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  1. Proposals for dealing with Australia's online piracy issue have not been well received by a leading local consumer group. Describing the scheme as a grave risk to consumers and a gateway to unlimited fines, Choice has sent Communications Minister his first ever piracy warning. After years of complaints from mainly Hollywood-affiliated companies and anti-piracy groups, Australia is now having to deal with its online piracy issues. Faced with deadlock the government ordered ISPs and entertainment companies to find a solution and against a backdrop of failed negotiations, last week telecoms body Communications Alliance published a draft proposal on behalf of its ISP members. Titled ‘Copyright Notice Scheme Industry Code‘, the document outlined a graduated response “three strikesâ€-style mechanism to deal with file-sharers. It was put together in concert with rightsholders, so it’s fair to assume Hollywood is somewhat satisfied with the framework. The same cannot be said about Australia’s leading consumer group, however. Choice, which has long warned against a file-sharing crackdown, says that current proposals raise the specter of a streamlined conveyor belt of consumers heading towards a notoriously litigious entertainment industry. “Although an ‘education scheme’ to stop piracy sounds harmless, the proposed Code will actually funnel internet users into court actions where industry can seek unlimited amounts of money for alleged piracy, and provide a way for rights holders to gain access to your internet records and personal details so they can sue you or send you a letter demanding payment,†the group warns this morning. Highlighting mechanisms already in place in the US, UK and New Zealand, Choice says that the proposals for Australia are the worst of the bunch. ‘Education’, ‘Warning’ and ‘Final’ notices could be followed by rightsholder access to subscriber details alongside threats of legal action and potentially limitless fines. “The system proposed by the industry purports to be educational, but clearly has a focus on facilitating court actions. There is no limit on the amount of money that a rights holder can seek from the customer,†Choice explains. Also under fire is consumer access to remedy should they have complaints about notices received in error, for example. While there is a system being proposed, access costs Internet subscribers $25, and even then the adjudication panel is far from impartial. “If a consumer objects to any notice received, they can lodge a complaint with a largely industry-controlled body. There is no avenue for appeal if the consumer disagrees with the decision made,†Choice complains. In order to raise awareness of these shortcomings, Choice says it has now implemented its own “three-strikes†program. And the first notice is about to go out. “CHOICE is concerned that this scheme will funnel consumers into legal action, bypassing ordinary checks and balances. We’re sending an Education Notice to the Minister for Communications to let him know about the dangers of these ‘education’ measures for consumers,†the group says. The notice to Malcolm Turnbull reads as follows: EDUCATION NOTICE You are receiving this Education Notice due to a complaint from the Australian public that it has detected the development of a damaging, industry-run internet policing scheme in your portfolio. This scheme will allow big Hollywood corporations to obtain consumers’ contact details and internet records from Internet Service Providers, based on unproven accusations. There is no limit to the amount of money that could be sought in court. In the US, a student was recently ordered to pay $675,000 for downloading and sharing 30 songs. You may not be aware of this anti-consumer scheme. Perhaps somebody else in your household accessed your internet account and provided instructions to your Department without your knowledge. If you believe this is the case, please forward this notice to the person who may be responsible. If the Government is serious about addressing piracy, it needs to address the real causes of the problem: the fact that Australians pay far too much for content that is often delayed or completely unavailable.. We know that you are a well-educated consumer, so we ask you to step in before it is too late. This Education Notice is your first warning. If Australian consumers detect further infractions, we reserve the right to take further action. The warning letter is being “authorized†by the Australian public who are being asked to sign a petition in support of Choice’s position. After just a few hours online the petition is already close to reaching its initial target but whether it will make any difference remains to be seen. It’s taken so long for the ISPs and Hollywood to agree on any action against piracy, it will take something huge to derail it now. http://torrentfreak.com/aussie-telecoms-minister-receives-downloading-warning-notice-150225/
