Being accused of illegally downloading “Maximum Conviction”, a 2012 movie starring Steven Seagal and Steve Austin, was quite the shocker for the former English teacher Emily Orlando, and probably for most of the other 370 “Does” involved in the trial.
Known to having informed (on numerous occasions) her pupils on the importance of copyright and the ethical issues plagiarism involves, Emily Orlando was more than surprised when she received a notice (last month) accusing her of illegally downloading “Maximum Conviction”. The respectable teacher was given a two-week-deadline to come up with $7.500 in payment for Voltage Pictures or risk paying a maximum of $150.000.
The lawyer representing Voltage Pictures, Carl Crowell, refused to comment on the case; however, the magnitude of this lawsuit (371 Oregonians involved, including Mrs. Orlando) is no uncharted territory for the Texas-born attorney who, in the past, filed nine other similar cases, rounding up close to 1,000 defendants.
As for Voltage’s financial claims, Mrs. Orlando expressed nothing but outrage:
“It’s terrifying, it’s legal extortion,” she said.
“I didn’t do anything, but now I have to get a lawyer and fight this.”
Quick settlements are the preferred method in such lawsuits, usually by both parties, but not necessarily the best of choices.
“This movie is worth $12.99 on Amazon. But these cases don’t seek that. If all 371 ‘John Does’ on this lawsuit ultimately pay $3,000 or $2,000, they’re shaking down Oregon residents for more than a million dollars,” said Kelly Rupp, Mrs. Orlando’s attorney.
She’s also taken the liberty of talking with the rest of the defendants, encouraging them to not settle and even to share the costs of the lawsuit.
As far as Mrs. Orlando is concerned, her ISP – Reliance Connects of Estacada – uses dynamic IP addresses, meaning that a customer can’t be linked to a specific/static IP address. Regardless of this obvious conflict, RCE gave away her personal information.
Emily Orlando had no idea of what BitTorrent is until the letter arrived. She and her husband, the teacher explained, prefer movies via Blockbuster or the old fashioned way – the telly.
“This is federal court and I would guess that the average person on the street is going to be intimidated by this and try to do whatever they can to make it go away,” Leonard DuBoff, founder of the DuBoff Law Group in Southwest Portland said.
“It’s going to be pretty frightening and that’s why they’re doing it.”
Frightening it is indeed, and not just the thought that your internet provider is once too often selling you out faster than Judas, but also these lawsuits’ projections on the American copyright law and the way it’s enforced.
Filed under: Announcements & Events, Entertainment Industry, Legal P2P News & Issues
Four years ago, more accurately in July 2009, South Korea was the first country to adopt the graduated response system known as “three-strikes”. Now, Korean lawmakers and human rights experts are willing to take a shot at the legislation in an attempt to right the wrong.
Not long after South Korea introduced the three-strikes system, the entertainment industry turned the country’s willingness to fight piracy into a model that should be adopted by everyone. Luckily, this didn’t happen, but the graduated response system did appeal to France, the UK, and the US.
Also to mention is that according to South Korean law either the Minister of Culture or the Korean Copyright Commission can ask internet providers to suspend their customers’ accounts and block/delete online content that infringes copyright, without any judicial process, no chance to challenge the claims of copyright infringement, no appeal, and no wonder that the industry was so fond of South Korea.
The question that begs an answer is: how did the three-strikes system work out for South Korea? Well, this is where things get complicated. Instead of taking a shot at heavy uploaders, the graduated response system went right off the scale, with half a million takedown notices being sent by rights holders. For that, a little over 400 Korean web accounts were shut down, most of which being online storage providers. Furthermore, Choi Jae-Cheon, a rather curious Korean politician, led an investigation which proved that just half of those suspended accounts were indeed infringing copyright at a minimal scale – so minimal that the infringement was estimated at 90 U.S. cents.
Something’s got to give, so Korea’s National Human Rights Commission proposed on Wednesday for the three-strikes system to be revised. Why? The legislation is not just ineffective, but can also lead to a “potential violation of the human rights to receive and impart information and to participate in the cultural life of the community.”
Choi Jae-Cheon, along with twelve members of the Korean National Assembly, is driven to change that by forwarding a plan that will break the three-strikes system down.
The news did not pass the Electronic Frontier Foundation, who was quick to act on Mr. Choi’s initiative:
“We, along with many other major international Internet rights groups, including Access, Association for Progressive Communications, Creative Commons Korea, Demand Progress, Fight for the Future, Freepress, Free Software Foundation, Global Voices Advocacy, GreenNet, La Quadrature du Net, OpenMedia, ONG Derechos Digitales, and Public Knowledge, have written to strongly support Mr. Choi’s brave stand for his own citizens,” the EFF wrote.
Below is the letter written by the EFF, as seen on their official website.
