Online Piracy Finally In the Crosshairs | William Buckley Jr. HuffPo

Written in 1998, with the intent of protecting both copyright holders and website owners, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, quickly became a devastating problem for copyright holders. Not coincidentally, barely a year later, in 1999, Shawn Fanning launched Napster, marking the beginning of online piracy and over a decade of artist abuse.

Now, fifteen years later, most pirate sites are still operating under the protection provided by the DMCA’s Safe Harbor; a loop-hole that has enabled pirate sites to thrive in a quasi-legal gray area. A safe harbor from which online pirates claim compliance by engaging in what is commonly referred to as whack-a-mole, a process where infringing sites comply with take down notices by taking down the infringing content only to have the same content reposted almost immediately from another source.

The proposed change referred to as Stay Down strives to eliminate the safe harbor loop-hole. Copyright holders and administrators, while still responsible for policing their work, are only responsible for notifying a website operator one time. Once that is accomplished, the hosting site is now responsible for blocking the infringing content. A process that can be managed by software programs. If a service provider fails to comply they are in violation of the law.

READ THE FULL STORY AT HUFFPO:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/william-buckley-jr/online-piracy-finally-in-_b_5086820.html

Everyone hates the DMCA | VOX INDIE

Unfortunately, rather than manage copyright, it’s provided a huge loophole through which a number of online pirate entrepreneurs sail blissfully through. Known as the “safe harbor” provision, this oft-abused language has served to shelter digital thieves at the expense of rights holders. ”Safe Harbor” has enabled the growth of a criminal cancer and it’s a cancer–that as of now–cannot be beaten, only kept (marginally) at bay. As Wikipedia notes, “The DMCA’s principal innovation in the field of copyright is the exemption from direct and indirect liability of internet service providers and other intermediaries.” As I’ve suggested previously, any update to the law should include a requirement that in order to qualify for the limitations to liability that safe-harbor offers, certain user-generated content sites must implement reasonable technology to mitigate content theft.

READ THE FULL POST AT VOX INDIE:
http://voxindie.org/everyone-hates-the-dmca

Copyright “safe harbors” shrink in wake of MP3Tunes, other red flag rulings | GIGAOM

In case you missed it, a jury this week found that Michael Robertson, CEO of defunct music service MP3Tunes, was liable for copyright infringement. The jury concluded that Robertson, whose websites permitted users to upload songs and store them in “lockers,” had turned a blind eye to piracy — meaning that they forfeited the so-called “safe harbor” protections under copyright law that normally ensure that a website is not liable for the misdeeds of its users.

The significance of the case has little to do with MP3Tunes, which has long been closed, but instead stands as a strategic victory for copyright owners. That’s because the jury found Robertson liable on the basis of so-called “red flag” knowledge rather than “actual” knowledge. The distinction may sound arcane, but it’s one the studios have fought hard to establish as part of their strategy to change the level of proof needed to prove piracy.

READ THE FULL STORY AT GIGAOM:
http://gigaom.com/2014/03/21/copyright-safe-harbors-shrink-in-wake-of-mp3tunes-other-red-flag-rulings/

Victims of IP theft need better protection By Reps. Judy Chu and Tom Marino | The Hill

Stopping IP theft should not be this difficult, or so costly, to the individual artist, who is ultimately the victim.

In the first six months of 2013, the largest search engine received more than 100 million DMCA takedown notices. The numbers are staggering, but don’t reflect the reality that most indie and small creators struggle to keep up with issuing notices and have simply given up trying to prevent illegal profiting from their work. Independent artists cannot afford employing an entire legal department to monitor the unauthorized use of their content on a daily basis.

And the profits are staggering — a recent study by the Digital Citizens Alliance estimates that the top 596 pirate sites raked in $227 million in advertising revenues last year. These sites had a profit margin of between 80 and 94 percent. Content thieves rely on stealing the rights-protected work of others and distributing on low-cost sites. It’s a low-risk, high-reward business.

