Tag Archive for 'copyright'

Promoting Movies by Suing the Viewers

The Copyright Group is suing over 23K people in the United States for torrenting the movie Expendables.

I have to wonder what the real point of suing people for copyright violations with regards to a movie nobody wanted to see. There is no market for this movie, because it is so bad nobody will pay money to see it. The only reason people are seeing it is because they can do so free of charge.

Given that the sequel for this horrible movie is being considered at the moment, one has to wonder why would the copyright holders alienate the only people who might actually be interested in the sequel by suing them? Or is it that they consider any publicity good publicity?

If I were the movie studio unfortunate enough to own this wretched piece of intellectual property, I would do everything in my power to get as many people as possible to see my movie prior to the sequel coming out. I would hand DVDs for free, if I could. Or I would just release a HD version of the movie as a BitTorrent without making a big fuss about it, and seed that version with trailers and other promotional materials about the sequel. I would think that would make more business sense than suing people who WANTED to see the movie.


The Handbag Industry Association of America

Threat Level, a blog concentrating on online privacy, security, politics and crime issues, has posted an excellent article about what would it be like if the handbag industry adopted the same business model music and movie industries have.

Yes, it’s absurd.


ArsTechnica analyzes the figures used in war on piracy

ArsTechnica has done an excellent job in debunking the two most often used figures to justify the war on piracy.

The content producers and the US Government often quote two numbers: $250B in economic losses and 750,000 jobs lost due to IP theft in the United States. ArsTechnica tried to find the source for both of the numbers and found out that there really isn’t any realiable source.

It seems as if the job loss number came from a piece of IP legislation during the Reagan years. The authors of the bill were quoted of saying that between 130,000 and 750,000 jobs are lost due to counterfeiting US products. The bill itself didn’t include any information about those numbers, nor did the authors ever produce any source for them, other than the unsubstantiated claims they made themselves. The authors also never mentioned whether the job losses were annually or for some other duration. Subsequently people have just started quoting the upper limit of the range mentioned in the 80s. Between 130,000 and 750,000 first become “upto 750,000” and most recently just “750,000”.

ArsTechnica had even harder time finding out any justification for the annual economic loss of $250B due to piracy. They couldn’t find a single source for that figure other than a self-referential tangle of quotes from various content producer lobbying groups and the US Government. ArsTechnica did find some slightly more “scientific” sources, but the dollar amounts didn’t come anywhere close to $250B. Instead the only actual source they found from 20 years ago quoted $60B, and when they dug a little deeper they found that even that number was misrepresented. The actual study the number came from had a dollar amount of $23.8B and the study mentioned that even that number “could admittedly be biased and self-serving”.

So there you have it. The two numbers ($250B and 750,000) used to justify draconian IP legislation are at best guestimates and at worst pulled out of some entertainment industry bigwig’s ass and completely overblown.

ArsTechnica concludes its article:

Still, anything is possible: The figures could happen to be more or less accurate. But given the shady provenance of the data, the one thing we know for certain is that we don’t know for certain. And we’re making policy on the basis of our ignorance.

The US legislators should be ashamed, but then we all know they don’t make policy out of ignorance, but out of campaign donations by the entertainment industry. There is no ignorance here, rather willful negligence.


MPAA demands printers to stop downloading pirated movies

A study by a group of University of Washington staffers reveal how flimsy the process of identifying copyright offenders used by RIAA/MPAA really is.

During their investigation on who is using and how are BitTorrent trackers used the research team’s automated bots received 400 MPAA DMCA takedown notices without having actually downloaded or uploaded a single pirated movie. Moreover MPAA also sent DMCA takedown notices about files being shared by IP addresses belonging to printers the researchers “framed” to have shared pirated content.

The research team’s findings should ring alarm bells within the justice system. It is clear the methodology used by RIAA/MPAA to identify copyright infringers is completely inadequate and does in no way meet even the lowest standards of burden of proof.


Jammie Thomas is possibly getting a new trial

The judge, who presided over Capitol vs. Thomas suit filed by RIAA against Jammie Thomas, is considering granting Jammie Thomas a new trial, because an “error in law” might’ve resulted in the wrong verdict.

Specifically the issue is with one of the instructions the judge gave to the jury in the case. He instructed the jury that making files available for download is the same as actually distributing the files in the eyes of the law. The judge is now reversing his direction based on other cases where the “making available” theory has been debunked.

Jammie Thomas is the person who was found guilty of copyright infringement and ordered to pay $222,000 (over 10,000 times the times of the cost of the music she was allegedly sharing) in damages.


War on Piracy is effective?

Chris Israel, the Copyright Czar of the Bush Administration is hailing the guilty verdict of a music pirate as a major victory in the fight against piracy.

Surely he’s referring to a conviction of a ringleader of a major international piracy ring that prints CDs in China and hauls them over the Pacific to the United States to make millions of dollars in profit? Naah, Mr. Israel is referring to a guilty verdict and $222K fine of Jammie Thomas, a single mom with two kids. She was convicted of sharing 24 songs on p2p network Kazaa.

That’s kinda like celebrating busting a teenager with one roll of pot in his mouth as a major victory in the war on drugs, and then fining him $100K for it.


Congratulations RIAA

RIAA has won its lawsuit against Jammie Thomas, a single-mom of two kids. RIAA accused Ms. Thomas of sharing music on p2p networks. RIAA could only claim copyright ownership of 24 songs.

The jury awarded RIAA $222,000 in damages. That’s $9,250 per song. That sure sounds fair to me.

You could buy over 8,000 CDs with $222K.

I’m sure the RIAA is busy celebrating its victory over this single-mom. I hope bankrupting her was worth it.


ICE raids mod chippers. The US is much safer today.

ICE, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, an agency in charge of, among other things, keeping illegal immigrants out of the country raided 32 mod chipping “operators” earlier this week in 16 states. The operation was a cooperative effort with the Entertainment Software Association (ESA). ESA, unsurprisingly, applauded the raids wholeheartedly.

The rest of the country, however, aren’t seeing things quite in the same light ICE and ESA are. Especially gamers. The reaction to the raids has been overwhelming and 100% negative. Even the venerable John Dvorak felt compelled to speak out against the raids.

One of the best written counterpoints to ICE’s and ESA’s black-and-white view of the world is a forum post on Xbox Scene by twistedsymphony titled The Legality Of Modding, and how everyone is a criminal according to the DMCA. It raises several questions about ESA’s motivations, the PR spin put on the raids and modding video game consoles in general.

Technically speaking the people raided might all be guilty of violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The raids are, however, yet another sign of how utterly ridiculous the DMCA is.


Smack that RIAA up

Merl Ledford III, a California lawyer representing a family sued by RIAA in their war on P2P, has put forth a formidable smackdown on RIAA.

His letter to RIAA lawyers caused RIAA to dismiss the case. It’s unclear at this point, though, whether the Merchant family will be able to get legal fees from RIAA.

The letter has some very interesting sections in it, in particular the section labeled “Independent Factual Investigation and Probable Cause to Sue: Lack of Probable Cause”. That section applies to all lawsuits RIAA has filed. It’ll be interesting to see how future lawsuits will evolve after this.


RIAA sues a disabled man in Florida claiming he illegally shared music in Michigan

RIAA is sueing a man in Florida despite full well knowing he lived in Florida at the time RIAA claims he engaged in illegal music sharing in Michigan.

Remind me again why RIAA is not considered an organized crime outfit?