Protect IP Act (PIPA - S.968) and Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA – H.R.3261) and all that Megaupload

Kiame

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That would have been genius - what an amazing business move. But think about how much record companies would have lost.

It's pathetic that record/newspaper/film/tv companies just will not let the industry move away from them. Business is supposed to be about adapting to new industries, but these corporations want the industry to adapt to their business.

Really frustrating.
 

Kiame

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I've often commented on my solution to fix SOPA and PIPA: Ban the private sponsorship of Congress members.

Obama has just said this:

"Send me a bill that bans insider trading by Congress members. I will sign it tomorrow"

This, along with the two official statements he released against SOPA, prove that Obama is well and truly against the issue. I'm sick and tired of seeing cynicism and paranoia directed at Obama and the direct leadership. This problem does not lie with him at all - it lies with corporations and the sponsorship of asshole congress members. Congress, as it stands, is little more than a pit of corrupt rich people voting to ensure their paychecks keep coming in. Banning insider trading will stop this and it will force congress to act how it should - in the interests of the people.

However, when Obama said this apparently half of congress stood up and cheered. There is some hope here - if the issue is fought for it will pass.

I just doubt it will be fought for. There are too many bastards with too much money to make sure that doesn't happen. The entertainment industry's lifeblood is the sponsorship of congress. That is the only thing that is keeping the industry where they want it.

I really hope this ends well.
 

Cobalt

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Cyberlocker Ecosystem Shocked As Big Players Take Drastic Action

In the wake of last week’s Megaupload shutdown, some of the biggest names in the market are taking drastic action. During the last 48 hours many sites have completely withdrawn their systems for paying uploaders when their files are shared with others, but one of the most dramatic moves came first from Filesonic and today Fileserve. Both services now forbid people from downloading any files they didn’t upload themselves.

While the shutdown last week of Megaupload and the arrest of its founder and management team was certainly dramatic, a situation of perhaps even greater gravity is beginning to emerge.

Over the past 48 to 72 hours, the operators of many prominent cyberlocker services have been taking unprecedented actions that can not simply be explained away by mere coincidence. The details in the Megaupload indictment clearly have some players in the file-hosting world spooked.

[snip]

http://torrentfreak.com/cyberlocker-ecosystem-shocked-as-big-players-take-drastic-action-120123/
HOLY SHIT

I expected some changes, but nothing this drastic. That's a huge amount of upload sites, some of them pretty damn well known. Massive chunk out of the online storage business there.

The people running Megaupload made millions and like the original Napster people, were idiots. If they policed their own sites then they would still be up and the many users who use them in a legit way could still have access.

Napster was great for Live music recorded by fans but they never removed the official albums. So a great thing was lost.
If Napster had changed they might have made friends with artists and the record industry - more importantly artists. In the same way YouTube could have readdressed their site before Viacom brought their legal action.
Both websites had at least hundreds of uploads daily - do you really think they could 'police' that kind of traffic as it was uploaded? They'd need incredible numbers of staff to do so... it's not very feasible at all.
 

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"We're just like YouTube," - Megaupload lawyer

Megaupload's US attorney, Ira Rothken, has a succinct description of the US government case against his client: "wrong on the facts and wrong on the law."

The week has been a busy one for Rothken, a San Francisco Internet law attorney who has previously represented sites like isoHunt and video game studios like Pandemic. When I call, he's eating crab cakes and waiting for yet another meeting to start, but he has plenty of time to attack the government's handling of the Megaupload case.

In Rothken's words, the government is acting like a "copyright extremist" by taking down one of the world's largest cloud storage services "without any notice or chance for Megaupload to be heard in a court of law." The result is both "offensive to the rights of Megaupload but also to the rights of millions of consumers worldwide" who stored personal data with the service.

The best way to look at Megaupload, he says, is through the lens of Viacom's $1 billion lawsuit against YouTube—an ongoing civil case which Viacom lost at trial. (It is being appealed.)

For instance, Viacom dug up an early e-mail from a YouTube co-founder to another co-founder saying: "Please stop putting stolen videos on the site. We’re going to have a tough time defending the fact that we’re not liable for the copyrighted material on the site because we didn’t put it up when one of the co-founders is blatantly stealing content from other sites and trying to get everyone to see it."

"Whatever allegations that they can make against Megaupload they could have made against YouTube," he says of the government. "And YouTube prevailed!" (Rothken made a similar case when he represented search engine isoHunt in 2010, saying it was just like Google.)

Under this view, Megaupload should have been served with DMCA takedown notices (the site did have a registered DMCA agent, as required by law, though not until 2009). If rightsholders believed that was insufficient, they should have conferred with Megaupload's US counsel (the company has retained US attorneys for some time before the current action). And if that wasn't satisfactory, a civil copyright infringement lawsuit should have been filed, one that would not have taken the site down first and asked questions later.

Instead, the government's willingness to pursue the case as an international racketeering charge meant "essentially only sticking up for one side of the copyright vs. technology debate." The result, Rothken says, is "terrible chilling effect it's having on Internet innovators" who feature cloud storage components to their business.

