This was also the topic of a speech given by MPAA chief Charles Rivkin, during the TPI Aspen Forum yesterday.

The title of the speech is telling. Rivkin’s “Declaration of Accountability for Cyberspace” is a play on John Perry Barlow’s “Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace,” which was written 22 years ago.

Barlow, who passed away earlier this year, was an artist, an Internet activist, and one of the founding members of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. As an Internet pioneer, he repeatedly warned against stifling Internet restrictions, to keep cyberspace free and open.

According to the MPAA, however, Barlow’s vision of a cyberspace where inhabitants right any wrongs themselves has failed. Its chief instead argues that the future of the “healthy” Internet is in danger.

“I want to address one of the most vibrant and interconnected ecosystems in human history. That, of course, is the internet. And as we meet, the healthy and vibrant internet that we all want is in serious jeopardy,” Rivkin says.

“The title of this speech is ‘a declaration of accountability for cyberspace’ — a reference I’m sure is not lost on this audience,” he adds.

While the complaints about Internet piracy are not new, the MPAA ties piracy in with more recent debates about fake news, election meddling, and hate speech. From Cambridge Analytica to Infowars.

Rivkin calls for a national conversation on how to return the Internet to a place of vibrant but civil discourse. A place where fake news, hate speech, and piracy are properly dealt with.

Eventually, this leads the MPAA’s boss to Silicon Valley. Rivkin sees a major role for Internet platforms to do more to stop piracy and other types of abuse. If that doesn’t happen voluntarily, the US Government could step in, he suggests.

“The crescendo is rising within our ecosystem. The message is getting louder by the day: Internet platforms must bear responsibility. And they must do more to address the harms that, wittingly or not, they facilitate.

“Online platforms could increase their voluntary efforts to work with those affected to curb abuse of their services. Or perhaps Congress could recalibrate the online immunities to more explicitly require proactive steps as a condition of those protections,” Rivkin adds.

The widespread problem of online piracy is a sign of worse to come, the MPAA chief suggests.

“Online piracy is also the proverbial canary in a coal mine. The same pervasive theft that my industry faces is part of a continuum of toxic developments that harm all of us in this ecosystem – consumers, creators, and commercial operators alike,” he says.

In his speech, Rivkin refers to the “broken windows” theory to illustrate his point. This theory suggests that an atmosphere of lawlessness is created when small crimes are left unpunished. Seeing broken windows in the streets makes it more likely that others will start vandalizing as well.

This is also happening on the Internet today, according to Rivkin. When people continuously cross legal boundaries, by pirating, for example, others are more likely to follow suit.

To fix this problem, the MPAA has already started working with advertising companies, payment processors and other intermediaries. These companies have adopted a strict anti-piracy stance, and it is now time for the Twitters, YouTubes, and Facebooks to follow suit.

“If we want to bring back the internet we all want, it’s better to work together than cut each other off at the knees,” Rivkin says. “There are too many online windows broken and left unfixed for us to do anything but take collective action – and take it now.”

One of the major gripes of the MPAA and other rightsholder organizations is the fact that current laws shield Internet platforms from direct liability. This should be changed, if these platforms don’t work along, they argue.

Not everyone agrees that this is the case. Internet Association spokesman Noah Theran told Variety that the protections provided by laws such as the Communications Decency Act are a good thing.

“Without intermediary liability protections it would be harder, not easier, for online platforms to keep bad actors off the internet,” Theran notes, and many Internet platforms will share this view.

Without adding any commentary, we would welcome everyone to contrast Charles Rivkin’s “Declaration of Accountability for Cyberspace” with John Perry Barlow’s “Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace.”

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In theory, labels and artists should get paid for every licensed stream accessed on YouTube but there are ways to disrupt that business model. So-called ‘YouTube-ripping’ services allow people to extract MP3 audio files from YouTube videos and store them on their local machines. This is a thorn in the side of recording labels seeking to extract every last penny from their content.

In an effort to bring an end to this activity, the major labels of the RIAA in the US and BPI in the UK have been putting YouTube-ripping sites under pressure. Former market leader YouTube-MP3 was their most significant target, a site that eventually shut down following a settlement with the labels. Now there’s news of fresh action against another player.