  2. Turkey’s top religious body has handed down a fatwa in response to a question raised on the issue of illegal downloading. Obtaining content without permission from creators is forbidden, the Diyanet said. Meanwhile, a Catholic Church debate on the same topic raised an interesting dilemma. For millions of people around the world the word of their particular God provides a moral compass for living life in an appropriate manner. While there are plenty of variations, most faiths agree that it is unacceptable to steal, for example. Inevitably there are gray areas and the issue of copyright provides a perfect example. Rightsholders constantly push the notion that infringement is theft so it’s no surprise that some people draw the same conclusion. Over in Turkey the country’s top religious body has been handling the issue at the behest of citizens. Is downloading content without permission from rightsholders acceptable under Islam? In response to a question asking whether the activity is ‘halal’ (permissible), the Religious Affairs Directorate, or Diyanet as it’s known locally, issued a fatwa (ruling). Great value should be placed on labor and there should be opposition to “unjust enrichment†from the work of others,†Diyanet said. “The Prophet also stressed the importance of paying for one’s labor on several occasions,†it said, warning that “[property] rights violations [are still common] as technology develops and human labor has started to appear in more diverse forms.†“Such unfair acts [such as downloading pirated software] not only usurp the individuals’ rights, they also discourage people who work in those sectors from creating new products, turning the matter into a public rights violation in a broader sense,†Diyanet said. But it wasn’t only followers of Islam that required guidance on file-sharing from religious bodies this week. The same question was also posed to the Catholic Church via the site Crux. “My boyfriend is a tech geek, by profession and vocation. He was an early adopter of the Internet and believes strongly in its founding values — that ‘information wants to be free’,†the question from ‘Starving Artist’ began. “I admire his geek credentials and tech skills, but there’s something he does, with pride, that bugs me a lot. He pirates everything. “I am a writer, and can earn a living only if other people buy the things I write. I feel my boyfriend is undermining me — if not directly, then indirectly. Who is right?†The response was predictable – the woman’s boyfriend is “stealing†– but the advice for negotiating the problem in the relationship is a novel one. “Agree that whenever he spends $7.99 on a movie instead of downloading it for free, the two of you will put a few cents — representing the artist’s take — in a jar,†Crux wrote. “When the jar is full, the two of you can go out to a romantic dinner and have the kind of human interaction that no download can provide.†Crux contributor Chris McLaughlin was underwhelmed by the reply. “The purpose of the copyright monopoly (which is a law of man not of God) isn’t to enable somebody to make money, and never was. Its sole purpose was and is to advance humanity as a whole. The monopoly begins and ends with the public interest; it does not exist for the benefit of the author and inventor,†McLaughlin writes. “I wonder if the Church would have ever got started at all, if Matthew, Mark, Luke and John had demanded a royalty every time Paul set up in a new city.†http://torrentfreak.com/downloading-fatwa-issued-by-turkish-religious-leaders-150201/
  3. Dear Users, Kindly Follow These Rules From Now - Users With Low Ratio Will Be Face Severe Consequences, May Include Account Banned In Few Cases. Users With a Ratio Below 0.50 Will Receive 2 Weeks Warning To Fix Their Ratio. They'll Only Allowed To Leech Torrent For 24 Hours. Failure To Fix Ratio In 2 Weeks Will Get Account Banned Permanently. Anything You Downloaded From Here Must Be Seeded For 72 Hours Minimum Or You Have To Seed 1:1 Means If You Downloaded a 700Mb Torrent Than You Either Seed It For Next 72 Hours Or Upload 700Mb. Users With a Ratio Below 0.80 Will Moved To "Leechers" Rank And You'll Have Access To Limited Torrent Section. Effective Immediately These Rules Applies Now. Follow Or Loose Your Account. In Regards Sophie Administrator
  4. The Halo 5 Guardian’s beta officially starts on Dec. 29th and runs through Jan. 18th. But in order to make sure you can start playing as soon as the beta goes live, players can go ahead and start downloading the file that ways over 10GB right now. From the Halo MCC home page, select Extras. Then select the Halo 5 Guardians beta to begin download. If the option is grayed out, then check back later. The update is currently being distributed right now.
