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PostSubject: outside news   Sun May 24, 2009 2:38 pm

Latest Poll - Pirate Party Could Win a Seat in EU Election

Posted: 22 May 2009 02:30 PM PDT
Early voting has already taken place in Europe and a new poll is out. The Pirate Party now has 7.9% support of the Swedish voting population. While well behind leading incumbent parties, it’s still enough to actually win at least one seat in the European Parliament. All this after election problems and the ongoing “spectrial” of The Pirate Bay.

They stand for privacy and reforming copyright laws - and now, they also stand to win a seat in the European parliament as well. The Local is currently reporting on the latest poll figures and the news is very good for the Pirate Party:

The Pirate Party now has the support of 7.9 percent of Swedish voters, up from 3.4 percent from a week earlier, according to the Demoskop poll conducted between May 13 and Wednesday.

That is still well behind Sweden’s opposition Social Democrats with 35.9 percent and Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt’s conservative Moderate Party with 24.1 percent.

But it could be enough for it to clinch at least one seat in the European Parliament

Of course, this momentum didn’t come without some difficulty. Just a few days ago, the party reported on their blog that they were excluded from one of the debates on major broadcaster SVT:

SVT is a party leader debate today before the European elections. Pirate Party leader Rick Falk Vinge, however, is not invited, only representatives of the seven parliamentary parties. This despite the fact that Piratpartiet has poll figures that are in class with a number of parliamentary parties, and markedly more than the Christian Democrats.

It is very strange that they choose to exclude a party is challenging in this way, “says Rick Falk Vinge, party for Piratpartiet. We have 5.5% in Sifo and 5.6% in Novus Opinion, and has had numbers in that class since the measurements before the European elections began. We are expected to take seats in the European elections. It can not be grounds to exclude us because we are too small. So why have SVT Agenda chosen to exclude us from the debate?

Party leaders debate broadcast tonight, Sunday at 20 of SVT2, and is repeated four times in connection with that early voting opens.

Shortly afterwards, on the day of the early voting, people were commenting (Google translation) how critical ballot information was missing needed to vote for the Pirate Party.

“Have now voted piracy, but not without difficulty. The ballots were missing when I got to my next förtidsröstning local (library in Aspudden) so I had to take a walk to the library of the Telefonplan and where fans are plenty of counterfeit ballots. But the danger is over,” one user wrote (Google translation), “I checked if there were ballots outsourced on the way back and there were. I was there a few minutes after opening so I guess they got in place shortly after that I am good to the next library.”

Many have pointed to the trial of The Pirate Bay as one major reason for the surge in popularity of the Pirate Party where lawyers for the major copyright industry have demanded additional fines on top of the 30 milion kronor fine already handed down to the admins. On top of the additional fines, the lawyers representing members of the copyright industry also demanded a gag order. More recently, the Swedish justice system seems to keep offering judges that have connections with organizations that advocate restricting copyright to decide whether or not the judge that handed the guilty verdict was biased due to connections with organizations that advocate restricting copyright laws.

Some of the anger as a result of The Pirate Bay “spectrial” comes out of the fact that major US corporations have intervened in the daily affairs of Sweden. With the United States already signalling that it would pass a law that would make pressuring other countries that don’t abide by what the copyright industry sees as good copyright laws, among other things, part of the US foreign policy. Indeed, Sweden was in the US governments cross-hairs for quite some time over The Pirate Bay website and when a guilty verdict was handed down to the admins of The Pirate Bay, it didn’t take long for the USTR to applaud the development as “significant positive progress”.

Another reason for the support can be attributed to leaked government documents that suggested how the Swedish government is planning on forcing ISPs to retain all data of it’s users for 6 months. The idea floating around is to plug a loophole that allowed Swedish ISPs to protect user information by destroying their logs so when the government demanded information regarding a file-sharing related case, there would be nothing to hand over. The government stressed that the law is still being developed and hasn’t even been tabled for consideration, but it was certainly enough to anger members of the Pirate Party (Google translation).

