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Austrian Tor Exit Node Operator Found Guilty As An Accomplice Because Someone Used His Node To Commit A crime

from the bad,-bad-news dept

Three years ago we wrote about how Austrian police had seized computers from someone running a Tor exit node. This kind of thing happens from time to time, but it appears that folks in Austria have taken it up a notch by… effectively now making it illegal to run a Tor exit node. According to the report, which was confirmed by the accused, the court found that running the node violated §12 of the Austrian penal code, which effectively says:

Not only the immediate perpetrator commits a criminal action, but also anyone who appoints someone to carry it out, or anyone who otherwise contributes to the completion of said criminal action.

In other words, it’s a form of accomplice liability for criminality. It’s pretty standard to name criminal accomplices liable for “aiding and abetting” the activities of others, but it’s a massive and incredibly dangerous stretch to argue that merely running a Tor exit node makes you an accomplice that “contributes to the completion” of a crime. Under this sort of thinking, Volkswagen would be liable if someone drove a VW as the getaway car in a bank robbery. It’s a very, very broad interpretation of accomplice liability, in a situation where it clearly does not make sense.

via Austrian Tor Exit Node Operator Found Guilty As An Accomplice Because Someone Used His Node To Commit A crime | Techdirt.

The Law Library of Congress has digitized its collection of pre-1923 piracy trial. This historical collection of piracy trials is critical for understanding how the various nations of the world handled piracy issues before the year 1900. The full texts of these titles are available from the bibliography listed below.

via Piracy Trials | Law Library of Congress.

The error message that launched this whole investigation.

Darrell Whitelaw / Twitter

For years now, Internet users have accepted the risk of files and content they share through various online services being subject to takedown requests based on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and/or content-matching algorithms. But users have also gotten used to treating services like Dropbox as their own private, cloud-based file storage and sharing systems, facilitating direct person-to-person file transfer without having to worry.

This weekend, though, a small corner of the Internet exploded with concern that Dropbox was going too far, actually scanning users’ private and directly peer-shared files for potential copyright issues. What’s actually going on is a little more complicated than that, but it shows that sharing a file on Dropbox isn’t always the same as sharing that file directly from your hard drive over something like e-mail or instant messenger.

The whole kerfuffle started yesterday evening, when one Darrell Whitelaw tweeted a picture of an error he received when trying to share a link to a Dropbox file via IM. The Dropbox webpage warned him and his friend that "certain files in this folder can’t be shared due to a takedown request in accordance with the DMCA."

Whitelaw freely admits that the content he was sharing was a copyrighted video, but he still expressed surprise that Dropbox was apparently watching what he shared for copyright issues. "I treat [Dropbox] like my hard drive," he tweeted. "This shows it’s not private, nor mine, even though I pay for it."

In response to follow-up questions from Ars, Whitelaw said the link he sent to his friend via IM was technically a public link and theoretically could have been shared more widely than the simple IM between friends. That said, he noted that the DMCA notice appeared on the Dropbox webpage "immediately" after the link was generated, suggesting that Dropbox was automatically checking shared files somehow to see if they were copyrighted material rather than waiting for a specific DMCA takedown request.

Dropbox did confirm to Ars that it checks publicly shared file links against hashes of other files that have been previously subject to successful DMCA requests. "We sometimes receive DMCA notices to remove links on copyright grounds," the company said in a statement provided to Ars. "When we receive these, we process them according to the law and disable the identified link. We have an automated system that then prevents other users from sharing the identical material using another Dropbox link. This is done by comparing file hashes."

Dropbox added that this comparison happens when a public link to your file is created and that "we don’t look at the files in your private folders and are committed to keeping your stuff safe." The company wouldn’t comment publicly on whether the same content-matching algorithm was run on files shared directly with other Dropbox users via the service’s account-to-account sharing functions, but the wording of the statement suggests that this system only applies to publicly shared links.