  5. The studio behind the Oscar-winning movie Dallas Buyers Club has initiated legal action to extract cash payments from Australian pirates who obtained the movie using BitTorrent. Perhaps surprisingly one of the ISPs targeted is iiNet, a company that takes a particularly dim view of this kind of activity and one that has already indicated it will put up a fight. Much to the disappointment of owner Voltage Pictures, early January 2013 a restricted ‘DVD Screener’ copy of the hit movie Dallas Buyers Club leaked online. The movie was quickly downloaded by tens of thousands but barely a month later, Voltage was plotting revenge. In a lawsuit filed in the Southern District of Texas, Voltage sought to identify illegal downloaders of the movie by providing the IP addresses of Internet subscribers to the court. Their aim – to scare those individuals into making cash settlements to make supposed lawsuits disappear. Now, in the most significant development of the ‘trolling’ model in recent times, Dallas Buyers Club LLC are trying to expand their project into Australia. Interestingly the studio has chosen to take on subscribers of the one ISP that was absolutely guaranteed to put up a fight. iiNet is Australia’s second largest ISP and the country’s leading expert when it comes to fighting off aggressive rightsholders. In 2012 the ISP defeated Hollywood in one of the longest piracy battles ever seen and the company says it will defend its subscribers in this case too. Chief Regulatory Officer Steve Dalby says that Dallas Buyers Club LLC (DBCLLC) recently applied to the Federal Court to have iiNet and other local ISPs reveal the identities of people they say have downloaded and/or shared their movie without permission. According to court documents seen by TorrentFreak the other ISPs involved are Wideband Networks Pty Ltd, Internode Pty Ltd, Dodo Services Pty Ltd, Amnet Broadband Pty Ltd and Adam Internet Pty Ltd. Although the stance of the other ISPs hasn’t yet been made public, DBCLLC aren’t going to get an easy ride. iiNet (which also owns Internode and Adam) says it will oppose the application for discovery. “iiNet would never disclose customer details to a third party, such as movie studio, unless ordered to do so by a court. We take seriously both our customers’ privacy and our legal obligations,†Dalby says. While underlining that the company does not condone copyright infringement, news of Dallas Buyers Club / Voltage Pictures’ modus operandi has evidently reached iiNet, and the ISP is ready for them. “It might seem reasonable for a movie studio to ask us for the identity of those they suspect are infringing their copyright. Yet, this would only make sense if the movie studio intended to use this information fairly, including to allow the alleged infringer their day in court, in order to argue their case,†Dalby says. “In this case, we have serious concerns about Dallas Buyers Club’s intentions. We are concerned that our customers will be unfairly targeted to settle any claims out of court using a practice called ‘speculative invoicing’.†The term ‘speculative invoicing’ was coined in the UK in response to the activities of companies including the now defunct ACS:Law, which involved extracting cash settlements from alleged infringers (via mailed ‘invoices’) and deterring them from having their say in court. Once the scheme was opened up to legal scrutiny it completely fell apart. Some of the flaws found to exist in both UK and US ‘troll’ cases are cited by iiNet, including intimidation of subscribers via excessive claims for damages. The ISP also details the limitations of IP address-based evidence when it comes to identifying infringers due to shared household connections and open wifi scenarios. “Because Australian courts have not tested these cases, any threat by rights holders, premised on the outcome of a successful copyright infringement action, would be speculative,†Dalby adds. The Chief Regulatory Officer says that since iiNet has opposed the action for discovery the Federal Court will now be asked to decide whether iiNet should hand over subscriber identities to DBCLLC. A hearing on that matter is expected early next year and it will be an important event. While a win for iiNet would mean a setback for rightsholders plotting similar action, victory for DBCLLC will almost certainly lead to others following in their footsteps. For an idea of what Australians could face in this latter scenario, in the United States the company demands payment of up to US$7,000 (AUS$8,000) per infringement. Add Rep and Leave a feedback Reputation is the green button in the down right corner on my post
