Anonymous Comes for Hunter Moore – Moore’s Man Card Revoked

December 1, 2012

Anonymous has now targeted Hunter Moore.

In a release published today, Anon writes:

Greetings citizens of the world, We are Anonymous.

This is a call to all Anonymous worldwide, you have a chance to make a real difference in the lives of hundreds of bullied teenagers and protect them from real harm such as rape or stalking.

Hunter Moore, Founder of previous revenge pornography site http://www.isanyoneup.com is coming back stronger than ever from the shutdown of his previous website. This capitalist makes money off of the misery of others.

People submit pictures of others naked to his website and he posted their social networking profiles along with the pictures.

This time he is taking it a step further and plans to list physical addresses next to the victims pictures along with a map to their house, self proclaiming that he has singlehandedly enabled the stalking of hundreds.

His servers are up. he already has domains he is secretly testing and will go public soon. He hides behind a loophole of section 230 of the United States online decency act which states he cannot be held legally accountable for third party submitted content.

This is a call to all of anonymous. We Will hold hunter moore accountable for his actions, we will protect anyone who is victimized by abuse of our internet, we will prevent the stalking, rape, and possible murders as byproduct of his sites.

Operation Anti-Bully. Operation Hunt Hunter engaged. We are Anonymous, we are Legion, we do not Forgive, we do not Forget, Hunter Moore, EXPECT US. (source)

I applaud them for it. I do have one issue with the missive — I don’t think that Moore is as protected by Section 230 as he likes to believe.

But, lets set the legal issues aside for this post: Moore is a douchebag, and deserves everything that Anonymous may throw at him. Here’s why:

Once upon a time, girls weren’t all paranoid about being raped, having shit slipped in their drink, or being stalked. Then, douchebags discovered rohypnol, stalking, etc., which ushered in a new era of “Why has this asshole just showed up at my table with a drink in his hand? Does he think I’m an idiot?”

Now, thanks to these clowns, you need to convince the girl that she should have sex with you AND that you’re not going to rape her or cut her into little pieces. Girls who were once approachable are scared to death to even have a conversation with you in a bar. All because of douchebags who need to circumvent rejection with drugs. And stalking. Lots and lots of stalking.

The douchebag’s MO is to shit out a cloud of fear. That cloud of fear supports an ecosystem that only benefits two kinds of people — other douchebags and second-wave feminists who absolutely love women in fear, because it makes their bullshit message resonate with just enough terrified women to keep a few of them signing up for their classes. Never forget the best way to control behavior is through FEAR. Just like the TSA, fear creates a justification for existence. There is the implied message of “If you challenge me, I’ll fucking spank you, so you better choose wisely.” But, if you take away fear, the assholes evaporate.

Involuntary Porn sites (like those run by Hunter Moore, Eric Chanson, Craig Brittain, and Chance Trahan) are the online equivalent of the asshole who goes to a bar with roofies in his pocket, or who stalks a girl who won’t give him the time of day. They punish all women through fear because they got rejected by their high school prom date or some chick in a bar or…whatever. They get off on the smell of fear and the resultant power over a woman and this is the drug that gives them the warm tinglys.

Imagine if no women had to live in fear of a shithead ex-boyfriend or these dickless fucks. Forget the morality of what they do, if you want, and think about from a purely utilitarian / economic perspective. Without these nimrods, a woman would always feel comfortable letting you take naked pictures of her. Women would feel comfortable sending you those pics as a “hey good morning” present. More naked pictures of girls means a better world for everyone, in my humble opinion.

Real men don’t get off on scaring women. Real men get off on trying to take that fear away.

Not because we are nice, or chivalrous. OK, some of us are, but more importantly, it’s because we want more naked pics and Hunter More and Craig Brittain are fucking with that.

So fuck you, Hunter Moore. Fuck you, Eric Chanson. Fuck you, Chance Trahan. And Fuck you, Craig Brittain.

Any man who gets off on putting women in fear loses his man card.

Good hunting, Anonymous.


The Copyrightability of Porn

August 18, 2012

Back in April, I wrote an article “Challenging The Copyrightability Of Porn” (html versiondigital mag version)

This was to confront a growing chorus of voices questioning whether porn can be copyrighted. You likely don’t need to read my article to know where I come down on it.

Over the past week, The First Amendment Lawyers’ Association has honored me by permitting me to file amicus briefs on its behalf in Colorado and Massachusetts, confronting this issue in the courts. (The MA one is a little better refined)


ABA Journal Magazine Tackles Righthaven in May 2012 Issue

April 23, 2012

By J. DeVoy

Remember Righthaven?  While it has been stripped of its intellectual property and claims against it keep piling up, the fat lady has not yet sung – and the ABA has noticed.