MP3Fiber allowed users to download MP3 audio from several platforms including YouTube, SoundCloud and Daily Motion. However, following recent threats from the RIAA, the site has decided to call it a day.

After launching an investigation against MP3Fiber, the RIAA asked domain privacy service DomainsByProxy to hand over the personal details of the site’s operator. TF is informed that the company responded by giving the RIAA what it wanted, in the absence of a court order. It did inform MP3Fiber that it had cooperated with the music group but that will probably be of little comfort to others using this supposed privacy service.

After obtaining his details, the RIAA then contacted the operator of the site, who lives in Canada. TF understands that due to the blank media levy in Canada, which reimburses the labels for private copying, the site believed it was operating legally. However, the RIAA insisted that since the MP3Fiber site was accessible in the US, this defense wouldn’t apply south of the border.

The operator was also reminded of the YouTube-MP3 case and another involving a pair of Russian-based ripping sites. With no desire to endure any legal headaches with the RIAA, MP3Fiber’s operator took the decision to close down the service.

“This site was actually run as a hobby. We spent more on servers then we ever made so did not want to get into any legal battles. We pretty much gave in to their demands without too many other thoughts,” he told TF.

Action against YouTube-ripping sites has stepped up in 2018. In addition to the pressure on MP3Fiber and Russian sites FLVTO.biz and 2conv.com, June saw the closure of Pickvideo.net, Video-download.co and EasyLoad.co. All three are believed to have ended their activities following threats from the RIAA.

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Fortnite’s developers have launched a few cases in US courts, and so has Take-Two Interactive Software, the company behind ‘Grand Theft Auto V’ (GTA V).

The latter managed to score a success last week. The court granted its requested preliminary injunction, ordering David Zipperer to stop working on and distributing the ‘Menyoo’ and ‘Absolute’ cheats.

The dispute between Zipperer is not new as Kotaku highlights. Last year the game developer already sent Zipperer a cease and desist notice over the Menyoo cheat, which appeared to work.

The cheat was made unavailable at the website of the developer, who sold it for $10 a piece and said he would donate all the proceeds to a charity. Soon after, however, he began distributing another cheat titled ‘Absolute.’

“While Mr. Zipperer originally appeared cooperative and disabled access to the Menyoo program, it recently has come to Take-Two’s attention that Mr. Zipperer distributed a new cheating program titled Absolute,” GTA V’s developer wrote in its complaint.

This prompted the present lawsuit where Take-Two Interactive accuses the cheat maker of copyright infringement, among other things. Specifically, Zipperer stands accused of creating derivative works of GTA V without Take-Two’s authorization.

According to a court order issued late last week, the allegations are sufficient to grant a preliminary injunction. This means that, for the time being, Zipperer is ordered to stop creating, producing, and distributing any infringing works.

Zipperer opposed the request for an injunction arguing that the court lacked jurisdiction and that the issue was moot. He told the court that he already stopped distributing Menyoo and that he also stopped working on Absolute.

“I will not be performing any more computer programming for Absolute in the future. I have informed the individuals responsible for Absolute that I will not assist them in the future. I have no intention of working on any other ‘cheat menu’ for GTAV,” Zipperer wrote.

The court, however, concluded that this doesn’t make the injunction request moot, not least because the defendant previously continued his infringing actions, following a cease and desist order from Take-Two Interactive.

“Mr. Zipperer agreed to cease his activities and shut down Menyoo. But he then secretly started developing and distributing a different program called Absolute, which like Menyoo, alters GTAV’s multiplayer feature,” the court writes.

However, Zipperer’s comments suggest that he’s not the only person who has control over the cheats. This means that they may still be available elsewhere. For now, however, the Absolute website appears to be offline.

In addition to this lawsuit, Take-Two Interactive has a separate case pending against two people who are allegedly connected to “Infamous,” another popular GTA V cheat.

A copy of the preliminary injunction and the associated order is available here (pdf).

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In the years that followed, hundreds of millions of people embraced the technology and more than seventeen years later, many still are.

As the technology became more popular, Bram Cohen co-founded the company BitTorrent Inc. in 2004. This promising startup raised millions in funding and made millions more through advertising, but financially it never really took off.

