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Megaupload Shutdown: Should RapidShare and Dropbox Worry?

shark72 Re:Yes (428 comments)

"Those internal communication mean nothing"

In prosecuting copyright cases, internal communications mean everything. I'm not speaking in the abstract here; incriminating emails were instrumental in the Napster case and some other major copyright cases, going back to the BBS days. It's an all-too-common pattern: publicly, the company claims that it doesn't know that copyrighted information is being shared in an unauthorized manner; their internal emails reveal that they do know this; plausible deniability is destroyed; game over.

This is central to the concepts of contributory infringement and vicarious infringement. The former is when you know infringement is happening but you do nothing to stop it; the latter is when you're ignoring it because there's a financial incentive to do so.

"The point being, is that just because something seems to be illegal - doesn't mean it is, you/we have NO idea if the customer in question has some kind of weird contract with the copyright holder and if they are in violation of it or not - THAT is up to a judge and/or contract attorney to decide, no one else."

Agreed, compliance can be a hassle, and the more customers and activity you have, the bigger your exposure, which is why ISPs, file lockers, Torrent sites and the like must have sufficient staff for compliance with copyright laws, just as they require sufficient staff to ensure compliance with other laws (everything from Sarbanes Oxley to workplace safety). From reading your situation, it's clear that your ISP is one of the "good guys." However, it's not analogous to MU. It wasn't an issue of not being properly staffed to handle takedown requests, or even legitimate concerns that the requests were bogus -- it was deliberately ignoring the requests because their business model required it.

more than 2 years ago

Megaupload Shutdown: Should RapidShare and Dropbox Worry?

shark72 Re:Probably not (428 comments)

"What is "reasonable"?"

"reasonable person" is a legal construct. Wikipedia explains it pretty well:


"Why? What if it's a bogus DMCA takedown request?"

You've read the indictment, right? It's not even an issue of thinking the takedown requests are bogus (ie. somebody's forging an email from Fox to issue a takedown on Avatar). They ignored takedown requests that they knew to be legitimate on hugely popular files (ie. the latest scene releases) because they were making tons of money. Kim's instructions to his team were to ignore all takedown requests except from the major media companies in the US -- ie. the ones that would actually do something about it if the requests were ignored. They knew exactly what they were doing.

more than 2 years ago

Megaupload Shutdown: Should RapidShare and Dropbox Worry?

shark72 Re:Probably not (428 comments)

"How can anyone know that account which uploaded the video does not actually hold copyright on it? Yes, question sounds silly, but it is extremely complex. Unless someone else claims the copyright ownership, you can only assume that whoever uploaded it is the copyright owner."

You nailed it with "silly." The courts tend to have a lower threshold for silliness than many people understand. If even the proponent of an argument acknowledges that it's silly, it won't pass the laugh test in court.

You see, the justice system has a very low tolerance for bad actors. If the facts are these:

  1. User "DeEzNuTs" uploads a screener rip of Avatar.
  2. 20th Century Fox sends you a DMCA takedown request.
  3. You purposely delete all but one link to the file, so that it stays in the system -- in other words, you don't honor the takedown request.

A reasonable person would understand that "DeEzNuTs" is not the copyright holder for Avatar, and that the film company's distribution strategy does not include posting screener rips to sites known for piracy. Likewise, if MU's defense is that, gosh, they had no idea that DeEzNuTs wasn't actually the copyright holder, they'll be laughed at.

"Yes, of course they were aware about piracy on the site, but what can you realistically do about that except taking down files when they appear in DMCA notice?"

Again, you've nailed it. Respond to copyright claims in good faith, and you're in that safe harbor. That's why it's called a safe harbor. That's why the DMCA hasn't brought down the Internet: the laws are easy to follow. It's nigh on impossible to run a successful service that (a) actively induces piracy and (b) follows the law; each time a Torrent site operator claims that they're "just like a search engine".... they're not. If you avoid the DMCA safe harbor provisions, you're not just like a search engine.

MU ignored the safe harbor previsions, because it would have interfered with the successful execution of their business model.

"There are so many things that need to be properly tested in court, this will certainly be a massive one."