The May 2012 ABA Journal’s cover story is the aftermath of Righthaven.  Eriq Gardner, who Righthaven once sued for posting an image of an exhibit from one of its court pleadings, examined both sides of the copyright enforcement equation.  Marc Randazza and Ron Coleman are quoted in the lengthy piece, which centers on Righthaven but touches on the RIAA’s litigation campaign, the mass-joinder suits brought by porn studios, and the realities of plaintiff-side copyright enforcement.

Righthaven’s CEO, Steven Gibson, is quoted with the following observation:

“One of the questions for the article is why is it so difficult for copyright owners to hire competent copyright litigation counsel?” he said. “There’s not a lot across the country. Definitely not like personal injury lawyers. You can’t go into the phone book and find a listing. Why is it this difficult? Why isn’t there more copyright litigation?”

Yet, even with Righthaven.com no longer belonging to Nevada’s Righthaven LLC, he is optimistic about the venture’s future.

“Righthaven remains the vehicle for dealing with infringements on the Internet,” Gibson told me recently.

A motion by the EFF seeking personal sanctions against Gibson at a rate of $500 per day is still pending as of this writing.

The problems of online copyright infringement and enforcement are real, and few would argue that there is not some useful role of copyright in society.  These controls, however, cannot and should not completely gobble up protected speech – especially since the 1976 Copyright Act codified fair use in 17 U.S.C. § 107.  Even allowing breathing space for hilarious derivative works, much work needs to be done with respect to fighting infringement, even as the law for doing so remains in flux.


Paramount Throws Down Gauntlet to Academia

February 6, 2012

By J. DeVoy

In the past few weeks, the MPAA and RIAA have been humbled by the defeat of SOPA and PIPA in Congress.  Eric Goldman has posted a letter that Paramount has apparently sent to various academics, seeking to open a dialogue about piracy and exchange ideas about how to address it.  The letter seeks to include students in the discussion as well.

The copyright abolitionist community’s plaintive cry is always that the big bad evil content creators need to change their business models.  Nobody denies that this is true, and the MPAA has a better track record on innovation than the RIAA (and I contend that the porn industry has the best record on that issue, but that’s neither here nor there).  I look forward to seeing whether any academics and students take Paramount up on its offer.  Some have had good ideas in the past, such as Voluntary Collective Licensing (though there would have to be some adjustments before taking it to market).

Arriving at solutions that are cost-effective, viable and efficacious is difficult.  Criticism, however, is easy.


Shocking revelation: Piracy hurts individuals!

October 10, 2011

By J. DeVoy

In a stunning revelation sure to be devastating to freetards everywhere, not everyone who creates copyrightable work is Lars Ulrich or some ponytailed douchebag driving a BMW 7-series while demanding that the RIAA sue more people so his fat, dumb and entitled daughter can have a pony.  The common plea from the anti-enforcement community can be summarized as: “How can you sue PEOPLE?!”

Well, it’s easy – people commit piracy.  We don’t let thieves and rapists off the hook because they’re people.  And while copying files is not analogous to either of those crimes, it is still an unlawful act, and one committed by individuals.  In fact, there is no one better to sue, and more deserving of a lawsuit, than the individual infringer.

Here’s an example why.  Athol Kay wrote a book about how to save and improve your marriage.  He’s been writing a blog for at least a few years now, and consolidated all of his knowledge into an impressive tome about how to keep your wife thin, happy, and sexual.  Pretty important stuff if you ask me, or even if you just don’t want to be one of the nearly half of married men who get financially pwned by divorce.  He sold a PDF copy for a modest sum of money – $10 – that let him keep a decent chunk of change for himself.

Kay knew that piracy of his book was inevitable.  He possibly even bought into the meme that free content generated sales.  He thought it would balance out because people would pay the $10 in recognition of his work in compiling a sizable and massively important book.  He was wrong.

40,000 illegal downloads later, Kay is out about $300,000 in royalties that he would have earned if people had purchased his book legally.  He did everything the freetards told him to – he optimized his model for portability and low cost, efficient sales.  He still got screwed by the basement dwelling turds who think everything should be free because the creator has not exhausted every last possible option in protecting his intellectual property.