Cohen himself was more interested in code than money though. As BitTorrent Inc’s lead engineer he worked hard on a live streaming implementation of BitTorrent, believing that it could power the future of online live news and entertainment.

Despite the technical achievements, BitTorrent Inc. headed into rough waters. The company tried to reinvent itself under new leadership, but the millions that were spent didn’t translate to greater success.

BitTorrent’s inventor lashed out against the company’s management and it appears that he, slowly but steadily, went his own way. Cohen has recently taken an interest in blockchain technology, and he’s working on his own environmentally friendly cryptocurrency Chia.

Where the broader public sees crypto as a revenue potential, Cohen is mostly interested by the technological aspects. He’s been critical of “goldbuggism” since the beginning and sees Bitcoin as something that’s fundamentally flawed, especially the wasteful mining process.

“Goldbuggism”

Considering Cohen’s criticism of other cryptocurrencies and the hype surrounding them, there is some irony to the fact that one of the most controversial cryptos, TRON, acquired the company he founded.

TRON’s founder recently launched the idea to “improve” Cohen’s protocol by integrating it into the TRON network. This will allow users to earn TRX currency by seeding files.

A controversial idea, for sure. But what does Bram Cohen himself think about all this? When we asked some questions using the regular @bittorrent.com email, we received an auto-response, suggesting that BitTorrent’s inventor is no longer using that address.

Cohen hasn’t said anything in public about the TRON deal, and isn’t very talkative, but when we reached out using an alternative email the response was clear.

“I have no involvement with Tron,” Cohen noted.

We followed up by asking whether this means that he no longer has an official role at BitTorrent Inc. The response was again short but clear.

“That is correct,” he said.

It is no secret that BitTorrent’s inventor had started to distance himself from the company he founded, but the responses we received suggest that he has moved on permanently, which is a big deal.

Unfortunately, Cohen didn’t comment any further on the issue. One can imagine, however, that seeing the company he built from the ground up being placed in the hands of a crypto millionaire, isn’t what he envisioned.

BitTorrent Inc. certainly loses some of its flair, without Bram Cohen. It’s the end of an era and, at the same time, the start of an uncertain future.

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These largely unauthorized acts of reproduction and distribution stoke the furnaces of what appear to be endless copyright wars. When DRM and similar measures can’t prevent sharing, new legislation, increased liabilities, and more severe punishments are pursued by copyright holders. None of it seems to work.

With the majority of corporate-controlled entertainment media persistently supported by a chorus of anti-piracy rhetoric, it’s unsurprising that equally passionate pro-sharing views proliferate on the ‘other’ side. However, there is an increasing middle ground occupied by pirates who are also content buyers. Indeed, pirates are now regularly cited as some of the entertainment industry’s best customers (1,2).

That’s why it’s always difficult to see people trying to make an honest living from selling content yet getting frustrated and sidetracked by inevitable online piracy that could potentially be turned around into something more positive.

This week, a small storm blew up on Twitter following a tweet by ‘Grim Darkthrone’, the owner of Cult Of Osiris, a fledgling digital black metal label. He’d just discovered that his label’s very first album release from Scandinavian band Uten Håp had been uploaded online.

“So, the human scum at Metal Tracker have illegally put up a torrent of Uten Håp to download,” he wrote on Twitter.

“I’ve sent them an email asking it be removed and they pay us the amount of revenue those downloads would’ve generated. If they don’t reply, my solicitor will speak to them. Poor show.”

While some might find themselves immediately offended by a) the piracy or b) the aggressive response, the chorus on Twitter erred towards ‘educating’ Grim on the potential benefits of sharing.

“[P]iracy may support your revenue in the long run. And a download doesn’t equal lost sales,” one metal fan wrote in response.

“How about they insert links to the official pages and support you this way? Be nice. You can’t win this fighting,” he added, linking to a TF article that suggested that piracy could actually boost digital sales.

It didn’t cut much ice with Grim, who – as mentioned earlier – is just starting out with his label.

“I like you man, but how about I decide what to do when someone is stealing music I release?” he responded.

