Labels Win Grooveshark Copyright Infringement Case

Beleaguered music service Grooveshark is facing its biggest threat yet after a long-running case with the major labels of the RIAA came to a close last evening.

In a ruling by United States District Judge Thomas P. Griesa in the United States District Court in Manhattan, Grooveshark parent company Escape Media and two of the company’s top executives were found liable for infringing the rights of the labels on a grand scale.

The summary judgment is not a pretty read. It summarizes Grooveshark’s history and how the service began with licensed aims in mind, but achieved that by infringing the labels’ rights in the hope of reaching deals later on.

The initial problem was obtaining content to offer to users. The company solved the issue by getting employees to “seed” music to other users via its own P2P sharing software known as Sharkbyte. A 2007 email from co-founder Josh Greenberg to employees reads:

Please share as much music as possible from outside the office, and leave your computers on whenever you can. This initial content is what will help to get our network started—it’s very important that we all help out! If you have available hard drive space on your computer, I strongly encourage you to fill it with any music you can find. Download as many MP3’s as possible, and add them to the folders you’re sharing on Grooveshark. Some of us are setting up special “seed points” to house tens or even hundreds of thousands of files, but we can’t do this alone… There is no reason why ANYONE in the company should not be able to do this, and I expect everyone to have this done by Monday… IF I DON’T HAVE AN EMAIL FROM YOU IN MY INBOX BY MONDAY, YOU’RE ON MY OFFICIAL SHIT LIST.

In 2007, music obtained via

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BitTorrent Wants to Become RIAA Certified Music Service

bittorrent-logoLast Friday Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke released his new solo album via BitTorrent. A few tracks were made available for free, but those who want the full album are charged $6.

The new experiment is part of BitTorrent Inc’s bundles project, which allows artists to easily share their work with fans. While many artists tested the waters before Yorke, he is the first to ask for money directly from consumers.

“If it works well it could be an effective way of handing some control of Internet commerce back to people who are creating the work. Enabling those people who make either music, video or any other kind of digital content to sell it themselves. Bypassing the self elected gate-keepers,” commented Thom Yorke on his decision to join.

Fast forward a few days and the album release has turned out to be a great success. At the time of writing the number of downloads surpassed 500,000, and at the current rate this will have doubled before the end of the week.

These numbers are for both the free sample and the full album, which are both being counted by BitTorrent. Thom Yorke doesn’t want the sales figures to become public but judging from the number of people sharing the torrent this lies well above one hundred thousand.

“When the Bundle is downloaded using one of our clients, it pings back with a torrent added event which is how these are being counted. Thom Yorke has asked that sales figures remain undisclosed, which is his discretion,” BitTorrent spokesman Christian Averill told TorrentFreak.

yorke500k

Now that BitTorrent Inc. has become a paid music service, a whole new world opens up. Will there soon be a BitTorrent

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Copyright Apocalypse: Trolls Attack the Net, From the Future

badtrollWithout copyright, people in the creative industries would have no incentive to keep on creating. In recent years this kind of statement has been regularly pumped out by entertainment companies in their defense of tougher intellectual property legislation.

Countering, advocates such as Swedish Pirate Party founder Rick Falkvinge frequently argue that copyright monopolies stifle creativity and hinder innovation.

But what would happen if rather than providing an incentive to create, the existence of copyright meant that no-one would ever need to create anything original online ever again? And if they did, they could be sued for it?

That’s the staggering notion being put forward by Qentis Corporation. The outfit, which claims a base in Russia, says that its business model is to use massive computing power to generate digital intellectual property on a never-seen-before scale and transfer the rights to its partners.

“Our clients are private high net-worth individuals (HNWI), investment funds and corporations that act as pure investors,” Qentis explains.

What Qentis are proposing is the bulk algorithmic creation of content – music, text, images etc – on such a large scale that in a few years its clients will own the rights to just about anything people might care to create and upload.

The worrying claim on the Qentis homepage

qentisclaim

“Qentis aims to produce all possible combinations of text (and later on images and sound) and to copyright them,” Qentis’ Michael Marcovici told TorrentFreak.

“Concerning text we try this in chunks of 400 word articles in English, German and Spanish. That would mean that we will hold the copyright to any text produced from now on and that it becomes impossible for anyone to circumvent Qentis when writing a text.”

In terms of graphics, Qentis promotional material states that a subsidiary has already generated

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Top 10 Most Pirated Movies of The Week – 09/29/14

transThis week we have three newcomers in our chart.

Transformers: Age of Extinction is the most downloaded movie for the second week in a row.

