Racing Sim Site Forced to Remove Unlicensed Formula 1 Mods

Fans of Formula 1 sim racing games have suffered a major setback as RaceDepartment, a site that serves as a content nexus for a great number of racing sims, has taken down a large number of mods for two of Codemasters’ Formula 1 games and Reiza Studio’s Automobilista after being served a cease and desist order from the commercial rights holder for the sport.

Some of the mods in question provided an ‘update’ of sorts for players of the popular F1 2013 and 2014 and Automobilista, allowing players to replace the now-dated cars with the machines from the current Formula 1 season. These mods did not have an official endorsement or licensing from Formula One World Championships Ltd, who hold the commercial rights to all F1-related media, including TV coverage, videos and clearly, the video games. This hasn’t gone down well with the community, with some taking to blogging platforms to vocalise their rage at the takedowns.

It is unsurprising that RaceDepartment took down the mods, as their terms of service state that “when creating or uploading free to use mods, car skins, helmets, cars, tracks etc users should seek official permission first from the copyright or trademark holders.” This was obviously not respected by the uploaders of these mods, with Codemasters being the only group to produce official F1 games. While some may see the mods as breathing life into older F1 games, it also deters purchases of the new season’s related game if all the cars and tracks are available in the older games.

With so much drama occurring within Formula 1 lately, paired with falling popularity due to changes in the sport’s rules, a move like this against fans could be seen to have come at a bad time for the sport. While it may seem painful to the modders, who clearly spent a lot of time and effort developing content related to one of their favourite sports, perhaps they should have seen this coming.

YouTube Create Team to Deal With Takedown Mistakes

YouTube is known as much for its community content as it is for the paid content it wants to introduce. Community content can be anything from the cute cat playing piano video to an action packed music video featuring your favourite movie and video game clips, the latter of which don’t last long online sadly. The reason the video wouldn’t last long is due to the automated copyright system flagging even the smallest piece of content, ending up with videos being taken down for any reason provided. This is set to change with YouTube creating a team to deal with these takedown mistakes.

User created content is the backbone of YouTube and when people are finding their videos being removed, even though they have a genuine right to publish them, they would more likely to leave for one of YouTube’s rival services. The new team will have the purpose of “minimizing mistakes”, with the hopes that with fewer mistakes more content will be left on the site without any legal issues regarding their content.

Alongside the new team, there will also be some new initiatives rolled out in the coming months designed to “strengthen communications between creators and YouTube support”. Including increased transparency for the status of monetization claims, the features you’ll see coming seem to be focused on supporting and developing YouTube content creators as much as the service itself.

 

Microsoft Details Takedown Requests in Expanded Transparency Report

 

Microsoft launch their new transparency website yesterday, bringing together all their existing transparency reports, including the Law Enforcement Requests Report and U.S. National Security Orders Report. The website also includes a new transparency report that details the requests that Microsoft received from a variety of parties seeking the removal of online content. The company’s reports break down requests into three categories, takedown requests based on alleged violations of local laws and Microsoft’s terms of service, copyright takedowns and takedowns performed as the result of “right to be forgotten” requests in Europe.

With it being no secret about the European court being all over Google like a bad rash regarding “the right to be forgotten,” it comes as no surprise that Bing has become the main focus of these reports. That’s not to mention users Windows 10 privacy concerns alongside Cortana also using Bing as its default search engine. It appears as a result of this combination and users being more aware of their rights to be forgotten, that data removal requests are on the rise. Copyright takedown requests were by far the most common worldwide with Microsoft receiving more than 1 million total requests to remove links from Bing that people claimed infringed on their copyrights.

That leads us quite nicely to the next section of this article, are you ready to put your tin foil hat on? The government data requests section might be the one section that most people will be interested in. As the report shows requests for user data from government agencies are on the rise when compared to last year’s requests. Although the number is still relatively low, from the second half of 2014 it is up from 31,002 to 35,228. Furthermore, Microsoft appears to have become stricter on how it deals with those requests rejecting 4,383 of them for not meeting its legal requirements. That’s nearly twice as many rejected as it did in the last half of 2014. Microsoft goes on to state that just 3 percent of requests from law enforcement agencies resulted in the disclosure of customer content.

Microsoft is currently involved in a lawsuit regarding the U.S. government requesting that they hand over data from a data centre in Ireland. This doesn’t mean Government agencies are not obtaining our data in other ways right?. A quick side note, I found it entertaining that China filed 165 takedown requests for content it did not want consumers to see. To put that into perspective, that is almost eight times as many as all other countries requests combined.

It seems clear that Microsoft appears to be taking their responsibility of user data seriously. Are you worried about the Government getting hold of all your searches? Let us know in the comments below

Thank you Microsoft 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.

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

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

Anonymous’ Strike against ISIS Has Begun

Well known hacktivist group Anonymous may attract split opinions about their actions, but I think we can agree that their latest campaign is a good one. A couple of weeks ago the group announced that they would use their abilities to strike against the terrorist group ISIS and their online presence. Today Anonymous announced the beginning of such and posted a new video online. They also listed a lot of Twitter and Facebook accounts they had taken down, accounts used to spread their propaganda and recruit followers; this information is available at the source below.

The video starts out with a clarification, that they are made up from all sorts of people and that the ISIS doesn’t represent Muslims as they want to make us all believe.

