Spanish Coalition Digs Up Anti-Piracy Law

In the past few months a controversial piece of legislation emerged in order to shut down file-sharing websites. This resulted in protests from the public and in December they proved to be successful as the House of Representatives rejected the proposal.

Spain has been one of the few countries operating p2p sites legally, under the decision of their courts. However, probably under the pressure of the United States – who helped the Spanish Government with introducing new laws against copyright infringement – they resurrected the law.

As a result, the Spanish Government proposed a new set of laws saying that any website posting copyright material should be closed without a judicial order. The public considered this an act of abuse and censorship. This legislation (an amendment which is part of the Sustainable Economy Law – LES) was orchestrated by the Minister of Culture Ángeles González-Sinde with the help of the United States Government.

The House of Representatives decided to adopt LES but rejected the controversial amendment. As a result, the law should have gone to the Senate – without the amendment – but yesterday proved that this could be just a false hope.
Hours before the deadline for submitting new amendments passed, a coalition between The Socialist Party (PSOE), the People’s Party (PP) and Convergence and Union (CiU) formed and reintroduced “The Sinde Act” with some minor changes. The purpose, however, is to shut down any p2p website that contains copyright material. This will be voted, in the weeks to come, by the Senate.

The major change is that the new Sinde Act will allow more “judicial control” – meaning that a judge must sign off if details about a website’s ownership are to be needed. Still, no judge is required to establish if a file-sharing website comes in conflict with copyright laws.

The public’s reaction was strong as Spanish Media printed hundreds of reports regarding the new legislation. This was also criticized by the President of the Academy of Cinema, Álex de la Iglesia: “It would have been better to start from scratch. It is a law that from the beginning has been very unpopular”.

Ángeles González replied that this law is created with the purpose of promoting innovation and that the Internet should not be feeling threatened by it.

What the Senate will decide remains to be seen. However, online protests are underway.

(via TorrentFreak)

Porn Pirates Face Lawsuits

Among file-sharing porn fans “One night in Paris” (featuring Paris Hilton) has already turned into a classic.
The copyright holder – Xpays Inc. – hopes to identify over eight hundred anonymous downloaders of the movie. Supposedly, these activities took place somewhere between 2010 and 2011, but specific dates were not disclosed.

Xpays got its hands on this tape from Jim Salomon who had it from Rick Salomon (the co-star of the movie). The latter cashed around $10 million during the first year of the film’s release.

However, the US federal judges will most likely dismiss this lawsuit (as many were before it). As an example, EFF’s recently asked an Illinois judge to drop all charges related to porn lawsuits. There’s much doubt about the legal terms involving this issue and also about the letters sent by the copyright holders.

Despite the fact that some courts dismiss such cases, porn studios and other copyright holders will relentlessly try to find ways into convincing other courts from different jurisdictions to have their justice. So beware porn sharers.

UK Government Pushes Forward against Internet Piracy

A secondary legislation on the Digital Economy Act 2010 (DEA) has been put into motion by the UK Government’s Department for Culture Olympics, Media and Sport (DCMS). DEA was originally set out to bring to justice all broadband customers that may come into conflict with copyright holders.

In September 2010, the Government announced that all Right Holders must pay 75% of the costs for tackling online piracy, while the other 25% would be supported by the ISPs. The secondary legislation follows suit of the original purpose, even though ISPs were not very pleased, at that time, with this solution.

Ed Vaizey, UK’s Communications Minister, said:

“The Digital Economy Act sets out to protect our creative economy from online copyright infringement, which industry estimates costs them £400m a year.We are introducing a system of mass notification to warn people about the unlawfulness of copyright infringement, explain the harm it does and point them toward legitimate content.These measures are expected to benefit industry by around £200m a year and as rights holders will be the main beneficiaries, we believe our decision on costs is fair to everyone.”

The Parliament’s job is now to debate this secondary legislation, in order for Ofcom (http://www.ofcom.org.uk/) to be able to draw a line to its Draft Online Copyright Infringement Initial Obligations Code (http://www.ispreview.co.uk/story/2010/05/28/ofcom-uk-publishes-draft-illegal-broadband-isp-file-sharing-code-of-practice.html).

