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Enforcing copyright online has proven to be quite difficult. More than a decade after Napster brought the subject of digital piracy into the mainstream, content owners are still struggling to protect their rights on the internet. They have finally learned one thing though: suing grandmothers (and dead grandmothers) doesn't work.
So what are content owners doing? It appears they are turning their attention to a more receptive audience: politicians.
Should eBay be liable for trademark infringement when its vendors offer counterfeit goods for sale? Famous jeweler Tiffany & Co. has been arguing since 2004 that it should.
The case finally reached the Supreme Court, which rejected Tiffany & Co.'s appear on Monday. That leaves a lower court ruling, which went in eBay's favor, as the final word on the matter in the United States.
Last November, I suggested that ACTA, the not-so-secret-anymore Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement that governments have been negotiating for more than a year, could be "the worst thing for the internet - ever."
And with a 331-294 approval in the EU Parliament, it's one step closer to reality.
Downloading a hit song or Hollywood movie from BitTorrent might become an expensive mistake if you find yourself targeted in a lawsuit, but downloading an adult video might become an expensive and embarrassing mistake.
That, at least, is what Third World Media is hoping. As CNET News.com has reported, the California-based adult entertainment studio is filing suits around the country against John Doe defendants who the studio alleges illegally downloaded its content through file sharing networks like BitTorrent. If the courts permit, those John Does will be unmasked by their ISPs, subjecting them to more than just legal headaches.
The music business isn't as easy as it once was, and record labels often blame the internet for that. After all, the internet has enabled piracy on a scale never seen before, which is often cited as a major reason CD sales have declined so much.
While the internet did usher in an era of digital piracy, the truth of the matter is that industries change over time, and the strongest players in them find ways to adapt.
The Hurt Locker won six Oscars earlier this year, and if its producers have their way, it will also be a big winner in court.
U.S. Copyright Group, a company operated by a group of intellectual property attorneys, has been retained by Voltage Pictures, which financed The Hurt Locker, to file a lawsuit targeting potentially tens of thousands of individuals who downloaded the film via BitTorrent. Ouch.
One of the best ways to start a flame war online: make a claim about the costs of online piracy.
Some, of course, argue that online piracy isn't a problem. Free downloads are free promotion, the argument usually goes. Others, especially those in media industries that have found adjusting to the internet difficult, claim that online piracy is responsible for their woes.
China's internet filter, dubbed the 'Great Firewall', is frequently the subject of discussion, and a source of scorn directed at the nation's Communist government.
But when it comes to defending itself against Great Firewall censorship criticisms, China might soon suggest that its critics look at another country: the UK. That's because the controversial Digital Economy Bill passed in the House of Commons last night, 189 to 47. And it gives the British government the wonderful ability to filter sites off the internet too.
If there was any group of individuals that you would expect to fight copyright holders to the bloody end, the people behind The Pirate Bay (TPB) were it. But apparently, a costly legal defeat can really take the wind out of just about any pirate's sails.
According to a press release issued today, the owners of TBP have sold TBP to publicly-traded software company Global Gaming Factory X (GGF) for $7.8m and GGF "intends to launch new business models that allow compensation to the content providers and copyright owners".
According to new figures released by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, total global music sales dropped by more than 8% in 2008. In the US, total sales were down nearly 19%. The drop comes despite double-digit gains in digital music sales, which are still too small to put a dent in the decline of physical music sales.
You can be sure that digital piracy will receive some of the blame for 2008's slide. And to be fair, record labels have every right to be upset about the infringement of their intellectual property rights.
The battle against digital piracy is one of the most controversial subjects when it comes to the online economy.
The wide availability of peer-to-peer filesharing services and websites that promote content sharing has been a thorn in the side of the recording and movie industries.
There has been a lot of talk about the decline of the traditional entertainment industry the past several years.
As a growing and maturing Internet has become a much more powerful medium for the distribution of media, traditional entertainment enterprises, from television networks to record labels, have increasingly faced new challenges that many argued threaten their survival.