Friday, April 17, 2009, 7:35am
Four men connected to The Pirate Bay, the world's most notorious file sharing site, were convicted by a Swedish court Friday of contributory copyright infringement, and each sentenced to a year in prison.
Pirate Bay administrators Fredrik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg and Peter Sunde were found guilty in the case, along with Carl Lundström, who was accused of funding the 5-year-old operation.
In addition to jail time, the defendants were ordered to pay damages of 30 million kronor ($3.6 million) to a handful of entertainment companies, including Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Bros, EMI and Columbia Pictures, for the infringement of 33 specific movie and music properties tracked by industry investigators.
The defense largely hinged on an architectural point. Because of the way BitTorrent works, pirated material was neither stored on, nor passed through, The Pirate Bay's servers. Instead the site merely provided an index of torrent files -- some on its servers, some elsewhere -- that direct a user's client software to the content.
But prosecutor Håkan Roswall argued successfully that the defendants were culpable anyway, citing past prosecutions of criminal accomplices. In a Supreme Court decision from 1963, he noted, a defendant who held a friend's coat while the friend beat someone up was considered culpable.
The verdict could shatter Sweden's reputation as a safe haven for content piracy, coming just weeks after a new law that took effect that allows content owners to force internet service providers to reveal subscriber data in piracy investigations.
Saturday, March 7, 2009, 12:39pm
Roswall ended his argument by demanding one year in jail for each of the defendants -- half of the maximum term. He asked for fines amounting to The Pirate Bay's gross income from advertising revenue on the site. He was able to document the equivalent of $180,000 in income from ad sales on the site, but he argued that the actual numbers are likely quite higher. Roswall claimed the site runs as many as 64 concurrent ads, which he said earned it some 10 million kronor -- about $1.2 million.
"That is pure fiction," defendant Fredrik Neij protested in the intermission. "There are four banner spaces, not 64. They have counted different versions of the same ads."
"I was startled to hear the nasty old man settling for one year only, " said co-defendant Gottfrid Svartholm Warg. "I had expected two years. Where are my 10 million kronor, please? I want them, where are they?"
Can't they just look at their bank accounts and see that the majority of the money from the ads pays their hosting bills? I guess it should be pointed out that they do not host the copyrighted material, they merely host the data that tells others where to get it from.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009, 8:32pm
I've always been bothered by those "Property Of Blank University" t-shirts that used to actually be the loaned (or stolen) property of college athletic departments but have now become popular enough that you can find them, for sale, in nearly any university store or gift shop in the US.
Here's my response:
For those that don't know (and that's certainly many), Pierre-Joseph Proudhon is the nineteenth century French anarchist and mutualist most famous for saying, "La propriété, c'est le vol!" In English: "Property is theft!"
Wednesday, February 18, 2009, 5:55am
Prosecutors dropped half of the charges in the landmark trial of The Pirate Bay file sharing site Tuesday, leaving observers stunned and prompting questions about the government's preparedness in the long-awaited criminal proceeding.
"I will drop all charges that relate to producing infringing copies and will hence restrict the prosecution to the act of making works available to the public," prosecutor Hakan Roswall announced at the opening of the second day of the trial. "When I talk about making something available to the public I mean making available torrent files."
At an intermission, Roswall refused to clarify the change of heart to reporters. "As you can see I have a lot of other things to think about," he said. "There will be new adjusted charges distributed on paper tomorrow, Wednesday."
It remains to be seen whether facilitating making torrent files available is enough to commit the criminal act of assisting in copyright infringement.
"Absolutely not," claimed Rick Falkvinge, the leader of The Pirate Party. "If they can claim that facilitating for others to publish a torrent file, which contains no copyright protected information whatsoever, then this shows that they want to shut down the internet for good."
The only thing left is the making available charges, a phrase we've heard a lot of here in the US legal system dealing with copyright cases.
Monday, February 16, 2009, 4:36pm
Following the lunch break, proceedings continued with prosecutor Håkan Roswall failing to start up his computer. For several minutes, listeners of the live audio could hear mouse-clicks as Roswall, who earlier claimed to be an expert on computer crimes, tried to get his PowerPoint presentation on the screen. He was eventually ordered by the judge to stick to his papers and continue.
Information was presented about various movie, music and game downloads co-ordinated by The Pirate Bay before the raid in 2006. Roswall further discussed the total number of seeds and peers on the tracker, all part of the evidence that was previously gathered by the plaintiffs. During the afternoon, Peter Sunde sent a message;
"How the hell did they think this was going to be something else than EPIC FAIL for the prosecution? We're winning so hard." Peter points out that the prosecutor is having difficulty working out the difference between megabits and megabytes.
An expert on computer crimes that can't even get a Powerpoint (ugh!) slideshow up?
¶ Anything You Upload To Facebook, You License To Them To Do Whatever They Want, Even If You Close Your Account
Monday, February 16, 2009, 11:10am
Facebook's terms of service (TOS) used to say that when you closed an account on their network, any rights they claimed to the original content you uploaded would expire. Not anymore.
Now, anything you upload to Facebook can be used by Facebook in any way they deem fit, forever, no matter what you do later. Want to close your account? Good for you, but Facebook still has the right to do whatever it wants with your old content. They can even sublicense it if they want.
I had no idea that their TOS were like this for so long. Really, the only change being made now is that when you close your account, the license to them still exists.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009, 4:08pm
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Saturday, January 10, 2009, 11:20am
Colbert: You say our copyright laws are turning our kids into criminals, because they're keeping kids from doing all the remixing they want of pre-existing art and copywritten material, right?
Isn't that like saying that arson laws are turning our kids into pyromaniacs?? They're breaking the law! You can't just throw the law out the window!
Lessig: "Totally failed war." Is that familiar to you?
Colbert: No. No. You're saying we need a surge?
Lessig: We tried the surge. For ten years we've been waging this war. Artists have not gotten any more money, businesses have not gotten any more profit, and our kids have been turned into criminals.
Saturday, December 13, 2008, 12:03am
The construction of an exact copy of the Taj Mahal has sparked a diplomatic fracas between India and Bangladesh - raising the vexing issue of whether or not it is possible to claim copyright on a building.
The row began after Ahsanullah Moni, a wealthy Bangladeshi film director, gave the first glimpse of his copy of the Taj Mahal this week.
The project has cost about £40 million and is being built about 20 miles northeast of Dhaka, the Bangladeshi capital. But the Indians are upset. "You can't just go and copy historical monuments," an official at the Indian High Commission in Dhaka told a reporter this week.
Friday, December 12, 2008, 11:59pm
By choosing Joe Biden as their vice presidential candidate, the Democrats have selected a politician with a mixed record on technology who has spent most of his Senate career allied with the FBI and copyright holders, who ranks toward the bottom of CNET's Technology Voters' Guide, and whose anti-privacy legislation was actually responsible for the creation of PGP.
That's probably okay with Barack Obama: Biden likely got the nod because of his foreign policy knowledge. The Delaware politician is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee who voted for the war in Iraq, and is reasonably well-known nationally after his presidential campaigns in 1988 and 2008.