Still, the Pirate Party hasn’t officially won a seat, but the surge in popularity suggests that this could very easily be the day where the Pirate Party finally wins seats. The final vote is on June 7th and poll stations were surprised to see a surge in popularity of the EU elections recently because the election had already been dubbed as “the forgotten election”. As we already noted, this is gearing up to be a very interesting election.

Further Reading:

STUDY: Sweden’s Pirate Party to Win 2 Seats in EU Parliament

Have a tip? Want to contact the author? You can do so by sending a PM via the forums or via e-mail at drew@zeropaid.com.

3 Judge Panel to Determine if Pirate Bay Trial Judge Biased

Posted: 22 May 2009 12:51 PM PDT
Replace Judge Ulrika Ihrfelt, a member of same pro-copyright group as original judge, Judge Tomas Norström, as it considers whether guilty verdict should be revisited for lack of impartiality.

The Swedish Court of Appeals has decided to replace the judge that was scheduled to hear Swedish BitTorrent tracker site the Pirate Bay’s appeal of its recent guilty verdict for the facilitation of copyright infringement with a new 3 judge panel.

“The information may be mentioned that none of these are or have been members of any of the groups present in the case,” writes the court in a press release.

It will replace Judge Ulrika Ihrfelt since she had been a member of the same pro-copyright group as was the presiding judge, Judge Tomas Norström, as well as several of the entertainment industry’s lawyers, which is what made the conviction seem biased to many.

Peter Sunde, one of the Pirate Bay admins convicted, has already done a but of digging into the backgrounds of the 3 new judges and has found that they too have associations with the entertainment industry lawyers that could perhaps call their impartiality into question.

Judge Anders Eka, for example, sits on the board of the “Research Center for Media Rights” alongside Monique and Peter Danowsky, layers representing the entertainment industry in the case against the Pirate Bay.

“Note: Not any of OUR lawyers are on that board,” notes Sunde. “But two of the opponents lawyers in the same board. Together with two of their main helpers.”

He adds: “and I have only just started to google for the people.. it took me longer time to write this blog post than to find the information. How come noone else does this?”

Good question Peter.

He keeps asking for a fair trial, nothing more, but all he seems to get is more entertainment industry-tainted govt officials.

I mean the case became a “spectrial” long ago when it was reported that Jim Keyzer, the Chief Swedish police investigator in the preliminary investigation against the Pirate Bay, was hired by two of the entertainment industry plaintiffs after his work had ended.

It seems only natural to have judges finish what Keyzer started.

Stay tuned.

Spanish P2P Developer Goes to Court for “Unfair Competition”

Posted: 22 May 2009 09:49 AM PDT
Record labels accuse him of profiting from file-sharing programs that allow users to download music for free and thereby “free ride” over their property.

The trial against P2P software designer Pablo Soto has finally begun in a Spanish courtroom. The Promusicae association of Spanish record labels along with EMI, Sony, Vivendi Universal, and Warner Music are suing Soto what they call “unfair competition.” They are demanding $19.9 million USD in alleged damages, $35,000 for the PI’s it used to get the secret pics above, plus court costs.

“They allege that with a ’conservative calculation,’ each downloader of the software has shared one copy of protected musical material,” Soto’s lawyer told ZP after the suit was filed. “As Pablo’s companies sell software and advertisements, he is ‘free riding’ over their property and, as free riders, they are liable and have to pay.”

Promusicae and the majors say that some 25 million people have downloaded free music using the company’s P2P software Blubster, Piolet, and the best known, Manolito P2P.

The problem however, is that Spanish courts have repeatedly ruled that file-sharing isn’t illegal so long as it’s not for commercial gain.

The labels decided to sue Soto after unsuccessfully suing individual file-sharers. One case in particular, Judge Paz Aldecoa argued that a guilty verdict would “would imply the criminalization of socially accepted and widely practiced behavior in which the aim is in no way to make money illicitly, but rather to obtain copies for private use.”

