Infuriating RIAA Knew That SOPA and PIPA Were Useless All AlongTorrentFreak has posted a supposedly leaked presentation by the RIAA’s chief lawyer that says that it defended SOPA and PIPA even though it knew the censorship legislation wouldn’t be effective against music piracy. Is the RIAA for real or are they just covering their asses, and what does it mean for your freedom going forward?

Massive Internet protests forced the RIAA’s puppets in Washington to back down from SOPA and PIPA, delivering a major blow the the RIAA’s crusade against Internet freedom. The leaked presentation called “U.S. Copyright Alert System and Other Voluntary Initiatives” was given in April to industry bigwigs, and it finds RIAA Deputy General Counsel Victoria Sheckler backpeddling from the organization’s legislative attacks on piracy. Just look at this slide. How pathetic:

Infuriating RIAA Knew That SOPA and PIPA Were Useless All Along

In other words, the presentation all but admits what opponents of SOPA and PIPA knew all along; that the legislation would be useless. Now remember, this legislation jeopardized free speech on the Internet. If this is posturing, it’s an infuriating stance. It’s inconceivable that the RIAA would support legislation that so blatantly threatened your rights for nothing, but it’s the unfortunate truth

Since legislating censorship didn’t work, the RIAA has pivoted back to the Copyright Alert System, an anti-privacy initiative it’s been pursuing with ISPs. The new initiative was finally agreed upon last summer after years of debate. It was supposed to launch this month, but it’s been indefinitely delayed because all of the stakeholders—you aren’t one of them, by the way—can’t agree on how to implement it. Under the system, Internet users would be governed by a six strike system. The RIAA (or MPAA) would submit complaints of infringement to ISPs on behalf of copyright holders, after which the ISPs follow up with users using what’s called “graduated response.” In short, infringers are warned and warned again before anyone launches any significant legal action. The emphasis, the RIAA says, is on education. Bullshit.

You should be just as worried about this ISP monitoring as you were about SOPA and PIPA. Instead of bullying the government into restricting your freedom, the RIAA is bullying the ISPs into creating an Internet nanny state to intimidate you into compliance with whatever it wants. As the RIAA points out in the slide above, the only thing legislation would have have accomplished is increased policing by ISPs. With the Copyright Alert System it’s happening anyway. It’s unprecedented. And for what? There’s no evidence it’ll work. The RIAA says it will, but after this leak do you really want to take its word for it? [TorrentFreak via ITWorld via Slashdot]

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Monday, July 30th, 2012 Uncategorized No Comments

It Would Cost 37 Billion Dollars a Year To Screen YouTube Videos


It Would Cost $37 Billion Per Year to Pre-Screen YouTube VideosLast week, we reported that a staggering 72 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. Now, engineer Craig Mansfield has worked out how much it would cost per year to pre-screen all that video for copyright infringements—and the answer is close to that of Google’s annual revenue.

Mansfield calculated that a team of 199,584 judges—or equally qualified individuals—would be required to watch and rule over the video, which in turn would cost $36,829,468,840. For comparison, Google’s revenue for 2011 was $37,905,000,000.

Even if it were possible to find a cheaper labor source, the costs would still be astronomical. If you’re interested, you can read his working in detail. [Craig Mansfield via TechDirt]

Image by Rego – under Creative Commons license

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Wednesday, May 30th, 2012 digital No Comments


Ever have the joy of describing the winning touchdown of the big game to that one friend who missed out on the broadcast? According to the NFL, such descriptions are a violation of copyright. Listen closely right before the commercials and you will find yourself being told that not only are unauthorized reproductions a no-no, but so are “…descriptions and accounts of the game.” What?? Apparently talking about something is akin to stealing it in the eyes of some broadcasters. Fortunately, according to the folks at, media owners exaggerate copyright claims all the time, and alas, “facts aren’t copyrightable.” The gods of common sense prevail.

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Monday, January 30th, 2012 Uncategorized No Comments

SOPA and PIPA Have Been Pulled (For Now) [Sopa]


SOPA and PIPA Have Been Pulled (For Now)After Wednesday’s all-day protest of SOPA and PIPA, the bills that want to censor your internet, both bills have been shelved for further consideration, and will not be voted on as scheduled. Rep. Lamar Smith, the sponsor of SOPA, said he’s still committed to fighting piracy, but that this legislation isn’t the way to do it:

I have heard from the critics and I take seriously their concerns regarding proposed legislation to address the problem of online piracy. It is clear that we need to revisit the approach on how best to address the problem of foreign thieves that steal and sell American inventions and products.