We should be clear here that Dropbox hasn’t removed the file from Whitelaw’s account; they just closed off the option for him to share that file with others. In a tweeted response to Whitelaw, Dropbox Support said that "content removed under DMCA only affects share-links." Dropbox explains its copyright policy on a Help Center page that lays out the boilerplate: "you do not have the right to share files unless you own the copyright in them or have been given permission by the copyright owner to share them." The Help Center then directs users to its DMCA policy page.

Dropbox has also been making use of file hashing algorithms for a while now as a means of de-duplicating identical files stored across different users’ accounts. That means that if I try to upload an identical copy of a 20GB movie file that has already been stored in someone else’s Dropbox account, the service will simply give my account access to a version of that same file rather than allowing me to upload an identical version. This not only saves bandwidth on the user’s end but significant storage space on Dropbox’s end as well.

Some researchers have warned of security and privacy concerns based on these de-duplication efforts in the past, but the open source Dropship project attempted to bend the feature to users’ advantage. By making use of the file hashing system, Dropship effectively tried to trick Dropbox into granting access to files on Dropbox’s servers that the user didn’t actually have access to. Dropbox has taken pains to stop this kind of "fake" file sharing through its service.

In any case, it seems a similar hashing effort is in place to make it easier for Dropbox to proactively check files shared through its servers for similarity to content previously blocked by a DMCA request. In this it’s not too different from services like YouTube, which uses a robust ContentID system to automatically identify copyrighted material as soon as it’s uploaded.

In this, both Dropbox and YouTube are simply responding to the legal environment they find themselves in. The DMCA requires companies that run sharing services to take reasonable measures to make sure that re-posting of copyrighted content doesn’t occur after a legitimate DMCA notice has been issued. Whitelaw himself doesn’t blame the service for taking these proactive steps, in fact. "This isn’t a Dropbox problem," he told Ars via tweet. "They’re just following the laws laid out for them. Was just surprised to see it."

via Dropbox clarifies its policy on reviewing shared files for DMCA issues | Ars Technica.

The Government of Antigua is planning to launch a website selling movies, music and software, without paying U.S. copyright holders. The Caribbean island is taking the unprecedented step because the United States refuses to lift a trade “blockade” preventing the island from offering Internet gambling services, despite several WTO decisions in Antigua’s favor. The country now hopes to recoup some of the lost income through a WTO approved “warez” site.

Antigua and Barbuda is a small country in the Caribbean that for years had a flourishing gambling industry.

A few years ago 5% of all Antiguans worked at gambling related companies. However, when the U.S. prevented the island from accessing their market the industry collapsed.

“What was once a multi-billion dollar industry in our country, employing almost 5% of our population has now shrunk to virtually nothing,” Antigua’s High Commissioner to London, Carl Roberts, said previously.

Hoping to rebuild the gambling business Antigua filed a dispute at the World Trade Organization (WTO), which they won.

In 2005 the WTO ruled that the US refusal to let Antiguan gambling companies access their market violated free-trade, as domestic companies were allowed to operate freely. In 2007 the WTO went a step further and granted Antigua the right to suspend U.S. copyrights up to $21 million annually.

TorrentFreak is informed by a source close to Antigua’s Government that the country now plans to capitalize on this option. The authorities want to launch a website selling U.S. media to customers worldwide, without compensating the makers.

The plan has been in the works for several months already and Antigua is ready to proceed once they have informed the WTO about their plan. Initially the island put the topic on the WTO meeting last month, but the U.S. blocked it from being discussed by arguing that the request was “untimely.”

This month Antigua will try again, and if they succeed their media hub is expected to launch soon after.

Antigua’s attorney Mark Mendel told TorrentFreak that he can’t reveal any details on the plans. However, he emphasized that the term “piracy” doesn’t apply here as the WTO has granted Antigua the right to suspend U.S. copyrights.

“There is no body in the world that can stop us from doing this, as we already have approval from the international governing body WTO,” Mendel told us.