The US Department of Justice released a lengthy statement to the press detailing the charges against Megaupload, while New Zealand police publicly offered crazy details of their bid to arrest Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom (born Kim Schmitz). "Police arrived in two marked Police helicopters," said New Zealand Detective Inspector Grant Wormald at a press conference. "Despite our staff clearly identifying themselves, Mr. Dotcom retreated into the house and activated a number of electronic locking mechanisms. While Police neutralised these locks he then further barricaded himself into a safe room within the house which officers had to cut their way into. Once they gained entry into this room they found Mr Dotcom near a firearm which had the appearance of a shortened shotgun. It was definitely not as simple as knocking at the front door."
"James Bond tactics with helicopters and weaponry have a detrimental effect on society as a whole."
This sort of thing makes Rothken furious. Using "James Bond tactics with helicopters and weaponry, and breaking into homes over what is apparently a philosophical debate over the balance between copyright protection and the freedom to innovate, are heavy-handed tactics, are over-aggressive, and have a detrimental effect on society as a whole," he said. In addition, the raid was a reminder that bills like the Stop Online Piracy Act "ought not to ever be passed, because these tactics [the helicopters, etc.] are so offensive that if you take the shackles off of government, it may lead to more abuse, more aggression."

Rothken also suggested that the timing of the raid was suspicious; "over a two-year period, they happened to pick the one week where SOPA started going south."

I asked about specific allegations in the indictment, including the government's quotation of internal e-mails showing employees asking for and uploading copyrighted material. Rothken wouldn't address any specifics, but he did claim the government had engaged in some highly selective editing, choosing a few "bad communications" out of terabytes of seized data. It's as if one were to "judge the character of a person by the three worst things they ever did as a college student and ignored all the things they did as an adult."

For now, the case remains in New Zealand, where questions of bail and then extradition are being handled by local courts. Though the entire case could take a long while to wind its way to completion, Rothken concludes, "Megaupload believes strongly it's going to prevail."

This is not a view that convinces either the US government or major copyright holders. Michael Fricklas, general counsel of Viacom and the man overseeing the company's litigation against YouTube, finds the Megaupload/YouTube comparison to be "quite a spin."

"The indictment shows that Kim Dotcom was deeply involved in every aspect of the site, designed the site to encourage infringement, helped specific users find pirated content and improve the piracy experience, paid uploaders who were also in it for money, and knew about lots of very specific infringement," he told me this afternoon. "Thus, even under YouTube's extreme view of the DMCA protections, the DMCA would provide no defense. Criminal and civil proceedings each have a different set of processes and outcomes, and are certainly not mutually exclusive. There are many times—such as in the case of Megaupload—where it is entirely appropriate for both types of action to take place."

A Department of Justice spokesperson told me that the government only goes after groups that show enough evidence of "willful" criminal conduct to take them beyond the realm of merely civil litigation, and that Megaupload certainly qualifies thanks to the same factors mentioned by Fricklas.

As for the timing of the arrests, the DOJ says it had nothing to do with the SOPA debate. After nearly two years of investigation involving many different countries, the indictment against Megaupload was returned by the grand jury investigating the group on January 5 of this year—almost two weeks before the big anti-SOPA protests captured the Web's attention. The arrests themselves—complete with their police helicopters and safe room in-breaking—took place shortly after New Zealand police obtained arrest warrants.

What the case may show more than anything else is the sheer disparity between the dueling worldviews involved. Was the Megaupload takedown an offensive assault on innovators who may have, on a few occasions, done something a tiny bit naughty—or was it a massive Mega-conspiracy worthy of an international police takedown?

http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2012/01/were-just-like-youtube-megaupload-lawyer-tells-ars.ars
 

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http://www.infowars.com/obama-signs-global-internet-treaty-worse-than-sopa/

Obama Signs Global Internet Treaty Worse Than SOPA

White House bypasses Senate to ink agreement that could allow Chinese companies to demand ISPs remove web content in US with no legal oversight

Paul Joseph Watson
Infowars.com
Thursday, January 26, 2012

Months before the debate about Internet censorship raged as SOPA and PIPA dominated the concerns of web users, President Obama signed an international treaty that would allow companies in China or any other country in the world to demand ISPs remove web content in the US with no legal oversight whatsoever.

The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement was signed by Obama on October 1 2011, yet is currently the subject of a White House petition demanding Senators be forced to ratify the treaty. The White House has circumvented the necessity to have the treaty confirmed by lawmakers by presenting it an as “executive agreement,” although legal scholars have highlighted the dubious nature of this characterization.

The hacktivist group Anonymous attacked and took offline the Federal Trade Commission’s website yesterday in protest against the treaty, which was also the subject of demonstrations across major cities in Poland, a country set to sign the agreement today.

