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A federal court in Virginia has granted Megaupload's request to place the cases filed by the music and movie companies on hold for another six months. The request was made after the New Zealand extradition hearings of Kim Dotcom and his colleagues were postponed several times. Well over three years have passed since Megaupload was shutdown, but aside from Andrus Nommâ€™s plea deal there has been little progress in the criminal proceedings. Dotcom and his fellow Megaupload defendants are still waiting to hear whether they will be sent to the U.S. to stand trial. The extradition hearing is currently scheduled to start early June after a request from Dotcomâ€™s lawyers to postpone was turned down last month. But thereâ€™s more legal trouble for the defunct file-hosting service. In addition to the criminal case, Megaupload and Kim Dotcom were sued last year by the major record labels and Hollywoodâ€™s top movie studios. Fearing that they might influence criminal proceedings, Megauploadâ€™s legal team previously managed to put these civil actions on hold. After being delayed for a year the proceedings were expected to continue this month. However, since the extradition hearing has yet to take place, Megaupload asked the court to freeze the MPAA and RIAA cases until October. This week District Court Judge Liam Oâ€™Grady granted the request under the same conditions as the previous order. The ruling means that both the MPAA and RIAA cases will now be delayed for another six months. The movie and music studios consented to the freezing request, which made it a relatively straightforward decision. A stay has not yet been granted in a third civil suit filed by the music group Microhits. In this separate case Megauploadâ€™s legal team was ordered to present an oral argument in support of its motion, which will take place later this month. https://torrentfreak.com/megaupload-freezes-mpaa-and-riaa-lawsuits-for-six-months-150403/
A new study into IP litigation over the past 20 years has revealed that file-sharing has transformed copyright litigation in the United States. In particular, attacks against anonymous file-sharers dominated the landscape of the past decade, with just three companies now responsible for 93% of all John Doe lawsuits. Thanks to the development of advanced file-sharing systems and fast Internet connections, lawsuits aimed at alleged Internet pirates have become commonplace over the past decade and are showing no signs of disappearing anytime soon. The statistics behind the threats have been documented periodically but now a detailed study of IP litigation as a whole has painted a clearer picture of trends during the past 10 years. Published by Matthew Sag, Professor of Law at Loyola University Chicago School of Law, IP Litigation in United States District Courts: 1994 to 2014 provides a review of all IP litigation in U.S. district courts over the past two decades to include copyright, patent and trademark lawsuits over 190,000 case filings. Perhaps unsurprisingly one of the paperâ€™s key findings is that Internet file-sharing has transformed copyright litigation in the United States, in one area in particular. â€œTo the extent that the rate of copyright litigation has increased over the last two decades, that increase appears to be entirely attributable to lawsuits against anonymous Internet file sharers,â€ the paper reads. In broad terms the paper places lawsuits against alleged pirates into two categories â€“ those with an aim of discouraging illegal file-sharing and those that exist to monetize online infringement. Category one is dominated by lawsuits filed by the RIAA against users of software such as Kazaa and LimeWire who downloaded and shared tracks without permission. Announced in 2003, the wave seriously got underway during 2004 and persisted until 2008, straggling cases aside. Category two is dominated by the so-called copyright trolls that have plagued file-sharing networks since 2010. These companies, largely from the adult movie sector, track down alleged file-sharers with the aim of extracting cash settlements. As illustrated by the chart below, so-called â€˜John Doeâ€™ lawsuits witnessed their first big boost during 2004, the year the RIAA began its high-profile anti-P2P scare campaign. The second big wave can be seen from 2011 onwards. â€œJohn Doe litigation in the second wave appears to be aimed primarily, if not exclusively, at monetizing infringementâ€”i.e., creating an independent litigation revenue stream that is unrelated to compensation for the harms of infringement and unconcerned with deterrence,â€ the paper reads. â€œThe availability of statutory damages is essential to the infringement monetization strategy. United States copyright law allows a plaintiff to elect statutory damages ranging from $750 to $150,000 for willful copyright infringement, regardless of the extent of the copyright ownerâ€™s actual damage.