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Swedish Court Says ISPs Can't Be Forced To Block Pirate Bay 19

The Next Web reports that a district court in Sweden has ruled that it cannot simply force ISPs to block The Pirate Bay, despite its role in large-scale copyright violation. A coalition of copyright holders including Sony and a group representing the Swedish film industry wanted the court to force Swedish ISP Bredbandsbolaget to curtail access, as courts have done in various cases around the world. The court found that Bredbandsbolaget couldn’t be held responsible for the copyright infringement of its customers’ actions while using the service as it doesn’t constitute a crime under Swedish law, according to the report. As such, it’s also not liable for any of the fines. While it could still be overturned by a higher authority appeals court, the group representing the copyright holders will have to pay the ISPs legal costs thus far, which is more than $150,000 according to TorrentFreak. (And here's TorrentFreak's report.) Update: 11/29 15:55 GMT by T : Oops -- sorry, we've mentioned this once already.

Swedish Court: ISPs Can't Be Forced To Ban the Pirate Bay ( 52

An anonymous reader writes: After years of rulings against The Pirate Bay around Europe, a Swedish court has now ruled that the country's ISPs can't be forced to block access to the torrent indexer. The case centers around copyright holders and an ISP called Bredbandsbolaget. The ISP refused to comply with demands that music pirates be cut off from internet access. When rightsholders couldn't get traction that way, they added Bredbandsbolaget to their list of targets. The court found that the ISP does not "participate" in copyright infringement carried out by its subscribers, and is thus not liable for any damages incurred.
The Courts

Czech Judge Cuts Deal With Software Pirate: Get 200K YouTube Views Or Pay Huge Fine 94

An anonymous reader writes: A judge allowed a software pirate to make a anti-piracy PSA and get away from paying a $373,000 / €351,000 fine he owed Microsoft and other software manufacturers. The only condition was that his video should get over 200,000 views on YouTube. From the BBC's coverage of the trial's unusual outcome: [The defendant, known only as Jakub F] came to the out-of-court settlement with a host of firms whose software he pirated after being convicted by a Czech court. In return, they agreed not to sue him. ... The firms, which included Microsoft, HBO Europe, Sony Music and Twentieth Century Fox, estimated that the financial damage amounted to 5.7m Czech Crowns (£148,000). But the Business Software Alliance (BSA), which represented Microsoft, acknowledged that Jakub could not pay that sum. Instead, the companies said they would be happy to receive only a small payment and his co-operation in the production of the video. In order for the firms' promise not to sue to be valid, they said, the video would have to be viewed at least 200,000 times within two months of its publication this week. ... But, if the video did not reach the target, the spokesman said that — "in theory" — the firms would have grounds to bring a civil case for damages."
The Courts

Insurer Refuses To Cover Cox In Massive Piracy Lawsuit ( 100

An anonymous reader writes with news that Cox Communications' insurer, Lloyds Of London underwriter Beazley, is refusing to cover legal costs and any liabilities from the case brought against it by BMG and Round Hill Music. TorrentFreak reports: "Trouble continues for one of the largest Internet providers in the United States, with a Lloyds underwriter now suing Cox Communications over an insurance dispute. The insurer is refusing to cover legal fees and potential piracy damages in Cox's case against BMG Rights Management and Round Hill Music. Following a ruling from a Virginia federal court that Cox is not protected by the safe-harbor provisions of the DMCA, the Internet provider must now deal with another setback. Following a ruling from a Virginia federal court that Cox is not protected by the safe-harbor provisions of the DMCA, the Internet provider must now deal with another setback."
Electronic Frontier Foundation

Judge Wipes Out Safe Harbor Provision In DMCA, Makes Cox Accomplice of Piracy ( 222

SysKoll writes: The DMCA is well-known for giving exorbitant powers to copyright holders, such as taking down a page or a whole web site without a court order. Media companies buy services from vendors like Rightscorp, a shake-down outfit that issues thousands of robot-generated take-down notices and issues threats against ISPs and sites ignoring them. Cox, like a lot of ISPs, is inundated with abusive take-down notices, in particular from Rightscorp. Now, BMG Rights Management and Round Hill Music are suing Cox for refusing to shut off the Internet access of subscribers that Rightscorp accused of downloading music via BitTorrent. Cox argues that as an ISP, they benefit from the Safe Harbor provision that shields access providers from subscribers' misbehavior. Not so, says U.S. District Judge Liam O'Grady. The judge sided with the media companies ahead of trial, saying Cox should have terminated the repeat offenders accused by Rightscorp. Cox's response is quite entertaining for a legal document (PDF): its description of Rightscorp includes the terms "shady," "shake-down," and "pay no attention to the facts." O'Grady also derided the Electronic Frontier Foundation's attempt to file an amicus brief supporting Cox, calling them hysterical crybabies.
The Internet

New Anti-Piracy Law In Australia Already Being Abused ( 73

Gumbercules!! writes: A small Australian ISP has received a demand that it block access to an overseas website or face legal action in the Federal Court, in a case in which a building company is demanding the ISP block access to an overseas site with a similar name. This case is being seen as a test case, potentially opening the way for companies and aggregated customers to use the new anti-piracy laws to block access to companies or their competition. The ISP in question has obviously been selected because they're very small and have limited financial capacity to fight a legal case.