Under the provisions of ACTA, copyright holders will be granted sweeping direct powers to demand ISPs remove material from the Internet on a whim. Whereas ISPs normally are only forced to remove content after a court order, all legal oversight will be abolished, a precedent that will apply globally, rendering the treaty worse in its potential scope for abuse than SOPA or PIPA.

A country known for its enforcement of harsh Internet censorship policies like China could demand under the treaty that an ISP in the United States remove content or terminate a website on its server altogether. As we have seen from the enforcement of similar copyright policies in the US, websites are sometimes targeted for no justifiable reason.

The groups pushing the treaty also want to empower copyright holders with the ability to demand that users who violate intellectual property rights (with no legal process) have their Internet connections terminated, a punishment that could only ever be properly enforced by the creation of an individual Internet ID card for every web user, a system that is already in the works.

“The same industry rightsholder groups that support the creation of ACTA have also called for mandatory network-level filtering by Internet Service Providers and for Internet Service Providers to terminate citizens’ Internet connection on repeat allegation of copyright infringement (the “Three Strikes” /Graduated Response) so there is reason to believe that ACTA will seek to increase intermediary liability and require these things of Internet Service Providers,” reports the Electronic Frontier Foundation.


The treaty will also mandate that ISPs disclose personal user information to the copyright holder, while providing authorities across the globe with broader powers to search laptops and Internet-capable devices at border checkpoints.

In presenting ACTA as an “international agreement” rather than a treaty, the Obama administration managed to circumvent the legislative process and avoid having to get Senate approval, a method questioned by Senator Wyden.

“That said, even if Obama has declared ACTA an executive agreement (while those in Europe insist that it’s a binding treaty), there is a very real Constitutional question here: can it actually be an executive agreement?” asks TechDirt. “The law is clear that the only things that can be covered by executive agreements are things that involve items that are solely under the President’s mandate. That is, you can’t sign an executive agreement that impacts the things Congress has control over. But here’s the thing: intellectual property, in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, is an issue given to Congress, not the President. Thus, there’s a pretty strong argument that the president legally cannot sign any intellectual property agreements as an executive agreement and, instead, must submit them to the Senate.”.

26 European Union member states along with the EU itself are set to sign the treaty at a ceremony today in Tokyo. Other countries wishing to sign the agreement have until May 2013 to do so.

Critics are urging those concerned about Obama’s decision to sign the document with no legislative oversight to demand the Senate be forced to ratify the treaty.
 

busybeeburns

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I'm betting Obama hasn't got the first clue what he's signed there.
 

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Megaupload: A Lot Less Guilty Than You Think

The recent Department of Justice decision to indict Megaupload for copyright infringement and related offenses raises some very thorny questions from a criminal law perspective. A few preliminaries: I’m responsible for the musings below, but I thank Robert Weisberg of Stanford Law School for taking the time to talk through the issues and giving me pointers to some relevant cases. Also, an indictment contains unproven allegations, and the facts may well turn out to be different, or to imply different things in full context.

DMCA SAFE HARBOR: BELIEVE IT AND IT WILL BECOME REAL: As a matter of criminal law, the discussion of whether Megaupload did what it needed to do to qualify for the DMCA Safe Harbor misses the point. Did they register an agent? Did they have a repeat infringer policy? These are all interesting CIVIL questions. But from a criminal law perspective, the important question is did Defendants BELIEVE they were covered by the Safe Harbor? This is because criminal infringement requires a showing of willfulness. The view of the majority of Federal Courts is that “willfulness” means a desire to violate a known legal duty, not merely the will to make copies.

In other words, for criminal liability, it doesn’t really matter whether the service qualifies, so long as Defendants believed it qualified. If so, they were not intentionally violating a known legal duty, and so their conduct would not satisfy the willfulness element of the offense. For criminal liability after the DMCA safe harbor, as in horseshoes, close may be good enough.

SECONDARY COPYRIGHT LIABILITY AND CRIMINAL LAW:

The heart of this case is whether and when an enterprise can be held criminally liable for the conduct of its users. (For example, both copyright infringement claims (Counts 4 and 5) identify aiding and abetting as a basis for the charge.)

Aiding and abetting is something like the civil liability inducement theory the U.S. Supreme Court created in the 2005 Grokster case. Experts opine that the indictment makes out a pretty good inducement case against Megaupload. But the first question from a defense perspective has to be “Can the Grokster theory of CIVIL liability even be the basis for CRIMINAL copyright claims?” This has never been decided by any Court.

However, the pending Second Circuit case of Puerto 80 Projects v. USA (“Rojadirecta“), raises the issue squarely. There, the plaintiff is challenging the ICE seizure of its Rojadirecta domain names based on an allegation of criminal copyright infringement. For background on the case, and on the ICE domain seizures, check out Techdirt’s coverage.

Rojadirecta’s lawyers at Durie Tangri have challenged the U.S. Government’s assertion that criminal liability arises from linking to infringing content. The lawyers argue that judge-made secondary infringement liability theories, including Grokster style inducement, cannot be the basis for a criminal copyright violation because the criminal copyright statute doesn’t mention secondary liability. Congress considered and rejected statutes that would have created such liability, in COICA and PROTECT IP. In sum, due process doesn’t allow incarceration under a civil legal theory that the Supreme Court dreamed up in 2005. The issues yet to be decided in Rojadirecta apply to the Megaupload case as well.