Record labels are trying to make the novel argument that the file-sharing software created by Soto was commercialized “with the finality of exchanging musical files… to defraud intellectual property rights.”

Guisasola adds “his activity is parasitical towards ours, and he is getting rich by doing it. He has created a tool for fraud, and for that he must be made responsible.”

Soto, who was not questioned by the accusation on the first day of the trial, told reporters outside the court that his technology was “not designed to transmit any concrete activity, with or without copyright. I do not feel a scapegoat, but neither the hero of illegal downloads.”

Soto added: “Technology is always neutral, and you cannot accuse the developer of a program because of the use made of it by its users.” He claims he does not have the kind of money demanded by the labels, and points out that he uses public transport.

The case is a last ditch effort by record labels to fight P2P, but the notion that if you sue a software developer in order to somehow contain file-sharing is just ridiculous. The record industry needs to channel this time and effort towards creating new solutions to meet the demands of music fans, and not waste it on what is essentially a losing battle.

A ruling is not expected for several months.

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PostSubject: Re: outside news   Sun May 24, 2009 7:38 pm

Very interesting indeed, I winder what the ruling will be?

This is very interesing to see the outcome of it.
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PostSubject: Re: outside news   Mon May 25, 2009 10:02 pm

i am curiousd to see as well
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PostSubject: Re: outside news   Tue May 26, 2009 12:05 pm

Conference Board of Canada Pirates Report to Call for Tough Action Against Piracy?

Posted: 26 May 2009 01:31 AM PDT
Michael Geist may have uncovered one of the most revealing pieces about the copyright lobby in Canada. Said Geist about the Board’s report, “this work would face possible plagiarism sanctions in almost any academic environment”

The thorough posting by Michael Geist even has a side-by-side comparison of the reports to prove the point as well where the report (without attribution in a number of cases) is almost a verbatim copy of the IIPA 2008 Canada Special 301 Report in a number of places.

The accompanying press release apparently relied on a 2008 CRIA press release which relied on a 2006 report from the infamous Pollara (Pollara actually issued a response to Michael Geist at one point when he discussed a Pollara study echoing CRIA’s claims a few years back)

With the Conference Board of Canada’s apparent reputation for not representing any special interest groups dashed with this revelation, we can also note a few more things that might deflate the claims of the Board. Given that the Board, through the initial report, appears to be a brand new mouth piece for the copyright industry, we can also draw a few more conclusions on the world stage. The first sentence of the Board’s press release says this:

Canada’s failure to strengthen intellectual property rights (IPR) in the face of digital technology has given it an unwelcome reputation as the file-swapping capital of the world.

Since the resources to put together studies like this essentially comes from the same lobby, here’s what the copyright industry, via the 2009 USTR Special 301 report said about other nations (Quotation box inserted for those who don’t want to read the laundry list):

Belarus - “The Belorussian market is dominated by illegal optical disc, with pirated DVDs of
films sometimes making it to the market before they are released in U.S. cinemas”

Bolivia - “Rampant piracy and counterfeiting, including counterfeiting of medicines, persist in Bolivia. In particular, concerns remain about the erosion of IP protection for pharmaceutical products.”

Brazil - “The United States encourages Brazil to continue these actions as well
as strengthen its IPR enforcement legislation, take more vigorous action to address book and
Internet piracy, and accede to and implement the WIPO Internet Treaties”

Brunei - “The sale of illegal optical discs including unlicensed software is open and pervasive in Brunei and the Government’s record on enforcement is weak.”

Columbia - “The United States remains concerned, however, that further IPR improvements are needed, including actions to reduce book and optical media piracy.”

Costa Rica - “The United States remains concerned, however, about weak IPR enforcement in Costa Rica,
particularly with respect to copyright piracy and trademark counterfeiting.”

