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Repeat Infringers Can Be Mere Downloaders, Court Rules ( 110

A 10-year-old copyright case has prompted an interesting opinion from a US appeals court. In determining the nature of a "repeat infringer" (which service providers must terminate to retain safe harbor), the court found these could be people who simply download infringing content for personal use. The case was filed by recording labels EMI and Capitol against the since long defunct music service MP3Tunes nearly a decade ago. The site allowed, among other things, the ability to store MP3 files and then play it remotely on other devices. The site also allowed users to search for MP3 files online and add them to MP3Tunes service. This is what the recording labels had a problem with, and they sued the site and the owner. TorrentFreak adds: The case went to appeal and yesterday the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals handed down an opinion that should attract the attention of service providers and Internet users alike. The most interesting points from a wider perspective cover the parameters which define so-called 'repeat infringers.' [...] Noting that the District Court in the MP3Tunes case had also defined a 'repeat infringer' as a user who posts or uploads infringing content "to the Internet for the world to experience or copy", the Court of Appeals adds that the same court determined that a mere downloader of infringing content could not be defined as a repeat infringer "that internet services providers are obligated to ban from their websites." According to the Court of Appeal, that definition was too narrow. "We reject this definition of a 'repeat infringer,' which finds no support in the text, structure, or legislative history of the DMCA. Starting with the text, we note that the DMCA does not itself define 'repeat infringers'," the opinion reads. Noting that 'repeat' means to do something "again or repeatedly" while an 'infringer' is "[s]omeone who interferes with one of the exclusive rights of a copyright," the Court of Appeals goes on to broaden the scope significantly. [...] The notion that the term 'repeat infringer' can now be applied to anyone who knowingly (or unknowingly) downloads infringing content on multiple occasions is likely to set pulses racing. How it will play out in practical real-world scenarios will remain to be seen, but it's certainly food for thought.

Warner Bros Claims Agency Ran Its Own Pirate Movie Site ( 23

Warner Bros Entertainment has sued talent agency Innovative Artists, claiming that the agency ran its own pirate site when it ripped DVD screeners and streamed them to associates via Google servers. TorrentFreak adds: In a lawsuit filed in a California federal court, Warner accuses the agency of effectively setting up its own pirate site, stocked with rips of DVD screeners that should have been kept secure. "Beginning in late 2015, Innovative Artists set up and operated an illegal digital distribution platform that copied movies and then distributed copies and streamed public performances of those movies to numerous people inside and outside of the agency," the complaint reads. "Innovative Artists stocked its platform with copies of Plaintiff's works, including copies that Innovative Artists made by ripping awards consideration 'screener' DVDs that Plaintiff sent to the agency to deliver to one of its clients." Given its position in the industry, Innovative Artists should have known better than to upload content, Warner's lawyers write.

Cisco Develops System To Automatically Cut-Off Pirate Video Streams ( 111

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TorrentFreak: Pirate services obtain content by capturing and restreaming feeds obtained from official sources, often from something as humble as a regular subscriber account. These streams can then be redistributed by thousands of other sites and services, many of which are easily found using a simple search. Dedicated anti-piracy companies track down these streams and send takedown notices to the hosts carrying them. Sometimes this means that streams go down quickly but in other cases hosts can take a while to respond or may not comply at all. Networking company Cisco thinks it has found a solution to these problems. The company's claims center around its Streaming Piracy Prevention (SPP) platform, a system that aims to take down illicit streams in real-time. Perhaps most interestingly, Cisco says SPP functions without needing to send takedown notices to companies hosting illicit streams. "Traditional takedown mechanisms such as sending legal notices (commonly referred to as 'DMCA notices') are ineffective where pirate services have put in place infrastructure capable of delivering video at tens and even hundreds of gigabits per second, as in essence there is nobody to send a notice to," the company explains. "Escalation to infrastructure providers works to an extent, but the process is often slow as the pirate services will likely provide the largest revenue source for many of the platform providers in question." To overcome these problems Cisco says it has partnered with Friend MTS (FMTS), a UK-based company specializing in content-protection. Among its services, FMTS offers Distribution iD, which allows content providers to pinpoint which of their downstream distributors' platforms are a current source of content leaks. "Robust and unique watermarks are embedded into each distributor feed for identification. The code is invisible to the viewer but can be recovered by our specialist detector software," FMTS explains. "Once infringing content has been located, the service automatically extracts the watermark for accurate distributor identification." According to Cisco, FMTS feeds the SPP service with pirate video streams it finds online. These are tracked back to the source of the leak (such as a particular distributor or specific pay TV subscriber account) which can then be shut-down in real time.