“These people are thieves. You can explain it away how you want. It is stealing.”

As the tweets were rolling back and forth, we checked the number of downloads on Metal Tracker. As the image below shows, they sat at just over 100.

While this number of downloads is a drop in the ocean compared to mainstream releases, it’s important to realize that this is not mainstream content. And, as mentioned already, this appears to be Grim’s first release for his new label. It’s likely that a lot hinges on this album being a success so his tone is probably best viewed through that prism.

Indeed, in an email exchange with TF, Grim told us that his label is small. He needs data of who is streaming and downloading the band’s album and he needs valuable sales. His stuff being distributed on a tracker robs him of all of that, he told us.

We got the impression that the guy is simply trying to make a success of his work and that he finds this situation frustrating. Anyone with the ability to see both sides of an argument should appreciate why the guy feels the way he does, even if they don’t agree with him. He has a right – backed up by law – to be angry but could another approach prove more productive?

“[I]f you are clever, you use [piracy] to support your bands. If you’re trying to fight it, you’ll lose,” Grim was advised on Twitter.

The big question, of course, is how that can be achieved. From our brief exchange, we could tell that Grim probably won’t change his stance that piracy is tantamount to theft. However, he also said that Metal Tracker might have done things differently, in a way that could’ve benefited his label.

We aren’t going to second guess what might transpire but we’ll go out on a limb and say that legal action isn’t going to achieve the desired result. Why? Because it never does.

Legal action is expensive for major labels so for a small outfit it would simply prove to be a corrosive distraction. And, at just £5 for the official Uten Håp release (which seems great value), the label would have to sell dozens of albums to pay for a simple lawyer’s letter, let alone begin some kind of case.

As we told Grim, we’re no music industry experts but the whole thing is a probably a bit of a balancing act, with the existing popularity of the act he’s trying to promote (and their current sales) on one side, and what those sales might be with greater exposure via piracy on the other.

Hopefully, the guy will eventually find some peace and a way to benefit from the situation – he won’t be the first or last to try.

The album, for those who are interested, can be downloaded here.

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The now-defunct Prenda Law grabbed dozens of headlines, mostly surrounding negative court rulings over identity theft, misrepresentation and even deception.

Most controversial was the shocking revelation that Prenda uploaded their own torrents to The Pirate Bay, creating a honeypot for the people they later sued over pirated downloads.

The accusation was first published here on TorrentFreak. While some disregarded it as a wild conspiracy theory, the US Department of Justice took it rather seriously. These and other allegations ultimately resulted in a criminal indictment, which was filed in 2016.

The US Government accused two of the leading Prenda lawyers of various crimes, including money laundering, perjury, mail and wire fraud. This week one of the defendants, Paul Hansmeier, pleaded guilty to two of the counts.

Hansmeier signed a plea agreement admitting that he is guilty of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud, as well as conspiracy to commit money laundering.

The plea agreement comes with a statement of facts which includes a description of the Pirate Bay honeypot scheme. In addition, it describes how Hansmeier and his colleague John Steele generated millions of dollars by threatening BitTorrent users who allegedly downloaded pirated porn videos.

“Beginning no later than in or about April 2011, HANSMEIER and Steele caused P.H. to upload their clients’ pornographic movies to BitTorrent file-sharing websites, including a website named the Pirate Bay in order to entice people to download the movies and make it easier to catch those who attempted to obtain the movies.

“As defendants knew, the BitTorrent websites to which they uploaded their clients’ movies were specifically designed to aid copyright infringement by allowing users to share files, including movies, without paying any fees to the copyright holders,” the agreement reads.

From the plea agreement

After extracting IP-addresses of account holders who allegedly shared the files Prenda created and uploaded, they asked courts for subpoenas to obtain the personal info of their targets from ISPs. This contact information was then used to coerce victims to pay settlements of thousands of dollars.

Prenda Law went to great lengths to hide its direct involvement in the uploading of the material as well as its personal stake in the lawsuits and settlements, according to the plea agreement.

Both attorneys obscured their involvement by creating several companies, which were then used to file lawsuits against alleged pirates. In addition to running a honeypot, Prenda also began creating their own porn movies, which were then shared on file-sharing sites as bait.

