Technology and Business Law Blog

Anti-Piracy House Bill

An anti-piracy bill was passed yesterday which is the Pro IP Act that was opposed by various lawyers and legal watch groups last year and labeled the “outrageously gluttonous IP bill ever introduced in the U.S.”

The bill, introduced in December by Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) and 17 co-sponsors and known as the Pro IP Act, is championed by a broad base of intellectual-property holders, including entertainment companies, auto parts manufacturers, drugmakers and unions. It now heads to the House floor, and advocates hope it will pass this summer.

In addition to creating the position of IP czar, the bill would amend federal copyright law to add resources to the fight against piracy and raise the ceiling on damages that could be awarded by a civil court to a rights-holder whose work had been pirated. Patry and others opposed a section backed by the music industry that has since been struck from the bill. Referred to as the “compilation clause,” it would have targeted users who illegally share music CDs, assigning penalties for each song pirated from a CD, rather than one penalty per disc.

Even though piracy is high in the U.S. it is insignificant compared to piracy of U.S. generated material in other countries like China and India. Even though anti-piracy laws are entacted in these countries, the real questions to be asked are, how effectively are these laws being enforced  and how is U.S. realistically going to stop piracy in these countries? The U.S. cannot go there are enforce it’s laws and all these bilateral treaties etc just look good on paper.


May 1, 2008 Posted by | Copyright, Piracy | , | Leave a comment

Rampant Piracy in Developing Countries

The IFPI — or International Federation of the Phonographic Industry — announced this week that it has filed legal proceedings against Baidu and Sohu, as well as Sohu’s associate company, Sogou. The group also named Yahoo China in a statement outlining its legal strategy to combat music piracy. IFPI also claims that more than 99% of music files distributed in China are pirated. Read here.

Piracy in a huge problem in most of the developing countries. It is not just related to music but extends to movies and books. India for example has all the necessary Intellectual property laws enacted and business entities can flaunt them to attract business projects but the reality is that there is no real enforcement of these laws. If one walks in any busy market street in major city in India, right there in the side walk shops you can openly find pirated movie DVD’s, music CD’s and bestselling author books sold for way less than what a copyrighted version would cost in a regular store. The quality is not so good but then there are places where if you pay a bit more you get a much better quality product which is pirated.

Even right here in the U.S. most of the ethnic stores make copies of the latest ethnic movies or music and rent or sell it out even before it is released in the theaters. It is a huge market and the quality is not bad, in fact the store owner will declare the print is of good quality just freshly copied! Fresh off the oven!!

February 7, 2008 Posted by | Copyright, Piracy | Leave a comment

No Copyright Infringement Here

Here is some refreshing news- the film Jackass 2.5 will be available for free viewing on-line between December 19-31. Stories like file sharing, ripping CD, illegal hosting and downloading raises issues of copyright infringement and piracy.

Paramount pictures have made a smart move by hosting the film for free even if it is only for a limited time, something like a sneak preview which will be supported by ad revenues. It could turn out to be a double win, apart from the ad revenue this could also create an advertising buzz for the film itself so that once the two weeks are over people will be paying money to watch it.

Authors and singers give away hard copies and digital format of books and CD’s for free which only creates more publicity for the creator. This is one solution to combating piracy for it’s the old saying “the more you give the more you get.”

December 13, 2007 Posted by | Copyright, Piracy | Leave a comment

Copyrighted Movies

With our lives being intertwined with the Internet the most common legal issues are related to copyright infringement and it could be in the area of movies, music, books, software or other art work. Here is an article about several Hollywood studios suing a Chinese online service Internet cafe called accusing them of offering pirated downloads of movies and the studios targeted “Pirates of the Caribbean”.

From customers can download movies and television series onto their computers. It is stated that pirated DVDs can be bought on China’s street for $1.00, but it is true of India too where pirated DVDs and books can be openly purchased for a fraction of the original costs and I am sure that is true of many other countries.

In fact one does not have to go to China or India just visit a local ethnic video store right here in the US and pirated copies of the latest ethnic movies will be available even while the movie is still playing in the theaters and the cost of renting them is incredibly cheap and the prints real good, and at times the store owner will nonchalantly state it’s a “fresh copy” just made!

