June, 2009

Vive la France?

french-flagAs often as the Pirate Party of Sweden was condemned at the World Copyright Summit Tuesday, speakers heaped praise on the French government for passing the Creation and Internet law implementing a system of “graduated response” (i.e. “three-strikes”) to policing illegal file-sharing.

“I strongly believe that if we’re going to be successful in this fast-paced digital age, a solid partnership between the copyright community and the Internet Service Providers is crucial,” Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said in a morning keynote. “Many countries have begun to take action by working closely with ISPs to curb online piracy. For example, France has adopted a three strikes law, which calls for ISPs to suspend a subscriber’s service if they are accused three times of pirating copyrighted material. Across the globe, from Japan to the UK, from Australia to Brazil, there have been engaging discussions within the industry on how best to proceed on this front.” Read More »

Pirates Ho!

In voting across the 27-nation European Union Sunday, the Pirate Party of Sweden claimed a single seat in the 785-member European Parliament, a body of dubious authority and popular indifference. But it just about took over the World Copyright Summit in Washington, DC Tuesday, a gathering of 500 or so lawyers, legislators and regulators from around the world organized by the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC).

robert-wexlerIn a forceful–at times even angry–luncheon keynote, Rep. Robert Wexler (D-Fla.), a member of the House Judiciary Committee, warned that the Pirate Party’s “victory” was the harbinger of a lost generation of voters that has grown up comfortable with the idea of “copyright theft.”

“We know in that in this country that if you vote Democratic in your first election you’re very likely to continue voting Democratic throughout your life,” he said. “It was the generation of young Republicans who voted for Ronald Reagan in 1980 that was so helpful to the GOP for many years after. The generation of young people who cast their first vote for Barack Obama will, hopefully, be helpful to the Democrats for years to come.” Read More »

Court in Pirate Bay case not biased, court in Pirate Bay case says

The judge who convicted  The Pirate BayFour, Tomas Norstrom, was not biased, as defendants charged in their appeal, according to the Stockholm District Court on which he sits. In a filing with the Svea Court of Appeal, which is hearing the case, the chief judge of the district court argued that Norstrom’s membership in several organizations that take pro-copyright stands was merely for educational purposes, to help keep abreast of copyright legislation, and not an indication of bias.

The chief judge, Lena Berke, also rejected charges that Norstrom had been hand-picked for the case, rather than presiding as a result of random selection, as is the norm.

“This we strongly reject,” Justice Berke told reporters at the District Court. “The selection was made in adherence with the District Court’s rules of procedure.”

Morning read: Jolly Roger flies in Europe, Copyright Summit in US

Hoist the Jolly Roger maties, the Pirate Party has claimed at least one of Sweden’s 20 seats in the European Parliament (and possibly two) as a result of thisweekend’s voting across the 27-nation bloc. The party, which ran on a platform of legalizing file-sharing and rolling back government surveillance powers, garnered 7.1% of the vote, putting it ahead of several more-established parties.

pirate-partyTurnout in Sweden was 43.8%, slightly ahead of the 37.1% turnout in the 2004 election, despite predictions of record low turnout heading into the weekend. TorrentFreak does the mathandestimates about 200,000 Swedes voted Pirate this time around, a nearly five-fold increase over the 35,000 votes the party garnered in the 2006 national election. The party saw a surge in membership in the wake of the conviction in April of four of the founders of The Pirate Bay, one of the largest BitTorrent tracker sites.

Apart from the immediate implications of the Pirate Party victory, the election results in general are likely to lead to some hand-wringing in EU capitals. Governing parties in about a dozen EU countries suffered defeats in the election, most notably in Britain, where Labour claimed only 16% of the vote, its lowest total in decades.

In general, small, even fringe, parties did well across the EU, including the Whites-only British National Party and far-right parties in the Netherlands, Hungary and Austria. The  anti-Europe British Independence Party also scored gains. Across the bloc, right-leaning parties scored significant gains while center-left parties were generally pummelled.

Back home, the 2nd World Copyright Summit is scheduled to open in Washington, DC on Tuesday. The two-day conference is sponsored by the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC), and will feature some 500 delegates from 55 countries.

The Pirate Party victory is sure to be a topic of discussion. The full agenda is here.

And oh, yeah, Apple Worldwide Developers Conference  blah, blah, blah, new iPhone, blah, blah, blah, Steve Jobs is risen, blah, blah, blah, and he is separating the righteous from the the wicked, and the righteous shall have their apps approved and the wicked shall be cast into the Palm of eternal darkness blah, blah, blah.

Blu-ray managed copy: wait for the Cliff Notes

Believe it or not–and I almost don’t–the Advanced Access Content System License Authority (AACS-LA) began posting the final license agreements for the DRM system used on Blu-ray Discs on its Web site late Friday. Nearly five years in the making, the final agreements include a mandatory management-copy provision, under which most Blu-ray discs must permit copies to be made, albeit under carefully controlled conditions.

acms_logoThe agreements also require that AACS-compliant hardware devices be capable of detecting digital watermarks inserted into movies and other video content to block playback of pirated content (a big win, incidentally, for Verance, whose Cinavia watermark is the specified standard in the agreement). Read More »