Thursday 4 December 2014

The CopyKat - choppy waters ahead for 'safe harbor' ?

New Zealand Judge Nevin Dawson has said that Kim Dotcom does not have secret assets or pose a flight risk, rejecting prosecutors’ plea to send him to jail or wear an electronic monitoring bracelet. Dotcom is fighting attempts by the U.S. to extradite him on criminal copyright charges over his involvement with the Megaupload platform. After a three day hearing Dawson did tighten Dotcom's bail conditions by ruling he can no longer travel by private helicopter or boat, and must report to police twice a week.

In the US, BMG and Round Hill Music have filed a lawsuit that might prove to be an important test case on the obligations, or otherwise, of internet service providers in the ongoing fight against piracy. According to the Wall Street Journal, the two music rights firms are suing Cox Communications, the third largest cable TV company in the US. The music companies say that Cox should be held liable for the copyright infringement of its file-sharing customers because it has failed to respond in any way to notices alerting the company to the actions of its infringing users as provided by BMG and Round Hill's representative agency - the somewhat controversial Rightscorp Inc (described by techdirt as a "struggling copyright trolling operation") - and is therefor outside of DMCA 'safe harbor' protection, particularly when it comes to 'repeat infringers'.  According to the WSJ, the legal complaint notes: "Cox has had ... knowledge of ... repeat infringement by its subscribers [via Rightscorp]. Nonetheless, Cox has repeatedly refused to terminate the accounts of repeat infringers. The reason that Cox does not terminate these subscribers and account holders is obvious - it would cause Cox to lose revenue". Cox Communications was the one major player absent from the deal struck between the content owners and service providers back in 2011, the Copyright Alert System which did involved the likes of Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner and Verizon. Cox has its own system. BMG and Round Hill are seeking damages for contributory and vicarious copyright infringement and a judicial order requiring Cox to "promptly forward plaintiffs' infringement notices to their subscribers."

Has UKIP got itself a Christmas present in the form of a copyright lawsuit ? Maybe, as it seems the British right wing anti-EU party has used a recent cartoon by political cartoonist Christian Adams as it's 2014 Christmas card - without permission. The cartoon UKIP seems to have purloined originally featured in the Telegraph newspaper, and features a cartoon of UKIP leader Nigel Farage driving a white van over the leaders of the three main party - in reference to the tweet by the now departed Shadow Attorney General Emily Thornberry MP that showed a white van in front of a house decorated with the flag of St George with the hashtag #Rochester. UKIP recently won the byelection in Rochester demolishing the Labour, Liberal and Conservative vote.  Asked on twitter why he hadn't put the UKIP card on his Facebook timeline - Adams himself tweeted that UKIP had a problem as they "DID NOT ASK PERMISSION"!  More here on the IBT and here

And finally, the  Electronic Frontier Foundation has released an opinion piece by Maira Sutton Copyright Law as a Tool for State Censorship of the Internet arguing "When state officials seek to censor online speech, they’re going to use the quickest and easiest method available. For many, copyright takedown notices do the trick. After years of lobbying and increasing pressure from content industries on policymakers and tech companies, sending copyright notices to take media offline is easier than ever" and going on to say "Now we're seeing a disturbing trend where governments and state-friendly agencies are abusing DMCA takedowns to silence political criticism." with an interesting and global list of alleged abuses of 'DMCA' takedown censorship from around the World. Worth a read and its all on the EFF website here.

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