Ofcom is also focused on moving to phase three – “Enforcement of the code and the handling of industry disputes” (i.e. the appeals process). This was supposed to be finished in July 2010, but has been delayed thanks to the granted Judicial Review made by TalkTalk and BT.

(via ispreview)

Prospects Not So Good for ACS:Law in File-Sharing Case

On the 24th of January, 2011, the debatable case involving Andrew Crossley, head of the UK law firm ACS:Law, and 27 people accused of file-sharing copyrighted material, has been resumed.

ACS:Law may need to stop sending further letters to internet subscribers (via a shell company by the name of GCB LTD.) due to the results of the proceedings, until the case’s details develop, although no formal ban has yet been made. With this, ACS:Law and MediaCat could face intensive analysis from the judge, plus the potential for costs awarded to defendants.

Supposedly, GCB LTD. was loaned to ACS:Law by a friend of Andrew Crossley in order to hide the true source of the letters being sent to those accused. As a result, Judge Birss asked for more information about GCB. Outside reports said that Crossley’s Barrister had not been informed about this and an immediate adjournment was requested in order to clarify GCB’s role in this matter. The suggestion that MediaCat was a copyright protection society in the letters sent by ACS:Law to those accused was tagged as being deliberately misleading. Furthermore, some of the necessary paperwork needed to clarify this situation was unavailable. With these facts in mind, Birss said:

“It could be an order of the court not to allow MediaCAT to write to anyone – although not normally applicable in this court – this is a very unusual case and warrants unusual actions. Letters are written to the public – not sophisticated people – the exercise would continue if discontinuance allowed. If I thought that you’d come back and put before the court, then I’d accept, but there is no obligation and you will carry on.”

However, in late afternoon the case proved to be much more complex. Crossley missed-out on showing up that afternoon, invoking personal reasons. The statement left to the court was that he will no longer work in this area due to the abuse suffered by his family.

Accountancy firm McLean Reid – which registered GCB Ltd. – was furious with the accusations brought upon the shell company, saying that they had no connections whatsoever with the file-sharing cases, pointing the blame to a third party. Later on, everything related to file-sharing between GCB and ACS:Law was brought to an end.

Judge Birss asked for further details regarding the case (after rejecting the request to drop the 27 cases), due to the difficulties of building a strong case and an ongoing investigation led by the Solicitors Regulatory Authority. The next morning he said:

“I want to tell you and your client I am not happy and I get the distinct impression with every twist and turn that there is a desire to avoid any judicial scrutiny.”

The case is probably going to be extended into two or more hearings whilst the evidence used by ACS:Law is analyzed in detail – focusing on MediaCat’s rights to file for copyright infringement.

Michael Coyle, head of Lawdit (a Southampton based firm of solicitors), represents a number of people accused of file-sharing by ACS:Law and agrees that these hearings could come to an end. He also added:

“It remains to be seen who will pick up the baton. If they are Solicitors a word of warning, you cannot run a campaign of intimidation and expect to get away with it for as long as the other two firms especially when the only evidence in your possession is the name of the person who pays the bill. If you decide to start a new campaign then my guess is you will be before the SRA within 12 months.”

(source: Hellmail)

Top 10 Most Downloaded Movies on BitTorrent

TorrentFreak has published the data they collected with the top 10 most shared movies on BitTorrent for the week ended January 23. All the films included in this chart are DVDrips (unless mentioned otherwise).

This week the delightfully bad action-comedy flick, ‘The Green Hornet’ occupies the # spot in the chart (martial arts fans or those who are not exactly youngsters will probably make an easy connection to the 1960’s TV Series that helped Bruce Lee launch his career as an actor)  followed by the excellent drama ‘The King’s Speech’. ‘127 Hours’ drops one place to #3.

This week’s list features four new entries.

Ranking (last week) Movie Rating / Trailer
1 (…) The Green Hornet (TS) 6.6/trailer
2 (…) The King’s Speech 8.5/trailer
3 (2) 127 Hours 8.4/trailer
4 (3) Megamind (SCR) 7.3/trailer
5 (…) Season of the Witch 5.6/trailer
6 (…) Life as We Know It 5.9/trailer
7 (9) The Social Network 8.2/trailer
8 (1) Ultramarines 6.2/trailer
9 (6) Inception 9.0/trailer
10 (4) Little Fockers (TS) 5.4/trailer

(via TorrentFreak)