Tuesday, March 31, 2009

News Roundup - March 2009

1. Guns N' Roses blogger faces music prison
2. Online video regulation structure outlined by Government
3. Government outlines new creative industries' rights agency
4. Copyright - let the authors beware
5. Top US video sites in February 2009
6. Not Enough Time in the Day to ... Watch TV.
7. UK opposes copyright exemptions for mash-ups
8. New Zealand pulls back from guilt-by-accusation piracy law
9. Obama removes YouTube from YouTube-side chats
10. YouTube, Universal near new video deal
11. Metallica's Lars Ulrich illegally downloads own album
12. Swedish police claim massive anti-piracy bust
13. Robbie Williams, Billy Bragg et al say downloads aren't illegal
14. Pro-filesharing Swedish party hopes for seat in Brussels
15. Obama continues Bush's secrecy policy on mysterious IP trade deal
16. Another 45 Years of Protection in the EU for Performers and Record
IP Osgoode March 18
17. Can internet music pirates be made to walk the plank?
Independent March 11
18. Copyright extension debate: coming next week
Daily Telegraph March 13
19. Good music needs fair licensing
Guardian March 11
20. Irish ISPs rally against record label anti-piracy threat
Register March 17
21. The Pirate Bay: An Ocean Away from Google?
IP Osgoode March 9

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Current Trend of ISP Censorship

Ireland is the location of the latest example in the current trend of ISP censorship.

EMI, Sony, Universal, and Warner had sued the Irish ISP, Eircom for "knowingly facilitating copyright infringement"(1) in failing to prevent illegal file sharing by its customers. Eircom should have been able to rely on Article 5 of the European Copyright Directive(2) which provides that ISP's can't be held liable for data transmissions, even if they infringe copyrights. Nevertheless, copyright holders were victorious when it was announced that Eicom had agreed to put in place a "three strike" system, similar to the one in operation in France, whereby persistent infringers will be removed.

IRMA, the Irish Recorded Music Association, has recently sent letters to other Irish ISPs demanding that they follow Eircom's lead and block access to "any website the music industry says is responsible for illegal music-swapping"(3). This lead the General Manager of the Internet Service Providers Association of Ireland, Paul Durrand, to state that IRMA's actions "could impact on user privacy, damage the development of new internet services and hurt Ireland's standing as an e-commerce hub"(4).

So far, the Irish Government has not acted as extremely as Australia's, which goes so far as to actually blacklist websites with the aid of filtering software(5). However, IRMA's actions could be taking the country one step closer to Oz.


(1) http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/02/03/eircom_agrees_to_three_strikes_enforcement/
(2) http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:32001L0029:EN:HTML
(3) http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/02/25/irma_letter_to_isps_blacknight_solutions/
(4) http://www.siliconrepublic.com/news/article/12506/comms/internet-body-labels-irma-legal-threat-spurious
(5) http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/02/25/oz_internet_net/

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Geo-Blocking, Defeating the Internet One Jurisdiction at a Time?

Geo-Blocking is the practice of restricting online content to computers located within specific physical locations, and it is on the rise.

The websites of Hulu and NBC engage in Geo-Blocking of popular television shows, preventing European users from accessing their full streaming content. Similarly, Youtube has very recently blocked access to music videos to users in the United Kingdom(1).

Copyright holders argue that controlling online streaming of recently aired shows etc. is necessary to allow for worldwide syndication. However, copyright holders need to realise the advantages of extending their online streaming services to the rest of the world. Such as increased online advertising revenue and extra publicity care of internet "word of mouth". That and the fact that they would be embracing the internet and its benefits rather than continuing to try and limit and control it.

Of course the internet has responded to Geo-Blocking in the usual manner...by circumventing the restrictions(2). Perhaps a change of tactics is needed by copyright holders.


(1) http://out-law.com/page-9854
(2) http://www.thestar.com/Unassigned/article/583846

Thursday, March 5, 2009

An Ominous Sign of the Future

The President of the United States of America, Barack Obama, has chosen a top pro-copyright industry lawyer to act as Associate Deputy Attorney General. This coupled with Vice-President Joe Biden's long history of support for the copyright industry may be unsettling for those who would hope to see any reduction/reform in copyright laws.


Obama DOJ pick: RIAA lawyer who killed Grokster

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The "piratebay" Situation, A Summary (3 of 3)

This is the third post in my series of situations, provided to give a brief overview of the story so far.

What is the Piratebay?

thepiratebay.org is a Swedish website that provides a catalogue of links to BitTorrent files.

What is the issue?

The BitTorrent files are alleged to enable file sharing of copright protected material. The issue is then can a website that does not host any infringing material be liable for providing links to where such material can be found?

The Case.

On February 16, 2009 the trial commenced of four people involved in thepiratebay.org. The charge against the four was that of "promoting other people's infringements of copyright laws"(1). In what has been labelled a "spectrial" (half spectacle, half trial)(2) it is perhaps useful to list two striking features:

a) King Kong Defense used as a means of illustrating that thepiratebay.org had no control over their users. The defense pointed to a user named King Kong who might be located in Cambodia.
b) Prison Break Season 1 was one of the copyrighted materials referred to in the trial, which shows that file sharing is not just for songs or movies but also for television shows.


Closing arguments were held on March 3, 2009 with a verdict expected on April 17, 2009. With half the charges being dropped mid-trial and further ammendments to the charges throughout it seems that the prosecutions case is less than air-tight. Perhaps the key thing to think about is the cause of the whole problem in the first place, as summed up neatly by Andrew Brown of the Guardian Online stating "One of the reasons we got into this mess was the absence of any kind of government that could stand above the immediate economic interests of the players involved"(3).


(1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Pirate_Bay_trial
(2) trial.thepiratebay.org
(3) http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2009/feb/26/read-me-first-pirate-bay


1. "The Pirate Bay trial is the collision of 'can I?' and 'should I?' cultures"
Andrew Brown, The Guardian, 26/2/2009
2. "Pirate Bay Day 8 - Moving Target"
Kevin Anderson, Guardian Online, 25/2/2009
3. "Pirate Bay Trial Day 7: Screenshots for Evidence"
TorrentFreak, 24/2/2009
4. "Prosecution Alters Pirate Bay Charges in Bid to Win Conviction"
Oscar Swartz, Wired, 24/2/2009
5. "Eircom to block Pirate Bay"
Austin Modine, The Register, 23/2/2009
6. "Pirate Bay supporters ram Swedish IFPI website"
Kelly Fiveash, The Register, 19/2/2009
7. "Pirate Bay triumphant as prosecution drops half of charges"
Jemima Kiss, Guardian Online, 17/2/2009

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Some Relevant Academic Writings - March 2009

1. "Problematic and Unnecessary? Issues with the Use of the Theft Offence to Protect Intangible Property"
Alex Steel, Sydney Law Review, Vol. 30, p. 575, 2008
2. "The Silver Lining in Dailymotion's Copyright Cloud"

Nicolas Jondet, U. of Edinburgh School of Law Research Paper No. 1 (April, 2008)
3. "Lost on the Web: Does Web Distribution Stimulate or Depress Television Viewing?"
Joel Waldfogel, NBER Working Paper No. W13497 (October, 2007)
4. "Three Scenarios for TV in 2015"
Laurence Meyer, Communications & Strategies (2006)