Pirate Streaming Boxes: An Abuse of Legitimate Technology…in Canada and Elsewhere

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The issue of pirate set-top boxes, AKA “Kodi Add-ons” or more accurately, “Illicit Streaming Devices” (ISDs) is back in the news. It is not a new issue (I wrote about it almost three years ago, here). In April of this year, Torrent Freak reported that a Canadian company, Infinity TV, charged with selling TV boxes “fully loaded” with add-ons that provide consumers with access to a wide range of pirated content, has agreed to pay several Canadian media companies, including Bell, Rogers and Videotron (all major telcos with content distribution platforms) $5 million in damages to settle the case. In 2016, the plaintiffs had secured an injunction from the Federal Court prohibiting several vendors from selling the pre-loaded boxes. The court allowed the plaintiffs to add more vendors to the lawsuit, which they did, , expanding the list to more than 125 according to Torrent Freak. Canada is not the only jurisdiction where sellers of legitimate boxes bundle (pre-load) them with unauthorized add-ons to give consumers direct access to pirated content, and then advertise the end product as “free TV” devices. Continue reading “Pirate Streaming Boxes: An Abuse of Legitimate Technology…in Canada and Elsewhere”

Sports and Copyright—Why Sports Fans are Cheating Themselves When They Stream Pirated Content

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Almost everyone in today’s society takes some interest in sports, whether as a fan or as a participant. It’s virtually inevitable—and unavoidable. It may be a sport that we played in our youth, and now follow, or a sport that we still play. It could be a team sport or a primarily individual one, like golf or tennis. If it’s a team sport, and you are Canadian you are expected to follow hockey. By this I mean ice hockey, not the equally rough version played on grass or turf. If you are an American, baseball is probably the sport of choice, although these days that is being challenged by basketball or American football. And of course football (which we call soccer in North America) is the team sport that dominates most of the rest of the world, with the exception of a few places like New Zealand, where you cannot not talk about rugby–or Bhutan, where archery takes pride of place! Sport has enriched our language and provided us with colourful metaphors, everything from “striking out”, to “stepping up to the plate”, to “slam-dunk”, “sticky wicket” and “scoring an own goal”. What would the English language do without sports? Continue reading “Sports and Copyright—Why Sports Fans are Cheating Themselves When They Stream Pirated Content”

Infringing Website Lists: Another Valuable Tool in the Anti-Piracy Toolbox

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In March the Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG), “an advertising industry initiative to fight criminal activity in the digital advertising supply chain”, released an update in its campaign against ad-supported pirate websites, called Winning the Fight Against Ad-Supported Piracy. This updates an earlier study about which I wrote last year in a blog on “Tightening up Online Advertising will starve Pirate Websites of their Means of Support”. TAG has continued its work to make reputable companies aware of the brand risk from advertising on websites that promote pirated content. Fifty-eight brands and ad agencies have signed the TAG anti-piracy pledge to take steps to reduce ad supported piracy, including by working with companies that have received TAG’s “Certified Against Piracy” seal. The program was originally designed for anti-piracy vendors but has since been expanded to include paths to certification for ad agencies, advertisers and publishers. This “follow the money” approach aims to starve pirate websites of one of their main sources of funding, namely legitimate advertising inadvertently placed on their sites as a result of insufficient care taken by ad agencies and company marketing departments. Continue reading “Infringing Website Lists: Another Valuable Tool in the Anti-Piracy Toolbox”

Google vs. Equustek: Unfortunate Precedent or Positive Development?

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I have written about the case of Google Inc vs Equustek Solutions several times over the past couple of years (for example, here, here, and here). This series of blog posts tracked the evolution of the case that resulted in a decision by the Supreme Court of Canada to uphold an earlier ruling by the BC Supreme Court requiring Google to de-index from global search results listings for a Canadian company, Datalink, that had been found by the courts to be infringing online the intellectual property rights of another Canadian company, Equustek. Continue reading “Google vs. Equustek: Unfortunate Precedent or Positive Development?”

Copyright and Your Carbon Footprint

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Although I am posting this on April 1, it is not an April Fools’ joke. Copyright has a carbon footprint, just like practically everything else. And, like everything else, you can do something about it. Continue reading “Copyright and Your Carbon Footprint”

The Deadliest Aspects of Copyright

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According to Ben Franklin, the only certainties in this world are “death and taxes”. Since a discussion of taxes is far too complicated, that leaves me with no alternative but to turn to that other certainty in life, and examine how it relates to copyright. Continue reading “The Deadliest Aspects of Copyright”

Voluntary Piracy Site Blocking in British Schools: An Idea Worth Considering for Broader Application

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Disabling user access to offshore copyright-infringing websites (aka “site blocking”) is becoming an established practice in the UK (and in a number of other jurisdictions including Europe, Australia and elsewhere) where rights-holders can go to court, or use administrative means, to obtain an order requiring major ISPs to block access to specified offshore websites whose main purpose is to host and promote access to pirated content. After initial resistance, in countries where site blocking has become routinized ISPs generally do not oppose the orders and have accepted their responsibility to comply with them. Now, in the UK, this is being taken a step further. An article in TorrentFreak reports that a not-for-profit ISP, run by a charitable trust which supplies broadband to thousands of schools in London, will voluntarily block access to large numbers of pirate sites. The domains to be blocked will be drawn from the “Infringing Website List” maintained by London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit. Continue reading “Voluntary Piracy Site Blocking in British Schools: An Idea Worth Considering for Broader Application”