The Committee will continue work with copyright owners, Internet companies, financial institutions to develop proposals that combat online piracy and protect America’s intellectual property. We welcome input from all organizations and individuals who have an honest difference of opinion about how best to address this widespread problem. The Committee remains committed to finding a solution to the problem of online piracy that protects American intellectual property and innovation.

We’re hesitant to say the bill is “dead”, but after the events of this week it’s unlikely we’ll see SOPA and PIPA come to a vote in their current form. This probably isn’t the last we’ve seen of anti-piracy legislation, of course, and future bills could be just as dangerous. There are still things you can do to help, and while this is a victory, it isn’t a permanent one, so we wouldn’t get too comfortable just yet. Hit the link to read more.

Photo by Aspect3D (Shutterstock).

Statement from Chairman Smith on Senate Delay of Vote on PROTECT IP Act | US House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary via Ars Technica

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Sunday, January 22nd, 2012 news No Comments

Supreme Court Gives the Go Ahead for Re-Copyrighting Public Domain Works [Copyright]


Supreme Court Gives the Go Ahead for Re-Copyrighting Public Domain WorksYou’ve got to be kidding me. The US Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that Congress can remove works from the public domain and re-copyright them in order to bring the the pieces into compliance with international copyright schemes. Yeah, because that doesn’t run completely against the spirit of copyright law or anything.

For one reason or another, the American copyright protections of many famous, foreign works—including H.G. Wells’ Things to Come, Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, Prokofiev’s Classical Symphony and Peter and the Wolf, Shostakovich’s Symphony 14, Cello Concerto and everything by Igor Stravinsky—moved into the public domain despite still being copyrighted overseas. To “correct” this issue, Congress passed legislation in 1994 that would move the works in question back to protected status and comply with the Berne Convention, an international copyright treaty.

This week, the Supreme Court ruled on a case brought by a coalition of educators, performers, and film archivists who rely on public domain works such as these for their livelihoods. If these pieces are place back under copyright, this group (like everybody else) simply can’t use them. However in a 6-2 ruling—Justices Stephen Breyer and Samuel Alito dissenting—the Court ruled that bringing these works into agreement with the international treaty did not violate the First Amendment rights of those people using the works as they are now (no, those folks will just have to pay licensing fees to perform), nor does it set a precedent for Congress to eventually push for perpetual copyright protections.

In his dissent, Justice Breyer stated that the congressional legislation,

bestows monetary rewards only on owners of old works in the American public domain. At the same time, the statute inhibits the dissemination of those works, foreign works published abroad after 1923, of which there are many millions, including films, works of art, innumerable photographs, and, of course, books – books that (in the absence of the statute) would assume their rightful places in computer-accessible databases, spreading knowledge throughout the world.

As Anthony Falzone, executive director of the Fair Use Project at Stanford University commented, the ruling “suggests Congress is not required to pay particularly close attention to the interests of the public when it passes copyright laws.” Well, yeah, it’s Congress. They don’t need to read bills and amendments, they don’t need to represent their constituents. They jus need to ensure hard-working people like Igor Stravinsky gets the royalty checks he needs so desperately. Hey, a guy’s gotta eat—especially when he’s been dead since 1971. [ArsTechnicatop art: the AP]

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Thursday, January 19th, 2012 news No Comments

What Is SOPA? [Sopa]


What Is SOPA?If you hadn’t heard of SOPA before, you probably have by now: Some of the internet’s most influential sites—Reddit and Wikipedia among them—are going dark to protest the much-maligned anti-piracy bill. But other than being a very bad thing, what is SOPA? And what will it mean for you if it passes?

SOPA is an anti-piracy bill working its way through Congress…

House Judiciary Committee Chair and Texas Republican Lamar Smith, along with 12 co-sponsors, introduced the Stop Online Piracy Act on October 26th of last year. Debate on H.R. 3261, as it’s formally known, has consisted of one hearing on November 16th and a “mark-up period” on December 15th, which was designed to make the bill more agreeable to both parties. Its counterpart in the Senate is the Protect IP Act (S. 968). Also known by it’s cuter-but-still-deadly name: PIPA. There will likely be a vote on PIPA next Wednesday; SOPA discussions had been placed on hold but will resume in February of this year.

