13,000 Named in Adult Film Downloads

The names of thousands for BT & Sky broadband customers who had allegedly illegally downloaded adult material have been leaked on-line.  The lists appear to have been obtained from servers of a law firm ACS:Law by the notorious 4chan group.

ACS:Law had obtained the lists from ISPs Sky and PlusNet (owned by BT) and had been using the information to send out letters to the alleged copyright infringers demanding money.  Many of those accused have denied downloading any adult material.

Both PlusNet & Sky had been forced to hand over the information by a court order and sent the data by email.  It now transpires that BT failed to encrypt the data files during transmission.  However, it is believed that data was stolen by 4chan members after they accessed ACS:Law’s server and then posted on-line at the Pirate Bay.

In addition to the lists of users, confidential messages regarding the cases, money made and personal correspondence were also posted.  Reports vary in the total number named as the leaks keep coming but it appears to be over 13,000 people so far.

The UK’s Information Commissioner is now investigating ACS:Law for possible breaches of the Data Protection Act.  If found guilty, the Commissioner can fine organisations up to £500,000 ($750,000).  Christopher Graham said, “The question we will be asking is how secure was this information and how it was so easily accessed from outside. We’ll be asking about the adequacy of encryption, the firewall, the training of staff and why that information was so public facing.”

ACS:Law was already under investigation by the Solicitors Regulation Authority for its role and tactics when sending out the letters to the alleged filesharers.  PlusNet has an FAQ explaining its role in the debacle.

This story has been running for a couple of days, but it just gets worse and worse.

Illegal Downloaders Do Spend More Money on Music

The London-based think tank Demos has concluded that illegal downloaders spend more money on music. The headline figure, based on the survey of over 1000 people between 16 and 65, is that the average spend per annum on CDs or vinyl was £75 (GBP) for file-sharers compared with only £51 for all surveyed.

The notion that illegal downloaders actually spend more money on music has always had its supporters but it’s good to see that this can now be backed up with some hard data, at least for the UK. However, there’s some much more juicy information, but remember that this is representative sample of the online population, not the whole population and not just music aficionados or games players.

69% of those questioned had used official or legal sources for music such as iTunes or YouTube. Physical media still dominates purchasing with 65% having bought CDs or vinyl against 33% who purchased downloadable music.

A third had used peer-to-peer technology or search engines to find free music but only 9% actually confessed to illegal downloading. Almost everyone knew that sharing purchased music was not “fair use” but 81% of people who had purchased their music thought that “fair use” should include the ability to move the music between different players easily.

47% would be interested in a monthly subscription service with the optimum price point being £5 per month but it would have to be simple and convenient to use.

There is only a slight male bias of 57%:43% in illegal music downloading (which is far less than I would have expected) and 46% gave “because I can” as a reason for doing it. (I think in the old days, this would’ve been known as “troughing”).  Unsurprisingly, two thirds of this group also engaged in the illegal downloading of movies, games and other software.

The full “Digital Music Survey” is available to download from the Demos website and it’s a fascinating read into the state of music consumption.  Recommended.

Note for readers – as far as I’m aware and I’m not a lawyer, the UK does not currently have a “fair use” provision in its copyright legislation.

U.S. Homeland Security Shuts Down BitTorrent P2P Site

U.S. Homeland Security Shuts Down BitTorrent P2P Site
Ten people suspected of involvement with the EliteTorrents webserver were served warrants by homeland security agents. According to the U.S. government agency, this is the first criminal enforcement action taken against violators of copyright law who use the BitTorrent peer-to-peer (P2P) file swapping software. The operation, codenamed D-elite, targeted administrators and content providers working through the EliteTorrents website.

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Hear Me, I Want to Listen

Digital Rights Management (DRM) is a tool that doesn’t reflect the general preference of legal music downloaders. Before you read on, hoping that I will advocate for the free distribution of music, let me warn you: I’m a strong supporter of copyright and the protection of intellectual property; I want artists and distributors to make a decent living, but I’m frustrated by the current misuse of digital technology that attempts to thwart illegal distribution. In practice, DRM makes creates compatibility problems that make it excessively difficult, and in most cases, impossible, to listen to music that has been purchased online.

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Pew Report States That 27 Percent of Users Download Digital Music and Video

The Pew Internet & American Life Project reported this week that 36 million Americans, 27 percent of internet users, report having downloaded music or video files. Half of this group have skirted the traditional peer-to-peer (P2P) networks and commercial online distribution services (i.e. Napster, iTunes). This is a significant number of digital media users whose sharing of digital media is untraceable by the recording industry and copyright holders.

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UA Student Convicted for Downloading Music & Movies

Parvin Dhaliwal,18, a student at the University of Arizona (UA), is the first person in country to be convicted of a crime under state law for downloading music and movies. Dhaliwal pleaded guilty to possession of counterfeit marks, or unauthorized copies of intellectual property, and was sentenced to a three-month deferred jail sentence, three years of probation, 200 hours of community service and a $5,400 fine. Dhaliwal must also take a copyright class at UA and stop using file-sharing applications. What makes this conviction notable is that copyright protection is normally a federal matter.

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The Pot Calls The Kettle Black: Turning the Tables on Online Music Swapping

Sharman Networks, Ltd., owners of the KaZaA peer-to-peer file-sharing network, have sued entertainment companies for copyright infringement. Yep, that’s right, the company that makes it possible to swap bootleg digital music is suing the music companies.

The crux of Sharman’s argument is that the entertainment companies used unauthorized versions of the KaZaA software, called Kazaa Lite to find the users who were illegally swapping tunes. Kazaa Lite doesn’t include the advertisements that help pay for the authorized version of the product. Lawyers for Sharman also say that the music industries efforts to stamp out music piracy violates the terms of usage for the KaZaA network.

Dave’s Opinion
Some people get what they deserve while others make noise just to hide the truth. The recording entertainment industry says swappers violate copyright law, the file swapping network says the recording industry violates copyright law. What a cat fight!

We should all give up our next concert tickets in favor of a seat in this court room … I think this will be a better show.

Call for Comments
What do you think? Leave your comments below.

References
Sharman Networks
Kazaa Lite