Posts Tagged ‘illegal downloads’
The delightfully named US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (or ICE, if you want to be all cool and that) is claiming that all .com and .net sites are theirs. That includes sites that don’t even have their servers in America.
And while this sounds like some kind of weird net colonialism, what it means in practical terms is that should you own a site or blog that contravenes copyright law, the Americans will be coming after you.
Erik Barnett, assistant deputy director of ICE said told the Guardian that the agency is going to come after you if you’re breaking their laws. The freedom of the internet, eh? It is reported that the ICE won’t just be going after sites with illegal content on them. They’re also going to run after any sites linking to dodgy content with legal pitchforks.
Barnett said, “By definition, almost all copyright infringement and trademark violation is transnational. There’s very little purely domestic intellectual property theft.”
“Without wishing to get into the particulars of any case, the general goal of law enforcement is to arrest and prosecute individuals who are committing crimes. That is our goal, our mission. The idea is to try to prosecute.”
Good luck with that, America… you massive mentalists.
Are you a German citizen? Well, I’ve been downloading entire back catalogues via your Wi-Fi connection and you’re to blame.
Of course, I haven’t because I don’t live in Germany, but alas, the latter part of what I said is oddly true. Y’see, if your Wi-Fi isn’t password protected, then German courts have ruled that you are partly responsible for illegal downloading.
Germany’s top criminal court ruled that internet users need to secure their private wireless connections by password to prevent unauthorized people from using their Web access to illegally download stuff.
What is worse is that they can also be fined up to €100 if a third party helps themselves to your unprotected WLAN connection.
“Private users are obligated to check whether their wireless connection is adequately secured to the danger of unauthorized third parties abusing it to commit copyright violation,” the court said.
However, you’re not solely responsible. The court limited the decision, ruling that users could not be expected to constantly update their wireless connection’s security. Basically, you’re only required to protect your internet access by setting up a password when you first install it.
Spokeswoman Carola Elbrecht told the German news agency DAPD it made sense that users should install protection for their wireless connection and that at the same time it was fair of the court not to expect constant technical updates by private users.
The ruling came after a musician sued an internet user whose wireless connection was used to illegally download a song which ended up being offered on a file sharing network (how did they get the info to find out which connection was doing the specific download?).
The user proved that he was on holiday at the time the song was downloaded via his wireless connection, yet the court ruled he was responsible to a degree for failing to protect his connection from abuse by third parties.
This seems like a very strange ruling indeed. Could we be seeing a similar ruling coming into play in the UK?
The makers of the Oscar-winning flick The Hurt Locker are going to sue people. Yep, they’ve joined a scheme that yells ‘pay up or else’ and will target tens of thousands of U.S. BitTorrent users (that’s if the ISPs are willing to co-operate that is).
The war film has been a huge success on torrent sites. The day after the movie bagged an Oscar or two, ‘the hurt locker’ was the most typed in search phrase on torrents and obviously, download numbers skyrocketed.
However, what is sticking in the craw of the makers is that, despite success with awards, the U.S box office revenue has been relatively low at $16.4 million. In an attempt to increase the film’s revenue, the makers are now going to sue thousands of downloaders. Expect a letter later in the month.
The Hollywood Reporter says that the team behind the film have signed up for the services of the U.S. Copyright Group, who will launch a mass lawsuit targeted at tens of thousands of Hurt Locker sharers. All infringers that have been identified thus far were asked to settle the dispute, or face further legal action.
“You can guess that relative to the films we’ve pursued already, the order of magnitude is much higher with Hurt Locker,” said Thomas Dunlap, a lawyer at the U.S. Copyright Group. Dunlap also said that 75 percent of ISPs have cooperated thus far and that 40% of the BitTorrent users that were targeted early this year have already settled.
Naturally, the Copyright Group aren’t being altruistic. The ‘pay up or else’ scheme is sees them taking 70 percent of the ‘winnings’. This action will invariably hit snag after snag and will no doubt meet great opposition.
The worst thing about music piracy is the people who look at their online thievery as a political gesture… as striking a blow to an imagined man. If they just said “Everyone likes a freebie don’t they?”, it wouldn’t be half as bad.
However, it has become something of a political hot-potato thanks to governments wading in to try and stop people robbing music. They’re doing this by waving a bit of paper around with DIGITAL ECONOMY BILL IS GONNA GETCHA written on it in permanent marker.
The debate over illegal file-sharing and how to combat it has seen sensible people stood in the middle, abuse and red tape flying over their heads. They must be wishing both parties would just piss-off and die in a bus-shelter or something.
One thing that the majority agree on is that the Digital Economy Bill is a steaming dung-pile which is neither use nor ornament. The latest person to say so is the boss of British Telecom (who isn’t exactly a nice guy, let’s be honest).
