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The Podium

Blog posts tagged with 'Copyright'

Wednesday, February 27

The Arrival of “Six Strikes”

By Brad

Yesterday, the Copyright Alert System (also known as “six strikes”) went into effect, which is aimed at curbing illegal sharing of content online. The new rules give ISPs the power to slow — but not outright sever — the Internet connections of repeat offenders. But as Alex Wilhelm of The Next Web reports, at least one provider won’t be slowing Internet speeds:

AT&T… is taking a different route, and will not slow customer Internet connections. Instead, through its later ‘strikes’ the company will require users “to take an extra step to review materials on an online portal that will educate them on the distribution of copyrighted content online,” according to a statement provided to TNW by AT&T.

Wilhelm goes on to note that Verizon plans to slow speeds for infringers to 256Kbps. Comcast, the nation’s largest Internet provider, has yet to announce its plans.

Monday, October 22

Warning Pirates

By Brad

Via CNN, a major new effort is afoot aimed at curbing illegal downloading of copyrighted material:

A new alert system, rolling out over the next two months, will repeatedly warn and possibly punish people violating digital copyrights. The Copyright Alert System was announced last July and has been four years in the making.

If you use AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner, or Verizon as your Internet service provider, you could receive the first of one of these notes starting in the next two months.
The Internet provider is delivering the message, but the legwork is being done by the copyright owners, which will monitor peer-to-peer networks such as BitTorrent.

Wednesday, September 19

Lobbying Together

By Brad

Cecilia Kang of the Washington Post reports a new lobbying coalition has been put together by a number of Internet companies:

Internet titans Facebook, Google, Amazon and Yahoo on Wednesday will launch a new lobbying association to counter efforts by federal regulators to strap new rules to their industry.

The Internet Association, led by Capitol Hill veteran Michael Beckerman, aims to band together Silicon Valley’s biggest Internet firms on issues such as piracy and copyright, privacy and cybersecurity.

Friday, January 20

Protests & Piracy

By Brad

Earlier this week, a number of popular online sites — including Wikipedia and Google — went “dark” in protest of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA), two anti-piracy bills that had been making their way through the House and Senate, respectively.

The protests appear to have had an effect, as scheduled votes on both bills have been put on hold. Over at GigaOm, Stacey Higginbotham examines why the protests were effective:

The protests that rocked the web on Wednesday and resulted in 13 million Americans taking some form of action to protest PIPA and its companion bill in the House, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), have been essential for swaying legislative opinion on the issue. Behind the scenes, tech industry leaders have been discussing the issue with congressional staffers and legislators in an effort to educate them about the effects of the legislation and more broadly about how the Internet works at a technical and business level.

Online piracy is a complicated issue, and it’s unlikely the debate will be settled any time soon. But it’s encouraging that Congress is willing take its time on legislation. After all, the Internet only became what it is today thanks to a “light touch” when it comes to government intervention.

Tuesday, November 30

The Copyright Battle

By Brad

Via CNet, the U.S. government has started cracking down on what are often referred to as “pirate sites”:

The domains of torrent sites that link to illegal copies of music and movie files and sites that sell counterfeit goods were seized this week by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement division of the Department of Homeland Security. Visitors to such sites as,, and found that their usual sites had been replaced by a message that said, “This domain name has been seized by ICE—Homeland Security Investigations, pursuant to a seizure warrant issued by a United States District Court.”

One domain owner said he was surprised by the action.

“My domain has been seized without any previous complaint or notice from any court!” the owner of Torrent-Finder told TorrentFreak, which listed more than 70 domains that were apparently part of the massive seizure.

At TechDirt, Mike Masnick is troubled by the move:

[N]one of this is actually stopping these sites from working. Within hours, many had popped back up elsewhere. The whole thing seems highly questionable. Seizing domain names without a trial, and taking down sites that appear to be nothing more than search engines, rather than actually hosting infringing material, is a huge, dangerous step, which appears to have absolutely nothing to do with Homeland Security’s mandate.

With the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA), sponsored by Sen. Patrick Leahy, currently making its way through Congress, the copyright battle is only heating up. Stay tuned…

Wednesday, August 04

Back to School Bummer

By Brad

Via USA Today, college students returning to campus this fall will find it a little more difficult to download movies and music illegally:

Every college across the country must either have installed software to block illegal file-sharing or have created some other procedure for preventing it. The requirement is part of the 2008 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which took effect July 1.

Some schools have been working to comply with the provisions for several years.