…that would grant content creators extraordinary power over the internet…

The beating heart of SOPA is the ability of intellectual property owners (read: movie studios and record labels) to effectively pull the plug on foreign sites against whom they have a copyright claim. If Warner Bros., for example, says that a site in Italy is torrenting a copy of The Dark Knight, the studio could demand that Google remove that site from its search results, that PayPal no longer accept payments to or from that site, that ad services pull all ads and finances from it, and—most dangerously—that the site’s ISP prevent people from even going there.

…which would go almost comedically unchecked…

Perhaps the most galling thing about SOPA in its original construction is that it let IP owners take these actions without a single court appearance or judicial sign-off. All it required was a single letter claiming a “good faith belief” that the target site has infringed on its content. Once Google or PayPal or whoever received the quarantine notice, they would have five days to either abide or to challenge the claim in court. Rights holders still have the power to request that kind of blockade, but in the most recent version of the bill the five day window has softened, and companies now would need the court’s permission.

The language in SOPA implies that it’s aimed squarely at foreign offenders; that’s why it focuses on cutting off sources of funding and traffic (generally US-based) rather than directly attacking a targeted site (which is outside of US legal jurisdiction) directly. But that’s just part of it.

…to the point of potentially creating an “Internet Blacklist”…

Here’s the other thing: Payment processors or content providers like Visa or YouTube don’t even need a letter shut off a site’s resources. The bill’s “vigilante” provision gives broad immunity to any provider who proactively shutters sites it considers to be infringers. Which means the MPAA just needs to publicize one list of infringing sites to get those sites blacklisted from the internet.

Potential for abuse is rampant. As Public Knowledge points out, Google could easily take it upon itself to delist every viral video site on the internet with a “good faith belief” that they’re hosting copyrighted material. Leaving YouTube as the only major video portal. Comcast (an ISP) owns NBC (a content provider). Think they might have an interest in shuttering some rival domains? Under SOPA, they can do it without even asking for permission.

…while exacting a huge cost from nearly every site you use daily…

SOPA also includes an “anti-circumvention” clause, which holds that telling people how to work around SOPA is nearly as bad as violating its main provisions. In other words: if your status update links to The Pirate Bay, Facebook would be legally obligated to remove it. Ditto tweets, YouTube videos, Tumblr or WordPress posts, or sites indexed by Google. And if Google, Twitter, WordPress, Facebook, etc. let it stand? They face a government “enjoinment.” They could and would be shut down.

The resources it would take to self-police are monumental for established companies, and unattainable for start-ups. SOPA would censor every online social outlet you have, and prevent new ones from emerging.

…and potentially disappearing your entire digital life…

The party line on SOPA is that it only affects seedy off-shore torrent sites. That’s false. As the big legal brains at Bricoleur point out, the potential collateral damage is huge. And it’s you. Because while Facebook and Twitter have the financial wherewithal to stave off anti-circumvention shut down notices, the smaller sites you use to store your photos, your videos, and your thoughts may not. If the government decides any part of that site infringes on copyright and proves it in court? Poof. Your digital life is gone, and you can’t get it back.

…while still managing to be both unnecessary and ineffective…

What’s saddest about SOPA is that it’s pointless on two fronts. In the US, the MPAA, and RIAA already have the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to request that infringing material be taken down. We’ve all seen enough “video removed” messages to know that it works just fine.

As for the foreign operators, you might as well be throwing darts at a tse-tse fly. The poster child of overseas torrenting, Pirate Bay, has made it perfectly clear that they’re not frightened in the least. And why should they be? Its proprietors have successfully evaded any technological attempt to shut them down so far. Its advertising partners aren’t US-based, so they can’t be choked out. But more important than Pirate Bay itself is the idea of Pirate Bay, and the hundreds or thousands of sites like it, as populous and resilient as mushrooms in a marsh. Forget the question of should SOPA succeed. It’s incredibly unlikely that it could. At least at its stated goals.

…but stands a shockingly good chance of passing…

SOPA is, objectively, an unfeasible trainwreck of a bill, one that willfully misunderstands the nature of the internet and portends huge financial and cultural losses. The White House has come out strongly against it. As have hundreds of venture capitalists and dozens of the men and women who helped build the internet in the first place. In spite of all this, it remains popular in the House of Representatives.

That mark-up period on December 15th, the one that was supposed to transform the bill into something more manageable? Useless. Twenty sanity-fueled amendments were flat-out rejected. And while the bill’s most controversial provision—mandatory DNS filtering—was thankfully taken off the table recently, in practice internet providers would almost certainly still use DNS as a tool to shut an accused site down.

…unless we do something about it.