This is all pretty basic stuff. These were all tested in the Grokster decision, the Napster decision, and lots of other P2P-related decisions. Some of this stuff goes back more than a decade.

about 2 years ago

Megaupload Shutdown: Should RapidShare and Dropbox Worry?

shark72 Re:Yes (428 comments)

if the model is basically "we pay if your file is popular", but there is no checking of the actual file, whether the user has actual rights to the file or not, or encouragement of piracy specifically, all that's left is accusing MegaUpload of encouraging popular files.

Note the IF. What you describe is not how MegaUpload operates. If the indictments are to be believed, the operators were caught numerous times encouraging the sharing of content that they knew to be pirated.

You're correct that a truly content-agnostic file storage and sharing site should have nothing to fear. DropBox is safe. The operators of MegaUpload, however, serve as a textbook example of purposely avoiding all the safe harbor opportunities. This isn't because they were stupid -- far from it -- but because this is their very business model.

The legal concept of mens rea -- latin for "guilty mind" -- applies here. The MegaUpload guys, through their actions, have been nailed fair and square. This is their choice. They took the lucrative, but risky, path, of actively courting piracy. Their business model is wholly different than that of DropBox.

about 2 years ago

Pirate Party Leader: Copyright Laws Ridiculous

shark72 Re:Ahem, FCC? Yeah, could you read this.... (543 comments)

The amorphous "they" is actually two sets of organizations, who are often at odds with each other.

Record labels, of course, make money by selling recordings. They spend money to promote music with the express goal of driving sales.

BMI and ASCAP are performance-rights societies run by and for artists. They are part of the music industry, but not the recording industry. It is BMI and ASCAP who collect these royalties from radio stations. While most of the money goes to the artists who are played the most, distribution is equitable, and a reasonably successful artist (that is, not a superstar) can often still make a couple of hundred bucks a months from performance rights. This is money that the record labels don't see, unless the artist has signed with a publisher that happens to be owned by a record label (Warner/Chappell comes to mind).

Since BMI and ASCAP are run by and for artists, they are generally considered to be the "good guys," as they offer opportunities for artists to make money that's not dependent on music sales or even having a recording contract. The exception is when we hear a story of BMI/ASCAP actually attempting to collect this money -- like coming down on a business that refuses to purchase a BMI or ASCAP license. Then -- at least per popular opinion here on Slashdot, they tend to be thought of as bad guys, like the record companies.

more than 2 years ago

The Strange Birth and Long Life of Unix

shark72 Re:What support and bug fixes (293 comments)

"Unless you are a major corporation and have a contract with Microsoft the only support you get is reinstall-reinstall-reinstall, with Open Source you get to contact the developers directly ..."

And like that poor woman who wrote to Squirrelmail developer Steve Brown found out, it's liable to get your email published along with open calls for your harrassment.

By the developer.

Because you were a novice user who had the audacity to contact a developer, because that was the only email address you could find.

Other FOSS developers supported his behavior because "the act of contacting the developer is a pretty big no-no."

about 3 years ago

Utah To Teach USA is a Republic, Not a Democracy

shark72 Re:Representative Republic (1277 comments)

You're correct out of context, but it's essential to understand that this *is* about partisanship.

Utah is simply taking a tactic from the Texas School Board; they were taken over by the religious right a few years back and have been dramatically reworking the curriculum to fit the right wing political and social agenda. The list of horrifies is long, but includes de-emphasizing Thomas Jefferson (because he strongly pushed for separation of church and state), as well as several non-white contributors to American history. Texas schoolchildren are now specifically required to be told that the term "separation of church and state" is not in the Constitution, to evaluate whether the United Nations undermines US sovereignty, and -- yes -- that the US is most definitely a "republic" and not a "democracy."

While this disgusted educators nationwide, many in Utah are applauding the new Texas curriculum:


The byline for that site is a quote from the Constutition that reads "The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican form of Government..."

more than 3 years ago

DRM-Free Game Suffers 90% Piracy, Offers Amnesty

shark72 Re:Next step to prevent PC piracy (795 comments)

No problem if you're happy with your $500 PC, but he's not referring to you -- he's referring to the "$2500 overclocked gaming monster" crowd on the high end, on the opposite side of the $300 Wal-Mart buyers. He is defining the boundaries.