Czech Republic - “further enforcement action is needed”

Dominican Republic - “While the Dominican Republic undertook legislative reforms to implement its commitments under CAFTA-DR that provided for stronger IPR protection and enforcement, the United States is concerned about weak enforcement of these laws”

Ecuador - “overall IPR enforcement in Ecuador remains a serious problem, resulting in high piracy levels in the software, publishing, recording, and film industries”

Egypt - “Serious concerns remain, however, about weak copyright enforcement by the Ministry of Culture against piracy of books, music, and films, which the U.S. copyright industries describe as virtually unchecked.”

Finland - “lack of product patent protection”

Greece - “IPR enforcement in Greece, however, remains weak and uneven.”

Guatemala - “IPR enforcement remains a problem”

Hungary - “U.S. copyright industries also report that Internet piracy in Hungary is a major problem, and note that the Hungarian Government should provide adequate resources to its law enforcement authorities to combat IPR crime, especially on the Internet.”

Italy - “lack of deterrent-level sentences for IPR crimes”

Jamaica - “The United States urges the Government of Jamaica to reform its patent law as soon as possible in accordance with international standards for patent protection”

Kuwait - “The United States encourages Kuwait to pass this IPR legislation, accede to these conventions, and improve IPR enforcement.”

Lebanon - “weak enforcement against piracy of books, music, films, and software.”

Malaysia - “The United States urges Malaysian authorities to step up enforcement actions against piracy and counterfeiting as they have in the past.”

Mexico - “The United States urges Mexico to devote greater resources to its enforcement agencies, enhance coordination among enforcement agencies—particularly between the federal, state and municipal authorities”

Norway - “lack of product patent protection for certain pharmaceutical products”

Peru - “piracy rates are high and counterfeit clothing and toys continue to be easily found throughout the
country at markets, street corners, and beach areas.”

Philippines - “the digital environment has created more challenges that the Government has not addressed, such as peer-to-peer piracy, mobile device piracy, and illegal camcording.”

Poland - “Poland has yet to make adequate progress against Internet piracy and the trade in pirated and counterfeit goods in markets on Poland’s border with Germany”

Romania - “The ability to prosecute successfully IPR crimes remains weak. Although some courts imposed jail sentences for IPR violations in 2008, Romanian judges often dismiss IPR cases due to a perceived “lack of social harm.”

Saudi Arabia - “Saudi Arabia needs to make further IPR improvements to its IPR enforcement system by
sustaining raids and inspections to combat piracy and counterfeiting;”

Spain - “The Spanish Government has expended minimal effort to change the widespread
misperception in Spain that peer-to-peer file sharing is legal”

Tajikistan - “Tajikistan does not provide protection for U.S. and other foreign sound recordings and does not clearly provide protection for pre-existing works or sound recordings under its Copyright Law.”

Turkey - “Turkey reportedly remains a significant source of counterfeit goods seized at the borders of nearby countries.”

Turkmenistan - “Turkmenistan has not adopted a separate Copyright Law and consequently does not provide any protection to foreign sound recordings or preexisting works.”

Ukraine - “Industry reports that many Ukraine-based websites offer pirated material for download, and add that nearly 100 percent of downloads of music, movies, and software are from illegal websites”

Uzbekistan - “Uzbekistan’s 2006 Copyright and Related Rights Law is weak in that it does not
protect pre-existing works nor does it provide any protection or rights to U.S. and other foreign
sound recordings.”

Vietnam - “administrative enforcement actions and penalties have not been sufficient to deter infringing activities”

Paraguay - “Paraguay continues to have problems providing effective IPR protection due to porous borders, ineffective prosecutions of IPR infringers, and the lack of deterrent-level sentences in court cases being issued.”

To put this list into perspective, this is the regular watch list, not even the “priority watch list”. Just reading through it, one can get this sense that the whole world is lawless and the heroic United States is coming in to town fix up the laws of other countries and make things right as they see fit.

