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New Japanese Law Jails Illegal Downloaders for 2 Years

Japan passed a new legislation that could imprison illegal downloaders for two years. The country is combating illegal downloads as its local entertainment industry struggles. Recording Industry Association of Japan (RIAA's counterpart from across the Pacific) and its affiliates estimate Illegal downloads outnumbering legal downloads 10:1, with a 16% decline in legal downloads just last year.

The new law makes Japan the toughest state against piracy. Before it, Japanese laws, like most others', targeted uploaders of copyrighted content/software with up to 10 years in prison, and 10 million JPY (US $128,300) in fines. The new law allows the police to penalize mere downloaders with a 2-year jail term and 2 million JPY ($25,680) in fines.Source: Torrent Freak

Pirate Bay Gets Rid of Torrents, Serves Magnet Links

The Pirate Bay completed a huge transition from being a host of .torrent files to a host for magnet:// links. The people behind the site believe the move was essential to make Pirate Bay "future proof". For instance, when replaced with magnet:// links, the entire site can be squeezed into a 90 MB "portable site" archive, which can be used to play chicken with the authorities. "It (the transition) shouldn't make much of a difference for the average user. At most it will take a few more seconds before a torrent shows the size and files," The Pirate Bay team told TorrentFreak today. "Just click the red button instead of the green one and all will be fine," it added. Magnet links, instead of sites hosting .torrent files, make the bit-torrent system vastly more decentralized. Those with the looming question of " do they work?" can refer to this article by Wikipedia.

Source: Torrent Freak

Pirate Bay Unveils "Portable Site", RIAA/MPAA's Worst Nightmare Weighs 90 Megabytes

This is arguably every copyright enforcement group's worst nightmare, The Pirate Bay, which calls itself "the most resilient bit-torrent site in the galaxy", unveiled what is known as its "portable version", meaning, when taken down by an enforcement agency, any person, in any part of the world can restore the site, because it now weighs just 90 megabytes. That's right, the 90 MB copy of the site itself contains all its HTML, script and static images, and Magnet Links to over 1,643,194 torrents spread across all its categories.

A little earlier this year, The Pirate Bay transitioned from being a host for .torrent files to a host for magnet:// links. This transition means that each torrent consisted of a typically 50 KB .torrent file, is now reduced to a <1 KB Magnet link in the resource. The copy of the site itself is there for anyone to copy. Enforcement agencies' worst nightmare indeed weighs just 90 MB.

Sources: The Verge, TorrentFreak

Pirate Bay Founders Stare At Jailtime as Supreme Court Rejects Appeal

Sweden's Supreme Court decided not to grant leave to appeal in the long-running Pirate Bay criminal trial. This translates to the earlier judgement of the Swedish Court of Appeal being upheld. In November 2010, the lower court had found four of the founders of The Pirate Bay, Peter Sunde, Fredrik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm, and Carl Lundström, guilty of criminal copyright infringement. Although Fredrik Neij, Peter Sunde and Carl Lundström all had their prison sentences decreased from the levels ordered at their original 2009 trial, they were ordered to pay increased damages amounting to millions of dollars to the plaintiffs in the entertainment industry.

Peter Sunde, AKA Brokep, faces 8 months in prison. Fredrik Neij, AKA TiAMO, faces 10 months. Businessman Carl Lundström has the lightest sentence of 4 months. All will have to pay their share of a combined 46 million Kronor (US $6.8 million) in damages. In related news, the operators of Pirate Bay changed the domain name of their site from *.org to *.se to prevent seizure by the US Government.

Source: TorrentFreak 1, 2 Shuttered: One Month 'Black March' Media Boycott Slated For March 1st

Yesterday, the website of MegaUpload was shuttered for good by the US Department of Justice over copyright infringement aka 'piracy' and various criminal charges (see the domain seizure graphic). This was done regardless of the many non-infringing files that people were also using it for, so for anyone that had their only copy of a file on the site, this is very bad news. It's also arguably even worse news for the site's operators, as they have been arrested and face extradition from New Zealand to the USA for criminal trial, all their assets seized, including all the domain names and computing infrastructure to run them, plus many personal belongings of very high value, such as fancy cars like Maseratis and Rolls-Royces and huge 100 inch TVs to name just a few.

