The Wall Street Journal and Ars Technica are reporting that the RIAA has announced a fairly dramatic change in its strategy to fight piracy.
The only jury verdict against a file-sharer has been thrown out by U.S. District Judge Michael Davis of Duluth, Minnesota, who declared a mistrial because he had committed “manifest error of the law” by instructing the jury that “that the recording industry did not have to prove anybody downloaded the songs from Thomas’ open Kazaa share folder.”
When we read stories like Tanya Andersen’s and consider the countless others who have been wrongfully targeted by trade groups like the RIAA, it becomes evident that the system by which DMCA takedown notices are issued is very far from perfect. For the uninitiated, DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) takedown notices are official statements which assert that an artist’s or company’s intellectual rights have been violated (i.e. copyright infringement) and often threaten legal action against an individual. In a study conducted by the University of Washington, researchers proved that this system is seriously flawed, according to the New York Times. In one experiment, the team received takedown notices from the MPAA which accused 3 laserjet printers of downloading the latest Indiana Jones movie and Iron Man. More, inside…
If you were still somehow unconvinced that the RIAA’s legal strategy is “be sleazy, intimidate, then profit,” their latest legal maneuvering might finally convince you. Next week, a judge was to decide whether their case against a New York family should be thrown out—the family’s lawyer, RIAA critic Ray Beckerman, argued “that if the RIAA can’t prove anybody downloaded the music from an open share folder, then the case would have to be dismissed.”
ACTA—the misleadingly named “Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement”—is the worldwide copyright treaty that’s being negotiated behind closed doors, and that will create a sort of global DMCA if continues in its current state. Now Wikileaks has posted a draft of the treaty, and Boing Boing’s Cory Doctorow gives his take:
Comcast says that it will experiment with a new method of managing traffic to thousands of customers in Chambersburg, Pa., and Warrenton, Va. The new method will not target file-sharing, but would focus on individual heavy Internet users – no matter what they are doing, says the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Comcast has defended its BitTorrent blocking by saying it only does it when network congestion is high, but a new study finds that they’re doing it basically all the time. [The Inquirer]
Although it won’t affect other cases, the RIAA was handed a small smackdown this week when a U.S. district judge rejected their request for a summary judgement, and ruled that putting song files in a shared directory was not enough proof that infringement had occurred.
Comcast is now claiming that the FCC “has no legal power to stop the cable giant from engaging in what it calls ‘network management practices’ (critics call it peer-to-peer traffic blocking),” reports Ars Technica. In an amazing display of spin, Comcast writes that letting the marketplace “maximize consumer welfare” has been “enormously successful” as proven by the “Comcast customer experience”—seriously, we’re not making up these phrases. On a less humorous note, the filing in which Comcast makes these claims also seems to imply that it will sue the FCC if it tries to enforce any changes on how Comcast blocks P2P traffic.
None of the estimated $400 million that the RIAA received in settlements with Napster, KaZaA, and Bolt over allegations of copyright infringement has gone to the artists whose copyrights were allegedly infringed. Now the artists are considering suing the RIAA.
Last week the House voted 354-58 to approve a college funding bill that requires colleges to “make plans to offer some form of legal alternative to P2P file-swapping” and to implement some form of network filtering. Luckily for sane people everywhere, the White House has already made veto-noises at the bill for other reasons—but still, the MPAA came that much closer to forcing its admittedly false worldview on universities.
Comcast has quietly changed their terms of service following the BitTorrent backlash to protect their ass a bit more. [Ars Technica]
The FCC announced that it will investigate complaints against Comcast for disrupting BitTorrent traffic. Then again, it wasn’t a formal announcement, it was in response to a question posed by Consumer Electronics Association’s CEO Gary Shapiro in an interview before a live audience during the big electronics expo. “Sure, we’re going to investigate and make sure that no consumer is going to be blocked,” is what FCC Chair Kevin “Pretty Boy” Martin said exactly. “Sure” is not a word one uses to make a strong statement. He may have just been playing to the crowd. C’mon, it’s CES, he knew if he said otherwise he could find a bunch of geeks sitting on his car in the parking lot looking to “reformat his harddive,” if you know what I’m saying.
The elite cyber-squad freedom fighters of the The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) released findings today that Comcast does indeed meddle with peer-to-peer file sharing. They’re also giving away some software you can install to test your own ISP. The FCC still has yet to respond to complaints and reports of Comcast’s interference.
Well, the details of 20th Century Fox’s new digital experiment are now public: the DVD of “Live Free Or Die Harder,” which goes on sale tomorrow, will allow purchasers to transfer a digital copy of the movie twice, once to their PC’s hard drive and once onto a PlaysForSure portable device. If you’ve got an iPod device or even a Zune, you won’t be able to do anything with it.
The RIAA defendant who lost her jury trial, Jammie Thomas, is telling her side of the story on p2pnet. Of particular interest: She claims that Best Buy made the decision to replace her hard drive, under the terms of her extended warranty, 6 months before she was served with the RIAA’s subpoena.
Trent: I’ll admit I had an account there and frequented it quite often. At the end of the day, what made OiNK a great place was that it was like the world’s greatest record store. Pretty much anything you could ever imagine, it was there, and it was there in the format you wanted. If OiNK cost anything, I would certainly have paid, but there isn’t the equivalent of that in the retail space right now. iTunes kind of feels like Sam Goody to me.
Are you a Comcast user? Try visiting torrentfreak.com. Let us know if you’re allowed to see the page or if you get an error. A reader told us Comcast is blocking it but we want to check it out first. Update: looks like this is an isolated incident. Carry on.