Still, the Board issued a response stating that only one citation was missed and had this to say:

In the conclusion of the report, the Conference Board states, “Nations need a balanced approach that controls copyrights based on the rights of the creator and the user of digital intellectual property. Virtually every national intellectual property policy balances the right of creators to be compensated for their creation with the right of consumers to have fair access to legitimately acquired creations to further stimulate knowledge, creativity, and innovation. Indeed, throughout this report, balance has been a recurring theme. Overall, the aim must be to balance control of copyright with the freedom to enjoy creative works lawfully , a compromise that establishes a win-win outcome.”

This report was produced as contract research. The Conference Board does not disclose the terms of its contracts without permission of the client.

The Conference Board regularly produces custom research. Our guidelines for financed research require the design and method of research, as well as the content of the report, to be determined solely by the Conference Board.

On Friday, May 29, this report will be presented at a Conference Board conference in Toronto, entitled Intellectual Property Rights: Innovation and Commercialization in Turbulent Times.

Michael Geist shortly afterwards posted a rebuttal saying:

Leaving aside the fact that all the most relevant arguments just happen to come from a U.S. lobby group with direct links to the funders of the Digital Economy report, the Conference Board of Canada has failed to understand the rules associated with plagiarism as a sprinkling of citations is simply not good enough. As the University of Ottawa’s plagiarism guidelines (which are mirrored in academic institutions around the world) note “if you use someone else’s words, data, etc., use quotation marks and give a complete reference.” The Digital Economy report repeatedly used the same or very similar wording to the IIPA document and does not use quotations. Moreover, my posting cited to factual errors contained within the report and the press release. For example, the Conference Board claimed that the OECD concluded that Canada is the world’s file sharing capital on a per capita basis. This is simply false as anyone who reads the OECD report will find that it did not reach that conclusion. Nevertheless, the Conference Board has chosen not to respond to this issue.

Admitting an error is never easy, but I would submit that the Conference Board of Canada has compounded its mistake by standing by its report. In doing so, it has done little more than further undermine its credibility. Particularly given that public dollars helped fund this report, Minister of Research and Innovation John Wilkinson should provide his views on whether his government regards this as appropriate use of taxpayer money.

Update (5:15): Brian Jackson of IT Business reports that the Minister’s office acknowledges spending $15,000 on the report. It plans to follow up on the issues raised in my post.

This is, by far, not the only supposedly unbiased information source in Canada to have their reputation tarnished by having their connections to the copyright lobby exposed. By the way things are going, it won’t be the last either. It’s been revelations such as this that have caused significant problems for the copyright industry to even get enough credibility to get their arguments off the ground. As a consequence, whenever copyright reform actually hits the legislative table (which, so far, has been exclusively pro-industry and perceived by many including businesses to be anti-consumer), there’s been major opposition by nearly every stakeholder affected calling for the government to issue less restrictive copyright laws - leading many to note how organizations like CRIA, and others closely tied to the American copyright industry, stand alone on their side of the debate.

The only reason CRIA has remained to be such a powerful copyright voice in Canada has been pretty much exclusively the influence of Hollywood and the major foreign record labels and their ability to influence US lawmakers to pressure Canada into reforming the copyright laws to what they see as their standards - or more accurately, what they see as “international standards”. Of course, how international are these standards when there is such a long list of countries that are apparently not fully living up to the international standards to begin with?

This latest revelation does little more than highlight a lengthening history where external influences are dictating to Canada via people branded to be internal voices on how the country should be run. If one thinks this is exclusively a Canadian thing going on, just ask a Swedish citizen miffed over The Pirate Bay spectrial who plans on voting for the Pirate Party in the EU election about how they feel about the United States intervening or otherwise influencing other countries lawmaking process - chances are, the examples they come up with won’t always be Canadian examples.
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PostSubject: Re: outside news   Thu May 28, 2009 2:54 pm

Aussie Christian Group Demands Mandatory Porn Filtering

Posted: 27 May 2009 09:49 PM PDT
Angry govt seemingly backpedaling from its plan to force ISPs to block porn and other content deemed “inappropriate” for kids.

