EU Judge Rules on Whether Hyperlinks Infringe Copyright

After two months of deliberation, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled on whether including a hyperlink on a website without permission from the original copyright holder can be deemed as being copyright infringement. In a decision, released on Thursday (7th April), the ECJ’s Advocate General has advised the court that hyperlinks merely “facilitate [the] discovery” of publicly available material and, as such, should be exempted from the European Copyright Directive.

The issue first arose in 2011, after Dutch website GeenStijl.nl was accused by publisher Sanoma of linking to online content from the Playboy website without permission in a Dutch court. The Dutch court escalated the matter to the ECJ to determine whether Sanoma had a case for copyright infringement under Article 3(1) of the Copyright Directive of the Copyright Directive.

“[H]yperlinks which lead, even directly, to protected works are not ‘making them available’ to the public when they are already freely accessible on another website, and only serve to facilitate their discovery,” the Advocate General wrote in his advice to the ECJ.

“The actual act of ‘making available’ is the action of the person who effected the initial communication. Consequently, hyperlinks which are placed on a website and which link to protected works that are freely accessible on another site cannot be classified as an ‘act of communication’ within the meaning of the Directive,” the Advocate General explains. “In fact, the intervention of the owner of the site which places the hyperlink, in this case GS Media, is not indispensable to the photos in question being made available to internet users, including those who visit GeenStijl’s website.”

While the ECJ is yet to make its final ruling, it expected to follow the determination made by the Advocate General.

The Music Industry Wants The Digital Copyright Law Reformed

First, we had live music, then we got vinyl records, then cassettes and CD’s and now we can enjoy our music anywhere we like in the palm of our hand thanks to Digital music. The problem is that being able to share and copy music so easily isn’t for everyone and the American music industry wants the Digital Copyright Law Reformed.

Why does someone want the Digital Copyright Law reformed? The American music industry argues that the approach of issuing takedown notices to people who upload content illegally just doesn’t work when combating the number of web addresses and options people have for uploading music. They claim that the safe harbor passages of the Digital Copyright Law actually protect those who benefit from piracy, such as google with its search engine and YouTube videos.

As part of the reform, the music industry is looking at technology like audio fingerprinting to spot piracy before something is even uploaded. They are also asking that a takedown notice for say a song on YouTube, would affect all illegal copies of the song on that site. While the music industry may argue that issuing takedown requests at the moment doesn’t help enough, Google would argue that after a recent study as many as 30 percent of the takedown requests they received were dodgy.

People currently argue that the Digital copyright law is a guilty-until-proven-innocent piece of legislation, that often ends up with videos and content that use music for legal reasons are flagged up on systems. Asking for copyright law to be reformed, especially around its safe harbor passages, could result in the law being relaxed, or entirely new measures being put in place to combat the onslaught of takedown requests sites and search engines receive for both genuine and ‘dodgy’ reasons.

Automobilista Pulled From Steam Due To Copyright Claim

We all like community content, giving us everything from new maps and worlds to explore to little details like a new weapon or car design. Sadly when it comes to games, something inside the game can often lead to disagreements and arguments, something that seems to have resulted in Automobilista pulled from Steam.

Posting on their forum, Reiza shared the news that they were pulling their game from Steam:

“As is known, Automobilista packages a variety of officially licensed cars and brands alongside fictionalized, originally created content. The claim in question does not make any specific reference to content present in Automobilista supposedly in infringement of the party’s copyright—until it does, our belief is that it has no merit.

We have already taken the appropriate measures to resolve the issue ASAP, but in accordance to Valve’s policy, the process may take a few days to be completed.”

The takedown may be part of Steam policy, but if you won’t mention what copyright is being breached or how it’s hard to see the claim doing anything but resulting in the game being removed from Steam for a few days.With the game featuring both official content sponsored by company,

With the game featuring both official content sponsored by the companies behind the cars, to community created content it will be hard to find out what content has caused the copyright claim if any.

Oracle Asks For $9.3 Billion in Copyright Trial Against Google

Google is known for many things, from the search engine that started it all to the chrome web browser that so many uses these days. One of the things Google is known for is the Android mobile operating system, something that could Oracle want a piece of in a copyright trial against Google.

The copyright claim refers to several infringements that Google made as part of 37 java API’s that were used in the creation of the Android operating system. In total, the damages Oracle are seeking come to $9.3 billion, an absolutely staggering figure that seems to dwarf even what Google made in the last quarter ($4.9 billion).

Previously the largest copyright verdict stood at $1.3 billion in a case that Oracle won against SAP in 2010. The value of $9.3 billion was figured out by using “a weighted average analysis of what Google pays to others for the contribution of their non-Android mobile platforms in connection with generating search advertising revenue”.

When it comes to code and copyright the law is a little indecisive. Some say that code can be copyrighted and protected under law, some say it can’t be. This case should set an interesting precedent, with it being the largest intellectual property verdict in history.