To be fair, I would not have advised Kay to distribute a PDF copy of his book.  But he made a business decision with his eyes open.  He did not recognize, however, the extent of piracy for such a niche book.  Kay also recognizes that not every one of those 40,000 downloads would have translated into a sale.

Now I know that if people actually had to pay for the book, 40,000 extra people wouldn’t have purchased it, but if even 10% of them did, that’s still a fair chunk of change and to be completely blunt… I deserve it. (source.)

Indeed he does, and the Constitution itself even says so, as it empowers congress:

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries. U.S. Const., Art. I, Section 8, cl. 8

Not everyone who benefits from copyright laws is some fat cat raking in millions of dollars.  In fact, few are.  Most are just regular guys who had an idea, poured their heart and soul into creating it, and hope to get a return on investment for being smart and motivated enough to see their vision through to completion.  I’m sure Kay is flattered that so many people want his book.  But warm fuzzies don’t put food on the table – money does.  If creators cannot get it on the front end with sales, they’ll recoup it on the back end with litigation.

UPDATE 10/21 – As Mike Masnick and others point out, including Kay, his initial figures were way off due to illusory downloads stated in order to generate interest in the files.  His estimates were off, as were the stated lost profits.  Sorry, I was busy.


Give it a rest already – Myths and Facts about mass copyright litigation

September 29, 2011

by Vaughn Greenwalt

The latest criticism of mass-copyright litigation follows the same mantra of previously-pissed patrons: “I know I stole your porn but I’ll be embarrassed if anyone finds out so you can’t sue me!” Cut the crap already, “shame” is not a legal defense.

Lets play fact or fiction with the latest misleading article which was, oddly enough, endorsed by the EFF:

1. FACT: “The lawsuits name ‘Doe’ defendants until they can unearth the true identities of those accused of downloading porn through their Internet providers.”

Naming Doe defendants is the only way to bring suit against thieves who steal Copyright protected works over the Internet. The identities of those thieves is only ascertainable once the personally identifiable information associated with the thieves Internet Protocol address (“IP address”) has been subpoenaed.

The industry isn’t blackmailing thieves with the prospect of naming a Doe defendant, it is the only legal course to obtain requisite discovery.

2. FICTION: “The adult entertainment industry has dubbed [John] Steele the ‘Pirate Slayer.’ Steele calls the lawsuit a simple defense against copyright theft.

Fact: Steele named himself “Pirate Slayer,” and most of the industry mocks him. When he showed up to a conference wearing a badge that said “Pirate Slayer,” he immediately gained the nickname “Buffy.” That’s what the adult entertainment industry calls him — Buffy. And it isn’t a compliment.

Every studio has separate and distinct legal counsel and thus a separate and distinct legal strategy. While I cannot speak to the strategy employed by Mr. Steele, I can speak to the strategy employed by the Editor of this blog – it is anything but simple.

Without violating my ethical duty of confidentiality and privilege, I have been in many a meeting in which special emphasis was placed on “doing it right.” Efforts to safeguard the privacy of the defendants, fairness to the defendants, an opportunity to defend before being named as a defendant, and forewarning of the suits before suits were filed. In addition, some studios offered amnesty to those who sought to protect their privacy.

3. FICTION: “The intent of these lawsuits is to get peoples’ identifying information and attempt to extort settlements out of them” – Corynne McSherry, EFF’s Intellectual Property Director.

Ms. McSherry’s dogmatic whining borders on mental illness. Perhaps she should look up the definition of “extortion.” Words mean something. This word means to obtain money or property to which one is not entitled by threats or coercion. When a copyright owner seeks redress under the copyright act, the copyright owner is seeking restitution in a manner specifically authorized under the law. McSherry should not use big words without supervision if she doesn’t know what they mean.

Copyright’s purpose is to foster the creation of creative works. The music industry has already been economically gutted thanks to the likes of Napster, Kazaa and Limewire; the porn industry is seeking to avoid that very same fate. If protection is weakened so too is the drive to create and thus all suffer (even those of us who enjoy it late at night while our partner is sleeping). If copyright protected content is freely distributed among torrenters, then studio membership is impacted, which then impacts studio revenue, which then impacts studio quality and quantity, which then in-turn further impacts studio membership, which ultimately impacts the studio’s very existence.

I hope the EFF recognizes the difference between dissent and disloyalty (I really love you guys!). However, I find it odd that the Director of Intellectual Property is tossing grenades at those who would seek to protect their own Intellectual Property.

