You know the old saying: If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em – and online music site, Grooveshark, seems to be taking that sage advice to heart. Instead of getting into bed with the labels, they’re reaching out to artists – a definite sign the company is looking to the future, not miring themselves in the label-model. But will this new move anger the RIAA gods? You better believe it. Why? Because Grooveshark is going to allow users to pay artists directly.
Why Is Grooveshark Hard To Kill?
If you follow file sharing news, then you know that Grooveshark is one of the more bothersome thorns in the RIAA’s side. The platform’s user-sharing format is set up in such a way that it evades certain intellectual property laws. The simple reason Grooveshark has managed to stick around, while others failed, can be succinctly explained in the company’s unofficial motto: Grooveshark does not violate the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
Over the years, lobbyists and associations have tried to concoct ways to bury Grooveshark. But nothing has stuck. Since Grooveshark ostensibly follows DMCA takedown notice procedures, it’s tough to nail the music streaming service. Yes, there have been accusations that employees are the ones uploading infringing material, but as far as I know, that has yet to be proved.
The New Grooveshark Updates – What It Means
So, on November 1, not only is Grooveshark going to have a snazzy new design, but it will also feature a new service called Flattr. Perhaps the next big thing in crowdsourcing and crowdsupporting, Flattr allows users to deposit money into an account; then, similar to a Facebook “like,” users can choose to “flattr” an artist. At the end of each month, a given user’s account is split between all the people they flattr’d that month. So, let’s say you have $10 in your account for October, and you “flattr” two artists during the month, they would each get $5 from you at the end of the month.
Pretty ingenious if you ask me; the labels are going to despise it and there’s a good chance the “kids” will be all over it – further widening the divide between politics, traditional business models and Internet innovation.
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Update Feb 2013: Welp, it’s a go! The six strike illegal downloading system went into effect at the end of February 2013.
Update Nov 2012: Due to issues associated with Hurricane Sandy, implementation of the “six strike” anti-piracy program, which is intended to thwart illegal downloading, is delayed until 2013.
European countries love illegal downloading laws. Most use a three-strike system, meaning users get two piracy warnings before being slapped with sanctions. In Europe, if a person is caught in the act after two warnings, the punishment is usually suspension of Internet service for up to a year.
Since the US justice system is based on the ‘innocent until proven guilty’ premise, laws like the EU’s three-strike method are considered unconstitutional by many. The argument being that people are stripped of rights without first being found guilty of an actual crime.
But the times, they are a’changing.
Several American ISPs announced that they will employ measures that help copyright holders hang on to their intellectual property. Similar to their European cousins, the Americans are going with a ‘six strike’ policy. This means American Internet users will be given five progressively severe warnings before suffering more serious consequences. These measures are strictly optional for Internet providers, but it is estimated that around seventy-five percent of American citizens will be affected by the new rules.
How Will The Six Strike Illegal Downloading Warning System Work?
Most people know the consequences for pirating content on the Internet. The warning at the beginning of movies makes clear the punishment: Up to Ten Years in “The Clink” and Hundreds of Thousands in Fines. Unfortunately for copyright holders, the strike system has done little to stymie the flow of piracy in Europe.
It isn’t yet known what will happen to a person after their fifth ‘strike’ for downloading pirated content. In fact, there isn’t even a standardized approach for the five warnings before the dooms-day sixth strike.
The Center for Copyright Information (CCI), an organization created by the movie and recording industries, is working in conjunction with the nation’s ISPs. They haven’t, however, been able to provide many details on the potential consequences.
The Executive Director of the CCI said the five warnings leading up to the sixth strike would be educational tools. Meaning someone surfing the web may have to read a warning about possible consequences or watch a video related to online piracy, before continuing Internet use. It’s not yet known what punishments a sixth strike would trigger, but many ISPs are hesitant to cut off a person’s service — let’s face it, who wants to lose customers?
Is Illegal Downloading Really That Big Of A Problem?
