Italian Agency Says Tracking File Sharing Activity without Permission Violates Privacy Rights

The Italian agency in charge of protecting personal data has ruled that Logistep violated the privacy rights of Italian file sharers by tracking their activity and ordered that these tracking records be destroyed. Previously, the Swiss data protection commissioner made a similar ruling against Logistep.

Read more about it at "Anti-Piracy Company Breaches Privacy, Ordered to Shut Down"; "Anti-Piracy Company Illegally Spied on P2P Users"; and "Italian File-Sharers Let Off The Hook."

Verizon Wants to Improve Peer-to-Peer File Sharing Performance with P4P

As other ISPs try to reduce and shape P2P traffic, Verizon has taken a different tack: investigating how to improve throughput with the new Proactive network Provider Participation for P2P (P4P) protocol. In tests with file sharing company Pando, use of P4P boosted performance between 200 and 600 percent.

Read more about it at: "Goodbye, P2P! P4P is Coming" "Verizon Embraces P4P, a More Efficient Peer-to-Peer Tech" and "With Eyes Open, Verizon Peers into the Future."

Four Japanese ISP Organizations Say They Will Terminate Service to Illegal File Sharers

Four Japanese ISP organizations, representing around 1,000 ISPs, have said that they will terminate service to customers who use Winny and other file-sharing software to illegally download copyrighted material if they fail to heed warning e-mails from ISPs that are based on violation information provided by copyright holders.

Read more about it at "ISPs in Japan Agree with Copyright Owners to Ban Persistant File Sharing," "Rising Sun Sets on Illegal Downloaders," and "Winny Copiers to Be Cut Off from Internet."

Swedish Ministers Say That ISPs Should Be Forced to Reveal Illegal File Sharers Identities

In an opinion article in Svenska Dagbladet, Swedish Minister of Justice Beatrice Ask and Minister of Culture Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth have said that they will propose a law that requires ISPs to reveal the identity of illegal file sharers to copyright holders after they provide evidence that infringement has occurred.

Read more about it at "Sweden to Clamp Down on File Sharing" and "Sweden to Get Tough on File-Sharers."

Music Industry Consultant Says It's Time for an ISP File Sharing Surcharge

Jim Griffin, Managing Director of OneHouse LLC, has suggested that ISP users should pay a small monthly surcharge to compensate music companies and performers for lost revenues from file sharing. This public proposal by a music industry consultant suggests that there may have been a shift in the industry's thinking since the EFF released "A Better Way Forward: Voluntary Collective Licensing of Music File Sharing" in 2004, which suggested a similar plan that was dismissed by the industry.

Read more about it "$5 a Month for Legal P2P Could Happen Sooner Than You Think" and "Music Industry Proposes a Piracy Surcharge on ISPs."

After Israeli Court Orders HttpShare Blocked, It Has to Upgrade Hardware to Respond to Increased Traffic

After an Israeli court ordered ISP providers to block HttpShare, a torrent search engine and link-only site, traffic sharply increased as a result of news coverage. The site now has a banner that says "Big Thanks to IFPI that bring us alot traffic!"

Read more about it at "'IFPI Advertising' Boosts Visitors to Blocked File-Sharing Site," "IFPI Gets Israeli ISPs to Block Hebrew Peer-to-Peer Site," "IFPI Pressure Forces ISPs to Block Another File-Sharing Site," and "'Year of Filters' Turning into Year of Lawsuits against ISPs."

NEH Awards $474,474 in Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants

The National Endowment for the Humanities has awarded $474,474 to Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants recipients.

Here's an excerpt from the press release:

Note: The We the People program encourages and strengthens the teaching, study, and understanding of American history and culture. Grants bearing this designation have been recognized for advancing the goals of this program.



University of Alaska, Fairbanks $50,000
Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants
Project Director: Siri Tuttle
We the People Project Title: Minto Songs Project Description: The collection, digitization, organization, and archival storage, as well as dissemination among the Minto Athabascan community, of recorded performances of Alaskan Athabascan songs.



University of Arizona $25,000
Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants
Project Director: Douglas Gann
Project Title: Virtual Vault
Project Description: Electronic access to the world's largest collection of whole pottery vessels from the American Southwest through digital renderings of Arizona State University's Pottery Vault and relevant prehistoric archaeological sites as well as interviews with anthropologists, conservators, and Native American potters.


Lake Forest

Lake Forest College $25,000
Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants
Project Director: Davis Schneiderman
We the People Project Title: Virtual Burnham Initiative
Project Description: The development of the Virtual Burnham Initiative (VBI), a multimedia project that would examine the history and legacy of Daniel H. Burnham's and Edward H. Bennett's Plan of Chicago (1909).


