Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Criminal Division, John C. Richter just announced that members of the FBI and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement executed 10 search warrants across the country "against leading members of a technologically sophisticated P2P network know as Elite Torrents."
The government strike, known as Operation D-Elite, was executed in California, Arizona, Illinois, Kansas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin. Unlike Operation Gridlock, "a similar takedown" of P2P users in August 2004, D-Elite targeted administrators and suppliers of protected content to the Elite Torrent network.
The DOJ press release makes special reference to the fact that Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith "was available for downloading on the network six hours before it was shown in theatres. In the next 24 hours, it was downloaded more than 10,000 times." It concludes by noting that "the Motion Picture Association of America provided valuable assistance to the investigation." Presumably, Operation D-Elite may have been triggered by the recent pilfering of Star Wars III, a film that has earned $108.4M in its first week, according to the Variety Box Office Top 10.
The Elite Torrents central site, elitetorrent.org, was taken offline and replaced with this notice from the DOJ.
A bit of background on BitTorrent technology, taken from page 11 of the amicus curiae brief filed by the Innovation Scholars and Economists in the pending Supreme Court case MGM v. Grokster:
"An ingenious new technology called BitTorrent has advanced the technology used by Respondents one step further. BitTorrent is a PtP system that breaks down a single file into subparts, allowing it to be downloaded and uploaded simultaneously, and dramatically faster, from “swarms” ofmultiple senders to multiple recipients. See www.bittorent.com. While decentralized PtP systems inherently are more scalable and frugal on bandwidth than centralized systems, BitTorrent is far more efficient and especially fast at exchanging very large content files. Indeed, BitTorrent originally was invented (and continues to be utilized) for the lawful sharing and distribution of huge Linux operating systems and application program files among developers and licensed users. BitTorrent’s creator strongly disapproves of copyright infringement and designed BitTorrent to make identification of copyright infringers easy through markers left on files. Nonetheless, substantial infringing uses are occurring—indeed, it is estimated that this single technology has—since the advent of this litigation—risen to some 35% of all use of the Internet."
In January 2005, a Hong Kong man was arrested on charges that he uploaded three Hollywood movies "onto the Internet using the popular BitTorrent file-sharing software." Earlier this month, he pled innocent and goes on trial on June 23rd. Jail time and fines are available sentences if convicted.Posted by AZ on May 25, 2005 12:57 PM | TrackBack
The US Copyright Office received over 700 submissions in response to its Notice of Inquiry that asked whether Congress should do anything about the "orphan works problem." Broadly speaking, Orphan works are any copyrighted works where the rights holder is hard to find.
The problem extends to all creative avenues, but is particularly burdensome in the book, music and visual image arenas. Artists, publishers, compilers and producers who wish to lawfully use a protected work that has no traceable copyright holder have two basic options: 1) use the work and face potentially crushing liability under copyright law; or 2) not use the protected work.
The submissions are varied and thoughtful.
A comment filed by David Drummond, Google's General Counsel, states that oprhan works "exist in a sort of purgatory – the entity holding the copyright over the work has no interest or desire to limit public use of the work, yet the work cannot be licensed by someone who would want to use it, as the holder of the copyright cannot be reached to secure a license. As a result, millions of works, representing hundreds of years of study and experience remain forgotten and unused, gathering dust on library shelves. Google believes that these works should instead serve as a foundation of knowledge upon which future generations can build."
Another response discusses the orphan works problem as it applies to adventure games. "Many [early graphic adventure] games were created by companies that no longer exist, or that have lost interest in these games. It is possible to play these games in emulation on modern machines, but it takes time and effort to port them to a form that is playable, and it is possible that doing so could be violating current copyright laws."
Reply comments are due to the Copyright Office by Monday, May 9. Visit http://www.orphanworks.org/ to learn more about the issues and for a form for submitting reply comments.Posted by AZ on May 4, 2005 02:52 PM | TrackBack