Klingon is Covered by Copyright Claims Paramount

Star Trek is a series loved and followed by millions, with everyone and their parents having grown up with the adventures of the starship Enterprise. Sadly a short film made by fans to cover a gap in the universe could be stopped as it would appear that Klingon is covered by copyright.

Klingons are one of, if not the most, well-known races in the star Trek universe. Being a warrior race by nature, it was always referenced (and was a key part of James T Kirks character) that the Federation and the Klingons had gone to war. A fan film created by Alec Peters looked to explore this war but seems like it may never see the light of day due to a copyright claim made by Paramount and CBS, the holders of Star Treks intellectual property.

After being told it wasn’t detailed enough the claim has now been updated to cite several instances where the fan film presses on Star Trek’s copyright. This includes the gold command shirts and even the pointed Vulcan ears, but the claim also goes on to state that the entire Klingon language is covered under copyright.

Is it possible to copyright an entire language (fictional or real world)? Should the fan made the film, which has been funded by a Kickstarter project none the less, be stopped by the copyright claim or should they come to a deal to create the film with the full support of the company?

You can read the full document listing every single copyright infringement in the film here.

Sony Hack Revealed New Blu-Ray Protection Details

When it comes to digital content, companies both love and hate the ease at which they and others can copy and distribute content, with everything from your favourite games to the latest movies being stored in memory smaller than your finger nail. In a move to help protect their content, companies are looking at new ways to stop people from copying their content. Documentation found by Wikileaks points that Sony may be looking to take Blu-Ray protection to a whole new level.

The Blu-Ray disc association is responsible for anything to do with the format, and it would seem that they are now working on an Advance Access Content System (AACS) which would feature not just advanced cryptography in hopes of preventing people from uploading your favourite movies online, but from version 2.0 in their Ultra HD collection would require an internet connection for the “enhanced” protection.

It should be noted that the internet connection is only required for the first time you play the disc on a select device, the idea being that it would download its “key” for later use to the hardware, acting as an authorization token for playing the movie. There are also notes regarding the Digital Bridge device, a device that creates “managed copies” of your favourite movies meaning you can place it on your phone or tablet and still be protected by AACS.

Popcorn Time to be Revived in the Browser

Popcorn time has been blocked, banned and taken down over copyright issues a number of times. It seems that the popular movie streaming service just refuses to die. Despite the seizure of its popcorntime.io site by the MPAA, Popcorn Time is set to return as Popcorn Time Online. It claims to offer all of the functionality and features that made the original Popcorn Time widely used, this time, delivered directly to the browser.

This new revival of Popcorn Time will also be fully open source, explaining on their blog that it makes use of the new Torrents Time technology in order to deliver its real-time streamed movies via torrents. This means that even should the main site hosting the Popcorn Time Online service be taken down, it would be incredibly easy for anyone with the technical skill to set up a web server to deploy a fully functional version of the streaming site on their own server or PC.

Popcorn Time Online even finds space to add some new features to their service, firstly allowing true streaming of torrents that were previously incompatible thanks to Torrent Time. Other new additions include support for multiple languages, higher quality video streaming than ever before and even the ability to stream to Chromecast, Airplay, and DLNA with subtitles, right from the website.

While the original creators or Popcorn Time are hard at work on Project Butter, a Popcorn Time derived service only providing non-copyrighted content, it will be interesting to see how that unfolds compared to the new release of Popcorn Time Online. It is anyone’s guess how long this rendition of the service will remain available and whether the MPAA will truly be able to shut it down due to its open source nature. For those avid users of the original, this new service will surely be appreciated, but the legal battle surrounding such services will definitely rage on.

EU Could Rule Hyperlinking Illegal

Later today (2nd February), the Court of Justice in the European Union (CJEU) will hear arguments as to whether hyperlinking should or should not remain legal within the EU.

Sounds insane, right? Surely the very concept is absurd; hyperlinking contributes to the very idea of the internet as a “web”. However, as internet regulation becomes ever more complex – complicated by legislation such as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) – the act of hyperlinking has implications beyond simply directing an internet user to a different web page. A hyperlink could, conceivably, constitute copyright infringement.

The CJEU is adjudicating over the case of GS Media BV v Sanoma Media Netherlands BV, in which the applicant (GS Media) claims that hyperlinking could constitute a violation of copyright law, and that the act of hyperlinking could constitute “‘communication to the public’ within the meaning of Article 3(1) of Directive 2001/29”.

Sanity may prevail, though, if the previous case handled by the CJEU regarding hyperlinking is anything to go by. Around the same time last year, in the case of Svensson, et al v Retriever Sverige AB, the court ruled that if a webpage is made public online with no restriction – either by paywall or content posted without the consent of copyright holder – then it is entitled to be hyperlinked.

