EU Advocate General: Right to Private Life Shouldn’t Obstruct Copyright Enforcement

In the EU, rights to private and family life are respected. However, EU Advocate General Szpunar in his new publication has made it clear that people cannot misuse their powers. They cannot share copyrighted content without permission from the copyright holders.

On May 8, 2010, German citizen Michael Strotzer was operating an Internet connection from where an audiobook was made obtainable on a peer-to-peer network.Image result for copyright eu

Bastei Lubbe AG, a German company, owned the copyrights to that content and had not granted Strotzer permission to share it online. Therefore, on October 28, 2010, Bastei Lübbe lettered to Strotzer with a demand for him to cease infringing their copyrights.

But, when the letter did not work, Bastei Lübbe took Strotzer to court in Germany to be compensated for the alleged damages caused.

Strotzer denied the copyright infringement claims by saying that his home network was secure and he wasn’t the one who did it. Additionally, he stated that his parents had access to his system.

But, neither did they have the audiobook on their computer nor use file-sharing networks. Furthermore, he said that their computer had been shut down at the time when the audiobook was shared online.

The court dismissed the case by saying that that the copyright infringement could not be directly attributed to Strotzer since his parents could also have shared the audiobook. Answering back, Bastei Lübbe filed an appeal with the Regional Court of First Instance in Munich.

The Court felt Michael Strotzer was responsible for the infringement as no third party involvement was evident from his statement.

The law of the case, however, made it complicated. Previously, the Federal Court ruled that the copyright holder should prove the infringement. It also said that the Internet connection owner is the likely committer if no-one was using at the time of the violation.

On that note, the connection owner should reveal the identity of those people who used it if he is not the one.

But, under Article 7 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights which safeguards the right to respect for a citizen’s private and family life, it was argued that the owner of the connection is not required to give more information if a family member has had access to his network.

Keeping this in mind, the Munich court referred the case to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) for guidance. Advocate General Szpunar published his opinion on June 6 in 21 different languages (except English) but thanks to lawyer Eleonora Rosati, there are findings.

But, if national law foresees such beliefs to ensure the protection of copyright, this shall be applied logically to guarantee effective copyright protection.

Meaning, if a country (in this case Germany) has national that lower the burdens of proof to help protect copyright law (something which is not mandatory under EU law), it does not necessarily mean that rightsholders cannot enforce their rights even if it conflicts with the right to respect for private family life.

When cases are taken to the CJEU, the judgment and future decisions of the Court often contain language which aims to balance what are usually seen as conflicting rights. In this case, it’s opined that the right to family life should not be used as an excuse to avoid liability in a matter where the rights of another party have been infringed.

The opinion of the Advocate General is not final, but the CJEU typically takes such advice.

BREIN Compels Pirate IPTV Sellers To Sign Abstention Agreement

Earlier in the month, Dutch anti-piracy firm BREIN won a court ruling versus Leaper Beheer BV which sold access to IPTV connections providing live TV, movies, and TV shows. Leaper and two other companies have now signed an abstention agreement with BREIN meaning no copyright-infringing activities or face penalties of 10,000 euros per infringement.

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BREIN’s complaint filed at the Limburg District Court in Maastricht stated that Leaper sold access to unlicensed live TV streams and on-demand movies. Approximately 4,000 live channels and 1,000 movies were included in the bundle, which was handed out to customers in the form of a .M3U playlist.

In a detailed verdict, the Court sided with BREIN, stating that Leaper communicated works to a new audience which is a breach even though it wasn’t previously when the content’s owners initially authorized their work to be distributed to the public.

The Court ordered Leaper to stop giving access to the to the unlicensed streams or face penalties of 5,000 euros per IPTV subscription sold, link offered, or days exceeded, to a maximum of one million euros. Moreover, financial penalties were threatened for non-compliance with other aspects of the verdict.

In last Friday’s announcement, BREIN revealed that three companies which include Leaper had signed agreements to cease-and-desist, to avoid summary proceedings. BREIN has said that these three companies are the biggest sellers of pirate IPTV subscriptions in the Netherlands.

o Leaper Beheer BV, Growler BV, DITisTV and their respective directors are obligated to refrain from distributing protected works belonging to BREIN’s affiliates and their members.

Failure to obey the terms of the agreement will see the companies face penalties of 10,000 euros per infringement.

DITisTV’s previous website now appears to sell shoes with many negative reviews. Consumentenbond.nl, a consumer website, received 300 complaints about DITisTV.

