mfioretti: copyright* + piracy*

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  1. Si tratta di uno studio, costato 360.000 euro e completato nel 2015, sugli effetti della pirateria sui contenuti vincolati dal diritto d’autore. Si intitola Estimating displacement rates of copyrighted content in the EU, è lungo oltre 300 pagine e oggi è scaricabile qui, ma non era mai stato reso pubblico.

    Sappiamo di questo studio non grazie alle indagini dei complottisti, ma alla tenacia di una parlamentare europea, la tedesca Julia Reda, che ha scoperto che esisteva questo rapporto grazie alla Regola dell’Informazione Laterale che cito spesso nelle tecniche d’indagine giornalistica digitale: per sapere se un dato è vero o falso conviene sempre cercare le informazioni di contorno a quel dato. Se un documento è stato omesso o segretato, può darsi che altrove ci siano informazioni amministrative che ne tengono traccia.

    In questo caso, per esempio, la parlamentare si è accorta dell’esistenza di questo studio perché ha scoperto la relativa gara d’appalto, risalente al 2013, e a quel punto ha richiesto accesso al documento. La Commissione, racconta la Reda, non ha risposto in tempo alla richiesta ben due volte.

    Come mai tanta riluttanza nel pubblicare uno studio costato fior di quattrini? Può darsi che sia colpa dei suoi risultati, che “non mostrano prove statistiche dello spostamento delle vendite da parte delle violazioni del coypright online” con l’eccezione dei film più popolari e recenti. Risultati che stridono con i vari provvedimenti governativi che mirano a sorvegliare il traffico dei file caricati su Internet di tutti gli utenti, indistintamente, con la giustificazione della tutela del diritto d’autore.

    Sia come sia, è indubbio che servono prove robuste per legittimare un intervento del genere e che, come dice la parlamentare, “dati preziosi sia finanziariamente, sia in termini di applicabilità dovrebbero essere disponibili a tutti se sono finanziati dall’Unione Europea: non dovrebbero raccogliere polvere su uno scaffale fino a quando qualcuno li richiede attivamente”.
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  2. The right to communicate anonymously has been lost, due to the copyright industry’s lobbying. This was so fundamental a right – putting up anonymous posters – that the United States would not exist without it (see the Federalist Papers which were anonymously posted everywhere).

    We no longer have the right to modify, rebuild, and repurpose our own possessions, because we may do so with an intent of discussing interesting things with our friends.cameraspy

    Mail carriers no longer have messenger immunity, something that had otherwise been a sacred constant between the Roman Empire and the Dimwitted Copyright Industry.

    We no longer have the legal right to point at or give directions to interesting places if what happens in that location breaks a law somewhere. (Just to illustrate the special treatment of the copyright industry here, compare this to the fact that Wikipedia has a helpful page on nuclear weapons design.)

    The copyright industry has been given the right to write its own laws thanks to an intentional legal loophole that prohibits us from circumventing digital restriction measures, even when those measures prevent still-legal uses of our own possessions.

    The right to send private letters is being lost, due to a long-standing tirade. The copyright industry has successfully lobbied the largest correspondence carriers today – Facebook and the like – to just ban anything they don’t like. Not long ago, if you posted a link to The Pirate Bay on Facebook, you would be interrupted by a message saying that you had discussed a forbidden subject. Imagine that happening in an old-fashioned phonecall or a conversation in the street, and you’ll realize what a horrifying development it is.

    A diary has extensive protection in law against search and seizure in most legislations. However, a computer – which is far more sensitive – does not
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  3. A movie theater industry group and the Motion Picture Association of America updated their anti-piracy policies and said that "wearable devices" must be powered off at show time.

    "Individuals who fail or refuse to put the recording devices away may be asked to leave. If theater managers have indications that illegal recording activity is taking place, they will alert law enforcement authorities when appropriate, who will determine what further action should be taken," said a joint statement from the MPAA and the National Association of Theatre Owners, which maintains 32,000 screens across the United States.

    Google Glass
    The announcement should come as no surprise. Last year, the MPAA urged theater operators to crack down on movie piracy with the use of night-vision goggles, security cameras, and low-light binoculars. The MPAA's "Best Practices to Prevent Film Theft" also urged theater operators to perform "random bag and jacket checks" of patrons and to "look for the unusual."
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  4. The government has promised to make ‘‘significant’’ changes to Australia’s copyright laws as a first-term commitment, although a spokesman for Arts Minister and Attorney General George Brandis said there was no firm timetable for this. The topic is also battling for attention ahead of the federal budget.

    Senator Brandis has warned that the government could legislate if a voluntary, industry-code of practice for ISPs isn't agreed. He has argued that ISPs ‘‘need to take some responsibility’’ for illegal downloading, because they ‘‘provide the facility which enables this to happen’’.

    The ALP, which unsuccessfully sought a voluntary scheme while in government, said it would examine any policy proposal put forward. But it said there was no single solution and the government was yet to ‘‘put forward a coherent policy proposal’’.

    ‘‘Labor supports the freedom of internet users, while also recognising that the rights of artists and copyright holders need to be protected,’’ a spokeswoman for shadow attorney general Mark Dreyfus said.

    News Corp Australia, half owner of pay TV company Foxtel, told Fairfax Media that copyright infringement ‘‘hurts the creative community - it undermines investment, employment, business models and innovation.

    ‘‘We support the Attorney General’s approach, and while there isn’t a silver bullet, evidence from overseas suggest that such initiatives do work,’’ spokesman Stephen Browning said.

