SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) / WEB BLOCKING
For the last couple of years the three-strikes has been the preferred method of stopping people from downloading music illegally. Now it's court injunctions forcing ISPs to block access to websites that infringe copyrights. This has been successful with websites such as The Pirate Bay, Grooveshark (now blocked in Germany), Megaupload and there are more to come. In The USA the SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) was trying to be introduced which would be a fast track court process for obtaining such injunctions. This was met with a lot of objections (the one obtaining most news headlines was Wikipedia going offline for 24 hours in protest). Opponents of web blocking argue it gives too much power to traditional content companies to censor the internet, fearing any high speed system for blocking access to websites would be misused.
The injunction route does seem more likely to succeed than three-strikes. Spain has already introduced web blocking, while the White House has recommended SOPA has a radical rethink, but it hasn't necessarily killed off the legislation. For more information on SOPA: http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2012-01/17/sopa-101
One day we might finally be able to get on with creating great music and great products that people will want to pay for, rather than wasting so much time on the 'file-sharing problem'. And the industry's PR people, rather than talking up and justifying tougher copyright laws, can put more effort into educating the public about why paying for music is a good thing to do.
As previously reported, a commenter on a Digital Music News story about Grooveshark last November claimed to work for the streaming firm, and said that they were routinely told by bosses there to upload music to the company's servers from labels with which they had no licenses. Officially Grooveshark's users upload music to the site, which means that when music from record companies which haven't licensed to Grooveshark by the labels or other rights holders then there is a takedown process in place which under the DMCA (US Digital Millennium Copyright Act) can avoid liability for copyright infringement against the website (in this case Grooveshark). But Universal Music, in its latest copyright infringement lawsuit against Grooveshark, says it has evidence that staff members at the company also upload unlicensed content, which would prevent the firm from using DMCA provisions to fight copyright infringement charges. Universal's claims are based on upload data it received from Grooveshark as part of an earlier legal dispute, and the anonymous DMN comment. Grooveshark insists that Universal has deliberately misinterpreted the data it provided the major, and that the DMN commenter is a fraud, ie he or she has never worked for the streaming firm. Original document here (and below the comment posted by one of the Grooveshark's employee's on the DMN website): http://www.digitalmusicnews.com/permalink/2012/120117grooveshark
More recently Grooveshark's apps for both the iPhone and Android-powered devices were banned from the respective stores of Apple and Google under pressure from the record companies, who accuse the Groovesharkers of infringing their copyrights by running a slack takedown system to remove unlicensed content when it is uploaded by users (and also, in Universal, Sony and Warner's latest lawsuit, of uploading unlicensed content themselves).
Finally file sharing website MegaUpload was taken down and members in the CEO were arrested by the FBI for mass copyright infringement, racketeering and money laundering. In court papers released last week, the authorities said that their investigations had found many emails between key execs involved in the Mega company in which they discussed uploading vast quantities of unlicensed content to their servers to drive traffic to their sites, including pulling thousands of videos off YouTube and making copies available on their own platform. All of which means the company itself was infringing copyright on a mass scale. Other emails discussed offering cash incentives to users who uploaded large quantities of unlicensed movies, and when not to take notice of takedown requests submitted by content owners under the aforementioned DMCA. One email also mused “we have a funny business … modern days pirates :)”. Court papers also say that the Mega companies took $110 million through PayPal, which had enabled Schmitz to pay himself $42 million in 2010 alone. The Mega group had 60 bank accounts around the world.
More information here: http://www.thecmuwebsite.com/article/us-authorities-take-megaupload-offline-and-arrest-key-execs/
Extracted from various CMU newsletters. CMU subscription free from here: http://www.thecmuwebsite.com/subscribe/
SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) / WEB BLOCKING