  6. Internet users could find themselves in the dock like Game of Thrones' Tyrion, under new copyright laws from the Australian government. (AAP) Game of Thrones fans be warned: winter is coming, as the federal government plans to freeze Australia's reputation for piracy. A range of new rules and penalties will force consumers to pay up before downloading files, including that of the hit TV series. Australia has one of the highest rates of online piracy in the world, proving costly to the nation's multibillion-dollar creative industry. The government today unveiled proposals aimed at stopping piracy. They include forcing internet service providers (ISPs) to block overseas sites known to offer illegal access to content. This would enable rights holders to apply for a court order commanding the ISP to ban certain sites. There is also a move to change the Copyright Act so ISPs would be liable for allowing access to illegal content. The law change would consider what, if any, "reasonable steps" were taken by the provider to prevent piracy. By way of penalty, internet users who download illegal content could receive warning notices and face access limitations if the behaviour continues. While calling for public submissions on its proposals, the government said a range of factors was required to eliminate piracy, including law-abiding consumers and reasonably priced content. Attorney-General George Brandis said any changes would take into account consumer interests. "The government's preference is to create a legal framework that will facilitate industry co-operation to develop flexible and effective measures to combat online piracy," he said. Australians were among the viewers who illegally downloaded the season-four finale of Game of Thrones a record 1.5 million times within 12 hours of the show being aired. Industry groups welcomed the government's proposed reforms. Village Roadshow co-chairman Graham Burke warns that Australia is on the precipice of losing valuable businesses if there is no change. Game of Thrones distributor Foxtel said piracy had far-reaching impacts, and the pay TV provider had already moved to deter illegal downloads by providing content to Australian viewers as soon as possible following screenings overseas. The Communications Alliance, which represents several leading ISPs, urged caution on some of the proposals. It said entities including schools, universities and libraries offering legitimate services could be caught in the revised act, leading to disadvantages for consumers. The alliance called for the establishment of an industry scheme as the best way to address piracy. http://www.9news.com.au/national/2014/07/30/17/11/govt-moves-to-clamp-down-on-piracy
  7. A draft bill for the modernization of Swiss copyright law will be presented for public consultation in the coming months. While downloading for personal use will remain legal, uploading infringing content via BitTorrent will not. In addition to infringement warnings for Internet subscribers, the blocking of "obviously illegal" sites is also on the table. The MPAA, RIAA and associated groups such as the International Intellectual Property Alliance, rarely have positive things to say about Switzerland. “The country has become an attractive haven for services heavily engaged in infringing activity,†the IIPA said in its 2013 USTR submission, while referring to the land-locked nation as “a major exporter of pirated content.†In addition to legislation tipped in favor of service providers, the Swiss also present a fairly unique problem. Thanks to the so-called ‘Logistep Decision’, which wasbemoaned in a recent International Creativity and Theft-Prevention Caucus report, the monitoring of file-sharers is effectively outlawed. As a result it’s estimated that more than a third of Swiss Internet users access unlicensed services each month. With international pressure building the Swiss promised to address the situation and have been doing so via AGUR12, a working group responsible for identifying opportunities to adapt copyright law. In parallel, another working group has been looking at service provider liability. This month the Federal Council took the groups’ recommendations and mandated the Federal Department of Justice and Police to prepare a draft bill for public consultation by the end of 2015. What’s on the table The Federal Council says its aim is to improve the situation for creators without impairing the position of consumers, so there is an element of give-and-take in the proposals for file-sharing, with a focus on balance and “careful consideration†given to data protection issues. Personal file-sharing Current download-and-share-with-impunity will be replaced with an acceptance of downloading for personal use, but with uploading specifically outlawed. This means that while downloading a pirated album from a cyberlocker would be legal, doing so using BitTorrent would be illegal due to inherent uploading. Warnings and notifications While commercial level infringers can already be dealt with under Swiss law, the proposals seek to lower the bar so that those who flout