Dear Honorable Member of the National Assembly:
Internet access is vital to people’s livelihood, education, health, and engagement in social, cultural, and civic activities. However, recent copyright enforcement measures neglect the heavy implications of disconnecting and limiting users’ online access.
Graduated response, or so-called “three-strikes” policies punish users following repeated accusations of copyright infringement. Such regulations frequently have minimal or no judicial involvement, depriving their victims the right to due process, and subsequently free expression, freedom of association, and innovation — all of which are fundamental to social and economic progress. Internet restriction policies create a legal imbalance that gives content owners unfair and disproportionate enforcement rights at the expense of Internet users’ rights.
The Republic of Korea was the first country to implement a three-strikes policy and its harmful impact on Internet users is already apparent. In the past three and a half years since its enactment, 468,446 take-down notices have been sent to users, and it has shut down 408 website accounts. Under its current copyright law, an administrative body has the power to disconnect Internet service without a court order. The chilling effect this has had for users is immeasurable, but its impact is already apparent.
The Republic of Korea is at the forefront of technological development with one of the most Internet-connected populations in the world. Therefore it is especially crucial that Korean lawmakers show their leadership in opposing online censorship and to position themselves as strong defenders of digital civil liberties.
We are Internet freedom and free speech groups dedicated to the rights of all people to access cultural and educational resources, to enjoy a free and open Internet, and to benefit from open innovation. We jointly sign this letter in support of National Assembly Member Choi Jae Cheon’s proposed bill to completely remove the three-strikes and ISP monitoring and content filtering provisions from the Korean Copyright Act.
We are happy to continue the conversation with the Republic of Korea’s National Assembly Member, and provide you with information, evidence, and reports from the rest of the world in support of this initiative.
Internet provider usually keep logs of their customers’ traffic, for reasons of their own, but could this information be used by rights holders in court? To the disappointment of those who are looking for an easy buck (read copyright trolls), the answer is no.
While the US legal system is still used and abused by copyright trolls, a German court ruled against these techniques.
“Since 2008 the rights-owners have had the right to request the name and address of a connection holder connected to a certain IP-Address at a certain time, in case there was a copyright infringement committed from this connection,” Otto Freiherr Grote told TF.
Although most internet providers keep logs of the outgoing and incoming traffic, others don’t. When it comes to copyright infringement, rights holders could ask the ISP to hand over the personal details of a subscriber’s account (IP address, e-mail, home address), at least in the U.S.
“Some access providers (Vodafone for example) don’t provide this information in Germany. They often argue that they don’t save dynamic IP-addresses at all,” the German lawyer added.
“It’s as good as impossible for the rights-owners to sue any file-sharing clients of these providers,” Grote continued.
To deal with this “problem”, a movie company, alongside with an anti-piracy company and a producer of adult-oriented movies took Vodafone into court, trying to obtain a ruling in their favor.
And they initially did, with a regional court in Düsseldorf deciding that Vodafone must keep logs of their users’ traffic; however, once the ISP asked for an appeal, the decision was overruled.
Note: The initial ruling said that internet providers must provide right holders with the kept logs, but only if internet providers stored these logs in the first place.
“The Higher regional Court has now annulled these decisions,” Grote explained.
“The Court constitutes that there is no obligation to save the data.”
Are German ISPs going to reconsider their data storage policies after this decision? That’s to be seen in the future.
Filed under: Announcements & Events, Digital Media, Mobile Phones, P2P technology, Entertainment Industry, File-Sharing Programs, Networks & Services
After many years of hard work and dedication, Bram Cohen made BitTorrent Live available for public use. The technology behind BT Live is expected to change everything we know about live streaming; to secure its future, the American computer programmer has filed a patent application.
“We plan to shape the future of live broadcasts and want to work with broadcasters to accomplish that,” Cohen said in a statement.
BT Live is unique, in terms of both structure and technology, Cohen said in the patent application that was filed this month.
It was far from easy to come up with this technology, but Cohen’s passion for the complex managed to turn BT Live from dream to fact.
“Doing live streaming well on the Internet has long been a problem. Peer to peer live-streaming has always suffered from high latency, meaning there is typically a lot of delay between when a broadcast happens and when end users see it, typically dozens of seconds or minutes,” Cohen told TorrentFreak.
“BitTorrent Live allows a broadcaster to stream to millions of people with just a few seconds of latency. This is new, and unique, and potentially world-changing.”
The American programmer assures BitTorrent’s community that the patent is not going to restrict users’ access to the new protocol. BT Live will be free to use for both end users and publishers.
“We want people to use and adopt BitTorrent Live. But we aren’t planning on encouraging alternative implementation because it’s a tricky protocol to implement and poorly behaved peers can impact everyone. We want to ensure a quality experience for all and this is the best approach for us to take,” he said.