College Park

University of Maryland, College Park $11,708
Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants
Project Director: Matthew Kirschenbaum
Project Title: Approaches to Managing and Collecting Born-Digital Literary Materials for Scholarly Use
Project Description: A series of planning meetings and site visits aimed at developing archival tools and best practices for preserving born-digital documents produced by contemporary authors.



University of Massachusetts, Boston $24,748
Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants
Project Director: Joanne Riley
We the People Project Title: Online Social Networking for the Humanities: the Massachusetts Studies Network Prototype
Project Description: The development and evaluation of a social networking platform for the members of the statewide Massachusetts Studies Project.


Wheaton College $41,950
Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants
Project Director: Mark LeBlanc
Project Title: Pattern Recognition through Computational Stylistics: Old English and Beyond
Project Description: Development of a prototypical suite of computational tools and statistical analyses to explore the corpus of Old English literature using the genomic approach of tracing information-rich patterns of letters as well as that of literary analysis and interpretation.


Mississippi State

Mississippi State University $50,000
Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants
Project Director: Paul Jacobs
Project Title: Distributed Archives Transaction System
Project Description: Development of open source web tools for accessing online digitized collections in the humanities via a system that communicates with multiple database types while protecting the integrity of the original data sets.



Unaffiliated Independent Scholar $23,750
Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants
Project Director: Daniel Visel
Project Title: Sophie Search Gateway
Project Description: The development of an interoperable portal within the Web authoring program, "Sophie," for locating and incorporating multi-media sources from the Internet Archive.


Hofstra University $23,591
Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants
Project Director: John Bryant
We the People Project Title: Melville, Revision, and Collaborative Editing: Toward a Critical Archive
Project Description: The development of the TextLab scholarly editing tool to allow for analysis of texts that exist in multiple versions or editions, beginning with the Melville Electronic Library.

New York City

New York University $49,657
Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants
Project Director: Brian Hoffman
Project Title: MediaCommons: Social Networking Tools for Digital Scholarly Communication
Project Description: Development of a set of networking software tools to support a "peer-to-peer" review structure for MediaCommons, a scholarly publishing network in the digital humanities.



Brown University $49,992
Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants
Project Director: Julia Flanders
Project Title: Encoding Names for Contextual Exploration in Digital Thematic Research Collections
Project Description: The advancement of humanities text encoding and research by refining and expanding the automated representation of personal names and their contexts.



University of Texas, Austin $49,251
Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants
Project Director: Samuel Baker
Project Title: The eCommentary Machine Project
Project Description: Development of a web-based collaborative commentary and annotation tool.



University of Virginia $49,827
Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants
Project Director: Scot French
We the People Project Title: Jefferson's Travels: A Digital Journey Using the HistoryBrowser
Project Description: Development of an interactive web-based tool to integrate primary documents, dynamic maps, and related information in the study of history, with the prototype to be focused on Thomas Jefferson's trip to England in 1786.

EDUCAUSE Urgent Call to Action about the College Opportunity and Affordability Act of 2007

EDUCAUSE has issued an urgent call for action by March 7 about the College Opportunity and Affordability Act of 2007, which contains a provision about illegal file sharing.

Here is the provision:

Section 494: Campus Based Digital Theft Prevention

(a) IN GENERAL—Each eligible institution participating in any program under this title shall to the extent practicable—

(2) develop a plan for offering alternatives to illegal downloading or peer-to-peer distribution of intellectual property as well as a plan to explore technology-based deterrents to prevent such illegal activity

See EDUCAUSE's talking points, action call template, and file-sharing resources. For further background, see "In a Win for the MPAA and RIAA, the College Opportunity and Affordability Act of 2007 Is Approved by the House Education and Labor Committee."

You can use Congress Merge to find contact information for your Congressional representatives.

Comcast's P2P Traffic Management Practices Probed at FCC Hearing

Comcast's peer-to-peer traffic management practices were probed at an FCC hearing at the Harvard Law School as it answered tough questions from the FCC and squared off against net neutrality advocates.

Read more about it at "Comcast, Net Neutrality Advocates Clash at FCC Hearing," "Comcast Slams Critics, Denies Blocking BitTorrent," "FCC Chief Grills Comcast on BitTorrent Blocking," "FCC Head Says Action Possible on Web Limits," and"Net Neutrality Hearing: When Is an Internet Traffic Delay O.K.?"