The grey area left by the Svensson case, though, is content that exists online without the consent of the copyright holder. For example, photo content that is improperly attributed, or leaked confidential information. The implications of this undefined area could extend beyond hyperlinking and into journalism and whistleblowing.

After arguments are heard later today, a ruling by the CJEU is expected later this year.

The Fine Brothers Rescind “React” Trademarks

The Fine Brothers is an incredibly popular YouTube channel with almost 14 million subscribers and gained popularity with a series of “react” videos. The concept is quite simple and revolves around of the idea of filming people’s reactions to viral videos, old technology and film trailers. Unbelievably, brothers Benny and Rafi Fine caused outrage by trying to trademark the word ‘react’. Not only that, they had the nerve to launch content ID claims against people making react style videos without their approval via the ‘React World’ license. Rightfully, people voiced their disgust and couldn’t believe the duo’s egotistical behaviour. Thankfully, after a great deal of media scrutiny and public disdain, the brothers have decided to release an official statement which reads:

“Hello,

We’re here to apologize.

We realize we built a system that could easily be used for wrong. We are fixing that. The reality that trademarks like these could be used to theoretically give companies (including ours) the power to police and control online video is a valid concern, and though we can assert our intentions are pure, there’s no way to prove them.

We have decided to do the following:

1. Rescind all of our “React” trademarks and applications.*

2. Discontinue the React World program.

3. Release all past Content ID claims.**

The concerns people have about React World are understandable, and that people see a link between that and our past video takedowns, but those were mistakes from an earlier time. It makes perfect sense for people to distrust our motives here, but we are confident that our actions will speak louder than these words moving forward.

This has been a hard week. Our plan is to keep making great content with the help of our amazing staff. Thank you for your time and for hearing us out.

Sincerely,

Benny and Rafi Fine

*This includes “React,” “Kids React,” “Elders React,” “Lyric Breakdown,” etc. Please note: It takes a while for the databases to update, but the necessary paperwork has been filed.

**Content ID is YouTube’s copyright system that automatically flags content that looks like or sounds like copyrighted content. This mostly flags videos that are direct re-uploads of our videos (which is what the system is built for), but if you know of a video that has been claimed or removed incorrectly, please email us with “false claim” in the subject line.”

Clearly, this is just damage control after seeing the hatred directed at the Fine Brothers. Either they’re stupid for not expecting this or so arrogant that they honestly believed it was possible to trademark a word in the English language.

Google Receives 1500 DMCA Takedowns Per Minute

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act gives copyright holders the ability to make takedown requests for any content they deem a breach of copyright law. During the last month, Google received 5,609 takedown notices spanned across 65 million links. This translates to 1,500 demands per minute or 25 per second! According to TorrentFreak, takedown requests have doubled compared to the same time last year. The graph below outlines the huge rise of DMCA requests per week:

Back in 2011, Google only received a few hundred takedown requests each day but this figure has now grown to more than two million. On another note, Google last year changed its search algorithm to downrank websites which hosted pirated content or received copyright notices. Despite this, the MPAA and RIAA believe Google isn’t doing enough to deter piracy and remove content in a quick fashion. However, the huge amount of takedowns only makes the system appear quite flawed and impossible to manage effectively. Perhaps copyright holders should focus on the serial offenders and not simply a site hosting the odd illegal file here and there.

I can see the upward trend continuing and takedown requests per day reaching 3000, then 6000, and 12000. This seems ridiculous and surely there is a better way of protecting copyrighted material without going on a crusade through the DMCA.

Orwell Estate Sends Copyright Takedown Over Use of “1984”

George Orwell, a great writer of the classic book Nineteen Eighty Four. A book that describes the future with surveillance and control as themes.

George himself sadly passed away in 1950, currently all his rights are controlled and protected by the Orwell estate. Recently, the estate itself has started to gain a reputation for exerting tight control of copyrights and trademarks. TorrentFreak discovered that Josh Hadley, an Internet Radio host on 1201 Beyond had experienced this first hand. Hadley used the show to gather and distribute his shows and writings.

Before he set up a fully fledged website and store he used Cafepress to sell T-Shirts. Although he never actually sold any shirts in the time that it was running it was noticed by the estate. Last week he received an e-mail from Cafepress informing him that one of his designs has been taken offline due to copyright infringement. The design that breached the law contained the string “1984”:

According to the complaint, the design that he used contains George Orwell quotes. However, the only reference was the four numbers that made up the book title, 1984. Hadley has stated that he is offended by what he believes to be an illegitimate request and something that George Oswell would be against. He told TorrentFreak “First off is the irony of the estate of George Orwell being all Orwellian but second is that you can’t copyright a number,”

Cafepress has kept the designs offline and now listed as pending in his dashboard. He could appeal if he wishes, yet has no plans to do so.

