Suit more than two years after raid on MegaUpload property, Dotcom home
Six US film studios have filed suit against MegaUpload founder Kim Dotcom in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. The suit alleges that Dotcom, while running the now-closed Megaupload site, "facilitated, encouraged and profited" from a business model promoting piracy and paying bounties to users that had popular content.
Landmark settlement intended to send a message to future infringers
According to court records filed today, Canadian Gary Fung has until the end of the week to close his BitTorrent search engine IsoHunt in addition to related sites TorrentBox, and Podtropolis. Fung has also agreed to pay various movie studios and other media production groups $110 million in damages to end the seven year-old legal skirmish.
Will take content complaints into account for search results
Google is set to become more aggressive against sites hosting allegedpirated material. From next week, the search engine will start to factor in the number of valid copyright notices it receives against a site, penalizing those with high numbers by placing them lower in search results. The ranking will "help users find legitimate, quality sources of content more easily," according to a post in the company's blog post.
US defendant offered deal to implicate UK couple
It is a terrible cliché when a writer begins a story by claiming that a series of real-life events "reads like a Hollywood movie script," but occasionally dramatic stories occur that are hard to distinguish from the intricate plottings of screenwriters or novelists. An unusual operation involving the US-based Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) hiring investigators to spy on a UK couple that ran a "links to streaming video" site has resulted in prosecution with the help of a US defendant.
MegaUpload case to focus on server data
MegaUpload's newly-hired lawyers on Friday successfully fought for the data of nearly 60 million MegaUpload users stored on 1,100 servers. The US District court's Judge Liam O'Grady agreed to require further negotiations between the lawyers representing consumers, major Hollywood studios, the US government, and MegaUpload's hosting service, as well as MegaUpload itself. The servers could could have otherwise been sold by Carpathia Hosting, with the information contained on them possibly sold or deleted as a result.
MPAA pushes to criminilize embedding videos
The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has now included embedding copyrighted videos into the definition of copyright infringement. The legal distinction between actually hosting the pirated video and simply posting a copy of it by embedding it shouldn't exist, the Association argues. It believes doing either should be subjected to the same punishment and be labeled as direct copyright infringement.
Industries "need to come to an understanding"
Motion Picture Association of America chief executive Christopher Dodd is reportedly maintaining hope that the trade organization will be able to successfully promote a replacement to the SOPA legislation, which was effectively shot down amid resistance from tech companies. In an interview with Hollywood Reporter, the former senator also suggested that Steve Jobs would side with the MPAA in its fight against piracy.
Kim Dotcom calls indictment MPAA-sponsored
Kim Dotcom, the MegaUpload founder who was arrested and his site shut down by the US government, is now speaking out quite vigorously against the government and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). He stated that Megauplaod wasn't a host for pirates, but instead a legitimate service that was likely shut down for political reasons, TorrentFreak reported. He goes on to call his indictment as being MPAA-sponsored and allegedly has evidence that will prove his innocence.
Studio group denies that it will sue users
The Motion Picture Association of America has reportedly asked server host Carpathia to retain Megaupload user data. The trade group is attempting to ensure that the data can be used for civil lawsuits, as the government recently gave Carpathia permission to clear the data—totaling 25 petabytes—from its servers.
Search giant points to safe harbor provisions
Google has filed an amicus brief in the ongoing lawsuit filed by Motion Picture Association of America studios against file sharing site Hotfile. The search giant has accused the plaintiffs of attempting to "distort" the accepted interpretation of safe harbor provisions detailed in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
Claims site 'indistinguishable' from Megaupload
Perhaps emboldened by the US government domain seizure of Megaupload, a cadre of film studios have argued in court for the shutdown of Hotfile, another file-sharing business that makes money from advertising and fees and is regularly accused of hosting some copyright-infringing material uploaded by its users. In seeking a summary judgement, the studios say that Hotfile uses the same business model as Megaupload and should therefore be stopped.
Gaffigan to distribute DRM-free comedy special
Comedian Jim Gaffigan will take a page out of colleague Louis CK's book and distribute his next comedy special, Jim Gaffigan: Mr. Universe, exclusively over the Internet. The one-hour special will be taped on February 25 and be released in April. Gaffigan will charge $5 for the video available from his official website, and donate $1 to charity.
MPAA only now edging towards balance
A new exposé of some of the actions behind the scenes of SOPA's rejection has shown the fundamental disconnect between the MPAA and differing points of view as well as signs that there may be progress, if slow, on an alternative. MPAA president and former Democratic senator Chris Dodd explained to The Hollywood Reporter that he had been "assured" there would be no major opposition from the White House and was caught unawares when the administration suggested it would veto either SOPA or its Senate equivalent PIPA if they passed a vote. MPAA members had started to "pick up signals" of resistance at the start of January, but they sincerely thought they had made concessions and felt "bitterly betrayed" as a result.