You're correct that there's certainly a huge market for $500 PCs, and you're also correct that $500 PCs can play the majority game with adequate performance just fine.

The "$2500 overclocking gaming monster" crowd will easily spend $500 on their rig just on the case and the cooling alone.

And it's those people who can't fall into the "I pirate because I can't afford it" group. "I spent all of my money on my hardware, how do you expect me to actually pay for software?" is weak sauce.

more than 4 years ago

Study Finds 0.3% of BitTorrent Files Definitely Legal

shark72 Re:Definitively 0.3 per cent (321 comments)

"I would definitely want to know how they determined this... I could be making a legal backup copy to the cloud by using BitTorrent..."

That's another one of those imaginary loopholes; that is, one which pirates think will get them out of hot water, but in reality, aren't very effective. Sadly, if you opt to "back up" your legally acquired copy of PhotoShop or the latest album you bought by seeding it, it's still unauthorized distribution, no matter what your intent is. Making backups generally stays on the right side of the law only if you don't distribute those backups.

"on a more serious side... "manually verified"? wtf does that mean? how can they possibly know whether the person/organisation/computer seeding or leeching the file has a propere license to do so? I'm pretty sure that they wouldn't have such information so are they assuming that everything that wasn't in public domain or free was actually infringing?"

No; I think the article is clear that they looked up the content to see if it was infringing. It's pretty straightforward -- you can determine pretty quickly that Adobe hasn't released the full version of PhotoShop as freeware; nor is the new Rick Ross album being distributed in its entirety for free by the record label. If it's software, a game, an album, or some other media you haven't heard of, then you look it up -- as the article stated -- to learn what the distribution model is. A little common sense and a little Google go a long way. If you're still not sure what I mean, think about how you would undergo such a task, and then it's a safe bet that the researchers are just as smart as you, and did something similar.

Of course, even a smart person like you or I might misidentify the distribution rights of a file here and there, but the margin of error is likely pretty low. With a ratio of 99.7 to 0.3, a small error in either direction won't fundamentally change the conclusion.

more than 4 years ago

Feds and Hollywood Seize Domains of Movie Pirates

shark72 Re:An interesting difference (181 comments)

Nope -- DMCA safe harbor. The same concept that got them out from under the Viacom suit would protect them in instance. You could say that DMCA allows the government to "ignore" sites like Google that play by the rules.

Safe harbors, just like the real-world locations from which they get their name, work both ways. They'll protect you if you use them -- Google knows this. But if you know it's there and you don't use it, you're asking for trouble.

If you're not sure what I mean, consider the hypothetical situation of sending Google a DMCA takedown request for links to a hundred torrent files, or to 100 infringing videos on YouTube. Most likely they'll remove the links quickly and professionally. Now, say you send that same list to your favorite pirate torrent site. They'll downright ignore you, or claim that it's too difficult to remove them. Of course they'll do that -- if they honored DMCA requests, they wouldn't have a reason to be in business.

In short, Google takes advantage of the DMCA safe harbor. Your favorite pirate torrent site does not. This is why the government "simply ignores" Google (and others who play by the rules) and goes after those do not. This is not duplicity. This is prosecuting people who break the law, and leaving the law abiders alone.

I break the speed limit. You do not. The cop pulls me over and ignores you. This is not duplicity, either.

I know that the "it's just like Google" meme is a popular one. I'd hoped that with the recent Google/Viacom decision, it would finally die. It looks like it may take a while longer.

more than 4 years ago

Feds and Hollywood Seize Domains of Movie Pirates

shark72 Re:Is crime really so low.. (181 comments)

Taking your question at face value: yeah, link sites have been busted for over a decade now.