an upload ban on a smaller but persistent scale can be dealt with. AGUR12 has recommended that this should be achieved by sending warning notices to infringers via their ISPs. Only when a user fails to get the message should his or her details be handed over to rightsholders for use in civil proceedings. The Federal Council says it likes the idea, but first wants to investigate how the notification process will work, where the thresholds on persistent infringement lie, and under what process identities can be revealed to rightsholders. Provider liability Under AGUR12′s recommendations, Internet providers will not only be required to remove infringing content from their platforms, but also prevent that same content from reappearing, a standard that U.S. rightsholders are currently pressuring Google to adopt. Additionally, in serious cases authorities should be able to order the blocking of “obviously illegal content or sourcesâ€. Any new obligations on service providers would be balanced by granting them with exemption from liability. Conclusion While Switzerland does not wish to render mere downloading illegal, its effective outlawing of BitTorrent for unlicensed content transfers will put it on a par with most Western countries. Furthermore, if service providers are forced to take copyrighted content down and keep it down, Switzerland could become the model that the United States has to live up to. http://torrentfreak.com/swiss-wont-ban-downloading-but-will-block-sites-140630/
  8. The Netherlands Must Outlaw Downloading, EU Court Rules (Update) The European Court of Justice has ruled that the Netherlands can no longer permit its citizens to freely download copyrighted movies and music without paying for them. In its judgment the Court rules that the current system of a "piracy levy" to compensate rightsholders is unlawful. In common with many other countries around the world, downloading music and movies is hugely popular in the Netherlands. Surveys estimate that a third of the population downloads copyrighted content without paying for it. Contrary to most other countries, however, downloading and copying movies and music for personal use is not punishable by law. In return, the Dutch compensate rightsholders through a “piracy levy†on writable media, hard drives and electronic devices with storage capacity, including smartphones. In a landmark ruling, the European Court of Justice has declared this system unlawful. The case was brought by several electronics stores and manufacturers, whose products were made more expensive because of the levy. In its judgment the Court held that the levy system is a threat to the internal market and that it puts copyright holders at an unfair disadvantage. “If Member States were free to adopt legislation permitting, inter alia, reproductions for private use to be made from an unlawful source, the result of that would clearly be detrimental to the proper functioning of the internal market,†the Court noted in a briefing on the verdict today. “Similarly, the objective of proper support for the dissemination of culture may not be achieved by sacrificing strict protection of copyright or by tolerating illegal forms of distribution of counterfeited or pirated works.†As a result the Court ruled that the Dutch system, in which people are permitted to copy files from pirated sources, can not be tolerated. The Court believes that “legalizing†file-sharing encourages the distribution of counterfeit and pirated works. In addition, it explains that the system poses “an unfair disadvantage to the copyright holders.†The Court further notes that the Dutch system also punishes those who buy their digital movies and music from authorized sources, as they also pay the piracy levy on the devices and media they record them to. “All users are indirectly penalized since they necessarily contribute towards the compensation payable for the harm caused by private reproductions made from an unlawful source. Users consequently find themselves required to bear an additional, non-negligible cost in order to be able to make private copies,†the Court notes. Today’s judgment is also likely to affect other European countries with similar systems, such as Switzerland where downloading pirated works for personal use is also permitted. Ironically, copyright holders may be worse off if the Netherlands does indeed outlaw downloading pirated material. This would result in millions of euros in lost revenue through the piracy levy, which may be hard to match by an increase in legal sales, if there’s any increase at all. Update: The Dutch Government confirmed to Tweakers that downloading copyrighted material for personal use is no longer allowed, effective immediately. The Government also clarified that in general offenses will be prosecuted through civil cases, not criminal ones. We have updated this article accordingly.