This week, the House Judiciary subcommittee on Intellectual Property will examine the “Notice and Takedown” process, and to us, it is clear that a very hard look is necessary.

READ THE FULL STORY AT THE HILL:
http://thehill.com/opinion/op-ed/200630-victims-of-ip-theft-need-better-protection

The Failure of the DMCA Notice and Takedown System | CPIP

Section 512 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act will be turning 15 years old soon, and it’s showing its age. Its design belongs to a different era. Like a 15-year-old automobile, it no longer runs as well as it used to. It can’t keep up with the newer, faster vehicles on the road. Its users are beginning to look for alternative forms of transportation. Pieces of it have been wearing down over time, and ultimately something is going to break that outweighs the cost of replacement.

That time may be now: the notice-and-takedown provision of Section 512 is straining under the weight of a blizzard of notices, as copyright owners struggle to abate the availability of infringing copies of their most highly valued works. The tool is no longer up to the task. Mainstream copyright owners now send takedown notices for more than 6.5 million infringing files, on over 30,000 sites, each month. Printing out the list of sites for which Google receives takedown requests in just one week runs to 393 pages. And that just counts the notices sent to Google; duplicates of many of those notices are sent to the site hosts and to other search engines. For example, over a six-month period ending in August, the member companies of the Motion Picture Association of America sent takedown notices for 11,996,291 files to search engines, but sent even more notices—for 13,238,860 files—directly to site operators. (See chart below.)

The problem is that notice-and-takedown has been pressed into service in a role for which it was never intended. Section 512 was originally designed as an emergency stopgap measure, to be used in isolated instances to remove infringing files from the Internet just long enough to allow a copyright owner to get into court. That design reflected the concerns of its time. In 1998, the dawn of widespread public use of the Internet, there was considerable anxiety about how the law would react to the growing problem of online infringement. Online services worried that they might be held directly liable as publishers for infringing copies of works uploaded by users, despite lacking any knowledge of those copies. Section 512 addressed these concerns by giving service providers a safe harbor to protect them from liability for unknowingly hosting or linking to infringing material.

READ THE FULL STORY AT CPIP:
http://cpip.gmu.edu/2013/12/05/the-failure-of-the-dmca-notice-and-takedown-system-2/

Ready The Clown Car : Kim Dotcom Contemplates Suing Google, Twitter and Facebook

Serious folks, we can’t make this up.

“Twitter introduces Two-Step-Authentication. Using my invention. But they won’t even verify my Twitter account?!,” Dotcom tweeted.

“Google, Facebook, Twitter, Citibank, etc. offer Two-Step-Authentication. Massive IP (intellectual property) infringement by U.S. companies. My innovation. My patent,” he added.

But it get’s better…

“I never sued them. I believe in sharing knowledge & ideas for the good of society. But I might sue them now cause of what the US did to me,” he said.

However, he said a more productive approach would be if the tech giants helped cover his legal bills to fight prosecution under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DCMA), which he estimated would exceed US$50 million.

“Google, Facebook, Twitter, I ask you for help. We are all in the same DMCA boat. Use my patent for free. But please help fund my defence,” he tweeted.

So essentially he’s threatening to sue the very same people he’s asking for money. Interesting strategy. We’re not sure that Google, Facebook and Twitter feel they are in the same boat. It’s difficult to believe these companies would want to be anywhere near the imploding public spectacle known as Kim Dotcom.

READ THE FULL STORY HERE:
http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/technology/kim-dotcom-mulls-suing-tech-giants-for-c/685072.html

you may also enjoy…

UPDATE:
Kim Dotcom claims he invented two-factor authentication—but he wasn’t first | Ars Technica

Dotcom’s European patent was revoked in 2011 largely because AT&T had a patent on the same technology with a priority date from 1995. (Thanks to Emily Weal of patent law firm Keltie for pointing out Dotcom’s European patent travails in the IP Copy blog.)