In these cases the infringement isn't direct; they're typically charged with contributory infringement or vicarious infringement (Google can supply the nuances of each if you're interested). This site explains it well:


It's a recurring meme that simply linking to infringing material without actually hosting is a loophole that will allow you to avoid prosecution. As popular as this belief is, it's false.

more than 4 years ago

Feds and Hollywood Seize Domains of Movie Pirates

shark72 Re:Method Comparison (181 comments)

If I understand you correctly... BitTorrent sites use advertising to offset hosting sites, and streaming sites use advertising to generate a profit?

This seems like a broad and arbitrary generalization. It also contradicts conversations I've had with BT site operators, who've claimed to make a profit on ads. Not much -- maybe $1 or $2K a month -- but enough. In fact, many BT site operators get into the business to make a profit -- it's not entirely about making information free and/or sticking it to the man. Do you have data that indicates otherwise?

"So why were BT sites traditionally the main target instead of profiteering streaming sites?"

The financial success of the infringer does not come into play in US copyright law. And, again, I believe you're making a gross generalization about sites' profitability. There are many, many factors relating to how much of a profit a site makes; traffic is almost certainly the biggest one. The exact technical details of how the infringement occurs (and whether it's direct, contributory, or vicarious) aren't an intrinsic factor in estimating profitability.

more than 4 years ago

Newzbin Usenet Indexer Liable For Copyright Infringement

shark72 Re:Somebody violated the first rule of usenet (168 comments)

"That's a complete change of subject. I never said anything about fair use. We are talking about partial copy."

Right -- you claimed his quoting your post was infringement; I pointed out that this would actually fall under fair use doctrine in this instance. You're correct that it was not you who brought up fair use -- I did.

Specifically at what point does the random gibberish of a partial copy turn into a "work."

That's generally for the courts to decide. It's not as cut-and-dry as saying that you may distribute X minutes of a film that's Y minutes long (or insert Megabytes if you like). I think you already know this; you described it very well when you wrote "People think it's clear cut but it's really more a ball of wibbly wobbly law-y wawey."

Here's an interesting article on fair use as it applies to sampling music -- not quite the same as your question of how much of a movie you can distribute, but it should give an idea of the vagaries involved:


"Wow 1 person doing two jobs and getting paid for each is a loophole? I think you need to look that word up."

This might be a reading comprehension issue. As I wrote, it's what many Slashdotters might consider to be a loophole. At any rate, the point is that they are not paid for each. You'll make more money per track sold if you write the lyrics for Song A and the music for Song B, than if you write both the words and music for Song A.

As for your question about why uploaders are sued, and not downloaders, it's simple: U.S. copyright law is largely about distribution. When we say "infringing copyright" it's a shorthand way of saying that we are infringing on the rights of the copyright holder; that is, the right to say how the product is distributed (I'm generalizing here but I hope you get the idea). Simply having a copy of a work that you didn't pay for isn't directly infringing on the rights of the rightsholder. Is that what you meant by a loophole?

more than 4 years ago

Newzbin Usenet Indexer Liable For Copyright Infringement

shark72 Re:Somebody violated the first rule of usenet (168 comments)

"First: If copying part of a work isn't a defense then your post is infringement as it is partially a copy of copyright protected material."

No, his quoting of your post falls well within fair use doctrine. Slashdotters like to make fair use doctrine into something that it's not, but this is an instance where it definitely applies. Seriously -- everybody should understand this.

As others have pointed out, people with a basic understanding of the law tend to imagine there are loopholes where there aren't. Copyright law is one area that's rife with imaginary loopholes. It doesn't work that way, for a couple of reasons. First, gaping loopholes tend to get closed upon discovery. Secondly, and more importantly, the court system isn't made up of unthinking robots -- it's run by real people, and the laugh test and the duck test tend apply in the courts just as they do at your place of work. The courts also know slippery slopes when they see them; that's what your "6th word" and "digit 1" examples appear to be.

To be sure, copyright law does contain various instances of what many Slashdotters might consider to be "loopholes," but they tend to be to the benefit of the copyright owner, not the pirate. For instance, in the US the law states that when you sell a recording you must pay the composer and lyricist about eight cents apiece (these are on top of contractual royalties), but if you are both the composer and the lyricist, you don't get to double-dip and collect $0.16. Since the big corporations tend to get to write the laws, this won't change soon.

more than 4 years ago

UK's Anti-File-Sharing Bill Could "Breach Human Rights"

shark72 Re:Priorities (119 comments)

"Why not spend this much effort going after other widespread crimes such as rape and human trafficking?"