The data for our weekly download chart is estimated by TorrentFreak, and is for informational and educational reference only. All the movies in the list are BD/DVDrips unless stated otherwise.

RSS feed for the weekly movie download chart.

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Universal Music Moves For Summary Judgment Against Grooveshark

In January 2010, Universal Music Group filed a lawsuit in a New York court in which it alleged that Grooveshark was offering unauthorized copies of its musical works. The content in question were tracks from Universal’s pre-1972 back catalog.

The date when the tracks were recorded is important, since songs recorded before February 15, 1972, are covered under New York state law and not federal copyright legislation where safe harbor provisions of the DMCA apply.

“This case arises from Defendant’s massive willful copyright infringement and unfair
competition in violation of New York common law,” Universal writes in its latest submission to the Court.

“[Grooveshark parent company] Escape infringed UMG’s copyrighted works billions of times since it launched the current iteration of Grooveshark without any license from UMG and in flagrant violation of UMG’s exclusive rights.”

Describing Escape’s “pervasive copyright infringement” as part of a “premeditated business strategy” carried out by a “blatantly infringing pirate music service”, Universal Music (UMG) has now moved for summary judgment in the case on copyright infringement and unfair competition grounds.

“Escape has admitted that it competes with UMG in the market for the
dissemination of music over the Internet. Accordingly, it obtained an unfair competitive advantage over authorized streaming services by using UMG’s sound recordings without a license or payment.”

Previously, Escape Media counter-claimed against UMG when the company allegedly that UMG had tried to interfere with its business by influencing third-party companies to curtail relationships with the streaming service. UMG states those were legitimate anti-piracy tactics and dismisses Escape’s claims as an attempt to distract from the case in hand.

“Having no substantive defense to UMG’s infringement claims, Escape filed several baseless counterclaims against UMG for alleged interference with contracts and business relations,” UMG writes.

“The undisputed record confirms that the communications at issue directly related to

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Photographer Sues Imgur For Failing to Remove Copyrighted Photos

imgurWhen it comes to online piracy most attention usually goes out to music, TV-shows and movies. However, photos are arguably the most-infringed works online.

Virtually every person on the Internet has shared a photo without obtaining permission from its maker, whether through social networks, blogs or other services.

While this is usually not a problem with a picture of the average Internet meme, when it comes to professional photography there can be serious consequences.

Earlier this year the Seattle-based artist Christopher Boffoli discovered that dozens of photos from his well-known “miniatures of food” series were being shared on Imgur. The photos were uploaded by a user named kdcoco who published them without permission.

This type of infringement is fairly common and usually easy to stop through a DMCA notice. In this case, however, that didn’t produce any results, so the photographer saw no other option than to take Imgur to court.

In a complaint (pdf) filed at a federal court in Seattle, Boffoli explains that he sent Imgur a DMCA takedown request on February 21. This seemed to work, as the image sharing site was quick to respond.

“The images have been marked for removal and will be deleted from all of our servers within 24 hours,” Imgur quickly replied.

One of Boffoli’s photos
boffoli

But following this initial reply nothing happened. According to the complaint all of the images remained online for several months.

“As late as September 2014 — more than 200 days after receiving Boffoli’s notice — Imgur had not removed or disabled access to the Infringing Content. To date, the Infringing Content is still accessible on Imgur’s servers,” the photographer’s lawyers write.

Aside from the infringing behavior of the

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Court Orders Warner Bros. to Reveal Flawed Anti-Piracy Technology

warnerThree years ago file-hosting service Hotfile countersued Warner Bros., accusing the movie studio of repeatedly abusing the DMCA takedown process.

Hotfile alleged that after giving Warner access to its systems, the studio removed hundreds of files that weren’t theirs, including games demos and Open Source software.

The case was poised to reveal how Warner Bros. anti-piracy system works and what mistakes were made by the movie studio. But last November, a few weeks before the trial was due to begin, the case was closed as part of a settlement between Hotfile and the MPAA.

The decision was a disappointment to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) who asked the court to unseal documents regarding Warner’s alleged abuse. According to the group, the public has the right to know what mistakes Warner made.

Warner Bros. objected to this request, arguing that the effectiveness of their anti-piracy technology would be undermined by a public disclosure. The movie studio asked the Court to permanently seal the records, but during an oral hearing this week U.S. District Judge Kathleen Williams denied this request.

The Judge ordered Warner Bros. to hand over some of the information within ten days, and come up with a schedule for the release of all relevant documents. According to Judge Williams the public has the right to see how Warner Bros. handles DMCA takedown requests.

The EFF is happy with the ruling, and says it will help legislators to refine and improve the current DMCA process. This year both the Patent and Trademark Office and the U.S. House Judiciary Committee have looked into possible changes to the current process.