    Australians are among the biggest pirates per capita. Debate continues about whether this is driven by opportunism, the delays for overseas content to reach here, or an aversion to the country's higher prices.
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  5. According to the European Court of Justice, the amount of the levy payable for making private copies of a protected work may not take unlawful reproductions into account. This principle has been stated today in the decision ACI Adam BV and Others v Stichting de Thuiskopie, Stichting Onderhandelingen Thuiskopie vergoeding (case C-435/12).

    This ruling will have an impact in countries where the private copy levies mechanism has been arbitrarily used as a compensation for the potential losses deriving from online piracy. In various countries (for instance Italy) the right-holders are lobbying the government to increase the levies on the grounds that their revenues are declining because of pirated content on the iNternet. By doing so, however, the industry blurs the difference between legal and illegal content and creates a contradiction: if pirated content is illegal it should be stopped, not remunerated, both things together are not possible.

    According to the court, the fact that no applicable technological measure to combat the making of unlawful private copies exists is not capable of calling that finding into question. The decision at stake involves a couple of relevant consequences for national policy makers and jurisdiction in the matter of private copy levies and fight to online piracy.
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  6. American East Coast rappers the Wu-Tang Clan have developed a revolutionary model for musicians to make money from their work. They are about to sell a copy of their new album, but in doing so they will also be able to say that they have shifted their entire stock.

    They have made just one copy of the album, which is currently locked safely in a vault, and which they expect to sell for a multi-million dollar price tag. When it’s gone, it’s gone. And for those of us who don’t have a couple of million lying around in order to create the world’s most exclusive music library, there will instead be a series of exhibits in galleries and the like: after paying an entry fee, visitors will go through heavy security and have the opportunity to listen via dedicated headphones (so don’t bother bringing along your James Bond style “headphones with hidden microphone”).

    Perhaps it’s just a publicity stunt. But if other musicians adopted the same business model, what other possibilities would this open up?
    Tags: , , , , by M. Fioretti (2014-03-28)
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  7. The background to this tale is that with considerable prescience Antigua had seen the writing on the casino wall and in 1994 engineered a place for itself in the online gambling world by passing its Free Trade & Processing Act. This act allowed licenses to be granted to organizations that applied to the government to open online casinos and all went well ... at least until the US made the use of online gambling services illegal for US citizens. The consequences for Antigua were profound. I quote from myself:

    From a maximum revenue of $2.392 billion and 59% of global online gambling in 2001 while employing 1,014 people, the Antiguan online gambling industry shrunk to an estimated $948 million in 2007 and a miserly 7% of global online gambling with just 333 people employed.

    In 2003 Antigua started proceedings with the World Trade Organization (‘WTO’) challenging the United States’ total prohibition on cross-border online gambling services and they won! Yep, in 2004 the WTO Dispute Panel found in Antigua's favor and when the US appealed the verdict the judgement was upheld. The US was given one year to correct its laws but ... and most of us will find little to surprise us here ... the country -- our country -- did nothing of the sort. We became international scofflaws.

    Thereafter some ugly diplomacy ensued that saw the US try to wriggle out of its original WTO agreement but the WTO would have none of it. On January 28 this year, just nine months ago, the WTO authorized Antigua to suspend US copyrights.
    Tags: , , , by M. Fioretti (2013-10-26)
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  8. There are many new ways to make money as an independent artist, but it is unlikely that we will make it from our future audiences. In the last year, new ways to approach releasing videos online have made it easier for artists to screen their work for free and still receive adequate funding. The show South Park has been pirated and streamed illegally online for years. South Park did not ignore this, they recognized the problem, created their own streaming site, and partnered with companies like Jack In The Box to stream in HD for free, provided that commercials played throughout the episodes. They weakened the blow of the pirates, made sure that their fans had incentive to visit their site, and all it took was speaking with outside parties for financing. Why can’t we do this?

    It would be terrible if commercials plagued feature films, but they may not have to. Videos appear online as a thumbnail of the uploader’s choice and when it is shared that thumbnail appears on websites and facebook pages. Even without watching the video, this rectangle that filmmakers design appears to anyone that happens upon it. The number of times that the frame appears far outnumbers its views and that data is made available on This seems to be an untapped resource for artists to partner with companies and feature advertising of their choice.
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  9. "According to Wired, 'German researchers have created a new DRM feature that changes the text and punctuation of an e-book ever so slightly. Called SiDiM, which Google translates to 'secure documents by individual marking,' the changes are unique to each e-book sold. These alterations serve as a digital watermark that can be used to track books that have had any other DRM layers stripped out of them before being shared online. The researchers are hoping the new DRM feature will curb digital piracy by simply making consumers paranoid that they'll be caught if they share an e-book illicitly.' I seem to recall reading about this in Tom Clancy's Patriot Games, when Jack Ryan used this technique to identify someone who was leaking secret documents. It would be so very difficult for someone to write a little program that, when stripping the DRM, randomized a couple of pieces of punctuation to break the hash that the vendor is storing along with the sales record of the individual book."
    Tags: , , , , by M. Fioretti (2013-06-19)
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  10. The pirates would be a limited menace were it not for search engines that point users to these rogue sites with no fear of legal consequence, thanks to a provision inserted into the 1998 copyright laws. A search for “Scott Turow free e-books” brought up 10 pirate sites out of the first 10 results on Yahoo, 8 of 8 on Bing and 6 of 10 on Google, with paid ads decorating the margins of all three pages.

    If I stood on a corner telling people who asked where they could buy stolen goods and collected a small fee for it, I’d be on my way to jail. And yet even while search engines sail under mottos like “Don’t be evil,” they do the same thing.
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