeks, people using Kodi setups to stream content won’t be the subject of warning notices from their ISPs. Only peer-to-peer systems like BitTorrent can be tackled this way, so contacting pirating users directly to “educate” them will be almost impossible.

Overall then, the present Kodi situation is more like a $64,000,000 question, and one that won’t be answered quickly, despite the price.

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

Powerful Copyright Alliance Mulls its Own Anti-Piracy Service

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/powerful-copyright-alliance-mulls-its-own-anti-piracy-service-170121/

copyrightallianceThis week marked the five year anniversary of the SOPA/PIPA blackouts, an important occasion for free Internet advocates everywhere.

The event was less well-received by those on the ‘losing’ side, with copyright advocate David Newhoff describing the anti-SOPA campaign as “one of the most effective fake news stories of all time.”

Newhoff is one of the many thousands of members that make up the powerful and growing Copyright Alliance. Formed in 2007 in direct opposition to the EFF, Public Knowledge and Consumer Electronics Association, this anti-piracy group claims to represent the interests of more than 1.8 million creators and 13,000 organizations in the United States.

They include 350 record labels (RIAA), six movie studios (MPAA), two sports leagues including the NBA, not to mention 3,000 music publishers. It is an anti-piracy juggernaut that demands attention.

Interestingly, what happened after the SOPA protests is that rather than hearing fierce anti-piracy rhetoric directly from the likes of the MPAA and RIAA, one was more likely to hear it from Copyright Alliance members, Newhoff in particular.

In many respects, people like Newhoff have become a more common conduit for major copyright holder complaints. Meanwhile, the websites of the MPAA and RIAA have remained largely conflict-free, with the battle at least partially transferred to the Copyright Alliance.

This week the Alliance asked supporters to participate in a survey. The group provided little detail but with a title of “512 Study” it was clearly targeted at section 512 of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act which covers copyright takedown notices and service provider liability.

Reform of the DMCA is a hot topic but it appears that the Copyright Alliance expects copyright holders to be taking down content from the Internet for some time to come. Questions included:

– Have you ever monitored the internet for copyright infringement of your work?
– Have you ever found infringing copies of your work online?
– Which websites have you found infringing copies of your work on?
– How do you monitor infringement of your work online?
– How often do you monitor for infringement of your work online?
– On average, how many hours weekly do you spend monitoring for infringement of your work online?

At this point in the survey, it became clear that the Copyright Alliance was guiding respondents towards the notion that the DMCA takedown process can be somewhat laborious, which indeed it may well be. With that in mind, it was no surprise when question 14 asked the following:


If the Copyright Alliance does create its own anti-piracy service, it will join dozens, perhaps hundreds of others, operating in the same space. Currently it’s a flourishing business but ironically, if the Copyright Alliance gets its way, takedowns could become less prevalent in the future.

The U.S. Government’s Copyright Office is in the middle of a consultation which seeks guidance on the future of the DMCA’s takedown process and safe harbor for service providers.

Groups like the Copyright Alliance want a “takedown, staydown” regime, to ensure that, once deleted, content doesn’t pop up elsewhere. Opponents believe such a mechanism would be impractical and could stifle free speech.

Whatever the outcome, there will still be significant demand for a takedown service, should the Copyright Alliance choose to form one. And, with potentially close to a couple of million creators to represent, it could be very busy indeed.

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

Google: Punishing Pirate Sites in Search Results Works

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/google-punishing-pirate-sites-in-search-results-works-160713/

googlefightspiracyOver the past few years the entertainment industries have repeatedly asked Google to step up its game when it comes to its anti-piracy efforts.

These calls haven’t fallen on deaf ears and Google has slowly implemented various new anti-piracy measures in response.

Today, Google released an updated version of its “How Google Fights Piracy” report. The company provides an overview of all the efforts it makes to combat piracy while countering some of the entertainment industry complaints.

One of the steps Google has taken in recent years aims to downrank the most egregious “pirate” sites.

To accomplish this, Google made changes to its core algorithms which punish clear offenders. Using the number of accurate DMCA requests as an indicator, these sites are now demoted in search results for certain key phrases.

Despite continuing critique from rightsholders, Google notes that this change has been very effective.