The new measures will do little to thwart online piracy. Heck, it’s barely made a difference in France and other EU nations. Regardless, the important question to keep asking should be: is piracy really that big of a problem? Sure, the entertainment industry wants their potential lost revenue, but is it really potential lost revenue or just a 21st century way of entertainment consumption – screen first and buy what you like? And if so, is the latter a successful business model? If you believe this piracy math, then your answer is probably “yes, piracy is good for the entertainment economy.”
Nevertheless, according to the law, illegal downloading is against the law. There ain’t no getting around that solid fact. So, who knows, maybe this new system won’t do much to stop the hard-core pirates, but it could dissuade a curious teen from getting into the habit in the first place. Only time and test lawsuits will tell.
Need a lawyer to consult on a piracy related legal matter? Get in touch with Kelly / Warner Law. We’re and Internet law firm that focuses on all legal things associated with doing businesses and living on the Web. Our rates are extremely reasonable and our success rate impressive. Get in touch.
At turns, they’ve been called the “protest party of the moment” and members have been known to make questionable haberdashery choices. For all intent and purpose they’re like a political band of gypisies – independent and prone to eccentricities. Nope, I’m not talking about the Tea Party, but instead the Pirates of Germany.
A political party numbering approximately 30,000, the Pirates of Germany hold 20 seats in one state and 45 seats across the country. While the popular history of the party usually begins in 2009, the seeds of their union actually date back to around 2006. It was that year that the Mannheim court ruled that citizens are responsible for their WiFi routers and all the traffic that passed through it. When the decision hit, a group of Internet activists in Germany started conversing on a, what could be described as, a fan-boy/fan-girl wiki for the Swedish Pirate Party. The administrator of the wiki was “Mor Roguen” or “Dark Knight” and on September 1, 2006, the group moved their meeting offline and held their first in-person gathering. What emerged from that gathering was the beginnings of a new German political party called “The Pirates.”
In 2009 members mobilized to protest a national telecommunications law that was enacted to combat online pornography, but the Pirates argued that the law could be easily used against anyone. In 2010 the Federal Court of Justice ruled that citizens could be fined one-hundred euros or more for an open WiFi connection – and the Pirates grew in numbers.
The German Pirates are not the only online copyright “outlaws” who’ve made tremendous gains thanks to government interference. Notorious BitTorrent search engine, The Pirate Bay, saw their traffic more than double after it was shut down by officials. Plus, the Swedish Pirate Party also saw their numbers increase significantly after the highly publicized event.
So what do the Pirates in Germany stand for? Well, their manifesto is a little bit hyper-intelligent, sci-fi idealism, coupled with a healthy dose of ultra-socialistic principals (another point that separates the Pirates from Tea Partiers). Their main goal seems to be compiling “all human knowledge and culture and to store it for the present and future.” They also firmly believe that “the digital revolution brings humanity the opportunity of advancing democracy.” Which, hey, are noble ideals. However, the Pirates also have a more radical agenda than just advancing knowledge and culture via technology, they also believe that every individual should be guaranteed a regular check from the government to pursue learning and culture – every person. As X put it, it could be argued that technology is to The Pirates as industry was to the Communists.
Germany is not the only country with an active Pirate party. As mentioned earlier, the Swiss pioneered the movement, and today, Pirates are a registered party in nearly 15 countries; representatives hold seats in Spain, Switzerland and Czech Republic. In 2009, the Swiss even elected a Pirate Party member to the European Union Parliament.
And yep, in case you were wondering, there are Pirate movements in Canada, Mexico and the United States.
Cue the Kvetching of Game-Loving South Korean Kids!
Why does the south Koran government feel the need to protect their youth from the evils of over-gaming? Well, if you believe the government minister in charge, it’s because Internet gaming is the equivalent to a gate-way drug; a scourge so damaging parents need legislative assistance to take control of the situation.
South Korea’s Online Gaming Problem
The South Korean government looks at online gaming like the RIAA looks at piracy – a threat that must be eradicated. And if you believe the agitprop, South Korean officials may be right. Minister of Gender Equality & Family, Younghee Choi, explained that “[o]nline games are the same as drugs. Parents can’t deal with the problem, so the government must take responsibility.”