“We are Muslims, Christians, Jews alike.” … “hackers, crackers, Hacktivist, phishers, agents, spies, or just the guy next door … students, administrators, workers, clerks, unemployed, rich, poor.” … “young, or old, gay or straight… from all races, countries, religions, and ethnicity. United as one, divided by zero.” … “the terrorists that are calling themselves [the] Islamic State (ISIS) are not Muslims,” the video states.

“This is just the beginning,” the video continues. “We will hunt you, take down your sites, accounts, emails, and expose you… From now on, no safe place for you online… You will be treated like a virus, and we are the cure… We own the internet… We are Anonymous; we are Legion; we do not forgive, we do not forget, Expect us.”

Source: AnonHQ

Google Updates Search Algorithm, Demotes Piracy in Favour of Legal Content

We’ve all been told time and time again that the internet has the capacity to be the Wild West of all digital content, potentially harming the back pockets of media groups and movie studios. Google today took new steps in measures against pirated content available on the web, and has updated its search algorithm to systematically remove and demote rankings of illegitimately sourced content in favour of legal content. The changes come in addition to steps Google took back in 2012 to down-rank companies and sites which received a large quantity of valid DMCA notices.

Whenever a user inputs terms such as “free” or “watch” and searching – Google’s algorithm will now point toward legally obtainable sources of the material. The testing for the update is currently live and running in North America, but the company says it’s expecting to push an international expansion of the updated algorithm worldwide sometime in the near future. On top of this, Google says it’s also removing a number of auto-complete terms from the engine as well  that are similarly aimed at demoting any auto-complete topic that directs towards pirated content.

Thanks to Google for providing us with this information.

Images courtesy of The Times.

Reddit Censors Links to Celebrity Photo Hack

In a controversial move, Reddit’s CEO Yishan Wong offered a blog post explaining as to why the company rarely takes down “morally objectionable or otherwise inappropriate” subreddits – all whilst the site took down /r/TheFappening and related subreddits that pointed towards the recent celebrity photo hack.

Since going live with the statement, Mr Wong updated the post adding:

Those two events occurring together have created great confusion. That is: we put up a blog post explaining why we don’t ban things for reason X (which some people want us to, but we will not), but at the same time behavior in a subreddit started violating reason Y (a pre-existing and valid rule for which we do ban things) and we banned it, resulting in much confusion.

Following the move, a news thread about the topic quickly rose to the frontpage – offering an inside look at the reaction from the sites users – many of which saw the multiple subreddit takedowns as hypocritical and conflicting. Users noted that over the span of the material being posted, reddit site traffic increased dramatically – on top of donations coined “reddit gold” to users who posted in the aligned threads. It’s been a week since the leaks, with other highly controversial material available through the site – bringing concern to surrounding factors behind the takedowns beyond that of DCMA takedown notices. It would seem there’s still some explaining left to do behind the censorship from the company.

Thank you TechChrunch for providing us with this information.

Record Labels Embarrass Themselves, Take down Kim Dotcom’s Own Album

In a twist of irony, the music industry group IFPI has sent not one, but two separate take down notices to MEGA about Kim Dotcom’s own album, Good Times. In one of the instances they were successful and the link to the Album stopped working last Monday. Of course the album was hosted on MEGA, and it shows a bit of how the music and movie industry abuses the takedown system with auto-generated, and often false, takedown requests.

With the ongoing lawsuit and the reputation the old Megaupload had, copyright holders are keeping a close eye on MEGA, though so far the takedown request have been relative small. On that note, I might point out that the the U.S. government just has joined the MPAA and RIAA in a new lawsuit in an attempt to get liquidised assets from Dotcom.

Torrentfreak noticed the file was missing and contacted both MEGA and Kim Dotcom for statements. Mega replied back that the explanation was a takedown notice from IFPI on September 1, claiming the link infringed on the copyrights of one of their artists. They listed a whole bunch, but didn’t specify which one, and Kim Dotcom wasn’t one of them. When Kim heard of this, he contacted Mega and got them to reinstate the link, but it was down for a day.

 

“This is an indication that someone at the IFPI is not doing their homework and that their takedown notices in general cannot be trusted,” said Mega’s Chief Compliance Officer Stephan Hall to TorrentFreak. IFPI’s actions have been sloppy, to say the least, and there is little faith to be put in the accuracy of the music group’s other takedown requests. Mega have also analysed big samples of notices and found most were automated keyword based takedowns that largely affected legitimate files.

 Thank you TorrentFreak for proving us with this information

Images courtesy of TorrentFreak.

Google Wins against German Publishers

Google has won a victory in Germany where a handful of publishers tried to force Google to take down access to their articles. A regulator handed Google Inc. a victory on Friday as it said it would not pursue a complaint brought against the search provider by Axel Springer SE and Burda in their newly formed group called VG Media. They demanded Google pay them for making their online articles available to the public.

“Sufficient suspicion is always necessary to initiate an abuse procedure. The complaint from VG Media did not establish this,” Andreas Mundt, president of Germany’s Federal Cartel Office, said in a statement on Friday

Under a German legislation that came into effect just over a year ago, publishers can prohibit search engines and similar services from using their news articles beyond very short excerpts. The cartel office said, though, that the scope of that legislation was not yet entirely clear. It said it would nonetheless monitor Google’s reaction to publishers’ demands and launch anti-trust proceedings if warranted.

Thank you Reuters for providing us with this information.

Images courtesy of Google.