4. FICTION: “The so-called “mass copyright” cases all follow the same format: an adult film company sues scores of anonymous defendants, alleging a particular movie was pirated using the popular file-sharing technology BitTorrent. The number of defendants can be staggering, dwarfing the scope of the music industry’s lawsuits; there were 2,100 Does named in one recent San Jose case, and 23,000 in the largest thus far in Washington, D.C.

As referenced above, every porn studio has independent legal counsel complete with independent legal strategy, while some attorneys may look for the quickest and most efficient way to make a buck for their clients, others, like my Editor, do not.

Some attorneys, while legally proper to sue 23,000 defendants in a single suit, put their law clerks through WEEKS OF PURE TORTURE to determine the location of the individual IP addresses and group them based on state and federal judicial district. Once determined, suit is brought against them in their home state and district and regularly reduces the number to less than 100 Doe defendants in any single suit.

Again, some attorneys take great pain to make litigation fair for thieves.

5. FACT: Mark Lemley is… eh…. brilliant?

I have been to many symposiums where Mr. Lemley has proposed theoretically brilliant additions to U.S. Intellectual Property Law. I have witnessed, in sheer awe, his ability to dismiss, answer and be condescending all in a single sentence.

However, Mr. Lemley’s brilliant theoretical ideas are not so brilliant when it comes to actual litigation and practice . Incredibly, Lemley provided a brilliant addition to the subject article regarding the porn industry’s torrent suits: “… it made people at the margins nervous about file sharing… people are going to think twice about doing this.” Lemley is absolutely correct in his assessment. THIS is the ultimate goal of the porn industry’s torrent litigation; not to shame the pron-viewing public (honestly, isn’t that all of us?) for their lunch money, but to deter the theft and infringement of their Intellectual Property.

The simple answer to EVERY concern opponents of mass-copyright litigation has is incredibly simple: Theft is theft – no matter the medium. STOP STEALING SHIT AND YOU WON’T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT IT!!!!


USS Righthaven hits another iceberg

July 14, 2011

By J. DeVoy

Today, U.S. District Court Judge Roger Hunt held a hearing regarding the Order to Show Cause he previously issued in Righthaven LLC v. Democratic Underground LLC et al, Case No. 2:10-cv-01356 (D. Nev.).  Righthaven, represented by Las Vegas attorney Shawn Mangano and national law firm Kirkland & Ellis in this matter (though only Mangano was at the hearing on behalf of Righthaven LLC), received the following sanctions:

• $5,000.00 in sanctions, payable within 2 weeks.  This is in addition to Righthaven’s $3,815.00 due in Righthaven LLC v. Leon et al, Due July 25th. (Order available here.)  To date, thats $8,815.00 worth of water taken on, with approximately $34,000 and $119,000 sought in other cases. (source.)

• Righthaven must provide copies of Judge Hunt’s order dismissing Righthaven’s complaint for lack of standing in Democratic Underground in all pending cases. (discussed here.)

• Righthaven must provide its Strategic Alliance Agreement with Stephens Media LLC to all defendants sued for infringement of Stephens Media LLC copyrights. (Strategic Alliance Agreement available here.)

• Righthaven must provide copies of the transcript of today’s hearing to every Court in which there is a pending Righthaven case.  During the hearing, Hunt said Righthaven made misleading statements to the court – for which Hunt said a stronger word would be appropriate – and that its conduct was “not negligence,” but part of a “concerted effort to hide Stephens Media’s role in this litigation.”  Moreover, Hunt described Righthaven as a law firm masquerading as a company. (source.)

As Randazza Legal Group is involved in numerous open Righthaven matters, no further comments shall be made.  Additional information can be found via Steve Green at the Las Vegas Sun, who has comprehensively covered this saga from its inception, and at MAL Contends,  the blog of Michael Leon, former defendant in Righthaven LLC v. Leon et al.


Open letter to Mr. Bardamu: Why won’t you pay for porn?

June 20, 2011

By J. DeVoy

On Ephemeral Notebook, Ferdinand Bardamu – skilled writer and friend of the blog – writes that Kayden Kross’ takedown of pirates won’t make him stop stealing porn.  While “stealing” is an emotionally charged word, and copyright infringement laws only affect uploaders on bittorrent, tubes and file locker sites (assuming, very generously, the latter two are DMCA compliant), that is ultimately what piracy of porn and anything else is about: Getting something for nothing.

I’m fond of Ferdinand, and his primary blog, In Mala Fide, is on our blogroll.  He links to my posts when they’re interesting and not too legal, and I link to his if I think readers here might appreciate them.  I’ve both written for his blog and written him in for the U.S. Senate.  To the extent I call him on the carpet like this, as if our blogs were some rap battle mixtapes, it’s nothing personal – I end up having this discussion with everyone I consider a friend.