AGREEMENT + CIVIL VIOLATION = PRISON?: Count 2 is a conspiracy to commit copyright infringement claim, and references unknown parties as members of the conspiracy. Conspiracy entails an agreement to commit an offense and an overt act in furtherance of that agreement. The act in furtherance need not itself be illegal, but there must be an agreement to do an illegal act. The list of overt acts show that the object of the conspiracy was infringement by Mega users. If Defendants agreed with each other to induce others to infringe, and Rojadirecta’s lawyers are correct that inducement is not a crime, there’s a conspiracy only to violate a CIVIL law. If the idea is that Mega conspired with its users to infringe, those users may or may not have been criminally infringing copyright. They were located all over the world, and may or may not have acted willfully, i.e. intended to violate U.S. law. Again, the government would basically have alleged an agreement to violate a U.S. CIVIL law, including by many people who are not subject to U.S. rules.

Is it a federal crime to conspire to induce others to violate a U.S. civil law?

The answer to that is an obvious “no”. The conspiracy statute itself makes clear that the object of the conspiracy must be an offense or fraud against the United States, in other words, a federal crime. 18 U.S.C. 371. It is true that Oliver North and John Poindexter were prosecuted for conspiracy to violate Boland Amendment, which prohibited Defense Department spending on the Nicaraguan Contras, but was not itself a crime. And there is a 1979 case (U.S. v. Ruffin, 613 F.2d 408 (2nd cir. 1979), where the defendant was convicted of conspiracy when he convinced an unwitting person to divert federal funds to the defendant’s personal benefit. But both cases constituted fraud involving U.S.taxpayer dollars, which is also a basis for conspiracy liability. Civil violations simply are not.

For these reasons, prosecuting this case against Mega, especially if Defendants get good criminal lawyers who also understand copyright law, is going to be an uphill battle for the government.

A few other points. Some direct infringement convictions look easy, but COUNT 4 IS WEIRDLY INCOMPLETE: I agree with the copyright law experts interviewed by Ars Technica that the most damning allegations in the indictment are the claims of direct infringement, particularly for the prerelease movies. Interestingly, the indictment identifies four films that the defendants supposedly distributed before release: The Green Hornet, Thor, Bad Teacher, Twilight–Breaking Dawn Part 1. But Count 4 only charges one such act of prerelease infringement, the movie Taken. What about the other films? Why were those not also charged?

Finally, this case is extremely interesting from a JURISDICTIONAL standpoint. One of the very first issue to be litigated will be extradition to the United States. Does the United States have jurisdiction over anyone who uses a hosting provider in the Eastern District of Virginia? What about over any company that uses PayPal? That’s a very broad claim of power, and I expect it will be vigorously contested.

http://www.granick.com/blog/?p=739
 

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Megaupload Unplugged! If RapidShare Next, Attorney Says, YouTube Goes, Too

The Feds pulling the plug on Megaupload has chilled file-hosting sites across the Internet and caused havoc with sites because of strong arming tactics that have harmed legitimate users for sharing their own work. Sites are counting the cost of offering their services, now at increased risk after Megaupload's pillaging. Why was the service stomped? They committed an unholy and sinful act. Thou shalt not benefit the consumer and screw big business. They brought competition into the entertainment marketplace. And, don't you know, COMPETITION IS A SIN! (so said JD Rockefeller, p. 73, and I don't think he was joking). You do know how he gained his mega millions.

Megaupload is accused of thieving $500 million in lost revenues to dinosaur monopolies of the entertainment industry who, some feel, have exploited use of the FBI as their mercenaries. The entertainment industry's old media companies who had grown bloated, greedy and lazy in their R & D innovations as tech hyperdrived by them, all of a sudden, Duh, woke up. By the time they realized that the paradigm had shifted against them, they became unhinged and demanded help from their crony politicos rather then expedite transformation and ship out with the changing tides of innovation.

Now, with their dinosaur foot on a banana peel they want to return to the "good ole days" of no competition. Well, why not? Competition benefits the consumer. They are not in business to benefit consumers. They are in business. And the stupider and less interactive (translated as passive and voyeuristic) the consumer, the better; especially when, hand in glove with government types, the media is used to brainwash and idiofy the public, shaping it to conform to their (politicos' and corporations') will and way. So it is in old media companies' DNA (and government has allowed them to reign for years) to chop down services like Megaupload, who would presume to wander on "their turf." They are all about smashing those who would have the audacity to compete, and by leveling the playing field, erode the obscene corporate profits their CEOs, boards and corporations have most probably stashed away in the Caymans, Switzerland and other off shore locations far from the IRS's outstretched hands. Talk about theft!!

