If ever there were a case for rejecting requested device permissions, it’s made by an Android app with more than 10 million downloads from Google Play. The official app for the Spanish soccer league La Liga was recently updated to seek access to users’ microphone and GPS settings. When granted, the app processes audio snippets in an attempt to identify public venues that broadcast soccer games without a license.According to a statement issued by La Liga officials, the functionality was added last Friday and is enabled only after users click “yes” to an Android dialog asking if the app can access the mic and geolocation of the device. The statement says the audio is used solely to identify establishments that broadcast games without a license and that the app takes special precautions to prevent it from spying on end users.
The Supreme Court in Spain has ruled that during a six year period a Warner Bros. themed park failed to compensate artists and rightsholders. The Court found that between 2002 and 2008 Warner Park (Parque Warner) used unlicensed music in a “intense and continuous” manner and must now pay compensation of $354,000.
A Spanish woman has been fined €800 (£570) under the country’s controversial new gagging law for posting a photograph of a police car parked illegally in a disabled bay.
The unnamed woman, a resident of Petrer in Alicante, south-east Spain, posted the photo on her Facebook page with the comment “Park where you bloody well please and you won’t even be fined”.
The police tracked her down within 48 hours and fined her.
In June 2011, authorities in Germany, Spain, France and the Netherlands raided premises suspected of having something to do with kino.to, a site that offered links to a Megaupload-style file lockers containing unlicensed copies of movies, music and TV shows.
Not long after the raids, the site shut up shop. Folks associated with the site were later jailed.
But according to a new research paper, Online Copyright Enforcement, Consumer Behavior, and Market Structure, closing the site had little effect on copyright breaches. Indeed, it may have spawned a new generation of stronger piracy services.
The paper was penned by Luis Aguiar of the European Union’s Institute for Prospective Technological Studies, Jörg Claussen of the Copenhagen Business School and Christian Peukert from the University of Zürich. The three got their hands on Nielsen NetView data that “… monitors the online activity of a representative sample of Internet users by recording all of their URL visits together with visit duration, while guaranteeing them that the data will be kept anonymous.” With that data in hand, the authors set about identifying pirate sites and found that in their January to June 2011 sample kino.to topped their chart of 15 sites of interest with about 6,000 visits per week.
Those visits stopped once kino.to’s service ceased, but a new kinoX.to site that claimed to be kino.to’s the official heir quickly picked up traffic. So did other sites offering similar services.
“Put together, our data clearly shows that the shutdown massively altered the German market for unlicensed video streaming, making it less concentrated and more competitive,” the authors write. Users also started visiting more piracy sites, up to around 1.4 a week from the 1.15 when kino.to was online.
The study does find that former kino.to users did start to spend more time visiting sites selling licensed content, but argues “If we were to take the costs of the intervention into account (raid, criminal prosecution, etc.), our results would suggest that the shutdown of kino.to has not had a positive effect on overall welfare.”
“Finally,” the authors conclude, “the shutdown of kino.to resulted in a much more fragmented structure of the market for unlicensed movie streaming. This potentially makes future law enforcement interventions either more costly – as there would not be a single dominant platform to shutdown anymore – or less effective if only a single website is targeted by the intervention.”
In recent years blockades of “pirate” websites have spread across Europe and elsewhere. In the UK, for example, more than 100 websites are currently blocked by the major ISPs.
In recent weeks alone several new countries adopted similar measures, Australia, Spain and Portugal included.
Opponents of this censorship route often argue that the measures are ineffective, and that people simply move to other sites. However, in its latest Digital Music Report music industry group IFPI disagrees, pointing at research conducted in the UK.
“Website blocking has proved effective where applied,” IFPI writes, noting that the number of UK visits to “all BitTorrent” sites dropped from 20 million in April 2012 to 11 million two years later.
The key to an effective blocking strategy is to target not just one, but all leading pirate sites.
“While blocking an individual site does not have a significant impact on overall traffic to unlicensed services, once a number of leading sites are
blocked then there is a major impact,” IFPI argues.
For now, however, courts have shown to be among the biggest hurdles. It can sometimes take years before these cases reach a conclusion, and the same requests have to be made in all countries.
To streamline the process, copyright holders now want blocking injunctions to apply across borders, starting in the European Union.
“The recording industry continues to call for website blocking legislation where it does not already exist. In countries where there is already a legal basis for blocking, procedures can be slow and burdensome,” IFPI writes.
After long maintaining a reputation for being one of the softest countries in Europe on piracy, in recent years Spain has really toughened up its approach to online infringement.
Last month the strength of new legislation became evident when a Madrid court gave local Internet service providers just 72 hours to block notorious torrent site The Pirate Bay (TPB).
The legal action against TPB was launched by the Association of Intellectual Rights Management (AGEDI) last year, but that wasn’t the only domain in the anti-piracy group’s sights. AGEDI and music group Promusicae had also been targeting Goear, an unlicensed music streaming service providing access to an estimated four million tracks.
Early efforts to bring down the site didn’t go to plan when a Madrid court refused to issue an order to block the site’s IP address back in March 2014. Undeterred, AGEDI responded with an appeal and complaint to the country’s Intellectual Property Commission.
Complaining that Goear provides access to copyrighted music without any permission from artists or rightsholders, AGEDI built a case highlighting commercial aspects of the site, particularly its advertising efforts which offered to put products in front of three million registered users via “millions of quality impressions.”