More Performers Are Demanding Audiences Lock Up Their Phones ( 552

More performers -- and other venues -- are discovering a new anti-piracy technology called Yondr -- including comedian Dave Chappelle. Slashdot reader quotes the New York Times: Fans are required to place their cellphones into Yondr's form-fitting lockable pouch when entering the show, and a disk mechanism unlocks it on the way out. Fans keep the pouch with them, but it is impossible to snap pictures, shoot videos or send text messages during the performance while the pouch is locked.

'I know my show is protected, and it empowers me to be more honest and open with the audience,' says Dave Chappelle...But some fans object to not being able to disseminate and see live shows via videotape...

"In this day and age, my phone is how I keep my memory," one live-music fan told the Washington Post, adding "If you don't want your music heard, then don't perform it." But the device is becoming more common, and according to the Times it's now also being used at weddings, restaurants, schools, and when movies are being prescreened.

Shadow Warrior 2 Developers Say DRM Is a Waste of Time ( 99

zarmanto writes: Ars Technica reports that one particular game studio might finally get it, when it comes to DRM'ed game content. They're publishing their latest game, Shadow Warrior 2, with no DRM protection at all. From the article: "We don't support piracy, but currently there isn't a good way to stop it without hurting our customers," Flying Wild Hog developer Krzysztof "KriS" Narkowicz wrote on the game's Steam forum (in response to a question about trying to force potential pirates to purchase the game instead). "Denuvo means we would have to spend money for making a worse version for our legit customers. It's like the FBI warning screen on legit movies." Expanding on those thoughts in a recent intervew with Kotaku, Narkowicz explained why he felt the DRM value proposition wasn't worth it. "Any DRM we would have needs to be implemented and tested," he told Kotaku. "We prefer to spend resources on making our game the best possible in terms of quality, rather than spending time and money on putting some protection that will not work anyway." "The trade-off is clear," Flying Wild Hog colleagues Artur Maksara and Tadeusz Zielinksi added. "We might sell a little less, but hey, that's the way the cookie crumbles! We hope that our fans, who were always very supportive, will support us this time as well," Zielinski told Kotaku. "...In our imperfect world, the best anti-pirate protection is when the games are good, highly polished, easily accessible and inexpensive," Maksara added.
PlayStation (Games)

You Can Now Claim Your Cash In the PS3 'Other PS3' Settlement ( 85

If you've purchased a "fat" PlayStation 3 before April of 2010, you can now claim up to $55 as part of the settlement over the removal of the console's "Other OS" feature. PS3 owners with proof of purchase or evidence of a PSN sign-in from the system can receive $9 from the company. However, if you've used the "Other OS" feature to install Linux on your PS3, you can receive $55. The online claim form can be found here. Ars Technica reports: The opening of claims after a long legal saga that began in March of 2010, when Sony announced it would be removing the "Other OS" feature from the PS3. Sony claimed it was a security concern, but many class-action lawsuits filed in 2010 alleged the company was more worried about software piracy. While one lawsuit over the matter was dismissed by a judge in 2011, another worked its way through the courts until June, when Sony finally decided to settle. Though the company doesn't admit any wrongdoing, it puts itself on the hook for payments to up to 10 million PS3 owners. Note to those affected: "Claims are due by December 7, and payments should be sent out early next year pending final approval of the settlement."