Think this is excessive? Here are some figures to think about. Numbers crunchers gauged that shutting down Megaupload's network of websites, which allegedly were hosting "mega" amounts of copyrighted files, affected 1% of all Internet traffic. Any idea of how large that 1% is. Here's a clue. It's not like the 99% vs. 1% wealth gap Occupy groups have been reminding us about. So the US wants larger than life founder Kim Dotcom to fork over $175 million.

In an immediate response to the hypocrisy of SOPA/PIPA legislation being tabled in seeming concert with Megaupload's smash, sympathetic hacker coalition Anonymous launched online attacks against the RIAA, MPAA, and the US Justice Department. It went after the Polish government as Polish citizens are demonstrating against ACTA and petitions are being signed against ACTA (Twitter #ACTA): a worse form of SOPA/PIPA in EU countries that would impact the Internet globally. Today reports said Anonymous (Twitter site: #Anonymous)(@YourAnonNews) went for the jugular of the Irish government. And currently, it is knocking on the doors of the Brazilian government. It advertises itself as supporting the US Declaration of Independence and being against tyranny.

How will file-hosting sites now fare in light of the Megaupload shredding? Cloud services from FileSonic to Dropbox are concerned about what all of this activity could mean for the industry and indeed, FileSonic disabled its file-sharing capabilities, it was reported on Monday.

RapidShare one of the world's most popular file-hosting sites weighed in on the concerns expressed by many as to whether the site could be the next one to have its windows shuttered. Attorney and spokesman for RapidShare, Daniel Raimer discussed the issue, stating that if RapidShare is Fed crashed then Apple's iCloud, Microsoft's SkyDrive, Google's YouTube, and Dropbox should be be blitzed also.

When asked if Raimer thought that Megaupload deserved what happened, he responded that it was up to a jury to decide; the evidence needed to be presented and the case made, certainly. However, unlike a Megaupload, he did insist that RapidShare, not a US company, is at the forefront of the industry's effort to catch up with piracy.

"We were the first ones to implement a repeat-infringement policy. We were the first ones to develop crawling software that is proactively searching the Internet for illegal content on our system. A third of our whole company is dedicated to taking down illegal content. Our response to takedown notices is probably less than an hour during our regular business hours. We really do a lot, and I really believe that others aren't doing half of what we are doing," Raimer told Austin Carr of Fast Company.

Raimer also indicated he thought that popularity amongst pirates of services like Apple's iCloud, Microsoft's Skydrive and Google's YouTube isn't really that big because people are afraid that Apple and others are able to pierce the veil, knowing a lot about them. If they used those services for non-legitimate purposes, they would be caught. Raimer said Dropbox had other restraints and slower speeds so it wouldn't be popular. He did suggest that since RapidShare had been the No. 1 file-hosting service since 2005 or 2006, they've been around for a long time and that is why they may have more illegal content than others. However, he said because of their presence online for years, that is what prompted them to be much more proactive than the other services.

Raimer insisted that, RapidShare, though foreign, "never really had any problems with law enforcement in the U.S." He claimed, " I would be surprised if we were to get in trouble. We've always gotten along with officials well."

He added that he thought location had little to do with Megaupload's closure. "They would've had the same problems if they were based in the U.S."

http://technorati.com/technology/cloud-computing/article/megaupload-unplugged-if-rapidshare-next-attorney/page-3/#ixzz1kbgRj5GJ
 

Cobalt

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Read on Wiki that RIAA and MPAA were some of the US corporates acting as advisories on the ACTA... unsure if it's true or not but it should ring alarm bells for anyone who's been on the Internet for a few years. For those who haven't, and don't know - RIAA and MPAA spent a lot of last decade filing mass lawsuits against those they deemed to have breached copyright
 

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[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZmhoYX7EdXo"]Harvard Prof: Megaupload-Style Cases Will Kill Prosecuted Companies - YouTube[/ame]

Harvard Prof: MegaUpload Shutdown is an Attempt to Kill Technology

In the wake of the MegaUpload shutdown Bloomberg interviewed Yochai Benkler, Prof. of Entrepreneurial Legal Studies at Harvard and faculty co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society. Benkler criticizes the actions of the Department of Justice, which he characterizes as “aggressive.”

“What is a surprise is how aggressive the move is, how much it uses extensions of criminal law enforcement and copyright liability to go after and seize assets and people in anticipation of a full trial,” he says.

According to the Prof. the shutdown of MegaUpload is yet another example of the copyright industry hampering technological innovation. “When a new technology comes along [...] and destabilizes the way the industries have always made money, the first gut response throughout the 20th century has been; let’s shut down this technology.”

As has been demonstrated many times in the past, these lawsuits can kill technologies and companies, the prof adds. “What’s chilling here is that a company can be served with a one-sided indictment that lists a whole set of quasi-legitimate and legitimate technological components that lots of other companies use.”