Three-Strikes Copyright Policy: France, the UK, and Now Australia

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the Australian government is evaluating the UK's "three-strikes and you're out" copyright policy, which leaped the English Channel from France. The UK version of the policy involves a warning on the first illegal download offense, a suspension of ISP privileges on the second, and a revocation of ISP access on the third.

Read more about it at "War on Music Piracy."

France's Three-Strikes Copyright Proposal Crosses the English Channel

A draft of a forthcoming Green Paper from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport ("The World’s Creative Hub") promises that the UK will "move to legislate to require internet service providers to take action on illegal file-sharing." It appears that the UK version of France's controversial "three-strikes and you're out" digital copyright proposal will involve a warning on the first illegal download offense, a suspension of ISP privileges on the second, and a revocation of ISP access on the third.

Read more about it at "Britain Considers Anti-Piracy Steps," "Internet Users Could Be Banned over Illegal Downloads," "ISPs Demand Record Biz Pays Up If Cut-Off P2P Users Sue," "Report: Three-Strikes Copyright Enforcement May Come to UK," and "UK ISPs Don't Want to Play Umpire to 'Three Strikes' Rule."

House Passes College Opportunity and Affordability Act with File-Sharing Provision Intact

Despite lobbying by EDUCAUSE and others, the U.S. House of Representatives has passed, 354 to 58, the College Opportunity and Affordability Act with its Sec. 494 illegal file sharing provision intact.

Here's the provision:


(a) In General— Each eligible institution participating in any program under this title shall to the extent practicable—

(1) make publicly available to their students and employees, the policies and procedures related to the illegal downloading and distribution of copyrighted materials required to be disclosed under section 485(a)(1)(P); and

(2) develop a plan for offering alternatives to illegal downloading or peer-to-peer distribution of intellectual property as well as a plan to explore technology-based deterrents to prevent such illegal activity.

(b) Grants—

(1) PROGRAM AUTHORITY— The Secretary may make grants to institutions of higher education, or consortia of such institutions, and enter into contracts with such institutions, consortia, and other organizations, to develop, implement, operate, improve, and disseminate programs of prevention, education, and cost-effective technological solutions, to reduce and eliminate the illegal downloading and distribution of intellectual property. Such grants or contracts may also be used for the support of a higher education centers that will provide training, technical assistance, evaluation, dissemination, and associated services and assistance to the higher education community as determined by the Secretary and institutions of higher education.

(2) AWARDS— Grants and contracts shall be awarded under paragraph (1) on a competitive basis.

(3) APPLICATIONS— An institution of higher education or a consortium of such institutions that desires to receive a grant or contract under paragraph (1) shall submit an application to the Secretary at such time, in such manner, and containing or accompanied by such information as the Secretary may reasonably require by regulation.

(4) AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS— There are authorized to be appropriated to carry out this subsection such sums as may be necessary for fiscal year 2009 and for each of the 4 succeeding fiscal years.

Read more about it at: "Controversial College Funding Bill Passed—P2P Proviso Intact," "Educause Lobbies Against Piracy Measure in House Bill," "House, Focusing on Cost, Approves Higher Education Act," and "House Approves MPAA-Backed College Antipiracy Rules."

Danish Court Orders Nordic ISP to Block Access to Torrent Search Engine Pirate Bay

Tele2, a major Nordic ISP, must block its customers access to torrent search engine The Pirate Bay due to a Danish court order. Recently, four persons associated with The Pirate Bay were charged with assisting copyright infringement.

Read more about it at "Danish ISP Shuts Access to File-Sharing Pirate Bay," "Pirate Bay Admins Charged with Assisting Copyright Infringement," "Pirate Bay: Big Revenue Claims Fabricated by Prosecutors," "The Pirate Bay Fights Danish ISP Block," and "Pirate Bay Future Uncertain after Operators Busted."

Three Strikes and You're Out: A Kinder, Gentler Internet Disconnection Policy Emerges in France

Last November, it was reported that France intended to cut off Internet access to illegal downloaders after one warning from their ISP and a second offense. Now, it appears that violators will receive two warnings from the government, with a service cut-off after the third offense. Action on the bill is expected this summer.

Read more about it at "France as Big Music Copyright Cop," "France's Plan to Turn ISPs into Copyright Cops on Track," and "French Plan E-Mail Warnings for Illegal Downloads."

Copyright Troubles for SeeqPod and The Pirate Bay Search Engines

It is anticipated that the Swedish government will soon charge The Pirate Bay, a torrent search engine, with copyright violations. The Pirate Bay has received over 4,000 pages of evidence related to possible violations from the government. It has been reported that The Pirate Bay serves as many as 10 million peer computers, providing access to about one million torrents.