MPAA Seeking Programmer to Take Down Pirates

Are you a software programmer in need of a job? Do you hate people who torrent the latest instalment in the Twilight franchise (brave stance, I know)? Yes? Then the Motion Picture Association of America wants you! The MPAA is an organisation with a history of throwing its weight around to get its own way, resorting to duplicitous and Machiavellian schemes when that doesn’t work. Now, it intends to take the law into its own hands, seeking to hire a software programmer to hunt, track, and report on computer users suspected of sharing any copyrighted content that falls within the MPAA’s purview.

A job posting has revealed that the Software Programmer will work directly under the Vice President of Internet Content Protection, and responsibilities include developing tools to monitor and collect large amounts of data on pirates.

“They will develop and use automated tools for gathering large amounts of data from online websites and resources, and generate meaningful statistics to help guide and bolster enforcement actions,” reads the application.

Key Responsibilities are listed as:

  • Assist the Vice President and Internet Intelligence Managers in developing and executing a global internet strategy.
  • Designing and developing applications; tasks include programming, coding and debugging, both for proprietary and third-party systems.
  • Develop scripts for conducting automated scrapes of online information for intelligence gathering and enforcement purposes.
  • Conduct detailed forensic analysis of online content, including reviewing technical infrastructure of online platforms and sites.
  • Analyze, investigate and report on websites at the code level (PHP, HTML, JavaScript, CSS, etc.).
  • Organizing the intake of vendor-supplied information into internal tracking and case management systems.
  • Monitor, investigate and report on copyright infringement occurring online via established and emerging content distribution technologies.
  • Creating, developing and/or revising business processes and applications to aid in the streamlining of Internet Intelligence activities.
  • Perform customized trainings with self-produced materials on technical topics in support of internal staff, association members and law enforcement.

If the MPAA put as much energy into making film content more easily accessible into persecuting those that download torrents, it might actually Onbecome effective at fighting piracy. Some may think Hollywood doesn’t really care.

Thank you TorrentFreak for providing us with this information.

‘Pixels’ Copyright Notices Removed the Studio’s own Trailer

Pixels is an atrocious video game-themed movie and less endearing than a swarm of angry wasps. The film has gained notoriety for its sheer incompetence and it has received an astonishingly low score of 18% on Rotten Tomatoes. Not content with ruining the childhood memories of many iconic arcade games, Columbia Pictures has attempted to copyright the term “Pixels” and instigated a wave of copyright take-downs.

According to TorrentFreak, an anti-piracy group called Entura, hounded a number of independent filmmakers and removed their work from Vimeo. This includes a film from 2006 produced by NeMe, a non-profit organization and ‘Independent Museum of Contemporary Art’. In a forum post, the company said:

“Our NGO has just received a DMCA notice for a video we produced in 2006 entitled ‘Pixels’,”

 “The video was directed by a Cypriot film-maker using his own photos and sounds/music on a shoestring budget and infringes no copyright.”

“Please somebody do check the video in question and confirm for yourselves that it breaks no copyright laws and that it has nothing to do with the latest multi-million blockbuster which prompted this notification.”

Unfortunately, the video no longer exists and the URL displays a redirect error. Once again, this illustrates how absurd the DMCA algorithm is and how often it affects legitimate pieces of content which have nothing to do with an automatic copyright claim; the copyright legal framework is absurdly outdated and needs radical reform.

In a hilarious twist, a DMCA takedown actually removed Pixels’ trailer from the official account designed to market the film. This should serve as a lesson to companies who attempt to copyright a widespread term and bully content creators. The current DMCA policy is flawed and constantly abused to remove critical videos or fan-made creations containing a copyrighted music score. Columbia Pictures, Adam Sandler and Entura should be ashamed of themselves.

Thank you TorrentFreak for providing us with this information.

iTunes is Deemed Illegal According to UK Copyright Law

The UK Government’s tirade against common sense has hit absurd levels and shown how outdated the copyright legal framework is. Towards the end of last year, the UK’s infamous Intellectual Property Office acknowledged how Draconian the law was and decided to make CD ripping legal. Only a few months later, this measure was revoked after several music labels protested in the High Court.

To find out what these changes actually entailed, TorrentFreak requested information from the IPO. A spokesperson clearly said,

“It is now unlawful to make private copies of copyright works you own, without permission from the copyright holder – this includes format shifting from one medium to another.”

This means that the integrated ripping feature in iTunes makes it an illegal piece of software and no different to downloading any pirated content. The software is in direct contravention of copyright law. Even more laughable, the law also applies to backups and cloud-based storage. A Government official explained,

“…it includes creating back-ups without permission from the copyright holder as this necessarily involves an act of copying,”

Technically, the law forces you to repurchase any physical media content if you want to use a portable, digital version. Stupid measures like this only encourage piracy and make consumers feel like criminals. If the music industry offered cross purchasing, or an open model, people would be less inclined to illegally download content. Spotify is the perfect example of a pro-consumer measure which has a positive effect and can reduce the piracy rate.