I agree with your sentiments, but this is begging the question. I don't think anybody here can quote reliable figures on the effort spent on copyright law infringement vs. enforcement of laws relating to rape and human trafficking. I can certainly provide some anecdotal evidence: when somebody I knew was raped a number of years back, the swift attention provided by multiple police agencies resulted in the capture of the suspect (a BART train was stopped and the suspect was apprehended). The justice system was applied with equal force and the rapist got the punishment he deserved. The efforts were a huge order of magnitude beyond the attention they would have paid to, say, a report that my company was pirating PhotoShop. Your assertion that governments spend more effort on copyright violators than rapists and human traffickers is a bit shocking.

"Also, shouldn't the government be spending a lot more time worrying about environmental damage and climate change?"

Yes. But this is not related to the subject of file sharing. Beware of false dichotomies.

more than 4 years ago

CES Vendors Kicked Out of Hotels For Showcasing Wares in Room

shark72 Re:And this is news why? (285 comments)

"I know CES doesn't want to lose money, but really these small businesses are just moving out of the way for the big guys to get more booths. Intel isn't going to bring people back to a hotel room, and the more companies you have in Las Vegas that week the bigger CES will be, whether they're in their room or on the floor."

This is not completely accurate. Plenty of mid- to large-size companies are pulling out of the LVCC, too. It's getting harder and harder for the CEA to sell floor space. The spaces vacated by companies going to booths is NOT all being taken up by other companies. If it were, there would not be a problem -- but that's just not the case.

more than 4 years ago

CES Vendors Kicked Out of Hotels For Showcasing Wares in Room

shark72 Re:And this is news why? (285 comments)

"The Las Vegas Convention Center is not a hotel, so there is no "swindling viewers up to their private quarters" - in fact, the hotels that rent the largest number of suites to companies (Venetian, Bellagio, Wynn, etc) are no where near the convention center."

The Wynn is reasonably close to the LVCC; that's why many companies have suites there.

"Many of these companies have no presence at the convention, so how are they "swindling away" anyone? Many of the meetings/demos are private, have no interest/intention of showing their products in public yet, and have been set up between various parties well in advance, so it's not even taking away revenue from the CEA."

Ah, but many companies are fleeing the LVCC and moving to suites. Revenue is being taken away from the CEA. Logitech quit renting booth space a couple of years ago and moved to a cheaper meeting room in the LVCC. Creative Labs downsized their booth dramatically and held their meetings in a suite at the Wynn. XM/Sirius moved from the show floor to the Bellagio last year. These are just some examples in the industry I'm familiar with, but there are many, many more. This is why you probably noticed that the LVCC was a bit lonelier this year than it was last year, and if the trend continues, will get even more sparsely populated. There's still traffic at the LVCC, to be sure, but CEA sees the writing on the wall.

There's a secondary effect: as buyers get more used to visiting hotel suites, rather than going to the show floor, traffic to the LVCC is further reduced and creating even less incentive for vendors to place booths there. I didn't even need to buy a show pass this year.

more than 4 years ago

CES Vendors Kicked Out of Hotels For Showcasing Wares in Room

shark72 Re:And this is news why? (285 comments)

"Management and CES could very well have been protecting the interests and quality of the show."

CES gets more money from you when you have a booth at the convention center. More and more companies -- BIG companies -- are abandoning booths and, instead, renting suites or ballrooms at the hotels. CES is watching their revenues evaporate, and is retaliating by punishing vendors.

Note that this is largely happening to vendors who are turning suites into full-blown display showcases; basically, a booth in a suite. Folks who use suites for meetings, with a few odd products on display (ie. those who might not have had a booth in the first place), have not been hassled.

more than 4 years ago

What Would Have Entered the Public Domain Tomorrow?

shark72 Re:Bring back copyright renewal (331 comments)

I like your idea, but Congress won't enact it because the government gets the money anyway.