It is reported that DiTisTV discontinued its website last June, likely in response to the European Court of Justice ruling which found that selling piracy-configured media players is illegal.

 

Putin Urged to Investigate Damage Caused by Telegram Web-Blocking

Internet Ombudsman Dmitry Marinichev presented a report to President Vladimir Putin, saying there ought to be an investigation into the actions of Roscomnadzor after it tried to block Telegram last month. Marinichev noted that Roscomnadzor neglecting damage assessment meant millions of innocent IP addresses were caught up in the dragnet.

The Internet became a battleground once Telegram was banned in Russia by a Moscow court last month.  Image result for security camera

On Roscomnadzor’s instructions, ISPs blocked Telegram in Russia by blackholing millions of IP addresses. It was a shamble. Completely reliable services faced the brunt, while Telegram remained online anyway.

Roscomnadzor has partly cleaned up the mess these past few weeks by removing innocent Google and Amazon IP addresses from Russia’s blacklist. The collateral damage, however, was so massive there have been questions raised regarding the watchdog’s entire approach to web-blockades.

The matter looks set to skyrocket because of the annual report presented this week to President Vladimir Putin by business ombudsman Boris Titov. ‘The Book of Complaints and Suggestions of Russian Business’ has statements from Internet expert Dmitry Marinichev, who said the Prosecutor General’s Office should launch an investigation into Roscomnadzor’s actions.

Marinichev said while trying to bring down Telegram with hostile technical means, Roscomnadzor relied upon “its own interpretation of court decisions” to give direction, reported TASS.

“When carrying out blockades of information resources, Roskomnadzor did not assess the related damage caused to them,” he said.

Over 15 million IP addresses were blocked; many of them had no relations to Telegram operations. Marinichev stated the collateral damage suffered by innocent people was catastrophic.

“[The blocking led] to a temporary inaccessibility of Internet resources of a number of Russian enterprises in the Internet sector, including several banks and government information resources,” he reported.

Advising the President, Marinichev proposed that the Prosecutor General’s Office ought to look into “the legality and validity of Roskomnadzor’s actions” which led to the “violation of availability of information resources of commercial companies” and “threatened the integrity, sustainability, and functioning of the unified telecommunications network of the Russian Federation and its critical information infrastructure.”

Starting of May, reports came in that along with various web services, around 50 VPN, proxy and anonymity platforms had been blocked for providing access to Telegram. News on May 22 had seen that number swell to over 80 although ten were later after they terminated access to Telegram.

Currently, Roscomnadzor is carrying on with its efforts to block access to torrent and streaming platforms. It freshly ordered ISPs to prevent at least 47 mirrors and proxies giving access to previously blocked sites.

Phone Store Employee Sued For Promoting ‘Pirate’ App Showbox

Two Movie Studios with films ‘Mechanic: Resurrection’ and ‘A Family Man’ respectively have sued an employee of a Hawaiian phone store. The woman accused is alleged to have recommended the ‘pirate’ application Showbox to a customer, and hence the movie makers are demanding damages in federal court for contributory copyright infringement.

It’s nothing new, select companies have targeted thousands of alleged pirates to pay significant settlement fees, or face legal consequences. But the twist in this particular story is that the employee allegedly promoted and installed the ‘pirate’ application Showbox on a customer’s device.

The studios ME2 Productions and Headhunter, own the rights to the movies ‘Mechanic: Resurrection‘ and ‘A Family Man‘ respectively.

Showbox is one of the favorite movie and TV-show streaming application capable of streaming torrents and works on a wide variety of devices.

In a charge filed at the US District Court of Hawaii, the studios accused Taylor Wolf of promoting Showbox and its infringing uses at the Verizon-branded phone store Victra where she works.

“The Defendant promoted the software application Show Box to said members of the general public, including Kazzandra Pokini,” the charge reads, further stating that Wolf installed the Showbox app on the customer’s tablet so that she could watch pirated content.

Excerpts From the Complaint

“Defendant knew that the Show Box app would cause Kazzandra Pokini to make copies of copyrighted content in violation of copyright laws of the United States,” the complaint adds.

This case is unique in the sense that it is not your traditional lawsuit case where the companies go after the user.

Both studios are experienced when it comes to piracy lawsuit. ME2 is linked to Millennium Films and Headhunter is an affiliate of Voltage Pictures.

Like most cases, the copyright holders demand a preliminary injunction to stop Wolf from engaging in any infringing activities, as well as statutory damages, which theoretically can go up to $150,000 per pirated film, but are usually settled for a fraction of that.