RIAA Seizes Wrong MP3Skull Domain ( 49

Reader AmiMoJo writes: In its continued quest to keep the Internet piracy-free, the RIAA has seized the domain name of yet another MP3Skull site. However, it appears that their most recent target has nothing to do with the original service. Earlier this year a Florida federal court issued a permanent injunction which allowed the RIAA to take over the site's domain names. Despite the million dollar verdict MP3Skull continued to operate for several months, using a variety of new domain names, which were subsequently targeted by the RIAA's legal team. Now, an unrelated YouTube converter, has also been seized.

Court Rejects Massive Torrent Damages Claim, Admin Avoids Jail ( 60

A former torrent site operator has largely avoided the goals of an aggressive movie industry prosecution in Sweden. Against a backdrop of demands for years in prison and millions in damages, the 25-year-old owner of private tracker SwePiracy was handed 100 hours community service and told to pay $194,000, TorrentFreak reported Tuesday. The torrent website in question is SwePiracy, and it has existed since 2006. Naturally, it became the target of many anti-piracy outfits. In 2012, the website was shut down in a coordinated effort with anti-piracy group Antipiratbyran. The report adds: Earlier this year its now 25-year-old operator appeared in court to answer charges relating to the unlawful distribution of a sample 27 movies between March 2011 and February 2012. The prosecution demanded several years in prison and nearly $3 million (25k kronor) in damages. During the trial last month, SwePiracy defense lawyer Per E. Samuelsson, who also represents Julian Assange and previously took part in The Pirate Bay trial, said the claims against his client were the most unreasonable he'd seen in his 35 years as a lawyer. After deliberating for three weeks, the Norrkoping District Court handed down its decision today. SwePiracy's former operator was found guilty of copyright infringement but it appears the prosecution's demands for extremely harsh punishment were largely dismissed. The torrent site operator avoided a lengthy jail sentence and was sentenced to probation and 100 hours community service instead.

Chrome and Firefox Flag The Pirate Bay As a 'Phishing' Site...Again ( 67

The Pirate Bay's download pages are being blocked by Chrome and Firefox. These pages have been flagged as "deceptive," by Google's safe browsing program. TorrentFreak reports that "millions" of Pirate Bay users are currently unable to access the torrent detail pages on the site without receiving a stark warning. The report adds: The homepage and various categories can be reached without problems, but when visitors navigate to a download page they are presented with an ominous red warning banner. According to Google the notorious torrent site is linked to a phishing effort, where malicious actors try to steal the personal information of visitors. It's likely that the security error is caused by a malicious third-party advertisement. The TPB team informs TorrentFreak that they are aware of the issue, which they hope will be resolved soon.

'If KickassTorrents is a Criminal Operation, Google Should Start Worrying' ( 106

An anonymous reader writes: Polish authorities have extended the arrest of Artem Vaulin, the alleged owner of KickassTorrents. His defense team is currently preparing to fight the U.S. extradition request, which will start next month. According to Artem's U.S. lawyer, operating a torrent site is not a criminal offense. "In fact, in my opinion operating an index search engine cannot constitute a crime in the United States because secondary infringement is not criminalized under US law. If KickassTorrents is a criminal operation, then Google should start worrying," Gurvits says

Cloudflare: We Can't Shut Down Pirate Sites ( 140

CloudFlare has said it cannot shut down piracy websites. The CloudFlare's response comes two months after adult entertainment outfit ALS Scan filed a complaint at a California federal court two months ago in which the company accused the CDN service of various counts of copyright and trademark infringement. From a TorrentFreak report:"CloudFlare is not the operator of the allegedly infringing sites but is merely one of the many intermediaries across the internet that provide automated CDN services, which result in the websites in question loading a bit faster than they would if they did not utilize CDN services." If Cloudflare terminated the accounts of allegedly infringing websites, the sites themselves would still continue to exist. It would just require a simple DNS reconfiguration to continue their operation. "Indeed, there are no measures of any kind that CloudFlare could take to prevent this alleged infringement, because the termination of CloudFlare's CDN services would have no impact on the existence and ability of these allegedly infringing websites to continue to operate," Cloudflare writes. As such, the company argues that it's not "materially contributing" to any of the alleged copyright infringements.