The Australian Christian Lobby is angry over recent testimony by Broadband Minister Stephen Conroy in which he seemed to signal that the govt is backpedaling from plans for mandatory Internet filtering in the country.

They want the govt to institute mandatory ISP filtering of pornography and other “inappropriate” material, offering an opt-out mechanism for those that choose.

Jim Wallace, the group’s managing director, says the Federal Govt, vis a vis Senator Conroy, are breaking their election promise by not forcing ISPs to do so.

“The promise was clearly about providing a safer internet environment for children and to do that you need to mandatorily block in the first instance pornography and R18+, and then provide an opt-in system for those adults who want to access it,” he said.

Alternatively, Australian Senator Nick Minchin, Shadow Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, says mandatory Internet filtering sends the patently offensive message “that parents cannot be trusted to mind their children online.”

“There is no technological substitute for adult supervision and it’s irresponsible and misleading to infer otherwise,” he adds. “Mandating a so-called ‘clean feed’ has the potential to create a dangerous false sense of security, leading parents to believe ongoing supervision and vigilance is no longer needed.”

More importantly, Senator Minchin makes the important observation that the most dangerous places for children to visit online are unaffected by the filtering plans. MySpace anyone?

Wallace apparently acknowledges that parents are the ones ultimately responsible, but he says that some parents just aren’t tech-saavy enough with the whole Internet “thing” to keep up with their kids and need help.

“It’s not the children of responsible parents only that you’re concerned about here, it’s the children of parents who are either bewildered by the thing or are not responsible and don’t protect their children from this unsolicited pornography,” he said.

It seems to me that Wallace is really the one “bewildered by the thing” and doesn’t realize that it’s unfair for the rest of society to have their Internet connections filtered simply because he and other, presumably Christian in the context of his lobbying efforts, parents are unable to effectively monitor their children.

Opting out shouldn’t be the default Internet connection standard, opting in should.


Aussie Net Filtering to be “Voluntary Mandatory”

Posted: 27 May 2009 09:14 PM PDT
Senator Conroy mocked over suggestion that ISPs could all voluntarily agree to mandatory filtering of Internet connections.

It’s been a long battle between Australia’s Broadband Minister Stephen Conroy and those opposed to his plans for mandatory Internet filtering, but at last the scheme may be coming to an end as suggested during testimony given by Senator Conroy yesterday to a Senate estimates committee.

He testified that instead of a mandatory filtering mechanism it could instead by done by a voluntary agreement by all ISPs.

“Mandatory ISP filtering would conceivably involve legislation … voluntary is available currently to ISPs,” Senator Conroy said.

“One option is potentially legislation. One other option is that it could be (on a) voluntary basis that they (ISPs) could voluntarily agree to introduce it.”

The plan was quickly mocked by a bemused Senator Nick Minchin, Shadow Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, member of the Liberal Party, leader of the opposition in the Senate, and longtime critic of the plan, who said he couldn’t understand how a mandatory system could be voluntary.

“Well they could agree to all introduce it,” added Senator Conroy.

The filtering began as a voluntary system intended to protect children, but quickly spiraled to include all “inappropriate content” and “offensive and illegal material,” P2P sites, and even gambling-related sites.

It was Senator Minchin who long ago criticized the plan by observing that the underlying message is “that parents cannot be trusted to mind their children online,” and furthers by saying that “there is no technological substitute for adult supervision and it’s irresponsible and misleading to infer otherwise.”

The plan has faced stiff opposition since it switched from voluntary to mandatory, culminating in massive street protests last December.

At one point the blacklist the govt intended to use for the filters contained more than 10,000 sites.

