All Articles Tagged "piracy"

Must Pay To Play: Woman Must Pay $22,000 For Illegal Music Downloads

March 20th, 2013 - By Ann Brown
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Didn’t think you could really get into trouble illegally downloading music? It is illegal but many people just don’t think they will get caught. But a Minnesota woman, Jammie Thomas-Rasset, did and now she has been ordered by the courts to pay $22,000. It was the outcome of a long-running court battle over the unauthorized downloading of copyrighted music, reports The Huffington Post. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear her final appeal.

In the early- to mid-2000s, the music industry filed thousands of lawsuits against people it accused of downloading music without permission and without paying for it. Most of the cases settled for about $3,500 apiece. But Thomas-Rasset was one only two defendants who refused to pay; she opted for a trial. The other was former Boston University student Joel Tenenbaum, who also lost. The amount he had to pay: $675,000. But argue that the amounts are excessive.

According to HuffPo, the industry initially sued Thomas-Rasset in 2006. Three trials and several appeals have followed. The industry argued that she made more than 1,700 songs downloaded via the file-sharing service Kazaa. The lawsuit, however, targeted only 24 songs.

Thomas-Rasset, 35, works for the Mille Lacs Band of the Ojibwe tribal government and says she can not afford to pay.

“There’s no way that they can collect,” she said to HuffPo. “Right now, I get energy assistance because I have four kids. It’s just the one income. My husband isn’t working. It’s not possible for them to collect even if they wanted to. I have no assets.”

Still the industry said they would work out a settlement. “The Recording Industry Association of America offered to settle for $5,000 when it first sued, and offered to settle for a $25,000 donation to a charity for music industry people in need after her second trial. She refused both times,” reports HuffPo.

Now, the Supreme Court says she has to pay the total—and there is no appealing the Supreme Court

Faded to Black: Sites Go Dark in Opposition of SOPA

January 18th, 2012 - By Brande Victorian
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By now you’ve probably noticed that there’s no Wikipedia today, and that Google has blacked out its logo, or that some of your favorite blog sites have faded to black. The effort is part of a protest of two bills before Congress, the Protect IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House, which would censor the Web and impose some stiff regulations on online businesses.

The purpose of the bill, which is backed by many in the music and film industries, is to stop online piracy which has been running rampant for several years now and some say is costing hundreds of thousands of jobs and millions, possibly even billions, of dollars in lost revenue. But opponents of the legislation who have turned their sites dark in a move of solidarity say the legislation infringes on freedom of speech and could even “break the Internet.”

According to the Washington Post, the bill would “enable copyright holders and the Justice Department to get court orders against sites that ‘engage in, enable, or facilitate’ copyright infringement. That could include, say, sites that host illegal mp3s or sites that link to such sites. Courts could bar advertisers and payment companies such as PayPal from doing business with the offending sites in question, order search engines to stop listing the accused infringers, or even require Internet service providers to block access entirely. The bills contain other provisions, too, like making it a felony to stream unauthorized content online.”

Although the Digital Millennium Copyright Act was passed in 1998, requiring any site hosting or linking to pirated material to take it down once notified, sites aren’t required to actively police their sites, which copyright holders say isn’t enough. So, with this new law, “Rather than receiving a notification for copyright violations, sites now face immediate action — up to and including being taken down before they have a chance to respond.” As the Washington Post points out:

“Intermediary sites like YouTube and Flickr could lose their ‘safe harbor’ protections. Nonprofit or low-budget sites might not have the resources to defend themselves against costly lawsuits. And, meanwhile, larger companies like Google and Facebook could be forced to spend considerable time and money policing their millions of offerings each day for offending material.”

As far as the idea of breaking the Internet, sites in violation of the bill could be de-listed from the Domain Name System, meaning U.S. service providers would have to act as though the site didn’t exist at all. Users might then seek out foreign servers to host their material which brings a whole other issue of security into question.

Obviously, the entertainment industry has a right to want to protect its revenue streams, but do their rights come before those of all Americans? The way in which the bills seek to eliminate piracy could very well eliminate the business models Google and Reddit have built entire companies around, or even your everyday blogger who has created a business for herself by killing the very thing we admire most about the internet: information that is readily accessible and can be easily shared. It may be necessary for Congress to approach this issue from another angle.

The Senate is expected to vote on the issue Jan. 24, meanwhile Google is asking Americans to sign a petition to end piracy, not liberty.

What do you think about the PIPA and SOPA bills? Do you oppose or support the legislation? What do you think would be a better way for Congress to address Internet piracy?

Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.

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Universal Music Cracks Down on Hip Hop Sites

June 21st, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(Techdirt) — A few weeks ago, leading ad firm GroupM, a part of marketing giant WPP, proudly announced that it had “adopted an aggressive new anti-piracy policy” for its digital media buys. What that meant was that it prohibited vendors that it worked with from putting ads on any of a giant list of sites that it had declared were “pirate sites” — defined as “sites that support piracy or contain any illegally distributed content.” That’s pretty broad. In fact, TorrentFreak got their hands on the list and noted many rather bizarre entries, including the Internet Archive (archive.org) and BitTorrent’s corporate page — neither of which have anything to do with “piracy” at all. There are some other shockers on the list, including the popular web video site/YouTube alternative, Vimeo, which is about as far from a “pirate” site as you can find. Stunningly, there’s also SoundCloud, which has become one of the most popular tools for musicians to promote their own music these days. That’s the site where the Beastie Boys streamed their latest album. A pirate site? Are they crazy? You can see the full list embedded below.

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Music Web Sites Dispute Legality of Their Closing

December 20th, 2010 - By TheEditor
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(New York Times) — When federal authorities shut down five Web sites last month on suspicion of copyright infringement, they gave no warning and offered no details of their investigation, and they have not filed any criminal charges since.  But after the seizure warrant used in the operation was released last week, the operators of several of the sites said in interviews that they were innocent of infringement, and criticized the investigation for misrepresenting how their sites worked.

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Piracy Fight Shuts Down Music Blogs

December 14th, 2010 - By TheEditor
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(New York Times) — Thanksgiving Day had barely begun when Kevin Hofman’s BlackBerry buzzed. It was one of the technical operators of OnSmash.com, Mr. Hofman’s popular hip-hop blog, telling him that the site had gone mysteriously blank just after midnight.  “At first I thought it was hackers,” Mr. Hofman said. But within hours a notice went up on the site saying that its domain name had been seized by the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement unit of the Department of Homeland Security; it was one of dozens of sites shut down, accused of copyright infringement and selling counterfeit goods.

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