â€ Needless to say, this situation has encouraged some companies to file more and more lawsuits over the past several years in pursuit of profit. However, they have been required to adapt along the way. Between 2010 and 2012 lawsuits were typically filed against hundreds or even thousands of John Doe defendants at once, but due to increased scrutiny from District Court judges the average number of Does per suit has declined dramatically. â€œ[in] 2010 the average number of John Doe defendants per suit was over 560; by 2014 it was just over 3,â€ the paper notes. â€œ2014 still witnessed the occasional mass-joinder suit, but by this time the model had almost entirely shifted to suits against individual unnamed defendants.â€ Also under the spotlight are the types of content being targeted by trolls. Pornographic titles were behind the lionâ€™s share of lawsuits since 2010 and in 2014 accounted for 88% of all â€˜John Doeâ€™ actions. What is also startling about this second category is how it has become increasingly dominated by a tiny number of plaintiffs. Back in 2010 the top three plaintiffs accounted for less than 25% of John Doe lawsuits but it wouldnâ€™t stay that way for long. â€œIn 2011 and 2012, the top three plaintiffs accounted for just under 50% of John Doe cases. In 2013, Malibu Media, alone accounted for 64% of John Doe cases and the top three in that year accounted for more than 75% of such cases. The top three plaintiffs in 2014 account for more than 93% of John Doe litigation filings in copyright,â€ the paper adds. Conclusion Despite the large number of lawsuits being filed against John Doe defendants, the paper dismisses the notion that litigation since 2010 is a broad-based phenomenon. In fact, it draws quite the opposite conclusion, noting that a tiny number of plaintiffs are effectively making a huge noise. â€œThe trend from 2012 to 2014 is one of increasing concentration of plaintiff activity. In fact, the pornography producer Malibu Media is such a prolific litigant that in 2014 it was the plaintiff in over 41.5% of all copyright suits nationwide,â€ the paper notes. Finally, in respect of the activities of the plaintiffs listed above, Matthew Sagâ€™s studyarrives at an opinion long held by many â€˜trollâ€™ critics. â€œJohn Doe litigation is not a general response to Internet piracy; it is a niche entrepreneurial activity in and of itself,â€ Sag concludes. Torrentfreak
Ubisoft's free game offer that serves as an apology for Assassin's Creed Unity's launch troubles comes with one major stipulation. Those who claim a free game, according to the fine print, are agreeing to never sue Ubisoft over Unity's woes or the now-diminished value of the game's DLC pass. Game Informer spotted the important legal terms, which you can read in full at the bottom of this post. To sum up briefly, it says that by accepting the free game, you're waiving the right to sue Ubisoft or any of its divisions, either through a solo lawsuit or as part of a class-action legal battle. This kind of measure is not uncommon in gaming. In fact,Xbox Live, PlayStation Network, and Steam all have similar legal terms in place that block class-action suits. Unity's launch in November was marred by a long list of technical troubles, most of which, however, havesince been fixed through subsequent patches. Just before Thanksgiving, Ubisoft announced the free game offer, allowing anyone who bought the game's DLC pass to choose a free game from a list that includes some pretty great games. If you didn't buy the DLC pass (and it's since been removed from sale), you're still getting free content in the form of the Dead Kings expansion. This was originally supposed to be included with Unity's DLC pass, which explains why it's also mentioned in the lawsuit waiver terms below. Ubisoft has not yet set a release date for the Dead kings expansion, but when it's released, everyone will get it free. You hereby irrevocably and unconditionally RELEASE, WAIVE, AND FOREVER DISCHARGE AND COVENANT NOT TO SUE Ubisoft Entertainment S.A., and each of its past, present and future divisions, parent companies, subsidiaries, affiliates, predecessors, successors and assigns, together with all of their respective past, present and future employees, officers, shareholders, directors and agents, and those who give recommendations, directions, or instructions or engage in risk evaluation or loss control activities regarding the Campaign (all for the purposes herein referred to as â€œReleased Partiesâ€) FROM ANY AND ALL LIABILITY TO YOU, your assigns, heirs, and next of kin FOR ANY AND ALL CLAIMS, DEMANDS, CHARGES, LAWSUITS, DEBTS, DEFENSES, ACTIONS OR CAUSES OF ACTION, OBLIGATIONS, DAMAGES, LOSS OF SERVICE, COMPENSATION, PAIN AND SUFFERING, ATTORNEYSâ€™ FEES, AND COST AND EXPENSES OF SUIT, KNOWN OR UNKNOWN, SUSPECTED OR UNSUSPECTED, ARISING OUT OF OR RELATED TO THE PURCHASE, ACQUISITION, RENTAL, POSSESSION AND/OR USAGE, AND/OR THE INTENT TO PURCHASE, ACQUIRE, RENT, POSSESS AND/OR USE, THE ASSASSINâ€™S CREED UNITY VIDEO GAME AND/OR THE ASSASSINâ€™S CREED UNITY SEASON PASS ON ANY AND ALL PLATFORMS, AND/OR RELATED TO THE CAMPAIGN, WHETHER CAUSED BY THE NEGLIGENCE OF THE RELEASED PARTIES OR OTHERWISE.