Anonymous carpet bombs Megaupload opponents
(Update: FBI too) The forced closure of Megaupload and accompanying arrests may have backfired on proponents after Anonymous launched one of its largest attacks ever in retaliation. Multiple statements from the hacking collective confirmed they were responsible for successful denial of service attacks against the websites of the Department of Justice, MPAA, RIAA, and likely arrest instigator Universal Music. All of the sites were partly or completely unresponsive as of early Thursday evening.
Louis CK shows copy protection not needed
Comedian Louis CK in an update revealed that an experiment in directly selling his Live at the Beacon Theater show online was a runaway success. Although it cost $170,000 to self-direct and produce the video, the DRM-free, $5 video had made $250,000 in just its first 12 hours. By Tuesday, Louis had more than doubled that amount and managed $200,000 in pure profit.
Opponents unlikely to be assuaged
The Motion Picture Association of America is reportedly preparing to make changes to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which continues to face criticism from a wide range of companies involved in the tech industry. Despite the promise to soften the legislation—described as overreaching by many opponents—the backers have remained mum regarding specific details of the changes.
MPAA okay with Internet blocks, mum on DNS issues
MPAA members during a Congressional hearing for the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) largely evaded questions of the possible censorship and technical security problems from the proposed bill. The movie studio-backed group's representation, headed by executive affairs and policy lead Michael O'Leary, argued that it was acceptable for the bill to enforce a blacklist of websites because such policies had worked well in other countries. The commentary went so far as to imply that there might be a model to follow in countries like China, where blacklists are used not just for generally transgressive content but also to silence political dissent.
Permanent ban follows temporary injunction
Zediva has reportedly settled its dispute with the Motion Picture Association of America, bringing a permanent end to the company's remote DVD streaming service. Following a temporary injunction that halted the service earlier this year, Zediva has agreed to pay $1.8 million in fees and put and end to its appeal and countersuit.
Zediva ordered to stop remote DVD streaming
Online DVD movie rental service Zediva has been temporarily banned from running its service by a federal judge. The step follows an MPAA lawsuit filed in April and is a preliminary injunction until the case concludes. Hollywood studios and the MPAA saw its service as trying to exploit a loophole in copyright law, one which Judge John Walter said didn't exist.
Some US ISPs confirm copyright alert plans
Internet providers on Thursday formally revealed their pacts with the MPAA and RIAA to curb piracy. The new strategy (below) used by AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Verizon, and others will first send "educational messages" to an Internet account if a music or video producer sends a notice of an alleged copyright infringement. If a content producer detects another incident, the notice will require a click through receipt that will prove they had received a warning and which could theoretically be used to sue the account holder for knowingly ignoring any warnings.
ISPs may take graduated response under RIAA heat
American Internet service providers were reported late Wednesday as near giving into pressure from the MPAA and RIAA into adopting a graduated response system to alleged piracy. AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, and others are believed to be near deals that could be made public in July that would toughen responses with each successive discovery. The White House as well as the National Cable and Telecommunications Association were claimed by CNET to have helped broker the deal.
Judge allows controversial measure to proceed
DC-based US Copyright Group has won a ruling that will allow it to proceed in a case against thousands of people alleged to have shared files illegally. The decision by Federal Judge Beryl Howell will require ISPs to turn over the identities of thousands of users who have engaged in P2P file sharing. This is the first time that a subpoena for the identities of thousands of people alleged to have shared files illegally has been granted.
Court says cracking DRM OK if purpose is legal
A new court ruling on Friday could set a legal precedent that allows bypassing digital rights management (DRM) for fair use purposes. New Orleans circuit Judge Emilio Garza found that GE hadn't violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act by using hacked security dongles to repair uninterruptible power supplies from MGE UPS Systems as the goal itself was legal. While a jury fined GE $4.6 million for breaking copyright and misusing trade secrets, Judge Garza determined the DMCA hadn't been broken, as using hacked items by itself didn't constitute violating protection at the same time.
MPAA didn't provide government with data sources
The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) may have presented inaccurate information to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) regarding the economic impact of unauthorized file sharing. At the same time, the MPAA refused to reveal how it came up with some of the numbers in its piracy statistics. One major statistic the MPAA was caught red-handed at involves the 2005 claim that 44 percent of unauthorized file sharing comes from universities.
MPAA and RIAA hope users turn in themselves
The MPAA and RIAA have sent a response to the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator that would call for software to spy on users for potential piracy. Answering a request for comments, the music and movie studios would like antivirus software to include tools for "managing copyright infringement" and block or report copyrighted material it finds.
New method could spell bad news for movie pirates
DC-based US Copyright Group, has filed more than 20,000 individual lawsuits against Internet users who download movie torrents. According to a Thursday report, the group was created on behalf of independent film produces and has rallied the support of the Independent Film & Television Alliance. Another mass lawsuit aimed at 30,000 other downloaders is due soon as well, and the two could set a precedent that could hugely deter BitTorrent movie downloads in the US.