“Shortly after filming the movies, HANSMEIER instructed P.H. to upload the movies to file-sharing websites’such as the Pirate Bay in order to catch, and filed lawsuits against, people who attempted to download the movies,” the plea agreement reads.

Hansmeiers’ guilty plea applies to a count of wire fraud and mail fraud, as well as a count of money laundering. Both come with a potential jail sentence of 20 years as well as hundreds of thousands of criminal fines.

Previously, the Prenda attorney filed a motion to dismiss, which was denied. This decision is currently under appeal and the present plea agreement is conditional, meaning that Hansmeier has the right to withdraw it if he wins that.

This please agreement comes after fellow Prenda attorney John Steele agreed to a similar deal last year.

It’s rather unique that information provided by The Pirate Bay team is being used to help build a criminal case in the US. And with both lawyers having personally signed a statement of facts that confirm the honeypot scheme, there can be little doubt that Pirate Bay’s allegations were indeed true.

Finally, there is also some good news for the victims of the Prenda copyright-trolling scheme. The plea agreement specifically states that those who were hurt by the scheme are entitled to get the maximum restitution possible.

“Defendant understands and agrees that the Mandatory Restitution Act […] applies and that the Court is required to order the defendant to pay the maximum restitution to the victims of his crimes as provided by law,” it reads.

A copy of Hansmeier’s plea agreement is available here (pdf).

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This has already resulted in several ‘repeat infringer’ lawsuits in US federal courts. The major record labels, helped by the RIAA, are the driving force behind most of these cases.

There is another notable party of interest though. Anti-piracy company Rightscorp, known for sending settlement requests to alleged pirates through the DMCA notification system, plays a central role as well.

The company’s notices are used as ‘evidence’ to show that ISPs such as Grande and Cox Communications failed to disconnect repeat infringers from their networks. While Rightscorp settlement practices haven’t been particularly profitable, court records reveal that the company was paid handsomely for its litigation support.

In a recent court filing, which was insufficiently redacted, Grande Communications reveals that the BitTorrent piracy monitoring company was paid hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“In 2016, Rightscorp approached the Recording Industry Association of America (“RIAA”) and convinced that association to purchase Rightscorp’s Grande-related notices for $700,000,” Grande’s legal team writes.

“Rightscorp also convinced the RIAA to pay Rightscorp’s representatives hourly rates of $350-$500 to testify in this matter,” they add.

It is no secret that RIAA is a Rightscorp customer, or that Rightscorp inspired the RIAA to sue ISPs, but this is the first time we’ve read that the music industry group specifically paid for the notices. Further details on the agreement were not revealed, however.

The information comes from a motion for summary judgment that was denied near instantly, as it relied heavily on redacted elements. While a revised version will likely be submitted later, it’s quite clear that Grande rejects any attempts to hold it liable for pirating subscribers.

The company notes that the major record labels want to turn ISPs into de facto copyright enforcement agents, a strategy it clearly rejects.

“Having given up on actually pursuing direct infringers due to bad publicity, and having decided not to target the software and websites that make online file-sharing possible, the recording industry has shifted its focus to fashioning new forms of copyright liability that would require ISPs to act as the copyright police,” the denied motion reads.

Although the RIAA is not listed as a plaintiff, it is clear that the music group helped to set out the legal strategy for the labels. This prompted Grande to request information from the RIAA, in particularly its communications with Rightscorp.

The RIAA is refusing to hand over all the requested documents, however, claiming that some are protected work. Grande, therefore, filed a separate motion to compel the RIAA to hand over this information.

“Plaintiffs and the RIAA are relying on Rightscorp’s work product to support their claims in this case, while at the same time refusing to produce Rightscorp materials, and communications with Rightscorp, that may undermine those claims. The Court should not permit this sort of gamesmanship,” Grande’s legal team writes.

It appears that the ISP is trying to use Rightscorp’s evidence and its role in this case, for its defense. The company already discredited the accuracy of the notices, and described Rightscorp as little more than a “hired gun,” albeit one that was handsomely paid.