“More information about how the DMCA process has been abused – particularly through automated takedown systems with inadequate human review – will help us improve

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Piracy Police Chief Calls For State Interference to Stop Internet Anarchy

cityoflondonpoliceFounded little over a year ago, the City of London Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) has quickly grown to become one of the world’s most active anti-piracy operations.

The unit uses a wide range of strategies, from writing to domain registrars and threatening them, to working with advertisers in order to cut off revenues from ‘pirate’ sites.

PIPCU is determined to continue its anti-piracy efforts in the years to come. However, the unit’s head Andy Fyfe also believes that the Government may have to tighten the rules on the Internet, to stop people from breaking the law.

In an interview with PC Pro, Fyfe says he wants to see this topic being debated in the media.

“I’m very interested in having a debate in the media about how much policing of the internet people want. At the moment, there’s almost no regulation and no policing of the internet,” Fyfe says.

PIPCU’s chief believes that the public has to be protected from criminals including pirate site operators who take advantage of their trust. If that doesn’t happen then the Internet may descend into anarchy, he says, suggesting that the Government may have to intervene to prevent this.

“In the end, that might mean that the Internet becomes completely ungovernable, and that no one can dare operate on it at all, no one can dare do their shopping or banking on it. So should there be a certain level of … state inference in the interest of protecting consumers? I’m very keen to raise that as a debate,” Fyfe notes.

The Police chief believes that tighter rules may be needed to prevent people from breaking the law in the future. This could mean that not everyone is allowed to launch a website, but that a

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Thom Yorke Sells New Album via Paywall Protected Torrent

Radiohead’s Tom Yorke has been very critical of new music services such as Spotify. Last year he pulled his music from the popular streaming service claiming that “new artists get paid fuck all.”

Yorke would like to see more money flowing to the artists and in an effort to accomplish this goal he has teamed up with BitTorrent Inc.

The San-Francisco company has experimented with artist bundles for a while and together with Yorke they have now launched their first paywalled torrent. After paying $6, fans can download Yorke’s “Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes” album via a protected torrent file.

“It’s an experiment to see if the mechanics of the system are something that the general public can get its head around,” Thom Yorke and Nigel Godrich write in a joint statement.

“If it works well it could be an effective way of handing some control of internet commerce back to people who are creating the work. Enabling those people who make either music, video or any other kind of digital content to sell it themselves. Bypassing the self elected gate-keepers,” they add.

In recent years BitTorrent Inc. has been working very hard to show that its technology can be used for more than “piracy” and today’s bundle is a prime example. After releasing various free samples from other artists, Yorke’s full album is definitely a breakthrough.

The paywall and other restrictions are not something traditional BitTorrent users are used to, but it’s a necessary “evil” to draw mainstream artists to the model.

BitTorrent Inc. emphasizes that the album itself is DRM-free but that the torrents do have copy protection. This means that people can’t easily share them with others who haven’t paid.

“BitTorrent Bundles features protected torrents, limiting the number of times a torrent can be downloaded. While Bundle content is DRM-free, torrents are

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Gottfrid Svartholm Trial: IT Experts Give Evidence

The hacking trial of Gottfrid Svartholm and his alleged 21-year-old Danish accomplice continued this week in Copenhagen, Denmark. While Gottfrid is well known as a founder of The Pirate Bay, his co-defendant’s identity is still being kept out of the media.

In what’s being described as the largest case of its kind ever seen in the Scandinavian country, both stand accused of hacking computer mainframes operated by US IT giant CSC. This week various IT experts have been taking the stand.

On Tuesday, IT investigator Flemming Grønnemose appeared for the third time and stated that during the summer and fall of 2012, Swedish police had tipped off Danish police about possible hacker attacks against CSC.

According to DR.dk, as part of Grønnemose’s questioning Gottfrid’s lawyer Luise Høj raised concerns over a number of changes that had taken place on her client’s computer since it had been taken into police custody.

Grønnemose admitted that when police installed programs of their own onto the device, security holes which could have been exploited for remote control access could have been closed. However, it appears police also have an exact copy of the machine in an unmodified state.

Further evidence centered around the IP addresses that were traced during the attacks. IP addresses from several countries were utilized by the attackers including those in Cambodia, Germany, Iran, Spain and the United States. German police apparently investigated the local IP address and found that it belonged to a hacked server in a hosting facility.

The server had not been rented out for long, but was still on and had been taken over by hackers, Grønnemose said. According to the prosecution, the same server also featured in last year’s Logica case in Sweden. Gottfrid was found guilty in that case and sentenced to two

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