Although pressure from activists and major tech companies helped kill off the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) last year, it looks as though the Obama administration wants to bring a key part of it back from the grave. The Washington Post reports that the Department of Commerce’s Internet Policy Task Force last week released a report that recommended classifying illegal content streaming as a felony. More →
Google has followed through on its pledge to help copyright holders come up with a plan to starve piracy websites of funding. The Guardian reports that Google is kicking off a new initiative that will let copyright holders alert advertising firms when their ads are appearing on websites that distributed pirated content. The hope is that Google will use its significant clout in online advertising to pressure advertisers not to buy ads on alleged piracy websites, thus starving those websites of revenue. This past spring, a Google representative floated a similar plan during a forum discussion on preventing piracy and suggested that it was a better and more realistic alternative to outright blocking links to alleged piracy websites from search results.
The Recording Industry Association of America is not easy to please. The Verge reports that the RIAA is once again bashing Google (GOOG) over its allegedly half-hearted efforts to combat online piracy by claiming that it has “found no evidence that Google’s policy has had a demonstrable impact on demoting sites with large amounts of piracy.” Google announced this past summer that it would start demoting websites that were repeatedly flagged for copyright violations and the company is reportedly in talks with major credit card companies to cut off funds to websites frequently accused of piracy. But the RIAA has found that “well-known, authorized download sites, such as iTunes, Amazon and eMusic” aren’t being featured prominently enough in Google searches for songs. The bottom line, says the RIAA, is that “whatever Google has done to its search algorithms to change the ranking of infringing sites, it doesn’t appear to be working.”
Unless you have acute nostalgia for AOL dial-up service circa 1998, then you probably shouldn’t get busted pirating copyrighted material on Verizon’s (VZ) network. TorrentFreak has got hold of Verizon’s official “six strikes” anti-piracy policy that’s slated to roll out this year and has found that repeat offenders on Verizon’s network will see their connection speeds throttled down to just 256Kbps. More →
Thankfully, police in Finland have agreed to end their criminal investigation of a nine-year-old girl over piracy allegations. But that doesn’t mean her family will get away scot-free because TorrentFreak is reporting that her father Aki Nylund has had to fork over €300 to get the Copyright Information and Anti-Piracy Centre (CIAPC) to drop the case. And Nylund wasn’t at all happy about having to pay the fine either — per TorrentFreak, he said that having CIAPC hound him was like having “people from the mafia demanding money at the door.” The good news, however, is that his daughter will soon get her confiscated “Winnie the Pooh” laptop returned to her just in time for Christmas.
It seems that raiding the house of a 9-year-old girl and seizing her “Winnie the Pooh” laptop wasn’t the public relations triumph that copyright holders were hoping for. MTV3 in Finland reports that police have ended their criminal investigation into piracy allegations against a 9-year-old girl and her father who allegedly ignored requests from the Copyright Information and Anti-Piracy Centre (CIAPC) to pay a €600 fine to settle piracy charges. The Finnish detective at the head of the investigation told MTV3 that his department has “decided to end the criminal investigation, because CIAPC has waived the penalty claims,” so it seems that CIAPC had a pretty good idea of how bad the optics of this case were. The report makes no mention of when the girl might get her “Winnie the Pooh” laptop back.
Good news, pirates: you have a little more time to enjoy yourselves before ISPs start breaking your Internet service. TorrentFreak reports that the “Center for Copyright Information has announced that the ISPs are not ready to send warnings” to alleged copyright infringers yet, which means that ISPs’ long-threatened “six strikes” anti-piracy policy will be delayed yet again until at least early 2013. More →
File-sharing site RapidShare has apparently decided that it doesn’t want to put up with the headaches that Kim Dotcom dealt with after government officials took down his Megaupload website earlier this year. ReadWrite reports that RapidShare is implementing a download data cap of 1 gigabyte per day for its non-paying users while its subscribers will still have limits of 30 gigabytes per day. The idea is to limit the ability of would-be pirates to widely distribute pirated content illegally to multiple users. ReadWrite says that this cap will only apply “to public downloads, whereas direct Dropbox-style sharing between users won’t be affected.”
Speaking to the Associated Press on Friday, Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata revealed that his company’s upcoming Nintendo 3DS will in fact gamers the choice of playing titles in both 3D and 2D. Exactly how one would switch from 3D to 2D and vise versa is unclear, but Iwata mentioned one of the primary reasons for the ability to remove the extra dimension is for the health of children’s eyesight. Also revealed by Iwata was the fact Nintendo is going to introduce a new set of anti-piracy measures with the 3DS. Unfortunately with this one, Iwata would not comment further saying he did not want to give pirates any clues about how the measures will work. Said Iwata on the piracy of video games: “We fear a kind of thinking is become widespread that paying for software is meaningless. We have a strong sense of crisis about this problem.” The Nintendo 3DS is scheduled to make its debut at E3 this June and go on sale in Q1 2011. More →
Just because we might associate the company with loveable characters like Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck doesn’t mean the characters who are running the show at Warner Bros. Entertain UK have similar personalities. After all, they’re the ones that came up with the brilliant idea of hiring a student intern, paying him or her £17,500 ($26,212 USD) over the course of a year and having them engage in a bit of digital espionage. The intern, who is to be “IT literate” and currently enrolled as a student pursuing a degree in computer science, will be charged with infiltrating torrent sites and creating bots which sniff out media which Warner Bros. and NBC Universal hold the copyrights to. Here’s a snippet from the job description:
During the 12 month internship, duties will include: monitoring local Internet forums and IRC for pirated WB and NBCU content and in order to gather information on pirate sites, pirate groups and other pirate activities; finding new and maintaining existing accounts on private sites; scanning for links to hosted pirated WB and NBCU content and using tools to issue takedown requests; maintaining and developing bots for Internet link scanning system (training provided); preparing sending of infringement notices and logging feedback; performing trap purchases of pirated product and logging results; inputting pirate hard goods data and other intelligence into the forensics database; selecting local keywords and submitting local filenames for monitoring and countermeasure campaigns and periodically producing research documents on piracy related technological developments. Various training will be provided.
Yikes. More →