Sunday 30 March 2014

The CopyKat - new ways to deal with those pesky pirates

The ever marvellous Out-law reports that in the United Kingdom parliamentary under-secretary of state for culture, media and sport Ed Vaizey has said in a statement in the House of Commons that the 'voluntary copyright alert programme’ (VCAP) could be operational later this year. Vaizey said that "significant technical obstacles" had held the government back from implementing new legislation, under the Digital Economy Act (DEA), which would, if established, see the creation of a new framework for enforcing copyright involving ISPs and rights holders. Whilst the government has not given up on implementing the new regime through new regulations, Vaizey said he welcomed the proposed VCAP plans saying ""It has been difficult to implement the details of the Digital Economy Act," Vaizey said, adding "The government have not resiled from it, but there are significant technical obstacles, including the fact that we were being sued by BT and TalkTalk for at least two years from the time when it was passed."

In a bid to protect authors, composers and performers of local artists a special Police team has been set up in Fiji to conduct investigations specifically looking at the issue of copyright infringements. Acting Commissioner of Police Ravi Narayan says local artists have been losing out to pirates which is why a team has been tasked to deal with local cases to bring those who are continuously breaching the Copyright Act to justice saying "We now have a team that have undergone training and have the capacity to deal with cases of copyright infringements and we will work closely with the Fiji Performing Right Association to protect local artists from losing their hard earned money”.

Research firm NPD Group has thrown the spotlight on the rising trend of smartphone-based music piracy, suggesting that it's on the humble mobile device that record companies and music publishers are facing their next big piracy challenge, as an increasing number of apps appearing on the scene that enable users to tap into free and usually unlicensed sources of music content. the most popular of these Android apps, Music Maniac, has been downloaded more than 10 million times — and affords free access to all 10 of the top songs listed on the current Billboard’s Hot 100 list. The Recording Industry Association of America said it has sent notices to Google requesting the app’s removal, claiming it enables song piracy. Google has thus far refused.

And the Department of Justice and the FBI have successfully concluded a case against two targeted high-profile Android app pirates: Nicholas Anthony Narbone and and Thomas Allen Dye, both formerly of the well-known piracy site, were charged with one count of copyright infringement, and both entered guilty pleas. Dye will be sentenced on June 12th, Narbone on July 8th; the maximum possible sentence is five years in prison, but say that both will probably receive a reduced sentence for their pleas. One alleged co-conspirator, Thomas Pace, has entered a not guilty pleas as has Kody Jon Peterson of Florida, who was allegedly associated with the SnappzMarket piracy site.

Michael Robertson, the former chief executive of defunct online music storage firm MP3tunes has been ordered to pay an estimated $41 million  after being found liable for infringing copyrights owned by record companies and music publishers once part of EMI Group Ltd (now Sony ATV). The verdict included $7.5 million in punitive damages, although it should be noted that the figures came from the claimant's lawyers. 

Merpel recently mentioned Finnish on the IPKat - and as luck or perhaps bad luck) would have it - it seems that Finland is now facing an invasion of "copyright trolls". TorrentFreak reports "Citizens of Finland are now being subjecting to pay-up-or-else letters, but the decision to target this Scandinavian country isn’t the most obvious one, thanks to less favorable laws than those in the US". Letters that have recently gone out to some Finnish Internet subscribers (translated example below, from a DNA customer)  accuse them of downloading porn using BitTorrent and include an offer to settle for ‘only 600 euros’ (about US$825). A "vague reference" to the police is also included,  "ratcheting up the pressure to comply" says TorrentFreak.

BoingBoing tells us that in Florida, District Court Judge Ursula Ungaro has dismissed a suit "brought by notorious porno-copyright trolls Malibu Media on the grounds that an IP address does not affirmatively identify a person, and so they cannot sue someone solely on the basis of implicating an IP address in an infringement." 

Back in the UK, the Bookseller reports that CILIP (The Chartered Institute of Library Professionals), the Wellcome Trust and the British Library, are among 50 organisations to sign an open letter urging business secretary Vince Cable to implement key reforms to copyright legislation, which they says they fear “could now be subject to delay”. The letter said the proposed new UK copyright exceptions were essential to allowing “today’s technology start-ups to compete with their European and US rivals” but that it seemed “highly likely that the government’s own deadline for the introduction” of legislation on copyright exceptions would be missed." Well yes, they admitted that themselves! And the lovely Eleonora (or e-LAWnora as we must now refer to our friend) updated us on  where Parliament is with all of this yesterday - The Regulations are set to come into force on 1 June, having been approved by a vote in both Houses of Parliament after Easter.

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