So, Ferd:

Why won’t you pay for porn?  Or will you pay, but just for certain subsets of it?

I find that this attitude is common in men of our age.  It is hard to justify paying for something when so much is available for free.  But the shortcomings of these methods are readily apparent as people rave about discovering long-retired actresses whose content has just finally trickled onto some seedy overseas-based site.

What would it take to make you pay?  Is there a technological breakthrough you can think of that would make porn a worthwhile investment?  Or, if you were sued for copyright infringement, how much money would you have to pay before you’d never pirate again – $5,000? $15,000?  Or would it be some other amount on the continuum between a harsh lesson and complete and utter financial ruin?

As a nihilist, it is not your duty to care about whether other people earn a living.  You recognize the broad costs imposed by a coarsening of society.  But, from a self-interested perspective, you can appreciate what the deluge of sex and pornography means for your personal life.  By buying porn, you’re supporting the arts; under an extreme view, it could be like patronage for creators you particularly support, like the Medicis of Renaissance Italy.  Just as Renaissance art was inextricably linked with culture, so too is pornography wrapped into the modern zeitgeist.  Thanks to the lifetime oeuvre of, for example, John “Buttman” Stagliano – someone who risked a lengthy prison term to follow his principles – anal sex is not merely a reality for many men, but expected.  Sure, Stagliano got wealthy in the process, but his work and that of those he influenced have ensured that north of 80% of girls in our age range are up for some greek – and I’m not talking about gyros.  This is just one example of how what happens in porn affects real life, and, from my perspective, is worth preserving.

Again, FB, this isn’t an ax I have to grind with you; I’m not going to stop reading IMF or pull my links because we disagree.  To the extent you deign to acknowledge this letter, I trust you’ll articulate a thoughtful explanation for your positions on the issue.  As someone in the once-target demographic for porn, though, your thought process on this issue is important to understand – mostly because you’ll be able to state it so damn well.


Kayden Kross slams pirates in lengthy screed

June 20, 2011

By J. DeVoy

The I Shoot Porn blog republished this letter from adult actress Kayden Kross to pirates, originally posted to a BitTorrent forum.  Read the whole thing – it’s well done for someone who isn’t intimately involved with content protection, and simultaneously amusing.  Here’s a sample so you get the flavor of it:

You modern day pirates are pussies, hiding behind your computer screens and outside of jurisdiction, speaking some foreign language, or pretending to, in your mother’s offshore basement that maybe isn’t offshore at all (it’s very piratey of you not to have a known address), wiping grease stains off your unbearded faces with cease and desist letters and probably showering regularly and missing the symbolic irony of how completely out of touch you are with your pirate roots.

And I’d maybe understand it if you were rolling in gold coins and required large suited bodyguards with tiny earpieces to protect your pirate interests, but you’re not, because you’re not even really monetizing it. Pirates never did get the monetization thing down. That’s why they raped and pillaged and kept it simple. Then they waltzed off with tangible goods, and it didn’t matter that they didn’t really invest in much, because when they ran out of goods they could rape and pillage some more. But what are you waltzing off with? Increased broadband usage? Some redirected traffic? This is nothing. You don’t even instill fear.

via Ferdinand Bardamu


Russians crack down on BitTorrent piracy

April 28, 2011

By J. DeVoy

Russian authorities have shut down Pornolab.net, one of the largest adult BitTorrent websites in the world.  The full story is available at XBIZ.


New federal web laws will confiscate wealth from adult, other industries

April 6, 2011

By J. DeVoy

Pat Leahy seems to actually know a bit about intellectual property law, if you listen to him speak long enough.  Based on the failed introduction of COICA in the fall, he’s clearly aware of the ravages piracy has caused on the broader recording and entertainment industries, as well as the harm of fraudulent goods being sold over the internet.  Leahy is now renewing his call for tough new internet laws to rein in “rogue websites” that sell counterfeit goods and are at the heart of the piracy epidemic that has sent adult entertainment revenues tumbling.

On the surface, government intervention is a good thing – an entity with tremendous resources and power is stepping in to preserve the market for IP holders’ goods.  If you think the government is doing this for the benefit of the adult market – or that these efforts will in any way aid adult – think again.  As always, the beneficiaries of these policies are the groups that weren’t hurting too badly in the first place.  For example, the RIAA and MPAA spend tons of money pursuing infringers just to preserve the markets for their respective works, as they have the resources to do so, and simply meting out high-profile punishments without regard for what recovery they can actually obtain is sufficient to serve their ends.  For example, the movie industry posted massive profits for 2010.  Then there are brands like Gucci and Louis Vuitton that love government intervention so that the market for their overpriced products is kept free from cut-rate counterfeiters.