“This process has proven extremely effective. Immediately upon launching improvements to our demotion signal in 2014, one major torrent site acknowledged traffic from search engines had dropped by 50% within the first week,” Google writes, citing one of our articles.

More recently, Google’s own findings confirmed this trend. As a result of the demotion policy, pirate sites lose the vast majority of their Google Search traffic.

“In May 2016, we found that demoted sites lost an average of 89% of their traffic from Google Search. These successes spur us to continue improving and refining the DMCA demotion signal.”

Despite this success, entertainment industry groups have recently called for a more rigorous response. Ideally, they would like Google to remove the results from pirate sites entirely, and make sure that infringing links don’t reappear under a different URL.

However, Google doesn’t want to go this far. The company warns that removing entire sites is dangerous as it may lead to censorship of content that’s perfectly legal.

“Whole-site removal is ineffective and can easily result in the censorship of lawful material,” Google writes.

“Blogging sites, for example, contain millions of pages from hundreds of thousands of users, as do social networking sites, e-commerce sites, and cloud computing services. All can inadvertently contain material that is infringing.”

Similarly, Google doesn’t believe in a “takedown and staydown” approach, where the company would proactively filter search results for pirated content. This would be unfeasible and unnecessary, the company states.

“One problem is that there is no way to know whether something identified as infringing in one place and at one time is also unlawful when it appears at a different place and at a different time,” Google notes.

Instead, the company says that copyright holders should use the existing takedown procedure, and target new sites when they appear so these can be downranked as well.

Finally, Google stresses that search is not a major driver of traffic to pirate sites to begin with. Only a small fraction of users reach these sites through search engines.

While the company is willing to help alleviate the problem, search engines are not the only way to eradicate piracy.

“Search engines do not control what content is on the Web. There are more than 60 trillion web addresses on the internet, and there will always be new sites dedicated to making copyrighted works available as long as there is money to be made doing so.”

Instead of focusing on search, copyright holders should take a “follow the money” approach and make sure that pirate sites are cut off from their revenue sources, Google argues.

In addition, they shouldn’t forget to offer consumers plenty of legal alternatives to piracy.

Convincing the entertainment industries of its good intentions is easier said than done though. “This report looks a lot like “greenwash”,” says Geoff Taylor, Chief Executive of the music industry group BPI.

“Although we welcome the measures Google has taken so far, it is still one of the key enablers of piracy on the planet. Google has the resources and the tech expertise to do much more to get rid of the illegal content on its services,” he adds.

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

Huge Artists Coalition Piles Pressure on Congress Over DMCA

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/huge-artists-coalition-piles-pressure-on-congress-over-dmca-160621/

congressFor the past several months the effectiveness of the DMCA has been under the spotlight from two separate but unavoidably linked perspectives.

Firstly, copyright holders are tired of the endless game of whac-a-mole which sees them taking down copyrighted content from pirates sites (and even search engines like Google), only to have it reappear in the future. They argue that game can never be won and the only solution is a “takedown, staydown” regime.

Secondly, entertainment industry companies – largely in the recording sector – feel that platforms such as YouTube gain an unfair advantage by monetizing infringing content uploaded by their users. The law does not currently require these platforms to proactively monitor uploads so the end result is wide availability of infringing content, unless creators take measures to have it removed.

In the meantime, an interesting situation emerges. While platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music must license content before it goes up, YouTube has it already, meaning that when it comes to negotiating licenses for official content with the labels, YouTube and Google are in a position to offer less money. That’s the stance of the labels at least, and they want the DMCA changed to make that impossible.

To that end the industry has been rallying support from the artists themselves. Earlier this year hundreds lobbied Congress and now they’re back again, with a new open letter from an all-star lineup featuring some of the biggest names in music.

The coalition, which features more than 180 artists, songwriters and bands, is a who’s-who of modern music. Taylor Swift, Sir Paul McCartney, Lady Gaga, Trent Reznor, deadmau5, U2, Garth Brooks and Kenny G are united with one voice – the DMCA is broken and needs fixing.

“As songwriters and artists who are a vital contributing force to the U.S. and to American exports around the world, we are writing to express our concern about the ability of the next generation of creators to earn a living,” they begin.