Real agrees to keep DVD ripper off shelves
RealNetworks on Wednesday night agreed to a settlement in movie studios' lawsuit against RealDVD. The deal will see the company agree to a permanent ban against selling the app and related technologies as well as pay out a settlement of $4.5 million to the MPAA members that launched the suit. In return, the MPAA has promised only to drop the legal action.
Real allegedly brought on trouble itself
Judge Marilyn Patel in a quiet move on Friday dismissed Real's lawsuit against movie studios over their alleged collusion to block RealDVD. The Northern District Court official rejected the idea citing precedents that let companies band together to ensure a legal income and said the DVD Copy Control Association, as well as the Motion Picture Association of America, were allowed to work together to stop what they believed was illegal copying. Real also wasn't found to have suffered any significant losses from the move.
RealDVD Injuction Stays
A US court on Tuesday maintained (reg. required) a preliminary injunction that prevents RealNetworks from selling its RealDVD software pending the results of a lawsuit against the company. The decision is characterized by Judge Marilyn Patel as a safeguard given the legal ramifications of the technology. While she agrees individual DVD copying is legal given fair use principles, she warns that software designed to streamline copying and sharing DVDs is often illegal under federal law and that allowing sales may run afoul of that law.
Real Sues MPAA
RealNetworks today fought back against Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) claims that it was aiding piracy by filing counterclaims against both six studios in the MPAA and the DVD Copy Control Association. Sent through a Northern District of California court, the complaints accuse both groups of violating antitrust law by colluding together on trying to block legal alternatives to fair use copying of DVDs. Rather than grant copyrights through individual studios, permission is offered solely through a joint agreement between all of the studios and the DVD CCA, effectively letting them exclude anyone they decide offers competition to their own methods.
RealDVD vs MPAA trial
In the ongoing legal battle between the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and RealNetworks over the latter's RealDVD computer program that lets users violate copyright laws, the MPAA argued removing the software's restrictions on how many computers can access the ripped files is easily done. Robert Shumann, an expert on securing DVDs, took the stand on Tuesday at the request of the MPAA and said changing RealDVD to allow for more than the current five computers to playback the copied content is simple.
Dutch study file sharing
A study commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs has just concluded that the net economic effects of file sharing for music, movies and games are positive. The resulting 142-page report, put together by research company TNO, doesn't narrow the results to strictly illegal content but argues that, as consumers save money on unnecessary purchases and spend it on more wanted content, they save much more in wasted spending than music production companies lose.
Bush Signs PRO IP Act
US President George Bush on Monday signed the PRO-IP Act into law, increasing the federal government's attempts to crack down on copyright violations and other intellectual property infringement in the country. The Act will bring in a cabinet member dedicated to improving copyright protection and also increases punishments for both basic copyright violations as well as physical counterfeits.
RealDVD ban extended
A temporary ban issued at the start of this week on RealNetwork’s sales of its RealDVD software, which allows users to copy DVD movies, has been extended until a hearing is held to decide whether or not to make the ban more permanent. The stop in sales was ordered by a US federal judge after Hollywood studios, represented by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), sued RealNetworks over copyright issues. The extension came just one day after the original temporary ban, on Tuesday, according to a Thursday report.
Groups fight MPAA FCC bid
A request to the FCC by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to waive previously set rules and thus allow it to send video content to select TVs and entertainment devices is being contested by seven public interest and consumer groups. Led by consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge, the request was made on Monday, after the MPAA's May 9th request to be exempt from the rules which were set in 2003. Such exemption would allow studios to deny access to material, or postpone it, to owners of specific brands of TVs, for example, argue the public interest groups.
Film studios v. Pirate Bay
Movie studios are the latest group to launch a legal assault on Swedish BitTorrent site The Pirate Bay, filings indicate. The Motion Picture Association, an international extension of the MPAA, has filed a 93kr million ($15.4 million) lawsuit against Pirate Bay, which it accuses of hosting illegal torrent trackers for movies such as The Pink Panther and Syriana, as well as 13 episodes of the TV show Prison Break. Damages are said to amount to between 222 and 261kr ($37 and $43) per movie, and 415kr ($68) for each Prison Break episode.
MPAA: We were wrong
A 2005 study grossly distorted the role of colleges in movie piracy, the Motion Picture Association of America now admits. Commissioned by the trade group, the study blamed a massive 44 percent of all domestic piracy on college students, who frequently have access not only to broadband Internet connections but high-speed local networks. The MPAA is currently telling educational groups that the figure was a result of "human error," and is in fact closer to just 15 percent, the Associated Press writes.
TorrentSpy case terminated
A US District Judge has terminated a case against TorrentSpy.com in view of evidence tampering, reports say. Representatives from the MPAA sued TorrentSpy in 2006, claiming that the BitTorrent tracker provided illegal access to copyrighted video. Although TorrentSpy countersued, arguing that the MPAA hacked into its computers and e-mail accounts, the company was later ordered to record its data traffic, which could have been used as evidence. Lawyers protested, calling the request "unprecedented and damaging to online free speech and privacy and to free market values that support technological development."