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  1. The company behind the Oscar-winning movie Dallas Buyers Club wants to interrogate alleged BitTorrent pirates over the phone. In order to assess how much to 'fine' individuals, Voltage Pictures wants people to reveal how much they earn and how much illegal downloading they've done in the past. ISP iiNet says the questions go way too far. Following prolonged legal action in Australia, the company behind the hit movie Dallas Buyers Club was given permission to chase down individuals said to have downloaded the movie illegally. An estimated 4,726 internet account holders will be targeted under the legal action and all will come under considerable pressure to pay Voltage Pictures a cash settlement to make a supposed lawsuit go away. Somewhat surprisingly, it has now emerged that the movie company will not only target people via letter, but will also phone account holders to interrogate them in person. During a Federal Court hearing today it was revealed that Dallas Buyers Club (DBC) have prepared a script which details several questions the company intends to ask its targets. Shockingly they include requests for individuals to reveal how much they earn each year and how many movies they have previously shared using BitTorrent. ISP iiNet, whose customers are targeted in the action, say that ‘fines’ should be as little as $5, but DBC wants to charge individuals variable amounts based on their income, how damaging their sharing of Dallas Buyers Club was, and how much infringement they have been involved in during the past. Richard Lancaster SC, representing iiNet, said the script “comes on too strong†and is too broad in scope. “There’s no justification for getting into a royal commission into end users’ use of the BitTorrent network,†Mr Lancaster said. “It’s about the film.†Lancaster also complained that the texts of both the script and letter imply that guilt of copyright infringement had already been established when in fact that is not the case. “The people on the phone aren’t told, ‘We’ve been given your details in respect to a court order,†he said. “They are being told much more firmly, ‘You have infringed and we are going to sue if you don’t settle’.†How much DBC will demand from alleged infringers is unknown, but it seems inevitable that anything said on the telephone by an account holder will be used against them in a bid to boost the amount. Counsel for DBC, Ian Pike SC, said that it will be up to the individual whether they choose to answer the company’s questions. While most lawyers will advise anyone getting a call from DBC to tell the company absolutely nothing, the movie company is keen for its targets to be unprepared. Firstly, DBC is refusing to reveal how it will calculate the amount each person will be asked to pay. However, it is believed the company will seek some kind of licensing fee and/or damages based on how many times the content was shared online, plus relevant court costs. Alternatively, DBC might simply arrive at the highest figure it can reasonably expect to retrieve from the alleged infringer based on what the company is told on the telephone. However, people being targeted by the company won’t be going into their ‘negotiations’ completely blind. Despite expressing concern that people will read their contents and learn how to reduce the claim against them, on the orders of Judge Nye Perram, DBC will be required to submit the texts of both their telephone script and settlement demand letters to the court. A final judgment on the case is expected between July 10 and 15. https://torrentfreak.com/trolls-want-to-interrogate-bittorrent-pirates-by-phone-150618/
  2. Imagine an Internet in which every possible creative work uploaded results in a copyright claim - because it's already been created. That's the nightmare scenario being painted by a Russian company which says it has a plan to use copyright and trolling to free humans from ever having to create digital content again. Without copyright, people in the creative industries would have no incentive to keep on creating. In recent years this kind of statement has been regularly pumped out by entertainment companies in their defense of tougher intellectual property legislation. Countering, advocates such as Swedish Pirate Party founder Rick Falkvinge frequently argue that copyright monopolies stifle creativity and hinder innovation. But what would happen if rather than providing an incentive to create, the existence of copyright meant that no-one would ever need to create anything original online ever again? And if they did, they could be sued for it? That’s the staggering notion being put forward by Qentis Corporation. The outfit, which claims a base in Russia, says that its business model is to use massive computing power to generate digital intellectual property on a never-seen-before scale and transfer the rights to its partners. “Our clients are private high net-worth individuals (HNWI), investment funds and corporations that act as pure investors,†Qentis explains. What Qentis are proposing is the bulk algorithmic creation of content – music, text, images etc – on such a large scale that in a few years its clients will own the rights to just about anything people might care to create and upload. “Qentis aims to produce all possible combinations of text (and later on images and sound) and to copyright them,†Qentis’ Michael Marcovici told TorrentFreak. “Concerning text we try this in chunks of 400 word articles in English, German and Spanish. That would mean that we will hold the copyright to any text produced from now on and that it becomes impossible for anyone to circumvent Qentis when writing a text.