ISP To Court: BitTorrent Usage Doesn't Equal Piracy ( 175

An anonymous reader writes: The music industry has long argued that evidence of BitTorrent is evidence of piracy, and ISPs have generally gone along with them. But now, ISP Cox Communications is pushing back against that claim. They have been sued by publishers for failing to halt service for users alleged to have pirated music. Not only has Cox argued that the piracy evidence is invalid, they're also contesting the idea that BitTorrent is only used for piracy (PDF). "Instead of generalizing BitTorrent traffic as copyright infringement, the music companies should offer direct proof that Cox subscribers pirated their work. Any other allegations are inappropriate and misleading according to Cox." The company says, "the Court should preclude Plaintiffs from relying on mere innuendo that BitTorrent inherently allows individuals to infringe Plaintiffs' copyrights."

BBC Begins Blocking VPN Access To iPlayer ( 174

nickweller points out Ars Technica's report (based on news initially on Torrent Freak) that The BBC has begun to block VPN users from its iPlayer video streaming service. From the article: Naturally, VPN providers are already working on a fix for the block, with IPVanish already claiming it has found a way around it. Earlier this year, a GlobalWebIndex report claimed that up to 60 million people outside the UK had been accessing iPlayer. The BBC disputes this figure however, saying: "These figures simply aren’t plausible. All our evidence shows the vast majority of BBC iPlayer usage is in the UK. BBC iPlayer and the content on it is paid for by UK licence fee payers in the UK and we take appropriate steps to protect access to this content."
The Courts

All Malibu Media Subpoenas In Eastern District NY Put On Hold 67

NewYorkCountryLawyer sends an update on the progress of Malibu Media, the company that filed subpoenas and copyright lawsuits over alleged BitTorrent piracy of pornography films: A federal Magistrate Judge in Central Islip, New York, has just placed all Malibu Media subpoenas in Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island, and Staten Island on hold indefinitely, due to "serious questions" raised by a motion to quash (PDF) filed in one of them. Judge Steven Locke's 4-page Order and Decision (PDF) cited the defendant's arguments that "(i) the common approach for identifying allegedly infringing BitTorrent users, and thus the Doe Defendant, is inconclusive; (ii) copyright actions, especially those involving the adult film industry, are susceptible to abusive litigation practices; and (iii) Malibu Media in particular has engaged in abusive litigation practices" as being among the reasons for his issuance of the stay.

British Movie Theater Staff To Wear Night-Vision Goggles To Combat Movie Piracy 279

Ewan Palmer writes: Movie theater across the UK will be required to don military-style night vision goggles in order to help crack down on movie piracy ahead of the release of potential box office smashes such as Spectre and Hunger Games. The initiative is part new measures to combat piracy as in recent years, pirates have found new and inventive ways to illegally record movies while using a smartphone to film through a popcorn box. Kieron Sharp, director general of the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT), said: "The bigger the film and the more anticipated it is, the higher-risk it is. We have staff on extra alert for that. James Bond is a big risk and we will be working with cinema operators and the distributors making sure we will keep that as tight as possible. We really don't want to see that recorded. They [cinema staff] are on alert to really drill down on who is in the auditorium and who might possibly be recording. They still do the sweeps around the auditoriums with the night vision glasses regardless of the film. But sometimes extra security is put in place for things like Bond."

Sharebeast, the Largest US-based Filesharing Service, Has Its Domain Seized 122

An anonymous reader writes: The RIAA says that the FBI has seized the domain of file-sharing service ShareBeast, shutting down what it said was responsible for the leaks of thousands of songs. The site now only displays a notice saying the FBI acted "pursuant to a seizure warrant related to suspect criminal copyright infringement." In a statement, RIAA CEO Cary Sherman called the seizure "a huge win for the music community and legitimate music services. ShareBeast operated with flagrant disregard for the rights of artists and labels while undermining the legal marketplace."

PayPal, Visa, MasterCard Prepare To Block Payments To Pirate Sites In France 82

An anonymous reader writes: The French government is deciding whether to allow PayPal, Visa, MasterCard, and other payments processors the right to refrain from executing transactions to pirate sites if copyright holders (MPAA, RIAA, PSR for Music) file a complaint. All pirate sites will be added to a blacklist, controlled by copyright holders, and not by a French court. A similar unofficial agreement between copyright holders and payment processors is actively being enforced in countries like the U.S. and the U.K.

Four Year Sentence For Running Piracy Streaming Site 235

An anonymous reader writes: A 29-year-old man from Northern Ireland has been sentenced to two years in jail and another two "on license" for running a website from his bedroom that streamed pirated content. (Being on license is similar to a strict parole in the U.S.) Police say the man made over £280,000 from ads on the site . Law enforcement was put on the case by an anti-piracy group in the UK. Between 2008 and 2013, users of the site streamed approximately 12 million movies, which prosecutors say caused £12 million in damages. The judge in the case said time in jail was necessary "to show that behavior of this nature does not go unpunished."