“By the time it will be finished litigating whether that’s enough or not it is dead, because these procedures for forfeiture during the trial will kill the company.”

http://torrentfreak.com/harvard-prof-megaupload-shutdown-is-an-attempt-to-kill-technology-120127/
 

Black Rose

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I read somewhere that CD sales generate tax revenues, yes they do, if the company you are buying the CD from pays tax in your country, and the company isn't registered in some tax haven
 

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Feds: Megaupload files may be deleted this week

Federal prosecutors say that two companies hosting Megaupload's servers in the U.S. could begin deleting all user content on them as early as Thursday.

But one of the companies today denied it had access to any data on Megaupload's servers and said it has no mechanism for returning data to Megaupload's users.

The operators of Megaupload have been charged with operating a massive online piracy operation that netted them close to $175 million in revenues and caused more than $500 million in damages to legitimate copyright holders.

Megaupload.com, which was among the top 100 Internet sites when it was busted earlier this month by federal authorities, is alleged to have been used to illegally store and share movies, television programs, music and other copyrighted content.

The company itself has claimed that its site was used by millions of people to also store legitimate data including work-related documents, family photos and other personal information.

A court document filed by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia on Friday noted that U.S. law enforcement has completed its search of Megaupload's servers and copied all relevant data from them.

The servers are no longer in the custody of law enforcement and have been released back to Carpathia Hosting and Cogent Communications, the two U.S. companies Megaupload leased its servers from.

The servers were never removed from the premises of these two companies and are currently under the control of Cogent and Carpathia, the document said. "Now that the United States has completed execution of its search warrants, the United States has no continuing right to access the Mega Servers."

Those seeking access to the data contained in those servers should contact Cogent or Carpathia directly, prosecutors noted in the letter. "It is our understanding that the hosting companies may begin deleting the contents of the servers beginning as early as February 2, 2012," it added.

If the companies do so, tens of thousands of users who used Megaupload.com to store documents, photos and videos could lose the data forever.

Carpathia Hosting today however denied that it has, or ever had, any control over Megaupload's content.

"The reference to the Feb. 2, 2012 date in the Department of Justice letter for the deletion of content is not based on any information provided by Carpathia to the U.S. Government," the company said in a statement. "We would recommend that anyone who believes that they have content on MegaUpload servers contact MegaUpload. Please do not contact Carpathia Hosting."

Cogent did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9223825/Feds_say_Megaupload_user_content_could_be_deleted_this_week?taxonomyId=17
 

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[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ox1smESZO_w"]Anonymous Latest News: ALL Megaupload Personal Data Files Deleted Next Thursday?! - YouTube[/ame]
 

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Report: Megaupload users get reprieve on data removal

The storage companies that hosted Megaupload will reportedly preserve files while a proposal is discussed to save legitimate data from being deleted.

Citing Megaupload attorney Ira Rothken, CNet reports companies Carpathia Hosting and Cogent Communications Group have agreed to hang on to user data for at least two weeks.

Rothken also tells CNet he is working on a deal with the government to save legitimate files stored on Megaupload.

Meanwhile, Carpathia has created the website www.MegaRetrieval.com in conjunction with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) to help Megaupload users find legal assistance in retrieving their data. The company revealed on Monday they have no access to Megaupload data and no methods for returning content to users.

On Jan. 19, Megaupload was shut down and its founder, Kim Dotcom, was charged along with six others for "running an international organized criminal enterprise allegedly responsible for massive worldwide online piracy of numerous types of copyrighted works," says a statement from the Department of Justice.

Megaupload contends millions of its users stored data such as photos and personal documents, reports the Associated Press. Federal prosecutors had told the AP data from Megaupload could be deleted as soon as Thursday.

http://content.usatoday.com/communities/technologylive/post/2012/01/report-megaupload-users-get-reprieve-on-data-removal/1
 

busybeeburns

mr coldplaying himself
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is MegaUpload the most important case you've never heard of?

It's not only because of the scale of the international operations that were co-ordinated by enforcement agencies around the world that makes this case special.

And it's not the fact that the operators of the system appear to have thought that they could escape action by using a layered system of distributed networks, including peer to peer networking that means that hundreds of millions of users are, by extension, potentially culpable, too. There's no doubt, now: there is no safety in numbers.

And it's not the financial numbers. The media is abuzz with rumours of fantastic amounts of money washing around - and substantial cash holdings.

It's not even the ludicrous nom de plume adopted by MegaUpload's founder and CEO ("kim dotcom" - nor the fact that the whole business appears to have been structured in a proper and accountable manner.

MegaUpload was not a back-bedroom hacker's love-child, running on bits of rented servers around the world and using a networking technique that is not dissimilar to Skype (which, historians of the 'net will remember, sort of grew out of a peer-to-peer file-sharing service called KaZaA and who used a concept similar to that they developed for Skype for an online TV service called "Joost."

In fact, KaAaA was the first big target of IP lawyers challenging file sharing sites. Foreign and not big enough to fight back - unlike YouTube today - it was a soft target. Today, having been sold as a brand, it is a legal music download site: the brand had made it a near-cult in the neo-subversive world of teenage rebellion. Joost.Com seems to be little more than a promo site for Hollywood, these days, but maybe that's a little unfair.