TorrentFreak is in the process of obtaining details of the content to be offered and the prices to be charged. One option would be to ask users for $5 a month in return for unlimited access to U.S. media.

As predicted, the suggestion to suspend U.S. copyrights is already meeting resistance from United States authorities.

“If Antigua actually proceeds with a plan for its government to authorize the theft of intellectual property, it would only serve to hurt Antigua’s own interests,” the U.S warned in a letter to the WTO last month.

According to the letter Antigua will ruin their chances of getting a settlement should they approve a site that sels U.S. copyrighted goods without compensating the makers.

“Government-authorized piracy would undermine chances for a settlement that would provide real benefits to Antigua. It also would serve as a major impediment to foreign investment in the Antiguan economy, particularly in high-tech industries,” the U.S. added.

Antigua doesn’t appear to be impressed much by these threats and is continuing with its plan.

If the Antiguan media portal indeed launches, it will make headlines all across the world, which may result in the site becoming one of the larger authorized suppliers of U.S. media on the Internet.

via Antigua Government Set to Launch “Pirate” Website To Punish United States | TorrentFreak.

According to the Federal Court, RapidShare has to take all “technically and economically reasonable precautions” without compromising its business model to ensure that its users do not upload Atari’s game. The Court also noted that by not installing a word filter RapidShare may have already breached the “reasonable” threshold.One of the additional steps that the Court said RapidShare must take is to monitor a “manageable number” of third-party sites that offer “link collections” of content available on RapidShare. Should it find them indexing a copy of Atari’s game available on RapidShare it should then delete it from its servers.

via Supreme Court: RapidShare Liable For Copyright Infringement – Sometimes | TorrentFreak.According to the Federal Court, RapidShare has to take all “technically and economically reasonable precautions” without compromising its business model to ensure that its users do not upload Atari’s game. The Court also noted that by not installing a word filter RapidShare may have already breached the “reasonable” threshold.One of the additional steps that the Court said RapidShare must take is to monitor a “manageable number” of third-party sites that offer “link collections” of content available on RapidShare. Should it find them indexing a copy of Atari’s game available on RapidShare it should then delete it from its servers.

via Supreme Court: RapidShare Liable For Copyright Infringement – Sometimes | TorrentFreak.

.http://fortunebrainstormtech.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/041112-us-v-apple-complaint.pdfhttp://fortunebrainstormtech.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/041112-us-v-apple-complaint.pdf

Allowing students access to unpaid, small excerpts of copyrighted works promotes the spread of knowledge because it reduces the cost of education, the judge said. On the other hand, decreased income for publishers could reduce their ability to produce academic textbooks and scholarly works, thereby diminishing the spread of knowledge.Evans said that “decidedly small” excerpts could be copied by Georgia State. In most circumstances, she determined, it is permissible for universities and colleges to copy 10 percent of a book or one chapter of a book with 10 or more chapters.Brandon Butler, director of public policy initiatives for the Association of Research Libraries, said the publishers lawsuit had had a chilling effect on university libraries. “There was a feeling of being under siege,” he said. “They took us to court saying we were shameless pirates.”

via Judge rules largely for Georgia State in copyright case  | ajc.com.Allowing students access to unpaid, small excerpts of copyrighted works promotes the spread of knowledge because it reduces the cost of education, the judge said. On the other hand, decreased income for publishers could reduce their ability to produce academic textbooks and scholarly works, thereby diminishing the spread of knowledge.Evans said that “decidedly small” excerpts could be copied by Georgia State. In most circumstances, she determined, it is permissible for universities and colleges to copy 10 percent of a book or one chapter of a book with 10 or more chapters.Brandon Butler, director of public policy initiatives for the Association of Research Libraries, said the publishers lawsuit had had a chilling effect on university libraries. “There was a feeling of being under siege,” he said. “They took us to court saying we were shameless pirates.”

via Judge rules largely for Georgia State in copyright case  | ajc.com.