US Government's Pirate Movie Bootlegger Gets 24 Months Probation 83

Solandri writes: Ricardo Taylor, a former supervisor at the U.S. Department of Labor, ran a bootleg DVD operation for seven years, copying DVDs and selling them to other employees via the Department's internal email system. You know — exactly the sort of thing our draconian copyright fines were meant to prevent. He made more than $19,000 from these pirated movie sales in 2013 alone. His punishment? 24 months probation. Apparently, using the Internet to share Copyrighted materials at no personal profit is a more serious crime than selling copyrighted works for profit on physical media. More details on this local NBC site with auto-playing video.

More Popcorn Time Users Sued 147

An anonymous reader writes: The torrent-based video streaming software Popcorn Time has been in the news lately as multiple entities have initiated legal action over its use. Now, 16 Oregon-based Comcast subscribers have been targeted for their torrenting of the movie Survivor. The attorney who filed the lawsuit (PDF) says his client, Survivor Productions Inc., doesn't plan to seek any more than the minimum $750 fine, and that their goal is to "deter infringement." The lawsuit against these Popcorn Time users was accompanied by 12 other lawsuits targeting individuals who acquired copies of the movie using more typical torrenting practices.

A Breakdown of the Windows 10 Privacy Policy 318

WheezyJoe writes: The Verge has a piece on Windows 10 privacy that presents actual passages from the EULA and privacy policy that suggest what the OS is capturing and sending back to Microsoft. The piece takes a Microsoft-friendly point of view, arguing that all Microsoft is doing is either helpful or already being done either by Google or older releases of Windows, and also touches on how to shut things off (which is also explained here). But the quoted passages from the EULA and the privacy policy are interesting to review, particularly if you look out for legal weasel words that are open to Microsoft's interpretation, such as "various types (of data)", diagnostic data "vital" to the operation of Windows (cannot be turned off), sharing personal data "as necessary" and "to protect the rights or property of Microsoft". And while their explanations following the quotes may attempt an overly friendly spin, the article may be right about one thing: "In all, only a handful of these new features, and the privacy concerns they bring, are actually in fact new... Most people have just been either unaware or just did not care of their existence in past operating systems and software." Even pirates are having privacy concerns and blocking Windows 10 users.

Underground Piracy Sites Want To Block Windows 10 Users 394

An anonymous reader writes: Some smaller pirate sites have become concerned about Windows 10 system phoning home too many hints regarding that the users are accessing their site. Therefore, the pirate administrators have started blocking Windows 10 users from accessing the BitTorrent trackers that the sites host. The first ones to hit the alarm button were iTS, which have posted a statement and started redirecting Windows 10 users to a YouTube video called Windows 10 is a Tool to Spy on Everything You Do. Additionally, according to TorrentFreak, two other similar dark web torrent trackers are also considering following suit. "As we all know, Microsoft recently released Windows 10. You as a member should know, that we as a site are thinking about banning the OS from FSC," said one of the FSC staff. Likewise, in a message to their users, a BB admin said something similar: "We have also found [Windows 10] will be gathering information on users' P2P use to be shared with anti piracy group."

Movie Studio Sues Individual Popcorn Time Users For Infringement 144

An anonymous reader writes with another story about Popcorn Time, after yesterday's report that two Danes were arrested for sharing information about how to use it. From the article at BGR: Often described as 'Netflix for pirates,' Popcorn Time users are now being targeted for infringement. The makers of a film called The Cobbler recently initiated a lawsuit against 11 Popcorn Time users in Oregon for copying and distributing the aforementioned film without authorization. The Cobbler, in case you're unfamiliar, stars Adam Sandler and was released in early 2015 to tepid reviews. "Tepid" is putting it nicely.
United Kingdom

Legal Scholars Warn Against 10 Year Prison For Online Pirates 168

An anonymous reader writes: The UK Government wants to increase the maximum prison sentence for online copyright infringement from two years to ten. A number legal experts and activists are pushing back against the plan. One such group, The British and Irish Law, Education and Technology Association (BILETA) has concluded that changes to the current law are not needed. "legitimate means to tackle large-scale commercial scale online copyright infringement are already available and currently being used, and the suggested sentence of 10 years seems disproportionate," the group writes.

Australian Courts Make Life Hard For Dallas Buyers Club Copyright Owner 25

New submitter Harlequin80 writes: There has been a significant update in the landmark case between the Dallas Buyers Club (DBC) and iiNet, an ISP in Australia, where DBC has been trying to blaze new trails in obtaining downloaders' personal details. DBC had previously won the right to access subscribers' contact details, for the purposes of sending a letter, subject to the judge reviewing the form letter. El Reg is now reporting that the case Judge has reviewed the form letters proposed by DBC, and felt that they were too close to speculative invoicing. As a result, he has struck down two of their four claims and, because he feels they are not likely to operate in good faith, mandated a $600,000 bond from DBC if they want to send any letters at all. The price has been set so high so that DBC can't expect to make any money on the claims if they break the court's rules. While not an end to the matter it will make life very hard for DBC going forward.