Editorials Respond to Proposed Legislation Regarding Online Piracy

  • According to an editorial in The New York Times, the House’s proposed Stop Online Piracy Act is too broad as it has provisions to cut off payments from providers such as Visa and ad networks like Google simply by filing a notice of infringement.
  • While the legislation is aimed at foreign websites like Pirate Bay, it could also be used against domestic websites covered by the Digital Milennium Copyright Act that has safe harbor provisions.
  • The editorial asserts that safe harbor provisions should be made available to foreign websites that abide by the DMCA. And a court order should be required before action is taken.
  • A related Los Angeles Times editorial suggests that the Stop Online Piracy Act and the PROTECT IP Act both go to extremes in an effort to protect intellectual property.
  • The legislation could force companies to monitor their users’ behavior “turning them into a private security force for copyright and trademark owners.”
  • Infringement on popular sites like Facebook, Dropbox and YouTube are certainly opening them up to action in spite of safe harbor provisions now in force. The result would be less innovation to create the next YouTube and would have a potentially chilling effect on free speech.

Federal Ruling on Cloud Music: Happy Days for Apple, Google and Amazon

  • A federal judge has ruled that online music services that host tracks in the cloud are not liable if that music has been acquired illegally by customers. ETCentric reported earlier this week that this may seem like a hollow victory for the record labels. However, a green light for online music locker services also provides some legal certainty for the likes of Apple, Google and Amazon.
  • “The judgement, by U.S. District Judge William Pauley, came in a case involving EMI and fourteen other record companies and music publishers, who had sued the service MP3tunes,” reports MacUser. “Judge Pauley explained that MP3tunes and its chief executive, Michael Robertson, had not breached the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) in allowing downloads.”
  • “This is a huge victory. Users can still download songs from publicly available websites, and store them without a separate license fee, so long as MP3tunes complies with takedown notices,” says Greg Gulia, representing MP3tunes and Robertson.
  • This ruling should also come as good news to those companies investing in cloud-based music services. For example, Apple’s iTunes Match is due in the U.S. later this year. According to MacUser: “It will scan users’ iTunes libraries and allow them to access versions of tracks in their library, but not purchased from iTunes, online in iCloud. Tracks purchased in iTunes are automatically available to computers and mobile devices associated with an iTunes account. If no match is found, users will be able to upload the track themselves.”

Judge Rules Against MP3tunes: Hollow Victory for Record Labels?

  • While a judge has ruled against MP3tunes and founder, Michael Robertson, for copyright infringement, the details of the ruling may provide online music locker businesses like those from Google and Amazon with a better legal foundation.
  • A key finding is that users, not MP3tunes, had the ability to determine which files were placed in their lockers.
  • Also, it was determined that DMCA does not require one to investigate potentially infringing activity without a specific complaint from copyright holders.
  • “The news is even better for Google and Amazon,” according to Ars Technica. “Those companies’ music locker services do not even offer the broad sideloading functionality that has caused Robertson legal headaches. So if Judge Pauley’s reasoning survives appeal, Google and Amazon will be on solid legal ground. Indeed, those companies may even want to start thinking about whether they’ve been too cautious. For example, they might save a lot of money by taking advantage of the deduplication part of the ruling.”

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