WordPress is web software you can use to create a beautiful website or blog. We like to say that WordPress is both free and priceless at the same time.

via WordPress › Blog Tool, Publishing Platform, and CMS.

One in three people in Switzerland download unauthorized music, movies and games from the Internet and since last year the government has been wondering what to do about it. This week their response was published and it was crystal clear. Not only will downloading for personal use stay completely legal, but the copyright holders won’t suffer because of it, since people eventually spend the money saved on entertainment products.

swissIn Switzerland, just as in dozens of other countries, the entertainment industries have been complaining about dramatic losses in revenue due to online piracy.

In a response, the Swiss government has been conducting a study into the impact downloading has on society, and this week their findings were presented.

The overall conclusion of the study is that the current copyright law, under which downloading copyrighted material for personal use is permitted, doesn’t have to change.

Their report begins with noting that when it comes to copying files, the Internet has proven a game-changer. While the photocopier, audio cassette tape and VCR allowed users to make good quality copies of various media, these devices lacked a in-built distribution method. The world-wide web changed all that.

Distribution method or not, the entertainment industries have opposed all these technological inventions out of fear that their businesses would be crushed. This is not the right response according to the Swiss government, which favors the option of putting technology to good use instead of taking the repressive approach.

“Every time a new media technology has been made available, it has always been ‘abused’. This is the price we pay for progress. Winners will be those who are able to use the new technology to their advantages and losers those who missed this development and continue to follow old business models,” the report notes.

The government report further concludes that even in the current situation where piracy is rampant, the entertainment industries are not necessarily losing money. To reach this conclusion, the researchers extrapolated the findings of a study conducted by the Dutch government last year, since the countries are considered to be similar in many aspects.

The report states that around a third of Swiss citizens over 15 years old download pirated music, movies and games from the Internet. However, these people don’t spend less money as a result because the budgets they reserve for entertainment are fairly constant. This means that downloading is mostly complementary.

The other side of piracy, based on the Dutch study, is that downloaders are reported to be more frequent visitors to concerts, and game downloaders actually bought more games than those who didn’t. And in the music industry, lesser-know bands profit most from the sampling effect of file-sharing.

The Swiss report then goes on to review several of the repressive anti-piracy laws and regulations that have been implemented in other countries recently, such as the three-strikes Hadopi law in France. According to the report 12 million was spent on Hadopi in France this year, a figure the Swiss deem too high.

The report further states that it is questionable whether a three-strikes law would be legal in the first place, as the UN’s Human Rights Council labeled Internet access a human right. The Council specifically argued that Hadopi is a disproportionate law that should be repealed.

Other measures such as filtering or blocking content and websites are also rejected, because these would hurt freedom of speech and violate privacy protection laws. The report notes that even if these measures were implemented, there would be several ways to circumvent them.

The overall suggestion the Swiss government communicates to the entertainment industries is that they should adapt to the change in consumer behavior, or die. They see absolutely no need to change the law because downloading has no proven negative impact on the production of national culture.

Aside from downloading, it is also practically impossible for companies in Switzerland to go after casual uploaders. In 2010 the Supreme Court ruled that tracking companies are not allowed to log IP-addresses of file-sharers, making it impossible for rightsholders to gather evidence.

via Swiss Govt: Downloading Movies and Music Will Stay Legal | TorrentFreak.

What should we call this ad hoc association of Silicon Valley businesses, venture capitalists, law professors, civil libertarians, and avid Internet users? Julian Sanchez of the Cato Institute told me he’d brand it a “populist technocratic coalition,” which is somehow both oxymoronic and apt. Leslie Harris, president of the Center for Democracy & Technology, says it calls to mind the old buzzword Netizens. My preferred term: the geek lobby.

via Stop Online Piracy Act: Can the geek lobby stop Hollywood from wrecking the Internet? – Slate Magazine.

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