BT chief executive, Ian Livingston, says illegal file-sharers should be fined rather than having their accounts cut off. He and other industry figures have written to the Financial Times asking for changes to the bill.
Livingston says plans to suspend internet access for file-sharers goes against natural justice and that, instead, fines or a scrap in court would be much fairer.
He said this alternative approach would “create a fund” and “you get some good, rather than getting some hurt out of people infringing copyright”.
Feel free to point out BT shortcomings in the comments.
Illegal downloading? Not all that again! Well, here’s yet another story that makes certain people look out-of-touch and underhand, blissfully ignoring the fact that the bottom line is that people wouldn’t be pissing about with all this shit if it weren’t for people on the rob.
We’re getting ahead of ourselves here.
Some human rights watchdog has asked the European Commission to look at the legality of software being used to analyse file-sharing in the UK.
The software that’s been flagged up by Privacy International has the hilarious name of CView and is to be used ISP Virgin Media to try and identify legal-versus-illegal traffic (despite the fact you can hide your activities, reported elsewhere on these very pages).
Virgin Media, of course, reckon that the software poses no risk to anyone’s privacy. Unless you count people peering into your business and poking around in it like a virtual Gillian McKeith without invite.
The watchdog is worried about the software used as it utilises something called a ‘deep packet inspection’, which effectively means that it can identify actual file-names, making it possible to accurately find out what content is legal and what is not.
According to Alexander Hanff, head of ethical networks at Privacy International, use of such software is in breach of current UK law.
“Under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa) intercepting communications is a criminal offence regardless of what you do with the data,” he said. As such, should Virgin deploy CView, he’s game for filing a criminal complaint. This has meant that trials of the technology in the UK have been put on hold while investigations roll out.
In conjunction with this, the UK government are creating legislation that hopes to see illegal file-sharers being identified and subsequently banned from using anything that remotely resembles an internet connection.
A Virgin spokesman says that this software isn’t about identifying you e-ne’er-do-wells:
“It was never designed to capture identities. This isn’t an answer for that,” said Asam Ahmad. “We want to understand what we can do to reduce illegal file-sharing. This will tell us things such as the name of the top ten tracks being shared as well as the percentage of legal versus illegal.”
Mr Ahmad said no date had yet been set for the trial but told BBC News it will monitor traffic on three peer-to-peer networks notorious for trading illegal as well as legal software; Gnutella, eDonkey and BitTorrent.
This potentially means that 40% of Virgin Media’s customers could have their data scrutinised and they won’t be told in advance… apart from those Virgin Media customers who have received a letter after being identified as someone who downloads illegal content already.
Next week: Dog chases tail.
The debate about illegal downloading is one that will go on and on and on until some P2P’er buckles and ends up accepting a load of money from a big company to sort it all out with some new ideas. That’s the way it usually works (if you look at the history of hackers at least). That’s why no-one ever believes tech types when they toot on about ‘morals’.
Until then, everyone is going to have to put up with the clunky bumblings of various know-nothing government types, all wildly chucking shit at a lake to see if any of it floats.
The latest idea comes from Lord Razzall (who, if you ask me, sounds like a dancehall reggae MC) and his chum (takes deep breath) Lib Dem spokesperson for Culture Media and Sport Lord Clement Jones. Basically, Razzall has put forward an amendment (No.76 – like you even care) to the Digital Economy Bill that cuts persistent downloaders a bit of slack.
The amendment puts forward the idea that these internet rapscallions should be given the smackdown after “the internet service provider has received fifty or more copyright infringement reports about the relevant subscriber from the copyright owner for that period.”
Balls to the three strikes idea… and in with the fifties, right? It sounds a bit like an offer from a shop. ‘Try Product X for free and then, after a period, you have to start wanking up pennies…’. Of course, it’s unlikely that the music and film industries will be keen to be part of a bartering system like this, but if they want to start making money again, they’re most certainly going to have to rethink their business model.
However, one point is still not addressed which will invariably irk some folk. Just because someone makes a claim, it does not make it a fact if they repeat it a number of times. I’m pretty sure that most illegal downloaders are quite happy with the current laws (copyright holders taking people to court ) because, basically, no-one is getting the book thrown at them… even if they help millions of people access nicked music.
However, if a happy medium is to be sought, this 50 strike thing is a promising sign. It’s certainly better than the BPI request to introduce a no-questions-asked takedown regime which would allow rights holders to remove huge slabs of material at a whim.
That said, the likelihood of the Liberal Democrats getting in power are slim-to-fuck all.
It seems that no matter what anyone does, piracy on the net is not going to go away. I think it’s fair to assume that people like free stuff more than having morals. What did morality do for anyone apart from turn people into pious preachers?