The Government themselves even admitted how silly the law is and said,

“As this is a complex area of law, the Government is carefully considering the implications of the ruling and the available options, before deciding any future course of action.”

“The Government is not aware of any cases of copyright holders having prosecuted individuals for format shifting music solely for their own personal use,”

Despite the reassurances, it is perfectly legal and feasible for anyone to be sued by copyright holders for backing up their physical media collection, or using iTunes. Governments change but their out-of-touch laws and pathetic pandering to media companies remains the same.

Thank you TorrentFreak for providing us with this information.

Twitter Sued Again for Failing to Comply with Takedown Request

It has happened before that someone sued Twitter on the grounds of failing to remove copyrighted material upon request and now it is happening again. This time it is the award-winning photographer Kristin Pierson that has filed a lawsuit against the social-media giant Twitter after she claimed that they failed to respond to a takedown request on one of her photographs and equally failed to remove it.

User-generated sites can generally not be held accountable for copyright infringement done by their users, as long as the have a takedown policy and responds to the requests made. This is the same for twitter and they’re taking down a lot of links and images based on that, but this time it must have failed.

This week Kristen Pierson filed a complaint against Twitter at a California District Court where she accuses Twitter of hosting or linking to one of her works without permission.

“A Twitter user or users copied the Infringing Image without license or permission from Pierson and on information and belief sent one or more Tweets publicizing and linking to it. The Infringing Uses were hosted either on Twitter or on third-party servers,” the complaint reads.

This isn’t the first time that this has happened and Twitter got sued by a photographer. Christopher Boffoli previously sued the company for the same offense and that case was settled outside of the courtroom.

Pierson didn’t mention whether she sent any follow-ups on the original request and TorrentFreak couldn’t find the takedown notice in question on Chillingeffects.com where Twitter publishes its takedown notices. Pierson wants to prevent Twitter from hosting or linking to her work and in addition she demands both statutory and actual damages which could very well exceed $150,000 USD.

The photo in question was still online available until yesterday, but it has since been removed and can’t be found on twitters twimg.com URL anymore. The original takedown request was sent on March 4th last year.

Thank You TorrentFreak for providing us with this information

German Court Says YouTube Is Responsible for User-Uploaded Content

There have been a lot of debate about copyright infringements on Google’s streaming service, YouTube. The streaming service has been in court with GEMA, the German organisations protecting authors’ rights, since 2006, but two German courts have now ruled their decision on the matter.

According to the Higher Regional Court in Hamburg, YouTube is responsible for what its users upload to the service. However, the streaming service is not liable for any copyright infringements. Therefore, nobody can sue the service for any infringements, though YouTube must act and take down any content that is marked and notified as infringing active copyrights.

However, GEMA did sue YouTube and expected some compensation. But the Munich district court’s decision ruled in YouTube’s favour and rejected GEMA’s bid. The copyright organisation demanded to be compensated with €0.375 per view of copyright material from artists it holds under its wing, leading to a sum of €1.6 million.

Truth be told, streaming services such as YouTube cannot be responsible for what its users upload, but it indeed can take down anything infringing copyright. The search media giant said it was open to discuss and take reasonable action alongside GEMA without having the need of taking everything to court. Despite the latter, GEMA is still thinking of making an appeal to the Munich Higher Regional Court.

Thank you The Register for providing us with this information

It is Now Illegal For UK Music Lovers to Rip CDs They Already Own

Legally own a CD and want to burn a second copy for your car? Own a film on Blu-Ray but want to rip a copy to watch on your tablet during a plane flight? Want to extend the use of media you legally purchased for your own, private use by duplicating it? Thanks to a new UK High Court ruling, you’re now a criminal.

As the Electronic Frontier Foundation puts it:

In a nutshell, the court struck down the UK government’s decision to allow users to lawfully make copies of content that they have purchased for personal use, given the absence of a compulsory levy to compensate copyright owners for the “harm” that they suffer from such copying. The government’s choices are now to remove the private copying exception—making personal copying illegal again, or to supply additional evidence that copyright owners suffer no or minimal “harm” from personal copying, or else to begin imposing a new tax on users to compensate the industry for that “harm”.

So, according to the High Court, if you want a separate copy of, say, The Balcony by Catfish and The Bottlemen, an album you already own, to listen to in your car, you are “harming” the copyright holder by not buying a second copy, despite there being no proof of lost sales due to such practices. The free copying exception that most of Europe enjoys isn’t fit for us British plebs, it seems. But not much is any more (ECHR, anyone?).

Thank you Electronic Frontier Foundation for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of WiseGeek.