The adult entertainment industry lacks this kind of centralized, well-funded activism apparatus.  While the sums at stake for the industry as a whole may rival those sought – and spent – by the RIAA and MPAA, a patchwork approach to litigation, including undisclosed settlements, keeps outsiders from seeing the full scope of piracy’s damages.  In just one case, Evil Angel and Jules Jordan won a $17.5 million award against various defendants for DVD piracy – an activity that seems almost quaint in the current climate of BitTorrent litigation.  While that’s a huge award, too, it still pales in comparison to the amount of money the RIAA will spend to fight pirates in a single year.  Especially after Citizens United, money talks, and its the mainstream recording industries that are spending more of it to influence legislative activity.

So, evidently, this legislative push is not made with the intent of making life easier for adult content producers.  In practice, it will not behoove them either.  Here’s why:

Destruction of evidence

When the government shuts down a site, it doesn’t preserve and disable it – it throws its logos up and tells the world that it has been taken over by the Feds.  For those in the process of building a case, or considering one, the information needed for that prosecution is gone, certainly as far as you’re concerned, if not from the potential defendant’s servers.  Some of these sites will reemerge on alternate domains, but then the facts underlying a producer’s case may have changed.  A view count on a pirated video, which has probative worth with respect to damages, may reset from hundreds of thousands of views to zero.

Confiscation of assets

Shutting down sites like channelsurfing.net isn’t enough.   The government is now pursuing those sites’ operators, such as Bryan McCarthy, for criminal copyright infringement.  “Hang ‘em high!” May be the rallying cry of some producers, but the funds used for criminal legal defense and assets forfeited to the government in a plea deal or upon conviction are all things that copyright holders won’t get in civil damages.  Servers, real property, and anything else used in running a site that the government confiscates under its ill-defined conception of rogue websites all go to the government – and there are a lot of ways the government ensures it receives this property.

In essence, these actions become a hidden tax on adult content producers who are robbed of a means to pursue litigation and the damages to which they may be entitled for copyright infringement.  While keeping one’s business afloat on copyright infringement lawsuits is a poor model, recouping lost sales by going after pirates makes a hell of a lot of sense, and can be pretty damn moral, too.  But if Congress gets its way, any potential gains studios may realize become government property.

This doesn’t even begin to address the free speech concerns of what would constitute a too-infringing website, and where that line would be drawn.  The threats to collaboration and innovation should be obvious.  And while many believe something should be done to aid in the fight against piracy, this probably isn’t the answer, as government intervention is money out of studios’ and producers’ pockets.

Market regulation is something the government should have some hand in, due to its reach and resources.  If all antitrust and market enforcement action were private, no group or groups would have the resources to find and police every instance of market abuse and cure them in an even-handed way free of self-interest.  It’s a good thing that the FTC and DOJ exist to fight antitrust violations (to the extent they can in the wake of Iqbal and Twombly), but for ICE to get involved by unilaterally shuttering websites goes far beyond the market-policing role and delves into something much more sinister.


Crackdown on Live Streaming of Sporting Events

February 3, 2011

by Jason Fischer

This week, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement shut down a number of websites that were offering live streams of professional sporting events (source).  The central claim was that the video delivered through those websites is protected by copyrights.

While I’m sure there are some hippies those out there who would take the position that a sporting event can’t be copyrighted (I’ve read some off-the-wall legal articles that take such a position), I am firmly in the camp that believes the recorded video is absolutely the kind of thing that Article I, Section 8, Clause 8, was drafted to cover.  My main problem here is that, rather than developing an effective way to reach every viewer who wants to enjoy their broadcasts, professional sports associations go crying to their congressman or the U.S. attorney about how their shitty business model is not making as much money as it used to.

Wake the fuck up, asssholes.  We live in a world where on-demand, high-definition video is a viable option.  I watch crap on my iPad while taking a crap — and I couldn’t be happier that this has become technologically possible.  I should be able to watch whatever I want, whenever I want, and wherever I want to watch it.  If I wanna watch “The Leap Home” at 3:45am on Tuesday, then there’s no reason why I shouldn’t be able to.  Charge me a fee for it; I’m okay with that — but quit complaining about piracy, when you are actively blocking viewers from consuming your product.