Goear had previously actioned some copyright takedowns, AGEDI said, but it was never enough to keep up with the rate that infringing content reappeared on the site.
After reviewing the case the National Court has now sided with AGEDI. Handing down an order similar to that issued last month in respect of The Pirate Bay, local ISPs have been given just 72 hours to block the site at the subscriber level. Currently the Goear website is hosted in the Netherlands.
“This new resolution adds to the one recently handed down in Spain against The Pirate Bay and confirms web blockades as the only effective measure to eliminate the websites that violate intellectual property rights,” said Promusicae and AGEDI president, Antonio Guisasola.
“The block against Goear means that the site will no longer be able to profit from the works of others. I always insist on the absolute need to act decisively to stop these kinds of sites that represent true unfair competition to other [authorized sites] that offer all the guarantees for consumers and producers of music.”
Whether local users will rush to unblock the site will remain to be seen. There are many dozens of similar portals offering access to the same level of content, none of which appear to be shutting down anytime soon.
In many countries there are exceptions to copyright law that allow those in education to use copyrighted material to further their studies.
Those exceptions often have limits but copying for research, comment and reporting purposes are generally allowed while teachers are able to make multiple copies of content to hand out to their students.
Following the tabling of a new intellectual property law in Spain, last December the Department of Education sent out a circular reminding schools that the showing of audiovisual content outside strict “fair use” parameters is completely banned.
While airing short clips should be ok, the government had become concerned that schools stepping over the mark could be forced to obtain prior authorization to show content or might even find themselves being sued. That resulted in the decision-making body in the autonomous region of Galicia striking a private licensing deal with rightsholders from the movie industry.
According to Praza.gal the existence of the deal was revealed in a letter sent to schools this week by the local CEO of the worldwide Motion Picture Licensing Corporation.
The letter revealed that MPLC was willing to license each student for the price of 1.25 euros per year. While that doesn’t sound much in isolation, there are 260,000 students in the region making a grand total of 325,000 euros ($350,000) to be sent to MPLC’s movie and TV show company members.
The CIG-Ensino union has reacted furiously to the news and is now calling for local authorities to prohibit the collection of any monies and ensure that audiovisual resources for use as teaching and learning aids remain free.
“[Schools and teachers] should not to pay any tax for doing their job and should be able to continue using all kinds of tools that are needed to do their jobs as effectively as possible,” the union said.
“It is incomprehensible to try to limit the task of educating exclusively to the use of the textbooks and reducing the use of resources such as film, music, documentaries in classrooms.”
MPLC has not yet commented on the news.
After a Spanish court ordered local ISPs to implement a nationwide ban against The Pirate Bay last Friday, several local media outlets published articles listing alternatives to the infamous site. As a result they’re now under fire from entertainment industry companies including Paramount Pictures, with some even suggesting an advertising boycott.
After being blocked by ISPs in more than a dozen European territories, The Pirate Bay has now been rendered inaccessible in Spain following orders from a local court.
On Friday, Madrid’s Central Administrative Litigation Court No. 5 gave local service providers just 72 hours to stop providing access to the infamous site, with several responding much more quickly.
It soon became evident that the ‘ban’ was easily circumvented by Internet users savvy enough to change their DNS settings, but access to ‘pirate’ content isn’t only available through The Pirate Bay.
As a result ‘Pirate Bay Alternatives’ articles began appearing in local media, much as they have done in other countries subjected to ISP blocks. But while these popular lists are usually met with industry silence, in Spain they appear to have touched a nerve.
Founded in 1903, daily newspaper ABC published an online article titled “Other Options After Closing The Pirate Bay”. It drew an immediate response from Jaume Ripoll Vaquer, co-founder of legal video streaming site Filmin.com
“I see @ abc_es also continues the fashion of publicizing [sites that send traffic] to unauthorized content. Congratulations guys,” he wrote on Twitter.
While that criticism seems to have done the trick (ABC withdrew the article, Google cache here), others weren’t so easily deterred.
Published by El Confidencial, “Alternatives to The Pirate Bay: Where You Can Download Torrents in Spanish” provoked direct criticism from Paramount Pictures.
In comments to ElDiario, Paramount Pictures’ promotions manager Laura Ruiz Andrino said that financially supporting publications that direct their readers to places where illegal content can be obtained is not something that should be entertained.
And in a message to media managers at Universal Pictures and Sony Pictures, Andrino suggested that if sites like El Confidencial and ABC choose to support “illegal downloading”, perhaps companies opposed to that stance should consider an advertising boycott. Another Filmin co-founder agreed.
“When buying advertising one should also look at ethics, not only the audience,” he wrote.
Fighting back, Alfredo Pascual, chief editor of the technology section of El Confidencial told HojaDeRouter that the withdrawal of advertising could be viewed as an attack on the media’s right to inform.
“They end up attacking freedom of expression,” Pascual said. “My intention with this article is simply to show that the closure of sites is not a way to solve the problem. For every website that is closed there will be other ten, and this will be the never ending story until there is [a legal] offer that can meet the demand.”
Noting that threats had been made to withdraw press passes from his publication’s culture section, Pascual remains defiant.
“With each closing [of a website] I intend to publish another list [of alternative sites],” the editor concludes.