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BitStalker: Positives and Negatives

March 11, 2010 Fair Use , Filtering

BitStalker is a good way to get around some of the obfuscatory methods employed by some BitTorrent trackers that are primarily used for infringing content, like the Pirate Bay. It uses some clever data-gathering techniques to avoid falling for some kinds of spoofing (like listing phony IP addresses as peers). I'm glad that some of the people at my old school, the University of Colorado, are seriously addressing the fact that current anti-piracy technology used on the Internet is inadequate.

One thing needs to be clear, though: when the paper claims that "false positives are rare with our active approach," it's referring to false positives as to whether a particular IP address is part of a BitTorrent swarm. That is, if a particular file is known to be infringing, this method is better at identifying the IP addresses that are downloading it.

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ACTA Makes ISPs An Offer They Can’t Refuse

February 22, 2010 DMCA , Filtering , Forum Shopping , International , Non-Discrimination

The leaked ACTA Internet chapter has a footnote that says an ISP can only hang on to its "safe harbor" by implementing certain policies designed to discourage the use of their networks for copyright infringement, and that "An example of such a policy is providing for the termination in appropriate circumstances of subscriptions and accounts in the service provider's system or network of repeat infringers." Three strikes and you're out.

USTR's claim that ACTA wouldn't "change" US law is plausible (if not comforting). Similar language is already part of US law (17 U.S.C. 512 §(i)(1)(A))–as is the Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution, of course, which assures that no person can be "deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law." One would hope that, like the existing statute, the ACTA language will be read in the context of the Constitution, which assures that mere accusations of copyright infringement are not enough to kick someone off the Internet. One would also hope that other countries, if they end up agreeing to a version of ACTA with this language, also understand that a "repeat infringer" must have been afforded due process.

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UPDATED: Music Labels Ask Blogs to Post Songs to Promote Artists, Ask Google to Erase Blogs for Post

February 11, 2010 DMCA , Fair Use , Filtering , Network Neutrality , Piracy

Today's news that Google shut down music blogs that were accused of copyright infringement is rightfully getting plenty of coverage. Mostly, it is being held up as another in a long line of examples of problems with the DMCA notice-and-takedown system. This is a great example of a problem with the DMCA because, at least according to The Guardian, the notices that Google relied on to delete the blogs were woefully incomplete. Google should not have acted until it had proper notices from rights holders, including the name of the actual work allegedly infringed. Since many of the notices did not even include this information, there was no way for the bloggers to file a DMCA counternotice. For an update on the DMCA part of this story, check out Wired and Google's own post. Of course, the DMCA confusion does a great job of illustrating the points about filtering below.

It is important that this story is being used to point out problems with the DMCA, and with Google's policies for dealing with DMCA complaints. how complicated DMCA implementation can be. What it equally important, if less commented on, is what it can tell us about copyright filtering.

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U.S. Government Denies that ACTA Mandates Filtering or Three Strikes, But Questions On its Contents

February 10, 2010 ACTA , Filtering , Piracy , Three Strikes , USTR

On Monday, the New York Times added to the increasing media scrutiny of ACTA, the Anti Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. This proposed international agreement, which has the potential to drastically change the landscape of copyright law and policy, still remains hidden from the public eye.

Given this lack of transparency, it's no surprise that the substance of the agreement can only be discussed by way of leaks, speculation, and warring sound bites. Among the suppositions on ACTA's contents was the following:

E.U. negotiators, for example, are said to have balked at a U.S.-backed proposal to require Internet service providers to take tough steps against digital piracy.

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Landmark Australian Ruling Deals a Blow to Three Strikes Down Under

February 4, 2010 BitTorrent , DMCA , Filtering , Safe Harbor , Three Strikes

For those of us who believe that the Internet should remain an open, democratic and non-discriminatory platform, with few exceptions, the last two years have brought a steady stream of bad news from Down Under. First, there were rumblings that Australia was seeking to implement a “three strikes” policy toward those accused of online filesharing. Next, New Zealand came close to instituting its own three strikes mandate, though thanks to the efforts of activists, that deeply-flawed law was struck down at the last minute. Finally, after a number of previous, failed attempts, the Australian government announced that it plans to mandate the use of real-time filtering technologies on public ISPs sometime during the next year. Just when it seemed like no one in the Australian and New Zealand governments appreciated the damaging effects of such policies, an Australian federal court judge has ruled that the ISP iiNet is not responsible for the actions of its subscribers. In the landmark ruling (full text here), which will likely have ramifications in the U.S. and elsewhere, the judge rebuffs Hollywood’s attempt to require iiNet to act as a copyright cop, dealing a blow to three strikes in the process. Let’s take a closer look.

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