Is Minister Choi exaggerating like the RIAA or is her concern based in facts? As you’d expect, most adults agree with Choi, but the students – while acknowledging their generation’s love for gaming – are skeptical about the efficacy of this new online gaming bill.
Shop owner, Kim Yeonsu, told a harrowing tale of how he once had to rush a patron to the hospital after they passed out from over-gaming in his Internet café. Bosung Hwang, a student, explained that “Korean students study a lot and have a lot of stress. They have to [sic] so many exams…so they try to ease that stress by playing video games.” (Does that mean university campus medics in South Korea are better equipped at handling acute carpal tunnel syndrome rather than alcohol poisoning?)
What Are The Rules Of The New South Korean Online Gaming Law?
The goal of the law is simple: curb the gaming of South Korea’s youth. To further this objective, the government mandated online gaming companies to provide a way for parents to communicate with their platform and set limits for their children’s allowable game-play time.
How Do South Korean Officials Plan to Enforce The New Gaming Law?
You may be wondering, “how in Kim Il-sung’s nemesis does South Korea monitor the amount of time each kid spends online?” The answer is a little shocking. Despite being a constitutional republic, complete with a check-and-balance three-branch system of government, every South Korean citizen does, indeed, have an “Internet user I.D.” they must use to access most websites. Yes, you understood that correctly. For all intent and purpose, using the Internet in South Korea requires a government issued I.D. number. As a result, developing personalized controls is easier (it also makes it a whole lot easier for officials to monitor their citizens…but that’s another topic for another day.)
Not the First Online Gaming Legislation in South Korea
The new parental control law is not the first gaming statute enacted by South Korean officials. A few months ago, they passed the Shutdown Law, which is popularly known as the “Cinderella Law” – but instead of a pumpkin and rag dress, South Korean kids risk a police record if found gaming after midnight.
As you’d imagine, the under 18-set in South Korea is scoffing, “Do you really think teenagers will not play…[we]’ll just [find and] use our parents ID.”
One last thought: Korean students are considered the most technologically savvy in the world and consistently rank #1 in international educational studies for problem solving. In other words, expect crack-codes to hit the Internet in 3…2…done!
Federal authorities released documents related to the government seizure of hip-hop site Dajaz1.com. Papers show that the seizure was extended for several months because the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) couldn’t provide information about the alleged copyright infringements. No charges were ever brought against Dajaz1.com, and the website eventually returned to the Internet.
The documents discussing the government seizure of DaJaz1 were held secretly for over six months, but released after public interest agencies requested the papers.
Government Seized Website DaJaz1: Federal Possession & Investigation
Dajaz1.com was shut down by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in 2010. ICE is a division of homeland security. The original shutdown is allegedly related to the posts of four tracks that had not yet been released. The owners of Dajaz1.com and the attorney for the website suggested that the pre-release tracks were given to the site by members of the RIAA.
Both the government’s and the RIAA’s actions in this case are questionable. First there is the government seizure of the website. This seizure was based on information that the RIAA provided government authorities. However, the RIAA failed to follow through with their allegations, and no evidence was supplied to show that Dajaz1.com actually violated any laws. The government proceeded secretly and refused to return the properly of the site’s owners or provide evidence to support their seizure.
Government Seized Website DaJaz1: Returns To Internet After Insufficient Evidence Of Wrongdoing
In December, 2011, the Federal Government finally allowed Dajaz1.com to return to the Internet. Until now, the reason why the government seized the website for so long was a mystery. Documents now show that ICE received two secret extensions for the seizure. The government granted the extension while awaiting evidence of wrongdoing from the RIAA and other parties involved in the copyright disputes.
This case raises serious concerns and leads many to wonder just how effective the 2008 PRO IP Act really is. Ultimately, the statute allows the federal government to seize any website; they can shut down and seize Internet pages without any evidence of wrongdoing.
As of today, ICE has an ongoing operation called Our Sites, which has seized more than 750 websites. The federal government also maintains it has the authority to seize and shut down any website that ends in .com, .net or .org — even if the site is hosted outside of the United States.