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Friday, April 25, 2014

THE NEXT FIVE YEARS COULD DETERMINE OUR LIBERTIES

There's a European Election coming up. Voting starts in about one month, with the main election days on May 22-25. We've had many victories as activists and concerned citizens in the past five years to defend the net and its liberty, but the main showdown looks like it'll come down in the next five years. Your vote is going to matter.
This European Parliament was elected in June 2009. Its term is coming to an end, and new elections are coming up in six weeks. As a movement for net liberty, we’ve had unprecedented successes holding the corporate forces of darkness at bay during this term – but the next term is going to give us a chance to reverse the trend of bad things and start making good things happen instead.
It’s no secret that I’m the founder of the Swedish and first Pirate Party, and that we’ve delivered during our term in the Europarl since 2009, as one important part of this liberty movement. We stopped three strikes in Europe – most people don’t even remember that it was a real danger that the copyright industry could do something as unthinkable as actually shut people off the Internet en masse by just pointing fingers. Our people on the inside were also critical in stopping ACTA. Our line with strong Net Neutrality, going against the European Commission, just won an important first reading on the European Parliament floor. We managed to get mainline support for a radical copyright monopoly reform proposal that would, as part of the package, fully legalize noncommercial file-sharing and ban DRM. This is not news, just background.
For the past five years, we’ve seen important battles being fought where we – we as a liberty movement and pretty much as a whole generation – have managed to keep dark forces at bay. The next five years will give us an opportunity to go on the offensive and actually start improving the legal state of things, rather than just preventing them from getting worse. I cannot overemphasize how great this opportunity is. However, this obviously requires that we have people in the European Parliament who can outvoice the corporate lobbyists.
Outvoicing lobbyists isn’t actually a very hard thing to do, if you’re a Member of Parliament yourself. Lobbyists have a strong voice when, and only when, MPs and MEPs don’t have a good view of the subject on their own. When people on the inside of Parliament are able to call out the lobbyist bullshit as just that, those lobbyists lose an enormous amount of influence. That’s why it’s absolutely critical to have people – individuals – in office who understand the issues and are able to do so.
The issues for the coming five years will be an opportunity to go on the offensive for liberty. We’ve already had a first reading of strong Net Neutrality in Europe, locking down the fundamental principle of the net that everybody’s an equal, and denying the telcos the right to seek rent for running a business. This is absolutely critical – it’s a matter of whether we want free enterprise in Europe or not. We’ve won in a so-called first reading, but this issue will bounce a bit between the EU institutions until determined, so it will spill over past the election and be finalized by the next European Parliament.
Net Neutrality will be finalized in the next five years.
On an even stronger note, the entire copyright monopoly will be rewritten in the European Union in the next five years. Literally everything is up in the air, and many lobbyists will be fighting for the corporate clampdown on liberty and freedom of speech. But we’ve learned how to outvoice and outcompete those activists now. There is a very real possibility that we can finally settle that freedom of speech, messenger immunity, and the civil liberties we exercise through the net (mostly all of them) totally, unequivocally, and unambiguously supersede the copyright monopoly – a distribution monopoly for a powerful but basically unnecessary entertainment industry.
Legalized file-sharing and a ban on DRM can be a reality in the next five years.
The future of the net is being determined in the next six weeks. And what happens in Europe, will necessarily spill over to the rest of the world – if file-sharing is legal in Europe, no country is able to effectively outlaw it, as it only takes one country to undo today’s ridiculous monopoly. Once file-sharing is completely legal, and I really want to underscore that this is within reach now, any lobbyism from the copyright industry for harsher penalties will be for absolutely nothing, as you can’t penalize a legal action to begin with.
Obviously, I’m not going to use a TorrentFreak column to tell people to vote Pirate. That would be abuse of column privileges, and besides, most everybody know I’m the founder of the Pirate party movement, so people would read it like that anyway. But the reason I founded this movement is because I think there was and still is a critical shortage of politicians who take these issues with the gravity they deserve – no, let’s say there’s a shortage of net liberty activists in office who understand the importance of the net.
So what I am going to do, if you live in Europe, is to ask you to vote in the European Elections, and to do so for a candidate who does take these issues seriously.
It doesn’t much matter what party they’re running for – all the good forces cooperate on an individual level in the European Parliament, regardless of party affiliation, and we need individuals in parliament who understand net neutrality, basic liberty, and the problems with Industrial Protectionism (IP) at a deep level. After all, if you’re reading TorrentFreak, odds are overwhelmingly in favor of you understanding the crucial importance of these issues to every aspect of our common future.
In May, that future is in your hands. What I ask is that you participate.