“To get slightly more technical, the way BitTorrent Live works is by making subsets of peers responsible for subsets of data. High robustness and low latency is achieved by using a screamer protocol between those peers.”
“For the last hop it uses a non-screamer protocol to regain congestion control and efficiency. There is redundancy and some waste in the screaming, but that’s kept under control by only using it to get data to a small fraction of the peers.”
Cohen is confident that BT Live will greatly improve home entertainment, as he believes that television will sooner or later adopt the internet into its infrastructure.
“I believe that inevitably all video streaming will be done over the Internet. It’s simply a better technology for doing so. On a technical level the cable approach is expensive and can only reach subscribers, as opposed to the Internet which can reach anyone,” he told TF.
“So far the one thing cable infrastructure has managed to still do better is live broadcasting. But the BitTorrent Live technology makes it practical to move that to the Internet without being cost prohibitive. We plan to shape the future of live broadcasts and want to work with broadcasters to accomplish that.”
Although BitTorrent is still seen by many as a technology used to infringe copyright, Bram Cohen begs to differ. His struggle to make BitTorrent a reliable and legitimate business goes as far as to make the best of it for both the public and content creators.
In this video, the computer whiz explains not only why BitTorrent will succeed where other file-sharing protocols failed (see the fate of Napster and LimeWire), but also why several huge companies (including Facebook, Twitter, and Wikipedia) rely on peer-to-peer.
On the other side, the music and movie industry, alongside with internet providers involved in the “six-strikes” program, explained their plans for the future at a Congressional Internet Caucus Advisory Committee hearing.
The hearing included a presentation from MPAA’s Senior Vice President Marianne Grant, who explained how the industry plans to gather evidence on illegal file-sharing. On that regard, the MPAA will (mainly) monitor BitTorrent users, as it’s believed that the peer-to-peer protocol is the main source for downloading movies and TV-shows. Grant also explained that the MPAA is planning on sending copyright alerts to “the right subscribers”.
“The thing about BitTorrent is that it’s very efficient at dividing large files up into small pieces and assembling them very quickly on the user’s computer. For film and television it’s by far the best way to get what you want, if you’re interested in that,” she said.
Furthermore, the MPAA will make a list of movies and TV-shows. The list will goto a tracking company (MarkMonitor), that will search for the respective files on torrent portals.
“We don’t want to send a single notice that isn’t a valid notice. We want to make sure that every single one of them is supported by evidence and a robust communication methodology that makes sure that someone couldn’t come from left field, and send one and pretend to be us,” Grant said.
The tracking company is also responsible with establishing whether an alleged infringer is indeed sharing the “flagged” file or not. Once this is established, the gathered evidence will be sent to the ISP. From here on, the internet provider is to send a copyright alert to the subscriber.
Although the industry takes pride into the system’s accuracy, only time will tell whether it will actually work as planned or not.
See Grant’s speech here – starting with minute 25.
The US “six-strikes” program kicked in, dragging into this anti-piracy war the country’s most respectable internet providers, amongst which we name Time Warner Cable, AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and Cablevision.
In their efforts to curb piracy on US territory, the entertainment industries have decided to come up with the Center for Copyright Information (CCI). Their goal is to deter illegal downloading, but not alone. US-based ISPs are to educate their customers about copyright infringement, and punish repeat offenders.
For example, Verizon’s plan is to slow down the speeds of repeat offenders, while AT&T is opting for a less aggressive punishment. Time Warner Cable is going to suspend their customers’ accounts – 14 days after receiving the fifth notice, users will be unable to access the internet unless they call TWC and be educated about copyright infringement.
Recent news revealed that Comcast is planning on educating their customers about copyright infringement, but will not throttle speeds or disconnect their users from the internet.
The announcement came on Wednesday, when the internet provider made its plans to help the CCI public.
The first and second warning will be sent in the form of in-browser alerts and e-mails, while the third and fourth alert will be tagged as “warning-focused alerts”.
The fifth alert, tagged as “mitigation-focused alerts”, will force the user to call the CSA (Comcast Security Assurance) in order to remove a “persistent in-browser alert”. The CSA team will inform the customer about copyright infringement. Furthermore, if the customer feels like the alerts are bogus, he or she can ask for an independent review (a $35 fee is required).
However, most of Comcast’s customers will never get to see a copyright alert, Jin Davis believes. Nevertheless, “we believe that informed awareness about copyrights will help our customers make knowledgeable choices about using copyrighted content online,” he said.
While some are convinced that the six-strikes system will not stop piracy, CCI’s executive director Jill Lesser said that the alerts “are meant to educate rather than punish, and direct [alleged infringers] to legal alternatives.”
Meanwhile, Comcast’s customers can click here and read all about the company’s plans to comply with the CCI.