However, this story, isn't really about this and we have linked to reports below which cover this in great detail (hot beverage recommended). MegaUpload was one of the biggest file sharing sites out there and in fact, one of the biggest sites out there, period. This means, that an awful lot of people all around the world have very much noticed its sudden demise (especially those with their only copy of a file, because they didn't bother to back it up, tsk) and are met with that highly unwelcome Department of Justice graphic, instead. Hence, the chances of an almighty backlash against this shutdown not happening are slim to none. In fact, Anonymous have already hit the websites of the DOJ, RIAA, MPAA & HADOPI (French three strikes) and others in retaliation, with likely much more to come, which is good or bad, depending on one's point of view and how effective one believes it will be.

Church Of Kopimism: The New File Sharing Religion

Church Of Kopimism: The New File Sharing Religion (updated)

With file sharers all over the world being hunted by copyright holders and aided by the governments they lobby, there's now a new angle to this fight: file sharers turn their hobby into a religion. Since 2010, a group of self-confessed Swedish 'pirates' have tried to have their beliefs recognized as an official religion, but were denied several times. However, just before Christmas, they have finally succeeded in convincing the authorities that the Church Of Kopimism is a real, genuine bona fide religion. How they exactly achieved this isn’t clear, however. The Missionary Church of Kopimism was founded by philosophy student Isak Gerson, who is one of a large group of Swedes that believe file copying to be a sacred act. Gerson is ecstatic at this development and hopes more people will now feel able to come out as 'Kopimists'.

Gerson explained to TorrentFreak, "I think that more people will have the courage to step out as Kopimists. Maybe not in the public, but at least to their close ones. There’s still a legal stigma around copying for many. A lot of people still worry about going to jail when copying and remixing. I hope in the name of Kopimi that this will change."

Congress Debates SOPA, Hypocritically Downloads Illegally Itself

Almost everyone who understands something about technology will have heard of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) (H.R.3261) currently being debated in the U.S. House. This is internet censorship legislation by any other name and anyone that doesn't have a vested interest in it like the big media cartels is against it. This is because it hands almost total control of the internet to powerful (read: money) special interest groups, allowing them to shut down websites at the mere whiff of an accusation of 'piracy', however small and however unfounded. This will easily ruin many legitimate businesses, all on the pretext of 'protecting copyright' from supposed 'financial losses' due to content 'theft'. It also does an awful lot of other things, all of them bad, which are fully detailed in the link above. Now, if anyone thinks that this is far-fetched, just look at how the current 'darling' of the internet, GoDaddy operates: they pulled the DNS records of, because of one little complaint against the site and without even contacting the domain owner first to advise of the situation. Disgraceful. Give them SOPA and a webmaster doesn't stand a chance, regardless of their size.

Ditch The Restrictive DRM: Happy Customers Equals More Profit

Rice University and Duke University are the latest in a long line of educational institutions to fund research on the effect of using restrictive Digital Rights Management (DRM) to try and control levels of so-called "piracy", which is allegedly reducing sales of content-only, infinite goods/virtual products, such as music, movies, computer games and books. (Some observers writing about DRM replace the word "Rights", giving us the phrase Digital Restrictions Management, which seems a more accurate description of what it's really about and removes the veneer of legitimacy from it. When buying DRM'd content, you are buying digital handcuffs, nothing more, nothing less.) The universities sponsored a study called Music Downloads and the Flip Side of Digital Rights Management Protection and what it found is that contrary to popular belief amongst the big content companies, removing DRM can actually decrease levels of piracy and increase sales. The fact is that DRM is always broken by hackers and pretty quickly too, often within a day or two (there isn't a single one still standing) leaving legal users who work within its confinements with all the restrictive hassles that it imposes, while the pirates get an unencumbered product to do with as they please. How is this progress?
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