While Dotcom’s patent in the US is still in force, AT&T also has a US patent pre-dating hisThe Guardian pointed out that Ericsson and Nokia also have patent filings for two-factor systems predating Dotcom’s.

IsoHunt Court Ruling Notes “Ad Sponsored Piracy”: Exploitation is not Innovation

The 9th Circuit delivers a substantial win for creators in its IsoHunt ruling, as The Copyright Alliance notes in it’s summary which quotes this from the court directly,

“Fung promoted advertising by pointing to infringing activity; obtained advertising revenue that depended on the number of visitors to his sites; attracted primarily visitors who were seeking to engage in infringing activity, as that is mostly what occurred on his sites; and encouraged that infringing activity. Given this confluence of circumstances, Fung’s revenue stream was tied directly to the infringing activity involving his websites, both as to his ability to attract advertisers and as to the amount of revenue he received.”

It would appear that the motives of these for profit businesses are being seen for what they are, nothing more than than the blatant exploitation of artists and creators. It should be recognized that this practice is not unknown within the online advertising/tech business either, as reported by Jack Marshall’s post titled “Why is Ad Tech Still Funding Piracy?” in DigiDay,

Visit the top torrent search engines, and you’ll find ad calls from Yahoo, Google, Turn, Zedo, RocketFuel, AdRoll, CPX Interactive and others. These sites exist to connect people with illegal downloads of intellectual property, a practice that’s estimated to cost the U.S. economy $20 billion in the movie industry alone. No matter your feelings about U.S. copyright laws, they are laws, and there’s no doubt these sites facilitate illegal behavior, even if they don’t house the content themselves. The oxygen that sustains many of these sites is advertising, delivered by the vast archipelago of the ad tech industry.

According to AppNexus CEO Brian O’Kelley, it’s an easy problem to fix, but ad companies are attracted by the revenue torrent sites can generate for them. Kelley said his company refuses to serve ads to torrent sites and other sites facilitating the distribution of pirated content. It’s easy to do technically, he said, but others refuse to do it.

“We want everyone to technically stop their customers from advertising on these sites, but there’s a financial incentive to keep doing so,” he said. “Companies that aren’t taking a stand against this are making a lot of money.”

If you want to see more examples of Ad Sponsored Piracy in action, see our post, “Over 50 Major Brands Supporting Music Piracy, It’s Big Business!” Mainstream awareness of the subject has been growing due in part  by the work being done by the Annenberg Innovation Lab which has been reported in the Los Angeles Times and The New York Times earlier this year. And The Wall Street Journal also reported on the role of advertising in its reporting of wider ranging issues facing creators battling online piracy,

Another focus is online-ad networks, which media companies say help finance piracy by placing ads on sites that traffic in unauthorized content. A study last summer, commissioned in part by Google, found that 86% of peer-to-peer sharing sites are dependent on advertising for income.

As more awareness builds, the truth becomes plain to see and painfully obvious. Unfortunately there are still those in the tech blogosphere who like to defend businesses exploiting artists and claiming that this is a non-issue making statements like, “internet display ads pay next to nothing.” This remark seems to be a direct contradiction with the statement by the very knowledgeable AppNexus CEO Brian O’Kelley, who above stated, “Companies that aren’t taking a stand against this are making a lot of money.”

Bottom Line: Exploitation is not Innovation.

Band Quiet Company says Internet Has Made Things Worse for Artists “New Boss is Worse Than Old Boss”

A decade into the snake oil and lies of the empowered internet musician the truth bares itself out over and over again. In a recent case study the band Quiet Company said of their promotional experiment with Grooveshark in an interview with Digital Trends,

“I think for years now, as far as back as [Quiet Company] has been together, people have been talking about how different the music industry is and how the Internet has changed everything and how we’re all looking for a new model.”

“After everything, I’m not sure there is a new model. The old model is still the model, it’s just that the Internet made it way worse.”

