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megauploadWell over two years have passed since Megaupload was taken offline, and the U.S. Government still hasn’t found a way to serve the Hong Kong based company.

During all this time the Hong Kong authorities have kept Megaupload’s assets locked up, as part of a restraint order the U.S. Government had demanded.

In a move to unfreeze these assets, Megaupload has now filed an application in a Hong Kong court. Through this application Megaupload wants the local Department of Justice to set aside the restraint order.

According to Megaupload, the company should no longer be held hostage based on an order that was issued after a seemingly unlawful request by U.S. authorities. The restraint order has basically shut down the company by freezing all its bank accounts and other assets.

Among other things, Megaupload says it wants to use the assets to reunite former users with the personal files they lost access to after the raid.

“Over two years later, the US DOJ has yet to serve Megaupload or initiate substantive criminal proceedings against it, trapping Megaupload in a state of criminal limbo,” Megaupload’s global litigation counsel Ira Rothken says in a comment.

“During that time, the restraint order has prevented Megaupload from conducting business or paying bandwidth expenses needed to return cloud storage data to users. Needless to say, Megaupload and its cloud storage users have been severely prejudiced by the US Department of Justice’s conduct,” he adds.

Megaupload believes that the restraint order was issued unlawfully, in part because the U.S. Government failed to disclose how the Hong Kong company would be served.

“As further argued in Megaupload’s application, the US DOJ’s inability to prosecute Megaupload over this long period of time is grounds to discharge the injunction independent from the US Department of Justice’s nondisclosure,” Rothken says.

To back up its request, Megaupload has submitted affidavits from two criminal law experts. Richard Davis, who is a former Assistant U.S. Attorney and member of the Watergate Prosecution Force, and Stanford Law School professor Robert Weisberg.

Earlier today, the High Court of Hong Kong ordered the local Department of Justice to respond to Megaupload’s allegation. This response has to be filed early June, after which the court will decide on the issue.

If Megaupload wins its case the door will be open for a multi-billion dollar civil claim. Megaupload was previously valued at two billion dollars and before the raid was planning a listing on the U.S. stock market.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

megauploadWell over two years have passed since Megaupload was taken offline, and the U.S. Government still hasn’t found a way to serve the Hong Kong based company.

During all this time the Hong Kong authorities have kept Megaupload’s assets locked up, as part of a restraint order the U.S. Government had demanded.

In a move to unfreeze these assets, Megaupload has now filed an application in a Hong Kong court. Through this application Megaupload wants the local Department of Justice to set aside the restraint order.

According to Megaupload, the company should no longer be held hostage based on an order that was issued after a seemingly unlawful request by U.S. authorities. The restraint order has basically shut down the company by freezing all its bank accounts and other assets.

Among other things, Megaupload says it wants to use the assets to reunite former users with the personal files they lost access to after the raid.

“Over two years later, the US DOJ has yet to serve Megaupload or initiate substantive criminal proceedings against it, trapping Megaupload in a state of criminal limbo,” Megaupload’s global litigation counsel Ira Rothken says in a comment.

“During that time, the restraint order has prevented Megaupload from conducting business or paying bandwidth expenses needed to return cloud storage data to users. Needless to say, Megaupload and its cloud storage users have been severely prejudiced by the US Department of Justice’s conduct,” he adds.

Megaupload believes that the restraint order was issued unlawfully, in part because the U.S. Government failed to disclose how the Hong Kong company would be served.

“As further argued in Megaupload’s application, the US DOJ’s inability to prosecute Megaupload over this long period of time is grounds to discharge the injunction independent from the US Department of Justice’s nondisclosure,” Rothken says.

To back up its request, Megaupload has submitted affidavits from two criminal law experts. Richard Davis, who is a former Assistant U.S. Attorney and member of the Watergate Prosecution Force, and Stanford Law School professor Robert Weisberg.

Earlier today, the High Court of Hong Kong ordered the local Department of Justice to respond to Megaupload’s allegation. This response has to be filed early June, after which the court will decide on the issue.

If Megaupload wins its case the door will be open for a multi-billion dollar civil claim. Megaupload was previously valued at two billion dollars and before the raid was planning a listing on the U.S. stock market.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

gotcensoredIf one had to single out a current TV show that is most-often related with Internet piracy it would have to be Game of Thrones. The show has been shared by millions of people and just last week broke yet another swarm record with 193,418 simultaneous sharers.

There has been much discussion over HBO’s stance to this massive piracy. Last year, HBO programming president Michael Lombardo described the unauthorized downloading as “a compliment“, a statement that was followed up by plans to smarten up release schedules.

The theory at HBO parent Time Warner is that while piracy is largely undesirable, it helps to generate buzz and reduces advertising expenditure. The company also believes that when fans enthuse over Game of Thrones it’s excellent word-of-mouth promotion, so that makes today’s news even more unusual.

The developing situation involves fan site ScreenCapped.net. The site hosts user-uploaded screenshots of popular movies and TV shows which its users transform into fan-created artwork. The piece below is based on the The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.

screencapped1

The site has a pretty large archive of screenshots from dozens of movies and TV shows, which until recently included HBO’s Game of Thrones and True Blood. But in a surprise move HBO has now accused the site of engaging in copyright infringement and ordered it to remove screenshots of these key titles. Screenshots from both shows no longer appear on the site.

Worried at the implications of the HBO DMCA notice, a petition has been launched on Change.org in support of the site and requesting that HBO reconsiders its move. In the petition, which at the time of writing has already received more than 2,000 signatures, ScreenCapped operator Raina Stephens lays out her request to HBO’s anti-piracy director Jake Snyder.