A copy of Grande’s reply in support of its motion to compel the RIAA to hand over additional information is available here (pdf)

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The Japanese gaming giant filed a complaint at a federal court in Arizona, targeting LoveROMS.com and LoveRETRO.co for copyright and trademark infringement.

With potentially millions of dollars in damages at stake, both sites quickly shut down, taking libraries of gaming ROMs with them. But for fans of emulators and retro-gaming, the bad news wasn’t over yet.

In an announcement last week, EmuParadise, one of the web’s longest standing emulator and ROM download portals, announced that it will no longer be offering game ROMs for download. After 18 years of service, EmuParadise had fallen, largely because of Nintendo’s aggressive actions elsewhere.

This chain of events caused shockwaves in the retro-gaming community, waves that are already beginning to widen. A statement just published by fellow gaming site TheISOZone indicates that it too will make a sharp exit from the scene.

“Copyright infringement laws vary from country to country, but the premise in a nutshell is that copyright infringement is the cause of monetary loss or damage to the copyright holder. With retro gaming, there are no ways of purchasing the games – let alone the systems to play them on – in a way that would still generate the copyright holders revenue. None whatsoever,” TiZ from the site said.

“This is why retro roms have always been a grey area. The distribution of their works, although frowned upon, were never actioned against as in a court of law that is what they would have to prove – monetary loss or damages. And they couldn’t – because it’s simply not true.”

While lawyers in various jurisdictions will queue up to dissect his take on the law, TiZ says that times are changing, perhaps in a way that will allow copyright holders to more easily demonstrate monetary losses.

“There are now growing ways of obtaining these retro titles through avenues which DO benefit the copyright holders and it seems clear due to recent events, that there are a lot more avenues in development,” TiZ says.

“This is why we decided to throw in the towel of our own accord. It was a good ride and it was a just ride, however it is clear that in the not so distant future, distributing retro titles could be a serious case of copyright infringement.”

TiZ isn’t optimistic that any legal offerings by games companies will get the formula right, so he’s suggesting that operators of retro sites could team up with copyright holders to target gamers in the right way.

“We have ideas on how the archiving of retro titles and the pleasing of the copyright holders should be done and would love to pursue it eventually,” he writes.

“We think the webmasters of retro rom sites should come together and work with the copyright holders. It does not have to be this hard – and criminals should not be made out of passionate enthusiasts.”

In short, TiZ would like to see a Spotify for retro games. However, he also says he’s aware of a new project, run by retro gaming enthusiasts, that could see TheISOZone’s ROM archives rebuilt and offered to the public.

So, another life lost perhaps……but it’s not quite Game Over yet.

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According to the RIAA, the Internet provider knew that some of its subscribers were frequently distributing copyrighted material, but failed to take any meaningful action in response.

Grande refuted the accusations and filed a motion to dismiss the case. The ISP partially succeeded as the claims against its management company Patriot were dropped. The same was true for the vicarious infringement allegations, as the court saw no evidence that the ISP had a direct financial interest in the infringing activity.

The labels were not willing to let go so easily.

They submitted a motion for leave to file an amended complaint including new evidence obtained during discovery. And a few days ago, they upped the pressure with a motion for summary judgment, arguing that Grande has no safe harbor defense.

In order to get safe harbor protection, the DMCA requires ISPs to adopt and reasonably implement a policy for terminating the accounts of repeat copyright infringers. According to the motion, it is clear that Grande failed to do so. As such, the company should be held directly liable.

“For years, Grande claimed in its online ‘Acceptable Use Policy’ that it had a policy of terminating repeat infringers. Grande continued to assert that claim in its pleadings and written discovery responses in this suit.

“None of that was true. The undisputed record evidence establishes that Grande’s Acceptable Use Policy was a sham,” the labels’ motion reads.

There can be little dispute over Grande’s failing policy, the labels state. They point out that corporate paperwork and testimony of Grande’s senior executives clearly show that there wasn’t an adequate repeat infringer policy.

“Indeed, the documents and testimony demonstrate that rather than a policy for terminating repeat infringers, Grande consciously chose the opposite: a policy allowing unlimited infringement by its subscribers,” the labels write.

At the same time, there was no lack of DMCA notices. The labels note that the ISP received at least 1.2 million notices of alleged copyright infringement between 2011 and 2016. This includes hundreds of thousands of notices from Rightscorp.