Breaking: Sony to file TRO against notable hacker

January 11, 2011

By J. DeVoy

Known in hacker circles as “geohot,” George Hotz, along with Hector Martin Cantero, Sven Peter and the heretofore unnamed John Does 1-100, is facing an ex parte motion for a temporary restraining order by Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC (“Sony”) tomorrow, January 12.  Here’s the filing (A Legal Satyricon Exclusive(?)).

Working together, the defendants allegedly devised a way to circumvent Sony’s technological protection measures.  The defendants have been distributing this information across the internet, instructing others how to circumvent Sony’s protective measures and use counterfeit games on their Playstation 3 devices, according to the motion.

Saliently, Sony alleges that this use of technology – described as “hacking” on page 2 – is in violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”).  The last notable time this issue was addressed came when people were frequently jailbreaking their iPhones in order to add third-party applications not supported by Apple.  During that controversy, the U.S. Librarian of Congress found that jailbreaking the iPhone was a fair use of the technology and exempt from 17 U.S.C. § 1201.  The Librarian of Congress additionally found that the following use was not prohibited by § 1201:

Video games accessible on personal computers and protected by technological protection measures that control access to lawfully obtained works, when circumvention is accomplished solely for the purpose of good faith testing for, investigating, or correcting security flaws or vulnerabilities, if:

(i)  The information derived from the security testing is used primarily to promote the security of the owner or operator of a computer, computer system, or computer network; and
(ii) The information derived from the security testing is used or maintained in a manner that does not facilitate copyright infringement or a violation of applicable law.

But a little about the law, first.  17 U.S.C. § 1201(a)(1)(A) sets forth a comparatively straightforward prohibition:

No person shall circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title.

Fair enough, but most people lack the capacity to do that.  Given the sophistication of Sony’s digital rights management software, this problem would be too small to warrant mention without the internet.  Thus, § 1201(a)(2)(A)-(C) broadens the scope of prohibited behaviors (with similar measures found under § 1201(b)):

No person shall manufacture, import, offer to the public, provide, or otherwise traffic in any technology, product, service, device, component, or part thereof, that—

(A) is primarily designed or produced for the purpose of circumventing a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title;

(B) has only limited commercially significant purpose or use other than to circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title; or

(C) is marketed by that person or another acting in concert with that person with that person’s knowledge for use in circumventing a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title.

And if any ambiguity remained, § 1201(a)(3) is there to sop it up:

As used in this subsection—

(A) to “circumvent a technological measure” means to descramble a scrambled work, to decrypt an encrypted work, or otherwise to avoid, bypass, remove, deactivate, or impair a technological measure, without the authority of the copyright owner; and

(B) a technological measure “effectively controls access to a work” if the measure, in the ordinary course of its operation, requires the application of information, or a process or a treatment, with the authority of the copyright owner, to gain access to the work.

There are factors that determine the exemption of certain technologies and processes from § 1201, found in § 1201(g)(3).

Factors in determining exemption.— In determining whether a person qualifies for the exemption under paragraph (2), the factors to be considered shall include–

(A) whether the information derived from the encryption research was disseminated, and if so, whether it was disseminated in a manner reasonably calculated to advance the state of knowledge or development of encryption technology, versus whether it was disseminated in a manner that facilitates infringement under this title or a violation of applicable law other than this section, including a violation of privacy or breach of security;

(B) whether the person is engaged in a legitimate course of study, is employed, or is appropriately trained or experienced, in the field of encryption technology; and

(C) whether the person provides the copyright owner of the work to which the technological measure is applied with notice of the findings and documentation of the research, and the time when such notice is provided.

Problematically for Hotz, and others may disagree, but this case is distinguishable from the iPhone situation at first glance.  While the jailbreaking of the iPhone allowed for the phone to operate on different networks and use applications available from third parties who did not wish to play the Apple Store’s games.  Allowing the phone to operate on other networks furthered the Congressional goal of interoperability, while allowing users to install third party applications on the phone was not a copyright violation.  Pirating the applications would have been, but properly purchasing or licensing the rights to the software, even if used on a jailbroken phone, is not the same as full blown copyright infringement.