UK PRIME MINISTER ASKED FOR PERMANENT POLICE ANTI-PIRACY UNIT FUNDING



City of London Police's Intellectual Property Unit has been making waves recently against so-called 'pirate' websites but its current funding is only a temporary arrangement. In an effort to remove uncertainty, the Prime Minister's Intellectual Property Advisor is calling on his boss to commit to the permanent funding of the unit to extend its existence beyond 2015.
cityoflondonpoliceLast summer it became evident that police in the UK would be taking a greater interest in the activities of torrent, streaming and other sharing sites. Announcing the creation of the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU), last year City of London Police said that sites would be pressured to step into line, close, or face the consequences.
The unit, which has already claimed the scalps of several smaller domains, including the forced shutdown last week of a handful of sports-stream related sites, has been active on various fronts. In addition to putting registrars under pressure to close domains, the unit is also working with advertisers in an attempt to cut off advertising revenue.
PIPCU is good news for rightsholders in several ways, not least since the anti-piracy battles of groups such as the BPI and FACT are now being partly financed by the UK taxpayer. PIPCU is currently funded by the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills’ Intellectual Property Office, to the tune of £2.56m over two years.
The funding, which was allocated on a temporary basis, will expire in 2015 if the government doesn’t allocate additional finances. It could fall back into private hands, but that would mean a significant loss of ‘clout’ for the companies relying on PIPCU’s authority. However, if the UK Prime Minister’s Intellectual Property Adviser has anything to do with it, that won’t happen.
In a letter to David Cameron and Home Secretary Theresa May, Mike Weatherley MP praised the “excellent work” of PIPCU and urged the funding of the unit on a permanent basis.
“I appreciate that funding for this new unit is not permanent. However, I would like to put on record my support for committing future funding to fighting IP crime and boosting the current level of financial support that is available for PIPCU,” Weatherley wrote. “As I am sure that you are aware, the creative industries add over £70 billion to our economy each year and so it really is in our national interest to protect that revenue.”
As previously reported, PIPCU is currently focusing on cutting off ad revenue to ‘pirate’ sites. Speaking to fellow Conservatives, Weatherley said if that could be done the effects would be dramatic.
“If we stop advertisers from shoveling money into illegal sites, we can stop a lot of the content. Possibly as much as 95 per cent according to the newly formed national Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU),” Weatherley said.
“If you value the NHS [National Health Service], you should also value IP and our creative industries, as together they help pay for the services in this country that we all cherish. If we take the wrong approach, national services that we take for granted will have a huge budget shortfall.”
There are currently no formal indications that PIPCU will get the permanent funding it needs to continue its work but considering the backing it has among the music and movie industries (not to mention the Prime Minister’s top IP advisor) it seems unthinkable that a couple of million a year won’t be found from somewhere.

VIEWING PIRATED MATERIAL IS NOT DIRECT COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT, JUDGE TELLS TARANTINO

Gawker has booked an early victory in its copyright battle with Quentin Tarantino over a leaked movie script. In a ruling handed down yesterday, a federal judge said that in the absence of evidence showing direct copyright infringement by others, claims that Gawker was guilty of contributory copyright infringement could not progress.
Back in January, Quentin Tarantino discoveredthat a copy of an unreleased screenplay to potential future movie The Hateful Eight had been made available to the public without his permission. He’d shared the document with six individuals and either one of them – or someone linked to them – had leaked it.
Shortly after dozens of news articles appeared online, news site Gawker reported that following a “temper tantrum” Tarantino had decided that he would no longer make a Hateful Eight movie. The next day The Wrap reported it had obtained a copy of the script and within hours it was being made available by the AnonFiles.com file-hosting site. From there it appeared on Scribd.com, viewable to millions of visitors.
But while people would have to find the script themselves if they were interested, Gawker later made the process significantly easier by publishing an article titled “Here is the Leaked Quentin Tarantino Hateful Eight Script” containing links to both AnonFiles and Scribd. Gawker refused to take down the links when asked, although both AnonFiles and Scribd both removed the file.
Through his legal team an enraged Tarantino accused Gawker of encouraging copyright infringement, but Gawker fought back saying that in the course of its reporting the links were protected under “fair use” doctrine. On January 27, Tarantino’s lawyers filed a complaint alleging copyright infringement against 10 ‘Doe’ defendants and contributory copyright infringement against Gawker.
Yesterday, however, the lawsuit received a substantial setback.
In order for a defendant to be found liable for contributory copyright infringement there must first be evidence of direct infringement carried out by others. In other words, to proceed against Gawker, Tarantino’s lawyers needed to show that visitors to Gawker’s site who read the article in question actually clicked the links to AnonFiles or Scribd and went on to commit direct infringement on the script.
“However, nowhere in these paragraphs or anywhere else in the Complaint does Plaintiff allege a single act of direct infringement committed by any member of the general public that would support Plaintiff’s claim for contributory infringement. Instead, Plaintiff merely speculates that some direct infringement must have taken place,” wrote U.S. District Judge John F. Walter in his ruling.
Adding more problems for Tarantino, the Judge said that even if there were allegations that individuals had accessed the links in the Gawker article in order to read the script, that would still not support Tarantino’s claim for contributory infringement. Citing a previous case involving adult magazine publisher Perfect 10, Judge Walter said that simply viewing the script would not be enough.
“Even if Plaintiff alleged that individuals accessed the links contained in Defendant’s article in order to read Plaintiff’s script, such an allegation would still not support Plaintiff’s contributory infringement claim against Defendant. Simply viewing a copy of allegedly infringing work on one’s own computer does not constitute the direct infringement necessary to support Plaintiff’s contributory infringement claim,” the Judge wrote.
“In addition, based on the allegations of the Complaint, there can be little doubt that Plaintiff has a strong claim for direct infringement against Doe 1, a/k/a AnonFiles.com. However, Plaintiff has not alleged and it is highly unlikely that Plaintiff will be able to plead facts demonstrating that Defendant somehow induced, caused, or materially contributed to the infringing conduct by publishing a link to the screenplay after it was wrongfully posted on AnonFiles.com.”
In light of the above, Gawker’s ‘fair use’ defense was not addressed.
“The Court concludes that the fair use arguments, albeit persuasive and potentially dispositive, are premature and the Court declines to consider those arguments until Plaintiff has had an opportunity to demonstrate that he can state a viable claim for contributory copyright infringement,” the decision reads.
While round one goes to Gawker, Tarantino’s legal team now has until May 1 to submit its amended complaint and stage a comeback.