The govt is currently conducting a trial of the filtering plan, the results of which are to be released in late July or early August.

Stay tuned.


Harvard Prof Calls RIAA Lawsuits “Unconstitutional Abuse of Law”

Posted: 27 May 2009 09:15 AM PDT
Charles Nesson writes an op-ed piece explaining why RIAA lawsuits targeting file-sharers is an abuse of the legal process, and that the real problem is the tension between “our antiquated copyright laws and the social reality of ‘digital natives,’” those that have grown up immersed in a digital world.

Harvard Professor Charles Nesson, who is defending Joel Tenenbaum against charges that he illegally downloaded 7 songs back in 2004, has written an article that gives his take on the case and what it means for them and the country as a whole.

“I believe that the RIAA litigation campaign against Joel and the millions of his generation like him is an unconstitutional abuse of law,” he writes. “Imagine a law which, in the name of deterrence, provides for a $750 fine [the lower threshold for statutory damages] for each mile-per-hour that a driver exceeds the speed limit, with the fine escalating to $150,000 per mile over the limit if the driver knew she was speeding.”

He points out that to make matters worse the fines are not publicized and that private individuals are the ones who enforce the fines with “no political accountability.” Copyright holders like the RIAA can also demand pre-litigation “settlement” offers demanding payoffs of between $3,000 to $7,000 for not pursuing the fines in court.

“Imagine that almost every single one of these fines goes uncontested, regardless of whether they have merit, because the individuals being fined have limited financial resources and little idea of whether they can prevail in a federal courtroom,” he adds.

Nesson furthers that the real problem in all of this is that antiquated copyright laws have yet to catch up to the realities of our digital age. The tension between “our antiquated copyright laws and the social reality of ‘digital natives,’” those that have grown up immersed in a digital world, is what really must be addressed. Nesson has even recently argued that downloading music without permission of copyright holder qualifies for “fair use” exemption from copyright laws.

He calls Joel a “David” fighting the “Goliath” that is the RIAA. The case thereby illustrates one of the inherent failings of our justice system because “it treats the plaintiff and the defendant as though they are equally powerful entities, regardless of the actual resources each may have.” We all know this is far from the case because of the 35,000 plus file-sharers targeted by the RIAA less than a dozen have seen the inside of a courtroom. Why? Resources.

“It disregards the fact that the cost of preparing a legal defense for a trial is prohibitively high—unthinkable for any entity other than a wealthy individual or a good-sized corporation,” he says. “In most of the cases the RIAA has filed, the matter is resolved by the powerful organization threatening to press the suit into court unless individuals agree to their terms unconditionally. The powerful crush the weak. Goliath defeats David every time. This is not the justice for which I live and fight.”

Nesson also makes the point that when Congress wrote the Copyright Act it surely never intended to allow copyright holders to target “pro se noncommercial defendants,” those acquiring content for personal use. This is surely the case and something it needs to take up if copyright law is ever to catch up to the social realities of a digital world.
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PostSubject: Re: outside news   Mon Jun 01, 2009 1:22 pm

Landmark Study Concludes That DRM Adversely Affects What We Can Legally Do

Posted: 31 May 2009 11:34 PM PDT
It can be called the study that pointed out what many have known all along. DRM has been adversely affecting what consumers can do with their legitimately paid for content. That’s a conclusion drawn by a Cambridge study that many are already reading about.

The study had some interesting conclusions. In the conclusions, the study repeatedly says that “Although DRM has not impacted on many acts permitted by law, certain permitted acts are being adversely affected by the use of DRM” (pg. 100), “This is in spite of the existence of technological solutions (enabling partitioning and authentication of users) to accommodate those permitted acts (privileged exceptions)” (pg. 103), “Beneficiaries of privileged exceptions who have been prevented from carrying out those permitted acts (because of the employment of DRM) have not used the complaints mechanism set out in UK law.” (pg. 104) (the study also notes that those who were contacted either weren’t aware of the complaints mechanisms or that the complaints mechanisms is overly complicated and impractical), and “Article 6(4) of the Information Society Directive put an onus on content owners to accommodate privileged exceptions voluntarily. On a positive note, voluntary measures have emerged in the publishing field. However, not all content owners are ready to act unless they are told to do so by regulatory authorities.” (pg. 105).