“The existing laws threaten the continued viability of songwriters and recording artists to survive from the creation of music. Aspiring creators shouldn’t have to decide between making music and making a living. Please protect them.”

The artists say that one of their biggest problems is caused by the DMCA. They don’t mention YouTube specifically, but it’s clear that the video platform and owner Google are their primary targets.

“[The DMCA] has allowed major tech companies to grow and generate huge profits by creating ease of use for consumers to carry almost every recorded song in history in their pocket via a smartphone, while songwriters’ and artists’ earnings continue to diminish. Music consumption has skyrocketed, but the monies earned by individual writers and artists for that consumption has plummeted,” the artists write.


“The DMCA simply doesn’t work. It’s impossible for tens of thousands of individual songwriters and artists to muster the resources necessary to comply with its application,” they continue.

“The tech companies who benefit from the DMCA today were not the intended protectorate when it was signed into law nearly two decades ago. We ask you to enact sensible reform that balances the interests of creators with the interests of the companies who exploit music for their financial enrichment. It’s only then that consumers will truly benefit.”

In short, the artists (and of course their paymasters at the labels) believe that YouTube is running a ‘protection racket‘ with their music. They’ll be hoping that Congress sees it that way too.

Tech companies, on the other hand, believe that the safe harbor provisions of the DMCA give them the protection they need to innovate. Only time will tell whose rights will be eroded, but the battle lines have been drawn.

The full letter can be found here (pdf)

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

Wikimedia: If Copyright Law Ain’t Broken, Don’t Fix It

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/wikimedia-if-copyright-law-aint-broken-dont-fix-it-160617/

censorwikiCopyright holders have a problem with their content appearing on the Internet without permission. They argue that if they do not remove that content and the links that connect to it, anyone is able to access it for free, thus undermining their business model.

As a result, every week millions of takedown notices are sent to countless platforms demanding that unauthorized movies, music, TV shows, software and images are removed for breaching copyright law.

But regularly, copyright holders say, after being taken down that same content reappears after being re-uploaded or reindexed by offending sites. This results in a circular and never-ending game of whac-a-mole.

To solve this problem entertainment industry groups are suggesting changes to the DMCA that would dictate that once content is taken down, it should never again appear on that same platform. While easily said, the mechanics of that dream are not straightforward.

The latest organization to express concerns is the Wikimedia Foundation, the group behind the ever-popular Wikipedia service. Wikimedia feels that its current handling of copyright issues would only be hindered by changes to the DMCA.

“On the Wikimedia projects, particularly Wikimedia Commons, the DMCA’s notice-and-takedown process plays only a small role in preventing copyright infringement,” says Wikimedia Foundation Legal Counsel, Charles M. Roslof.

“The community members who voluntarily enforce project policies do the heavy lifting by removing files that infringe copyright. As a result, we receive very few valid takedown notices — only 12 in all of 2015.”

Roslof says that the operation’s current processes work well to keep infringement to a minimum, with volunteers taking care of the majority of copyright issues before rightsholders even notice.

“When something does stick around long enough, the notice-and-takedown process is an effective backstop. This system can exist because of the current legal regime,” Roslof notes.

Wikimedia believes that if the DMCA is tightened to include a “takedown, staydown” mandate – effectively a requirement for platforms to proactively filter all uploaded content – that could negatively affect non-profits and the service they provide to the public.

“[It] is costly to implement such systems well — and it would be exceptionally hard on nonprofits like us,” Roslof says.

“First, the variety of content and file types hosted on the Wikimedia projects makes it an incredibly difficult technological challenge to build such a tool that both works effectively and doesn’t over-remove files and chill speech. Second, being forced to monitor for infringement ourselves would reduce the Wikimedia communities’ ability to govern the projects.”

Of course, it will come as no surprise that a major underlying factor with “takedown, staydown” is the fear that by not complying each and every time, platforms such as those operated by Wikimedia could be held liable under copyright law and face stiff penalties.

“[S]tatutory damages — up to $150,000 for a single case of copyright infringement — create strong incentives for platforms to strictly comply with the notice-and-takedown process. Since any mistake in leaving up files that infringe copyright could cost tens of thousands of dollars, the section 512 safe harbors are crucial for platforms’ continued existence,” Roslof adds.