Stop Piracy? Legal Alternatives Beat Legal Threats, Research Shows ( 134

An anonymous reader writes: Threatening file-sharers with high fines or even prison sentences is not the best way to stop piracy. New research published by UK researchers shows that perceived risk has no effect on people's file-sharing habits. Instead, the entertainment industries should focus on improving the legal options, so these can compete with file-sharing. Unauthorized file-sharing (UFS) is best predicted by the supposed benefits of piracy. As such, the researchers note that better legal alternatives are the best way to stop piracy. The results are based on a psychological study among hundreds of music and ebook consumers. They were subjected to a set of questions regarding their file-sharing habits, perceived risk, industry trust, and online anonymity. By analyzing the data the researchers found that the perceived benefit of piracy, such as quality, flexibility of use and cost are the real driver of piracy. An increase in legal risk was not directly associated with any statistically significant decrease in self-reported file-sharing.

Chrome and Firefox Block Pirate Bay Over 'Harmful Programs' ( 86

An anonymous reader shares a TorrentFreak report: Chrome and Firefox are actively blocking direct access to the The Pirate Bay's download pages. According to Google's Safe Browsing diagnostics service TPB contains "harmful programs," most likely triggered by malicious advertisements running on the site. Comodo DNS also showed a "hacking" warning but this disappeared after a few hours.

EU Commission Proposes Mandatory Piracy Filters For Online Services ( 62

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TorrentFreak: During his State of the Union address today, EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker announced several plans (PDF) to modernize copyright law in Europe. One of the suggestions that has a lot of people worried is Article 13, which requires online services to police pirated content. This means that online services, which deal with large volumes of user-uploaded content, must use fingerprinting and filtering mechanisms to block copyright infringing files. While the Commission stresses that small content platforms won't be subject to the requirement, the proposal doesn't define what "small" means. It also fails to define what "appropriate" or "effective" content recognition systems are, creating a fair bit of uncertainty. Commenting on the proposal, Digital rights group EDRi says that it will put many European companies at risk while endangering users' right to free speech. "The text that was launched today includes a proposal to potentially filter all uploads to the Internet in Europe. The draft text would destroy users' rights and legal certainty for European hosting companies," EDRi notes. The Commission, however, notes that the changes are needed to reinforce the negotiating position of copyright holders, so they can sign licensing agreements with services that provide access to user uploaded content.

10 Years in Prison For Online Pirates a Step Closer in the UK ( 136

The UK Government's Digital Economy Bill has moved a step closer to becoming law after its second reading in Parliament. With unanimous support, the current two-year maximum custodial sentence for online piracy is almost certain to increase to a decade, TorrentFreak reports. From the article: Due to UK copyright law allowing for custodial sentences of 'just' two years for online offenses, anti-piracy groups such as the Federation Against Copyright Theft have chosen to pursue their own private prosecutions. These have largely taken place under legislation designed for those who have committed fraud, rather than the more appropriate offense of copyright infringement. Physical pirates (CDs, DVDs) can be jailed for up to 10 years under current legislation. During the past few years, there have been lobbying efforts for this punishment to apply both on and offline. That resulted in a UK Government announcement last year indicating that it would move to increase the maximum prison sentence for online copyright infringement to ten years. They also urge Google to do something about growing incidents of piracy.

Warner Bros Issues Takedown For Own Website ( 77

An anonymous reader writes: In a case of sloppy automation run amok, Warner Bros' copyright enforcement contractor -- Vobile -- issued takedown notices for legitimate distributors and Warner Bros' own website, according to the BBC. It also asked the search giant to remove links to legitimate movie streaming websites run by Amazon and Sky, as well as Amazon-owned film database IMDB. Fortunately for them, Google chose to cut them a break and ignore those requests.