Those were the actual conclusions by the study, but some reports had drawn their own conclusions from the study - namely Ars Technica which says that DRM drives us to piracy. While this conclusion isn’t necessarily one of the original studies conclusions, it’s not entirely off base as they site the story on page 47 where a visually impaired user paid for an electronic copy of the Bible on Amazon. When Lynn Holdsworth loaded the book into an ebook reader, the DRM prevented the act. When Amazon was contacted, Holdsworth was referred to the publisher. When Holdsworth contacted the publisher, the publisher referred Holdsworth back to Amazon. Faced with the runaround, the ultimate decision was to simply download an unauthorized version that would be free from the DRM and readable via the reader.

The study discusses how the hope of DRM was that it would increase consumer choice. DRM, was originally sold as a solution for rights holders to give consumers choice. The nightmarish scenario would be that, instead, everything would be locked down and impeding consumer choice. Ultimately, neither scenario played out. Too many consumers ultimately opted toward either purchasing content from non-locked down sources or simply ignoring anti-circumvention laws and circumventing the DRM anyway.

Unfortunately, and puzzlingly so, this study doesn’t seem to cover how DRM affects business. Not even those who innovate from content, but much rather, how those that sell DRM encoded content in the first place because it can ultimately affect consumers in the end. Since this study spans multiple years, it would be sufficiently within the range of the long line of music stores that went out of business - probably as a result of DRM. 2007 and 2008 were pretty bad years for such stores which saw giants either shutting down entirely or simply fleeing the DRMed music service and opting for DRM-free music. Wal-Mart last year, left the DRM music business last year. Other casualties have included MSN and Yahoo’s music service. Ultimately, it caused much disturbance mainly due to the fact that the DRM servers would be shut off, effectively terminating any purchases made by consumers that involved DRM. This left two giants left in the market: iTunes, which enjoys a near-monopoly of the DRM music market, and Napster, which, when we last checked, is scrambling to find ways to stay in business. Meanwhile, services like eMusic, Beatport, Audio Lunchbox and plentyof others seem to be doing just fine. Not surprisingly, iTunes have been working to break away from the use of DRM themselves. All that is highlighting the fact that even major record labels have been starting to shun DRM - a major difference between now and when iTunes landed the major deals between the big record labels. This last note that copyright holders are beginning to move away from DRM was noted in the study.

In fact, what was also mentioned in the study was that it is up to the major record labels to provide diversity for consumers when using DRM. The fact that it would require legislative action to do so doesn’t provide comfort to many who know that the copyright industry has already been trying to get users disconnected in both England and in France. Since the legislative approach seems to be circumventing the will of Europe to recognize internet access as a right - a move almost primarily backed by the copyright industry - the political will doesn’t really appear to be there to provide consumers choice in terms of DRM.

What some can safely argue is that DRM provides control to rights holder in terms of what devices you can listen your content on. This has been a fear by Canadian observer Russell McOrmond for years that DRM is also an effort to control how consumers can use their content. Unsurprisingly, when it comes to a music marketplace, there’s the appearance of a monopoly or a market where one entity controls a vast portion of the DRM music market place. By looking at iTunes, one could easily assess that DRM merely creates a monopoly-like market place where one walled garden will rein supreme. It’s not hard to argue that more people listen to an iPod than, say, Microsoft Zune when discussing controlled content.

Still, in spite of it being a long read, the study is worth referencing for years to come if DRM continues to play a major roll in the copyright industry. If anyone wants to argue that DRM causes problems, they now have a study that has over 100 pages to back their claim up.

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