In contrast, this situation finds Playstation 3 users with a device to let them play games for which they possess neither copyright rights or licenses.  This dispute may appear to be about accessibility like the iPhone situation was, but there are no networks to be accessed here, or new applications to be run on the Playstation 3.  From the looks of Sony’s pleading and the surrounding media attention, the primary use of this development is for piracy and use of counterfeit games.  While producers of video games (or “vidjea games,” as my grandmother would say) may be an unscrupulous lot for trying to kill the first purchase doctrine, piracy is still unlawful.  As this situation appears to be wildly different from the iPhone disputes of yesteryear, geohot et al‘s workaround is not likely to be exempt from 17 U.S.C. § 1201.


Being a douche nozzle is no way to keep clients

December 29, 2010

by Jason Fischer

Of course the headline here seems like common sense, but what’s surprising is that many attorneys have trouble with this bit of wisdom.  As surprising as it may be, understanding why practicing attorneys have trouble controlling their aggressive tendencies is not difficult when you think about it.  The problem is, when you have to spend 80% of your time dealing with deadbeats and scam artists, you end up in a near-permanent state of cynicism.  Hell — in a lot of instances, it helps to be a bit of a dick.  This, of course, is the motto of any self-respecting alpha.

Good attorneys, however, know how and when to turn off the bloodlust.  The best attorneys manage to avoid it altogether.  The moment you start to get emotional about going after that one defendant, the moment it becomes personal for you, there is a real danger that you’re going to accidentally misdirect that energy.  If you lose the big picture in a haze of red, bad things can start to happen.  Recent events in the heated debate over copyright enforcement serve as proof.

Larry Flynt Publications (LFP) just parted ways with Evan Stone, an attorney that was hired to pursue the hundreds of BitTorrent users who are illegally trading copies of one of the company’s recent video titles, This Ain’t Avatar XXX.  When Stone wanted to press harder than his client, not surprisingly he got the boot.  It turns out that when LFP was unwilling to bite the hand of Time Warner Cable, an ISP dragging its heels on turning over customer information tied to IP addresses used to share the movie, Stone became unhappy with LFP’s intestinal fortitude.

According to LFP President Michael Klein . . . the shifting focus from the alleged pirates to putting pressure on the cable companies was not a strategy that appealed to the iconic adult company, which has a television division and continuing global ambitions that require it to be a partner rather than an antagonist with companies like Time Warner.  . . .  Klein said that as much as LFP is determined to maintain a professional relationship with cable operators, it was ultimately their frustration with Stone’s aggressive PR tactics that led them to the decision to end the contract with him.

“He wanted us to put pressure on the cable operators, but it’s not our goal to go after them,” Klein told AVN.  “We want to look at ways to go after pirates, and we thought this strategy might work out, but the reason why we terminated with Stone was because of what we considered to be his unprofessional tactics.”  (source)

Even though the company was happy to quietly let him go, Stone took the more douchey path of announcing his break with LFP to the press.

Plenty of attorneys argue — and they’re not necessarily wrong — that being successful requires adopting the client’s problems as if they were the attorney’s own.  However, very few businesses become successful by playing hardball with everyone the way an attorney would.  (Similarly, any company that is always as cautious as their attorney advises will likely fail to excel.)  The problem comes when your level of tenacity goes beyond the client’s, and fighting the problem becomes for your benefit rather than theirs.  This is almost always a recipe for disaster, especially considering it can require superhuman empathic skills to know where the line is sometimes.  Unfortunately, there’s no law school course that will give you the paracortex of a Betazoid, so you’ll have to rely on your own douchetastic meter to figure out when you’ve gone too far.  There’s no surefire way to navigate this conundrum, but staying away from brash and overly aggressive tactics will help, and that’s a good practice in any endeavor.


Spain rejects US-authored copyright laws

December 22, 2010

By J. DeVoy

Julian Assange may have dealt a blow to the international fight against content piracy.  Cables released by Wikileaks reveal that a copyright bill pending before the Spanish house of representatives was authored by the United States, with significant influence from Hollywood studios.  The proposed legislation would have outlawed the operation of file-sharing sites and services within the country.  But, alas, it is no more.

From BoingBoing:

While they might have been willing to vote for the new copyright law if they could at least pretend to have written it, Spain’s legislators balked at enacting legislation that had been incontrovertibly conjured up by powerful foreign corporations against the interest of Spain’s own citizens.

It is unsurprising that US interests are trying to affect the laws of smaller, less wealthy and less powerful nations.  It’s what we’ve always done, more or less, though the last 50 years of private sector tampering in foreign affairs have focused more on Latin America than continental Europe.  While the entertainment industry is American-dominated at this point, maybe in a few years Bollywood will be able to add some fuel to the fight and give America’s companies a less suspicious pass-through for these efforts.


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