Swedish ISP Attacks Copyright Trolls Over Trademark Infringement ( 19

An anonymous reader shares a TorrentFreak report: Swedish Internet service provider Bahnhof is launching a direct attack against Spridningskollen, the group that's spearheading the copyright trolling efforts in Sweden. Bahnhof accuses the anti-piracy outfit of trademark infringement and demands the shutdown of its website.Firm Spridningskollen, which is one of the top organizations that is helping rightholders in target Sweden plans to target 1,000 alleged pirates, offering them settlements of around $233. The report adds: Spridningskollen spokesman Gordon Odenbark compared the process with speeding cameras, where torrent users risk a 'fine' if they get caught. This will generate revenue, but could also act as a deterrent, preventing other people from violating rightsholders' rights. Interestingly, however, shortly after Spridningskollen announced its plans the group itself faced allegations of intellectual property rights violations. Swedish ISP Bahnhof is accusing the group of trademark infringement, noting that they have a claim on the "spridningskollen" mark. "Bahnhof was the first to apply for the Spridningskollen trademark rights at the Swedish Patent and Registration Office," the ISP announced.

Europe's Net Neutrality Doesn't Ban BitTorrent Throttling ( 66

Millions of Europeans will have to do with throttling on BitTorrent. The Body of European Regulators of Electronic Communication (BEREC) published its guidelines for Europe's net neutrality rules on Tuesday in which it hasn't challenged the BitTorrent throttling practices by many ISPs. TorrentFreak reports:Today, BEREC presented its final guidelines on the implementation of Europe's net neutrality rules. Compared to earlier drafts it includes several positive changes for those who value net neutrality. For example, while zero-rating isn't banned outright, internet providers are not allowed to offer a "sub Internet" service, where access to only part of the Internet is offered for 'free.' However, not all traffic is necessarily "neutral." ISPs are still allowed to throttle specific categories for "reasonable" network management purposes.

Kim Dotcom Will Revive Megaupload, Linking File Transfers To Bitcoin Microtransactions ( 76

Long-time Slashdot reader SonicSpike quotes an article from Fortune: The controversial entrepreneur Kim Dotcom said last month that he was preparing to relaunch Megaupload, the file-sharing site that U.S. and New Zealand authorities dramatically shut down in 2012, with bitcoins being involved in some way... This system will be called Bitcache, and Dotcom claimed its launch would send the bitcoin price soaring way above its current $575 value.

The launch of Megaupload 2.0 will take place on January 20, 2017, he said, urging people to "buy bitcoin while cheap, like right now, trust me..." Crucially, Dotcom said the Bitcache system would overcome bitcoin's scaling problems. "It eliminates all blockchain limitations," he claimed.

Every file transfer taking place over Megaupload "will be linked to a tiny Bitcoin micro transaction," Dotcom posted on Twitter. His extradition trial begins Monday, and he's asking the court to allow live-streaming of the trial "because of global interest in my case." Meanwhile, the FBI apparently let the registration lapse on the Megaupload domain, which they seized in 2012, and Ars Technica reports that the site is now full of porn ads.

BitTorrent Cases Filed By Malibu Media Will Proceed, Rules Judge 69

Long-time Slashdot reader NewYorkCountryLawyer writes: In the federal court for the Eastern District of New York, where all Malibu Media cases have been stayed for the past year, the Court has lifted the stay and denied the motion to quash in the lead case, thus permitting all 84 cases to move forward.

In his 28-page decision (PDF), Magistrate Judge Steven I. Locke accepted the representations of Malibu's expert, one Michael Patzer from a company called Excipio, that in detecting BitTorrent infringement he relies on "direct detection" rather than "indirect detection", and that it is "not possible" for there to be misidentification.

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