That said, there’s a very real problem when it comes to musicians and film makers getting paid for what they do. The entertainment industry is in limbo and doesn’t quite know what to do about it all and thus far, has only thought of moaning to governments saying “those people out there! They’re bullying us for our dinner money!”
Naturally, governments are shitting hopeless at sorting things like this out. The latest scheme is to suspend the connections of those who repeatedly share music and films online. The actions of the pirates will see all consumers coughing up £500 million.
The Digital Economy Bill would force ISPs to send warning letters to anyone caught flinging copyright material around without permission. As such, these people will see their connection suspended or slowed to the point where they’ll feel like they’re using a computer in 1996. In real terms, the ISPs reckon consumers will have £25 added to their broadband subscription.
The MPs think that this will all generate £1.7 billion in extra sales for the entertainment industry and, perhaps most tellingly, £350 million in extra VAT for the government.
In The Times, Charles Dunstone, chief executive of Carphone Warehouse (who own TalkTalk) said: “Broadband consumers shouldn’t have to bail out the music industry. If they really think it’s worth spending vast sums of money on these measures then they should be footing the bill; not the consumer.”
Meanwhile, pint-sized U2 warbler Bono, has had a pop at the ISPs for not doing enough to combat illegal filesharing.
In the New York Times, he proposed that the rise of filesharing has hurt musicians and claimed that the only group “this reverse Robin Hooding benefits are rich service providers, whose swollen profits perfectly mirror the lost receipts of the music business”. That’s not all though. Get this:
“We know from America’s noble effort to stop child pornography, not to mention China’s ignoble effort to suppress online dissent, that it’s perfectly possible to track content,” Bono added. So what, he wants us all to get spied on now? The jumped-up little squirt! Why I oughta…
Anyway, this debate is one that’s going right down to the copper wire and no-one, as yet, has come up with a solution to it. As ever, it’s over to the collective You, dear Bitterwallet readers, to think up the answers for these bozos.
PS: Don’t take the image too seriously folks. It’s lame joke to try and drag your attention in from the millions of other flashing neon blogs and sites out there.
We’ve been hearing for weeks about the Government’s plans to disconnect internet users who indulge in a spot of illegal file-sharing, which according to some have more gaping holes than a hen night in Hull. Perhaps they’re not quite phrasing it like that. Two of the biggest concerns are that if the Digital Economy Bill is introduced as it stands, users would be cut off from their ISPs and potentially criminalised without trial, and there’s no way to discern whether a user has had their wi-fi hijacked by a third party – a relatively straight forward procedure.
Lord Mandelson, the Government minster who inspired the Barry Manilow’s 1975 classic, is hellbent on pushing the plans through despite reasonably critical opposition. And of course the music industry, which have been rattling on for such legislation for years without taking a moment to consider that a combination of its own actions (and inaction) has created its own demise, is delighted with the news. Says the body that represents the interests of record labels, the British Phonographic Industry (BPI):
“It is good news for fans of British music that Government is now introducing legislation to tackle illegal downloading. The creative sector in the UK needs new measures implemented urgently that address this problem for now and the future if the UK is to lead Europe in giving consumers innovative and high quality digital entertainment.”
The campaign against the plans becoming law is growing quickly; even some service providers have sworn to fight them. We recently told you of the Open Rights Group’s attempt to send a message to Mandelson, and now an online petition has been created on Downing Street’s official website, which already has nearly over 8,000 signatures and features other heavyweight voices of reason such as Stephen Fry. It’s worth a look and a signature, if you’d rather the Government stopped pissing about with draconian mandates, as if the internet dates back to the 18th century, and put some serious vision and thought into the digital future of the country.
Peter Mandelson has made himself ever so popular with the folks who like free stuff by proposing a three strikes rule. Illegal downloaders don’t know whether to worry, laugh, shrug or get cracking with downloading every single recorded sound ever.
Well, flying in the face of it all is TalkTalk who have said that they’ll mount a legal action against the government’s plan to cut off the internet connections of copyright violators.
Writing on the TalkTalk blog, the company’s executive director of strategy and regulation Andrew Heaney said: “The approach is based on the principle of ‘guilty until proven innocent’ and substitutes proper judicial process for a kangaroo court.
“We know this approach will lead to wrongful accusations. TalkTalk will continue to resist any attempts to make it impose technical measures on its customers unless directed to do so by a court or recognised tribunal.
“In the event we are instructed to impose extra-judicial technical measures we will challenge the instruction in the courts.”
One of the big concerns is that this approach from the Government (read: The Man if you’re that way inclined) will see an increase of Wi-Fi hacking by people trying get around the measures. TalkTalk even staged a wireless stunt recently to show how easy it is to hack into most wireless networks, even if the user has basic security software enabled.