Twitter Surrendered to Turkey

Finally, the microblogging platform has given up trying to fight the Turkish censorship and agreed to ban people from talking about government corruption. Before the elections, the Turkish government tried to stop its people from using Twitter as they discussed a government corruption scandal there. The authorities simply switched off Twitter in the country.

Screen_Hunter_03_Apr_24_23_21.jpg

Despite the scandal, the government still won the election – apparently, the Turks expect their politicians to keep stealing their money. Unfortunately for Twitter, this means that the government can safely tell the website that if it wants to continue to make money in the country, it is going to have to do what they want. So, the authorities have been working directly with the microblogging service to resolve "the problem" of inconvenient tweets.

The Turkish media revealed that the Turks are likely able to ban or filter certain tweets from ever appearing using a filtering system detecting “malicious content”. This would result in the banning of certain Turkish phrases on Twitter and the death of at least 2 accounts that have been noticed disseminating anti-government materials.

Of course, it is much easier for the Turkish government to suppress tweets instead of blocking Twitter while keeping its citizens passive. Somehow, the Turks have managed to avoid social media helping overthrow an increasingly autocratic government by being even more autocratic. Worse still, Twitter appears to be helping a government that seeks to silence its people and hurt free speech. The social networks, including microblogging platform, were used as a tool to remove governments in Egypt and Tunisia, but Turkey made this its way.

File-Sharer Sentenced to 5 Years in South Africa

An individual was sentenced in South Africa’s first Internet piracy case for uploading a movie to TPB. The 29-year-old man was handed an unprecedented 5-year suspended sentence. Back in December 2013, the Southern African Federation Against Copyright Theft claimed it had caught an individual uploading a high-profile movie to the torrent tracker.

This landmark case had unusual hallmarks from the very beginning. For example, SAFACT admitted it had engaged the services of a “certified ethical hacker” to identify and catch the file-sharer. In addition, the outfit refused to name the uploaded video, though it was later revealed to be Four Corners, a local gangland movie prior to its official release.

Likewise, the identity of the file-sharer was also kept secret, but he was later revealed to be 29-year-old IT engineer named Majedien Norton. He was reported to have uploaded the movie in November, though it can’t be found online at the moment – apparently, the father of two later removed the file. The engineer admitted to buying a “screener” copy of the film off the streets and uploading it to The Pirate Bay.

Relatively minor and non-commercial cases of copyright violation are normally dealt with through the civil courts in South Africa. However, it was clear from the beginning that this case would be different. Anti-piracy outfit wanted an example to be made and a precedent set for the others who tempted to infringe.

Now the ruling on the case was delivered in the Commercial Crimes Court in Cape Town, and it looks like SAFACT largely achieved its aims. Norton was arrested under the Counterfeit Goods Act and faced a fine plus up to 3 years in jail. However, he managed to come to an arrangement with the state and pleaded guilty. As a result, he got a 5-year suspended jail sentence.

The anti-piracy outfits celebrate the victory, while the Four Corners creators see things from a different angle. SAFACT clearly believes that the threat of criminal punishments is sure to help solve the copyright infringement problem, but the moviemakers point out that movies can’t exist without money, but a more considered approach to piracy is required: not via aggressive policing, but rather via a common sense approach to the protection of creative works.

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