The momentum behind the anti-SOPA movement has been slow to build, but we’re finally at a saturation point. Wikipedia, BoingBoing, WordPress, TwitPic: they’ll all be dark on January 18th. An anti-SOPA rally has been planned for tomorrow afternoon in New York. The list of companies supporting SOPA is long but shrinking, thanks in no small part to the emails and phone calls they’ve received in the last few months.

So keep calling. Keep emailing. Most of all, keep making it known that the internet was built on the same principles of freedom that this country was. It should be afforded to the same rights.

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Tuesday, January 17th, 2012 news No Comments

Google Gets Serious About Youtube Royalties with Rightsflow Purchase [Google]


Google Gets Serious About Youtube Royalties with Rightsflow PurchaseGoogle announced on Friday that it has purchased the music licensing company RightsFlow for its detailed information about who should get paid when any of over 30 million songs get played.

Neither Google nor Rightsflow would comment on the deal beyond their official statements, but we have pieced together some of the reasons Google would purchase a music licensing company like RightsFlow, which deals with “mechanical” royalties owed to songwriters, publishers, and other copyright holders. They whenever a non-human thing – like a compact disc, website, or music app –plays music.

RightsFlow, pictured here, now belongs to Google, which will use it to simplify royalty accounting on YouTube and possibly other music services.

The big reason Google would do this is that YouTube continues to be such a massive free music destination. It simply made more sense to buy RightsFlow outright to help keep its administrative and legal costs down, than to continue to rely on its services alongside other RightsFlow clients such as Rhapsody.

To be clear, this doesn’t give Google any rights to this music; it just makes those rights easier to deal with.

The acquisition, announced on Friday (when companies typically announce stuff they don’t want people paying attention to) is more evidence that Google is serious about YouTube as a free music destination. It should now be able to add even more music without worrying as much about lawsuits or expensive accounting.

Once Google has identified songs uploaded to YouTube using its Content ID fingerprinting technology, it should be able to figure out more easily which publishers and songwriters to pay. This could also help Google deal with its Google music store or other Google stuff in the future, although for now, Google’s focus for this deal is squarely on YouTube.

RightsFlow, recently named the #8 most desirable place to work in New York by Crain’s New York Business, owns information that is mostly publicly available. What makes it valuable is its ability to search all that data, making it easier to license lots of songs at once.

So, basically, Google just acquired a search engine, sort of like Google itself – except now, it could just have just one (admittedly very busy) user.

Google Gets Serious About Youtube Royalties with Rightsflow Purchase observes, tracks and analyzes the music apps scene, with the belief that it’s crucial to how humans experience music, and how that experience is evolving.

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Tuesday, December 13th, 2011 news No Comments

Google, Facebook, Twitter and others speak out against the Stop Online Piracy Act


Earlier today, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act (or SOPA) which, depending on who you ask, is either a means to stop piracy and copyright infringement on so-called “rogue” websites, or the most serious threat of internet censorship that we’ve seen in some time. In the latter camp are some of the biggest internet companies around, including Google, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, eBay, LinkedIn, Mozilla, Zynga and AOL (full disclosure: Engadget’s parent company), who today made their stance clear by taking out a full-page ad in The New York Times.

The ad itself is a letter sent by the nine companies to Congress, which states that while they support the stated goals of the bill and the related Protect IP Act, they believe that, as written, the bills “would expose law-abiding U.S. Internet and technology companies to new uncertain liabilities, private rights of action, and technology mandates that would require monitoring of web sites.” The companies further went on to say that they believe the measures also “pose a serious risk to our industry’s continued track record of innovation and job-creation, as well as to our Nation’s cybersecurity.” While they didn’t all sign onto the letter, those companies also also joined by a host of others who have spoken out against the legislation, including Foursquare and Tumblr. The sole witness against the proposed measures at today’s hearing, however, was Google’s copyright policy counsel, Katherine Oyama — you can find her testimony on Google’s Public Policy Blog linked below.

Google, Facebook, Twitter and others speak out against the Stop Online Piracy Act originally appeared on Engadget on Wed, 16 Nov 2011 15:43:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink BoingBoing  |  sourceGoogle! Public Policy Blog, Letter to Congress (PDF)  | Email this | Comments

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Thursday, November 17th, 2011 news No Comments

Dr. Augustine Fou is Digital Consigliere to marketing executives, advising them on digital strategy and Unified Marketing(tm). Dr Fou has over 17 years of in-the-trenches, hands-on experience, which enables him to provide objective, in-depth assessments of their current marketing programs and recommendations for improving business impact and ROI using digital insights.

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