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Piracy

Submission + - UK Pirate Party forced to give up legal fight (bbc.co.uk)

Grumbleduke writes: The UK Pirate Party has been forced to shut down its proxy of The Pirate Bay. The Party had been running the proxy since April, initially to support the Dutch Party's efforts, then as a means of combating censorship after the BPI obtained uncontested court orders against the UK's main ISPs to block the site across the UK.

In a statement released through their lawyers, the Party cited the impossibly-high costs of legal action for their decision, but vowed to keep fighting for digital rights however they can.

Canada

Submission + - Canadian Judge Dissects 'Freemen' Pseudolegal Arguments (canlii.ca) 1

Grumbleduke writes: While not new, the 'Freemen' movement has been gaining popularity recently across the US, Canada and the UK, with various 'gurus' giving information on how people can avoid fines and taxes by using certain legal strategies. Having encountered these sorts of arguments once too often, a Canadian judge has examined and demolished the main points used by these “Organized Pseudolegal Commercial Argument litigants.”

In an epic, 736-paragraph judgment (pdf) Associate Chief Justice J.D. Rooke (Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta) discusses the main arguments put forward by “Detaxers; Freemen or Freemen-on-the-Land; Sovereign Men or Sovereign Citizens” and similar groups, and carefully explains why they are all legally nonsense. He offers guidance for judges, lawyers and others who encounter the techniques, but also directly addresses those using (or planning to use) these methods (paragraphs 663-668). However, he saves his anger for the 'gurus' who “purposefully promote and teach proven ineffective techniques that purport to defeat valid state and court authority, and circumvent social obligations for profit at the expense of naive and vulnerable customers” (paragraphs 669-675).

While this may be of use to legal professionals it remains to be seen whether those spreading these theories will stop, or merely see this as a corrupt system protecting itself.

Piracy

Submission + - "Pirate" website owner sentenced to 4 years in prison (bbc.co.uk)

Grumbleduke writes: Anton Vickerman, who owned SurfTheChannel.com has been sentenced to 4 years in prison following his conviction last month for "conspiracy to defraud". This is the first successful prosecution of an individual in the UK for running a website merely linking to allegedly infringing content (several earlier cases collapsed or resulted in acquittals).

Vickerman was prosecuted for the controversial offence of "conspiracy to defraud" for 'facilitating copyright infringement', rather than for copyright infringement itself, and it is worth noting that the relevant copyright offence carries a maximum prison sentence of only 2 years, half of what was given.

FACT, the Hollywood-backed enforcement group who were heavily involved in the prosecution noted that the conviction "should send a very strong message to those running similar sites that they can be found, arrested and end up in prison", but it remains to be seen whether this will have any effect on pirate sites, or encourage development of the largely hopeless legal market for online film.

Piracy

Submission + - UK Anti-Piracy Law Survives Court Challenge (bbc.co.uk)

Grumbleduke writes: The UK's controversial Digital Economy Act survived it's second court challenge today. Two ISPs had appealed last year's ruling that the measures included did not breach EU law and, for the most part, the Court of Appeal agreed, ruling in favour of the Government and the 10 unions and industry groups supporting the law in court.

The decision was welcomed by the industry groups, but criticised by the UK's Pirate Party, whose leader pointed to the lack of evidence that the law would have any positive effects. A UK copyright specialist noted that the ISPs may still appeal the decision to the UK's Supreme Court, seeking a reference to the Courts of Justice of the European Union, and wondered if the law could now attract the same attention from the Internet as SOPA and ACTA.

The law is still some way from being implemented, and the first notifications are not expected to be sent to alleged file-sharers before 2013, and the next steps could also be open to a legal challenge.

Censorship

Submission + - English Judge finds Google not liable for 'Internet Graffiti" on their services (bailii.org)

Grumbleduke writes: "In a week dominated by attacks on their new privacy policy, finally some good news for Google, along with other web hosting providers. As reported by the Telegraph, a High Court Judge has ruled that Google is not responsible for publishing comments on their services (in this case, Blogger), no matter how offensive they are.

Following a 1999 libel case, it has generally be understood that service providers such as Google are publishers of the content on their systems, and lose any immunity they have as soon as they are warned the content is defamatory, leading to an extra-judical take-down system.

In this case, where Google was being sued by a UK politician over allegedly defamatory comments on a Blogger post, the Judge held that the hosts were not even publishers and so not liable at all. Going further, Mr Justice Eady commented that even if Google were a publisher, they would not be liable as being notified that the comments may be defamatory was not enough to count as "actual knowledge." Google could not be expected to assess whether or not each statement was defamatory, or defensible.

This ruling marks a welcome, if subtle, change in the law. It should reduce the chilling effect of libel threats on UK-based service providers, as they may no longer be required to remove content or face substantial legal costs themselves."

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