The zeitgeist is that in the post-industrial age, protecting the interests of the large-scale copyright holders is in the best interest of the US economy. Microsoft, Disney, and countless smaller companies like them bring a metric buttload of cash into the economy; revenues that will become even more important as more and more manufacturing moves to China. Our government is funded by the taxes paid by US-based copyright holders.

If the US starts taxing copyrights themselves, that's simply less profit to tax at the end of the year.

I'm perhaps presenting an overly simplistic view of corporate tax, but it's clear that when it comes to how copyright holders are treated, the average Slashdotter and the US governments are at the ends of the spectrum. Your typical slashdotter would like to see companies who make excessive revenues on copyrighted works to be punished; perhaps even to be made extinct. Yet these same companies are our government's lifeblood.

more than 4 years ago

Hollywood Sets $10 Billion Box Office Record

shark72 Re:Proposed Anti-Anti-Piracy Advertisement (276 comments)

"And since I'm not an expert in philosophy and logic, I'd be curious to know what part of my statement is a straw man."

Sure, I'll be glad to help.

"The initial statement (assuming the person posting it is correct) was that the manual labor workers weren't getting paid enough money because of people illegally obtaining copies of the movies that they worked on."

Correct -- but you may be misinterpreting it by adding "from royalties" after the "paid enough money" statement.

"My response was that it doesn't matter how many people pay to see a movie and how many obtain it illegally, because the workers have already been paid the only salary that they would ever get from that movie."

And that's the straw man there -- the movie industry wasn't claiming that the salaries of the union folks who worked on a particular film were scaled by the sales of that film. If they were, then it would be an easy argument to shoot down, because it is simply false.

So, you ask, what is the actual argument they were making, as opposed to your straw man version? You've actually put it better than I could:

"Of course you could try to argue that reduced sales would lead to less work for them, but the report of record income seems to counter that pretty well."

Not only have you correctly stated the point of the ads, but you've also come up with a defensible argument against it -- without having to resort to a straw man. And that was exactly my point -- it's easy enough to use evidence to cast doubt on the film industry's position, without misrepresenting their arguments.

I hope this helps.

about 5 years ago



Boot Linux from a USB Drive using Unetbootin

shark72 shark72 writes  |  more than 5 years ago

shark72 (702619) writes "One of the many great uses for the latest range of high-capacity, high-speed USB flash drives is to use one as a Live Boot drive for one of the numerous portable distributions of Linux. You might think that a USB flash drive won’t be fast enough to use as a system drive, but thanks to the rapid read and writes speeds of the new Flash Voyager GTs, running an OS directly from the drive is surprisingly smooth."
Link to Original Source

shark72 shark72 writes  |  more than 7 years ago

shark72 (702619) writes "Stephanie Teixeira's email query was innocuous enough: "Not sure if you can help me. My company currently uses Squirrel Mail for our email. We are having a problem that our email system gets full quickly. I believe we only have 10 meg. How can I upgrade to higher megs?? Please inform."

But she made the mistake of sending it to Steve Brown, one of Squirrelmail's main developers, and incurred the wrath of the Squirrelmail development team, including a stinging rejoinder from Marc Groot Koerkamp, Squirrelmail's lead developer. It's an interesting example of the clashes that can happen when F/OSS software gets into the hands of non-nerds.

The Squirrelmail team: heros fighting the good fight against unwanted contact from customers, or reinforcing the stereotype of developers as antisocial?"

shark72 shark72 writes  |  more than 8 years ago

shark72 writes "Under the settlement, Apple will pay Creative a one-time licensing payment of $100 million to use Creative's patent in all of its products. Apple said it can recoup a portion of the payment if Creative is successful in licensing the patent to others. Creative said it expects the payment to contribute about 85 cents a share to its results for the quarter ending Sept. 30. Additionally, Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple said that Creative has joined its "Made for iPod" program, and will be announcing its own iPod accessory products later this year.

"Creative is very fortunate to have been granted this early patent," said Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO. "This settlement resolves all of our differences with Creative, including the five lawsuits currently pending between the companies, and removes the uncertainty and distraction of prolonged litigation.""


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