This news comes hard on the heels of Warner Music Group's suit against SeeqPod, a digital music search engine. The SeeqPod case will likely be determined by the court's interpretation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's "safe harbor" provision, with SeeqPod claiming immunity and Warner claiming that it does not apply.

Read more about it at "Do Search Engines Promote Piracy?," "Latest Test for DMCA Safe Harbors: Warner Sues SeeqPod," "The Pirate Bay Now Tracks 1 Million Torrents, 10 Million Peers," "Swedish Prosecutors Close in on The Pirate Bay," "Swedish Prosecutors Dump 4,000 Legal Docs on The Pirate Bay," "Sweden to Charge Pirate Bay in Copyright Case," "Warner Sues Music Search Engine SeeqPod," and "Warner Sues 'Playable Search Engine,' Tests DMCA Safe Harbor."

MPAA Now Says That College Students Account for 15%, Not 44%, of Illegal Movie Downloads

The Motion Picture Association of America has said that a 2005 study that claimed that college students accounted for 44% of illegal downloads of movies is incorrect: the correct number is 15%. The MPAA had used the higher figure to argue for measures that would address higher education downloading abuse.

Meanwhile, the EFF Deeplinks blog is reminding its readers ("Troubling 'Digital Theft Prevention' Requirements Remain in Higher Education Bill) that the College Opportunity and Affordability Act of 2007, which the House may take up in February, still contains this wording asking institutions to "develop a plan for offering alternatives to illegal downloading or peer-to-peer distribution of intellectual property as well as a plan to explore technology-based deterrents to prevent such illegal activity."

Read more about it at: "Downloading by Students Overstated," "MPAA Admits Mistake on Downloading Study," "Oops: MPAA Admits College Piracy Numbers Grossly Inflated," and "Why the MPAA and RIAA Can't Stand College Students."

EFF Files Amicus Brief in Atlantic v. Howell: Atlantic Is Trying to Prosecute Attempted Infringement

An amicus brief filed by the EFF suggests that Atlantic is suing Pamela and Jeffrey Howell based on attempted, rather than actual, infringement and that there is no evidence of infringement other than hearsay evidence by Atlantic's hired investigator (MediaSentry).

Here's en excerpt from the brief:

Plaintiffs' investigator, MediaSentry, did not observe Defendant's disseminating any materials to third parties. Nor do Plaintiffs contend that MediaSentry invited Defendants to make any unauthorized reproductions. Nor have Plaintiffs established that MediaSentry's downloads constitute circumstantial evidence that the Howell's computer disseminated copies of the 11 songs in question to any other KaZaA user. In fact, Plaintiffs' own evidence makes this seem particularly unlikely. According to Plaintiffs' expert, during the period that MediaSentry performed its investigation, there were 2,282,954 KaZaA users online, sharing 292,532,420 files. . . . Even accepting Plaintiffs' hearsay testimony as true, these facts together suggest that it is highly unlikely that, among the millions of KaZaA users who are likely to be sharing them at any time, these 11 songs would have been downloaded from Defendants' computer. At any instant, KaZaA users are likely to have thousands of sources for these particular songs to choose from and no reason to choose the Defendants' computer over any other. And while Plaintiffs may be correct that, in the aggregate, KaZaA users engage in a prodigious amount of infringing activity, that general statement tells us nothing about the crucial issue in this case: whether these Defendants transmitted (i.e., uploaded) any of these 11 songs during the time period in question.

Here's an excerpt from "EFF Files Brief in Atlantic v. Howell Resisting RIAA's 'Attempted Distribution' Theory":

As in more than 20,000 other lawsuits, the recording industry claims that Mr. and Mrs. Howell committed copyright infringement by using P2P file sharing software (in this case, Kazaa). But rather than going to the trouble of proving that the Howells made any infringing copies (by ripping CDs or downloading songs) or any infringing distributions (by uploading to other Kazaa users), the record labels argue that simply having a song in a shared folder, even if no one ever downloaded it from you (i.e., "making available"), infringes the distribution right. This essentially amounts to suing someone for attempted distribution, something the Copyright Act has never recognized (although the DoJ unsuccessfully tried to get something like that from Congress last year).

Swedish MPs Want to Legalize Noncommercial File Sharing

Seven Swedish MPs have written an article calling for Sweden to legalize noncommercial file sharing.