Despite these repeated warnings, the company didn’t terminate a single subscriber from October 2010 until June 2017, the labels allege. This changed after the lawsuit was filed, but even then the number remained minimal, with ‘only’ twelve terminations.

Based on the provided information, the record labels ask for a summary judgment in their favor.

“Grande’s failure to adopt and reasonably implement a repeat infringer policy renders Grande ineligible for the DMCA safe harbor. The Court should grant Plaintiffs’ motion for partial summary judgment and reject Grande’s DMCA safe harbor defense as a matter of law,” the labels say.

If the court sides with the record labels, Grande will be at a severe disadvantage, to say the least.

Without safe harbor protection, the company can be held liable for the copyright infringements of its users, which could potentially lead to dozens of millions of dollars in damages.

A copy of the record labels motion is available here (pdf).

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Two months later, BitTorrent Inc. and the TRON Foundation confirmed the acquisition.

“With this acquisition, BitTorrent will continue to provide high quality services for over 100M users around the world. We believe that joining the TRON network will further enhance BitTorrent and accelerate our mission of creating an Internet of options, not rules,” BitTorrent Inc. said.

TRON’s Justin Sun added that the acquisition of BitTorrent supports his foundation’s goal to decentralize the web but more concrete details beyond this vision have proven elusive. The entrepreneur has mentioned the possibility of rewarding BitTorrent seeders but that raises even more questions.

This week, in celebration of TRON’s US and China teams meeting up for the first time, Sun dangled some additional information on why the acquisition took place and what TRON’s plans are for the future.

“Contrary to speculation, the main reason for the acquisition isn’t BitTorrent’s more than 100M active users, and it isn’t for an amazing commercial opportunity,” Sun said.

“Yes, these things are great perks, but the more important reason is that BitTorrent has always been committed to one value, which is ‘Democratize the Internet.’ This is very much in line with TRON’s ‘Decentralize the Web.’ The fact that our values are in sync is the driving force behind this acquisition.”

Following a short history lesson on Web 1.0 through to today’s Web 3.0, Sun highlighted BitTorrent achievements in the decentralized arena, one which enabled people to envision a totally decentralized Internet in the future. However, “profit-focused” companies like Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and Netflix eventually stepped in with models that only served to further centralize the Internet.

“The mistrust in centralization naturally results in a public reaction where people are expecting government intervention to monitor big tech companies. However, history itself has been telling us repeatedly that the involvement of a more centralized power will only worsen the problem,” Sun said.

According to TRON’s founder, the solution to the above is his Web 4.0, “a decentralized, mass-collaborative Internet governed by the community, with highly effective, available, and convenient Internet apps and services.”

Unlike most standard apps used by people today (such as those used to access Facebook etc), ‘DApps’ – decentralized apps – are software applications that run on the blockchain. While the former access and provide data for centralized systems, the latter use the decentralized resources of other network users.

Sun wants TRON to become the largest decentralized Internet ecosystem in the world and this week offered four promises in respect of the TRON/BitTorrent partnership.

1. We will develop the TRON Protocol and make sure it grows to be the largest and the most dynamic blockchain protocol in the world.
2. We will develop the BitTorrent Protocol and its applications to guarantee BitTorrent’s dominance in global decentralized content distribution. We will also work to optimize the BitTorrent Protocol with blockchain technology.
3. We will explore and develop other decentralized Internet protocols, in areas such as decentralized storage and cloud computing.
4. We will develop a series of decentralized apps based on decentralized protocols, so that everyone in the world can enjoy decentralized Internet services.

But for those wanting a slice of exciting decentralized cake today, it may be wise to put on a pot of coffee – after first planting and then growing the beans several times over.

“This is a long-term mission which will take 10 to 20 years to complete. I’m 28 now. I will devote my whole life to the revolution of Internet decentralization,” Sun says.

“TRON is committed to rejuvenating the revolution led by BitTorrent at the beginning of the 21st century, saving the Internet from centralized monopolies, and establishing a free, transparent, and decentralized Web 4.0.”

We’ll have an update in 2028, see you then.

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