†In terms of graphics, Qentis promotional material states that a subsidiary has already generated 3.23% of “all possible images†in the 1000×800 pixel format. “We are now generating images at a much faster pace and expect to complete 10 percent of all possible images by the end of 2015. At current projections, we will by 2020 generate every possible image in the 1000×800 pixel resolution,†the company claims. Of course, ‘creating’ this ‘content’ has a purpose. According to Qentis it effectively seeks to become the biggest copyright troll on the planet. The company says it will identify copyright infringements and help investors to pursue infringers. And, astonishingly, it claims it will free companies from having to rely on people to come up with creative content. “It is only a matter of time before Qentis becomes the universal single source for all web content, freeing corporations from their expensive dependence on writers, musicians and artists,†says Qentis co-founder Howard Lafarge. TF spoke with Rick Falkvinge about Qentis’ stated aims and needless to say he’s completely unimpressed. “Interesting, and complete bullshit,†Rick said. “They claim to have generated all possible texts in English that are up to 400 words in length, and therefore, any text below that length ‘infringes’. However, having the copyright monopoly on a text is solidly dependent on having had artistic skill gone into generating it. Merely mechanically generating all combinations does not, repeat NOT, reward a copyright monopoly.†Having spent way more time on the Qentis website than we probably should, (and arriving at the conclusion that they’re either crazy, evil geniuses or masters of parody) we’re still left with an interesting concept. The fact remains that there are plenty of huge, heavily pro-copyright corporations on the planet today who would happily embark on a Qentis-style operation of copyrighting all content before a human can create it, if indeed such a thing was possible. Rest assured, at that point the ‘artists’ would be a forgotten and inconvenient part of their business models. “The mere concept that somebody thinks of generating all possible texts and then thinks they can sue humanity for coming up with one of these combinations through actual artistic talent shows how completely screwed up copyright monopoly law is,†Rick concludes. Since Qentis claims to have come up with the lyrics to Lady Gaga’s ‘Applause’ before she did, TF pressed Qentis to give us more examples where their creations have successfully predicted the future. The company couldn’t immediately give us any, but said there were “many more†to be found. We also asked about the mathematical implications of coming up with every available combination of text in a 400 word article, given there are one million words in the English language alone. How many generated articles would be a ‘miss’ in trying to come up with one ‘hit’? “About the mathematics, this is mainly about working with n-grams, we don’t work iteratively with misses because that would produce as you mention a LOT of misses, probably only 1 out of few million would be readable,†the company’s Michael Marcovici told us. “We do not include entities in the text as it does not matter and we concentrate on the structure of the text. Using known or predicted combinations is more economical, the main challenge is storage and not so much generating text.†For those interested in reading just how bad things could get on the copyright front, given the chance, the fully comprehensive and quite incredible Qentis website can be found here. We’re not sure what their endgame is, but we wouldn’t be surprised if they have a secret underground base. Everyone is invited to comment below, scholars of copyright and mathematics in particular. http://torrentfreak.com/copyright-apocalypse-trolls-attack-the-net-from-the-future-140928/
  3. The Popcorn Time app brought easy downloading to the masses earlier this year, hiding its mechanics away under a sleek interface. However, its presentation led some users to believe that regular and 'safe' streaming technology was under the hood, an illusion recently shattered when they began to receive letters from copyright trolls. popcorn-timeAfter taking the Internet by storm earlier this year, Popcorn Time needs very little introduction. The subject of dozens of news articles, this application massively simplifies the viewing of videos online via a Netflix-style interface. Even after several controversies, including the retirement of both the original team and the developers who subsequently took over the project, the software lives on in various forms. One of the more successful variants, known as Cuevana Storm, is less known in English-speaking regions since it’s presented in Spanish. However, several users in Germany are now dealing with issues arising from its use. Yesterday, German lawfirm GGR Law reported that three of its clients had received demands for cash settlements from the Waldorf Frommer law firm based on allegations of copyright infringement. However, during discussions all of the recipients insisted that they had never installed a BitTorrent client on their machines. Instead they had used only streaming services. The use of unauthorized streaming sites came to the forefront in Germany during December 2013 when users of the RedTube site suddenly started receiving settlement demands from the U & C lawfirm. That provoked a government announcement in January this year that viewing pirated streams is not illegal. So are these latest settlement demands for 815 euros each just another attempt at illegally extorting cash following legal stream views? Firstly and importantly, the letter recipients believed that the content in question had been accessed via streaming – certainly, nothing had been accessed via BitTorrent. However, this is where the confusion lies. While the interfaces of Cuevana Storm / Popcorn time give the impression of server-to-client streaming (like YouTube), both have BitTorrent under the hood. This means that while streaming video to the inbuilt player, content is also being uploaded to other users, just as it would in any regular BitTorrent swarm. “In the warnings from the Waldorf Frommer law firm, Cuevana.tv isn´t mentioned. Also it is not stated that this is a streaming warning letter,†GGR lawyer Tobias Röttger told TorrentFreak. “The warning letter is the classic standard file-sharing warning letter, which the law firm Waldorf Frommer has used for some time. The culprit was accused of uploading the file via BitTorrent. I suspect that Waldorf Frommer don´t know that the download was made over Cuevana.tv.†The above illustrates why it is extremely important for people to have at least a cursory understanding of how software on their machine operates. Streaming video server-to-client or server-to-web browser is either legal or at the least non-detectable in most Western countries. Uploading content to others without permission is generally illegal. For some the difference between the two will only be discovered after receiving a fine for hundreds or maybe thousands of dollars. Source : TorrentFreak