In a voluntary self-policing effort most likely intended to help safeguard their Communications Decency Act (“CDA”) Section 230 immunity from suit, several Internet Service Providers (“ISPs”) have created a “Copyright Alert System” (“CAS”) to allow content owners the opportunity to report piracy, through which “strikes” can be issued to Internet service users as a warning for piracy. This YouTube user who I can’t identify as an authority, has a few generally accurate, and fairly informative videos about the CAS regime. It’s not clear whether this user is a representative of the ISPs or not. Comcast also has a pretty good set of faqs on the CAS.
Essentially, the CAS allows content owners to identify infringing IP addresses after verifying that infringement is taking place by P2P (“peer to peer”) file sharing. The ISP then sends a warning to the Internet service user who had that IP address at the relevant time. After multiple warnings the Internet service user may be required to view a video about piracy, and after several warnings that user’s service may be “throttled,” or slowed down to make piracy more difficult or time-consuming. The CAS includes an arbitration process for challenging warnings (Russell’s teapot: How do you prove you weren’t pirating?), but no circumstance under which an Internet service user’s account is to be terminated.
Before you read any further, go read and take note of this petition. You may want to sign it (I did), but context will help in reading this blog post. In case you’ve been studying really, really hard for the Bar Exam, or were suffering from a surprise case of “dead” over the last week, you inevitably heard that the process of “unlocking” cell phones, previously legal, is now illegal because of government fiat. For those who may not have understood or thought to ask, “unlocking” is not the same as “jailbreaking.” In a nutshell, jailbreaking involves making it possible for a device to run code either from sources the manufacturer did not intend the device to be able to use or to run code the manufacturer did not intend it to be able to run (though most people talk about Apple IOS devices, Sony, for example, will note that other devices can also be “jailbroken”). Unlocking, however, involves making it possible for a device intended for use on one wireless network to be used on a different network – wireless devices sold by a particular wireless company are generally, but not always, sold programmed so that they can only use that company’s network.
Regular readers of Internetbizlaw and the Centre Knowledge blog know that I am pro technology consumer, and very cynical about the “graying” of property rights. I am not going to spend a lot of time in this post discussing the “right and wrong” of legalizing unlocking, or not, but everyone should understand a few facts:
How long did it take for this page to load? Not fast enough for you? Well you might just have a potential lawsuit on your hands.
While my cynical humor may seem funny to some and sad to others, it also has grains of truth. In this age of digital consumer sophistication and the debate over net neutrality some consumers have taken to the Courts to enforce ISP speed and bandwidth claims.
There was a time, long ago, when we bought something and it was ours. We could use it, give it away, light it on fire… whatever, but it was ours. Recently it came to be that something that was ours was also sort of somebody else’s (the recent Supreme Court Kelo case) – or something that was somebody else’s was kind of ours (the more venerable Supreme Court Sony Betamax case) (confused yet?). Today, things that are ours, aren’t really ours at all.
The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), an internet privacy advocacy group, filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request on Wednesday with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for the full release of its report on the investigation of Google Street View. Google Street View was under investigation for the collection and storage of data from unencrypted wireless networks. The investigation started when it was determined that Google Street View collected data about personal online usage from unsecured Wi-Fi networks for four years while intending to simply collect the locations of Wi-Fi access points. Read more
On Wednesday, in another big setback for companies fighting computer-related fraud, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York threw out the conviction of a former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. computer programmer. After a December 2010 conviction for stealing a secret high-frequency trading computer code from Goldman Sachs, Sergey Aleynikov served 11 months of an eight-year prison term. In the decision released Wednesday, the 2nd Circuit Court cited that the taking of source code was not a crime under a 1996 law that makes it illegal to steal trade secrets as the code did not qualify as stolen goods. In the decision, Chief Judge Dennis Jacobs wrote for the unanimous three judge panel: “We decline to stretch or update statutory words of plain and ordinary meaning in order to better accommodate the digital age.” Read more
MSNBC is reporting (via CNET) that data belonging to MegaUpload’s customers will not be deleted on Thursday as originally reported. The two companies hosting MegaUpload’s data – Carpathia Hosting and Cogent Communications – have agreed to preserve information on their servers for another two weeks.
From a legal perspective, the data should be preserved because it may be crucial to MegaUpload’s defense. For instance, maybe an analysis of the data shows .000001% of the content uploaded to MegaUpload was being uploaded and distributed without authorization. Or maybe the number is 50%. That could make a big difference in the perception of how seriously MU took its responsibilities under the safe harbor exception.
Eric S. Crusius, Esq.
In the wake of the Government shutdown of MegaUpload, its users are facing the prospect of losing all of their data as soon as Thursday.
Because MegaUpload’s data was stored on third-party servers and MegaUpload’s assets have been frozen, those third-party companies storing the data have not been paid for hosting MegUpload’s content.
More information is here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-16787486
We’ll continue to monitor the situation.
Eric S. Crusius, Esq.