Car Manufacturers Plan to Prohibit Home Mechanics from Tinkering

Car manufacturers are supporting new changes in copyright law that could stop home mechanics and car enthusiasts from repairing and modifying their own vehicles.

A federal agency has had several comments filed with it that may determine if tinkering with a car could become a copyright violation. Every three years the US copyright office holds a meeting on whether certain activities should be exempt from the law that governs technological measures that protect copyrighted work. To prevent all changes to cars being blocked the Electronic Frontier Foundation have asked the government to allow changes to the necessary car components such as headlights, wiper blades etc.

Many auto makers have expressed concern that allowing 3rd parties to access the Electrical Control Units in their cars could be potentially fatal. The ECU controls vital functions such as throttle input, braking and steering, however incorrect changes may affect these functions or worse, stop them completely. The industries have also expressed concern that modifying the computers could lead to security vulnerabilities and issues with cyber security.

After-market suppliers and home enthusiasts have been changing ECU’s for several years without serious consequences. This was done in a process commonly known as chipping. Changes to the code have been able to increase horsepower, increase fuel efficiency and enhance countless other features.

For the main part, manufacturers say they’re more concerned about potential money loss rather than new money streams. Tinkering with the computer can void the cars warranty but the auto makers remain concerned if the changes could result in physical or financial harm. They noted that some mechanics manipulate odometers and make cars appear that they have less miles on them, a serious problem for used car buyers.

What are your thoughts on this? Let us know in the comments below.

Thank you to AutoBlog for this information

Image courtesy of Munic.io

Trollface Meme Creator Actually Makes Money off His Creation

Trollface meme creator, Carlos Ramirez, now 24 years old, explained how he arrived to create one of the Internet’s legends and how he makes money off his creation (though not a lot).

Ramirez stated that he created the Trollface meme while (attempting) to study for a college paper, having posted it on 4chan. The first ever Trollface was created in MS Paint and posted in the video game board section of the site.

“I didn’t really have any intention to share it,” Ramirez stated.”I just posted it on their video game board and I went to sleep. I woke up the next morning and saw it re-posted in a number of other threads.”

From there onward, it went on having the success it currently displays all over the Internet. In 2010, his mother encouraged him to take claim of his creation and filed a patent with the US Copyright Office, displayed in the image below.

Since then, Ramirez stated he made over $100,000 in licensing fees, settlements, and other payouts associated with Trollface. The latest is the game Meme Run, which is an endless runner filled with various Internet jokes. The developer, Ninja Pig Studios, released the game on PC and Mac for free, but Nintendo saw fit to charge for it on its console, having a price tag of $4.99 on eShop.

This was a thing Ramirez couldn’t ignore, having big name companies charge money for his patented creation without giving him a cut. He has been in contact with the developer, who states he cannot reveal the sales figure for the title due to a non-disclosure agreement signed with Nintendo.

Meme Run was eventually taken down from eShop and the company refused to comment on whether or not it was aware of the patented artwork, but given that Nintento is not your ordinary indie game company, its legal department should have undoubtedly had the knowledge of the patent being out there.

Ramirez says the Trollface nowadays is reeling in only a few thousand dollar every now and then, but he continues to enforce his ownership on the copyright.

Thank you Kotaku for providing us with this information

Microsoft May Have Stopped ‘Halo Online’, but Modders Won’t

Microsoft announced the free-to-play closed-beta Halo Online title last week, having it be restricted to players in Russia. The modding community did not agree with the company’s decision to lock the title to a specific region, so they leaked a copy of Halo Online and the tool to connect was uploaded on GitHub, only to be taken down by Microsoft later on.

“Microsoft is probably quite bothered by what we’ve done already as these files were leaked. We obtained the files from a user on 4chan’s /v/ board,” modder and team member ‘Woovie’ told TorrentFreak.”From there, user Emoose proceeded to create a hack that would allow the client to load files and thus get in-game,” Woovie adds. “He has in the past done the same for Halo 2 and Halo 3 betas so he had experience with this. The files we have are definitely an early internal alpha. A lot of left over code from other Halo games.”

So it means that the modding community has no intentions to stop its own little opened-beta with the leftover code they got their hands on. The question now is whether or not it will become a copyright issue with Microsoft.

“In terms of DMCA/C&D mitigation, we have made redundant git backups on private and public git servers. This is to ensure we will always have one working copy. These are being synchronized so that data is always the same,” Woovie explains.”Further DMCAs may happen potentially, it’s not really known at the moment. Our backups will always exist though and we will continue until we’re happy.”

Also, it seems that ElDorito team is keen on working on their own version of Halo Online for pure passion and it seems they have been a bit baffled by its restriction to Russia. This could mean more action by Microsoft, but team member Neoshadow42 states that the modding of leaked files is more of a service to them.