Finally, in the near future the US Copyright Office will again be inviting comments on Section 512 of the DMCA. Wikimedia hopes that its users and the general public will take the time to get involved.

“The fundamental purpose of copyright law is not to benefit authors but to ensure the public is able to enjoy new creative works. It is therefore important to ensure that the voices of the public and public interest are represented in these discussions,” Roslof concludes.

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

Takedown, Staydown Would Be a Disaster, Internet Archive Warns

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/takedown-staydown-would-be-a-disaster-internet-archive-warns-160607/

Currently there is a huge and coordinated effort by the world’s major copyright holders to push for changes to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

In a nutshell, key entertainment industry players believe that the DMCA is no longer fit for purpose and has been twisted out of shape by pirate sites, Google and even YouTube, to work against their best interests.

One of the main problems is taking down infringing content. The legislation allows content to be removed following the issuing of a so-called DMCA notice, but copyright holders say that this descends into a game of whac-a-mole, with content repeatedly reappearing.

To end this cycle they’re pushing for a new mechanism provisionally titled ‘Takedown, Staydown’ or ‘Notice and Staydown’. This would order web platforms to ensure that once content is taken down it will never appear again on the same platform. These proposals are currently under review by the US Copyright Office.

But while copyright holders feel this would be a great tool for them, it’s perhaps unsurprising that content platforms are less enthusiastic. After weighing in earlier in the year, the latest warnings from the Internet Archive, a gigantic public repository of a wide range of media, and are among the sternest yet.

Noting that even the current system is regularly abused by those seeking to silence speech, the Archive says that on a daily basis it receives wrongful takedowns for content that is in the public domain, is fair use, or is critical of the content owner. Therefore, further extending takedown rights could prove extremely problematic.

“We were very concerned to hear that the Copyright Office is strongly considering recommending changing the DMCA to mandate a ‘Notice and Staydown’ regime. This is the language that the Copyright Office uses to talk about censoring the web,” the Archive warns.

The Archive has a number of concerns but key issues involve due process and user monitoring. Once a platform is in receipt of a “staydown” order, it will be required to ensure that content never reappears, regardless of the context in which it does so. This means that users posting content subject to fair use exceptions will effectively be denied their right to issue a counter-notice when their upload is blocked, thus trampling due process.

But of course, blocking content also requires that users are monitored, and the Internet Archive doesn’t like that idea at all.

“The current statute protects user privacy by explicitly stating that platforms have no duty to monitor user activity for copyright infringement. Notice and Staydown would change this – requiring platforms to be constantly looking over users’ shoulders,” the Archive warns.

With free speech potentially at stake here, the Internet Archive says that taking content down and keeping it down has constitutional implications.

“Notice and Staydown has a serious First Amendment problem. The government mandating the use of technology to affirmatively take speech offline before it’s even posted, without any form of review, potentially violates free speech laws,” it says.

Such an automated system would amount to a censorship “black box”, the Archive adds, to which the public would be denied the key.

“It would be very difficult to know how much legitimate activity was being censored.”

Fair use has come up time and time again during this DMCA debate and the Internet Archive is clearly very concerned that it receives protection. Worried that content filtering technology isn’t even up to today’s challenges, the Archive warns that systems that can identify instances of fair use simply don’t exist.

“So far, no computer algorithm has been developed that can determine whether a particular upload is fair use. Notice and Staydown would force many cases of legitimate fair use off the web,” it warns.

“Further, intermediaries are not the right party to be implementing this technology. They don’t have all the facts about the works, such as whether they have been licensed. Most platforms are not in a good position to be making legal judgments, and they are motivated to avoid the potential for high statutory damages. All this means that platforms are likely to filter out legitimate uses of content.”

Finally, there is the not insignificant matter of who is going to pay for all of these systems should platforms be forced to adopt them. While copyright holders would apparently reap the benefits, sites like the Internet Archive would probably be expected to foot the bill.

“Developing an accurate filter that will work for each and every platform on the web will be an extremely costly endeavor. Nonprofits, libraries, and educational institutions who act as internet service providers would be forced to spend a huge amount of their already scarce resources policing copyright,” the Archive warns.

“The DMCA has its problems, but Notice and Staydown would be an absolute disaster,” it concludes.

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