Under the law, student violators face fines from $750 to $30,000 for each song or movie downloaded. If a court determines the infringement was “willful,” that fine can be as much as $250,000, although some judges have reduced higher fines, saying they’re unreasonable. Schools’ liability is limited if they cooperate with law enforcement.


Tuesday, June 22

Today in Misguided Legal Threats

By Brad

Via the New York Times comes the story of a website’s April Fool’s prank involving magical unicorn meat described as “the other white meat,” a cease and desist letter from a confused National Pork Board, and the online hilarity that followed.

Tuesday, May 18

The Copyright Dance

By Brad

On Monday, BitTorrent search engine The Pirate Bay — long the scourge of movie studios and record companies for providing access to illegal downloads — was ordered shut down by German authorities. But as usually happens with the site, the shutdown didn’t last long. Reports CNet:

This is at least the third time a bandwidth provider was forced to take down the site and the third time the site has returned. One has to question whether the studios are actually playing into the the hands of The Pirate Bay operators with these attempts to knock out the site. Every time they do, The Pirate Bay rises again, and to the file-sharing community these comebacks boost the site operators’ reputation as unconquerable heroes.

Thursday, May 13

Copyright in the Digital Age

By Brad

Via MSNBC, a high court in Germany has ruled people with WiFi in their homes need to protect it with a password — or face a fine if someone they don’t know downloads something illegal:

Internet users can be fined up to euro100 ($126) if a third party takes advantage of their unprotected WLAN connection to illegally download music or other files, the Karlsruhe-based court said in its verdict.

“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.

In other copyright news — this time closer to home — a U.S. judge has ruled against file-sharing application LimeWire. From the Wall Street Journal:

The blistering, 59-page ruling from Judge Kimba Wood of U.S. District Court in Manhattan granted several requests for summary judgment made by the music labels, which are represented by the Recording Industry Association of America.

For many in the music industry the ruling is a throwback to an earlier digital era. LimeWire and similar software had their heyday several years ago, and while still present on many people’s computers they have been eclipsed by newer downloading methods such as BitTorrent.

In a statement, LimeWire Chief Executive George Searle said: “LimeWire strongly opposes the court’s recent decision.” RIAA CEO Mitch Bainwol, in a statement, called the ruling “an extraordinary victory for the entire creative community.”

Tuesday, April 21

Copyright & Cheating

By Brad

The website offers a web-based plagiarism detection service used by teachers to keep students honest. As part of the service, the site adds full term papers to a database, where it’s used for future plagiarism checks.

The database led to students from Virginia and Arizona to sue TurnItIn. The accusation was copyright infringement. But now, via Ars Technica, comes word that after two years of arguing the lawsuit has been thrown out:

TurnItIn has known for years that this would be a sensitive issue, and in 2002 commissioned an opinion from law firm Foley & Lardner. The group concluded that the use of the papers constituted fair use, but admitted that “the archival of a submitted work is perhaps the most legally sensitive aspect of the TURNITIN system.” The lawyers argue that because the text is not displayed or distributed to anyone, it can hardly be called “infringement.” Fair use should allow TurnItIn to do what it does.

A federal court agreed that this was legal, for two reasons. First, TurnItIn required students to enter into a “binding agreement” when they uploaded papers to the site. Second, TurnItIn’s use was “fair” according to the four factors found in US copyright law, with most weight being given to the “transformative” nature of what TurnItIn was doing with the papers.

Wednesday, April 15

Cracking Down on Copyright

By Brad

Recently, a French law that would sever the Internet connection of online pirates went down in defeat. Now, Ars Technica reports, South Korea has picked up the idea:

South Korea is crazy for baseball—it’s national team made it to recent finals of the World Baseball Classic, only to lose to Japan—so it seems especially appropriate that the country would be one of the first in the world to adopt an official “three strikes” policy toward copyright infringement on the Internet. While the government can order the disconnection of individual users, a key emphasis here appears to be on websites. Host some infringing content, and the government can shut you down at its discretion.

There’s a problem with focusing on individual websites, however:

An anonymous source summed up the problem for the paper: “It is virtually impossible for Web portals to totally filter illegal content when there are millions of postings coming up everyday. And I am talking about companies that spend massive amounts of money to monitor copyright violations and hire hundreds of monitoring personnel. I mean, how much does the government expect us to spend in developing and operating a simple Web service? No matter how hard we try, the culture minister will easily find his three strikes and could order us to shutdown a site at anytime, regardless of whether the copyright holder has a problem with us or not.”

It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.

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