“As someone involved in-game development, I’m sympathetic with some developers when it comes to copyright issues. This is different though, in my opinion,” the dev explains.”The game was going to be free in the first place. The PC audience has been screaming for Halo 3 for years and years, and we saw the chance with this leak. The fact that we could, in theory, bring the game that everyone wants, without the added on stuff that would ruin the game, that’s something we’d be proud of.” he added. “I don’t particularly see this as damaging, as some people have said. I don’t believe it for a moment, honestly. We’re working to improve people’s experience, bring it to those who wouldn’t have been able to play it anyway. I’d see that as a noble cause.”

This may seem as a piracy act at first, but the developer explains it is not due to the title’s nature of free-to-play and the fact that the game will not be pay-to-play, which in the team’s eyes does not make it piracy.

“This whole project would be completely different in an ethical way if we had taken a paid game and reversed it for everyone to access for free,” Neoshadow42 insists.”At the end of the day, El Dorito aims to deliver exactly what everyone wants. The closest thing to a Halo 3 experience as possible, but on PC. If we can manage that, I’ll be more than happy.”

Thank you TorrentFreak for providing us with this information

UK Solicitor Will Defend You Free Against Copyright Trolls

More and more customers of UK ISPs have received letters from copyright trolls in recent weeks, demanding settlement fees for alleged illegal downloads and threatening with lawsuits if not paid. Both Sky Broadband and Virgin Media customers are affected, but not exclusively.

The companies behind it all, GoldenEye International also known as Mircom, had monitored torrents and then forced the ISPs to hand out the personal details based on those logs and now they hope that the people receiving the letters will be too scared to go to court and just pay up to get peace. But that’s generally a bad idea, as paying is the same as admitting guilt and they’ll drag you into the courtroom anyway.

But there is good news for the receivers of these letters as the Southampton-based Micheal Coyle of the Lawdit Solicitors told TorrentFreak that he would give his time free to defend them. Coyle is one of the most experienced UK-based solicitors in the file-sharing arena. Since 2008 he has spoken with or acted for more than 700 individuals who have received so-called Letters of Claim, including those involved in the infamous ACS:Law case that ended with solicitor Andrew Crossley being severely disciplined.

“I am a Copyright Solicitor and regularly enforce copyright where it has been infringed. People should respect the copyright of third parties. However, are some copyright holders abusing the great British public?” Micheal Coyle questions. “The amounts are quite staggering. In the most recent campaign 2500 letters were sent out. Typical sums demanded are in the range of £500 to £1000. If everyone pays say £700.00 this would generate £1,750,000 which is not bad even for the porn industry.”

There is one minor string attached, but it’s a good one. Coyle is a regular runner of the London Marathon and has raised thousands for children’s charities while doing so. If people want his help in these cases they’re going to have to get generously via this year’s donation page.

Thanks to TorrentFreak for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of DieTrollDie

ABS-CBN Awarded $7 Million in Two Online Piracy Cases

ABS-CBN has won two cases in a row against copyright infringing websites. The sites in question were not hosting the material themselves but were built with the intend to view it. Linking to third party sites hosting the actual content, the site owners made their income through advertisement revenue based on views.

The defendants didn’t show up for the trial, leaving it totally up to the judge and his verdict. The judge sided with ABS-CBN on both of the cases and ordered the infringing domains to be handed over to the broadcasting company. They were also awarded $3,960,000 and $3,120,000 in damages, but it’s doubtful that they’ll ever see a dime of the money.

There was a total of twenty domains involved in the trials, most of them some abbreviation of pinoyTV.

Thanks to TorrentFreak for providing us with this information

Photographer Sues Pinterest Over Pirated Images

Christopher Boffoli, a photographer in Seattle, is sick of his photos being used illegally. So sick, in fact, that he’s suing anyone who does so. He has already filed lawsuits against Google and Twitter, which were settled out of court, and now he’s turned his sights to image sharing site Pinterest.

In the lawsuit filed last week, Boffoli accuses Pinterest of hosting 56 images from his “Big Appetites” photo series without permission, and the site has refused all takedown notices he has issued. The suit reads, “Upon discovering the Infringing Content, on August 19, 2014 Boffoli sent Pinterest’s designated agent an email notifying Pinterest of the Infringing Content.”

“To date, Pinterest has not removed or disabled access to the Infringing Content. In other words, the Infringing Content is still accessible to the public on Pinterest’s server,” say Boffoli’s lawyers.

Boffoli’s most recent lawsuit was against Imgur. The case was dismissed on Monday, leaving Imgur unaccountable.

Source: Torrent Freak

Expendables 3 Piracy Suspects Arrested

Two men from the UK have been arrested following the leak of The Expendables 3 before its scheduled release date.

The copy of the movie was viewed hundreds of thousands of times and reportedly lost Lionsgate, the film’s production company, $10 million.