Whatever the fairness, what is clear is that the entertainment industry has succeeded in compelling rival distribution channels to conform to their demands over how their product is delivered. And, of course paid for.

MegaUpload is not a directory in the sense of Pirate Bay (although a new business calling itself Pirate Bay appears to have a different business model.

If for nothing else, the Megaupload case is important for establishing the use of public officials to protect private, commercial, rights. The film, music and software industries are so vital to the USA's otherwise flagging economy that it has used every tool in its toolbox to compel other governments to pass laws to make reproduction and unauthorised distribution of content (and images) a criminal offence. There is logic in the view - although it takes a leap of comprehension of long-established legal principles to get there.

Historically, only tangible things may be stolen. Anything intangible was not capable of being the object of a "theft." "Rights" were enforceable in the civil courts. But as "brands" became more valuable than the goods a company sold, inflating balance sheets and justifying share prices that bore no relation to the company's actual trading, moves began to protect IP through the criminal law. Content rode on the back of that.

It is ironic that the USA's copyright laws provide so many excuses for unlawful (that is to say we say you can't do it but there are few, if any, criminal sanctions to enforce our rights) replication of the printed word (including the pernicious Digital Millennium Copyright Act). The reason for this is simple: the publishing industry does not contribute to national economies in the way that film, music and software do.

But that is not the only reason the case is important.

First, because of the near-homogenisation of laws to combat some forms of copyright infringement in many countries, action against MegaUpload could use a network of "MLATs" (Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties" and "MoUs" (Memoranda of Understanding." And because many countries, either expressly or by default due to the way laws are drafted, include such conduct within the scope of counter-money laundering laws, the network of specialist financial crime agencies known as "Financial Intelligence Units" could quickly exchange information and co-ordinate through "the Egmont" group.

That meant that the co-ordinated action could achieve three things: securing servers and the data on them (including data identifying users), securing those involved in the management and execution of the system and, most interestingly in many respects, freeze all the assets, including financial and physical, of the companies and those directing them.

As the allegations piled up against Kim Dotcom, who was arrested and remains in custody in New Zealand having been refused bail, interesting information (they cannot, at this stage, be considered "facts") began to emerge.

He's been around a long time, known by his real name of Kim Schmitz and by his alter-ego names of Kimble and Kim Tim Jim Vestor. Politely termed by some as an "entrepreneur" he has made a career of being just one small step over the line that he should toe. Convicted of insider trading, he was also accused of false statements to inflate the value of his dotcom companies during the bubble that ended in 2001/2.

Old-timers (like this writer) will remember Kimble as a hacker of telephone systems who, when he was caught, tried to say that he was testing systems and that he would sell his expertise to companies to develop secure phone systems. An early exponent of exploiting differences in international law, he operated from Germany and hacked corporate PBXs in the USA. The only offence that could be charged in both countries related to stealing corporate data - in that case, the numbers of telephone credit cards used by company staff before mobile phones became ubiquitous.

The insider trading charges arose out of his purchase of a large block of shares in a failing dotcom company called LetsBuyIt.Com. The company had burned all of its investment capital on a ridiculously complex retail website platform that didn't work so customers did not come. But the company was a media darling, often making headlines as its supposedly revolutionary technology was boosted. Schmitz announced he was going to invest the equivalent of USD50 million to fix the platform and make it go. His announcement caused the share price to rise dramatically. As it did so Schmitz sold his shares, making a large profit in the process. An investigation showed that he had, in effect, pumped and dumped the stock: he did not have the investment money nor any viable plan to raise it.

He was also convicted of embezzlement: he took a large loan from Monkey AG, of which he was the then chairman. Although he claimed he had not meant to fail to repay, the Court found he had no means of repaying the "loan" and therefore had taken the money under false pretences. (1)

Another fascinating piece of the MegaUpload story links back to early 1997. Shortly before Britain surrendered sovereignty over Hong Kong, the USA persuaded the then Hong Kong government to pass a law relating to copyright and unauthorised distribution. Some parts of that law are outrageous (making the import of legal copies a criminal offence) but some are consistent with laws in other parts of the world to protect against unauthorised copying and distribution of those unauthorised copies.

MegaUpload's primary servers were in Hong Kong where digital protection laws are some of the world's strongest.

Alleged conspirators were arrested in New Zealand, the Netherlands, Germany, Canada and the UK. In the USA, the US Department of Justice was the lead agency.

Kim Dotcom (he formally changed his name in 2005) is alleged to have been in possession of a very large amount of cash when he was arrested and to have leased "the most expensive house in New Zealand." His purchase of the house was blocked by the New Zealand government. He is also alleged to own a variety of expensive cars and other assets. It is not known where this wealth comes from: his efforts to launch a financial advisory and investment group in Hong Kong have not been successful.

