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Content industry finds its case in dire straits

In an attempt to refine its criminal case against The Pirate Bay, prosecutors once again altered the charges placed against Pirate Bay figureheads Fredrik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm, Peter Sunde, and Carl Lundström.

Swedish newspaper The Local reports that the prosecution made two adjustments:

  • Completely dropping a sentence that read, “All components are necessary for users of the service are able to share files with one another.”
  • Changing “upload” to “upload and store” in the sentence “provide the ability to others to upload torrent files to the service.”

In an interview with Wired, Stockholm University legal scholar Daniel Westman said the ‘all components’ line likely placed extra difficulty in proving the prosecution’s claims, as it may feel “uncertain” it can show that “all components” of the site – its search engine, its tracker, and its torrent database – are necessary to commit infringement.

“The question is whether the defendants fulfill the requirements in the penal code for complicity in a crime,” said Westman. “One could maybe argue that the degree of complicity were higher if all three components could be proven, but the court may as well decide that only one or two is enough.”

Tuesday also saw the first round of testimony from the plaintiffs, with International Federation of Phonographic Industries lawyer Magnus Mårtensson taking the stand.

Mårtensson testified that he successfully searched for, downloaded, and listened to a copy of the album “Intensive Care” by British pop rock star Robbie Williams. He then presented screenshots documenting the download process.

In the defense’s cross-examination, however, Mårtensson later admitted that part of his testimony was based on assumptions, on account of his lack of expertise in file-sharing; when asked whether his was sure his BitTorrent client used The Pirate Bay’s tracker, he replied, “I just assumed it.”

Defense attorney Per E. Samuelson pressed further, asking Mårtensson to confirm exactly what his BitTorrent client was doing. “I can’t answer that,” replied Mårtensson.

When asked whether he knew he could also download .torrent files on Google, Mårtensson’s answer was the same.

“I’ve never done it using Google. I can’t answer that,” he said.

Immediately following Mårtensson’s testimony came a similar, though far more solid, briefing from ex-police officer Anders Nilsson, who now works to the anti-piracy group Antipiratbyrån.

The media industry appears to find itself on increasingly shaky ground – an authors community on Facebook, asked for a few choice quips for prosecution to use in its closing arguments, recently observed that “the whole situation is dominated by the pirates.”

Humorously, the author who posted that comment – Carina Rydberg – had previously and begrudgingly praised The Pirate Bay, in the same Facebook group, for helping her track down books and movies that she could not find otherwise.

“The Pirate Bay is an invaluable source for content that publishers, record labels and movie studios for some reason can't or won't offer,” she wrote. “If someone on The Pirate Bay chose to download the book I wrote in 1989 I would have no objection to that. That novel is practically impossible to get hold of and as an author I want to be read.”

The hybrid civil/criminal trial against The Pirate Bay kicked off last week to a packed courtroom, and is expected to conclude by the end of the week.



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RE: GO PIRATE BAY
By SpaceOddity85 on 2/25/2009 7:56:36 AM , Rating: 4
/devil's advocate

I'm against suffocating corporate practices as much as the next guy, but are they really the only side being greedy regarding the P2P issue?


RE: GO PIRATE BAY
By phxfreddy on 2/25/2009 8:02:34 AM , Rating: 2
If you want to endanger 2nd order value added purveyors like google you should take the recording companies position.

Personally I think that would be misguided. You should watch the "open source economics" video originally on TED that is here:

http://www.amarketplaceofideas.com/open-source-eco...

A short summary would be that distributed production is the new paradigm and that we can take that far if we are unhindered by the throw backs that brought this case against the search engine. ( with the politically incorrect name "pirate bay" )


RE: GO PIRATE BAY
By JoshuaBuss on 2/25/2009 8:03:20 PM , Rating: 2
I really don't think google is in the same business as pirate bay. I don't know why people just keep equating TPB to a search engine.. they're a torrent TRACKER. Tell me, where's google's torrent tracker?


RE: GO PIRATE BAY
By Pryde on 2/25/2009 9:57:10 PM , Rating: 3
The point is that both google and TPB can be used to search for legal AND copyrighted material. The only difference is one does it with P2P and the other does it with HTTP.

If TPB was to fall other trackers will pick up the slack.


RE: GO PIRATE BAY
By Pryde on 2/25/2009 10:01:44 PM , Rating: 2
Also Google will link you to Torrents from TPB

http://www.google.co.nz/search?q=the+pirate+bay+wi...


RE: GO PIRATE BAY
By JoshuaBuss on 2/25/2009 10:10:10 PM , Rating: 2
Indeed, but they don't TRACK torrents. seriously, why is this prosecution having such a hard time explaining how bit torrent works?

If bit torrent was truly p2p, it wouldn't have nearly the success it's had.. it needs trackers to function at its full capacity, and the pirate bay is far and away a leader for tracking torrents.. then just look at their most popular torrents to get a feel for what they're known for / used for the most and you can liken them to a gun store that sells primarily to criminals.


RE: GO PIRATE BAY
By Pryde on 2/25/2009 11:19:03 PM , Rating: 3
Google Caches many web pages that have copyrighted images on them. You download these from Google servers. How is that not sharing copyrighted material? Most people here agree that copyrighted material needs to be protected but are against the way that the RIAA and the like are going about it.

Take for example Gears of War 2, DRM stopped people who purchased it Legally from playing until they applied the patch, The pirates had no such problem. Spore was another great example. Punishing those who bought it legally and doing nothing to stop those downloading it illegally.


RE: GO PIRATE BAY
By ccmfreak2 on 2/26/2009 9:13:27 AM , Rating: 3
Pryde, you summed up my feelings on the situation perfectly. Most of my decisions are made off of ethics as opposed to law (most of what is illegal is also unethical, but not everything that is legal is also ethical). I personally find it unethical to take copies of copyrighted material, but - as a consumer - I don't want to be screwed over either. That doesn't mean I agree entirely with the RIAA.

DRM is the reason why I haven't bought/played Spore. And it is the reason why I only download music from Amazon. I want the artists to get paid for their work, but I don't want to be screwed out of my product either.


RE: GO PIRATE BAY
By JoshuaBuss on 2/26/2009 9:53:50 PM , Rating: 2
No, the caches are only used for making the thumbnails, which are tiny and low enough resolution that it's not considering infringement. These are the only copies of the images actually stored on google's servers.

When you click on "google's cached version of the page" the images need to still be present on the original server to show up.

I agree with your views on piracy and DRM, but I still don't think torrent tracker sites are as blame-free as people are suggesting by trying to equate them to a simple search site. They're facilitating the sharing of illegal material much moreso than simply hosting links.. they're hosting a p2p tracking SERVICE.


RE: GO PIRATE BAY
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 2/25/2009 8:09:06 AM , Rating: 5
I get rather tired of the "Devils advocate" term as it seems to be used interchangeably with I'm going to disagree to disagree.

To answer your question though, yes and no. No they are not the only ones being greedy. If a system exists, people will use it to their advantage. Taxes, Relief Funds, File Sharing, Google, etc.... People game the system all the time. At the same time though, as was outlined. Many of the works you can find as Torrents, do not exist anywhere and can not be purchased. Let's say you want to watch the original Power Rangers TV show from a few years back, check on Amazon and other places and you will find it doesn't exist. However, a quick google search for filetype .torrent and bam, instant match with the entire series broken down by seasons. Granted they are most likely broadcast versions someone encoded on their PC, they exist and people can watch them. Now if the MPAA/RIAA was even semi-intelligent they would offer this through iTunes, Amazon, or another vendor to actually sell the damn things. How can you make a product, show it off and then not sell it. Then complain when someone makes a knockoff that people obtain because they want to see it again? This would be the equivalent of (Given my example) Disney releasing a blockbuster movie in the theatres, but never putting it out on DVD. However, every few years they might decide to dust it off and put it back in theatres for a short period of time before once more retiring it to the archives, again with no DVD.


RE: GO PIRATE BAY
By phxfreddy on 2/25/09, Rating: -1
RE: GO PIRATE BAY
By phxfreddy on 2/25/09, Rating: -1
RE: GO PIRATE BAY
By MrTeal on 2/25/2009 10:29:49 AM , Rating: 2
I'm pretty sure he meant they're disagreeing simple because they want to disagree and like the hear themselves talk. Ring any bells Freddy?


RE: GO PIRATE BAY
By ThePooBurner on 2/25/2009 11:24:19 AM , Rating: 2
He means "disagree for the sake of disagreeing". the person disagrees to[for no reason other than] disagree.


RE: GO PIRATE BAY
By phxfreddy on 2/25/2009 12:37:51 PM , Rating: 2
Yes....but its a really funny way of saying it. What's wrong? Have to censor the fun stuff now too?


RE: GO PIRATE BAY
By MrTeal on 2/25/2009 9:56:32 AM , Rating: 2
Maybe if they can't find the original Power Rangers TV show for purchase, they should thank the publishers and find something (anything) else to watch. :P


RE: GO PIRATE BAY
By A Stoner on 2/25/2009 10:50:37 AM , Rating: 2
I think they actually do this... Or maybe that is your point. Star Wars is another example of limited releases, or no releases. Probably the reason it has such a CULT following, or HAD. It seems to have lost that CULTISH feeling after they released the DVDs of it.


RE: GO PIRATE BAY
By Fireshade on 2/26/2009 7:04:47 AM , Rating: 2
Come on, you mean to say that you totally missed the Star Wars trilogy being released on VHS and Laserdisc?
Loosing its cult status has nothing to do with making them more available. It has more to do with its impact on the memory of generations.


RE: GO PIRATE BAY
By segerstein on 2/25/2009 6:06:24 PM , Rating: 3
Mr Kenobi, you are talking that the situation is dire in the US - nowhere to get the content that is not requested so much. Imagine yourself in a small European country and what you can get there. The latest US TV shows are will be available in two years, on average.

iTunes and Amazon, which have contracts with large content producers require US credit cards if you want to buy the US stuff :-|


RE: GO PIRATE BAY
By adiposity on 2/25/2009 7:45:16 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
This would be the equivalent of (Given my example) Disney releasing a blockbuster movie in the theatres, but never putting it out on DVD.


This is either a poor example or a great one, depending on your purposes. The truth is that Disney already does this. They sell DVDs of old animated movies, but frequently pull them from the shelves for long periods of time. Then when sufficient nostalgia has built up, they re-release it with added features or transfer improvements and call it a "special edition." The result is that they sell more in a short time of these DVDs because people who are aware of the situation jump on these sales out of fear that the DVDs will be off the market for another 5 years. They can also charge more due to this limited availability.

So basically, they do exactly what you warn the MPAA is doing with shows and other hard to find media, except the re-release medium is not necessarily film.

Does Disney have a right to do this? Of course they do. And of course any publisher has the right not to publish things that they feel wouldn't maximize their profits. This does not equate to them giving up the rights on this media, as they may wish to take advantage of it at a future date. This is already being done in the short term with the timing of summer blockbusters and christmas comedies. Does their failure to release imply a right to watch bootlegs before the fact? Or does the release in theatres somehow obligate providing personal copies via DVD within a short time frame and perpetually after the fact?

These are not easy questions to answer and I suspect "pirates" haven't thought about all of them in depth.

My personal view is the "abandonware" rule If a publisher refuses to publish something because it just won't make them any money, after a long enough time I don't care about pirating it. I don't care if it's legal or not.

-Dan


"When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song." -- Sony BMG attorney Jennifer Pariser

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