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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.

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."

Government

Submission + - UK Law Enforcement Starts Seizing Music Blogs (dajaz1.com)

Grumbleduke writes: Via Dajaz1 (a site that is no stranger to unjustified copyright takedowns) we learn that the popular R&B website rnbxclusive.com (warning: threatening message on site) has allegedly been seized by SOCA, a UK law enforcement agency, and its operators arrested on fraud charges.

Not only does the replacement message contain a number of factually dubious claims, it also shows the visitor's IP address, browser and operating system, and threatens to track and monitor them.

At a time when copyright lobby groups are strongly pushing for even greater powers through laws such as SOPA and ACTA, one is left wondering why they think they need them, when police can shut down websites such as this at will.

Politics

Submission + - Pirate Party UK Launces Election Campaign (pirateparty.org.uk)

Grumbleduke writes: Following the recent publication of its manifesto the Pirate Party UK has officially launched its campaign for the upcoming general election. The Party — which is pushing for significant reform to copyright and patent law, protection for personal privacy and government transparency, and greater freedoms of speech and communication — is hoping to stand ten candidates across England and Scotland. The Party is now trying to raise the £10,000 or so minimum it will need to fund the candidates. In announcing the campaign Andrew Robinson, the party leader and prospective candidate for Worcester, said, "We have a strong team, who want to stand up for your rights, for your freedoms, for your interests, but we desperately need to raise funds. This is the only chance we will have in the next few years to get our voices heard. Help us get these candidates on to the ballot papers." With the election expected in a little over a month, time is running out for the Pirates to make their first stand in the UK.

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