Copyright infringement is all around us and in lots of our simple day to day activities too and the only crime is getting caught and lately the movie and music industry has taken a strong stance and have started suing the infringers.

November 23, 2007 Posted by | China, Copyright Infringement, Piracy | Leave a comment

Site Linking Illegal in UK

On-line website TV-Links a UK based site was shut down last week by the local police and the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT). What TV-Links does is that it provides links to TV shows and other videos posted on various video-sharing websites like YouTube or Google. The site by itself did not host any cpoyrighted content.

A FACT spokesman said that: “Sites such as TV Links contribute to and profit from copyright infringement by identifying, posting, organising, and indexing links to infringing content found on the Internet that users can then view on demand by visiting these illegal sites,”

This sounds real interesting since in the US in the recent Perfect 10 v. Google case the appellate court held that Google was not liable for copyright infringement for linking thumbnail pictures from Perfect 10’s site and the court held that Google’s use of the thumbnail pictures was “transformative” and considered it to be “fair use” under 17 U.S.C. Section 107 of the Copyright Act. The court stated that Google is operating a comprehensive search engine that only incidentally indexes infringing websites.

So if TV-Links was US based, I wonder how the US courts would view TV-Links activity. While linking is not a crime in the US, it is a crime under the UK IP law and would come under “facilitation” of copyright infringement. Since the copyright laws vary in different countries, a site considered infringing in one country can be shut down there but can be hosted in another country. 

Can downloading music and video on-line and file sharing be permanently stopped? Can piracy be stopped? No, once a site is taken down another crops up. RIAA’s shut down of Napster has not eliminated or even diminished file sharing. Tons of p2p programs are out there which makes getting copyrighted stuff a child’s play. For every site that is taken down dozens crop up and for every person who is prosecuted thousands go free.

October 24, 2007 Posted by | Copyright, Piracy, site linking | 2 Comments

Prince to sue for copyright infringement.

The latest news is that the U.S. pop star Prince plans to sue YouTube and the like for unauthorized use of his music in a bid to “reclaim his art on the internet.” He said that YouTube could not argue it had no control over which videos users posted on its site. “YouTube … are clearly able (to) filter porn and pedophile material but appear to choose not to filter out the unauthorized music and film content which is core to their business success” Prince also plans legal action against online auctioneer eBay and Pirate Bay, a site accused by Hollywood and the music industry as being a major source of music and film piracy.

YouTube responded saying that they do care and are trying their best to prevent copyright infringement and piracy and are developing the necessary tools to combat it. If you read my previous entry- you can read more about it. With more and more advanced technology being developed to share music, videos etc copyright infringement and fighting piracy is a one step forward two step backward game.

September 13, 2007 Posted by | Copyright, Licensing, Piracy, YouTube | Leave a comment

Piracy- movie copies captured by cell phones

As technology advances intellectual property issues will also be growing leaps and bounds. One of the most common issues in the world of creativity is copyright infringement via piracy of books, movies and music. In my last blog entry I had written about YouTube and the piracy issues it faces and how the media world is incurring millions of dollars as loss in revenue because of rampant piracy problems.

With people looking at ways to make money at little or no cost, pirated copies of books, music and movies have a huge underground market. Most of us have had a chance to watch a pirated movie where the copy is made by recording the movie from the original version by a camcorder in the movie theater and we know that the quality is real bad.

The latest tool used in movie piracy is the cell phone which can be used stealthily since the mobile phones nowadays have a long battery life with powerful cameras. Now I think this whole cell phone movie copying thing is hyped up. Sure, recording a movie with a cell phone does amount to piracy but really one cannot sit there and record the whole movie or even good parts of it and have any kind of quality both in terms of the picture and sound. Parts of the movie can be uploaded in YouTube but like I said in my previous blog YouTube is soon coming out with it’s latest technology to combat piracy so watch out!

September 2, 2007 Posted by | clandestine movie taping, Piracy | Leave a comment