We’re not surprised in the least as we’ve previously noted how Grooveshark’s infringement based business model could easily be described as “Notice and Shakedown.” Even tech progressive artists such as Zoë Keating have struggled with the service. Zoë could not get her music removed from the site after issuing at least six DMCA notices to Grooveshark.

So it’s strange to us despite there being near universal agreement on just how bad this service is for artists that some people still don’t get it. Of course these always seem to be the same people that defend every other service that rips off musicians and pays them nothing like The Pirate Bay.

One tech blog actually said after the Pirate Bay verdict, “The folks this will hurt the most are those content creators who actually do value The Pirate Bay.” But we doubt that as it’s not like there aren’t tons opportunities for artists to give away their work willing, with consent, should they so chose. What we find most disturbing is why the choice of consent to give away one’s work should be forcefully take from them by companies who are profiting from advertising revenue?

It’s all pretty simple. Artists need to get paid and so many of these so called “new models” seem to be built on the “new model” of not paying artists anything at all, or next to nothing at all. Again, from Digital Trends,

But now the contract is up and not being renewed, because – you guessed it – a monetization strategy couldn’t be found for Grooveshark. “We were the test monkeys,” says Osbon.

Once again we see that The New Boss is Worse Than The Old Boss, indeed. We’re not surprised, we know there’s a lot of money being made on the internet in music distribution, it’s just not being “shared” with musicians. So once again we ask where are all of these self empowered, independent new middle class musicians? The answer is, like most things where the truth is self evident, they just don’t exist.

Two Simple Facts about Technology and Piracy : iTunes Vs. YouTube

Fact number one.

Unlike Google’s YouTube, Apple’s Itunes Store does not have a piracy problem, nor does it have an unmanageable issue with DMCA notices. This is often explained that this is because Apple does not allow user generated content from just anyone, therefore there is a barrier to entry that prevents such issues. But this is simply just not true, anyone can upload an album of music to Itunes using any one of the third party aggregation services such as Tunecore or CDbaby. And yet, there are not (as far as we know) hundreds or thousands of DMCA notices and content take downs on Itunes per day, as there are on YouTube. So why is this? In a word, intent.

If Apple, Spotify, Amazon and virtually every other legal and licensed distributor of digital music can put into place, the checks and balances that are capable of managing these rights effectively why is it so hard for Google to do the same YouTube? Think about it.

Fact number two.

YouTube can effectively filter content if it wants to. Since day one, we have never, ever seen any live porn on YouTube. Not a single live link to porn, ever. In debates in various online forums we have often proposed the challenge to anyone to present an active live link to full fledged porn on YouTube. It has NEVER happened. No one has EVER been able to present a live link to an active porn video on YouTube in the six plus years we and our friends have presented the challenge. Talk about a crowd sourcing FAIL.

What these two facts reveal is that rights management online, the protection of copyrights and the enforcement of Intellectual Property require nothing more than the intent and will to do so. But don’t take our word for it, listen to Google’s own Chief Economist Hal A Varian from his book “Information Rules” where he describes “Bitlegging.”

“Bitlegging” can’t be ignored: there’s no doubt that it can be a significant drag on profits.

Bitleggers have the same problem that any other sellers of contraband material have: they have to pet potential customers know how to find them. But if they advertise their location to potential customers, they also advertise their location to law enforcement authorities. In the contraband business it pays to advertise… but not too much.

This puts a natural limit on the size of for-profit illegal activities: the bigger they get, the more likely they are to get caught. Digital piracy can’t be eliminated, any more than any other kind of illegal activity, but it can be kept under control. All that is required is the political will to enforce intellectual property rights.

So Apple, Amazon, Spotify (and hundreds of others) can effectively manage digital distribution without triggering millions of DMCA notices. YouTube can effectively filter porn, and yet the internet is not broken as best as we can tell.

Maybe, just maybe this isn’t so complicated after all. That is unless one has a specific intent and motive from which they perhaps profit from the mass scale aiding of commercial level infringement.