Following requests from a movie-focused anti-piracy outfit and the IFPI, Austria's largest ISPs were expected to block The Pirate Bay and other 'pirate' sites last week. But after deadlines passed without action, the entertainment groups are now preparing lawsuits to force the ISPs to cooperate. Following favorable rulings on website-blocking from both the European Court of Justice and the local Supreme Court, at the end of July several Austrian movie companies renewed their mission to have â€˜pirateâ€™ sites blocked at the ISP level. VAP, the anti-piracy association of the Austrian film and video industry, wrote to several local ISPs â€“ UPC, Drei, Tele2 and A1 â€“ demanding a blockade of three domains â€“ ThePirateBay.se, Movie4K.to and Kinox.to. Just days later the IFPI signaled its intention to join the fray. In a letter dated August 4 and sent to five local ISPs, the music group set a deadline of less than two weeks for the service providers to block subscriber access to ThePirateBay,se, isoHunt.to, 1337x.to and H33t.to. After the VAP letter came talks between the anti-piracy outfit and the ISPs, but a deadline of August 14 expired last week with no blocking having taken place. While the courts have confirmed that in certain circumstances service providers can be required to block errant sites, it appears that the ISPs donâ€™t want to take action based on mere requests from rightsholders. â€œWe continue to believe that the decision to block websites or other Internet content should lie with the courts and legislators,â€ UPC told Austrian news outlet Future Zone. â€œWe have sympathy for rightsholders and we are in full support of the creative industries. However, we offer our customers access to the Internet and have no obligation or right to choose which content is accessed.â€ Faced with blocking requests around Europe, most if not all ISPs have required a court order in order to restrict access to â€˜pirateâ€™ sites. Given this history, UPCâ€™s reluctance comes as no surprise to VAP. Managing Director Werner MÃ¼ller admitted last week that it was always unlikely that the ISPs would act without being legally required to do so. That means legal action, and VAP are ready for it. â€œThere will soon be a lawsuit concerning blocking against two websites â€“ kinox.to and movie4k.to â€“ against four major domestic Internet providers,â€ MÃ¼ller says. â€œThe lawsuits are prepared and are waiting almost only on their delivery.â€ And, according to comments made by IFPI CEO Franz Medwenitsch, the music industry wonâ€™t be far behind. â€œAs of today there has been no response from the service providers so we had our attorney begin the preparations for legal action,â€ Medwenitsch confirms. These web-blocking cases being brought against Austrian ISPs are of particular importance as they represent the first to take place following the March 27 ruling of the European Court of Justice. How that ruling is interpreted will be closely watched by rightsholders across the continent. http://torrentfreak.com/isps-face-lawsuits-failing-block-pirate-bay-140818/
Megaupload's legal team has asked the federal court of Virginia to place the cases filed by the music and movie companies on hold till April next year. The request comes after the extradition hearings of Kim Dotcom and his colleagues were postponed in New Zealand. Well over two years have passed since Megaupload was shutdown, but there is still little progress in the criminal proceedings against its founders. The United States want New Zealand to extradite Kim Dotcom and his colleagues but this process has been delayed several times already. Earlier this month the extradition hearing was postponed again until February next year. In addition to the U.S. Government, Megaupload and Kim Dotcom were also sued by the major record labels and Hollywoodâ€™s top movie studios a few months ago. Fearing that these cases might influence the criminal case, Megauploadâ€™s legal teamsuccessfully obtained a freeze on them until this summer, when the extradition hearing was originally scheduled for. Now that this has been delayed until next year, Megaupload wants to place the MPAA and RIAA cases on hold until April 2015. In a new motion for a stay, the lawyers ask the court to freeze both civil cases because the accused may otherwise be forced to implicate themselves, which would violate their rights. â€œThe individual Defendants still face extradition, and therefore still have an interest in preserving the Fifth Amendment rights that arise from the prosecution of the Criminal Action,â€ the motion reads. Thereâ€™s also a more practical concern. Since the U.S. Government refuses to provide access to the raided servers, it may be difficult to access evidence thatâ€™s crucial to build a proper defense. â€œRelevant evidence that is electronically stored on servers, which would be needed to defend the civil cases, is not reasonably accessible. As a result of the Criminal Action, the Megaupload cloud-storage servers have been taken offline and are housed in a locked third-party warehouse in Virginia,â€ Megauploadâ€™s lawyers write. â€œThe Department of Justice has opposed Megauploadâ€™s efforts to gain access to those servers and data. Standard civil e-discovery protocols would typically include accessing and â€œmirroringâ€ the original servers so that the resultant copies may used to analyze the data contained therein. At present, that cannot be done,â€ they add. If the court grants the request then it will take another year before thereâ€™s any progress in the civil cases against Megaupload. The movie and music studios didnâ€™t object to the previous freezing request, but they may be running out of patience soon. http://torrentfreak.com/megaupload-wants-freeze-mpaa-riaa-lawsuits-140722/