The proximate cause of the action in January 2012 may never be fully revealed. In December, several high profile recording artists worked to produce a song in which MegaUpload was praised. Record company Universal Music Group demanded that the song be removed from YouTube saying that it held exclusive rights to everything produced by its artists and that YouTube had entered into an agreement to that effect. YouTube removed the video but it was later re-instated after the Google-group company denied that any such agreement existed.

Now the battle has moved to the US courts but it is being joined by a new group of interested parties. Contrary to the initial impression given by the US Justice Department - and the copyright holders who have enjoyed exclusive media coverage and are aiming at trial by media ahead of jury selection - it turns out that MegaUpload is not the exclusive preserve of copyright infringers. Many individuals and companies were using the site as both back up and a co-operative working platform, not unlike the shared documents services provided by e.g. Google.

Those users want their data back and are prepared to sue the US Department of Justice for, as they see it, hijacking it. They are now arguing that the US government has taken action that has prejudiced their interests. They want compensation for inconvenience and loss, too. The DoJ is frantically trying to work out what to do. It can't simply put the whole system back on line - that would mean becoming a publisher of the material that the entertainment companies are complaining about. And, in any case, it would take them months to understand the complexities of the system.

The current best guess is that the DoJ will ask the court to authorise the limited opening of specified customer accounts but to block public access. To do that will cost money and the DoJ is wondering if it can use some of the frozen funds to do that. Aside from anything else, comms bills have to be paid. And there is no international regime that would allow the creation of a near-global administration scheme of such a distributed organisation.

It's not just MegaUpload. It's a MegaHeadache. And the complications are a long way from being fully known.

For businesses, however, it's clear: the processes are fully in place for a widespread international action if one is warranted under IP, sanctions or bribery laws, amongst others.

http://chiefofficers.net/888333888/cms/index.php/news/management/biz_law_central/intellectual_property/ip_is_megaupload_the_most_important_case_you_ve_never_heard_of
 

busybeeburns

mr coldplaying himself
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Forget Megaupload! Researchers call new file-sharing network 'invincible'

Researchers have created invincible file-sharing software they say cannot be shut down by governments or anti-piracy organizations. Known as Tribler, its creators say the only way to take it down “is to take the Internet down.”

Developed by a team of researchers at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, the BitTorrent network doesn’t require torrent sites to find or download content. Instead it is based on pure peer-to-peer communication, TorrentFreak reports.

The file-sharing community is still reeling with the seizure of Megaupload by US authorities over alleged copyright infringements, and the voluntary closure of popular website.

But lead researcher Dr Pouwelse told TorrentFreak that Tribler will still work if all the torrent sites and trackers are gone, and simply can’t be shutdown, blocked or censored. Users can download the software and then share files with each other without a “listing site” hosting the files, like regular torrent websites such as The Pirate Bay.

Tribler has been designed to keep BitTorrent alive, even when all torrent search engines, indexes and trackers are pulled offline. The technology has been tested for six years, and has never been offline, Dr. Pouwelse said.

How it works

When users search for content on Tribler, results come directly from other peers instead of a central server. By clicking on the desired search result, the meta-data is downloaded from another peer.

“No matter what crazy laws may pass in the future, people will always be able to share,” says TorrentFreak. Tribler only has a few thousand users at present and is looking for people to act as “superpeers” to distribute lists of active downloaders.


Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2012/02/10/forget-megaupload-researchers-call-new-file-sharing-network-invincible/#ixzz1mHcQ2enN [/SIZE][/B]
 

busybeeburns

mr coldplaying himself
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US will ‘struggle’ to extradite Kim Dotcom

Internet piracy-accused Kim Dotcom could avoid extradition on a legal technicality, a previous benchmark case shows. The US is currently looking to extradite the Megaupload founder but charges central to the case may not be sufficient to send Dotcom back. Copyright infringement, one of Dotcom’s main charges is not covered in the US-New Zealand extradition treaty, and a 2002 case shows racketeering is not either.

In the historic case Bob Cullinane faced US charges of racketeering, visa fraud, alien smuggling and harbouring. The case took two years and went to the Court of Appeal before Cullinane was discharged. It concluded that racketeering and other offences were not extraditable offences under the Treaty.

The Treaty on Extradition lists many serious charges a person can be extradited on back to the US, including murder and assault. Chapman Tripp partner Matt Sumpter told the National Business Review the US government would “struggle to extradite” on copyright and racketeering charges. However, Philip Morgan QC, the lawyer for the accused Cullinane in the 2002 case, says racketeering and copyright infringement could be covered by the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime. This could potentially override treaty laws between the US and New Zealand.

But Lowndes Jordon partner and copyright law expert Rick Shera told National Business Review the other charges seemed to rely on the copyright infringement charge. He says this makes any extradition laws around the subsequent charges irrelevant. Dotcom is currently being held in the Auckland Remand Prison after failing to get bail.

His lawyers last week appeared in the High Court at Auckland to fight restraining orders around Dotcom’s assets.

Read more: http://www.3news.co.nz/US-will-struggle-to-extradite-Kim-Dotcom/tabid/423/articleID/242681/Default.aspx#ixzz1mI5MxflE
 
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