Decriminalizing all non-commercial file sharing and forcing the market to adapt is not just the best solution. It’s the only solution, unless we want an ever more extensive control of what citizens do on the Internet. Politicians who play for the antipiracy team should be aware that they have allied themselves with a special interest that is never satisfied and that will always demand that we take additional steps toward the ultimate control state. . . .

The simple truth is that almost all communication channels on the Internet can be used to distribute copyrighted information. If you can use a service to send a message you can most likely use the same service to send an mp3-song. Those who want to prevent people from exchanging of copyrighted material must control all electronic communication between citizens.

Read more about it at "Political Breakthrough for Filesharers in Sweden" and "Swedish Politicians Strike Blows at Copyright Lobby."

Source: "Legalize File Sharing, Say Swedish MPs."

IFPI Wants European ISPs to Filter/Block the Internet

The International Federation of Phonographic Industries has sent a letter to European ISPs asking them to filter unlicensed audio files based on digital fingerprints, to block "objectionable" peer-to-peer downloading services, and to block "infringing" Websites.

Read more about it at "IFPI's European Christmas List: Content Filtering and P2P Blocking" and "Music Industry Pressures EU Politicians for Filtered Internet."

The RIAA Sues Usenet.Com

The RIAA has sued Usenet.Com, a Usenet service provider. Usenet.Com offers SSH access with its Secure-Tunnel option from, and indicates that it does not log user activity.

There are a wide variety of Usenet service providers, including universities and colleges.

Here's an excerpt from Usenet.Com's Mp3 Newsgroups Page:

Today’s hottest way of sharing MP3 files over the Internet is Usenet; forget about all the peer-to-peer software applications, which quickly become outdated. . . . MP3 Newsgroups are the ultimate way of sharing as they are well organized and allow the users to find what they are looking for quickly and effortlessly.

Read more about the suit at "RIAA Sues Usenet, Decries It as Napster, Kazaa" and "RIAA Tries to Pull Plug on Usenet. Seriously."

The Jammie Thomas Appeal and More Follow-up

Jammie Thomas has filed a notice of appeal to the Capitol Records v. Jammie Thomas verdict based on the premise that the statutory damages awarded were excessively large and constitute punitive damages. Thomas would like to have a new trial or to have the damages to be adjusted to $151.20 from $222,000.

Here's an excerpt from the motion reported in "Appeal in RIAA Case to Focus on 'Unconstitutionally Excessive' Punishment":

"In the instant matter, defendant Thomas urges the Court to consider the statutory damages to be tantamount to an award of punitive damages, since it is based not upon plaintiffs' losses, but rather defendant's conduct," concludes the motion. "Whether the Court recognizes actual damages of zero dollars, $20 or whatever figure plaintiffs suggest is a fair measure of their actual damages for the 24 subject recordings, the ratio of actual damages to the award is not only astronomical, it is offensive to our Constitution and offensive generally."

Further coverage of the motion is available in "RIAA Says Thomas Shirking $222,000 Payoff" and "RIAA's $222,000 Defendant Asks for a New Trial."

Here's further commentary on the verdict:

A Capitol Records v. Jammie Thomas Juror Speaks Out and More Verdict Reactions

Michael Hegg, a steelworker who served on the Capitol Records v. Jammie Thomas jury, has revealed what went on in the deliberations in "RIAA Juror: 'We Wanted to Send a Message'."

Here are more verdict reactions and follow-ups:

P2P Users Who Don't Use Blocklists Can Be Tracked by Media Companies

A study by Anirban Banerjee, Michalis Faloutsos and Laxmi N. Bhuyan ("P2P:Is Big Brother Watching You?") has shown that peer-to-peer file sharing users who do not employ blocklists can be tracked by media companies or their agents.

Here's an excerpt from the paper:

A naive user is practically guaranteed to be tracked: we observe that 100% of our peers run into blocklisted users. In fact, 12% to 17% of all distinct IPs contacted by a peer are blocklisted ranges. Interestingly, a little caution can have significant effect: the top five most prevalent blocklisted IPs contribute to nearly 94% of all blocklisted IPs we ran into. Using this information users can reduce their chances of being tracked to just about 1%.

Source: Anderson, Nate. "P2P Researchers: Use a Blocklist or You Will Be Tracked. . . 100% of the Time." Ars Technica, 10 October 2007.

The Capitol Records v. Jammie Thomas Appeal and Further Reactions to the Verdict

Jammie Thomas will appeal the Capitol Records v. Jammie Thomas verdict. More on this and further reactions to the case in the articles and posts below: