Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Saturday, January 8, 2005

Fighting Back The MPAA With A Little Help From Some Friends

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The MPAA and the RIAA keep suing not only individuals sharing and exchanging music and movie files online, but increasingly so-called BitTorrent sites, which allow a very efficient, fast and highly distributed way to get large files easily shared among online peers.

But someone from the BitTorrent community of sites has decided to fight back with a little help from his friends.

click to enlarge

Edward Webb, who runs a very popular BitTorrent site, Loki Torrent, has made for himself lots of enemies at the MPAA. But Edward has a lots of good friends and supporters, and he is now reaching out to his site audience to bring together enough financial support to fight backs the big media lawyers in court.

"In 10 days, the Loki users have contributed nearly $40,000 to help support the Webb's defense fund."

"Nearly 60 percent of the sites the MPAA has contacted with cease-and-desist letters have decided to voluntarily shut down, and a majority of the remaining destinations are either working to comply with the order or finalizing legal settlements, according to Dean Garfield, vice president and director of legal affairs for the MPAA.

Small online companies and individuals faced with the enormous legal costs necessary to fight the entertainment industry decide to stop and settle.

But Webb decided to stand up to the MPAA, and the determination he placed into this action allowed him to see a great opportunity in his own Lokitorrent audience. So, he spread the word and its loyal users did the rest."

"If you've ever benefited from this site or file-sharing in general, now is the time to show your support," he wrote in a message on the home page. "We are looking at a cost of $30K per month in fees. Recent estimates by attorneys are looking at 2-3 times this amount in a full-on battle. Help us fight back and ensure your right to share doesn't end here."

With media conglomerates targeting individuals with big dollar lawsuits and technology companies increasingly dictating how people can use hardware and software, digital collectives have started springing up to give voice to users.

It is at the same time interesting to see that, Bram Cohen, the father of the BitTorrent software, does not stand on the side of Loki Torrent. He thinks that sharing copyrighted files via BitTorrent is indeed a loosing battle from the beginning and that if any online company is involved in any such type of activity, it should give it up as fast as it can.

"Fighting that one is stupid," he wrote in an email interview. "They'll lose. If you're engaged in flagrant piracy, you should (1) not do that, (2) stop doing that (3) if you keep doing it, shut everything down and disappear as soon as you get a takedown notice, and (4) if you don't do that, settle for as little as possible as quickly as you can."

Edward Webb take on this issue is rather different:

"If a user of the site is sharing copywritten works they do not have permission to share, they are breaking US laws by doing so. We have a lengthy agreement upon signup that tells them what they are allowed to and not allowed to share. We have companies contact us once in a while letting us know of users abusing this policy and we normally ban the user as well as de-list the possible infringement.

Recently I have even begun filtering searches for obvious copywritten titles in order to curb this abuse of the site.

The problem with peer-to-peer file sharing is that there is no way to find out if what a user is sharing is copywritten (and done so without permission) without actually downloading the content from them. Beyond downloading all of the shared content (which is illegal in the US), there is no way to tell (without a company notifying you) that anything shared is illegal.

This is all barring whether or not I should be dubbed the world's babysitter when it comes to other people breaking the law or if the MPAA should simply start going after the people actually breaking the law, the illegal file sharers."

And Edward Webb is now determined to fight back the MPAA and to use the money he has received from his supporters to go after what he think are his rights.

His invitation on the Loki Torrent site leaves no ambiguity out:

"Loki Torrent is fighting for your rights to freely share on the internet.

"The MPAA is a large organization and this battle will not likely be easily won, even knowing that we are in the right. They have deep pockets and many attorneys and we are not a large corporation. We are one site taking the risk of standing up for everyone's rights.

This is looking to be a landmark case concerning your rights on the internet, and we need to be able to fight them through victory.

Any amount you can provide for the support of this case and the costs that come with it are greatly appreciated."

So the question really is for each one of you:
Is the the legal action from MPAA and RIAA against this online resources who allow efficient distribution and sharing of files to be supported?

Should we really throw away the many legal and honest opportunities that BitTorrent provides us through these online services?

Shouldn't content be tagged in a way as to make it clearly explicit if it is "open source", "public domain" or "CC - Creative Commons" or not?

Shouldn't these file sharing services require a pretty good registration so that you can indeed share as large and as many files as you want but if you start making available copyrighted work you also take good, personal responsibility with it?

This is what Gary Lerhaupt, of Prodigem (another BitTorrent site I have been successfully using recently), says about the issue in response to my direct question on the topic:

"The negative stories regarding BitTorrent are in regards to the
multitudes of bit torrent trackers pointing to non-legal content. This does not worry me in the least because I am completely legal.

In general, I simply need to post a notice of DMCA compliance and should anyone feel their copyrighted material is illegally being distributed via Prodigem, I have 10 days to respond once they inform me. Really, I'm just like any other web hosting service."

Som etext excerpted from original article: The Legal Peers (c) MIT Technology Review

Reference: MIT Technology Review [ Read more ]
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posted by Robin Good on Saturday, January 8 2005, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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