“The fans and staff of Screencapped.net ask that you remove the DMCA against Screencapped.net so that the site may continue to provide HBO fans with high quality screencaps for non-profit use,” Stephens writes.

Users of the site have been expressing their disappointment on Change.org.

screencapped2“Come on, guys. You’re going to slap a DMCA claim on ONE site out of HUNDREDS for hosting screen captures?! It’s not like they’re hosting downloads of your episodes!” user Mandi S writes.

“Drop the claim so I can get my favorite screencap gallery back! How do you think we fan artists make those amazing arts that you KNOW you love. Get real and drop the suit, PLEASE.”

Another user, Alessia Colognesi from Italy, questions whether the move makes financial sense to HBO.

“It’s ludicrous to think that watching/having screencaps will take away from the income of money that you might have. The only reasons why screencaps exist is to let creative people share their love for something making graphics, designs and such; and that’s a good thing because that way other people can take a look at a show and maybe start watching it. Go do something better with your time,” Colognesi concludes.

While the precise motivation behind the takedown remains unclear, it’s difficult to argue with the two key points above. ScreenCapped isn’t offering the actual shows for download and discouraging fans from getting even more invested in a show via innocuous-looking screenshots seems to run counter to Time Warner/HBO’s “buzz is good” plan.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

cassetteTo gather the opinions of the public and other stakeholders on copyright reform, the EU Commission launched a consultation a few months ago.

The call resulted in hundreds of submissions, which were made public recently. One of the topics being covered is the issue of “digital resales.” In other words, whether consumers should be allowed to sell digital music files, videos and software they purchased previously.

In the United States the ReDigi case has been the center of this debate, with a federal court ruling in favor of Capitol Records last year. In the EU, however, the Court of Justice previously ruled that consumers are free to resell games and software, even when there’s no physical copy.

In the submissions to the EU Commission consultation numerous parties weigh in on the subject. Interestingly, the UK Government takes a rather progressive stance by stating that people should be allowed to sell “used” tracks bought in the iTunes store, or used videos they’ve downloaded from Amazon.

“As regards the resale of copies, the UK notes that traditional secondary markets for goods can encourage both initial purchase and adoption of technologies, and the prospect of sale on the secondary market may be factored in to an initial decision to buy and to market prices,” the UK response reads

“There seems to be no reason why this should not be the case for digital copies, except for the ‘forward and delete’ issue noted by the consultation,” it adds.

In other words, according to the UK Government people have the right to sell any digital files they have bought, as long as the original copy is deleted. This stands in sharp contrast to the various record label groups who warn that digital resales may crush the industry.

IFPI, for example, notes in its submission that allowing digital resales would hurt the entire music industry, and threaten the livelihoods of many artists.

“In the recorded music sector, the consequences of enabling the resale of digital content would have very harmful consequences for the entire music market,” IFPI writes.

“The notion that the exhaustion principle should apply to copies acquired by means of digital transmissions in the same way that it applies to physical copies ignores the many differences between the two kinds of copies and between the two distribution processes,” the music group adds.

IFPI signals three main differences between digital and physical distribution that warrant a ban on digital resales. According to them, physical music is different because:

  • the quality of these deteriorates with time, and often due to wear and tear or mishandling
  • purchasing an item at a used record store requires traveling to the store and searching for a copy of the phonograph record
  • the resale only concerns the original recording, not copies of that recording

In other words, people shouldn’t be allowed to resell digital music because it’s too convenient, and because the copies don’t lose their quality.

While it’s no surprise that the labels are against digital resales, these arguments do raise some eyebrows. After all, there are also many physical products that are easy to ship and keep their value over time, which are perfectly fine to resell.

IFPI is not alone in their restrictive view on selling used digital files. The UK-based music group BPI also submitted a response to the consultation, using similar arguments, as did individual labels such as Universal Music and Sony Music.

“The consequences of allowing resale of previously purchased digital content would be devastating to the music industry. It would compete directly with the sale of original digital files as they would be entirely substitutional,” Universal notes, for example.

It is now up to the EU Commission to sift through all the submissions to see what the ideas of various stakeholders and the public are on the matter, and how this should impact future legislation.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

pirate bayLast summer The Pirate Bay celebrated its tenth anniversary, and today the site reached another noteworthy milestone.

Just a few hours ago the 10 millionth torrent was uploaded to the notorious torrent site. Considering all the legal trouble and outside pressure the site has been subjected to, this is quite an achievement.

The torrent in question is a pirated copy of a video from the “IntimateLesbians” series, and was uploaded to the site by VIP uploader “Drarbg.” The 9,999,999th upload, the extended remix of Calvin Harris’ Summer, didn’t go unnoticed either.

TPB’s 10 millionth torrent

tpb10million

The Pirate Bay team told TF that the milestone came as a surprise to them and they quickly had to patch a few things to make sure that the backend was ready for the extra decimal. Among other things, the rules to fetch the .torrent files needed an update.

While The Pirate Bay has processed 10 million uploads, not all torrents are still online today.

In fact, the majority have been deleted for a variety of reasons. The Pirate Bay team informs TF that their database currently holds roughly 3,050,000 torrents. All the other torrents have been removed.

One of the main reasons why torrents disappear from the site is because they are fake. For example, many scammers upload viruses or video files that link people to malware. In addition, anti-piracy outfits have been known to flood The Pirate Bay with fake content.

The Pirate Bay has a policy in place to deal with this abuse, which prescribes that all torrents where the content doesn’t match the description should be deleted. A team of moderators works around the clock to enforce this golden rule.

Right now, nearly 10,000 daily uploads are added to The Pirate Bay. This means that if The Pirate Bay continues to grow, the next 10 million milestone will probably be reached in a year or two.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

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