Officers from the UK Intellectual Property Crime Unit (Pipcu) arrested the men, a 36-year-old and 33-year-old in Upton, Wirral, and Dewsbury, West Yorkshire. They were arrested on suspicion of taking the film from a private cloud server and uploading it to the web. They released the movie online back in July, just under a month before the film’s August release date. In a statement to the BBC, head of Pipcu, Det Ch Insp Danny Medlycott said that this was not “a victimless crime”.

“By downloading illegal music, film, TV and books, not only are you exposing your own computer to the risk of viruses and malware, but you are also putting hard-working people’s livelihoods at risk as piracy threatens the security of thousands of jobs in the UK’s creative industries.”

Source: BBC News

Australian ISP asked to Hand Over Customer Personal Information over BitTorrenting

‘Not Our Kind Of Club’ is the stance Australian ISP iiNet is taking against American studio Dallas Buyers Club LLC – which asked the service provider for sensitive customer details of those it suspected infringed copyright laws through illegally obtaining its Dallas Buyers Club film. The Aussie ISP outlined in a lengthy and detailed blog post about its opposition to the discovery order that was submitted through the Australian Federal Court. In its blog post, iiNet states that the company “would never disclose customer details to a third-party, such as movie studio, unless ordered to do so by a court. We take seriously both our customers’.

iiNet claims that the ISP is gravely concerned about bullying tactics used by movie studios to intimidate and make pirates pay up big time for their actions, and follows up by saying that it has seen third-party alleged infringement notices ordering up to fines of $US7000. Copyright holders attempt to collect evidence of infringement via IP address tracking and tracing, whereby they monitor and analyse addresses that are illegally sharing content. Once the links been recorded, the copyright holder starts applying through courts for what’s called a preliminary discovery process, which asks for personal information and details of account holders that are routing through infringing IP addresses. The consequences of losing the hearing are rather dire – as it could lead to a flood gate of copyright infringement notices from major studios.

iiNet’s blog calls into question fair trials and processing;

It might seem reasonable for a movie studio to ask us for the identity of those they suspect are infringing their copyright. Yet, this would only make sense if the movie studio intended to use this information fairly, including to allow the alleged infringer their day in court, in order to argue their case.

In this case, we have serious concerns about Dallas Buyers Club’s intentions. We are concerned that our customers will be unfairly targeted to settle any claims out of court using a practice called “speculative invoicing”.

Because iiNet has opposed the discovery order, the ISP will be forced to meet in court with the Dallas Buyers Club LLC. The hearing is expected to be dated for next year. For more information on this topic, see the full blog post by iiNet – available here.

Thanks to iiNet for providing us with this information.

Deadmau5 v Disney – Claims Disney Stole His Music

You might have heard – Disney is on the front foot against the popular EDM DJ Deadmau5, claiming that his iconic mask is infringing on their copyrighted Mickey Mouse symbol and character.

Deadmau5 (Joel Zimmerman) filed a trademark request for the iconic headpiece, but was blocked by Disney. Zimmerman’s lawyers have fought back, claiming that Deadmau5’s “Ghosts ‘n’ Stuff” song was used by Disney without direct permission from the artist. Zimmerman was seen linking this video on his Twitter feed earlier in the week:

“okay mouse, http://t.co/zT7tTLffFw i never gave disney a liscene to use my track. So. we emailed you a C&D. @disney”

Thanks to Rolling Stone, a Disney representatives point of view was aired to the public, stating:

“Disney vigorously protects its trademark rights, and we oppose Mr. Zimmerman’s attempt to register a logo that is nearly identical to our trademarks for his commercial exploitation. Our opposition is not about the use of the Deadmau5 costume. The music was appropriately licensed, and there is no merit to his statement”

What do you think about the infringement claim? Is there merit – or do you simply not care enough for this type of ‘politics’?

Image courtesy of Your EDM

UK Man Arrested for Hosting Proxy Server

A man has been arrested and released on bail for hosting a proxy server.

The 20 year old from Nottingham is being questioned by the police, with help from the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT), after they had found evidence that tied him to the creation of the proxy server which allowed access to 36 websites. All of these websites had been blocked by ISP’s including The Pirate Bay and EZTV. The proxy called Immunicity has now been blocked by the police and now only shows a police warning.

A proxy can allow a user to connect to websites that have been blocked by an ISP, much like a VPN can. The proxy server doesn’t actually host any files, it just makes accessing websites possible. Due to this I’m unsure on how the police are going to charge the man ad he has not violated copyright laws, he has just allowed users to route their traffic through his server.

The arrest is part of a larger clampdown on piracy websites called ‘Operation Creative’. During this clampdown police have been removing large company advertising from illegal websites, which basically removes their funding. Since this has happened however, more advertisements from porn websites and malware websites have popped up on torrent sites, making them a little riskier to browse.

Thanks to Wired for supplying us with this information.

Image courtesy of Wired.